Thursday, 24 May 2012

Vegetable and Black Bean Pie

Vegetable and Black Bean Pie

After a few horrible weeks of cold and rain it looks like Summer is on its way at last, as temperatures here have soared from below average to well above average for the time of year. For us, this means dining on the patio :), but also the chance to wage war on all those weeds that grew up in the damp weather :/. I am trying to spend some time every day on the garden, which in turn means less time in the kitchen to write down recipes, so today's creation will be more in the form of cooking notes until I get the time to make it again and measure the quantities. I served the pie with various salads (including a brown rice and beansprout salad).
  • The vegetables I used were mainly broccoli and cauliflower, with celery, diced orange sweet potato and shredded white cabbage. I used plenty of everything, to form a thick layer on the bottom of the dish. I began by sauteing the cabbage and sweet potato in a little oil with some hing and dark soy sauce, then I added the other vegetables and a minimal amount of water, and steamed them with a small pinch of salt until soft.
  • When I spread the vegetable mixture into the dish I also mixed in some cooked organic black beans for protein.
  • The secret of a good pie is the gravy; it should be thick enough not to make the filling soggy and runny, yet still be moist. I made a gravy from a broth of the liquid from cooking the vegetables, some white miso, a bit more soy sauce and some black pepper, paprika and dried thyme. I used the roux method, and added the broth gradually over a low heat so that I could judge when I got the perfect consistency. I then added the gravy to the filling.
  • I had made the pastry earlier so that it had time to sit; this makes it easier to roll out. It was made using about 90% organic wholemeal flour, and half as much fat as flour. 
  • Finally, the pie was baked at 225C until the pastry was done; by that I mean crisp and brown.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

White Miso Noodle Broth with Beancurd

This closeup shows extra black pepper I added when I served it.
The soup will look darker than this if you use regular miso such as mugi or hatcho.

Oh dear... the cough I have been fending off all week with extra vitamin C, sage tea and even raw garlic (ugh!) seems to have become a chest infection, and I am not feeling my usual self at all. I wanted to cook something that was quick and easy, as I don't want to be on my feet for long, yet I needed to make sure both the kids and Thakuraji (our deities) were catered for. Luckily I realised we had all the ingredients for something I'd been meaning to cook for a while, and it happens to be just the thing for colds and coughs, being warming, nutritious and easily digested.
 Ayurvedic medicine, (the ancient Indian health system), recommends avoiding cold food and drink and ingesting heating foods such as ginger when suffering from a cold- having a cold means that the body has become too kapha (cold and damp). The black pepper and ginger in this broth should be just the thing, then. The beancurd is full of protein -as is the miso- and the noodles give that extra bit of energy. 

All the vitamins from the veggies give you a lift too. I used broccoli and red pepper (capsicum) for their immune-boosting antioxidants...result: the ideal healing comfort food! With this recipe, I made enough for at least 5 bowls, depending, of course, on the size of your bowl.
150g finely-chopped veggies (I used red pepper and broccoli, but sweet potato and green beans would be equally good)
ricebran oil/ light olive oil for sauteing
1 1/2  l water
3 tabs white miso
100g (dry weight) beancurd sticks, broken into small pieces
100g (dry weight) fine noodles of your choice (wheat, rice, buckwheat etc.)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp compound hing
  • Saute the veggies in the oil until they are just starting to soften.
  • Add the water, beancurd and seasoning, and bring to the boil.
  • After a couple of minutes, once the beancurd has mostly softened and the veggies are cooked through, throw on the noodles. Simmer for a couple of minutes more until the noodles are soft.
  • Turn off the heat, wait for the soup to go off the boil, then stir in the miso. (The reason for this being that if it's "live" and not pasteurised, you won't kill off the enzymes.)
  • Serve piping hot, and add more ginger and black pepper if you need to.
Well, it did hit the spot and I don't feel quite so achey any more, so I'm off for a hot bath and an early night... :)
What foods do you reach for when you're feeling under the weather?