Today my goal is to create a perfect union between a typical Indonesian food like Tempeh and a savoury Mediterranean flavour to achieve a balanced and tasty result. As you might know, Tempeh is the final product of fermented yellow soya beans. Central in the vegan cuisine, Tempeh is a healthy high protein food which can well substitute meat, specially when served together with sauces, vegetabled and dips. Its flavour is slightly acid, which compliments the sweetness of the carrot and onion.
- 1 double pack natural Tempeh (about 150 gr)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 fresh chilli pepper
- 100 black olives (I normally use Taggiasche)
- 100 ml extravirgin olive oil + extra 4 tbsp
- 20 basil leaves, whashed, drained and tap dried
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
Place the basil leaves in a small food processor together with the olive oil and puls until homogenous and creamy. Pour in a bottle and set aside. This is a simple way to make your own basil oil -you can use it whenever you want to add some flavour to any of your dishes. Just remember to shake it well before using. This will keep up to 2 weeks when correctely stored in the fridge.
In a heavy-based saucepan, or wok, heat 2 tbsp oil and cook the Tempeh, thinly sliced, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until soft and a pale caramel colour. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.
Peel and thinly shave the carrots with the help of a peeler. Slice the onions and chop the red chilli pepper.
In the same saucepan, or wok, in which you cooked the Tempeh saute the onion and red chilli pepper in the remaining 2 tbsp oil until soft and still white. Add the carrots, fry for 40 seconds, the add the olives and Tempeh. Pour in 2 tbsp soya sauce, season with some sea salt according to your taste and let cook for a few more seconds, until thickened. Serve hot.
To complete you dish, place the Tempeh and vegetables in the centre of your plate and drizzle some of the basil oil around it. Enjoy!
Kings of the summer, peppers like these are very simple to prepare yet feature a delicious Middle Eastern flavour which will make you dream of pleasantly being away from home.
- 4 bell peppers
- 100 gr hazelnuts
- 50 gr white sesame seeds
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp vinegar, any kind
- 1 garlic clove
- bread crumbs
Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds separately. Let them cool to room temperature, then add the cumin and coriander and reduce to a powder with a food processor. This mix is called Duqqah and it is very common in the Middle East, where they are used to eating it over slices of bread previously dipped in olive oil.
Wash the peppers, eliminate the white part and seeds and quarter them regularly.
In a small food processor, or using a hand blender, emulsify the oil with the vinegar and garlic.
Place the peppers on an oven tray covered with parchment paper, coat with the sauce using a kitchen brush, sprinkle over 3 tbsp of Duqqah (keep the rest in a glass jar up to 1 month) and the same quantity of bread crumbs.
Spray with extra oil.
Bake in the oven, 150° C fan, for around 50 minutes, until brown and crispy.
Season with salt and pepper and serve lukewarm.
This wondrous recipe is the Cuban version of the universally known European Créme Caramel , which, despite its French name, was born in Spain. The classical recipe is based on just milk, eggs and sugar; the Cubans substituted the fresh milk with powdered and condensed milk, probably easier to find, thus creating a dramatically different texture. Richer and creamier, trust me, it is a dream come true.
- 1 tin condensed milk (397 gr)
- 200 gr powdered milk
- 3 whole free-range eggs
- 1 tbsp natural vanilla powder (or, half a vanilla bean, halved and scraped)
- 125 ml water
- 200 caster sugar for the caramel
In a small saucepan place the sugar, put on low heat and let it caramelize: do not stir the sugar until melted and darkened. Coat a 1.2 liter baking tin with the caramel and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the powdered milk with the water and whisk well; add the condensed milk and mix thoroughly through in order to eliminate any lumps (you can use an immersion blender to reach this goal perfectly), then add the eggs.
Add the vanilla, combine everything together and pour the mixture in the caramelized tin using a sieve to remove any remaining lumps and, especially, any bubbles.
Cover with aluminum foil, put the tin in a baking pan with boiling water and bake bain-marie in the oven, still, at 180°C for 75 minutes. Check the surface: if the flan is set, take it out of the oven, otherwise prolong the baking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the pan, let it cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
To unmold the flan, gently scrape along the edges with a round-bladed knife, then turn upside down on a dish. Serve cold.
The traditional tabbouleh, a largely known Arabic recipe, is a sort of salad based on bulgur and parsley, enriched by other vegetables in varying proportions. It originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria and was an essential part of people’s diet in the Middle Ages. In the Libanese version the quantity of parsley is much more than the quantity of bulgur, or the same. In this case I substituted bulgur with quinoa and I did not use the same proportion between quinoa and parsley because I find it a little overwhelming on other more delicate flavours. The result is an unusual formula which hopefully won’t disappoint you!
- 150 gr red quinoa, cooked according to the instructions on the box
- 1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 spooons duqqah (see below)
- 8 spoons good extravirgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 140 gr pink radish sprouts (or broccoli or whatever sprouts you can find, except bean sprouts)
- 20 gr parsley, chopped
- 10 gr fresh coriander, washed and drained
- juice of 1 lemon
for the duqqah:
- 50 gr raw hazelnuts, skin on
- 25 gr white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
Separately toast the hazelnuts and sesame, let them cool and then reduce to a powder with a food processor. Incorporate the cumin and coriander, stir well and place in a little jar. .
Sprinkle the chickpeas with the dukkah and add 2 spoons extravirgin olive oil, mix well in order to completely coat the chickpeas, place in a baking tray and bake in the oven, still, at 180°C for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy.
Let the chickpeas cool to room temperature, then in a bowl place the sprouts, parsley, shallots, chickpeas and quinoa. Season with the oil and lemon juice, add salt to taste and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.
This flavory and wondrous recipe is of Burmese origins, specifically by William Myatwunna, an excellent chef in Yangon, whom I had the honor of cooking with. My version is just a little lighter in onions, garlic and oil, only to better adapt it to the European taste.
- 16 king prawns
- 12 tbsp peanut oil
- 5 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 6 medium onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 5 thumbs ginger, peeled and pounded
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 medium yellow or green pepper cut into fine rings
- 4 sprigs of mint leaves
- 8 tinned tomatoes
Shell the prawns, leave the tail but remove the black spinal vein. Wash under running water and pat dry. Season with half the turmeric, salt, pepper and fish sauce and marinate for 5 minutes.
Blend the tomatoes to a paste and finely cut the peppers into rings. Peel the ginger, garlic and onions and pound (or chop) separately.
Heat the oil in a large pan with the other half of the turmeric powder, add pounded ginger and garlic until fragrant, add the pounded onions and sautée until golden brown.
Now add the red chilli powder and tomato paste and cook, while stirring continously, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the prawns and a little bit of water and cook for 3 minutes, turning the prawns gently once. Add salt to taste. Remove the prawns from the pan and set aside.
When the oil almost sizzles add the peppers, then transfer all to a dish, garnishing with mint leaves.
Serve with plain boiled green beans or rice.