Shredded Sprouts and Tofu

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I love my Abel and Cole Cookbook. It’s full of wholesome, hearty recipes which work with the seasons (and therefore the ingredients in my weekly veg box!) So today, when deciding to use up a bag of organic sprouts languishing in post-Christmas asylum, this book was my go-to guide for some wintery inspiration. Now of course, the wonderful recipe writers at Abel and Cole land aren’t all vegetarian and so I am used to getting creative when not wanting to miss out on a beautiful dish, but this recipe Shredded Brussels and Bacon appeared to challenge us veggies directly:

“If you’re vegetarian and thinking about moving over to the dark side”

The blurb read arrogantly (But with a good enough dollop of tongue-in-cheek honesty, to allow me to refrain from offence) I did feel challenged though. Opening the fridge, I spotted a pack of smoked tofu that really needed using and considered if this would be enough to match the succulence of fried bacon. Perhaps not in texture but paired with the sweet maple syrup I had to hand, I thought I’d give it a go! So often with meat, it’s the sauces, flavourings and texture we in fact crave, not the taste of the plain meat itself. I also had some Indian ghee (clarified butter) to use up, and with its high smoke point (making it incredibly stable in molecular structure when cooking) it would be perfect for browning and adding much lusted-after flavour to the tofu.

Ok so here goes; a simple, healthy and seasonal vegetarian recipe inspired by Abel and Cole’s meaty one; where I switched bacon for smoked tofu, soy sauce for maple and butter for ghee. The original recipe also includes carrots, which I didn’t use – as I didn’t have, but I’d say feel free to experiment with/increase the variety of vegetables to your liking/as the season dictates.

Ingredients:
A small bag of Brussels Sprouts
A 225g packet of smoked tofu, cubed (I find that Clear Spot’s has a very good firmness)
1.5 tbsp of ghee (or a good quality oil)
A good glug of maple syrup
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage (optional)
Brown rice (to serve)
Vegetarian hard cheese, grated (optional)

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1. First get your rice simmering in water and then begin preparing the sprouts. You’ll need to cut a few millimetres off the bottom of each sprout (depending on size of stalk) and remove the outer leaves, before slicing in half and then shredding lengthways, with each slice around 2mm wide.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot and begin to fry the tofu cubes until golden and beginning to crisp on each side. Do this gently, but don’t allow it to stew. I find a medium-high heat, plenty of ghee, with as little stirring as possible the best method here.

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3. Add the shredded sprouts and half the chopped sage. Splash in a good glug of maple syrup, give it all a good stir and then leave it to cook for between 5 and 10 mins. After which, taste and season accordingly, adding more maple syrup if required.

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4. Serve on a mound of rice, with the sprouts having kept a slight bite and sprinkle over the rest of the sage and some vegetarian hard cheese for extra richness and flavour.

This recipe can easily be adapted for vegans, just switch the ghee for a good quality oil (one with a high smoke point like rapeseed would work well here) and omit the cheese or switch for a dusting of nutritional yeast.

I hope you enjoy this healthy, wintery treat, my children aged 7 and 3 cleared their plates and asked for more! An unequivocal Brussels Sprout result in my book!

Happy New Year!

Jaime xx

Purple Healing Juice

I love this time of year. The world around us is filled with the colours, sights and sounds of Autumn and best of all, we are reeping the rewards of the Summer’s vegetable harvest. With the change in seasons however, come some familiar battles. Our skin and hair may begin to suffer as the sunlight wanes and central heating clicks on for those chilly, misty mornings. Colds and viruses too, cling on and linger in the cool, damp air and chesty coughs can seem to last forever. I always feel tired this time of year, the heat and fun of Summer are a distant memory as we begin to wake up in the dark and plan for the coming festive season.

Diet plays a huge part in how we feel, so in addition to your hearty vitamin-packed soups, fresh local fruit and plenty of water; I’ve created a fabulous seasonal juice recipe to heal and refuel this Autumn.

Pomegranates are incredibly high in vitamin C and potassium. Pomegranate juice is also high in three different types of polyphenols, a potent form of antioxidant. The three types – tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – are present in many fruits, but fresh pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three.

As well as all the vitamins, beetroot juice has been proven to have beneficial effects on blood pressure and fitness output. So instead of your usual caffeine hit, feel energised, refuelled and refreshed with the juice of this beautiful Autumn vegetable.

As a natural anti-inflammatory, a large dose of ginger is the perfect antidote to the lingering coughs and colds of Autumn and will help to soothe the worst of the seasonal aches and pains away. I love ginger and try to drink it steeped in warm lemon water as much as possible, but here it makes an appearance in another delicious juice recipe.

You will need:
1 pomegranate
1 – 2 medium sized beets
Minimum 1/4 inch piece of Ginger
1 carrot
1 apple
A large handful of dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale or cavolo nero all provide excellent nutrition and a large boost of chlorophyll)

To Prepare:
1. Wash and soak your greens.
2. To open your pomegranate; cut a circle at the top of the fruit about an inch wide around the brown ‘nib’, remove this lid. Then, make five or six (depending on the size and shape of your pomegranate) cuts down each ridge on the main body of the fruit, but take care not to break the plump seed pods contained inside. Carefully remove all the seed pods and pop in the juicer. (For a clear step-by-step on preparing your pomegranate, click here, for a handy fact sheet by Waitrose.
3. Wash, top and tail your beetroot and carrot and add to the juicer.
4. Pop the soaked greens and slice of ginger into the juicer and juice, finishing with your apple to push through any remaining pieces.

Drink fresh and feel revived!

*Tip: For maximum output, I always rehydrate my leafy greens (especially if they’re pre-cut) in a bowl of cold water for around 15 mins prior to juicing.

Jaime x

Image Credit: The Jolly Beetroot

Damn Good Damson Jam

Ahh scrumptious September! It’s that time of year when the fruit of the summer sun’s labour really comes to light and hedgerows are filled with free sweet delights to see us through the onset of Autumn. Ours is unseasonably warm this year and while writing this blog the girls are at the park enjoying a warm dusk and the windows of my home are flung open wide to entice in the cooling late summer breeze.

We are luckily enough to live very close to lots of productive foraging sites; as well as the usual nettles and dandelions we are lucky to have blackberries, rose hips, and of course, damsons, just a short stroll away and we are accustomed now to bringing an array of baskets and bowls with us whenever we walk, for the acquisition of the ripest of nature’s sweets.

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Damsons are a relation of the plum, although they are much much smaller (about the size of a very large grape) and are recognisable by their beautiful dark indigo colouring, which is usually covered in a white ‘pith’ which rubs away with the oils of your hands. Damsons contain a single small stone and should have a fairly pale amber flesh. They have a very tart taste when eaten off the tree and a juice that will cut through grease and clear your palate. I just love damsons, and this damson jam recipe will bring the essence of a hazy Indian summer into your darkening mornings as Winter sets in.

This recipe makes about six jars.

Ingredients:
1kg damsons
1.25kg preserving sugar
400ml water

*De-stoning the fruit:
There are two options here and in my most recent batch I used the method detailed below, but another way to ensure a stone free jam is to cut the fruit in half and remove each stone before using them. Time consuming, but ultimately worth it!

Method:

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Put the fruit and the water into a big high-sided pan and simmer until the skins are soft and the liquid has reduced by a third. As the fruit is softening, press it against the side of the pan to release the stones and remove with a slotted spoon. (Turn the heat off if this process is taking a while – you don’t want to burn the fruit)

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Take the pan off the heat and add the sugar, stirring gently until it’s all dissolved. (It can help if you warm the sugar first, by putting it in the oven for 10 minutes)

When the sugar has dissolved, return the pan to the heat and boil it rapidly until the setting point is reached. Take the pan off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Skim off any scum that has formed, then pot up into sterilised* jars and store in a cool dark place until ready for use.

Why not tie ribbons around some of the jars and give them out as Christmas presents this year? There are some fab editable and printable labelling tools online, give it a go!

*to sterilise your jars simply wash them and put them through the dishwasher (alternatively use a microwave) on its hot setting while you’re making the jam. Spoon the mixture into the still-warm jars and seal immediately with a lid. The heat of the mixture and the jar will enable it to seal effectively and prevent any bacteria from disturbing your beautiful batch of jam.