Sweet potatoes, Black beans, Crispy onions and Feta cheese

Here is another one of my adaptations of a Nigel Slater recipe, from his book Eat. In this recipe, his is more like a carrot soup with toppings, which is lovely, but by making it a few times I decided to convert this recipe into the main dish.

The original recipe calls for boiled carrots, but I opted for sweet potatoes instead and to roast them first to intensify their sweet flavour.

Roasted sweet potatoes are pureed and studded with spiced black beans before being crowned with a generous scoop of fried onions.

Sweet potato, black beans, crispy onion and coriander

Mix

SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEANS AND CORIANDER

Ingredients:

600g sweet potatoes
60g butter
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 x 400g can of canned black beans
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
olive oil for roasting
salt and pepper to season
fresh coriander leaves (optional)

feta cheese and fresh chilli to serve (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Cut the sweet potato into cubes, place them on baking tray with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until it’s done.
3. Meanwhile melt 30g butter in a pan, add 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds and toast for a minute or two. Drain two cans of black beans and add them to the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes until it’s warmed through. Leave aside.
4. On another pan melt 30g butter, add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Scatter in a large pinch of dried chilli flakes and further teaspoon of mustard seeds. Sizzle briefly. Leave aside.
5. Puree or just roughly mash the cooked sweet potatoes, season to your taste.
6. Divide the pureed sweet potatoes between two large bowls or four smaller bowls and stir in black beans, top bowls with fried onions and garnish with Feta cheese and coriander leaves.
Pureed sweet potato, black beans, feta cheese, crispy onion and coriander
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Aubergine and Chickpeas

I always say, if I had to choose to have just one cookery book, it would definitely be  Eat by Nigel Slater. I just love his approach to food and cooking, his frugal, seasonal, simple no-fuss, but innovative and always delicious food. So, this book is never far away from me and I constantly refer to it either for recipes or just for inspiration.

One of my absolute favourite recipe from it is  an Aubergine and Chickpea dish. It’s embarrassingly easy to make, but it always gets a ‘wow’ reaction from everyone who tries it. The main thing is to season the dish well, as both of the main ingredients (chickpeas and aubergines are rather bland by nature). You can eat it as a main or make it as a starter on its own or on a slice of good toasted bread.

Aubergine and Chickpeas

AUBERGINE AND CHICKPEAS

(Recipe is taken from Eat book by Nigel Slater)

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine

1 400g can of chickpeas

sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped

2 garlic cloves

black pepper and salt to taste

Method:

  1. Slice an aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side.
  2. Drain a can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some bread.

From a long experience cooking this dish, I can say that sometime, I found the grilled aubergines can be a bit dry, so I prefer to bake them in the oven instead. It takes a bit longer then grilling, but the end result is much better. Also, the puree can also come out a bit dry, in this case, just simply add more olive oil/splash of water. You can play around with adding some spices or herbs you like. Serve any green veg or chunky potato chips on the side.

Chocolate Shortcakes with a Peanut Butter Filling

A fiend of mine suggested baking together from time to time, so we did, our first session. It was more chatting than baking, but it seems more fun that way, especially when there’s G&T involved.

We decided to bake two things: something savoury (we choose Zucchini Cheese Cake) and something sweet, like these Chocolate Shortcakes from Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home book. Both bakes were absolutely delicious and I highly recommend.

Chocolate shortcakes with Peanut Butter filling

CHOCOLATE SHORTCAKES WITH A PEANUT BUTTER FILLING

Ingredients:

Shortcakes:

340g plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
80g caster sugar
65g unsalted butter
85g milk chocolate chips
60ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
20g demerara sugar

Filling:

280g full fat cream cheese
60g crunchy peanut butter
60g icing sugar

Method:

  1. Line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and then add the caster sugar. Rub the butter into the ingredients and then add the chocolate chips.
  3. Mix the double cream, vanilla extract and two eggs in a jug and pour this into the flour mixture. This will form a rough dough when you stir it.
  4. Lightly flour a surface and pat the dough down onto it to a thickness of about 3-4cm. Cut out small discs using the cookie cutter (about 6-8 discs).
  5. Place the cakes onto your tray and put them into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Remove the cakes from the freezer. In a small bowl beat the last egg and brush the tops of the cakes. Sprinkle the demerara sugar onto each cake and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and the peanut butter until it’s smooth and then add the icing sugar.
  8. Once the cakes are baked and cooled, cut them in half and spoon a few teaspoons onto the bottom halves of the cakes and sandwich the cakes together.

 

Zucchini & Cheese Savoury Cake

This is something different from the usual sweet zucchini bread. Serve as an accompaniment to a main-dish soup or salad, or just on its own it’s delicious.

Don’t expect a high rise of the cake. Although it rises high in the oven, as soon as it comes out of it, it drops down. It is normal because the ingredients are heavy and moist, however, it doesn’t make cake soggy.

Recipe came from here.

I only changed the title, as in my mind, bread would always have some sort of yeast component. Also, original recipe asks to cut the cheese in cubes, but I prefer to grate it.

Savoury Zucchini Cake

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Indonesian-Style Greens and Coconut Curry

This is a simple, gentle (although, you can add as much chilli as you wish) vegetable curry that works either as a side dish or as a main course with rice.

According to Saveur magazine, in order to get this dish as close to the authentic flavour as possible, it is essential to let the paste of chillies, turmeric, ginger, and garlic gently sweat before stewing the collard greens in coconut milk.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have fresh lemongrass on hand, adding a dry one instead.

Indonesian-style Green and Coconut Curry

INDONESIAN – STYLE GREEN AND COCONUT CURRY

(Original recipe comes from Saveur)

Ingredients:

12 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 big onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 red or green Thai chillies, minced
1 (3″) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dry lemongrass (or 2 large fresh stalks)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
400g collard greens, stemmed and cut crosswise into wide strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Method:
1. Combine turmeric, onion, garlic, chillies, and ginger in a small food processor and purée, adding up to 4 tbsp. water, to form a smooth paste; set aside.
2. If you are using fresh lemongrass, trim tip and root ends of lemongrass stalks and remove tough outer layer. Using a meat mallet, smash lemongrass to flatten and tie into a knot.
 3. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom or cast iron pot over medium-low heat; add reserved paste and lemongrass (dry or fresh); cook, stirring often, until very fragrant, 10–12 minutes.
4. Add sugar, salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
5. Add collards; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 40 minutes.
6. Remove lemongrass; season with salt and pepper and serve warm.