Thursday, 27 February 2014

Vegan chickpea and courgette kofta

Chickpeas are a great store cupboard essential. I normally have a few tins as well as a bag of dried chickpeas lurking somewhere at the back of my shelves. Hummus is an obvious way to use up the peas and I could quite happily munch my way through tubs of the sesame spiked paste. For a slightly more unusual use my blog founding chocolate chickpea cake recipe is great. But chickpeas are perfect to bulk out vegetarian and vegan food often giving a bit more substance meat free dishes. And this vegan curry recipe displays this quality of chickpeas perfectly, in fact you really wouldn’t notice that there was anything missing from this vegan feast.

This recipe is based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s chandra malai kofta recipe published over on the Guardian website. So go check out the original for a slightly more authentic recipe as I made a few tweaks (mainly substituting cashew nuts with peanut butter) to suit what I had in my cupboards at the time of cooking. Either way this is a truly tasty treat.


½ tin of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
100g courgette (grated)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (grated)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons corn flour

1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vegetable stock
1 medium onion (finely diced)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated)
½ tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ tin of coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato puree
½ cup frozen peas

Toast the cumin seeds in a pan over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until lightly brown and fragrant.

Mash the chickpeas in a bowl together with the toasted cumin seeds until well combined then add the courgette, coriander, ginger, garlic and salt. Then add the breadcrumbs and cornflour and use your hands to bring the mixture together onto a firm ball. Then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by gently frying the onion in a saucepan until it begins to soften. Then add the garlic and ginger for about 1 minute before adding the curry powder, garam masala and cumin and stir for another minute until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tomato puree, peanut butter and vegetable stock, bring to a gently simmer and cook for 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. Take a small handful of the kofta mix at a time and form into a fat sausage shape and add to the frying pan. Continue forming approximately 8 kofta. Fry the kofta for about 8 minutes rolling them about in the pan so that they cook evenly on all sides.

Finally add the peas to the curry sauce mix and warm through and then serve the curry sauce together with the kofta and some boiled rice (I used red rice), then tuck in and enjoy.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Banana Ginger Cake

I love a good cookbook, pretty glossy ones with lots of mouth-watering photos to match the recipes. And ones with recipes that are a little bit different or unusual but that ultimately always work, recipes that have been developed with love and thoroughly tested to avoid kitchen disappointments occurring for us at home. One of the best baking book purchases I have made in the last couple of years has to Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet which is a beautiful book full of delectably delicious recipes for breads, cakes and pies. And so far everything I have made from the book has turned out perfectly, which is a bit of a miracle as since moving into a house with a Rayburn I do still at times struggle to get the perfectly risen cake or not overly crusty loaf of bread.

Dan Lepard also used to write for the Guardian and when on a recent trawl of the internet for recipes to use up some browning bananas I came across this dark banana ginger cake recipe. And so it was a complete no brainer to get stuck into this recipe rather than continuing my recipe search. Due to not having all of the appropriate ingredients in the original recipe I did make a few little adjustments, as well as adding a lemon syrup to the cake after baking to make it a little more moist but I would probably recommend going to try Dan’s original recipe first as in my opinion he is a true baking king!!

Oh and this recipe uses vegetable oil rather than butter so is dairy free, making it a great blog addition.


200g banana
200g soft dark brown sugar
3 extra-large eggs (one of mine was a double yolker so not sure if that counts as 4)
125ml vegetable oil
50g glace ginger
½ teaspoon ground ginger
150g plain flour
50g rye flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons  of caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C / 335°F and line a 24 x 18 cm baking tin with non-stick baking parchment.

Mash the sugar and bananas together in a large bowl before mixing in the oil, eggs and glace ginger. Finally fold in the ground ginger, baking powder and flours, stirring until fully combined.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until golden in colour and springy to the touch.

Whilst the cake is in the oven put the lemon juice and caster sugar in a small pan and place over a low heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. When the cake is removed from the oven and whilst still in the tin use a skewer or sharp knife to make lots incisions in the cake. Drizzle the lemon syrup over the cake allowing it to seep into the holes made by the knife/skewer. Then once cooled transfer out of the tin and the cake is now ready to enjoy.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Cheesy Popcorn Croutons

I really love popcorn. I’m more of a savoury than sweet fan (although I did make myself some of this dark and stormy caramel popcorn at the weekend which was amazingly good…and slightly addictive!!) and salty is definitely my first choice in a trip to the cinema. But popcorn isn’t just a cinema snack and as the proud owner of a popcorn machine I often fire up my slightly indulgent kitchen gadget and spray popcorn kernels all over my kitchen. And making popcorn at home provides the perfect opportunity to experiment with flavours a little more, a good sprinkling of smoked paprika a long with a pinch of salt for example is always a winner for me.

As well as just munching through bowls of the stuff whilst sitting in front of the TV popcorn can be added to other dishes and a few savoury flavoured pieces of popcorn can be used to top a bowl of soup, providing a great wheat free alternative to traditional croutons.

I recently made myself a bowl of roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup and topped it with these cheesy popcorn croutons….and it was really rather delicious.


¼ cup unpopped corn kernels
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4

Pre-heat an oven to 170°C / 335°F and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

If you don’t have a popcorn machine to pop your corn you can follow these instructions to do it in a saucepan instead.

Once popped combine the popcorn with the cheese, oil, oregano and seasoning, tossing together in a large bowl until the corn is evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking tray spreading out into a single layer and then put the baking tray into the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted slightly, moving the popcorn around on the baking tray halfway during the baking time.

Allow to cool very slightly before using the popcorn ‘croutons’ to top a bowl of soup of your choice.