Thai Food, Veggie mains

Pad Thai

pad thai

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get round to posting a recipe for Pad Thai, maybe as more often than not it’s a dish I eat at our local noodle shop and enjoy their version. There are probably as many versions of Pad Thai as people who make it, but I find many too sweet or too oily so making it at home allows you to control the flavours. If you don’t live in Thailand, surrounded by Pad Thai options, then it’s easy enough to make at home. This will make 2 servings which is about as much as you can make at a time in a domestic wok.

So what do you need?

  • 100g firm tofu
  • 120g flat rice noodles (I used brown ones)
  • 200g bean sprouts
  • a small bunch of garlic chives / spring onions
  • 4tbs vegetable oil
  • a handful of roasted peanuts
  • 3 tbsp. dried pickled Chinese radish
  • 3 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 lime

So what do you do?

Start by soaking your rice noodles in water, brown ones will take about 20 minutes, white ones about 10 minutes. Then cut the tofu into small pieces and marinate with a tbsp. light soy sauce. If using unroasted peanuts then dry roast them in a wok for a few minutes, stirring, until they are golden brown and put them in a mortar ready to crush.

Next make the Pad Thai sauce, in a small pan warm together the tamarind paste, palm sugar and 2 tbsp. of soy sauce with a splash of water, the amount of water will depend on how thick your tamarind paste is. This should make a runny sauce that is sour with a hint of sweetness and saltiness. Then rinse and strain the beansprouts and garlic chives, reserve a handful of beansprouts and a few of the chives to use as a garnish. Cut the remaining chives into 4cms lengths. Crush the peanuts once they have cooled.

Next put the oil in the wok and fry the tofu until golden brown and pour out most of the remaining oil into a dish. Then add most of the tamarind sauce and fry the tofu in it for about 30 second. Drain the noodles and add them to the wok and stir fry them for a minute or two then add the Chinese radish, most of the crushed peanuts, the chili powder and the bean sprouts and chopped garlic chives. Fry until the bean sprouts soften and if it seems dry add the remaining tamarind sauce. Then push the noodles to the edge of the wok and add the reserved oil into the wok and crack in the eggs and break them up with the spatula and fry them when they are almost done mix the noodles back in and fry everything together.

Divide into two portions on plates and garnish with the remaining garlic chives, bean sprouts, peanuts, a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chilli powder (optional).

 

 

 

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Veggie mains

Pasta & broccoli

 

pasta

This is a ‘copy’ of a recipe by Rachel Roddy in the Guardian that I’ve been meaning to make for a while. It’s really simple and delicious.

The broccoli is cooked twice ‘ripassati’. For two large portions start by boiling about 500g of broccoli in well salted water. I used baby broccoli and added the chopped stems to the pan a couple of minutes before the heads and cooked for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile I heated about 4 tbsp. of olive oil in a heavy pan and started to fry a couple of cloves of garlic. I then used a slotted spoon and transferred the cooked broccoli into the pan with some of the cooking water and added about a tsp. of peperoncino seasoning, herbs and chilli, you can just add 1/2 tsp of dried chill flakes. I stirred this around and then covered it and let it continue to cook. . I brought the water I’d cooked the broccoli in back to the boil and added about 250g of rigatoni pasta. I cooked the pasta and kept the broccoli cooking stirring occasionally and adding a couple of tbsp. of pasta water if necessary. The broccoli needs to cook down until it’s really soft. Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and added it to the broccoli and mixed everything together well and added 100g cottage cheese, you could use ricotta, I then served the pasta with some parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of the peperoncino chills and herbs.

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Snacks, Veggie mains

Arancini / risotto patties


This is a great way to use up any leftover risotto (there are several risotto recipes on the blog already). Just roll the cold, sticky risotto rice into balls or patties and coat in flour or breadcrumbs and shallow fry in oil until crisp and golden. You can put a small piece of mozzarella or blue cheese in the middle of the balls if you like. Serve on a bed of green leaves. Here I also added some homomade tomato sauce too. Enjoy!

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Baking, Veggie mains

Stuffed pumpkin

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This makes an impressive dish for a party that can be made and then left to cook in the oven unattended for a couple of hours. A 4 kg. pumpkin will give 8 good portions, or more if served with other dishes.

You’ll need a large, fleshy pumpkin the one I used was about 4kgs a pumpkin that’s heavy for it’s size will have good dense flesh. pre-heating your oven to 200 degrees C / 400F. Then make the stuffing. Chop and fry an onion in some vegetable oil add 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic a tsp. of salt, a tsp. cumin seeds, a tsp. mustard seeds and a tsp. turmeric powder. Gently fry and then add a chopped red pepper and about 200g chopped mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes then add 2 handfuls of cashew nuts, a handful of sultanas, 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and 1/2 cup red lentils. Next I added a small bottle (275 ml.) cider and then cover the mixture by a couple of cm. with boiling water (you can use veggie stock instead of cider and water if you prefer) and put a lid on the pan an simmered for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile wash your pumpkin and cut a lid out of the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds and the softest layer of flesh inside. In a mortar crush a clove of garlic with a pinch of salt, a few peppercorns, about a 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds. Smear this on the inside flesh of the pumpkin. Check your rice to see how it’s doing you want it to be about 3/4 cooked so still a little hard and to still have a reasonable amount of liquid in it. Once the rice is almost cooked taste it and season with extra salt, if necessary, then scoop it into the pumpkin and put the lid on. Loosely wrap the pumpkin in foil to stop the outside burning and put it in the oven for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will depend of the size and density of your pumpkin.

To serve I made a simple sauce that Ottolenghi uses with roast pumpkin. Mix 8 tbsp. of plain yoghurt and 2 – 3 tbsp. of Siracha sauce together. It looks good if it’s not completely mixed together. I also finely chopped a couple of spring onions and added them to the sauce. Once the pumpkin is cooked place on a serving dish. To serve take off the lid and cut slices of the pumpkin and filling and serve with the sauce and some fresh coriander leaves.

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Baking, Tarts, Veggie mains

Rustic roasted vegetable tart

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This makes a delicious meal with a salad and is a lot easier than a quiche and is packed with lots of veggies. Serve with a green salad, it’s great for a picnic too. This will serve 4 people as a main meal.

So what do you need?

  • 120g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 80g whole meal flour
  • 100g salted butter
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  1 tbsp.chia seeds
  • 1kg of veggies (e.g. courgettes, mushrooms, peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper corns
  • 2 chillies (optional)
  • 100g goats’ cheese
  • a few sprigs or oregano

So what do you do?

Start by pre-heating your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F, if you have a pizza stone put it in the oven to heat up. Next make the pastry. In a food processor, or a bowl, mix together the flour and butter and then add the sesame seeds and chia seeds. Beat the egg and the milk together and put about 80% of it in the pastry and mix it together until it forms a nice ball. Flatten it into a disc and put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fried to rest.

Now chop up your vegetables and put them in a large roasting tin. Crush the garlic with the slat and about 1/2 tsp. of peppercorns and the chillies then add these along with the olive oil and bay leaves into the roasting tin and mix everything together. Put in the oven and cook for 40 minutes turning the veggies a couple of times. You don’t want them completely cooked as they will cook more in the tart.

When the veggies have been in the oven half an hour take you pastry out of the fridge for about 5 minutes and then roll it out to about 35 – 40 cms in diameter. Put it on your pizza stone or a baking tray. Mix some oregano leaves into your roasted veg, remove the bay leaves and then spread the veggies onto the pastry, leaving about 6 cms around the side. Next fold the sides of the pastry up over the veggies to form a crust, don’t worry about making it perfect this is rustic tart! Glaze the pastry crust with the remaining egg mixture. Then cut the goats’ cheese into discs and put them on top of the veggies and grind some pepper on top. Put the tart back in the oven. After about 15 mins reduce the heat to 180 degrees C / 350 F and cook for another 15-20 mins. until the pastry and the cheese are golden brown. Take the tart out of the oven and allow to cool for 15 mins before serving.

 

 

 

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Thai Food, Veggie mains

Broccolini & tofu with sesame and mushroom sauce

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This dish is a meal in itself, served with some steamed brown rice. It’s similar to the sesame crusted tofu with charred broccoli I made a while ago but with a sauce.

I started by draining a large block of tofu which I cut into cubes and patted dry with a tea towel. Then I put it in a bowl and marinated it in about a tablespoon of light soy sauce. I then heated about 3 0r 4 tbsp. of sesame oil in a frying pan. I fried a handful of cashew nuts and then drained them and put them to one side. I sprinkled about a tablespoon of white sesame seeds on the tofu and then fried it until golden brown. I put the tofu on a tray in a warm oven. Next I strained any remaining sesame seeds from the oil and chopped up and medium onion and fried it in the oil. I added about 3 or 4 sliced cloves of garlic and grated in a similar quantity of fresh ginger. I fried this for a minute or so and then added about 250g mushrooms and a small bunch of Chinese celery. Meanwhile I steamed about 400g broccolini / Hong Kong kale. Once the mushrooms looked cooked I added a tbsp. of light soy sauce, a little dark soy sauce, some ground black pepper and the remaining sesame seeds from the tofu and a tsp. of black sesame seeds. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of mushroom (oyster) sauce and some hot water to make a gravy like sauce and cooked this down a little. I placed the broccolini on a serving plate poured over the sauce, sprinkled on the cashew nuts and arranged the tofu around the side.

 

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Thai Food, Veggie mains

Shitake & sesame baked glass noodles ‘op woonsen’

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This is a veggie take on the classic Thai dish ‘op woonesn’ which is usually made with prawns and is a favourite at the seaside. The non-veggie version also includes pork rind / fat to give it flavour. I find sesame oil is a good alternative as it adds a good flavour to the dish.

Start by crushing 4 gloves of garlic, 2 or 3 coriander roots (or a tsp. of coriander seeds) and a couple of tsp. of fresh peppercorns (or a tsp. of dry peppercorns). Then heat 3 tsp of sesame oil in a wok and add the garlic mix and fry until the garlic begins to cook then add 100g oyster mushrooms. I use fresh ones and score a cross in the top to help them cook. You can used dried ones and soak them beforehand. Add a tbsp. of light soy sauce half a tsp. of dark soy sauce, and a couple of tbsp. of mushroom (oyster) sauce, and a couple of tsp. of sesame seeds (I use a mix of black and white) and fry for a minute or so. Next add some water (if you’ve soaked dry shitake mushrooms use the soaking water) to create a sauce and turn off the heat. Add a small bunch / handful of chopped Chinese celery. You can also add a handful or two of cooked chestnuts at this stage, or some fried cubed tofu, if you want.

In a thick bottomed container / saucepan (that has a lid) place about 10 thin discs of sliced garlic. Cover this is about 200g of fresh glass noodles (or around 100 g of dry glass noodles that have been soaked) cut into manageable lengths. Put the mushroom mix on top and rinse any extra sauce out of the wok with 3 or 4 tbsp. of water and pour this over. Then put the lid on and cook over a low – medium heat for about 15 minutes. You want the noodles and mushrooms to steam for most of the time and just slightly brown at the end. Be careful not to overcook once the liquid has absorbed as you don’t want the noodles to burn. You can take it off the heat and let it stand while you cook any other quick stir fried dishes. A great aroma is released when you take the lid off the pot so do this at the table so everyone enjoys it. You can garnish the dish with some fresh coriander leaves if you like.

 

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