Monday, 15 March 2010

Miami fritters with jalapeno cream sauce

My cooking has been heavily influenced by American cuisine. From the great New York restaurants to the Napa valley in California and the Floridian style cuisine of Miami. Of course living in the UK I haven't been able to visit all these places and try the food myself - I don't have the time or budget to do this. Instead I have had to rely on books. And not vegetarian books at that. In the early 90's they still had a long way to come before they could inspire an ambitious vegetarian chef.

The first American book I bought was called "A taste of New York" and the elaborate, colourful and inventive dishes I found there blew my mind. It completely changed the way I started to present my food at the Gate in London. I started moving away from a classical style and started to use more bright colours, zig zags of sauces, towers and stacks of food and later, more importantly, I found myself mixing styles of cuisine.

The following recipe comes from a book called "Miami spice" published in 1993 written by Steven Raichlen and is an example of how you can successfully mix styles of cooking. The dish combines caribbean ingredients like plantain and chillies with more European ingredients such as olives and white wine - in his own words a combination of the Latin and caribbean cooking. In honour of the book I called the dish Miami fritters.

Miami fritters with jalapeno cream sauce

The original recipe included capers and pine nuts in the olive stuffing but I'll leave it up to you and you can include them if you want. I have been experimenting over the past few weeks and I have found that half ripe plantain are the best to use and make the smoothest puree. That means that they will need to be yellow with balck specks - not green or totally black. But if you can't find the perfect plantain as I have successfully all levels of ripeness.

Miami fritters

4 to 6 plantain
A little mixed spice
salt and pepper
About 20 pitted green queen olives
handful of sultanas
Vegetable oil for frying

By "Queen olives" I mean the large green olives. If you can't find big olives just use any pitted olives.

First of all pour some hot water over the sultanas to soften them up. Peel the plantain by chopping off one end, cutting the skin down its length and then peeling off the tough skin. Chop the plantain into rounds and place them in a large pan. Cover them with water and bring the pan to the boil.

Boil for about 12 minutes until the plantain is soft.
The cooked plantain

Drain the plantain and allow it to cool a for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately you will need a food processor as the plantain needs to be a smooth puree. Borrow one from a neighbour if you don't have one. The plantain needs to be pureed while warm so if you forget and it goes cold warm it up again. Place the plantain in the food processor with some salt and pepper and a little mixed spice. Whizz up until you have a puree. It may need to be done in two batches so as to not overload the processor.

The plantain puree

Stuff the olives with the sultanas and anything else you want to use. Take a blob of the plantain and flatten it in your hand. Place the olive in the centre and then roll it up. You will need to wash your hands regularly while you do this. Roll all the plantain.

Heat some vegetable oil to 200°C or 390°F. A deep fat fryer would be best but you could use a deep pan with oil or a deep wok. Fry the fritters until they are golden brown.

The fritters until this point are vegan so you could serve them with some salad and a spicy ketchup or chilli sauce.

Jalapeno cream sauce
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
2 to 4 red chillies, sliced
50g (2oz) butter
1 small glass of white wine
5ooml whipping or double (heavy) cream
salt and pepper
a little vinegar

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Heat the butter in a saucepan and saute the onions, chillies and garlic over a medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the white wine and simmer until most of the wine has reduced out. Add the cream and simmer slowly for about ten minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and add a little vinegar to help cut through the fattiness of the sauce. The sauce can be made in advance and reheated when required. This sauce does not freeze.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Vegan doughnuts - naughty but nice

A few years ago I had a noodle dish on my menu that involved making some deep fried Indonesian sweetcorn fritters. The recipe used flour, soy sauce for seasoning and ground rice - an ingredient I hadn't worked with before which for me was interesting enough. As the the weeks passed I noticed that the fritters had a very puffy and light consistency. They looked suspiciously like mini doughnuts! Vegan doughnuts at that! Fantastic!

The next day I set about rearranging the recipe to make it sweet and I was rewarded with the worlds first (probably) vegan doughnuts. I put it on the next menu and they sold like hot cakes and have on every menu I have included them since then.

vegan doughnuts with raspberry sauce

The recipe is delightfully simple but you will need a deep fat fryer of some sort. I have fried them in a wok of oil before now and it works well but you will need to be extra careful if you do this.

For the doughnuts
250g (1 cup) self raising flour
140g (just over half cup) ground rice or rice flour
100g (half cup) caster or fine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250ml (1 cup) soy cream or soy milk
150ml water

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then whisk in the soy cream and water. Leave it to stand for an hour. Heat your oil to 200°C or 390°F and carefully add spoonfuls of the doughnut batter.
Don't overload the oil - do five or six at a time. They will rise to the surface and when they are browned on one side flip them over.

Frying the donutzRolling the donutz in sugar

When they are golden brown all over allow them to drain for 1 to 2 minutes and then roll them in caster sugar. Serve them hot as they are or with some fruit sauce such as raspberry or strawberry or chocolate sauce. Lashings of cream go well also.

Heres a recipe for raspberry sauce that you can make in the winter

Raspberry sauce
350g (12oz) frozen raspberries
100g sugar
Bring the raspberries and sugar to the boil and simmer then together for a few minutes. Cool and whizz them up in a blender or food processor. Sieve and serve.

You might have thought that this was all you could do with the doughnuts but there is more. Because we have a batter it means things can be dipped in it and fried. This is where it gets very exciting. Take your favourite fruit ie strawberries, mango, banana etc, dip them in the doughnut batter and deep fry them. Roll them in the sugar and serve hot or cold. Ripe mango works especially well.

Why not try a banana split by frying two halves of a banana in the doughnut batter, serving them with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce! delish.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Goats cheese and pear bruschetta with beetroot carpaccio

In London I worked briefly with an Italian chef called Alex. He was and is a great guy, cool, easy going and relaxed except when it came to the mispronunciation of Italian words. Ignorant to the correct way to say bruschetta I was pronouncing it brooshetta which you would if you are from the English speaking world. Every time I said brooshetta away on table whatever he would turn round and say brooshketta it's brooshketta. I now always pronounce it the correct way, and find myself correcting others, although I'm sure I used to say it wrong now and again just to wind him up.

Goats cheese and pear bruschetta and beetroot carpaccio

Beetroot is plentiful in the Winter in the UK and I like it so much that I feature it these days on most of my winter menus. If you get a chance buy your own raw and cook it yourself. Leave the skin on and boil it for about 2 hours. It will be much sweeter and earthier than precooked stuff (and cheaper!). Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper it combines delightfully with the hot melted goats cheese. As if the beetroot wasn't sweet enough I've added some pears sauteed in butter and a sweet pepper chutney - a triumverate of sweet flavours assigned the task of pleasing your tastebuds.

This recipe is for four people as a starter but it could be served as a lunch dish.

For the pears
2 firm pears
a knob of butter
salt and pepper

If you have some slightly under ripe pears this is a great way to use them up - sauteeing them in butter or a little margarine sweetens and softens them up so they can be eaten as they are or used in a savoury dish such as a salad or in a dessert like chocolate and pear tart.

First of all peel the pears and cut them into flour lengthways. Take out the core and any frying the pearspips with a knife. Heat the butter in a frying pan and saute the pears slowly over a low heat, turning them regularly, until they are soft all the way through and have caramelised. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Lightly season them with some salt and pepper and if they aren't too sweet add a little brown sugar. Leave them to cool. These pears will keep for ages in the fridge so they can be made in advance.

For the sweet pepper chutney
1 onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced into strips
a little olive or vegetable oil
two cloves garlic, sliced
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 glass white wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper

This recipe was taken from Delia's website and and the wine substituted for the cider on her recipe. making the sweet pepper chutneyHeat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions, peppers and garlic over a medium heat. Keep frying until the vegetables a soft - about ten minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar and wine and simmer slowly until nearly all of the liquids have reduced out. This will take some time. When it is ready the veg will be very soft and syrupy. Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper and place it into a jar. It will keep for a couple of weeks in a fridge and even longer if you seal it in a sterilised jar.

For the bruschetta
8 thin slices of goats cheese
1 large ciabatta
2 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
4 beetroots
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Slice the beetroot as thinly as you can and drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and season with a little salt and pepper. Leave to marinate as you prepare the bruschettas.

Cut the ciabatta in half lengthways and cut each slice into four. I use a round cutter to create a more interesting shape in the restaurant but this isn't necessary.toast the ciabattas Soften the butter, crush the garlic and mix them together in a bowl. Remove the small thyme leaves and add them to the butter.

Spread the ciabatta slices with the garlic butter and toast them in a hot oven for a few minutes until they are golden brown. If you don't have any ciabatta feel free to use anything you have to hand or your favourite bread.

To cut the goats cheese neatly use a hot knife. Just heat the blade of an old knife over a gas flame and cut the it into slices.
topped with the cheese
Place a slice on each piece of toasted bread. Place two pieces of pear on four of the brushchetta slices. This can be done in advance if you want and held in a cool place until you are ready to serve them.

Place the ciabattas on a baking tray and and bake them for ten minutes in a medium oven until the cheese is melted. To serve stack two of the bruschettas on top of each other making sure the pears are in the middle. Serve on the beetroot with a dollop of the chutney.


Andy T chef

Friday, 15 January 2010

Wok 'n' roll

Wok n roll

Every now and again me and my family will have a Chinese takeaway on a Sunday evening - it's the end of the week for me and I don't always want to cook. Last time I ordered a chop suey spring roll and was delighted by how delicious it was. I had to put it on my menu.

Inspired, I scouted the internet for a recipe, and found one. To be honest I thought it was unlikely to work as it involved using tomato ketchup and leeks which I thought would be too tough a vegetable to sit inside a delicate and crispy spring roll. I tried it anyway and I was quite amazed at how it came out - so amazed that it made it to my menu.

Here's the recipe for chop suey spring's very easy. This recipe should make about 6 spring rolls.

Chop suey spring rolls
large spring roll wrappers - largest you can find
1 large leek
1 onion
1 large carrot - grated
10 button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
1 thumb of ginger - fine grated
vegetable oil for frying
1 small tin bamboo shoots
generous dash of tomato ketchup
a little soy sauce to taste
1 small bag beansprouts
2 teaspoons of cornflour
Oil for deep frying

First of place a little oil in a large wok and place it over a high heat. Add the sliced leeks and onions and start to wok fry them turning them over with a slotted spoon all the time. After a couple of minutes add the sliced mushrooms and grated carrot and continute stir frying for a couple more minutes. The picture below shows you how this would look.

wok frying the vegetables

Next add the garlic and ginger and allow it to hit the bottom of the wok so it gets a chance to fry a little in the oil. I know that the proper Chinese method would be to fry the ginger and garlic in the oil from the beginning but trust me doing it my way works well and and allows the flavours of these pungent roots to stay more in the forefront of the final taste of the dish. Cook this for a few more minutes.

Add the bamboo shoots, tomato ketchup, soy sauce and then the beansprouts. As this cooks away mix the cornflour with a little water to form a smooth paste and add it to the wok and mix it through well. The cornflour will thicken it. See below.

The finished chop suey

There you have it vegetable chop suey. You could serve this vegan dish with some noodles as it is but for this dish you will need to cool it to room temperature so you can fill the rolls. I forgot to mention you will need a deep fat fryer set to about 220°C or 440°F to cook the spring rolls.

When the mixture is cooled fill you spring roll wrappers with the mixture and roll up. Seal the end of the rolls with a little of the cornflour mixed with water. Deep fry until they are crisp and light brown. If you want to make the funky spring roll shape that I use in the restaurant you can as I have created a short video that shows you how to do it. Just follow the link below.

Wok n roll

In the restaurant I serve the spring roll on top of yakisoba - a Japanese style noodle dish - with a little Japanese style curry sauce. I will post the recipes for these at a later date.



Monday, 11 January 2010

Schnitzel bitte

Schnitzel or Weiner (Vienna) Schnitzel is a traditional dish from Vienna. Unfortunately the dish is made up of thin escalopes of veal, egg and bread crumbed and then pan fried.

I had been making an aubergine schnitzel for years and then a couple of years ago I realised that when butternut squash was fried or griddled on a hotplate it not only sweetens in flavour but it stays quite firm and, if cut thick enough, holds its shape well. I knew right then I could make a stuffed vegetarian version of the schnitzel.

Schnitzel, in German, apparently means cutlet without bones. Well this veggie version is a cutlet without the slices of 35 week old calf also.

Butternut squash schnitzel

As you can see in the image above on this menu at the Sky apple cafe I have been serving the schnitzel with noodles and a paprika sauce. However, I just ate the schnitzel with my family and served it with potatoes and a crisp salad and it was delicious.

Butternut squash schnitzel
2 medium sized butternut squash
Olive oil for brushing
salt and pepper
100g (4oz) of a strong blue cheese of your choice
bread crumbs
mixed seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower
flour for dipping
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
vegetable oil fro frying

First of all peel the squash with a sturdy potato peeler. Trim off the top and most if not all of the bulbous base and scrape out any leftover seeds. You can use the base in another recipe - it will keep for a few days in the fridge. With a sharp knife trim off the sides to make them flat and then cut the squash in to four lengths. Brush the slices with olive oil and then griddle or pan fry them on a medium heat until cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper as you do so.

Griddle the butternut squash

Place half of the slices on a work surface and and place some of the cheese on each slice. Place a slice on top and push down firmly.

Fill the schnitzel

Place the flour in a bowl or plate. Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk together with a fork. Mix the bread crumbs with seeds and place in another bowl or plate. Season the crumbs with some salt and pepper. Carefully holding the squash sandwiches together dip them in the flour, immerse them in the egg mix and then roll them in the crumbs. Pat them together firmly with your hands.

Bread crumb the schnitzel

Heat some vegetable in a frying pan and fry the schnitzels until crispy and golden brown on both sides.

Fry the schnitzel

Serve them straight from the pan or if your guests aren't ready you can keep them warm in a low oven for about 30 minutes. If you want you can hold them in the fridge at the bread crumbed stage for up to one day and then fry them when you need them.


Andy the chef