Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries are a healthy and delicious alternative to normal fries and add a little sweetness to accompany whatever main you decide to go for.
For this meal we enjoyed ours Mediterranean style, coated in zaa’tar, paprika, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper and served with spring green wraps.

You will need (serves two):

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • Oil (we like the spray one for chips as it distributes much more evenly)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chilli powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Garlic powder, paprika, zaa’tar and any other spices if you so wish!

This is the simplest method, so start by preheating your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Now roughly slice your sweet potatoes, however thick or thin you like them. We went for a bit of a mixture, some were more wedge-like, others were more like small fries that went extra crispy.
Once all are chopped, place them in a baking tray and sprinkle on your chosen spices, salt and pepper. Spritz on some oil and then with you hands, toss the fries to ensure that all are as evenly coated as possible.
Place into the oven and bake for around thirty-five minutes, checking on them every ten minutes or so and flipping them. For the last five minutes, switch your oven onto the grill setting, as this will help them go even crispier just before you take them out the oven.

If they are as crispy as you like, take them out, serve and enjoy!

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Vietnamise Rice Paper Rolls

Vietnamise rice paper rolls

Vietnamise rice paper rolls are so vibrant and appetising that it’s hard for them to not impress whoever you have sat around your dinner table. We love adding them to our selection when we’re doing Asian, even if we’re just cooking for ourselves. Well – especially if we’re just cooking for ourselves.
They are a simple extra, which take no time at all but complete your spread; the crunch, the colour, the freshness accompanies some noodles so well, but they aren’t too filling that they tip you over the edge when you’ve almost had sufficient.

You can purchase the papers from any Asian store you have lurking around the corner, or failing that, a very large Supermarket should stock them too. Have a look online beforehand if you don’t live in a city, to save you driving somewhere to find out they don’t sell them. They’re usually pretty cheap – ours are around £2 something for a pack containing around twenty sheets. We cut each roll into two or three, so it wouldn’t take too many to make an impressive platter for a dinner party. Why not try these as canapés when you’re next hosting an Asian feast?

The servings for this are difficult as its up to you to decide how many you think you’ll want, so we’re going to write down what we usually do for two of us for a main dish:

You will need:

  • 3 sheets of rice paper
  • 2 spring onions cut into strips
  • A good chunk of red cabbage, either grated or cut into thin strips
  • 2 inches of cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • A handful of rocket
  • Soy sauce, sweet chilli or hoisin sauce to dip
  • Any other veg you fancy! Water chestnuts are delicious and some red onion never goes amiss
  • Water

Method:

In a large, shallow saucepan pour in some water and bring to a simmer. Once it is hot, remove from the heat and allow to cool down.

Once it is cool enough to touch, take a sheet of rice paper and place in the water for 5 seconds or so. It will collapse and become completely soft so once it has done this, take it out and place on a large plate as flat as possible. It becomes very sticky so try not to let too much of it stick together as this will make it difficult to roll and it may tear!

Now place your veg in whichever order you prefer onto one side of the rice paper. Leave an inch or so above, below and to the side of it so that you can tuck these edges over and roll! We like to stick the top and bottom together in the middle if we can, then bring over the side and start rolling until all the rice paper is compact and held together. Slice in half, choose your dipping sauce and plate up!

Chana Masala filled Bhel Puri

Puri

We were always in awe of these starters when we went out for an Indian; they seemed so delicately crafted we didn’t ever think it’d be possible to make even halfway decent ones at home. They look so impressive and unusual that we had to give them a go, and it was fun trying something so new and different to what we usually do.

You can serve these as canapés if you master them so that they all puff up evenly and perfectly, or you can serve one or two as a starter at a small dinner party, or you can just keep them to yourself… You can even make larger ones if you’d rather they accompanied your main dish, but whichever you choose, we’re certain they’ll go down well and burst full of flavour.

You will need… (serves two):

For the chana masala:

  • Half a can of chickpeas, drained
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • Half a can of chopped tomatoes
  • ½ mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ green chilli
  • A medium handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, adjust according to your taste
  • You may need a splash of water to stop it from drying out and a couple of fresh and whole cherry tomatoes add a nice texture too!
  • A splash of sunflower oil or a teaspoon of coconut oil, depending on your preference

For the puri:

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour or atta
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • ½ cup of water or so
  • Vegetable oil to fry
  • Sev and Bhel mixture (dried noodle pieces and puffed rice that can be bought from Indian stores – if you are London based there is a great little one in Euston on Drummond Street, or ‘Taj Stores’ just off Brick Lane in Shoreditch).

Extras:

  • Mango chutney
  • Vegan yoghurt
  • Other dips/sauces of your choice

Method:

We suggest cooking your chana masala first so that your dish can cool slightly and the spices have longer to infuse, so first you want to heat your mustard seeds. Stir these in the saucepan on a medium heat for about 2 minutes, until they have darkened slightly in colour, then pour in your chosen oil.
Once it has heated up slightly, tip in your onion, chilli and your spices. Keep stirring so that the spices are evenly spread and if the mixture starts to dry out, add a splash of water. Next chuck in your garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes; if you are adding whole cherry tomatoes, throw these in now too so that they have a chance to reduce.

Stir in your chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and a little salt and pepper and leave for a couple of minutes. Once the chopped tomatoes have broken down, give it a taste and adjust accordingly. You may want to add a dash more cumin and salt, it’s up to you and how tomato-ey or spicy you like your chana masala!
Add a tiny splash more water, chuck in most of your chopped coriander (leave a little to garnish) and give it one last stir before putting a lid on top and setting aside whilst you make your puri’s.

First you want to sieve the whole-wheat flour with some salt, and then add your melted coconut oil.
Next, add a little bit of water at a time and knead until a stiff and tight dough is formed – make sure you don’t add too much water and that it doesn’t become sticky, (you may not need to use all the water)!
Once you are happy with the texture of the dough, divide it into small pieces – the dough should make around ten. Turn these into small balls then roll each ball out into a very small circle, each piece should be close to the size of a two penny coin.
Now get a deep frying pan, or a wok will do, and heat up a very generous amount of sunflower oil until it starts to sizzle. Once it is sufficiently hot, add each puri at a time and gently pat/pressdown on the top of the disc so that it should start to puff up. Flip it over and do the same to the other side until it is a nice golden brown – don’t let it get too dark as it will taste burnt and also won’t be anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing!
Once cooked, transfer to some paper towel on a plate so that any excess oil can be soaked up.

Once your puri’s have cooled, you want to crack a small hole in the top of each so that the inside of the puris can be filled with your chana masala. We usually don’t fill ours until the chana mixture has cooled down, otherwise the bottoms of the puri’s can tend to get a little soggy!

When both are at a temperature that you’re satisfied with, fill a teaspoon or so of chana mixture into each puri, add some mango chutney and sprinkle your bhel and sev mixture on top and garnish with coriander.

We advise putting a whole one in your mouth so that the delicious filling bursts out once the shell has cracked…but of course, it’s entirely up to you – enjoy!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed mushroom

Stuffed Portobello mushrooms are so easy, delicious and are a great addition to any meal. Mushrooms hold so much juice in them that they add moisture and taste to any dish – we love grilling them and putting them in a bun for a great veggie burger, but they can also be enjoyed on their own, stuffed with breadcrumbs and served with a side salad. They make a perfect starter drizzled with a balsamic glaze, or can be enjoyed as a light-lunch or mid-morning snack!

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 slice of bread made into fresh breadcrumbs
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar

Method:

Preheat your grill to a medium heat and allow it to warm up whilst you prep your other ingredients.
Cut out the stalk from each mushroom and chop this up, along with the onion, garlic and coriander. Place these ingredients into a bowl and mix in the cayenne pepper, salt and normal pepper. In a food processor, blitz your slice of bread so that fresh breadcrumbs are made, and add these to your onion and spice mixture.
Divide the mixture into two and put half in each mushroom. Drizzle with olive oil and once your oven is hot enough, place both onto a baking tray and into the oven and bake for around 12-15 minutes. The mushrooms should start to release their own juices and reduce slightly in size, whilst the breadcrumbs begin to crisp up.
Once you are satisfied with how cooked they are (you may want an extra 5 minutes in the oven if you’re grill isn’t that hot), take them out the oven, drizzle some balsamic onto them and serve them how you wish. Delicious!

Note: vegan cheese or non-vegan cheese can be added for a stronger flavour if you so wish, and also, as always, please feel free to adapt the spices to your taste!

Okra chips

Okra chips

These okra chips can be enjoyed as a light snack, an interesting side or as the main component to your salad. We enjoyed ours with bao burgers and toasted peanuts, and to make them extra crispy we soaked them in water and vinegar for 15 minutes before baking them for around 20. The recipe and method for these chips is fairly self explanatory, but coat them in whatever spices you fancy!

We used one packet of okra for two, and coated ours in:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Finely chopped garlic(about 2 cloves will do)
  • Oil
  • Chilli powder
  • A little bit of cumin.
    (We also recommend roasting whole garlic cloves with the okra as these are delicious to eat whole!)

Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees Celsius, then soak your okra in the water and vinegar mixture, as stated above, and stir every five minutes.
After 15 minutes, drain the water and pat the okra dry with paper towels.
Transfer the okra to a large mixing bowl and drizzle over some oil and sprinkle on salt, pepper and whatever other spices you have chosen. Toss with your hands to ensure that all is well covered, then transfer to a baking tray and sprinkle on your finely chopped garlic and your whole cloves.
Turn after 10 minutes and then remove after 20 minutes if they look crispy enough to you!

Avocado drizzle

Avocado drizzle

This is our simple avocado drizzle, dip or sauce. It’s so adaptable and works with anything, as well as making your avocados go that little bit further. Add more garlic for a perfect pizza dip, use basil to make a creamy pesto pasta, or blend some coriander into it to accompany your tacos!

The basic recipe, you will need:

  • Half an avocado, flesh removed
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Half a green chilli
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

It couldn’t be simpler; simply add water whilst blending all of the ingredients together, until you have reached the consistency you want. We added some chilli flakes into ours for a little extra spice, plus the red makes the colour a little more interesting. You can also add yoghurt or crème fraîche if you prefer it creamier and only have a little bit of avocado…It really is up to you!

Simply Hummus

 

Hummus, like guacamole, is one of those dips that whilst being so archetypal to a certain type of food, can always find a space on our table, and coming from Greek Cypriot heritage it often did. Again, like guac, it’s such a versatile dish that champions the idea that simple food is often best, however, you can jazz it up so easily for variation, with changes to herbs, spices and toppings like pesto, chutneys or sweet chilli.

This is our simple, basic hummus recipe. The most important thing to remember is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this is never truer than with hummus. I think my brother uses a little too much olive oil to get his wonderful smooth consistency, my sister-in-law says his is the best she’s ever tasted. My brother thinks I need more lemon, my mum says more garlic. The point is that everybody who likes hummus likes the hummus they like, so don’t worry too much about the quantities, use them as a starting point but experiment, adapt and make your favourite mix.

For our simple Hummus you will need:

  • 1 x 400g can chick peas
  • 3 x tbsp Tahini
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • A pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Olive Oil

Method:

Drain half the water from the chickpeas before pouring the leftover water and chickpeas into a blender, add the rest of the ingredients, except the oil and blend – adding olive oil a little bit at a time.

One of the best things about making hummus, apart from its simplicity and how cheap it is to make, is that you should stop the blender often and make sure you keep tasting it to get the flavour and consistency you want.

If you want it wetter add more water, oil or tahini depending on what taste you’re looking for. Finish with a little paprika, chopped parsley or coriander for the aesthetic. Feel free to add any spices you like; we’ve made cumin hummus, paprika, coriander and caramelised onion as well as many others and they all work great, so don’t be scared. Experiment and enjoy!

Guacamole

IMG_7611

Guacamole has always been one of our favourite dips to whip up and it always has a place on our table, regardless of the cuisine we’re cooking.

For Christmas we were lucky enough to be given a Mexican Molcajete to make and serve it in, so now it even feels as though we’re making it like the pros. Making the perfect guacamole really is as easy as it looks, so try our recipe and tips below!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 medium red onion (very finely chopped)
  • 1 red chilli (test how hot the chilli is – we like it quite spicy so use one large red chilli and sometimes a couple of dashes of chilli powder, but vary it depending on your taste!)
  • a small handful of coriander
  • 1 large tomato or 5 cherry tomatoes
  • the juice of half a lime
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • pepper (to taste)

Method:

It couldn’t be simpler – chop the onion, garlic, chilli, tomato and coriander very finely and add to your mixing bowl, along with the salt and pepper. Cut the avocado into chunks and add this too, with the lime.

Once all the ingredients are in the bowl (and only once they all are) then you can mix until all ingredients are mixed into the avocado, but ensure that a few chunky bits still remain.
We find that if you add the avocado first and then mix each ingredient into the avocado then the texture is too mushy and liquidified. It seems like a small detail but I find it really makes a difference in creating the perfect guacamole. You get crunch, smoothness and taste – why do it any other way??

It really is a personal preference though so feel free to adjust the spices to your taste. If we feel like mixing it up a bit we sometimes add a bit of mesquite barbecue powder, or paprika, or even a few drops of tobasco – it’s entirely up to you! Enjoy.

 

Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas

3B766A6E-75C0-4E26-93A0-E9F824F4005C922545A3-181D-4F66-ABA3-B2A1F6FDA3FAWe. Love. Snacks. [I love snacks so much that I had to give up crisps for lent one year…Hardest lent of my life]. This snack changes everything however, high in protein and fibre, it meets many of your dietary needs whilst satisfyingyour crunchy cravings, guilt free. Now, let’s just pause for a minute – we’re not suggesting you never crack open a packet of those little bites of potato heaven again, we’re only offering an every-day alternative for that middle-of-the-day grumble in your tummy. These also work great as a crunchy topping to salad, rice or even pasta dishes as well.

The spice mix is unspecific, we used chilli, salt, pepper and fresh garlic for these but previously we’ve used garam masala, cumin, whatever spices you want really – salt and vinegar even works well!

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, take 1, 400g, can of chickpeas and drain, add whatever spices you like and mix with a drizzle of oil.
Then place it on a baking tray (we used foil to stop the chickpeas falling through the grates on our baking tray) and roast for 30 minutes or so, turning after about 15. If you want them extra crunchy [we did] it may take slightly longer, anything up to an hour.