I live in an apartment and therefore do not have any available outdoor space to grow vegetables and fruit (the balcony doesn’t count). However, though, I’m lucky enough to have friends who, knowing my obsession with food and natural produce, occasionally bring me goodies from their gardens. This time around, my dear friend Filipa has brought me tons of thyme, an extra large zucchini (they’re everywhere around this time of the year, aren’t they?) and a bag full of passion fruit.
I knew straight way what to do with the first two ingredients (a huge batch of za’atar with the thyme, and a simple zucchini and apple soup), but I struggled with the latter. I’ve never been a huge fan of passion fruit, but knowing how outstanding it looks on desserts, specially cheesecakes and the like, I decided to make a tart with it. I approached it the way I usually do with vegan cheesecake-y desserts – I’m not a fan of using tofu, so the filling was coconut and banana based, firmed up with the help of Mr. Agar. I was very happy with how it turned out, specially because the filling had just the right texture – not too firm, but not too jiggly either. Eaten cold, I dare say it was probably the best dessert I’ve made this year.
Coconut, Roasted Banana and Passion Fruit Tart
for the crust:
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups oat flour (gluten free or not)
2 Tbs. flaxseed meal + 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
for the filling:
400 ml /2 cans full fat coconut milk
2 tsp. agar agar flakes
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and seeds scraped
2 Tbs. tapioca starch
5 Tbs. water
for the passion fruit sauce:
6 medium sized passion fruit
3 Tbs. brown rice syrup
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350F. Line two small trays with parchment paper. Add the banana, unpeeled, to one of the trays, and the sunflower seeds to the other. Put the trays in the oven and roast the seeds for 10-15 minutes (redistribute them halfway through, so they’re evenly toasted), and the banana for 5 minutes longer. Take the trays out of the oven and let the seeds and banana cool down.
2. When the toasted seeds are cool enough to handle, add them to a food processor and process until finely ground. In a large bowl, add the seeds, oat flour and salt. In another bowl, add the flaxseed meal along with 1/4 cup of water. Mix well and add the coconut oil and brown rice syrup, stirring everything together until thoroughly combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry one and mix until a firm dough comes together. If the dough seems wet, add a little more flour. Basically, it’s perfect as long as it doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl.
3. Lightly oil a 33 x 9 cm non stick pie pan and, with your fingers, press the dough into it. Cover it with parchment paper, add some beans or pie weights and blind bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the tart are golden brown.
4. While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the tapioca starch and 5 Tbs. of water until well combined. In a small pot over low-medium heat, add the coconut milk, agar agar flakes, vanilla seeds and brown rice syrup. Whisk the mixture constantly for about 8 minutes. Now, add the tapioca mixture to the pot and whisk for additional 2 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened.
5. Unpeel the banana and add it to a blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk mixture and blend until smooth. Add the filling to the previously baked crust. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
6. Right before serving, cut the passion fruit in half and extract their pulp with a spoon to a bowl. Add the brown rice syrup and stir to incorporate. Drizzle the sauce over the tart and serve.
As much as I like to cook, I don’t think I could manage the demands of running a restaurant or a café. I love to cook to small groups of people, but more than ten and I start to stress out. I’m also kind of slow in the kitchen, and adding up to that, I hate to delegate tasks. Even though the idea of having a place of mine – with my food, my kind of atmosphere, and so on – sounds appealing, I’m sure it will never see the daylight because of the reasons mentioned above. However, though, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about the dishes I’d like to serve in my little imaginary café, and this one would certainly be a regular on the menu.
It’s simply beans flavored with a spicy curry paste and served with warm charred naan, to whip up the sauces – the kind of food I could eat everyday. The naan is made with both wheat and spelt flours, and you can flavor it in way you like – by adding cumin seeds, garlic, chili powder, and so on. I wanted to make a 100% spelt naan but couldn’t find white spelt flour, so had to compromise and make a wheat and whole spelt version instead. However, though, next time I find it I’ll make the bread again and update this post with how it turned out. A few words on the measurements: I always like to have all the ingredients for each recipe weighted into grams (it’s way more accurate than cups), but my scale has been having some sort of identity crisis and only gives me the weights in pounds. I was a bit lazy and didn’t want to go into the trouble of weighting things down and then make the conversions, but if the scale doesn’t change its mind soon, I’ll buy another one and reintroduce the proper metric measurements.
Curried Beans with Naan Bread
for the naan bread:
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon olive oil
optional: cumin seeds, thyme, chili flakes, coriander…
for the curried beans:
4 cups red beans (canned is fine)
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons chopped canned tomatoes
1 large fresh green chili, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 large lemon (cut into 4 wedges) and chopped avocado for serving
To make the naan bread: Add, to a medium bowl, the water, yeast, salt, brown rice syrup and olive oil, and whisk everything together. In another bowl, combine the flours. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour and knead until you have a firm, yet soft to the touch, dough. If the dough is too wet, add more flour until you reach the right consistency. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave it in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
Heat a large grilling pan over medium-high heat. Dust a working surface with flour and add the proofed dough. Knead for a couple of minutes and divide it into 4 equal parts. Roll each ball of dough into a not too thin elongated shape and add the topping you want (if using) pressing it down gently into the dough. Brush the naan with water and add it to the grilling pan, water side down, and cover with a lid. Cook for 30-50 seconds, or until you start seeing some bubbles on it. Cook the other side for approximately the same time, or until lightly charred. Repeat this process with the remaining balls of dough.
To make the curried beans: Add all the ingredients for the curry, except the beans, to a food processor and pulse until it turns into a paste. Add the curry to a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot, for 2-3 minutes. Add the beans, 3/4 cup of water (if you cooked your own beans use the cooking water), and cook for additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Add a good squeeze of lemon juice to each serving, along with some chopped avocado and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with the naans.
I know I haven’t been around for a while but, hey!, I’m still here, and today we’ll talk curry. I realize this is the first curry recipe I write about on the blog, and to be honest I don’t know how that happened because it’s the kind of dish I cook often. I know there are a lot of vegetable curry recipes on the internet and that you probably don’t need another one, but I’ve made this curry countless times and think it’s a good one to have on your repertoire.
The variations in here could be endless. I’ve made it before with spinach in place of the cabbage and it turned out good, but I prefer to use the latter mainly because of the texture it brings to the whole thing. A word on tempeh: it’s well known that steaming tempeh for 15 minutes before actually cooking with it, removes its bitterness. To be honest, I don’t mind the bitterness and I think it goes practically unnoticed in here, camouflaged by the bold flavours of all the spices and the lemon. Having said this, if you want to steam it first (or even sub it for tofu), go ahead.
Enjoy the curry, have a great summer (guess what: here in Portugal has been raining) and I promise to come back soon! (:
Tempeh Lemon Curry
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander seeds, roughly pounded in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp. mustard seeds, roughly pounded
1 tsp. caraway seeds, roughly pounded
2 medium carrots, cut into cubes
1 Tbs. fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, cut into half moons
1 cup / 250 ml coconut milk
4 cups shredded cabbage
250 gr tempeh, cut into cubes
1 tsp. rice syrup
2 Tbs. mirin
zest of one lemon
1 handful toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 handful fresh mint, coarsely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
In a large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, garlic cloves and coriander, mustard and caraway seeds. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened and the spices have toasted a bit and smell fragrant.
Add the carrots, fresh ginger, turmeric, chilli and zucchini to the pan. Give everything a good stir and add the coconut milk. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the tempeh cubes and fry until golden brown. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the tempeh with a pinch of salt and add it to the pan with the vegetables.
Now, add the cabbage to the pan as well, pressing it gently with the back of an wooden spoon so that it’s covered by the coconut milk. If, at this point, the curry looks as if it hasn’t enough liquid, add up to 1/3 cup of it, but keep in mind the cabbage will release a lot of water too. Cover the pan and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted. Add the salt, rice syrup, mirin and lemon zest. Stir everything together and finish off with the lemon juice, toasted cashews and mint.
Recipe adapted from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley, published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2008