Monthly Archives: June 2013

Quick-fix Corn Fritters

IMG_2605This week I’m paying hommage to the mid-week muncher, who is left bereft of time but in need of a good meal in minutes. And when you find yourself in a last minute food mood, it’s unlikely you have Jamie’s 15-minute meals to hand in the supermarket. So, this is exactly where I found myself. With a recent move 400 miles south of Auckland to Lonely Planet’s “coolest little capital in the world”, Wellington, and after a full working day’s commitment (that’s why I’ve been off the radar of late), I needed a healthy quick fix.

I love beans. They’re healthy, good fibre carbs and protein rich. So when I’m short of time I almost go default for a mixture of beans to knock up a fast salad. As a killer lunch or a cracking light salad accompaniment, you can have it up and running in 2 minutes.

Serves 4

Fritters
3 cans sweetcorn
1 can lentils
100g (gluten free) flour
100ml milk
3 eggs
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1tsp cumin
Salt & Pepper

Bean Salad
1 can chickpeas
1 can butter beans
1 can borlotti beans
1 can black-eye beans
4 tomatoes
3 spring onions
Balsamic vinegar

Start by making up your salad, so you don’t have to faff around with it when you have the fritter on. Drain all your cans, add the beans in a bowl, chop your tomatoes and spring onions and add them, season with olive oil, salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

For the fritters, drain the sweetcorn and lentils well and add to a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, paprika, coriander, cumin and seasoning. In a 3rd bowl, mix the eggs and milk, then add it to the flour mix until blended. Once prepared, add it to the sweetcorn and lentils. Heat oil in a frying pan and spoon in a good serving spoon’s worth of fritter mix. Fry on high for 1 1/2 mins then flip for another 1 1/2. Quick-fix!

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San Choy Bow

San Choy BowEach traveller’s delight is generally something personal and subjective, but few can argue that the sight of a street food stall or shack manned by an entrenched local doesn’t make the knees go weak and the mouth water. Perhaps it’s a puri cart on the side of a treacherous Mumbai highway or a steaming hotplate on a strip-lit road in Bankok promising the world’s fastest pad thai. I’m endlessly compelled by their magnetism. But throw yourself over to Australia and you might receive, bizarrely, San Choy Bow.

Although it is coined a chinese dish, San Choy Bow is seemingly more likely found in Perth or Sydney. And, bully for us, this versatile dish is a fun starter or main and can be made vegetarian or with any mix of meats or seafood. I’ve opted for the vegetarian common denominator recipe, but you can jazz it with whatever protein tickles your fancy on the day. My fussy 9 year old critic had chicken on the brain, so that’s what I made. Lots of good noises from my adult crowd but, despite eagerly awaiting the verdict of my particular junior critic, she only ate the chicken…

Serves 4 as main/8 as starter

1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 chilies, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
3 tbsp tamari/soy
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa (a mix of colours is fun for presentation)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Iceberg lettuce cups
Raw macadamia nuts (optional garnish)

First boil your quinoa. Whilst these are on the go, heat the oil in a pan, adding the mushrooms, ginger, chili and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 2 minutes, until it becomes fragrant, and stir in the sesame oil, maple syrup, tamari and 1/4 cup of water.

Drain your chickpeas and quinoa and add to the pan, stirring it into the mix to heat through. To finish, add the lime juice, coriander and season to taste. Serve on a cup of iceberg lettuce with the chopped macadamia for garnish.

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The Raw Brownie

The Raw BrownieI tried and tested recipe after recipe, 30 or so, for the perfect brownie for a number of years. They all had essentially the same ingredients but different quantities and ingredients. And then, one cold highland trip later I came away with a formula that I have used hundreds of times. But despite my prolific baking, I now have to pass the baton of chief cook of Beaver’s Brownies to my little sister, who has surpassed my skills in making them and they consistently turn out better than mine.

I would post the recipe here, but we’ve gone refined sugar free. So lamenting their loss on my repertoire, I hunted out a sugar free alternative (until I can work out how to make the original with maple syrup!). Cutting out all dairy, wheat, and refined sugar, I ended up with the raw brownie. It isn’t the same as the warm, crunchy and gooey brownie most will associate with, but it tastes great and you can have dessert without even feeling guilty about missing the gym.

Makes 12

2 cups whole walnuts
1 cup raw cocoa
1 cup unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups of dates
1 beetroot
1/4 tsp salt

Start by placing the beetroot in a pan of boiling water and cooking for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add the walnuts to a food processer and blend until finely ground. Add the cocoa and salt and blend. Then add the dates one by one through the feed tube while the processor is running. You should end up with a mix a bit like cake crumbs, but sticks together when pressed. If it doesn’t stick, add more dates.

Now remove the beetroot from the pan, and remove the skin. Next, grate the beet, and then press the water out of it, so you don’t end up with runny brownies.

Add the beet and almonds to the mix in a bowl and fold in. You should end up with a rich reddy brown colour. Line a tray with baking paper, leaving enough over one edge to fold back over the top. Add your mix to the tray, cover with the remaining paper and place in the freezer. The brownie will set, but remain gooey to bite. Serve from the freezer of fridge.

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Silverbeet, Feta and Sunflower Filo

IMG_2415It was Graham Hill who coined the phrase “weekday vegetarian” in his brief but engaging TED talk. His message delivers the increasingly frequent adage that being vegetarian is better for the environment, and for animals…so if you like meat and won’t give it up, why not just eat less meat. Good point, G.

So I’m certainly conscious of the volume of meat I eat, and it has led to some interesting culinary creations. Not least, the filo roll. Each time I try it more veggies go in, but here is the solid staple recipe that will fill you up as a warm hearty meal, or serve chilled for a light lunch.

Serves 6

250g silverbeet or spinach
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup ricotta
¾ cup feta, crumbled
½ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup chopped coriander
½ tsp ground nutmeg
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
½ tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 sheets filo pastry
melted butter or oil spray

Prep time 15mins, cooking time 40mins. Oven on at 180C.

Roast your seeds in the oven whilst it heats up, until golden and set aside.

Melt the butter in a wide saucepan, fry off the onion until golden and then add the silverbeet/spinach. This should wilt down until the moisture is cooked out of it (5 minutes), preventing the pastry from becoming too soggy later. If you are feeling adventurous, add in some chilli, or any variety of vegetables (I like roast peppers in there). Once cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the 3 cheeses, coriander, nutmeg, lemon zest, seeds and seasoning. The cheeses should melt down into a good gloopy mix.

Now for working fast with the filo. It dries quickly in air! Melt a little more butter in a pan to brush on the pastry layers. Now lay out your first sheet on a counter top, brush with butter, add the next, brush again, and do this until you have 8 layers. Once done, add your mix onto the middle of the pastry into a long sausage and wrap it up into an cylinder, folding in the sides. Transfer this onto baking paper and brush the beaten egg over top to give it a golden crisp when cooked. Then just pop it in the oven for 40 minutes.

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