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Category: zen kitchen news

  1. Going Going Ginger

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    ginger growingWhether you know it or not ginger is something that you probably have pretty often in any ready meals, soups and sauces and sweet dishes.  It is a great way to add flavour to your dish providing you do so with subtly.

    Ginger is a herb and is usually bought in powdered form.  The root ginger, which is the thing that you might buy coated in suger crystals for travel sickness or queeziness, is the true herb and as the name suggests is a root.  If you actually grow your own ginger it is very easy and although the plant itself is a bit spindly they produce almost secretly a clump of small pretty flowers within a clump of the stalk.  There is also an ornamental Ginger plant where the flowers are more significant. 

    The difference between using powdered ginger and ginger root is as different a fresh nettle and tea bag nettle tea.  There is no comparison.

    This is an update from a short video I made showing me planting a ginger root experimentally to see how it would grow.

    Ginger is considered a must for super health for the following reasons (although a doctor should be consulted for any health condition and there are some contra indications for certain medication) :

    It is well considered to be good for any kind of sickness and for soothing the stomach and helping with digestion.  It is a calmative.

    It is often depended on to support prevention and recovery from colds.  Often taken sliced with lemon and honey or an alternative sweetener  in hot water.

    It is said to be great for the heart and for pain as it is a stimulant and so increases the metabolism.  So great for help with cholesterol too. Here the contra indication raise their head.  Any medication that is controlling or stimulating your metabolism is careully calculated and any interference is best run by the professional who precribed them.

    People with oesteoarthritis have said that ginger greatly reduces the pain.

    It can also be used topically by squeezing the oil from a chunk of the root and mixing with a little olive or almond oil or adding to a non perfumed cream.  Don't forget that the ginger is still able to enter your blood stream through your skin.

    Add a slice of ginger to your daily water for a subtle taste that is healthy

    Some of the more obvious culinary uses are - well.... ginger biscuits, gingerbread, pineapple and ginger pudding and so much more.

    So give growing ginger a go and let us know how it works out.

  2. #Mabspinach blog: Spinach - the Powerhouse food

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    Spinach is one of the modern power house foods.  If you ever watched Popeye you could be forgiven for checking out your biceps after eating it.  However those Popeye cartoon resulted from a decimal place in thw wrong place leading researches to find that spinach was a muscle builder.   But you know if you believe it ... well who knows!

    Back to spinach.  I live in Bury, home of the worlds famous Bury market, (or is that more hype). and I was delighted to find some spinach in little clumps with roots which is how it alwaus used to be when I was young and it was quite touch so always needed cooking.

    But nowadays most spinach comes in small tender leaves ideal for eating raw or for cooking.

    So what about the nutritional benefits?  Well spinach is one of the veg that has different benefits depending on whether it is raw or cooked.  So in fact its good to eat it both ways.

    Raw spinach inhibits to absorption of calcium and iron that unfortunately are what spinach is rich in.  So cooked would give you more benefit for those nutrients.  Raw spinach is rich in Vitamins and minerals such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium some of which are easier to absorb from raw food.

    When cooked spinach releases and makes easier the absorption of vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron.  Also cartenoids like Beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are more absorbable.

    So it really is a good idea to mix and match cook and raw.

    Cooking spinach is very easy and especially the young leaves very quickly almost melt to next to nothing so you do need a lot more when using in a recipe.  But why not throw a few leaves into the last cooking inutes of a soup, stew or in fact any dish.  

    Happy eating


  3. Vegan Fast Food on a budget

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    Hey this has got to be the easiest meal ever.  Perfect for lunch on a budget.

    All you need is some brown rice - I like to use round grain as it is a little creamier but long grain will do and part of an onion.  Round grain is a little difficult to get hold of,  they sell it in Holdand and Barrett.  It is not rissotto rice

    Other ingredients could include anything else you have in your fridge. 

    I have added Carrot, mushroom, red pepper, garlic and plenty of corriander with a little coconut oil or whatever you fry with.

    You could make this dish every day and just add different veg and flavours to ring the changes.

    Slice and dice the onion finely and then on a low heat gently soften.  Add the chopped carrot and any other ingredients that are going to take longer to cook, continue to gently soften.

    Add chopped pepper (I used used the end of a pointed red pepper) and finally mushrooms chopped.  Stir until the mushroom have started to soften.  Add enough water (or fresh stock from cooking vegetables if you have it)to well cover the rice and bring to simmer.  You are aiming to have a little liquid keeping the dish quite moist.

    Add garlic either finely chopped or crushed and corriander or any other herbs you favour.  

    Cook until the rice is soft - different rices take different times.  When cooked add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with a little fresh herb.  

    Other ingredients could be cauliflower or broccoli florets, celery, mange tout, chopped green beans. 

    To add a little more protein include some red split lentils.  They with break up and thicken the stock and will add a creamy flavour.  You could also add pea protein or yeast flakes which will both boost the protein content and thicken adding a savoury background flacour.  You could also add precooked beans such as butter bean, field bean or pretty much any bean and a chance to try something new. 

  4. Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe

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    lemon drizzle cake


    This is a lovely moist vegan cake.  Really popular when the cafe was open.  I'vr just got around to making another one for home.  I'm afraid that I am a 'to tatse' kind of cook so don'e put too many measurements except when they ar neccessary.  Here goes:

    You will need:

    500 gm self raising flour or gluten free SR flour
    200 gm cocnut oil
    2 teaspoons Baking powder
    1 teaspoon Bi carb
    400gm (approx) caster sugar
    A little milk of your choice (almond is nice)
    Lemon Zest
    Lemon juice
    A little icing sugar

    Baking tin (this is for a large cake 1/2 ingredients for a smaller one

    Heat oven to 180 / gas 6

    Start with the cocnut oil and begin to soften it with the flour.  This is a hand exercise or mixer - don't be tempted to soften in the mic.
    Now add the sugar powders and lemon zest into the mix and  thoroughly mix once again.  This is a really important part to make it rise well.

    Next add the oil, lemon juice  (you will need more than you think) and mix adding the milk until the mixture is like a thick cream

    Scape the mixture into a prepared tin and cook for aprox. 40 mins (30 is using half quantity).  Testing occasionally  with a scewer  until it comes out almost dry.  You want a little bit of stickiness to preserve the moisture but not so that it streaks on the scewer.

    Take out  and cook

    Meanwhile mic a little icing sugar with water, it needs to be runny and add lemon juice to taste.  We want this mix to soak into the cake so it should  be see through and runny and will leave a soft glaze on top. 

    Next take the scewer and poke holes into the top of the cake while it is still warm.  Now pour the icing mix over the tip of the cake letting it soak into the holes that you made.  Jeep topping up until it is saturated and make sure there is an even coating across the top.  Leave to dry into a soft sheen.

    It you want to ice the top of the cake now is the time to add a thicker mix of icing.

    Scrummy - put the kettle on and try a piece.


  5. Curryflower

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    - P1010240so .. as I have already planned some exciting dishes for tomorrow which has been cancelled and bought in a lot of the ingredients I have decided to make it tonight and let you into the secret so that you can enjoy it yourself if you want to.

    I love cauliflower and I love curried cauliflower so I have created a dish that is not cauliflower cheese but is a good substitute with a bit more bite.

    ???? And by the way - if you are putting a lot of effort and care into preparing a dish why not make it organic.

    You will need a cauliflower cooked whole and trimmed

    Here is what I did:
    Gently fry some chopped onions and crushed garlic with a chopped red pepper (mine was donated from my friends garden), a little chopped fresh ginger, curry leaves, cumin seeds, a little powdered fennel (not too much as it is really sweet) any other herbs or spices that you feel right.
    Add cashew nut milk and simmer for a while. Blend smooth. Then add some creamed cashew nuts (or any other kind of nut bearing in mind the milk you have used). At this stage I sprinkled a little tumeric into the pot - hence the colout.  Stir until thickened. Season to taste. 
    Put the cauliflower in a dish and pour over the sauce. If you pour it slowly it gives time for the sauce to soak into the cauliflower. It tastes very yummy. Warm or brown in the oven if you need to.
    Let me know if you try it. And those who were expecting to be eating tomorrow I hope this goes some way to compensating.P1010241

  6. Sprouts that Shout

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    Sprouts That Shout


    Sprucing up your sprouts is a great idea as those little balls of green are packed full with essential vitamins and minerals to protect our health in the winter, yet not to everyones liking.

    We tried something on the solstice that had people going back for more. Give it a try and let us know how you like the suggestions:

    Creamy sprouts

    There is something about raosting sprouts that seems to chainge their flavour.  This recipe involves Steaming the sprouts until they are almost ready to eat and them popping them in the over on a medium heat with a little olive oil and some finely chopped onions until they are beginning to brown and the onions are clear.

    Remove them from the oven and place in a saucepan with double cream to taste.  Season with salt, black pepper and a little nutmeg.

    Roast Sprouts and mushrooms

    Similar idea

    Roast the half cooked sprouts with finely chopped onion, chopped mushroom and crushed garlic.  Cook until the sprouts are beginning to brown.  Season with salt and black peppet.


    Enjoy your sprouts.