Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese 

My vegetarian bolognese brings all the Italian Nonnas to the yard…

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Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant I’m so tempted to order Nonnas homestyle spaghetti bolognese. After all there is nothing more comforting than rustic homestyle Italian food. The only problem is that a classic bolognese sauce is cooked with mince meat, which makes it a deal breaker for me. Not anymore! I can have my bolognese and can eat it too.

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This vegetarian bolognese packs the rustic Ialian homestyle flavourful punch, no animals were harmed or killed in its making and it’s just so easy.  You could make a big batch and freeze it too for ready to eat meals on weeks nights when cooking is the last thing on your mind.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils
  • 300 gms of firm tofu, crumbled
  • One red onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 400 gms of canned tomatoes or Pasata
  • Three to four pods of garlic, minced
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil
  • One litre of vegetable stock

Drain the lentils, thoroughly rinse them  and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Once aromatic add garlic and onion, cook until onions are lightly caramelised.

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Now add tomatoes, Passata and all the dried herbs and spices, mix well. Add crumbled tofu, cover the pot and cook the ingredients on a medium for seven to ten minutes.


Once the tofu is soft, add the stock and lentils. Mix well, cover the pot and cook the sauce of a low heat for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir the sauce from time to time to help break the protein and infuse the flavour thoroughly.


Season with salt and mix well. Let the sauce simmer for another five to seven minutes. In the meantime cook spaghetti as per packet instructions.

To serve toss the sauce with pasta and ladle a generous serve on top. Garnish with cracked pepper and grated Parmesan. I can guarantee this spaghetti will bring all the Italian Nonnas to the yard and you can say – Damn right it is better than yours!

Big Breakfast

Because nothing says weekend like a big breakfast…

Now with Samuel Kabir eating solids our mealtimes have become so much more fun. It’s so entertaining watching him try new things, roll his eyes or smile with glee each time he tries a new food. One thing is for sure the boy loves his food. Who wouldn’t I suppose with foodie parents like us two.

My favourite part of the week has to be cooking and relishing weekend brunches with my family. Recently I decided to make my own spiced breakfast beans and crispy breakfast potatoes. Needless to say there were cheesy scrambled eggs and beautiful crusty grilled sourdough. 

 

While I’m a complete believer in convenience and using canned baked beans would’ve been just fine. Since it’s the question of nutrition for little SammyK I make no compromise. Besides when homemade beans are so easy to make and ready in 15 minutes, why wouldn’t you make them at home.

Ingredients:  18 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the beans

  • One can of reduced salt cannellini beans
  • One small onion, chopped
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon of rosemary leaves
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil

For the potatoes 

  • Three to four medium-sized potatoes, cubed
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs 
  • Salt to season 

For the eggs

  • Eight eggs
  • Quarter cup of milk
  • Half a cup of grated tasty cheddar
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon of olive oil

Begin by rinsing the beans thoroughly to wash off the salts and rind. On the other hand parboil the potatoes until slightly tender.

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Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and onion, cook until aromatic. Now add tomatoes, herbs and spices and let the tomatoes stew on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

  
Once the tomatoes are soft add the beans and half a cup of water. Mix well and cover the pan, let the beans simmer for 10 minutes.

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In the meantime, heat oil in another pan. Add mixed Italian herbs, once aromatic, add the potatoes. Toss well and cook until potatoes are cooked through and crispy.

  

To make the eggs. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl. Heat oil in a pan, add the eggs and turn the heat low. Keep folding the eggs in until scrambled and fluffy. Add grated cheddar and mix through. Garnish with cracked pepper. 

Your lip smackingly delicious big breakfast is ready to serve. If you are sharing this with your little one, take out relevant portions for him/her and then add salt for seasoning to the remaining. All the meat lovers feel free to add chorizo in beans or bacon on the side. Or just take my word that you won’t miss the meat if you eat a well cooked vegetarian meal once in a while.

  

So what are you waiting for. Pile it all up on a big plate and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. Meanwhile in our house SammyK demolished his food and then went on to feed his furbling.

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Vegetarian Laksa

No more take away Laksa…

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Wow! the past four weeks have been such a roller coaster. New baby, crazy hormones, house full of family. Everyday feels like a surprise test, but thank God I love a good challenge. This lets me take everyday in my stride and keep me sane. Fortunately I have been blessed with some wonderful support from my family, which allows me to make time to do things I really enjoy, cooking being one of them. Every opportunity I get I sneak into my kitchen, ransack my fridge and try to whip up some lip smackingly delicious treats for my family. I know they say mum should sleep when bubs sleeps, but this mumma here loves to cook, eat and blog!!!

Recently for dinner I craved something spicy, soupy, with oodles of flavour and packed with a truck load of veggies. After a thorough fridge and pantry inspection I found the following – Tom Yum paste, curry powder, vermicelli noodles, coconut milk and assorted vegetables. This was only going to go one way, a cruise through South East Asia with a tasty bowl of Laksa. 

Although Laksa hails from Malaysia, it is a confluence of flavours from China, Thailand and Indonesia. My recipe today has a bit of twist, instead of Laksa paste, I have used Tom Yum paste. Traditionally one would not use Tom Yum paste in a laksa! However the ingredients that go into making Tom Yum paste particularly lemongrass and galangal make this paste a good choice when making a laksa. Particularly if you are time poor or just lazy and can’t be bothered making your own laksa paste from scratch. Although if you can’t find Tom Yum paste you can use Thai red curry paste or laksa paste too!

So without further ado find the list of ingredients below and the recipe too.

Ingredients: 16   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 200 gms of hokkien noodles
  • 200 gms of vermicelli noodles
  • 450 ml of coconut milk
  • 750 ml of vegetable/chicken stock
  • One heaped tom yum paste
  • Two tablespoons of curry powder (I used Clives of India Curry Powder)
  • One teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Two medium cinnamon sticks
  • Two to three kaffir lime leaves
  • One tablespoon of palm sugar
  • One medium brown onion, sliced
  • Two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Assorted vegetables (I used bok choi, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas) 
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil

Heat oil in a wok. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Now add the grated ginger, cook until aromatic.

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Add Tom Yum paste, stir well and cook until the oil surfaces on the top. Now add curry powder, chilli powder and stir well again. Cook on a low heat for another two to three minutes.

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Time to add the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Followed by cinnamon sticks, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and lemon juice. The lemon juice was my secret twist, it cuts through the richness of coconut milk and gives the dish a great flavour. Now lower to the heat, cover the wok with a lid and simmer the gravy for 10 to 15 minutes.

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The gravy is now ready. Add the sliced vegetables, give the gravy a good stir and let it simmer for another five to seven minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. While the gravy is simmering cook the noodles as per packet instructions.

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Your laksa is ready to serve. Place the noodles in a bowl and scoop the lip smackingly delicious gravy and vegetables on top. Garnish with fresh coriander and crispy shallots. Serve warm and enjoy the heartwarming goodness of this beautiful dish.

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Mexican Friday Night Feast

Arribaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! Need I say more…

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I have always wanted to go to Mexico! Remember the Sex and the City movie? When Carrie and the girls go to Mexico on Carrie’s honeymoon after she and Mr Big have that pre wedding spat. I was watching it the other day. All I could think of was how amazing would it be to be in Mexico with my girlfriends – the beach, a Corona, sunshine, a big bright sombrero, lots of tacos. Oh please teleport me to Mexico. Alas, going to Mexico could be a while, but that can’t stop me from bringing Mexico to me! How? Simple, through those big bold beautiful Mexican flavours – beans, salsa, jalapeno, guacamole, corn chips and more.

Recently for our Friday night in (Yes! My husband and I are too cool to go out for after work drinks on Friday lol), I decided it was time we took a culinary trip to Mexico. I had just watched the Sex and the City movie the night before and was clearly obsessing about Mexico all over again. I decided to change things up a bit and rather than the usual tacos or enchiladas I tried something different.

I tried to uplift the down trodden veggie burger by giving it a Mexican twist. You will know why I am calling it a down trodden Veggie Burger if you have eaten one here in Australia – it’s either too dry, or too soggy, under seasoned, over cooked, all in all just pathetic. To top it all there’s no McVeggie burger in McDonald’s either, which is the pride and glory of vegetarian burger lovers in India. So for all my Australian and other veggie burger lovers until McDonald’s doesn’t introduce the McVeggie here or wherever you are, please find a winner in this Mexican veggie burger. 

Ingredients: 22   Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

For the burger
  • Four large potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 250 gms of red kidney beans, boiled and coarsely mashed
  • Half cup of breadcrumbs
  • One red onion, finally chopped
  • Half bunch of coriander, finally chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of coriander powder
  • Salt to season
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Burger buns (I used English muffins)
For the salsa
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Two tomatoes, finely sliced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Half a bunch of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
  • Half teaspoon of cumin powder
For the mayo
  • Four tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • One tablespoon of Jalapeno sauce
  • One tablespoon of Habanero sauce (or less if you don’t like it hot)
  • Juice of half a lemon
Burger toppings
  • Cheddar cheese slices
  • Fresh lettuce
  • Fried egg (optional)

To make the burger patties, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mash them up. Divide and shape the mixture into four equal sized patties, roughly 2 cm thick. Place them in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up while you prepare the other elements of the burger.

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To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. You can add more or less of the ingredients as desired, I personally prefer a zingy, spicy sauce and it goes really well with the patty. My vegan readers you can replace the mayonnaise based sauce by combining smashed avocado with the Habanero and Jalapeno sauce.

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To make the salsa, simply combine all the ingredients. Taste to make sure the flavours are to your liking. 

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Pre heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the burger patties, cook for five to six minutes on each side or until crispy. Transfer them to the oven while you prepare the remaining elements of the burger.

Halve, butter and toast the burger buns on a hot griddle pan or under the grill. Once ready, add a dollop of Mexican mayo  or avocado relish and spread of both buns evenly. Remove and place the patty from the oven on the base of the bun, top it up with more mayo, salsa, fresh lettuce, fried egg (optional), cheese slice and finally the burger top. Your lip smackingly delicious Mexican Veggie Burger is ready to be devoured.

I served the burger with a side of corn chips, avocado relish and char grilled corn – I was definitely teleported to Mexico!!!

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