Saturday, 11 February 2012

Carrot and Gobo Kinpira

If someone has a bag of carrots and they’re asked what they would do with it, I bet most would consider ‘carrot cake’ or ‘carrot juice’.  However, being a lover of all things super-nutritious, I would think “Kinpira!” 
Kinpira is a Japanese cooking style which describes the method of sautéing and then simmering until desired result.  This usually gives the vegetables a wonderful colour and a great depth of flavour. 

 Today’s recipe uses the beautiful carrot and strong, earthy Gobo-root, or otherwise known as Burdock root.  If you haven’t seen a Gobo-root before, you must check it out at your local Asian grocers or macrobiotic restaurant.  The vegetable is light brown in colour and resembles a root-like, wooden mop stick!  When picking your Gobo you want one that is paler in colour and that is strong and thick. The lengths vary with each one but I like to take smaller ones because I hate to waste it if it weren’t used up in time. 
I love this dish because of how healing it really is.  Gobo has been known to purify blood and in Chinese culture, we use Gobo in soup or tea to combat diseases such as Gout (which happens to be related to the consumption of meat, dairy, excessive sugars and even coffee!). 
You must try this at home fellow readers, I promise you this dish will go down well with your family members.  Serve this up with any Asian inspired protein of your choice and a good helping of rice.  Itadakimasu! 

Recipe [2-4 Servings...depends on your appetite!] 

·         300g of Gobo cut into matchsticks
·         300g of carrot cut into matchsticks
·         2 large tablespoons of sesame oil
·         A small pinch of salt (I like Pink Himalayan salt for added nutritional benefits.
·         4 tablespoons of Shoyu (natural soy-sauce) or Braggs liquid Aminos
·         A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
·         A sprinkle of black sesame seeds (or white if you prefer)
·         A large pinch of sugar (or even a drizzle of brown rice syrup)

Once you have cut up your Gobo and Carrot, you will want to heat up your wok or skillet on a medium-high heat.  After 30 seconds, add in your sesame oil letting the oil heat through.  Then throw in your vegetables and toss in the pan to coat evenly.  There should be a healthy sizzling sound whilst you cook the veggies; sizzle until everything looks golden and crisp. 
Next add in the salt, sugar and then the shoyu and coat evenly.  Put a lid on top of your pan and let steam/simmer for 3 minutes or until veggies are tender.  The end result should be tender with a nice bite; it will not be as nice if it is too soft!
Lastly toss in the chilli flakes if using and then plate up.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve hot (or even cold if you roll that way!)

Easy huh?  Enjoy everyone and I hope you get to know and love your Gobo! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Creamy Avocado Cacao Chia Pudding with Blueberries

There is a popular dessert in East Asian cuisine made with Sago  and while recipes vary, my favourite involves coconut milk, cooked taro chunks and sweet potato.  The sweet, creamy nature is so satisfying and I must show you the recipe one day.  However today's recipe is something  reminiscent of sago but more simple, more nutritious and with a hell of a lot less sugar (in fact there is no added sugar to this recipe!).
Chia seeds are found is Mexico and can be found either ground up as flour or as the tiny seeds itself.  Luckily for me I can now pop into my local Holland & Barretts and find these on the shelves.  They are packed with protein, anti-oxidants, healthy fats and omega-3s!  Eating these little power house seeds will keep you full, young and energetic.  The really exciting thing about Chia is that the seeds become gelatinous when they are soaked in a liquid and they become translucent - a lot like sago!.. This way they are even easier to digest (apparently the seeds are more digestible than flax seeds anyway) and perfect to make puddings or breakfast.  
This recipe was a dessert but can easily be eaten for breakfast.  Once you get the hang of it, the variations are endless.  You can even warm this up (which is what I did with the remaining Chia) and serve with Vegan chocolate shavings, or dessicated coconut for a tropical hit.  

Recipe [2-3 Servings] 
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Overall time: 35 minutes

Main ingredients
·         100g Chia Seeds
·         Large handful of blueberries
·         A few chunks of avocado

‘Marinade Sauce’
·         40ml Soya cream
·         260ml Soya milk
·         Five dates
·         Half a small avocado
·         20g cacao nibs

Blend together the all the marinade sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth.  This mixture should be taste like chocolate with a delicate sweetness.  If you want it sweet you can either add more dates or perhaps some maple syrup; I like it this way but others can sweeten it whilst they are eating it too so don’t worry too much! 
Pour the mixture into the bowl of Chia seeds, cover the bowl and refrigerate. 
Stir the mixture every ten minutes or so and after half an hour, the pudding should be ready.  Serve with blueberries on top and additional chunks of creamy avocado (or whatever the hell you like!)

Enjoy ^_^

Monday, 6 February 2012

Barley Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Shrove Tuesday is approaching us on the 21st of February, and it's time to get our pancakes on.  The following recipe was inspired by the excess amount of barley I had hanging around the kitchen.  I decided to use my Vitamix to blitz up some barley flour and it turned out better than I thought.  My flour is actually a combination of pearl barely, raw barley grain and barley flakes.  You can use any barley you like but I found all of them turn into flour easily.  
Barley flour does contain a low amount of gluten but you'll find actually it gives the pancakes an extremely soft (even slightly gooey) texture, rather than a floury dry bite.  It also lends a beautifully nutty flavour too which I think is mind blowing.  What's more is that barley flour is high in fibre so these pancakes will keep you satisfied as well as healthy.  
I added in pumpkin seed oil to the mixture to boost up the omega content and also to push that nutty flavour to another level; it also seems to give the brown pancakes a slight green tinge which I think is wonderful.  The brand that I use is Gea which I picked up last year at a Taste of London festival.  If you can get your hands on it I totally recommend as it's fabulous in salads and apparently pancakes.
Lastly I think the maple syrup is a good choice because the sweetness is not over-powering.  In fact this recipe isn't that sweet at all but nutty, wholesome with a hint of syruppy hum.  The accompanying strawberry sauce offsets it all with a fresh, zingy sweetness thanks to the squeeze of fresh lime.  

My family couldn't get enough of them.  Enjoy.

Barley Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce (Makes 10-12 medium pancakes)

Pancake Ingredients

·         300g of Barley Flour
·         200g Plain Flour
·         2 Tsp Baking Powder
·         1 Tsp Cinnamon powder
·         Large pinch of salt
·         700ml Dairy-free Milk
·         1 Tbsp Pumpkin seed oil
·         1 Tbsp maple syrup Vegetable oil for frying

 Strawberry Sauce Ingredients

·         A large handful of strawberries
·         Juice is half a lime
·         1 tsp of Barley Malt (or maple syrup or Agave nectar)
·         1 tsp of warm water

You are most welcome to use shop bought barley flour even though, where I’m from, it’s kind of hard to come by.  In fact, you can substitute barley flour with any other flour of your choice (such as spelt or even buckwheat)! If you don't have maple syrup at hand, try thinning barley malt or even use Agave Nectar if you use it.  In this recipe I used Soy-m

Sift and measure out the flours into a bowl and stir in the baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt. 
Pour in the dairy-free milk, pumpkin seed oil and maple syrup into your food processor (if you are not using a blender or food processor, you would use a mixing bowl). 
After, add in your dry ingredients and then blend at high speed (whisk either manually or with electric whisk otherwise).

The texture should be smooth but the consistency is entirely up to you.  To produce thin crepe-like pancakes you can blend in some water or more milk to create a thinner batter mix. If you want heartier, thicker pancakes then make sure the mix is smooth yet stodgy. 

Grease a frying pan with the fat of your choice (I used vegetable oil but I imagine some vegan butter would make the pancakes even more delicious).  Ladle or pour in your batter mix, small batches at a time on a medium heat. 
You will notice the bottom side will seal whilst the surface facing you will bubble...don’t let curiosity get the better of you!  Once the bottom seems ‘sealed off’, lower the heat and let that side crisp up.  Once you are confident that the bottom can slide around easily, flip the pancake and bring up the heat to a medium fire.  Once again as it seals, lower the heat to let that side crisp up.  Here is a tip: using your spatula, press the pancake down for a sizzle to create extra brown crispiness. 

For strawberry sauce, blitz up a large handful of strawberries with a squeeze of lime juice.  In a bowl, mix warm water with the barley malt and add to the strawberries.  Blend then chill.