World Café #5 – Roots, nomads, friends and good food

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On Saturday 15 June 2019 I am celebrating the return of Lia’s Kitchen World Café. The night returns to a new location at Riverside in Cardiff. It brings some of the Kitchen’s loved dishes from past events to your table.

This means a lot to me. Because the World Café dinners, which were the Kitchen’s first regular public events, back in 2015 told everyone a story of our cultural diversity, fantastic produce and my own homes. They were made possible with help of friends. They also brought so many of us together for more than just a tasty dinner.

In April 2019, Lia’s Kitchen was set up as a not-for profit company, to formalise its social and environmental objectives. As well as low impact food, raising awareness of seasonal and sustainable produce, and focusing on cultural diversity and inclusivity, our beloved food venture is about bringing people together and challenging isolation. Simply speaking we want to built the world we want to live in around our table. We encourage people to come SOLO and in groups by providing ticketing options to encourage you to do this.

Please bear with us on the regularity of events whilst we put our new plan of action and fun together. But I hope that you join our table on 15 June, to help strengthen the restart of the ventures. Our menu is below . Click and book soon.

I can’t wait to see you there.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lias-kitchen-world-cafe-5-tickets-61954916824

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Lime & coriander cauliflower rice

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National Vegetarian Week in May 2019 coincided with a new crop of cauliflower from one of our organic vegetable suppliers, so we thought it is best to share one of our best kept secrets. Cauliflower rice is a recipe which became a regular dish in our kitchen since 2015. We decided to share this at Riverside Real Food Roath Farmers’ Market two weeks ago for one of their community events. It is an easy and quick alternative to grain rice and a great additional side dish to your dinner table. It’s versatility also makes it the perfect addition to lunch boxes, picnics and barbeque tables.

Organic Cauliflowers grown in Wales

This recipe is inspired by south American and Caribbean flavours. Think lots of lime, a bunch of coriander and a combination of caramelised onion and garlic. And did we say its vegan and gluten free?  Cauliflower is a wonderful vehicle of flavours and you can adjust this recipe to take other flavour notes. Other cauliflower dishes we love include the Greek steamed cauliflower salad in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, cauliflower base pizza and deep-fried cauliflower nuggets (the current vegan craze). 

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower head, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 30g coriander, chopped
  • Juice of two limes
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1-1.5tsp fine sea salt ff

Preparation

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide, non-stick pan. You will need your widest pan for this.
  2. Add the finely chopped onion with a generous pinch of salt. Lower the heat and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onion slightly caramelises. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to make sure the onion browns evenly.
  3. Cut the florets off the cauliflower and chop the stem into small chunks.
  4. Grate the whole cauliflower to rice grains size. The easiest way to do this is through a food processor (pulse in batches to reach the grain like consistency). But you can also grate by hand on the large side of your grater.
  5. Add the minced garlic to the onion stirring well and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Increase the heat to medium, add the cauliflower in three batches, stirring well to coat the cauliflower grains with the oil and onion/garlic flavour.
  7. After 10-15 minutes of stir frying add the lime juice and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly and remove from heat and cover.
  8. Add the finely chopped coriander and freshly ground pepper.
  9. Taste to check if you need more salt or lime.

Try making a masala cauliflower rice with a bit of chilli sauce and some chopped tomatoes. Or an Italian flavoured one with basil, garlic and parmesan. Yum!

Arakas – peas the Greek Way

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Arakás is a dish ideal for a quick and easy complete vegan meal any day of the week, throughout the year. It is a garden pea, carrot and potato stew with simple, clean flavours and beautiful textures, characterised by the fruity flavour of olive oil and the aromas dill and parsley.

Arakas with Feta Cheese

Arakás belongs to Laderá, a category of dishes which is a staple in the weekly Greek diet and which literally translates to ‘with oil’ or ‘oily’. Rather than cooking vegetables as a side, the vegetable of choice is the main event, with a similar process of preparation for each Ladero dish but different vegetable and herbs starring in each recipe depending on the seasonality and accessibility of vegetables, e.g. Okra, aubergine, green beans, etc.

Modern Greeks still eat copious amounts of Laderá despite their increasing gyros and souvlaki eating habits – they are healthy, affordable and delicious staples of a balanced diet.  And for convenience it is ingenious to have dishes which provide you with a whole meal in a pot making vegan and vegetarian food easily accessible throughout the year. With frozen peas available this dish can help you make the most of small quantities of carrot and potato you have left over. Just bag yourself some dried dill and parsley to use in this recipe in the future so that you don’t have to find fresh herbs each time.

Ingredients

  • 500g frozen garden peas
  • 2 carrots, sliced in thick rings or cubed
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed (walnut size cubes)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 200g chopped tomatoes or passata (or 1 large fresh tomato grated or 1 Tbsp. tomato paste)
  • ½-1 small bunch of dill (up to 20g)
  • A few sprigs finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Preparation

  1. Coat the bottom of a medium sized pot with the olive oil.
  2. When hot add the chopped onion with a teaspoon of salt and sauté on low heat until translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, carrots and pepper. Stir well to coat the oil.
  4. Add the frozen peas and stir well until they are also well coated with oil.
  5. Add the tomato of your choice stirring well for a couple minutes to start the cooking process and release the tomato flavour.
  6. Finally add the herbs and up to 1.5 cups boiling water with another teaspoon of salt.
  7. The water should cover the ingredients but should not be too much as you are aiming for a dry stew rather than a soup or saucy dish.
  8. Stir well and when the contents come to the boil simmer the stew for 30 to 45 minutes.
  9. The food is ready when liquid is absorbed.  There should be enough liquid to sponge up with nice slice bread but not so much as the vegetable swim in it. 
  10. Cool down the dish for 10-15 minutes before serving. This dish is delicious in room temperature or reheated up to two days from cooking. It also freezes well.

Fáva – a velvety Greek dip

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Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.

Fava (1)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)

Preparation

  1. Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
  2. Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
  3. Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
  4. Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
  5. Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
  6. At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
  7. Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
  8. When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
  9. Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
  10. You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.

Lia’s notes: 

  • Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
  • Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my  choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.

Sudanese Meatballs from Refugee Food Stories

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This summer I am working on a very important project with Oasis Cardiff and Festival of Voice in Wales. It is called Refugee Food Stories. And it is all about recording the recipes of people who work at and are supported by Oasis, and upskilling/mentoring some amazing individuals. These recipes helped create a menu which you can try at the Oasis Food Trailer at the Wales Millennium Centre Hub at Festival of Voice between 7 and 10 June and 15 and 17 June.

sudanese meatballs

This is a recipe from Sudan and most importantly of an amazing lady called Huda who has made Wales her new home. About a year ago I went to one of Oasis’s Cardiff Supper Clubs where Huda showed us how to make and eat these Sudanese meatballs. I left with images of her family feasting in backyards in celebration of their bonds and life. I left feeling a little bit closer to her and with my belly full and happy. This is her recipe, a nourishing and delicious dish. If you have not tried it yet make sure you visit the Oasis Trailer outside the Wales Millennium Centre and between the Pierhead building this weekend. And why not try to make it at home.

Ingredients (yields 5 portions)

Meatballs

  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 onion (150g), finely grated or minced in a food processor
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground pepper
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 50g parsley finely chopped
  • 1tsp salt
  • Flour (approx. half a cup)
  • 1-2 cups vegetable oil to fry meatballs

Tomato & yoghurt sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves grated
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1lt passata
  • ¼ cup water
  • Up to 250g Greek yoghurt (strained)
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Rice

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 500ml water
  • 1 small carrot grated
  • 1 small handful frozen peas
  • 1 heaped Tbsp butter salt (50g)

Yoghurt and tahini dip

  • 125g yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of salt
  • 25g tahini
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 

Preparation (1hr)

  1. Mix all the mince ingredients (apart from the flour) well in bowl with your hands.
  2. In a flat tray place ½ cup of flour and spread thinly.
  3. Place the vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan, cover and heat whilst rolling the meatballs.
  4. Roll the meatballs into small round balls (3-4cm diameter) and place in the floured tray. The recipe should yield around 25 meatballs.
  5. Flour the meatballs well by gently shaking in the baking tray until they are lightly covered in flour.
  6. Fry the meatballs between 6-7 minutes on medium heat, until they are browned. Remove and set aside.
  7. Add two tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep pot, heat, add the minced garlic for the sauce and stir fry for a couple of minutes on low heat.
  8. Add the passata, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, salt and some water and stir well.
  9. Once the sauce starts to bubble add the yoghurt, shake to mix.
  10. Take off the heat and stir quickly before returning to the hob.
  11. Add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
  12. To make the yoghurt and tahini drizzle, add all the sauce ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
  13. For the rice: add the rice, water, carrot and frozen peas to the boiling water and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
  14. Add the butter and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  15. Serve a portion of rice with a ladle of 5 meatballs, a drizzled of the dip and a garnish of parsley (as would Huda).

The Wasteless Skordalia Bread Dip

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This Wasteless dip is inspired by my Greek heritage. Skordalia is a popular dip which can be made with stale bread or potatoes. My favourite is the one using bread. It is a kind of bread sauce, brought to life by walnuts, sharp vinegar flavours, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is traditionally served with deep fried salt cod and once you start you can’t stop eating it. At Wasteless suppers we usually serve it with smoked paprika temperate vegetable and cucumber slices.


Ingredients

  • 200g leftover bread, soaked in water and well drained
  • 1 large handful walnuts
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper (optional)
  • a generous pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)

Preparation

1.     Soak the bread slices with the crust in some water until soft.
2.     Squeeze out the water well with your hands and place in a food processor.
3.     Add the garlic cloves crushed. You can add more garlic but the longer you leave the dip in the fridge the stronger it becomes.
4.     Top with the walnuts, salt and pepper/nutmeg and olive oil and blitz until lovely and creamy.
5.     Taste to adjust the salt and vinegar levels. The vinegar really makes this dip special so if you feel something is missing add another teaspoon.
6.     This dip is absolutely delicious with raw vegetable, as an accompaniment to salads, with tempura vegetable and fried fish (in the traditional Greek way).

Forgotten Foods – Nettle pie Video

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The resurgence of nettle, wild garlic and other foraged greens cooking is a delight to me. I still think that eating and foraging wild greens is a skill that needs more nurturing to become part of our yearly eating calendar. I don’t mean that you have to see nettles on supermarket isles to be able to say they are back. I am not talking about food trends. I am talking about making wild green habit and seasonal eating more of a habit for life.

This nettle pie is a simple way to connect with wild greens that are available in abundance in your surroundings in Spring. Turn the TV off. Take a stroll into your local forest or park. Pick, cook and taste. Have a look and hopefully be inspired by this video.