Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tofu & aubergine soba noodles


6 baby aubergines, 150g tofu, 3 tbs pomegranate molasses, 1 red chilli, 3 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, 175g soba noodles.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 30 minutes (plus overnight for marinating)

Being allergic to soya, tofu is something that never makes its way into my vegetarian cooking. When I was asked recently to come up with a recipe, I asked my guinea pigs to describe the texture for me and as a result decided to treat them like the aubergines - melt-in-the-mouth sponges to soak up delicious flavours. The marinade is sweet and spicy from the pomegranate molasses and chilli combination, but with a smoky umami undercurrent from the soy sauce.

1) Slice the tops from the aubergines and slice in half lengthways. Sprinkle the inside half with salt to draw out the bitter juices, then wipe them with some kitchen towel after 5 minutes. Slice each piece in half widthways.

2) Slice the top from the chilli and slit it lengthways. Scrape out the seeds with your knife and discard. Cut the flesh into pieces and add along with the chunks of aubergine and tofu to a freezer bag.

3) Add the pomegranate molasses, oil and soy sauce to the freezer bag, seal and shake well. Leave in the fridge overnight.

4) Pour the contents of the freezer bag into an ovenproof dish and roast for 25 minutes at 200 degrees.

5) Add the noodles to boiling water and stir until soft (about 5 minutes), drain and pour in with the aubergines. Season with a little salt and serve hot or cold.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Yorkshire Brack


150ml black tea (I use Earl Grey), 225g self-raising flour, 175g golden caster sugar, 400g dried fruit (I use chopped figs, sultanas and raisins), 1 large egg.
Preparation: 2 1/4 hours (an hour for soaking, an hour for baking)

When I was a little girl, at Christmas my family would always have a slice of cheese with Christmas cake and for the rest of the year, a slice of cheese with everyday brack. It's a very Yorkshire thing to do so in honour of Yorkshire day, here is my favourite Yorkshire recipe. A fat-free cake that is so quick and easy to make that it really has no business being as impressive as it is to eat. The fruit also never sinks as it can sometimes do in fruit cake. But that's Yorkshire for you. As they say, "if it isn't Yorkshire, it's shite."

1) Leave the tea leaves to infuse for 10 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a bowl of dried fruit. Soak the dried fruit for an hour.

2) Beat the egg and sift in the flour and sugar. Pour in the dried fruit and tea and stir through until a smooth batter has formed. If the mixture is a little dry, add a touch of milk.

3) Smooth into a loaf or cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.

4) Serve each piece with a good slice of cheddar.



1 tbs Passata, 2 tbs basil oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp honey (or agave syrup if vegan). Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, basil, old bread, kamalata olives.

Preparation: 5 minutes

Panzanella goes back to the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 20th century that this Florentine version emerged: stale bread soaked in oil, vinegar and tomato with herbs and mixed with salad. Back in the day - only onions were used, not tomato. And given that I loathe uncooked onions with a fiery passion, I am very glad indeed that it's no longer the 16th Century! You know, that and smallpox. I serve mine with cucumber, olives and cherry tomatoes but you can of course use salad leaves or other fruits and vegetables if you wish. I save my heels of bread and make this for a quick supper or a scrummy lunch.

1) To make the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar and passata and season to taste. I like to add a little honey to cut the acidity of the vinegar but this depends on what you are mixing into your salad of course! If you're vegan, you can use an alternative.

2) Tear the bread into bitesize chunks. I have done this with the leftover heel of ciabatta, spelt bread, you name it - any crusty loaf will do. If all you have is sliced bread or you don't bake your own, then I would recommend toasting the bread first.

3) Stir the bread into the dressing and stir in the other ingredients. Serve immediately. If you'd like this as a packed lunch, make up a little jar of dressing, a foil wrap your chunks of bread and keep them in your box of salad to prepare just before eating.

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