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Salads & Suppers, Sides, x For Freezer x

A pot of Really Good Daal

During these biting wintry weekends, daal can be a life-enriching experience. It’s a form of spellbinding magic. My nostrils do an all-consuming samba as I inhale a whole load of happiness that only food chemists could explain. This is daal – noun, verb, adjective, it’s much more than a bowl of hot legumes.

Food is always my first medicinal port of call. I prepare daal to soothe indolent moods and sore hearts. It’s got to have lots of sizzling garlic and blood-thumping ginger. Like a hug, these are to help us feel grounded yet simultaneously lifted, something Indian cooking almost always achieves. The injection of chilli is life’s defibrillator – the bigger the burn, the quicker we wake and shake.

 

 

 

Yellow Daal

Serves 3-5

This daal’s got more kick than a bunny in heat. Yellow split peas will give the daal a chunkier consistency, boiled until softly crushed then stirred into slow cooked onions and spiked with spices.

Namaste, from my little Indian love nest.

 

250g yellow split peas, rinsed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons coconut oil, butter or ghee
1 white onion, finely diced
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Chunk of ginger, lightly peeled and grated
Squeeze of lime
Generous handful of plum tomatoes, halved
Natural yoghurt, to serve
Fresh coriander, to serve

 

Cook the split peas and ground turmeric in a small deep pan, covering with unsalted water. Let them putt-putter for 30-45 minutes until you can crush the peas between your thumb and forefinger. You’re looking for a soupy consistency.

While the peas gurgle away, gently colour the onions in your preferred form of fat (butter, coconut oil or ghee) over a low flame for 12 minutes. Turn up the flame, add the crushed garlic, chilli, cumin and grated ginger, stirring for a few minutes to prevent charring.

Now you can add the lime, fresh tomatoes and turn the heat right down to let the flavours socialise under a lid. After 10 minutes of cooking, stir through the cooked split peas. Serve in large bowls alongside some natural yoghurt and freshly torn coriander leaves. A plump poached egg also serves us well.

 

 

 

 

 

Bread, Breakfast, Salads & Suppers, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw

Cauli Toasts

“Does the smell of bacon make you want it?”

“Don’t plants feel too?”

“Wasn’t Hitler a vegan?”

… just some of the delightfully irritating questions vegans shake off on a daily basis. “What can you eat?” carnivores ask, pupils morphing into one of those tiny kaleidoscopic wheels on a Mac before it crashes.

Food, dudes. Real food. Hundreds of plant-powered ingredients are at a herbivore’s fingertips everyday; they are Mother Nature’s heavyweight champions of fibre. I envy a vegan’s commitment. Their bowel movements must be like Christmas presents.

Given I am happily institutionalised into marital bliss with all its obligations and sacred rituals, I like to flirt with everything that crosses our front door. This week, it was vegan. The guest. Not the husband.

I wanted to thrill my guest, in the only way available to me (through my pantry). I quickly learned that with just a bit of mental parkour, you can turn any vegetable into a thundering drama queen and steal the show.

So here’s the recipe.

 

 

 

Cauli & Caper  Toast

Cauliflower toasts are scorching their hipster mark across NYC restaurants. With the right flavours, cauli toast is pretty fantastical. This dish has quickly become the litmus test of trendiness across cafes. Who knew a bleedin’ cauliflower could cause such a stir?

 

1 large head of cauliflower
Splash of olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

 

Fire up your oven to 210 Celsius, gas mark 7.

Cut 2 or 3 large slices from your head of cauli. Aim for about 2cm thick so it won’t collapse on you. I slice down the centre, using the core to hold it all together. Rub all over with olive oil and cumin. Then roast flat for 20-30 minutes or until slightly charred and golden. Throw the capers on top, halfway through cooking.

To plate up, crown with a poached duck egg like in the picture, or and some hummus for a vegan supper. The capers will give fabulous pops of ‘salty lemon’ to the finished dish. Fried chorizo is achingly good too. Hakuna matata.

 

 

 

Here’s an interview of me, and my potty mouth talking to a journalist in NYC, on the release of the US edition of The Virtuous Tart cookbook………..

Don’t forget to hit “BOOM” at the top left corner, with your email address my friend, to receive a new weekly recipe direct to your inbox. Until then!

X SJ

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Umami Grenade – nori paste

Ocean vegetables are the Biggest Thing since Ron Burgundy’s sideburns.

Calling them ocean veg is, of course, diplomatic speak for seaweed. We Irish seem to think seaweed is only useful for deflecting annoying children on the beach. In fact, seaweed is full of anti-aging love bombs and disease-fighting lignans. But you already knew that, right?

So why don’t you eat more of it? I understand. It’s hard to get your head around those slimy straps of ominous weed. But I bet you horse into it at your local sushi bar, eh?! Yes – that shiny green wrapper cavorting on your sushi roll is called nori; the most popular form of seaweed in the West.

nori-paste

 

Nori is ace. One serving of this Japanese nori paste will give you just under half the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron. No iron, no mojo. Women in particular need more of this blood building mineral. Not saying why.

Both nori, and its brothers and sisters in the ocean veg world, deliver a cargo of calcium for strong bones. Not worried about your bones? You should be, especially if you’re female. One in four Irish women will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. That number jumps to one in every two women, over fifty. it’s a serious problem, one that, admittedly, ocean veg ain’t gonna solve. But think of it as artillery, along with weight bearing exercise like pilates which bones love.

At a recent Irish Osteoporosis Society annual meeting, speakers addressed Ireland’s unique problem. We have one of the highest fracture rates in the world. So eating dairy is definitely not curing the calcium conundrum. Clearly it’s more complex than scarfing into cheese. Our levels of vitamin D are intimately linked to calcium’s absorption, so I vote serving this calcium-rich nori paste with mackerel, high in vitamin D.

 

nori-paste-japanese

Nori Paste

This nori paste is a game changer, and will have your synapses doing somersaults. I now bestow this recipe upon you, with deference to my food crush Katie Sanderson. Hallowed be the paste. I hope it has you frolicking on the dance floor well into your nineties, and lepping after lovers.

 

10 sheets of nori
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or palm sugar
1-2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soya sauce
100ml (3.5 floz) water

 

Using a scissors, roughly chomp the nori sheets into bite sized pieces. Migrate to a saucepan, and add your choice of natural sugar, some brown rice vinegar and the soya sauce. If you are coeliac, you can find wheat-free soya sauce called tamari which will work beautifully. Leave everything to chillax for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, cook on a gentle heat with 100ml (3.5 floz) water. Remove from heat after 10 minutes, or when the nori collapses into a paste. Store in an air tight jar once cooled, and keep for up to 7 days in the fridge. Indecently tasty stuff.