Leek, potato and cabbage soup

Another classic, with a twist…

  
I love ‘fridge clean-out’ kind of soups. The other day I found a globe of Savoy cabbage and leek in my fridge. Rustling through the pantry I found a couple of potatoes. There was only one way these ingredients were headed, into a large crockpot and coming out as a warm bowl of comforting soup.

Cabbage gives this classic potato and leek soup a real textural twist. My philosophy behind cooking is about always trying new things. Whether that is flavours, ingredients or cooking techniques they all make us one step closer to becoming culinary geniuses.

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One leek, finely chopped  
  • One Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
  • Two medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Two to three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium sized bay leaf
  • One litre of vegetable stock 
  • One teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Two tablespoons olive oil

In a heavy bottom pot, melt butter and heat olive oil together. Add garlic, once aromatic add leek. I usually use the white part of the leek only, but this time I used the green bits too. Lower the heat and cook until leeks are slightly soft.

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Now add the cabbage and mix the ingredients well. Add potatoes, stock, season with salt and pepper. Finally add a bay leaf and cover the pot.

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Cook on a medium heat until potatoes are soft. Your lip smackingly delicious soup is ready to serve. Personally I like my soups with texture, but you can blend yours if you wish. 

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Garnish with some more crushed black pepper, serve alongside some warm crusty bread. Another winter warmer to comfort you on a cold night.

  

Palak Khichdi 

A spoonful of health and flavour…

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This humble old recipe is every Indian mothers answer when someone in the house says they are feeling under the weather. 

Traditionally defined as bland, boring but healthy. Khichdi is made from lentils, rice, turmeric and a bit of salt. As a child I labelled this dish ‘bimaaron ka khaana’ i.e. ‘ill people’s meal’. I never wanted to eat it and you wouldn’t blame me! 

Today Khichdi and I are good friends. What changed? Well Khichdi became a little more glamorous. Different spices and veggies have elevated this dish and put it at par with risotto from Italy or paella from Spain. All Khichdi is missing now is an exotic name.

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Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms of rice
  • 250 gms of yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 500 ml of spinach puree
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Six to eight cloves
  • One to two blades of mace
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh lemon for garnish 

Begin by washing the rice and lentils thoroughly. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

In a heavy-set pot, melt butter. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and mace. Mace gives this dish a subtle peppery flavour and goes really well with any rice dish. If you can’t find mace you can use half a teaspoon of grounded nutmeg, but add it along with other powdered spices later in the dish.

Once aromatic add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Now add garam masala, coriander powder and nutmeg if using it. Mix well, evenly coating all the ingredients.

Finally add the spinach pureè, about four cups of water and season with salt as desired. Cover the pot with a lid and let the Khichdi simmer on a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Whilst Khichdi is simmering remember to stir it occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Your lip smackingly delicious Khichdi is ready to be served. I have served it with a side of crispy cumin potatoes and garnished it with a wedge of lemon. Here’s to health and happiness in every bite of life!!!

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Eggplant Schnitzel with White Bean Mash

Being a vegetarian has never been easier…

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Schnitzel and I go back eight years ago. The first time I met my mother in law which also happens to be eight years ago, she had invited me to dinner. My husband had obviously forgotten to mention I was a vegetarian.

So there we were sitting on the table, delicious aromas permeating through the house and my stomach rumbling, waiting to devour a warm home cooked meal. Until I found out we were having chicken schnitzel and mash. Fearing that I would come across as high maintenance if I said I was vegetarian, I decided to eat the meal without saying a word. After all nothing pleases a cook more than to see an all clean after dinner plate. 

Eight years hence I can’t say I love chicken  but I definitely love schnitzels, especially vegetarian schnitzels. These eggplant schnitzels are just amazing. Light, crisp and succulent. Moreover no animal was killed or injured in the making of this dish.

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Ingredients: 22   Serves: 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes

For Schnitzels

  • Two medium sized eggplants
  • One cup of plain flour
  • Three eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • Two cups of bread crumbs
  • One teaspoon oregano
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to season
  • Oil for pan frying

For White bean mash

  • 400 gms of butter beans
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • 100 gms of parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 gms of basil, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Two teaspoons of cracked pepper
  • Salt to season 

For Spicy aioli

  • Two tablespoons of natural Greek yogurt
  • One tablespoon of siracha sauce or hot chilli sauce
  • One teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt to season 

Prepare the eggplant by slicing it lengthwise down the middle. Then cut quarter inch slices and keep aside. 

Place flour, whisked eggs with milk and salt and breadcrumbs with oregano and paprika in separate bowls. Coat the eggplant slices invidiually with flour, dip in egg wash and finally crumb them evenly. The schnitzels are ready to be fried. If you are vegan you can make a temupra batter with flour and water and then crumb the schnitzels.

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Heat one tablespoon EVOO in another pan. Add garlic, parsley and basil. Stir until aromatic. Now add butter beans and mix well, cook for seven to ten minutes on a low heat. Then add lemon juice, pepper and season with salt. Mash the beans until creamy. Finally add the remaining EVOO and mix well. Your white bean mash is ready to serve. If you can’t get your hand on butter beans, you can use black eyed beans.


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In another pan heat oil in a pan to fry the schnitzels. Fry the eggplant schnitzels on both sides until crispy.

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Finally for the aioli, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir well.

Now it’s time to bring this sensational dish together. Place a spoonful of mash on a plate. Place the schnitzels on top and  finally top it up with the delicious aioli. Your lip smackingly delicious eggplant schnitzels are ready to serve.

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