Quick basic kimchi

Two jars of basic quick kimchi

Of all the recipes I thought I might be posting here, this would have been among the last. I regularly claim not to like pickled food, but that was before I went to Martha de Lacey’s supper club and had some absolutely delicious kimchi! I still don’t think I’ll be reaching for the pickled onions anytime soon, but am making a tentative foray into the world of fermenting.

Until Martha posts her recipe (promised on her new subscriber Instagram account, a clever move to stay solvent for the duration), I used a recipe for quick kimchi that I found online. I made it yesterday and, although we had a first taste with our lunch today, it really needs to mature for a week or two.

Reporting back one week later: I kept jar one on the bench for a few days, after which the flavour was much stronger and more developed. I preferred jar two that went straight into the fridge – the flavour had still deepened, but it was a bit less sharp – but my partner thought jar one was more interesting. So, if you try this recipe let me know what you think!

These are half the original quantities, as I’m still experimenting, but if there are more than two of you, or you already know you love fermented cabbage, then I’d double them back up again. And I put in more ginger, carrots and radishes because we like them, and omitted the tablespoon of fish sauce because I’m still working up to the full-on, stinky version of kimchi!

  • Half a head of Chinese cabbage
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 radishes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • a thumb of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp chilli paste (I used Thai chilli paste)
  • 1 rounded tsp caster sugar
  • 2 dstsp rice vinegar

Shredded cabbage for kimchiShred the cabbage, not too finely, into a bowl and mix in the sea salt, mixing and scrunching it with your hands. Cover and leave for about an hour.

Crush the garlic and peel and grate the root ginger. Mix together with the chilli paste, sugar and rice vinegar (and some fish sauce if you wish).  Trim and grate the radishes and carrots and finely shred the spring onion.

IMG_6173After an hour, rinse it and dry it by spinning in a salad drier or by tipping it into a clean tea-towel and rolling up to press out the water. Tip back into the rinsed and dried bowl and mix together with the radishes, carrots and spring onion. Then mix in the kimchi paste – I did this with my hands as it is so much easier (and we’re all washing our hands a lot now anyway!).

Kimchi mixed and ready to go in the jar

I then left it to itself in the bowl for quite a while while I embarked on a fruitless search for the large kilner jar I know I have somewhere, before giving up and packing it into two jam jars. Having given it all 24 hours at room temperature, I am going to keep some out on the bench and put the second jar in the fridge. I will report back on how it tastes next week!

 

Squash caponata

I thought I should start the New Year as I intend to go on, after too long a gap, by sharing this recipe, which has already become a keeper. Here’s to enjoying more delicious food in 2020…

I have always liked caponata, so when I spotted a recipe by Anna Jones for a winter version made with roast squash I immediately tore it out of the Guardian Feast section to try. It was so delicious that I made it on repeat at home, and then again when I went to stay with my vegan brother. It is blissfully easy to make, and can be eaten as a vegan main course, with a salad and good bread, as a starter or side dish.

I think the flavours are best when it is eaten warm or at room temperature, but it is good hot from the oven too.  It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and is also really easy to scale up and down, whether to make enough for a crowd or just use up that piece of squash that has been lurking in your veg drawer. 

  • 2 tins plum tomatoes
  • 1.1kg squash (or pumpkin)
  • 3 medium red onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp basalmic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g black olives
  • 3 tbsp capers
  • 50g raisins
  • 20g parsley

Heat the oven to 240° C/220° C Fan/Gas 9. Peel and deseed the squash, and chop it into roughly 2cm chunks. Peel the onions and cut each into six pieces. Peel the garlic cloves and squash them with the side of a knife.

Empty the tinned tomatoes into a large baking tray, breaking them up with a spoon or your hands (you can use tins of chopped tomatoes if you prefer, though you lose a bit of texture). I still use my mother’s sturdy roasting pan for this sort of dish. Add all the prepped vegetables, then drizzle over 3 tbsp each of basalmic vinegar and olive oil and grind over some salt and pepper. Put into the oven and roast for 35 minutes. 

While it is cooking pick off the leaves of the parsley – they are part of the salad, rather than a garnish, so don’t stint or chop them. When all the roasted vegetables are soft and starting to char at the edges add the olives, capers and raisins, mix well and return the pan to the oven for 15 minutes.

When the caponata comes out of the oven stir through the remaining 1 tbsp of vinegar and the parsley leaves. Either serve straight away or leave to cool a little. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy New Year!

 

Lentils with squash and spinach

Lentils with squash and spinach

A new discovery, this lentil dish is both comforting and fresh-tasting, thanks to being flavoured with orange peel and juice. The idea came from the beginning of a Lindsey Bareham recipe in her column for The Times, which Irene found online. The introduction and ingredients made it sound delicious, but the rest of the recipe was for subscribers only, so the method below is our guesswork (and the sage and fresh chilli our additions). So far, we have had it hot with sausages and pan-fried pheasant breast (separately, obviously) and at room temperature with salad and goat’s cheese. I plan to polish off the leftovers with some ham for lunch tomorrow, and Lindsey Bareham also recommends it cold with hard-boiled eggs.

These quantities make enough for 3 servings, or 4 as the accompaniment to something more substantial.

1 large onion
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 oranges
1 cm piece dried chilli
150g puy lentils
1 bay leaf
3 sage leaves (optional)
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g butternut squash
100g spinach
1 fresh red chilli to serve (optional)

Heat the oven to 210°C. Chop the butternut squash into bite-sized chunks and toss in 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread on a baking tray. Roast for about 20-25 minutes until tender. I tend to roast more butternut squash than I need for one recipe, as there are lots of recipes that you can then make easily, such as soup, pumpkin rice, squash with aubergine sauce, salad with mushrooms or risotto.

Softening onions for lentils with squash and spinachCut the onion in half and slice thinly. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the onions slowly with a good pinch of salt, stirring regularly and reducing the heat if they start to show any sign of browning. After about 10-15 minutes, they should be soft and golden – rapeseed oil gives them a particularly lovely colour.

Add the lentils and stir them in to coat them with the oil. Pare several long strips of orange rind and add them to the pan with the dried chilli, bay leaf and the sage leaves torn into strips. Stir and cook for another minute or two, then add the hot stock to the pan.

Lentils with squash and spinach 2

I used 1 tsp of Marigold bouillon made up with 250ml of boiling water, but found I needed to add a little more water. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes in case you need to add a little more water.

Wash the spinach and squeeze the juice of the oranges. After 15 minutes the lentils should be nearly tender – if not, give them another few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the spinach to the pan (if you’re using previously roasted, cold squash as I was, add it at this stage to warm through).

Adding spinach and squash to the lentils

Put the lid back on and cook gently for another 3-5 minutes until the spinach has wilted. By now, the squash should be ready to come out of the oven. Stir the spinach into the lentils, add the orange juice and the squash if you are  haven’t already done so. Give it a final stir and check the seasoning, then serve hot, warm or cold. It may not look elegant, but it is delicious!

Lentils with squash and spinach

Chicory gratin

Known in Dutch as Witlof met ham en kaas, this is Irene’s comfort food – the dish her mother makes for her when she goes to visit. These quantities will make lunch or supper for four, needing only some boiled potatoes or crusty bread to mop up the sauce. You could have some green beans or salad alongside too, though that would not be traditional, or serve it as a side dish with roast pork. The dish can be assembled in advance, just leaving the final baking in the oven until just before dinner.

You can, of course, also omit the ham to make an equally delicious chicory gratin for a vegetarian meal (use vegetarian cheese if preferred).

In the UK we tend to eat chicory raw in salad, but it has an excellent and distinctive flavour when cooked, and is a good foil to game or meat. There is an excellent Constance Spry recipe for braised chicory as an accompaniment to pheasant which I should also post.

4 large or 8 small heads of chicory
30g butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
1 onion
1 clove garlic (optional)
2 tbsps vermouth
30g plain flour
250 ml vegetable stock (or milk if preferred)
100 ml single cream
100g gruyere or mature Gouda or Cheddar cheese
8 thin slices of ham, preferably dry-cured

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Trim the root ends of the chicory and cut them in half lengthwise if they are large. Blanch in the boiling water for 8 minutes and then empty into a colander to drain.

Heat the oven to 180 C. Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and over low heat cook the onion gently until it is really soft, without letting it colour. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the onion after a few minutes.

When it is soft, add a good splash of vermouth to the pan and let it bubble up for a minute or two. Then sprinkle over the flour, stir thoroughly into the buttery onion and cook for a few minutes until the flour starts to look and smell biscuity. Meanwhile, heat the stock (or milk) to a simmer. Over medium heat pour the hot stock onto the roux and stir like mad with a wooden spoon or whisk, until the mixture is smooth. Turn the heat down and cook gently, stirring regularly and reaching right to the edges of the pan so that the sauce doesn’t catch. After about 10 minutes the sauce should be smooth and quite thick.

Pour in the cream, stirring. Grate the cheese, stir half into the sauce and heat for a moment to melt it. Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and freshly-grated nutmeg to taste. Set aside. Butter a shallow ovenproof gratin dish.

Squeeze the drained chicory to get rid of as much liquid as possible. Wrap each chicory (or half head) in a piece of ham and arrange in the gratin dish. Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Put into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble. If you have prepared the dish in advance and it is cold it will need a bit longer in the oven. If necessary flash it under the grill to brown the cheese.

Serve with boiled potatoes, and green beans or salad if you wish.

Cannellini bean mash

img_3905.jpgI find the gentle mealiness of cannellini or butter beans very comforting. This mash is incredibly quick and easy to make – no peeling required – and is great with anything that you would serve with mashed potato: casserole, sausages, a chop, vegetable stew. Most recently I served this with slow-cooked lamb shanks and it was a great complement to the dark, sticky, tender meat.

I always have a couple of cans of white beans in the store cupboard for adding to soups and casseroles, making bean dips (like this recipe by Travel Gourmet) – or making mash.

You can of course cook the beans from scratch (you’d need about 350g of dried beans), in which case keep a bit of the cooking water to get your mash to the right consistency.  This quantity serves 4-6, depending on how much you have with it.

4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil, plus a bit to drizzle
1 clove garlic
Sprig fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)
grated zest 1 lemon
3 x 400-gram cans of cannelloni or butter beans
salt & pepper

Put 4 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan, crush the garlic and add it with the sprig of rosemary (if using) and lemon zest and warm through for a few minutes. Remove the rosemary or thyme, but do not throw away.

Empty the cans of beans into a sieve and rinse them under cold running water. Tip them into the flavoured oil in the pan and warm over medium heat, stirring them with a wooden spoon and crushing them to a rough mash. If you want a smoother texture, use a stick blender to puree further – you may need to loosen the mash with a little warm water (or the retained cooking water from the beans).

Strip the leaves from the sprig of herbs and chop them finely. Season the mash to taste, scatter over the chopped herbs and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Thai salad

This salad goes very well with a lot of the Indonesian dishes we like, providing a fresh, crunchy counterpoint to Nasi Goreng, Ajam Ketjap or Tomato and Prawn Curry. With some fried slices of tofu and rice (or Nasi Goreng without the bacon) it would make a good vegetarian/vegan meal – though you’ll need to use a little extra soy sauce instead of the fish sauce in the dressing.

1 cucumber
1 carrot
100g unsalted cashews
1 red pepper
2 spring onions
small packet of coriander leaves
small packet of basil

Dressing:
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 dstsp fish sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli (or 1-2 tsp chilli sauce)
1 tsp sugar
White pepper

Roast the cashews in a frying pan preheated over medium high heat, watching and turning them for a few minutes until they are starting to brown and smelling delicious. Set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, crush the garlic, finely chop the chilli and then whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl or jar (and, no, I haven’t forgotten to list the oil – that’s one of the reasons the salad so light and refreshing). Check the seasoning – you can of course use black pepper if you don’t have white – and adjust to taste.

To prepare the salad, slice the cucumber and cut the slices in half. Grate the carrot on the coarse side of the grater. Thinly slice the red pepper and spring onion.

Combine the salad vegetables in a bowl. If you’re preparing ahead cover the bowl and dressing with cling film and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Then add the cashews and  toss with the dressing. Pick the leaves of the coriander and basil and create a bed of them in a shallow serving dish. Spoon the salad on top and serve.

Gado Gado with peanut sauce

When I first read about Gado Gado I didn’t think it sounded that appetising: a salad of cold cooked vegetables with hard-boiled eggs and cold crispy onions on top. And then I had Marlene’s version and it was absolutely delicious. So I persuaded her to tell me how to make it.

Marlene served it with rice and Babi Ketjap, but you can just have the salad on its own or with chicken satay. For a vegan Gado Gado, omit the eggs and add some firm tofu sliced and fried in a little olive oil until crisp. It is quite flexible, in that you can use whatever vegetables are to hand, though bean sprouts, cucumber, cabbage and green beans are usually included, and sugar snap peas are good. It is dead easy to make, though you do have prepare the vegetables individually – unless you have cooked vegetables that you’re eating up – and you’ll find two colanders (or a colander and a sieve) useful to drain everything.

Ketjap manis is Indonesian sweet soy sauce – if you can’t find it (or don’t want yet another bottle in your pantry) then use ordinary soy sauce with 1 tsp of brown sugar or honey. You should be able to find small tubs of crispy onions alongside the Thai or Chinese ingredients in the supermarket (Waitrose include them in their Cook’s Ingredients range). I’m not sure my dedication would extend to making them myself. Prawn crackers seem to live alongside crisps (oddly, to my mind – but maybe people do eat them as a snack with their beer).

Start by making the peanut sauce – I always make lots, even if I’m only cooking for me, as it is so delicious with lots of other things! Choose peanut butter with the highest percentage of peanuts that you can find (and without sugar). You can use raw peanuts if you prefer, in which case stir fry them in a wok in 100ml of vegetable oil until they are golden, then blend until smooth in a food processor. Anna Jones uses a different method, using roasted peanuts, bashing them in a pestle and mortar and then simmering in 200ml of water, and flavouring it with lemongrass and ginger – not authentic, but sounds worth a try.

Peanut or satay sauce:
2 shallots or ½ small onion
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)
a little vegetable oil for frying
1 dstsp sambal badjak or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp shrimp paste (terassi) or 1 tsp Thai fish sauce (optional)
250g crunchy peanut butter
Juice of about 1/2 lemon
1-2 tbsps Ketjap manis
100 ml coconut milk (optional)

Fry a chopped shallot or a bit of onion in a little oil until it is soft (you could also just use dried onion). Add the sambal or a chopped red chilli and, if you want, a little bit of terassi (Indonesian shrimp paste – notoriously smelly) or 1 tsp of Thai fish sauce, to add depth of flavour.

Stir in the peanut butter and dilute with water – you’ll need at least 200 ml and probably more. You can add the coconut milk at this stage, if you’re using it, which will make a richer sauce. Add 1-2 tbsps of ketjap manis (or soy sauce and sugar) and the lemon juice, then taste and keep adjusting the seasonings until you are happy with it. Serve warm. The sauce will thicken as it cools, so if there is any left over you may need to dilute it further with water.

Salad:
Salad potatoes
Green beans
Carrots
Cabbage (Chinese for preference)
Beansprouts
Cucumber
Red pepper
Spring onions
Eggs (1 each)
Crispy onions
Chopped chives to garnish
Prawn crackers to serve

You will notice that I haven’t given quantities – this is because you really can use whatever combination of vegetables you have, and vary the quantities according to how hungry you are and how many people you’re feeding. When I made this for myself I used a handful of beansprouts, 2 charlotte potatoes, 50g green beans, ¼ of a Chinese cabbage, 2 spring onions, about 5 cm of cucumber and ¼ of a red pepper – and had leftovers.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes and simmer until tender – about 15-20 minutes depending on size. Drain and cut the potatoes into chunks unless they’re very small. Bring another pan of water to the boil, top and tail the beans and blanch them for 4-5 minutes. If you’re using carrots, cut into batons and cook along with the beans – they’ll probably need a minute or two more than the beans, so put them in first. When they are  cooked, drain them in a colander and quickly run them under the cold tap to stop the cooking (and keep the beans bright green). Leave to drain thoroughly.

Shred the cabbage. If you’re using regular white cabbage you will need to steam it for 5-8 minutes until it is tender – you can do this over the simmering potatoes. Forget the modern habit of cooking everything al dente: the cabbage needs to be tender, and tastes better for it. However, I found the Chinese cabbage I was using was closer to lettuce and only needed a brief dousing in boiling water, like the beansprouts: just put them in a colander, pour boiling water over them (you can use the boiling water from the potatoes or beans), and leave to drain.

Hard boil the eggs in barely simmering water – I add the eggs (broad end pricked to reduce the risk of cracking) to boiling water, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 9 minutes. Then run under cold water until cool enough to handle, peel and cut in half. Wash the cucumber and red pepper. Slice the cucumber and then halve them if you wish. Marlene runs the tines of a fork vertically down the skin all round the cucumber first, which gives an attractive deckled edge. Core the red pepper and cut into narrow slices. Trim the spring onions and slice finely.

Arrange all the vegetables, except for the spring onions, in groups on a large shallow dish. Scatter over the spring onions and arrange the hard boiled eggs on top. Finish with a scatter of chives and serve with the peanut sauce, and dishes of crispy onions and prawn crackers for people to help themselves.