Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Time For Tea with Helen WIlson of www.lotsofnicethings.com

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Time for Tea – our monthly chat with someone who cares about tea. This time from Helen Wilson whose blog is www.lotsofnicethings.com

Helen Wilson from www.lotsofnicethings.com.

Helen Wilson from www.lotsofnicethings.com.

1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?
Traditional tea with soya milk

2. What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?
Chamomile
3. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?
All the unusual varieties and the fact they are fairtrade and organic
4. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?
Redbush Chai – because I love chai flavours but am trying to cut down on the caffeine.

Steenbergs Organic Red Chai tea is a caffeine free, herbal, loose leaf chai made from redbush tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?

Jamie Oliver. I’d like to talk to him about food and convince him to go vegan!

Your contact details
Website: www.lotsofnicethings.com

Dosas – Southern Indian Pancakes

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

My parents have recently come back from a wedding in Southern India and they have been to one of my favourite regions, Kerala.  They were blown away by the delicious food and already miss the flavours of their staple, the dosa.  At about the same time, Sophie has been chatting with The Curry Guy and liked his Masala Mashed Potatoes.  So using some recipes from The Curry Guy, some recipes my parents brought back and Das Sreedharan, I made dosas at the weekend.

The dosas were pretty good, especially after I overruled the recipe I had come up with and added more water – I later realised from Das Sreedharan’s book that there is a mysterious and innocuous line that I had missed which basically said “add more water until you are happy with the mixture”.  I added to this some Masala Mashed Potatoes and a fresh Coconut Chutney.

The only other key thing is a really good pan for making the dosas, ideally the best pancake pan you have, which if you are like me has been lovingly nurtured and cured with oil for years and years and has excellent heat transfer properties.

Keralan Style Dosa With Curried Mashed Potato Filling

Keralan Style Dosa With Curried Mashed Potato Filling

Curried Mashed Potatoes

Dosa Masala

Curried Mashed Potato


Ingredients

700g / 1lb 8oz floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
¼ cup full fat milk
100g / 3½oz peas
3tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato, cut into eighths
1cm / 1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1tsp black mustard seeds
Pinch of sea salt

How to make

Boil the potatoes until soft, then drain and mash roughly with the full fat milk.

Boil the peas until soft, then drain.  If cooking from frozen, simply bring to the boil, then drain.

While the potatoes are cooking away, prepare the masala.  Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onions over a medium heat for 4 -5 minutes until they start to brown at the edges, then add the chopped garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fresh ginger, spices and salt and cook over a low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, making sure it does not burn or stick to the pan.

Add the mashed potatoes and peas, and stir these into the onion masala.  Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes until thoroughly infused with flavours.

These curried potatoes can be eaten with nearly anything and are a great way to jazz up excess mashed potato that has been made.  They can also be used to make great curried flavoured potato patties for eating with breakfast.  I love this recipe as it is easily tweaked to whatever ingredients you have kicking about, just like bubble & squeak or colcannon.

A Basic Dosa Recipe

It is quite a long process, but actually does not take a huge amount of actual working time, i.e. it is just a matter of thinking ahead.

Ingredients

295g / 10½oz long grain rice
75g / 3oz urad dal – dark brown lentils (I used yellow split peas, so any lentil or pea within reason works)
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch of sea salt
Water
Sunflower oil (for frying)

How to make

Put the rice in one bowl and the urad dal and fenugreek in another bowl.  Cover them in water with around 3cm (1 inch water above the grains).  Leave for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain separately.  Believe me it is key to keep them separate as the grinding process just will not work if done together, even if it seems more efficient.  Place the rice into a blender and grind for 3 minutes, slowly adding 125ml / 4 fl oz water, giving the rice a smooth paste texture.  Put the rice paste into a large bowl.

Rinse the blender.  Add the lentils and fenugreek seeds to the blender and grind for 5 minutes, slowly adding 5 tablespoons of water.  Add the dal paste to the rice paste and mix together.  Add a pinch of salt and stir in.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 12 hours, allowing it to ferment.

When ready to cook, add some more water to get the pouring consistency correct.

Dosa Mix At Pouring Consistency

Dosa Mix At Pouring Consistency

Get your best pancake pan and heat until very hot.  Having a good pancake pan is vital for this, as it is in making good pancakes or omelette; weirdly the most highly promoted are not the best as you want one that has good heat transfer properties like an old steel pan that has been well oiled and greased over the years.  When you have the right pan, you will know and keep it lovingly forever.

Lightly grease the pan, then pour over a ladle of batter, then using the bottom of the ladle spread over the pan; I use a jug and spiral it from the centre of the pan outwards then using the tip of a spatula spread the batter over the gaps to give a smooth surface.  This bit is probably the hardest part as it often gloops up and becomes a disaster, but a little practise and trial & error and you will work out the best way.   The Curry Guy suggests cutting an onion in half then using this to spread out the oil, which he says will help to stop the dosa from sticking plus giving some extra flavour – I have not tried this but I like the idea of the discrete onion flavour.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp and golden, then flip.

Most books suggest that if you are making a filling put this onto the uncooked top surface, fold and serve, but I cook both sides of the dosa then filling and serving.

To fill the dosa, add some curried mashed potato to the centre of the dosa in a line, then drizzle over some Fresh Coconut Chutney, fold, serve and enjoy.

Prepare Your Dosa With Curried Mash And Coconut Chutney

Prepare Your Dosa With Curried Mash And Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

Fresh Coconut Chutney

Fresh Coconut Chutney

Ingredients

100g / 3½ oz creamed coconut block
¾ fresh green chilli (or more for extra heat)
2½cm / 1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3tbsp plain yoghurt
Smallish handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (should really be fresh curry leaves, but they are not easily available here in the sticks)
Pinch of sea salt
1stp black mustard seeds (ideally Indian ones for authenticity)

How to make

I began by preparing the green chilli.  As we were cooking for kids as well, I topped and tailed the chillis, then removed the seeds and removed the veins inside the chilli pod.  Next, I sliced it into medium sized slices.

I dry roasted the black mustard seeds in a pan, without any oil.  When the seeds begin to pop and hop about the pan, I took it off the heat and tipped them into a small serving bowl.

I added all the other ingredients – coconut, chilli, ginger, yoghurt, parsley and the sea salt – into a blender.  I whizzed all the ingredients up for 3 – 4 minutes, then tasted the flavours.  You may need to up the chilli content or add a tad of sea salt.

This is the scooped out into the serving bowl and mixed in with the toasted black mustard seeds.  This is lovely kit that adds a delightful freshness to your dosa and would go with most Indian curries.

Recipe For A Thoroughly Modern Vegetarian Balti

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Once in a while, I really need to go without meat of any form and I am going through one of those patches at the moment.  So I have tweaked my Chicken Balti Recipe from earlier this year to be more tofu friendly and so usable as a vegetarian dish. At the same time, I have simplified the spices in the recipe to make the whole thing a bit quicker; if you want to mix the spice blend from scratch, I have put the spices as a note to the whole recipe. Now it is something that you can whizz up quickly at the end of the day and keep the whole family happy – for a short while as well.

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Stage 1: the smooth Balti tomato sauce

3tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion (125g / 4½oz), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2cm fresh ginger, grated finely
2tsp Steenbergs Balti curry powder
150g / 4½oz chopped tomatoes

Firstly, we need to make the base balti sauce. Add the sunflower oil to a heavy bottomed pan and heat to sizzling hot. Add, then stir fry the onion and garlic until translucent which will take about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the fresh ginger and stir once. Add the Steenbergs Balti Curry Powder and stir in, turning for about half a minute, making sure it does not stick to the pan. Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the sauce either with a hand held blender or take out and pulse in a Magimix until smooth. Set aside until later.

Stage 2: the Balti stir fry

3tbsp sunflower oil
500g / 1lb 2oz Quorn or tofu, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
150g / 5oz onion, finely chopped
150g / 5oz button mushrooms, chopped in half or quarters
3tsp Steenbergs vegetable curry powder
2tbsp chopped tomatoes
1tsp Steenbergs garam masala
100ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup water
Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oven to 100C / 212F. Add half of the sunflower oil to a wok and heat until smoking hot. Stir fry the Quorn or tofu in batches until lightly browned. Put the cooked Quorn and tofu into the warmed oven. When complete, clean the wok.

Add the remainder of the sunflower oil to the wok and heat until hot and smoking. Add the green peppers, chilli and button mushrooms and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn and is fried well. Tip in the vegetable curry powder and stir through twice, then add the smooth balti tomato sauce and mix in plus the 2 tablespoons of chopped tomatoes. Heat until simmering, then add the water and reheat to a simmer, mixing all together. Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked Quorn or tofu pieces and mix together. Add the garam masala. Cook for a further 10 minutes. About 2 minutes before the end add the chopped fresh coriander and stir through.

Serve hot with naan, plus we like dhal with it.

Spice blends for those doing the spices from scratch:

Spice mix for Balti sauce (1)

½tsp cumin seeds
½tsp coriander seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
½tsp chilli powder
½tsp Fairtrade turmeric

For these, mix together then either grind iun an electric coffee grinder or break up in mortar and pastle.  Alternatively you could use powders rather than whole seeds.

Spice mix for Balti stir fry (2), instead of vegetable curry powder

½tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika
¼tsp fenugreek powder
1tsp turmeric
¼tsp cinnamon powder
¼tsp cardamom powder

I Needed A Fix Of Vegetable Curries

Sunday, September 25th, 2011
A Glut Of Vegetables From Riverford Farm

A Glut Of Vegetables From Riverford Farm

I’ve been remarkably uninspired recently, cooking for fuel and nothing special.  However, this weekend saw a bit of space in the hurried ferrying around of kids, allowing some time to think rather than simply cook to feed the gannets – usually, a rushed matter of speed and practical cooking.  It coincided with a glut of vegetables courtesy of Riverfood Organic from our weekly box scheme.  I fancied vegetarian food and something spicy.

The first thing I came up with was a Tofu & Tomato Curry and then secondly a Keralan Style Vegetable Curry.   These were eaten with a classic dhal and saffron rice.  All were packed full of a broad range of classic Indian spices – earthy flavours from coriander, cumin and turmeric, then rich sweetness via the cardamom and cloves.  In the Keralan Curry I used a bit of asafoetida to give the curry a curious onion-like spiciness.  Then in the Tofu & Tomato Curry, I added some extra texture through black mustard and black onion seeds (often called nigella or black seed) and some fruitiness through lemon and orange juice.

Starting with the Tofu & Tomato Curry, I started with the curry spiced tomato sauce, while preparing the tofu.  Then made the Keralan Style Vegetable Curry while preparing the dhal.  These recipes are given below.

Tofu & Tomato Curry

Tofu And Tomato Curry

Tofu And Tomato Curry

250g / 9oz Tofu (when wet)
1tbsp Sunflower oil
80g / 2¾oz Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g / 14oz Tinned tomatoes
2tsp Turmeric
2tsp Coriander seed powder
1tsp Cumin powder
¼tsp Chilli powder (optional or more if you can take the heat)
1tsp Black onion seeds
1tsp Black mustard seeds
Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of ½ orange
1tsp Garam masala
1tbsp Chopped fresh coriander leaves

Prepare the tofu by putting the tofu in a bowl, then place a plate on top of it together with some weights.  This will squeeze most of the water out of the tofu, giving a better texture to the tofu.  As the tofu dries out, pour off the water.  When dried through, chop the tofu into chunky 5cm pieces.

Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy based pot.  When heated up, put the onion and garlic into the pan and cook until translucent.  This will take around 4 – 5 minutes.  As they turn clearer, add the ground spices and stir into the onion-garlic mix.  Cook for around 1 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes.  Cook the tomato mixture for 5 minutes.  At this stage, your need to blitz the tomato sauce either using a hand held blender or transferring the sauce to a food blender and whizzing it up.  When smooth, transfer the sauce back to the pot.

At this stage, add the black onion seeds, black mustard seeds and fruit juices to the sauce and cook for 2 minutes.   Add the tofu chunks and simmer for 10 minutes.  Around 2 minutes before the end, add the garam masala and the chopped coriander leaves.

Keralan Style Vegetable Curry

Keralan Vegetable Curry

Keralan Vegetable Curry

2tbsp Sunflower oil
½ Onion, chopped finely
125g / 4½oz Cauliflower florets
125g / 4½oz Green beans (I used a mix of fine and chunkier beans)
125g / 4½oz Carrots
250g / 9oz Potatoes
1tsp Coriander powder
1tsp Turmeric
400ml / 14 fl oz / 1¾ cups Coconut milk
Juice of ½ lemon
2tbsp Chopped freshly cut coriander leaves
Sauce:
3 Tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 Cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
1tsp Cardamom powder
½tsp Cloves powder
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Coriander powder
¼tsp Chilli powder (optional or more if you can take the heat)
¼tsp Asafoetida (optional)
1tsp Garam masala
Pinch of sea salt
2tbsp water

Prepare the vegetables as follows: break small florets from the main head of the cauliflower; chop the green beans to about 3cm long pieces; chop the carrots to 3cm chunks; cut the potatoes into 5cm chunks and keep fresh under some cold water in a bowl.

Start by preparing the sauce.  Put the tomatoes, garlic, spices and the water into a food blender or bowl, then using a hand blender or the Magimix, blitz it all up to a smooth sauce.  Set aside for a bit.

Add the sunflower oil to a heavy bottomed casserole pot.  When hot turn down the heat, add the onion and cook gently for 3 – 4 minutes until translucent.  Add the spices and stir into the onion, then put in the carrot pieces and the tomato sauce.  Put the top onto the pot and cook at a gentle simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then add the potato chunks.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the green beans and cauliflower and stir in.  Pour in the coconut milk and heat the curry to a boil, then put on the lid and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.  About 2 minutes from the end, add the lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves, stirring in.

South Indian Vegetable Curry

South Indian Vegetable Curry

Recipe For Vegan Tofu And Coconut Curry

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Continuing with our vegetarian fest after a successful week during National Vegetarian Week, I was craving a spicy curry that the kids would enjoy but would also be vegetarian – they are beginning to want some meat, but are just about hanging in there.  I came up with this quick and simple recipe for Tofu & Coconut Milk Curry, which we ate with plain boiled rice and red lentil dhal, plus poppadoms.  It is versatile so you can change the tofu for other vegetarian ingredients like Quorn or, if you are a pescatarian, white fish like cod or coley.

Axel’s Vegan Tofu & Coconut Curry

1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1cm / ½ inch cube of fresh ginger, grated finely
1 mild green chilli, sliced lengthways (optional)
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
1tsp organic  vegetable curry powder, or other mild/medium curry powder
¼tsp organic Fairtrade turmeric powder
10 curry leaves, or bay leaf
400ml coconut milk
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1tbsp organic white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1tbsp organic lemon juice
1tsp organic garam masala
1tbsp organic sunflower oil
300g tofu, drained then chopped into 1cm / ½ inch cubes
1tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Firstly, we prepare the tofu, by draining it, then placing it between two plates or wooden boards with a weight placed on top to remove the excess water.  This is worth doing as it removes extra water and gives a firmer texture for later.  After 1 hour, pour off excess water and chop into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Next, we make the coconut milk curry sauce.  Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add the onion, garlic and grated ginger and sauté on a low heat until translucent – this should take about 5 minutes, but make sure they do not crisp and brown at the edges.

Add the green chilli (if you are after some extra heat, but this is not necessary), curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves and stir in.  Fry gently for 1 minute.  Add the coconut milk and stir in.  Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer.  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar, lemon juice and garam masala, stir and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. then take off the heat.

Add the sunflower oil to a wok, or frying pan.  Heat until really hot, then add the tofu pieces and turn down the heat.  Fry until golden brown, turning over as they fry to make sure all edges get a nice crispy texture.

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Add to the curry sauce and reheat to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes until thoroughly cooked through.  Add the chopped coriander leaves about 1 minute before the end.  Serve with plain boiled rice and dhal.

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Recipe For Axel’s Vegan Mung Bean And Tofu Soup

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

This week is National Vegetarian Week and we have been enjoying new and wonderful vegetarian recipes including Sally’s new recipes for Moroccan Vegetable Stew and Vegetable Fajitas that we have added to the main Steenbergs website. 

Vegetable Curry Powder

Vegetable Curry Powder

Meanwhile, I have developed an organic vegan mung bean soup.  It is really versatile as you can reduce the water used and make it into a dhal with a thicker consistency, then eat with boiled rice for a healthy and balanced vegan main course.  The inspiration for this has morphed significantly from a recipe in an old Madhur Jaffrey cookbook that I find lurking on our bookshelves, Far Eastern Cookery, and hails from the Philippines, Mongo Guisado.  The original is a seafood soup using meat stock, but this version adds some extra flavours and uses tofu and vegetable stock.

Axel’s Mung Bean & Tofu Soup

185g / 6½oz organic mung beans
900ml /1½pts organic vegetable bouillon
3tbsp organic sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1tsp freshly grated ginger
115g / 4oz tofu
Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste
½ tsp Steenbergs organic vegetable curry powder

Soak The Mung Beans In Water Overnight

Soak The Mung Beans In Water Overnight

Begin by placing the dry mung beans in a bowl, then check through them picking out any that look black or off.  Cover them in water with 2cm (1 inch) of excess water and leave overnight, or do in the morning for the evening.  When ready, place the soaked mung beans in a colander or sieve, drain then run fresh water over them to wash off any dirt.

Put the mung beans in a pan and cover with water some 2cm (1 inch) in excess and bring the water to the boil.  Boil at a roiling boil for about 2 minutes, then take off the heat, skim off any scum then cover with a lid and leave to soak for 1 hour.  Drain and wash with running water as before.

Return to the pan, then cover with the vegetable stock, either homemade or you can use purchased vegetable bouillon powder adding about 1 tablespoon to the 900 ml (1½pts) of freshly drawn water.   Bring to the boil, cover with lid and simmer for 1 – 1½ hours until tender.  Blend with a hand blender or in a food processor until coarsely blended – you can blend it really smooth if you wish, but I prefer a coarser texture.  Return to a low heat or put into a warmed oven at 90C/200F.

Using A Handblender Mush Up The Mung Beans

Using A Handblender Mush Up The Mung Beans

Heat a wok then add the organic sunflower oil until it starts just to smoke when you should turn down the heat.  Add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry until translucent.  Add the vegetable curry powder and stir into the mix.

Add the tofu pieces and stir fry for 3 minutes until cooked through.  Season with some freshly ground black pepper, but do not add salt as there is already plenty in the vegetable stock.

Stir Fry The Onions, Garlic, Ginger And Tofu

Stir Fry The Onions, Garlic, Ginger And Tofu

Mix the tofu stir fry into the mung bean dhal and serve. 

Mung Bean & Tofu Soup

Mung Bean & Tofu Soup

We like to eat ours either relatively runny as a soup with bread or thicker as a main course with boiled rice.  To make the thicker consistency, either boil the mung beans for longer to reduce the liquid content or start with 800ml/1¼ pints of stock, but watch over the mung beans to ensure they do not dry through before they get mushy; if they do get dry, top up with a little extra water.

Brussels Sprouts And Chestnuts With Maple Glaze – A Recipe

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I have never liked brussels sprouts, feeling they were the devil’s food rather than the fairy cabbages that friends have sought to con their children with.  I have always dreaded Christmas lunch with the obligatory brussels sprouts or as in my case sprout.  So it was with great interest that Sophie told me about a recipe for brussels sprouts that even haters seemed to like.

Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts And Maple Syrup Glaze

Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts And Maple Syrup Glaze

It comes from a great little cook book “The Boxing Clever Cookbook” by Jacqui Jones and Joan Wilmot, which is full of recipes to liven up the repetitive dullness that seems to creep into your veg from a box scheme over the months, especially in the depths of winter.  You know what it’s like: week after week of struggling to liven up turnip or cabbage, or even what to do with brussels sprouts. 

Brussels Sprouts Ready For Cooking

Brussels Sprouts Ready For Cooking

The recipe that we liked is brussels sprouts with chestnuts and maple syrup, which basically masks the bitter, cabbagy flavour of brussels sprouts by mixing it with the nuttiness of chestnuts and loads of butter and maple syrup.  Could I still taste the brussels sprouts? Yes, but when diluted with the other flavours, it was actually quite pleasant, so while I won’t be eating brussels sprouts on their own, this is not at all bad.

Brussels Sprouts And Chestnuts With Maple Glaze

Adapted from “The Boxing Clever Cookbook” by Jacqui Jones & Joan Wilmot

90g / 3oz / ⅓ cup cooked, peeled chestnuts, chopped into small dice
225g / ½ lb / 1 cup brussels sprouts, trimmed with outer leaves removed and X on base
3tbsp maple syrup
20g / 1oz butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Boil the sprouts for about 10 minutes until they are tender.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Set aside.  Quarter them if you want or keep whole as I did.

2.  Put the maple syrup into a pan and warm.  Add the butter and chestnuts and stir as the butter melts.  Add the sprouts and stir.  Season with salt and pepper.

Mixing Chestnuts In With Maple Syrup And Butter

Mixing Chestnuts In With Maple Syrup And Butter

3.  Enjoy.

Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

I am winning with Christmas food preparations this year, which seems unbelievable considering how little time I seem to have to do anything at the moment;. I am running about one week behind last year.  However, as a man who cooks, I do actually find baking strangely therapeutic and calming at the weekend.  I think it gives me some peace and quiet, allowing my thoughts to settle themselves down after a hectic week at Steenbergs, and this week has been one of those business nightmare weeks.

So Christmas cake was baked 2 weekends ago, Christmas pudding last weekend and this weekend I have made a new batch of mincemeat.  I always make a mammoth sized Christmas cake and extra Christmas puds, giving one to my parents and another to some great friends of ours, both of whom deserve just a little something for their help during the year.  As for the mincemeat, I have usually made one that does not include any sugar as I feel the dried fruit, apple and juices are usually sweet enough, however after some gentle prompting last year, I thought I would try a more traditional version and add some sugar, which is what I did this morning. 

Basically, it is my normal mincemeat recipe with the addition of 250g / 8oz dark molasses sugar from Billingtons crumbled into it and a reduced amount of apple as it seems to ferment a little over time.  Still simple and easy, so my old recipe is now called the “No Added Sugar Mincemeat Recipe” and this will become our “Traditional Mincemeat” recipe.  It really is worth the effort making this as it is really just a case of chucking some ingredients together and leaving to develop flavour over the short time to Christmas.

Ingredients 

175g/ 6oz raisins (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
175g/ 6oz sultanas (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
250g/ 8oz currants (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
85g/ 3oz chopped mixed peel
85g/ 3oz flaked almonds, toasted
125g/ 4oz eating apples (Cox’s are good), cored and chopped but not peeled
125g/ 4oz shredded suet (I  use Community Wholefood’s vegetarian suet, but Atora also do one)
250g / 8oz dark muscovado sugar  (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
1tsp organic Fairtrade nutmeg powder
½ tsp allspice powder
½ rounded tsp organic Fairtrade cinnamon powder
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange (or 50:50 orange and lemon)
75ml/ 1/8 pint “good” whisky or brandy (I use Bruichladdich from Islay)

1.  If possible, use organic ingredients and/or Fairtrade ingredients, as they are good for the environment and the communities that grow the crops.

2.  Simply mix all the ingredients together and seal in a large tub, or ideally a bucket with a lid.

Ingredients For Mincemeat Weighed Out

Ingredients For Mincemeat Weighed Out

Mix The Dark Muscovado Sugar Into The Fruit And Nuts

Mix The Dark Muscovado Sugar Into The Fruit And Nuts

Traditional Mincemeat All Mixed Up

Traditional Mincemeat All Mixed Up

3.  Stir it once or twice in the maturation period – at the end of November and maybe mid December.  Pot it up into a couple of good sized Kilner-style jars on or about the 20th December.

4.  It lasts for a good 2 – 3 years, so don’t worry if you haven’t used it all in one Christmas period.  It is good to use in baked apples or to make a quick mincemeat tart for pudding anytime in the year.

Sprouting Beans

Friday, June 25th, 2010

We have just put Just Wholefoods Organic Sprouting Bean Mix onto Steenbergs web shop.  I remember my mum used to grow mung bean sprouts in a Kilner jar at home which was quite fun and tasted really fresh and crunchy in salads or used in a stir fry.  So in memory of those angry days in the late 1970s, we have been growing the seeds in large jars in Steenbergs office to see how well they work.

Sprouting Seeds - Day One

Sprouting Seeds - Day One

Day 5 - Smaller Seeds Sprouted

Day 5 - Smaller Seeds Sprouted

Day 5 - Enjoying The Small Seed Sprouts on Spelt Bread

Day 5 - Enjoying The Small Seed Sprouts on Spelt Bread

Big Seeds Starting To Sprout

Big Seeds Starting To Sprout

Review of Mens Shaving Range at Steenbergs

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I have been looking at our range of shaving and other mens products at Steenbergs over the last few weeks to see whether we can improve it further.  As modern hippies, I like being clean shaven so growing a beard was never on the cards, but I have tried to pick some different products that are not available on the high street.  For example, I like the Somerset’s range and have been recommended it by various punters as being great for sensitive skin, but you can get their products in Boots, Ocado, Sainsburys, Waitrose and on their own web site already, so I didn’t get the point of those as we could never get near their prices.

I  – Axel Steenberg – like the Lavera range of men’s products as these have been devised by Thomas Haas at Laverana, who has been making natural cosmetics since 1987.  As a sufferer of neurodermatitis, he is very aware of making skincare products that are delicate on the skin and moisturising.  Laverana uses natural raw plant materials as the base of its skincare ranges, which are grown organically as much as possible, and their products are completely free from classic nasties like industrial chemicals such as perfumes, colourants and preservatives.  And everything is tested on volunteers, as well as by skin and allergy specialists.

These Lavera Men’s Products are some of the most ethical products you will find on the market, and they work.  I have been shaving with the Shaving Cream for some weeks now and it gives a great close shave that’s comparable to my normal traditional soap and brush shave, and is not as aggressive on your skin.  I tend to finish the shave by using a natural coconut oil moisturiser that replaces the lost oils during the harshness of the traditional single blade razor that I use, but we also have the Lavera After Shave Balm for anyone who would prefer a more refreshing and disinfecting after shave experience.

These new Lavera shaving, after shave balm and deodorants complement very well Steenbergs Weleda range of Shaving Creams that are based on biodynamic herbal products.  Both ranges are excellent and far superior for the skin and the environment compared to high street brands and own label supermarket brands.

I have also been trying the Thermal Mud Range of Male Grooming Kit that are based on thermal mud from boiling mud pools around Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island.  The thermal mud is sterilized, then refined to remove any traces of volcanic ash.  The Thermal Mud is packed full of natural minerals and has a high affinity for moisture, so is highly restorative for the skin. 

Parrs Shaving Gel gives a nice clean shave – it looks a yucky, grey sludgy colour that comes out clear on the skin and allows the razor to run smoothly over your face.  It’s a bit strange actually seeing your skin whilst shaving, having spent the last 25 years scraping away at white foam or soap from a classic shaving cream or soap.  I found that it was easier to shave with than the soap that I normally use and did not irritate the skin; overall, it gives a slightly less close shave than the Lavera Shaving Cream but the upside is that you will get fewer nicks while shaving.  I then treated my face afterwards with the Thermal Mud Moisturiser which usefully comes with a sun protection in it – something I like all men are bad at putting on.

In addition, Steenbergs has included other Thermal Mud products including After Shave Balm, Soap, Shower Gel and a Facial Scrub.

None of these products need a shaving brush and can be used like a normal shaving cream from the high street, so you can replace your Boots  or Gillette shaving foams with these.  They are much less aggressive on your skin and pretty quickly will make your skin much happier, less dry and more glowing.

The new men’s skincare products complement earlier additions to Steenbergs range of male grooming items, including safety razors from Parker and Merkur, traditional shaving soaps and creams from Cyril Salter and Taylors of Bond Street.

My top shave currently is: Parker 90R safety razor, Wilkinson Sword blades (simply, still the best), fake badger brush with traditional shaving soap, followed by after shave treatment with coconut oil to moisturise the skin.  But I am about to trial a Mühle R89 that seems like another great bit of German engineering!