Monthly Archives: October 2014

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato

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Another spaghetti squash recipe. I liked it so much that I needed to try another one. This time I’ve gone for a bit of heat and a big hit of garlic. This is great as a filling and substantial sauce for pasta.

Spaghetti squash with tomato and spinach photo DSCN1724_zpsaf77f780.jpg

Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, sliced
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 pack of fresh spinach

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
Drizzle a little oil on the squash halves.
Put the squash on another baking sheet and place in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Take the squash out and fork the flesh until it forms long strands.
Heat a little oil in a saucepan and stir in the garlic and chilli.
Fry gently until the garlic just starts to take on colour.
Add the tomatoes and bring to the simmer.
Stir in the cooked squash and the spinach.
Simmer until the spinach has thoroughly wilted.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with pasta.

Serves 4

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Recipe: Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Roast Seeds

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I have a bit of an ambivalent attitude to pumpkins and squashes. They don’t have a huge amount of flavour and they tend to take quite a bit of work to actually get something edible out of them. It never seems to be a great reward to effort ratio for me. And pumpkin seems to be the go-to ingredient for restaurants wanting to provide a vegetarian option in all seasons. That prejudices me against pumpkin, but I had never tried spaghetti squash. Now, the flavour of spaghetti squash is the usual sweet, blandness, but the texture is much lighter. When roasted the flesh can be separated into strands and that makes it much more versatile and interesting to eat.

I have two recipes for this. The first one uses the squash and seeds only to bring out the best in both textures.

Spiced spaghetti squash with pumpkin seeds photo DSCN1719_zps0c608e9c.jpg

Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
1 lemon, juiced

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop the seeds into a bowl.
Separate the seeds from the pulp. I find this easiest by filling the bowl with water and rubbing the seeds and pulp. The seeds float free (mostly).
Fish out the seeds and dry them on kitchen paper.
Spread the seeds on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little oil and the smoked paprika. Season with salt.
Rub the seeds in the oil and spice mixture until they are evenly coated. Try and spread them in one even layer across the baking sheet.
Drizzle a little oil on the squash halves.
Sprinkle with the all spice and rub over to evenly coat the flesh.
Put the squash on another baking sheet.
Place the squash and the seeds in the oven.
Take the seeds out after 20 minutes.
Leave the squash in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Take the squash out and fork the flesh until it forms long strands.
Squeeze the lemon juice over each piece of squash, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Serve in the squash skins with the toasted seeds sprinkled over.

Serves 2 as a light lunch

Book Review: Curry Easy Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

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For a long time in the UK, if you wanted a book to show you how to cook Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey was the only choice. So it’s just as well that she knows what she’s talking about and can communicate successfully to a wide range of people.

This year I have bought three Indian cookery books, all of a high quality. Curry Easy Vegetarian is the third one of the three and I’m reviewing it first, because it is the best.

As a home cook, I tend to like books written by cooks rather than chefs. It may be the tone is friendlier, it may be the knowledge of what is achievable in a home kitchen, it may be because it’s written by someone who has to do their own washing up. I don’t what it is, but give me a book written by someone who doesn’t have a test kitchen. There are some unfamiliar recipes and techniques here, but Madhur Jaffrey has the tone of someone who is encouraging you to have a go, rather than someone setting a test.

The recipes are divided into eight chapters:
Soups, Appetizers and Snacks
Vegetables
Dals: Dried Beans and Legumes
Grains: Rice, Semolina and Quinoa
Grains: Breads, Pancakes, Savouries and Noodles
Eggs and Dairy
Chutneys, Relishes and Salads
Drinks, Sweets and Desserts

The recipes are well laid out, attractively photographed and carefully explained. When I was first going through it, I found so many recipes I wanted to try that I ran out of bookmarks. The vegetable section has one recipe more enticing than another. There are poriyals – stir-fries with indian flavours that I can’t wait to try and dals that make me glad cold weather is coming so I can curl up on a wet day with them. And there are unexpected flavours too – rice with dill and peas, fresh peach salad, cucumber salad.

In terms of ingredients most of them should be familiar and available in most supermarkets (for which Madhur Jaffrey should take a good deal of the credit). She explains the more unfamiliar ones. My only warning is that several of the recipes require fresh curry leaves which may not be that easy to get hold of.

I really like this book and I’ve been recommending it to friends. It has a recipe for turnip – what’s not to like?

Title: Curry Easy Vegetarian
Author: Madhur Jaffrey
Publisher: Ebury Press
Year: 2014
Pages: 352
Recipes: 194 all vegetarian (including 132 vegan)
Price: £26 (hardback)
ISBN 9780091949471

In the introduction Madhur talks about how a lot of the recipes are from homes throughout India and won’t have appeared on restaurant menus. One of those she mentions is Kodava Mushroom Curry. I decided to give it a try. I stuck to the recipe, apart from using low-fat coconut milk, so I omitted the stage of letting it settle as it would have had no effect. I don’t know if that made a huge difference, this was hot, creamy and delicious anyway.

Kodava Mushroom Curry with Coconut

kodava mushroom curry photo DSCN1728_zps0b5995b4.jpg

Ingredients
1 400ml tin coconut milk left undisturbed for 24 hours to allow the cream to rise to the top
450g button mushrooms, halved
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2-3 fresh chillies, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice

Open the tin of coconut milk and spoon the thick cream at the top into a bowl. Leave the thinner milk in the tin.
Put the mushrooms in another bowl, sprinkle over the salt and turmeric and stir until all the mushrooms are coated.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
Put the oil in a medium hot frying pan or wok.
Add the shallots and fry until they are just starting to turn brown.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and chilli powder.
Return to the heat and add the chillies, and then the mushrooms and their accumulated liquid.
Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the thin coconut milk and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and simmer on a very low heat for a minute.
Add the lime juice and serve

Serves 4

Review: The Garden Cafe

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Please welcome a very good friend of mine and Anth’s – Angharad Brewer Gillham. She might not be fat, 40 or a vegetarian, but she knows a good veggie restaurant when she visits one, even if it is a tad lacking on vegan food. OK, over to our intrepid correspondent …

Gentle reader, I have a confession to make: I am not actually a vegetarian. But even a hardened omnivore can appreciate a vegetarian meal occasionally, and I think that those of us who eat meat should probably eat less of it, so I try to eat vegetarian meals as often as possible. This is a resolve that usually falls over when I’m out to eat, because there don’t tend to be a lot of vegetarian options on restaurant menus. So I was interested to discover The Garden Café, which is in the Garden Museum, right next to Lambeth Palace. It serves only vegetarian meals. Disappointed carnivores will have to turn around and go and find a Pret on the other side of the river.

I and my parents are not disappointed carnivores, so we ordered lunch instead. The Garden Café serves a smaller weekend menu, with just three choices of main meal: when we turned up, these were a carrot soup with crème fraiche and chilli garnish, a butternut squash and feta tart, and red peppers stuffed with bulgur wheat, Gruyère and olives. The peppers and tarts were accompanied by a trio of salads, one plain green, one coleslaw, and one chickpeas, feta, and several different varieties of tomato with a lemony dressing. The soup came with fresh bread.

I had the stuffed peppers; my parents both went for the tarts. The stuffed pepper was delicious, tender and vivid, and the stuffing was perfect, fluffy and full of flavour. The green salad was crisp and fresh and the chickpea salad excellent, sharp, peppery and lemony. I can’t stand coleslaw, so didn’t touch mine, but my parents reviewed it highly. Similarly, the butternut and feta tarts came in for high praise.

The Garden Café offers more options in terms of dessert, probably because it mostly sells people coffee and cake. There’s a nice selection of the usual sweet things – brownies and frangipane featured when we were there – but also a couple of cakes with more interesting flavours. We chose a slice of courgette, lime and ginger cake. It was delicious: imagine a carrot cake, with all the moistness and lightness of a really well-made carrot cake, but with a less obtrusive vegetable flavour lending depth to the mild spice of lime and ginger. I nearly went in and asked for the recipe.

The whole cost about £10 a head; I’d allow £13 if you wanted cake with your lunch, just to be on the safe side. This is still good value for a tasty, freshly-cooked meal in central London, and it’s in a gorgeous setting; you can sit inside the museum, which is a former chapel, de-consecrated, re-purposed, and full of light, but if it’s a nice day you’re much better off outside in the lovely garden. If there’s one criticism I’d make, it’s that this is not a guaranteed meal for vegans, which is a curious choice when you’re a small veggies-only restaurant. The website says that their recipes are often vegan, and that they change daily depending on seasonal produce and what’s coming out of the vegetable garden. This is laudable, but if I were a vegan turning up to the Garden Café on spec only to discover that everything contains animal products – including two out of three salads – I would be seriously annoyed. (And hungry.)

That said, this is a pretty restaurant that serves tasty vegetarian food for reasonable prices in central London. It’s got a lot going for it, and we’ll definitely be going back. Maybe this time I’ll remember to ask for the courgette cake recipe.

The Garden Café

Lambeth Palace Rd

London SE1 7LB

Tel: 020 7401 8865

http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/cafe