Spiced chickpea and lentil burgers

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If you’re anything like me, over Christmas you have seen cooked and eaten enough meat to last a lifetime, so by the time January hits you are ready for a change andthis is where these spiced chickpea and lentil burgers come in! These bad boys prove that you don’t need a beef burger to satisfy you. They are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans so there is no excuse not to whip up a batch! These are gently spiced with a nod to Middle Eastern flavours but make them as mild or as spicy as you like. I served these with skin on potato wedges and an array of burger toppings such as salad (for the health conscious), harissa mayonnaise (for the spice lovers) and tzatsiki ( to cool and refresh).

This recipe does not use egg to bind the chickpeas and lentils however if you find the mixture needs a bit of help to come together then sprinkle a little flour into it. Work the mixture with your hands and it will bind perfectly well. An egg would make the already moist mixture too wet and sticky so don’t be tempted to add one!

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Ingredients- makes 4 patties
400g tin of chickpeas in water
400g tin of lentils in water
1/2 tbsp. each of ground cumin, ground coriander and chilli powder
Handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Vegetable oil
Plain flour

1. Kick off by draining the tins of chickpeas and lentils and giving them a quick rinse. Place in a food processor along with all the other ingredients apart from the oil and flour. Blitz so the chickpeas and lentils are coarse and have retained some texture.

2. Lightly dust a chopping board or work surface with some plain flour. Divide the blitzed chickpea mixture into four and form patties. Place on a tray, cover them with cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

3. Take a non- stick frying pan and heat a good glug of vegetable oil over a medium to high heat. When the oil is warmed, place the patties in the pan and fry for around 10 minutes before flipping over carefully and frying for a further 10 minutes. Fry until golden and crisp. Serve in lightly toasted burger or brioche buns with all the trimmings.

Spiced chickpea and lentil burgers- all the flavour and not an ounce of meat in sight!

 

Paneer, split pea and spinach curry

Paneer is a firm Indian cheese which is one of my all time favourite things to use in a curry. It holds its shape when cooked and takes on flavours perfectly. Paneer is also a good way of introducing even the most avid meat fan to vegetarian curries. I have used an old faithful curry paste blend that works well every time. I started the curry off the day before so the paneer had plenty of time to marinade however a couple of hours ahead would be fine if you don’t have the time. This curry is gently spiced so you can taste each element however if you want to ramp up the heat then go ahead by adding more chilli powder, or fresh chilli if you prefer.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the curry paste
2 tsps of the following: ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric
1 tsp amchur (mango) powder
1 tsp garlic puree or 1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp ginger puree or 2cm piece of grated fresh ginger

For the rest of the curry
150g yellow split peas
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 block of paneer approx. 200g
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 tsp black onion seeds
6 plum tomatoes on the vine- chopped
100ml hot vegetable stock
100g baby spinach- shredded
Handful of fresh coriander- chopped

1. Get going on the curry paste by simply combining all of the listed ingredients with a splash of water to bring it together to form a relatively thick paste. Cut the block of paneer into chunks which are around an inch in size. Take half of the paste and add into a bowl with the paneer and ensure it is well coated. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

2. When ready to cook, the split peas need preparing before you get going with the rest of the curry. Place them in a large pan and add 400ml of water straight from the tap. Bring the pan to a boil, add the split peas, lower to a simmer and cook for half an hour until the split peas are tender. Keep checking the split peas as some may need slightly longer depending on the variety and size you use.

3. Meanwhile take a large wide bottomed pan (preferably non- stick!) and heat half of the vegetable oil over a medium to high heat. Take the marinated paneer and fry until it gets a little colour; turn the pieces regularly so the spice marinade does not catch. When they are golden, remove from the pan and set aside. If there are any pieces of marinade that have burnt onto the pan then give it a quick rinse as you will need to use this again.

4. Heat the remaining oil over a low to medium heat and cook the red onion gently. I always take plenty of time over making the base of my curry so the flavours develop. Cook the onion until translucent but ensure it does not colour too much as this can make onion taste bitter. When the onion is a minute or so away from ready, toss in the black onion seeds and finish off together. Spoon in the remaining curry paste that you reserved and cook gently for a few minutes.

5. Take the chopped tomatoes and add into the pan making sure they combine well with the onion mixture. Simmer until the tomatoes are reducing and thickening. The time this takes depends on the size of the tomatoes and how juicy they are but be patient as slowly cooking the tomatoes base will make all the difference.

6. When the split peas are cooked and tender, add these to the pan along with the paneer. Cover the pan and simmer again until hot and until the curry is the consistency you like. Along the way you may find that you want to add a splash of stock if the split peas get a little dry but, again, this depends on how juicy the tomatoes are. For the final few minutes of cooking, stir through the shredded spinach and finish off with some freshly chopped coriander. Serve the curry with your choice or rice or bread such as chapatis and enjoy.

Paneer, split pea and spinach curry- ‘the best curry you’ve ever made’ was the quote from my fellow diner so it must be a winning combination!

Christmas spiced clementine loaf cake

This time of year there is an abundance of clementines and the loaf is perfect for tose moments when you have too many clementines to eat before they turn. It combines the delicate citrus sweetness with the heady spices that evoke Christmas. It is also gluten free as it uses ground almonds rather than flour but do check your baking powder is suitable. You could also make a glaze however I felt it didn’t need it.

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Ingredients- makes 1 loaf cake
600g clementines
6 large eggs
250g ground almonds
225g granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mixed spice

1. Take a large pan of cold water and place all the clementines in it. Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook the fruit for an hour and a half. When cooked, remove the clementines to cool and then quarter them. Remove any rogue pips and discard. Take a blender and puree the clementines. You can also do this by hand if you prefer to use a bit of good ol’ elbow grease!

2. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan and lightly grease a 20cm loaf tin with butter. My tin is non- stick but by greasing or lining it you just make sure you won’t have any sticking disasters! Combine the almond, sugar, spice and baking powder in a bowl before mixing in the eggs well. Fold in the clementine puree and it’s good to go into the tin!

3. Cook for an hour until the loaf is cooked through and a skewer comes out clean. Leave the loaf in the tin to cool. If you like you can make a glaze for the top which can be made and then added whilst it is cooling. It really couldn’t be more simple- combine some icing sugar, clementine juice and a little water before brushing or drizzling over.

Serve a slice with a cup of tea or treat is more as a dessert and eat with creme fraiche or double cream on the side.

Festive spiced clementine cake- you’ll never throw out old fruit again!

Fragrant spice crusted sea bream

Sea bream has to be one of my favourite white fish; it’s delicate yet meaty and can stand up to bold flavours if you strike the right balance. In this recipe I have used Indian spices as a crust and then stuffed the bream with lemon slices and kaffir lime leaves to freshen it up even more.

If you’re nervous about cooking a whole fish then don’t be- it really couldn’t be simpler. Ask your fishmonger to prepare the fish so it’s ready to go if you don’t fancy doing it yourself! One fish should serve one person so it is really simple to double this recipe if needed.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 whole sea bream- gutted, scales removed and ready for stuffing
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 dried red chilli- snipped
3 garlic cloves- crushed
3cm piece of fresh ginger- grated
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 lemon- sliced
Handful of kaffir lime leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan ready for the fish. To make the spice paste roast the cumin, coriander seeds and peppercorns for a few minutes until they are lightly toasted and release their flavours. Pop into a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar along with the chilli, garlic, ginger and salt and grind to a coarse paste before mixing in the oil.

2. Get the fish ready by stuffing them with the slices of lemon and lime leaves. Grab your spice paste and rub the fish all over with it. Pop the fish on a lightly oiled baking tray so it doesn’t stick and cook in the oven for around 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish). If the spice crust starts getting a bit too much colour on it then cover the fish with a piece of foil. When the fish is ready the juices should run clear and the flesh should look white and translucent. Serve with rice or salad for a lighter meal.

Spice crusted sea bream- a celebration of this stunning fish!