Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ella's Chocolate Pudding

I've named this recipe for my niece Ella. She's 8 months old now, and was only just eating solids when I left her 2 months ago, but I bet she'l l like it when she grows up!

I first came across a variant of this recipe using melted butter in a Red Cross fundraising cookbook. It had been contributed by the Wizard of Christchurch.

This recipe is vegan (but tastes just as good!) Quantities for 8-10 first(quantities for 32-40 in brackets!).

1 cup is 250 mls (1/4 litre)
1 T is 1 Tablespoon, or 15 mls
1 t is 1 teaspoonful, or 5 ml

Ella's Chocolate Pudding

Whisk together the following dry ingredients
1 cup flour (4 cups)
3/4 cup caster sugar (3 cups)
1/4 cup cocoa (1 cup)
1 t salt (4 t)
1 t baking powder (4 t, or 1 greek sachet)

Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add

1/2 cup water (or milk if you aren't vegan) (2 cups)
2 T Sunflower oil or 30 grams melted butter (1/2 cup oil or 125 g meltedbutter)

Whisk to combine and place in one 20-25cm casserole dish, (two 30cm or a roasting dish)
Combine second dry ingredients
1/4 cup cocoa (1 cup)
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown or coffee sugar (2 to 3 cups)

Sprinkle evenly over the top of the pudding. It will look like quite a thick coating.

Measure 1 1/4 cups (5 cups) of hot water. Gently, gently pour onto the back of a spoon held just above the pudding. The rounded back of the spoon will splay the water out evenly over the pudding.

Bake in a moderate oven - 180 degrees celcius/350 F / yoga plus 4 o'clock for an hour.

The water on top will sink through and make a sauce. It tastes great hot, and even better cold the next morning (if there's any left!)

Yum yum yummy!

Food, In The Main...: Oven-baked spiced chickpeas

I've taken a little time today to check out other blogs. I like the look of this recipe on Food, In The Main...: Oven-baked spiced chickpeas

I've also realised that I want, and need, to edit my site, so it's clearer, and easier to follow. And to write better! And add photos! The thing at the moment is that I have so little time on the net, and less with a connection at a high speed, and I'm trying to get the recipes up there as I cook them.

I've had more requests this week for recipes (good old chocolate cake, beer bread, nectarine and green pepper salad, and chocolate pudding (the latter two recipes coming soon I promise!)

Let me know if you try this one!



Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sauces and dips part 3 – Skordalia, the anti-vampire dip!

If you have leftover mashed potato, this is a good way to use it, particularly when vampires are about!

Soak the tail end of a loaf of wholemeal bread in water. You want the equivalent of 3 good slices. For a prettier dip, remove the crusts. Sqeeze the water out of the remainder and put in the foodprocessor with 5 cloves garlic and the mashed potatos. You can add a handful of walnuts if you like – up to half a cup.

Once pureed, add a cup of olive oil slowly, through the feeder tube of the processor. Add the juice of half a lemon, taste, season with salt and pepper and serve!

It is great as a beetroot dressing or with a robust burger mix.

If you’re planning on kissing anyone later that day – make sure they eat some too!

Sauces and dips part 2: Hitipiti: Feta and Roast Pepper Dip

I love the simplicity of this recipe, which came from one of the tattered recipe books in the yogaplus kitchen. I'll post Amazon links to them as soon as I can. This was very popular when I served it with 2 other dips (recipes to follow!)

Htipiti: Feta and Roast Pepper dip

Option A: Roast one large or two small red capsicum peppers in the oven until nice and charred. Just leave them there, they’ll cook on their own, while you cook something else. When soft, and blistered, remove from oven, cover with cling film or foil, and leave to cool. Overnight perhaps? Peel off the skins and pick out the stem and seeds– a bit fiddly.

Option B: Open jar of roasted peppers from deli, and extract the appropriate quantity!

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan – around 1/4 of a cup for 2 small red peppers. When it’s hot, add one large/2 small chopped garlic cloves, and ¼ a teaspoon chille flakes, and turn it off, to let the flavours infuse.

Blend peppers in foodprocessor to a puree with about1 cup of feta cheese. A cup is 250ml, or about 2.5cm by 10cm by 10cm by volume, or roughly the size of a block of feta you get in the supermarket.

Once pureed, add the oil to the puree. It tastes great and is very easy. A dollop goes well with burgers.

Sauces and dips part 1: Beetroot and Feta dip

If you have left-over beetroot, then I’d want you to try the following recipe, inspired by the Roasted Pepper (Capsicum) and Feta sauce called Htipiti. At this stage, I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I bet it works.

It’s easy. Put the boiled beetroot in a food processor and puree until a chunky sauce. Add the feta, keep processing. Add any leftover dressing, a little olive oil, garlic oil, or chilli oil (or olive,garlic and chilli oil if you have made some)

Taste, and adjust the seasoning until you like it. A little extra honey may appeal to you. Salt is unlikely to be necessary as feta is a salty cheese anyway.

I’d also try this with carrot, maybe with coriander (fresh or dried) or cumin seeds.

Update: It does work. Made with chile oil, and thinned with a little yoghurt, it works as a pasta sauce too.

Beetroot with Honey Mustard Dressing

Another recipe I first made with Adam Keen (try his meze if you’re in London around Spitalfields Market).

I like it because I love beetroot and it’s soooo easy! And tasty! And here it is!

Beetroot with Honey Mustard Dressing

Place washed but not peeled beetroot in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Simmer until you can pierce them with a fork (maybe half an hour).

Run under cold water, and rub the skins off (you may want to wear gloves). Even the skins of ultra-tough beetroot shed easily when cooked this way.

Slice into chunks, wedges, dice, slices, or any shape you like.

Make the Honey Mustard Dressing

I don’t now recall what Adam’s exact dressing was. I make it something like this:

Take a tablespoon full of Mustard, and two of honey. Combine. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. A spoonful of lemon juice or cider vinegar can go in the mix, then half a cup of sunflower oil. Finely chopped parsley or dill is also an option.

Spoon the dressing over the beetroot and serve!

Favourite productions Burgers part 1

I have often served vege-“burgers” to guests at Yoga plus and they’re always popular.

The basic recipe varies, depending on what is in the kitchen, what we have cooked extra of, and what is left over*. It’s a bit of an art really, the cook going on instinct to balance the ingredients.

Maybe it’s a bit like movie-making? You get “recipes” for film structure in “The Scriptwriters Handbook”, and methods of cooking in “The Production Handbook” but in the end – it’s an art.

I watched Good Night and Good Luck on DVD last night. It was a simple movie made extraordinarily well. A great cast well acted, plenty of time, strong material.

By contrast, Crash, the oscar winner was anything but simple. It is a superb, if uneasy movie, which blends different cultures, bumping up against each other, into a sympathetic whole.

Walk the Line was more straightforward – strong and complex performances, with a bit of country sweetness and rock and roll kick.

All great movies, all different, and so it is with burgers.

And, ladies and gentlemen here it is, typed live from room 6 at Agios Pavlos rebroadcast at, Spotlit by the sun setting behind the Dragon’s neck rock, here is….

The Burger Production Handbook

The Cast:
Starring roles
You want good actors for a movie, and a good base for a burger. I build burgers round one or more grains – Quinoa**, Rice, Millet or Couscous. Sometimes you have more than one lead! Left over risotto, pilaf, bulgur or cous-cous can make a great burger-base, with a few additions – to dry the mix a little for risotto, or moisten and bind it for pilaf or couscous based burgers.

Character part(s)
Sometimes I’d mix in one or more pulses with the grains. Black eyed peas are particularly good, but hummus, gigante/white beans, lentils and split peas can all work in the mix, and give texture, protein and depth to the final result. Soy protein is another protein source.

Supporting ingredients
As flavouring, you can add red or green peppers/roast aubergine/roast courgette chopped finely, some grated carrot. Some people like to add cheese, although I prefer my movies and burgers without. Corn is a different matter – in for the burgers without a doubt, not so much in the movies. Although a Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson or Meg Ryan movie can hit the spot sometimes. Roasted, chopped squash could be excellent in firm mix, or a little chopped potato***.

Cameo roles
Other flavouring can include pesto (perhaps in a burger with rice and corn and white beans?), Curry powder, sage, thyme, coriander, cumin, turmeric, basil, oregano, nutmeg even. Chopped Parsley, Dill or Coriander work well too. These are important in the overall feel of the burger, and indeed their influence can dominate the billing and the final production in disproportion to their size. Think Judy Dench in Shakespeare in Love!

Backstage support: holding it together
One key thing to consider is the texture – it needs to be able to bind together. If you’re making vegan burgers, then a dip/pulse like left-over Fava, or maybe hummus could help bind the mix. If not vegan, then egg can be used. Oats are great to add body to a wet mix, and help bind it. A little flour can also be helpful. I’ve used wheat or spelt flour. Chickpea flour would work well too.

Post production: oven time.
Once you have assembled your cast of ingredients, and mix which holds together, it’s good to try it on a test audience. Maybe you? Test fry one burger to see if it works before committing them to the oven.

Form into whatever shape you like – basic round and flat, ball like, mini or texas sized, croquette shaped, or brick. [You can also bake them in a tray as a loaf, or in a swiss roll tin as a bake, but people prefer the burger shape usually.]

Bake on well oiled trays in a moderate oven (350 Farenheit/180 Celcius) for around half an hour. If you like crispy burgers, drizzle or spray oil (olive or sunflower) on the outside. Part way through cooking You can flip them over to brown on both sides.

Serve on their own if they are moist, or with tomato sauce, hummus, tsatsiki, htipiti, skordalia or other sauce.

Oscar quality productions of the past
Particular successes I can recall have included:
- “Walk the Line” Corn Britters (burger fritters) which were based on millet and rice with parsley, rice, chopped onion and sweetcorn, bound with egg. Surprisingly simple. One of my favourites. Great central ingredient.

- “Good Night and Good Luck” - Curried quinoa burgers – quinoa flavoured with curry powder bound with egg. Strong flavour, simple concept, mono colour palette beautifully executed by Richard.

- “Crash” - Black eyed peas in tomato sauce, with oats, pureed chickpeas and rice, leftover antipasti of roast aubergine, and roast courgettes, Feta, chopped parsley, egg, oats and flour to bind. A complex mix, great result, served with chips and tomato salsa.

“Brokeback Mountain” burger would have to have been one of Udo’s mixes. Dill, egg, rice, quinoa, onion, garlic rosemary formed into croquettes. Subtle, interesting, lots of herbs, delicately flavoured and delicious.

I haven’t seen Capote yet, and have only worked with 4 chefs so can’t come up with a combination for that!

David Mamet, in his book, True and False, wrote something along the lines that it is not less noble to make your own theatre than to wait for someone to feed you work.

So, applying that to cooking: get into the kitchen and make yourself a burger!

This episode produced by Like to the Lark Kitchen Productions

*It’s a great idea to cook extra quantities of pulses- chick peas, gigante/white beans, black-eyed peas spring to mind. If you cover them well, and refrigerate you can use them a day or two later in a different recipe.

**Strictly speaking, Quinoa is a seed – the “mother grain” of the Aztecs. White and Red Quinoa are easily available in the UK at Holland and Barrett health food shops, among others.

*** Is it stretching the metaphor way too far to include an irish character actor? –Maybe Colm Meaney? A good solid performer but not the star!

Keen on Food and Fava

My friend, and former Yoga Plus cook, Adam Keen has set up an organic salad and meze business, selling yummy stuff around Spitalfields Market. He also caters for retreats and teaches yoga.

I've eaten Adam’s food before, and worked with him in the kitchen, and I can report it’s seriously good! Try it if you have the chance, and do check out his website

I always think of Adam when I cook Fava - a greek split pea dip. I made it the first time with Adam, and I always think of him when I make it.

Here's the version I'm cooking tonight.


Rinse chickpeas and cover with cold water. Add a teaspoonful of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. STIR FREQUENTLY – they have a tendency to stick!

After 45 minutes, when they are at a mashing consistency, leave them to cool. You may be able to cut with a knife, if you’re lucky!

Before serving, add a spoonful of mustard, the juice of a lemon, half a cup of olive oil, a grind of pepper, and lots of chopped dill.

Mix, and enjoy!

Fava is good served as a dip, with a salad made of grains, and a green salad. It also works on toast with marmite (a bit of a personal favourite there!)