Saturday, 6 June 2020

Beetroot Season! Recipe 2: Quick Pickled Beetroot Stems

Quick Pickled Beetroot Stems

It's beetroot season! Our local fruit and veg store has the most amazing, gigantic bunches available, so last weekend I grabbed two. There is nothing like fresh beetroot, and even better if it includes the greens, so I wanted to share three recipes to make use of the roots, stems, and greens to make the most.

When I get the beetroots, I will immediately wash them and divide them into their constituent parts. The roots, I'll put in the fridge and save to make borscht or roast vegetables: they'll tend to last 2 - 3 weeks before they begin to dry out. The stems, I'll pickle quickly, as once separated from the root, they will become flaccid within a day or two. The greens, I'll seal in a container with some paper towels, and use them within a few days; thankfully, braising the greens to use in pierogi means they're a little more forgiving if you keep them slightly beyond their prime.

Last week, I posted a recipe for borscht, using the roots/bulbs. Next, up the plant: the stems!

When I first started on my beetroot adventure (if you can believe it, I used to HATE beetroot), I would always sauté the stems and greens together but, because the stems tend to hold their structure really well, even with long cooking, it would make my braised greens a bit chewier than I'd like; while the greens would shrink and become beautifully silky, the stems would stay the same, until they greatly outnumbered the greens!

So, this time, I thought I'd find a different way of using them, especially considering how many there are! Part of the reason so many people seem to dislike beetroot is because of the vinegary, limp canned beetroot we often grown up with; though these quick pickled stems are vinegary, they have a delightful and flavourful crunch, and can give texture and taste to all manner of things, from garnishing soups, to topping sandwiches... anything you can imagine!

For this recipe, you will need a glass jar; the size and/or amount you'll need will depend on how many stems you have. To sterilise the jars, place them in the sink and pour boiling water over them; use tongs to turn them around in the boiling water and allow them to sit for a minute or two, then sit on a drying rack until cool enough to handle.

Also, please note this is not a shelf-stable pickle, so you will need to store this in the fridge.

Quick Picked Beetroot Stems
Put 500mL of vinegar (of choice) in a microwave safe container with 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.

Take the beetroot stems and slice finely along the them (one direction only; don't mince them!). Place them in the sterilised jar or jars, they should sit just at the line where the jar curves into the lid and not go right to the top, as the vinegar mixture should cover them completely.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the top of the stems until they are just covered. Gently tap the jar to dislodge any air bubbles, then add more until they are completely covered.

Set aside, with the lid off (as the vinegar mixture will still be hot), for 30 minutes or so, until the jar no longer feels hot. Place the lid on and then leave on the bench until the jar is cool enough to place in the fridge. Use within a couple of days; if the stems start to look mushy, compost the lot.

Beetroot Season! Recipe 1: Borscht (Beetroot Soup/Stewp/Stew)

Borscht: Beetroot Soup/Stewp/Stew

It's beetroot season! Our local fruit and veg store has the most amazing, gigantic bunches available, so last weekend I grabbed two. There is nothing like fresh beetroot, and even better if it includes the greens, so I wanted to share three recipes to make use of the roots, stems, and greens to make the most.

When I get the beetroots, I will immediately wash them and divide them into their constituent parts. The roots, I'll put in the fridge and save to make borscht or roast vegetables: they'll tend to last 2 - 3 weeks before they begin to dry out. The stems, I'll pickle quickly, as once separated from the root, they will become flaccid within a day or two. The greens, I'll seal in a container with some paper towels, and use them within a few days; thankfully, braising the greens to use in pierogi means they're a little more forgiving if you keep them slightly beyond their prime.

First up, the roots! With the weather cooling down, it's hard to go past soup, and borscht is absolutely incredible. I always thought that it would be bland, but it's so flavourful, so satisfyingly filling and that colour!

I adapted my recipe from the SBS Food Safari, with a few modifications based on others I've read (I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember where they were from, because I'm pretty sure the Food Safari one wasn't the first I read, but that's what you get for researching recipes after a few wines), and also because I am terrible at following recipes, and adapt based on how I'm feeling and what I have available. Oh, and to veganise it, of course.

You'll need 1kg of beetroots roots for this; best to give them a good wash, giving particular attention to the gaps between the stems where dirt can easily collect.

Over the next few days, come back because I'll also be sharing recipes for pierogi (using the beetroot greens) and quick pickle beetroot stems, so don't throw anything away! I'll add the links to this when I post them.

Cut the 1kg of beetroot into roughly similar sized pieces (that is: half the smaller ones, quarter the larger ones). Place in a large saucepan and cover with 2L of stock (either vegetarian chicken-style, or homemade vegetable) and a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine vinegar.

Put on the stove and bring to a boil, then lower the heat slightly to keep at a low boil for approximately 40 minutes.

While these are cooking, roughly chop 1 brown onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tomatoes, 1 stalk of celery and 3 white potatoes and set these aside.

Once 40 minutes has passed, use a ladle to pick one of the larger pieces out: you should be able to slice through it with a butter knife. If it’s still hard, continue to cook, checking at 10 minute intervals.

Once cooked through, remove the beetroot with the ladle or tongs and set aside, then strain the stock into a large bowl or measuring cup and reserve (removing the beetroot before straining prevents the stock from splashing you).

Return the pot to the heat. Add olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), then add the onion mix. Sauté over medium heat until onions become translucent.

Add in the beetroot back in.

Add enough water to the reserved stock to bring it up to 2L and then add that too.

Finally, add 1 tablespoon of yeast extract (vegemite, marmite or alternative) and either a handful of dill or a few sprigs each of thyme and oregano.

Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes and then blend until smooth (if using a a stick mixer, make sure you keep the head and blades under the surface to ensure it doesn’t splatter). Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine vinegar.

Serve garnished with a dollop of vegan sour cream* or yoghurt, and some chopped dill or herbs of your choice; if you're feeling particularly beetroot-y, top the sour cream or yoghurt with pickled beetroot stems!

I'm not kidding when I say this is filling, so start with a smaller bowl and go back for seconds. I guarantee you will!

If you have any leftovers, this freezes really well (and is a beautiful, magenta surprise each time you open the freezer!)

*Because it's hard to find a vegan sour cream where I live, I buy plain yoghurt (usually coconut yoghurt) and then stir through a few teaspoons of white vinegar, lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt (taste and adjust the seasoning to taste).

Let me know how you go with this recipes, and any variations that you try!

I'll endeavour to get the other recipes published over the next week or so, and will link them together once they're done.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Pad Thai Noodle Salad with Tofu & Mango

Pad Thai Noodle Salad with Tofu & Mango

On the whole, I don’t consider myself much of a salad person, which really isn’t fair as the only salads I really don’t like are the leafy kind: chuck in a grain, pulse, or carb, and I’m on board big time!

I don’t know exactly what inspired the recipe below. I think a few things I’ve eaten over the years converged; walking through the shops, I started grabbing things, and then came home and just started cooking... and, rather quickly, it was born!

As a side, this will serve 4 - 6, otherwise as a main it will serve 2 - 4, depending on how hungry everyone is. The recipe can be scaled up very easily, it’ll just be a matter of finding a large enough bowl!

Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge overnight and eaten for lunch the next day, but the noodles will start to get a bit mushy after that, so keep that in mind if preparing a larger amount.

Prepare in advance 

In a medium Pyrex measuring cup, or small glass bowl, combine:

  • 1 medium red onion, roughly cubed (slice 1cm lengthways, turn, and then slice 1cm the opposite way)
  • 1 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped*
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and finely chopped*
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced*
  • Juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon black vinegar (leave out if you don’t have on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon each of toasted sesame oil and a neutral-tasting oil (such as canola)
  • A few cracks each of Salt and black pepper 

Stir well to combine (and break up the onion), then put in the fridge to for 1 - 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Slice a 450g block of tofu into approx. 1cm cubes.

Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silpat, and then pour over 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of neutral-tasting oil (such as canola) and a few cracks each of Salt and black pepper. Stir everything together, then spread out the cubes to make sure none of them are touching before placing in the oven.

Bake the tofu for approximately 30 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed up slightly. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before using in salad.

Just before serving

Set a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Do not salt the water.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl (fill up about halfway with cool water and then add about a tray of ice cubes); store in the fridge or freezer until the water boils to keep it cool.

When the water has boiled, add 2 x 200g packets of pad Thai (thick rice) noodles. Stir and cook for 6 minutes. Drain and add to the ice bath, stirring to ensure the cool water is distributed around the noodles. I like to get my hands in and stir; this is both easier than using tongs, and also means I can feel all around the noodles to make sure they’re completely cool.

Leave the noodles in the ice bath until ready to assemble the salad.

In the serving bowl, combine the following:

  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Half a punnet cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large mango, diced*
  • Cooled tofu and noodles 

Finely chop 1/2 a bunch of coriander, and stir through the dressing (if serving the chilli separately, remove 1/4 at this point and stir through the chilli, then serve separately*).

Pour the dressing over the salad, and stir through. Taste one of the noodles, and add a little more salt, soy sauce, lime juice or rice vinegar to taste.

Then serve and enjoy!

Some * notes:
  • to make things easier, you can use a pre-seasoned tofu (such as the Soyco brand), or use a pre-made plant based meat, just make sure you briefly grill or sauté first and allow to cool.
  • even though the acid in the dressing will cook and mellow the garlic and onion, it won’t do that for the chilli, so be careful when adding it! If you’re unsure (especially if serving for guests), leave it out when you’re first making the dressing; before dressing the salad, set aside about 1/4 cup and stir some chilli through that and serve separately, so guests can add if it they like. I also just say “1 red chilli”; choose your preferred variety depending on how much heat you like. I find the long red Thai chillis (the 15cm long ones) are perfect, but select according to your tastes.
  • I say to chop the ginger and garlic rather than grate it or mince it; they will be mellowed by the acid in the dressing, so chopping them ensures they still have a nice bite, rather than just dissolving into the dressing.
  • If mango isn’t in season, you could try other fruits, but the mango adds a beautiful sweetness that helps lift the dressing without needing to add any sugar, so probably just wait until it is; this is a perfect hot summer lunch or dinner!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Ultimate Pub Gravy

I adore pub food. The sheer comfort, the absolute unpretentiousness of it...  delightful. Sadly, we don't have The Snug in Brisbane (and sadly, it's awesome vegan-friendly St Kilda location has also closed), so mostly, I do with making Pub Lunches at some.

This is my go-to gravy; it's a one-pot wonder that takes about 15 minutes to come together and is both Hangover Approved and worthy of guests. The perfect addition to your homemade pub lunch!

Feel free to leave out the mushrooms, sub in a different veg, switch up the stock and spices... it's incredibly forgiving, so use this as a base for your own dream gravy.

Ultimate Pub Gravy

In a large frying pan, combine:

1 brown onion, diced
2-4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2-3 sliced mushrooms (or equivalent to volume to onions if presliced (a good handful))
Few good cracks of salt
Generous tablespoon each of butter and olive oil
 Sauté until onions are mostly transcluent then add:
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbl nooch
1 stock cube/1 tbl stock power (omit if using stock later)
Cook, stirring almost constantly, until toasty then add:
1/4 cup white flour

Cook, still stirring, until flour is beginning to brown then add:
1/4 cup red wine OR beer
2 cups (approx) of water OR stock (if not using stock cube/powder)
Stir thoroughly until mix is cloudy. Wait for mix to bubble then lower heat slightly, continuing to stir, until mix is desired thickness (keep in mind it will thicken as it cools; add more stock or water if it becomes too thick). Season with pepper, and additional salt if required.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce

This recipe is the result of being home disappointingly early but surprisingly tipsy to discover that there was nothing to eat. I quickly roasted the sweet potato I found tucked at the back of my cupboard but then realizing that there was no way it would sate our growing drunger, I quickly cooked up some pasta and decided to turn it into a sauce.

Worried I only only enjoyed it under the influence, I tried it a couple more times to confirm it is indeed a ridiculously quick and delicious meal you can throw together with minimal effort.

Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce
Preheat oven to 200C. In a pan (I use my cast iron), put:
1 brown onion, sliced
1 medium sweet potato, cut small
3 cloves garlic, crushed and/or roughly chopped
Good splash canola
Big pinches of salt and nooch
Bake for 30, and start boiling water for pasta.

After 30 mins, add a big splash of red wine, mix through, then mix through 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste. Thin with approx 1/2 cup stock (until it's just a little thinner than you want). Return to the oven (turn the oven off) while you cook pasta, for about 10 minutes. Stir sauce through cooked pasta. Season.

You can also stir the cooked pasta through the sauce and crumb the top the top and bake together. Simply mix together 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I use Panko) with a teaspoon or so of oil, salt, pepper, nooch (optional), and freshly chopped parsley or oregano. Sprinkle over the top of the sauce and pasta then return to the oven for 15-20 minutes (until the top is golden brown).

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

30 Minute Ragù alla Bolognese

I adore lasagna. Creamy, meaty, savoury, delicious sauces held in sheets of silky pasta... is there anything better? I rarely eat it, though, cause "real" ragù alla Bolognese takes 2 to 3 hours to make, and while the Homecooker means I don't have to stand around and stir it myself, that's a long time to wait! Is it worth it? Yes. Can I be bothered 90% of the time? Heck no.

Anyway, the other day after a tough day at work, all I wanted was lasagna, but after spending all day in the kitchen, I didn't want to spend all night either. A conversation a few months ago with Matt on how he was tweaking Bryanna Clark Grogan's amazing ragù recipe to make it a bit quicker had given me a few ideas, so I thought I'd give it my own shot.

After a couple more attempts, I think I finally cracked it. While this doesn't have the depth or complexity of the traditional ragù (which I'll still be making for special occasions), the speed at which it can be made more than makes up for that, and means you can have lasagna assembled and ready to go in the oven in about 45 minutes (if you make the béchamel in between stirs of the ragù, you can probably get it in the oven in more like 35, and have your lasagna (all from scratch!) in just over an hour!).

A few notes before we start:
  • Watch the salt! You'll be adding a lot of salty ingredients into the sauce from the beginning, so refrain from seasoning the sauce until the very end.
  • This makes more than enough for a mini lasagna (I used an 8" baking dish), so you can have lasagna for dinner and used the leftover ragù for lunch or dinner the following night. If you're making lasagna for a crowd, I would double the recipe.
  • To make wheat/gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari, and double-check the ingredients in the TVP (some brands contain gluten).
  • In order to speed up the process, you'll be cooking this on a much higher heat than you generally would, so don't leave it alone!
30 Minute Ragù alla Bolognese
Based on Bryanna Clark Grogan's Ragù alla Bolognese from Nonna's Italian Feast

1. To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and vegan butter and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
2. Roughly dice 1 carrot, 1 red onion, 1 brown onion, 6 cloves garlic, and 2 stalks of celery and add this to the pan. Increase heat to medium-high and saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened.
3. Add 2 cups TVP mince, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 chicken-style broth cube (or 1 tablespoon chicken-style broth powder), and 400g tomato paste. Stir together, then allow to sit for a minute or two before stirring again. Continue until mix has nearly dried out and is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup dry red wine (you can use a dry white in a pinch) and reduce heat to medium. Stir until the wine has evaporated, then add 1/2-1 cup stock (homemade or store-bought), just enough to thin out of the ragù into an appropriately wet sauce. Stir in 1/2 cup soy milk (or other neutral-flavoured milk; don't use rice milk as it will add too much sweetness) and cook for a minute or two until it's combined. If sauce it too thin, reduce the sauce, stirring constantly, until it is the thickness you like. Season with salt and pepper; your sauce is done!

Either place on top of freshly cooked pasta and eat straight away, or use to assemble lasagna. If you're making lasagna, you can use Bryanna's delicious béchamel.


Incidentally, if you don't own Nonna's Italian Kitchen, RUN DON'T WALK and get yourself a copy. It is a book that I go back to again and again for both recipes and inspiration.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Vegan Savoury Crepe/Omelette

I threw the original version of these together when morning when I needed to bring together an odd combination of leftovers and nearly-past-it vegetables I'd salvaged from the bottom of my fridge. Though I generally just guess the proportions when I make them these days, when I presented my vegan breakfast class at Laneway Learning last year, I realised I should probably have an actual recipe for people to follow, so here it is!

These aren't exactly like an omelette in taste or texture, and also in that you wrap it around the fillings rather than folding them into the batter, but what else do you call it? Most importantly, it's super delicious. Even better, it's a great way of repurposing leftovers, can be throw together in about 10 minutes (great for lazy mornings and hangovers alike), and the batter will last in the fridge for up to a week (possibly even longer).

Leftovers from making tacos or nachos are great for fillings, otherwise any mix of veggies sauteed are equally great. You don't need to do anything too fancy. Cook the fillings beforehand and set aside covered so they stay warm.

Blend (in an upright blender or using an immersion blender):
300g firm silken tofu
200g soy milk
80g besan (chickpea) flour
30g cornstarch (cornflour)
20g olive oil
6g nutritional yeast flakes
Big pinch each of salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder
Heat a non-stick (or very well seasoned cast iron) over medium heat. Grease with the fat of your choosing, then ladle about 1/2 cup - 1 cup of the batter into the pan; use the back of the ladle of cup to evenly spread the batter over the pan. Place a lid on the pan: glass lids are useful because you can see when it's drying, otherwise check after a couple of minutes to see if the top of the crepe has dried out a bit. Once the top has dried out, flip the crepe over and cook briefly on the other side. Adjust the heat of the pan as necessary to make sure they don't burn.

Set cooked crepes onto plates, and cover half with the filling of choice. Fold the free half over the top, dust with paprika and serve!

I'm about halfway through my Barcelona post (I went again this year) so, once again, I'm posting a recipe to fill in the meantime! Hopefully that'll be up soon, or I'll just have to share more recipes!