vegan chickpea curry with sweet potatoes

a good curry is always soothing for the soul and having it tomato-based with no coconut milk makes it less rich and smooth but more fruity in taste. plus the mix of colours with tomatoes and sweet potatoes is very easy on the eye! no rice needed.

VEGAN CHICKPEA CURRY WITH SWEET POTATOES

FullSizeRender (16)

ingredients (serves two … with plenty of curry left for another serving):

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about the size of a hand each)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 shallots
  • a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • half a fresh habanero chili (if you like it really spice then use a whole chili)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (coarsely pounded in a mortar)
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a couple of pinches of coconut sugar (or a spritz of agave syrup)
  • 2 slightly heaped tbsp of a good indian curry mix (i used a lemon curry powder variety), or mix your own
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (800g)
  • half a bunch of fresh coriander
  • sea salt, pepper, chili flakes

wash the sweet poatoes, thinly peel them and cut them in half. melt the coconut oil in your hands and cover with sweet potatoe halves with it (ensure they are well coated on each side). put them on a non-stick baking tray with the halved side downwards and bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees celsius for about 30-40 minutes. they should be well-cooked but not turn too mushy inside.

while they are in the oven. finely chop the shallots, ginger and habanero chili (remove the seeds before chopping). heat the rest of the coconut oil in a large pan and sweat / braise the shallots and the ginger for a minute or two at a medium heat. then add the chopped chili, fennel seeds, cinnamon, coconut sugar and curry and let it sweat some more while stirring (don’t let it burn or it will turn bitter!), then add the lemon juice. add the tomatoes and some water (about half a tomatoe can of water), stir well and let it cook for about 20-25 minutes to reduce the liquid. stir occacionally.

drain the canned chickpeas and rinse them well, then add those to the tomato curry after about 10 minutes of cooking time.

coarsely chop the coriander (including the stalks), keep about 2 tsp aside for decoration.

when the curry is cooked and really thickish in texture (remember, it should not be a soup), season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and chili flakes. remove from the hob and stir in the coriander.

for serving, add two baked sweet poato halves on a plate (with the even side facing upwards) and arrange a couple of spoons of curry on top of each half. sprinkle the rest of the coriander and some more chili flakes on top for decoration. tuck in!

 

frozen berry blast (no booze!)

as i am currently off alcohol for lent (which means that even martini nights remain booze-free!), and admittedly am quite enjoying it, i have discovered the pleasure of mixing nice cocktails without gin or vodka or whatever else makes you spin right round, baby, right round like a record … 😉

this one is quite a berry overload, not too sweet and very more-ish:

FROZEN BERRY BLAST

elderberry

ingredients (for one):

  • a handful of mixed frozen berries (go with what you like, i used a mix of blueberries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries and very few strawberries)
  • juice of half a lime or lemon
  • 2-3 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cl elderberry juice (unsweetened)
  • 10 cl fever-tree elderflower tonic water

in a smoothie-maker or high-powered blender, mix the frozen berries, the lime or lemon juice, the mint leaves, the elderberry juice and half of the tonic water (the berries should be thoroughly covered by liquid) and blend – you will end up with a half-frozen runny sorbet. if it is too thick, add some more liquid and blend again. fill into a cocktail glass and gently pour the the rest of the tonic water on top.

it is very fruity in taste but not sweet and the elderflower tonic adds a nice gentle bitterness to it. it is a great after-dinner treat and can easily replace a dessert, especially as the pips remaining add some texture to the drink!

as always, ingredients are not set in stone, if you can’t get elderflower tonic water use some other flowery tonic water. the elderberry juice is admittedly hard to get, and you can swap it for some other unsweetened berry juice or unsweetened pomegranate juice. don’t use red grape juice as it will be too sweet. the berry blast needs to have quite a fruity zing to it (you can even call it tart, but not harsh!) to really turn your tastebuds ecstatic…

spring is here: variations on lamb’s lettuce and goat’s cheese

lamb’s lettuce (or rapunzel, as we also call it in german … yes, as in the fairy tale!) is a main ingredient whenever i prepare salads, i do like its nuttiness. usually i use the whole plant (including the small root) but whenever i can be bothered, i pick the leaves one by one – but those occasions are rare. make sure you wash it thoroughly and then dry it slightly, otherwise you might end up with either a sandy or a watery salad.

obviously using goat’s cheese (grilled goat’s cheese is manna from heaven!) makes those quite non-vegan, but the flavour of the cheese is just so wonderful and makes it a superb light vegetarian dish.

variations are many, i shall limit myself to two versions, but feel free to vary and play around with ingredients.

GRILLED GOAT’S CHEESE WITH RED ONION CONFIT ON LAMB’S LETTUCE, ENDIVES AND PINK GRAPEFRUIT

goats cheese

ingredients (salad) – will serve one as a main or two as a starter:

  • 2 handful of lamb’s lettuce (thoroughly washed)
  • 1 small endive
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 goat’s cheese (i like crottin best, but a slice or two of bucheron works as well)
  • 2 tbsp mild extra vergine olive oil
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar (use a vintage one that is quite sweet in taste)
  • a small handful of walnuts (lightly toasted)
  • fleur de sel, chili flakes

ingredients (red onion confit):

  • 2 large sized red onions (about the size of a small fist each)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or use butter, if you like)
  • fleur de sel, chili flakes
  • 1-2 tsp bitter orange marmalade
  • dash of vintage balsamic vinegar

prepare the confit in advance, as it needs to cool down. you will get enough for a small kilner jar and can store the rest in the fridge, it goes very nicely with some cheeses!

peel and chop the onions in small dices. in a saucepan, heat the oil or butter and add the onion dices and a pinch or two of fleur de sel, stir well and cover the pot. let the onions stew on a small heat so they cook but do not brown. stir occasionally to prevent sticking. by slow cooking you will get a wonderful sweetish aroma of the onions!

once they are softened, but not complete mush, remove from the stove and stir in the bitter orange marmalade and a dash or two of the balsamic vinegar – this gives the confit a nicely fruity note. season with more fleur de sel, if needed, and chili flakes to taste. set aside and leave to cool down.

for the salad, wash the endive cut it in half lengthwise, remove the bitter stalk with a sharp knife and cut the rest in smallish strips. mix with the washed and de-rooted lamb’s lettuce. filet the grapefruit (the video via the link will show you how) and quence out all juice from the remaining bits of the fruit into a small bowl (you will need this for the salad dressing). arrange the endive, the lamb’s lettuce and the grapefruit filets on a plate.

for the salad dressing, mix the grapefruit juice with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. season with a pinch of fleur de sel.

cut the goat’s cheese (crottin) in half and put under the grill to lightly grill it on top – if you are using bucheron then use one slice per person.

arrange the grilled goat’s cheese on the salad and splash it all with the salad dressing. add a good dollop of red onion confit on each half of the cheese and sprinkle the walnut pieces around. to finish it off, decorate with chili flakes for colour and taste. serve immediately, the cheese should still be warm!

 

GRILLED GOAT’S CHEESE WITH LAMB’S LETTUCE, MANGO AND AVOCADO

goats cheese 2

ingredients – will serve one as a main course or two as a starter:

  • 3 handful of lamb’s lettuce (thoroughly washed)
  • half a mango
  • half an avocado
  • 1 goat’s cheese (see recipe above for varieties)
  • 2 tbsp mild extra vergine olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • fleur de sel, chili flakes

even though you only need half a mango, you need to prepare a whole mango as you need some of the juice as well. half the mango and cut off all flesh from the stone (see video) – store half the mango away (or eat it ad dessert!). dice half of the mango, also press the stone and remaining flesh with your hands (yes, it is a bit messy) and save the juices in a small bowl.

dice half of the avocado as well and arrange together with the diced mango and the lamb’s lettuce leaves on a plate.

for the dressing, mix the mango juice with the olive oil and the lime juice. season with a pinch of fleur de sel.

half the goat’s cheese (see recipe above as well) and put it under the grill. grill it until it gebings to lightly brown on top and starts to diverge slightly. remove from grill and let it cool down a bit , otherwise it will be too runny to put on the salad.

add the warm grilled cheese on top of the salad and splash the dressing on top. as before, decorate with chili flakes – they add colour and spice.

this salad is very fruity and the nuttiness of the lettuce, the tropical aroma of the mango and the green smoothness of the avodace combine very well with the mild tartness of the goat’s cheese. this is vegetarian aroma-heaven!!!

should you prefer a vegan option with this second salad than add some chopped toasted and salted pistacho nuts instead of the goat’s cheese! go with what you like, that is always the best way. in cooking and preparing there is never a ‘no way’ but always a ‘do it your own way’ 🙂

 

 

1, 2, 3 … a tricolore of smoothies

what better to start the day than a freshly prepared smoothie? it definitely revives your spirit in the morning and prepares you for the day. having a smoothie maker helps, but if you have a high-speed blender it will do the trick as well.

combining fruits and vegetables in a smoothie is a great thing, giving you the best of both worlds. personally, i am not a big fan of bananas in smoothies, as they tend to give a texture an unwanted sliminess (at least in my opinion) – hence the recipes below are banana-free. i also don’t like my smoothies too sweet, if you like it sweeter, just use more apple.

the recipes below should be enough for two servings.

THE GREEN VARIETY

avocado-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • half an avocado
  • a good handfull of lamb’s lettuce (thoroughly washed)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (about the size of half a thumb, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon

dice all the ingredients, apart from the lamb’s lettuce and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice and enough water (or juice, if you like it sweeter) to have the mixture roughly covered – don’t overdo the liquid, rather use too little and add more if needed during the blending process. blend until smooth and you end up with a nicely green colour.

THE RED VARIETY

beetroot-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • one small to medium size fresh beetroot (peeled)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (the size of half a thumb, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a slight dash of sesame oil (untoasted), or any other quality vegetable oil

dice all the ingredients and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice, the oil and, as before, as much water as needed to smoothly blend. the fresh beetroot will retain some texture during the blending, which makes this smoothie quite thick and soupy. fresh beetroot is much sweeter than the cooked variety and it balances its earthiness very well. i call this my vampire smoothie 🙂

THE ORANGE VARIETY

carrot-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • one carrot (about 12-15cm in size)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (the size of a third of a thumb, peeled)
  • fresh turmeric/kurkuma root (the size of a thumbnail, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a  slight dash of sesame oil (untoasted), or any other quality vegetable oil

dice all the ingredients and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice, the oil and, as before, as much water as needed to smoothly blend (you might want to use orange juice instead of water, it uplifts the colour even more). the turmeric adds a wonderful flavour and the colour is like summer sun in a cup.

———–

as i LOVE ginger, there is ginger featured in all those smoothies (especially as fresh ginger is so good for you!), as to taste you can use less ginger though – a thumbnail in size will do as well. though one can never have enough of a good thing, right?!

(if you wonder about the oil in the smoothies, this is needed for your digestive system to get most of the fat soluble vitamins from mixture – the smoothie with avocado doesn’t need oil, as avocado is quite rich in natural and healthy fat ;))

avocado, egg and cress on toast … green and good!

i still miss those egg and cress sarnies from my london days, though i always wished there was a healthier version than the original. now along comes a german blogonista (no, not me!) who came up with the perfect version of a spread by adding avocado, which you can find here (and i bow my head to zuckerzimtundliebe).

as i often have a head of my own, i played around with the recipe and added some goat’s cheese to create another version (stealing is allowed, as long as it is with a clean mind):

AVOCADO, EGG AND CRESS ON TOAST

brekkie

ingredients (enough for two to three slices of bread):

  • half an avocado
  • one egg (medium to large size, at room temperature)
  • a good dollop of fresh goat’s cheese
  • a handfull of fresh cress
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt, chili flakes

add the egg to a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil on the hob, instantly remove the pan and set aside for about 10 minutes to let the egg ‘boil’ in the hot water. after this time, plunge the egg in cold water to instantly cool it down.

while the egg ‘boils’, cut the avocado half in dices, add the lemon juice, some sea salt and chili flakes and coarsely mash with a fork. add the fresh goat’s cheese and stir in.

peel the egg and cut it in half, then dice it and fold in with the avocado mixture. add the cress (keep one tsp aside for garnish). add some more salt and chili flakes to taste.

serve with warm buttered toasted bread (wholemeal, rye, gluten-free … the choice is yours!) and decorate with the rest of the cress. enjoy with a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea – it is perfect for a leisurely sunday brunch, a light lunch or even a wholesome dinner. eat it whenever you feel like it, your tastebuds will not be disappointed!

a green’n milky hors d’oeuvre

as y’all probably have gathered by now … i do love a good starter! one can make a meal out of them and preparation time is usually quick and easy (no four hours of marinating and slow cooking here).

courgettes are wonderful, especially when only grilled so they remain crunchy – and a homemade pesto complements them greatly.

GRILLED COURGETTE WITH BUFFALO MOZZARELLA AND PESTO

courgettes

ingredients:

  • 1 small courgette (the small and young ones of light green colour are so much tastier)
  • 1 buffalo mozzarella
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts (lightly toasted for better flavour)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • chili flakes
  • splash of dry vermouth

slice the courgette in thin slices (about 3-5mm in size) and put them in an ovenproof dish. sprinkle with sea salt and splash some vermouth and a good quality olive oil over them (greek olive oil is heaven, as it is fruity but smooth in taste). put under the grill and grill them for about 10-15 minutes until slightly browned.

while they are in the oven, rip the mozzarella apart in as much slices as you have pieces of courgette and set aside. it is adamant that you use buffalo mozzarella, as the texture and taste (it is milky and pungent) is superiour to mozzarella made from cow’s milk.

put the basil leaves, the pine nuts, the quartered garlic cloves and a pinch of seas salt in a food processor and add as much olive oil to have it slightly covered. quickly blend it together, it should stay quite liquidy and coarse (you can add more oil if you like). season with some more salt and a pinch of chili flakes if needed.

when the courgette slices are done (they should still be firm), take them out of the oven and let them cool slightly in the dish. add a piece of mozzarella to each slice (it will slightly melt … heaven indeed!) and garnish with the pesto on top. add some more chili flakes for colour and dig in.

you can serve it hot(ish) to lukewarm, but it should still be eaten warm. with a nice glass of chardonnay or a dry muscat, it brings some mediterranian feeling to your table 🙂