A special satay

Tofu satay this week! Another good ‘un from the Bikers 🙂

The marinade for the tofu was lovely and punchy — lots of lime juice — though I might have added slightly too much dried chilli, as there was an intense kick of heat after a few seconds when I tested it. In any case, eight hours of marinading the tofu cubes lent them a delightful flavour. I don’t actually have any bamboo or other skewers, so I couldn’t impale the tofu for grilling — I put the marinated tofu (plus the marinade; no point in wasting it) into a pie dish and put that under a medium grill while I made the peanut sauce. It worked pretty well 🙂

The peanut sauce is one of the best things I’ve gotten from the Hairy Dieters books! Smooth, delicious, just enough kick from the soy sauce, lemon juice and black pepper to balance out the smooth richness of the peanut butter. I used sweet chilli sauce rather than sriracha — personal preference — but this didn’t diminish the flavoursome aspects at all. I also had to use 50ml of semi-skimmed milk with a tablespoon of coconut powder stirred in instead of coconut milk, and the latter is rather expensive and it didn’t make sense to pay for 400ml of the stuff when I only needed one-eighth of that amount. The substitution worked out all right, though, and there was something incredibly satisfying about stirring all the sauce ingredients together and seeing the peanut butter slowly integrate with everything else 🙂 I’ll definitely be keeping this peanut sauce recipe in mind for other dishes — for example, a casserole of chicken on a bed of caramelised onion, with the peanut sauce poured over the top. Delicious!

The other Dieters recipe I’ll be doing this week is the artichoke and lemon dip. Not a meal by itself, admittedly, but it should go well with the last of the Jarlsberg twist bread (another Bikers recipe, this one from the Big Book of Baking) I made last Friday. It was soft, moist, delicious and rose like the devil thanks to some very lively yeast and the unseasonably warm day. I’ll be using artichokes canned in water rather than oil — nowhere to store the drained-off oil and I don’t want to waste anything — but that should be ok. Apparently the texture of the artichokes in water should be slightly mushier, which should help when it comes to combining the dip ingredients.

Bon appetit!

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Salento – southern Puglia — Diane Seed

When I first started taking people to Puglia in the Nineties it was relatively unknown outside Italy. Local people would stop to stare at my motley group when we visited the food market in Monopoli, and very little English was spoken. In July and August northern Italians would drive south for their summer holidays but […]

via Salento – southern Puglia — Diane Seed

Spinach is good!

Creamed spinach with hard-boiled eggs was this week’s Hairy Dieters recipe. I hadn’t had spinach in many years and so didn’t have especially lofty expectations, but I was blown away by how good this recipe tasted!

Turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin mixed with the sautéed onion — strongly scented during the cooking, but tempered by the cream to a delicious background complex of flavours. The spinach cooked down magnificently and its flavours worked well with everything else. The recipe instructed that the egg(s) be boiled for exactly six minutes — approximately long enough to have the white fully solidified and the yolk still soft but no longer runny. Some care was definitely necessary when taking the shell off, but it was worth a little fiddling to get to the eggy goodness whose texture worked perfectly with the creamed spinach!

The recipe as given in the book was listed as serving 4 people (249 calories per portion) as a starter, snack or brunch, but it could easily serve 2 or 3 people as a light supper (at about 333 to 500 calories per portion).

Bon appetit!

I am a true millennial

I’ve had avocado toast for supper two days running…

Partly because it’s relatively cheap, quick and easy (essential when there’s a long and emotionally intense manuscript to be proofread on a tightish deadline), partly because I bought a two-pack of avocados and partly because it’s the first recipe in Hairy Dieters Go Veggie.

It went pretty well, although I think I added a little too much lemon juice to the avocado mix. I’ll probably use balsamic vinegar next time — should prevent oxidation just as effectively as lemon juice and has a sweet edge to the flavour to temper the acidic sourness.

I hadn’t actually had avocados on their own for well over a decade, so I’d forgotten just how creamy they are — certainly enough to temper my fiercely strong dried chilli flakes to scarcely a hint of warmth when I added my usual cautious small pinch to one mashed avocado.

All in all, I think this recipe was a success and I’ll keep it in mind for when the summer heat really gets going.

Hairy Dieters Go Veggie

I’ve FINALLY gotten around to this one, the latest in the Hairy Bikers’ series of glorious low-calorie recipe books 🙂 (the recipes are low-cal, not the books XD)

As the title suggests, there’s not a lick of meat anywhere in this particular volume — it’s all veggie, all the way. This helps keep the calories down a fair ol’ way, and is a good impetus for getting more creative with cooking one’s veg.

As per usual for Hairy Bikers books, the recipes are detailed and easy to follow, with preparation/cooking times and calorie counts for each dish. The book is as much a feast for the eyes as a feast for the stomach!

Given the all-veggie nature of the recipes, this particular book has slightly more recipes than usual that hit my ‘nope’ factor, through containing aubergines, courgettes, parsnips and other things that I really don’t like. This is a reflection of my personal tastes rather than a flaw in the book itself — there’s still plenty of good stuff there! For example, avocado toast (that millennial classic, though I’m not sure whether  I’m  actually a millennial), an avocado-based chilli chocolate mousse and caponata pasta. This last one contains capers and courgettes going by the ingredients list, but I’m working out ways to omit them and keep the dish tasting good.

One particularly interesting section is the soups — especially the vegetarian miso soup (miso soup usually uses dashi stock, which contains tuna in the form of bonito flakes). I’m a sucker for good miso soup, so this is a recipe I’m particularly looking forward to. The ingredients list mentions ‘Japanese greens’, not further specified, so I’m not entirely certain what to use there, but I suppose that if all else fails, spinach or pak choi should work reasonably well.

There are quite a few tofu recipes as well, such as a ‘TLT’ (tofu, lettuce and tomato sandwich) with smoked tofu, as well as an ingenious tofu satay. I’m pretty interested in these, though I’m a tad wary owing to the fact that tofu is soy-based, and soy products don’t always agree with me. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem if I do all the preparation correctly, though — sufficiently well-processed soy tends to be ok 🙂

All in all, the most recent Hairy Dieters book lives up to the standard set by its predecessors and is well worth a look!