Carrot and lentil patties

If you know me fairly well, then you will know of the huge pile of cookbooks I own. Let’s say two huge piles. It’s become a bit of an addiction of mine. I’m that person who reads cookbooks from front to back and whenever I have a spare moment will happily flick through. Each birthday and Christmas I will, rest assured, add one or two new additions to my collection and swiftly forget about the others. Brutal, I know. I do have my absolute favourites though, that I return to time and time again, the tried and tested which are guaranteed to please. But even those recipes are few and far between, saved for when we are feeding guests or want a dish that I know will be a knockout, no stressin’! The rest of the time is dictated by what I’ve seen on blogs, TV, Instagram and most importantly the contents of my fridge.

That’s where the magic is!

 

At lunch I always feel the need for a falafel or patty, whatever you name it, something to finish off my bowl of veggies and grains and that will sit nicely with that obligatory hummus dollop. I always have the intention of making some but then get too hungry so end up going without or I don’t have any beans or grains already cooked (the whole point of a recipe like this is for making something out of the leftovers). Often too, I’ve had the intention of making a big batch to freeze but they end up dry, only palatable if smothered in a TONNE of dressing (make it a tahini one and its not a bad thing). I suppose given that I don’t follow recipes and add a little bit of this, take out that as we don’t have any in the cupboard, it’s guaranteed that many of my attempts will end up in the bin. It’s all a process of learning, except for those times when you don’t remember your mistakes and make them numerous times. The EXACT SAME ONES. Been there.

 

 

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Pre-bake, with a dusting of polenta for that much needed CRUNCH

 

This occasion however was a day for success. Thank the food gods. 

These carrot and lentil patties, came out unscathed, crunchy on the outside, and just what my lunch bowl was needing. Here I used some french lentils that I had overcooked, but any other beans or lentils would suffice just make sure to give them a bit of a mash first. The grated carrot could be changed to courgette or beetroot, any fresh herbs, omit the cheese all together or use more or less (I would’ve added more but it was the end of the block) feta would be nice, as would cheddar or some Parmesan. I haven’t tried making something like this without egg, it’s a great binding agent, but I’d assume a flax egg would work in the same way. And if they don’t hold together, well it just won’t be a plate to photo for Instagram I suppose. Sandwich in between your favourite bread or in a wrap, these would also be brilliant bites for a savoury energy ball. I find snacks rely too heavily upon dates and nuts, so one or two of these would be a great alternative.

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Carrot and lentil patties

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated/crumbled cheese
  • Handful of fresh herbs, any mixture of basil, parsley, coriander, mint
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Polenta for coating
  • Oil

Method

  1. Put the lentils in a large bowl and mash slightly so half are crushed and half are still left whole.
  2. On a box grater grate the carrot and add to the bowl along with the cheese.
  3. Finely chop the herbs and add to the lentil mixture along with the spices, oats and some seasoning and mix well.
  4. Crack in the egg and mix again to form quite a wet mixture.
  5. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 mins to firm up slightly.
  6. Heat the oven to 200/180C fan and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or a silicone sheet.
  7. With damp hands form the lentil mixture into 8 patties and place on the baking sheet.
  8. Brush with some oil and sprinkle over the polenta, this is what will give the crunch.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 mins until firm and slightly golden.
  10. Will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for a few months.

Side note: if you plan on freezing the patties, bake for a little less time, around 10-12 mins then leave to cool before freezing. Place back in the oven when you want some from frozen until crispy and piping hot in the middle, this will ensure that they won’t dry out.

 

So here’s to happier lunchtimes and turning those droopy leftovers into something new.

Get rolling those patties!!

XX

The Mae Deli

Me and my mum are best friends. There is no one else on this earth that I would trust more than my mum. We do everything together, I ring her a few times a day and then we talk for hours. I feel so so grateful, and I’m so glad that we have this relationship. Maybe it’s me being an only child, having no brothers or sisters to play with, there’s no other choice really (and sorry dad, I love you but I don’t want to watch football or talk about sheds). 

Now that I’m away during the week and don’t see my mum as often, I find it quite hard. For one it’s because I can’t afford to go out to nice places like we do when we’re together, and two because I love to share experiences with someone else. Going to exhibitions or cool restaurants by yourself just isn’t as fun. There’s no one to ooh and ahh with, and laugh about daft art (we are fans of an art gallery to be frank).

I look forward to the few times a year when my mum comes to visit me in London for a day out. Obviously I plan the day around where we will eat, and we go from there. Typically a vegetarian or health foodie spot for some lunch then a must visit restaurant I’ve been eyeing up on Instagram for dinner. Probably involves some serious carbing or deep fried crispy goodness because, BALANCE people! 

Most of the time though I’m by myself, either I haven’t got any friends around, or no one else can afford to spend the money. For me however I spend all my money on food, occasionally clothes, but mainly food so it will include a detour to Wholefoods or Planet Organic too (my weakness). Staring at all the new things on the shelves makes me tick. Weird I understand, but we all have our ways.

Once in a while, I start to get sick of my food. I KNOW, bet you never thought I’d be saying that. But think of it this way. When you’re cooking just for yourself only for four to five days it’s not possible to buy a wide variety of foods, so the same thing day in day out, only altered ever so slightly tends to become the norm. Now you see, pretty boring. When I start to get these pangs for variety I take myself out for a little lunch date. Yepp, solo. If anyone fancies joining me, that would be rather lovely, as long as you don’t mind me instagramming my food before you can start eating it #issues.

So off I trot to a healthy hot spot that’s been lurking on my radar. I could swear that every time I tick one off the list, another two new ones get added. It never ends!!! But I’m not complaining. 

And when it’s variety I’m after a quick tube to Marble Arch is all it takes to reach The Mae Deli.

I’m sure there’s no need for me to explain if you’ve been on this planet for the last few years, or if you live on cloud cuckoo land I shall begin:

Opened up by the blogger wellness warrior that is Deliciously Ella and her husband Matt, The Mae Deli is a cafe where you can eat ‘Deliciously Ella style’ and obviously walk out like a glowing goddess, and they’ve even made it accessible for the non vegan crowd by providing a side of either chicken or salmon if you so wish. 

Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or even a sweet pick me up there is so much on offer here. The portions are generous so you won’t be leaving hungry.

For the three times I have visited I’ve always opted for the Mae bowl, a selection of four of the salads, dips or hot options that you can mix and match to your liking. Pretty good right! I can’t leave a review of anything else as I just haven’t tried them, there’s always a next time…

For breakfast, expect porridge, avo on toast, chia pots, coconut yogurt and granola, smoothies, juices and shakshuka. After your deli bowl maybe grab a matcha latte, turmeric latte, coffee or loose leaf tea, and if you’re feeling not so virtuous one of the sweet delights that tempt you on top of the counter.

Also available to buy are Deliciously Ella’s books, loaves of bread, bags of granola and the Deliciously Ella energy balls available in three flavours, cashew and ginger, cacao and almond and hazelnut and raisin (the last is my faveeee).

There’s plenty of seating, and downstairs feels a little like your best friends house cosy, warm and comforting. If you arrive at 1 or 7 (peak times!!!) beware you will probably have to queue but it’s definitely worth it.

When I say ‘Deliciously Ella’ you’re probably thinking all kale and quinoa. Of course they feature but it’s a hell of a lot better than that, the menus change seasonally but there’s always two dips on offer, obviously I’ve always gone for the hummus and if you don’t you’re missing out! Expect sweet potato dishes, warming curries rich in coconut milk, avocados galore, sundried tomato falafel 😻😻. There’s more inspiration to make you want to eat like this 24/7 than you could shake a stick at!! So go, right now if you can, your dinner will be delicious (apparently just like Ella).

Happy eating my loves

X
(I apologise for the lack of photos, they seem to have all gone from my phone, well at least there’s a mystery so you just have to go to find out for yourself) 

Sweet potato falafel and not your average tzatziki

So it’s Friday night. Every week for me, that means catching the train from Euston back to Manchester. Ma HOME TOWNNNN. I really do hate the trip though. Just thinking of staring at the departures board, waiting for the platform to flash onto the screen, it makes my tummy knot. Is it really necessary to sprint to the train, even when you have an allocated seat? I don’t believe so.

I could rant on and on about the trains. Ridiculously expensive, always overboked, the last off peak train of the afternoon at 3pm (who even finishes work early enough to be able to catch that), and trying to eat my dinner with someone elses bum in my face. No its not that fun at all.

Anyway, talking of dinner. That’s the one thing that gets me through the journey. Why hello Leon. A London based chain of fast food restaurants. But most definitely not your typical fast food joint, no greasy burgers and soggy chips here. Created by Henry Dimbleby, wanting to provide the hungry london hoards with healthy and nutritious food, but quickly. Not a big ask at all.

Expect warming tagines, meatballs, curries, or a fish finger wrap, a superfood salad, even oven baked waffle fries, Leon provides something for everyone at an affordable price. Sick of Pret and Itsu? Then head on over to Leon for a change, you won’t be disappointed. They cater for all diets: vegetarian, pescetarian, meat eater, even some for vegans. If you like what you see and eat grab one of their cookbooks to recreate the recipes in your own kitchen.

And onto the reason we’re all here. Sweet potato falafel. I’m not usually one to eat the same thing over and over. I always like to try something new, that way I can exerience as much as possible. However that has backfired on me many times. Anyone ever get super hangry, can’t make up your mind about two things and ALWAYS choose the wrong one? Done it! All too often.

The stress from catching the train for me is enough, I like to know that I will at least enjoy my food. So from now on, I’m sticking to what I know is good. Sweet potato falafel salad. It casues a lot of confusion as its not techcincally on the menu but hey, I do try to be special and awkward.

Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and quinoa topped with, baked not fried, sweet potato falafel, roast peppers and aioli. NEW DISCOVERY: ask for the chilli sauce and slather that on aswell, you will never turn back.

I am a huge falafel fan. If its on a menu it will most definitely end up in my belly. After trying it at The Good Life Eatery, Leon and also at the Mae Deli I’ve been on a mission to recreate some just as good, if not better. And there have been many attemtpts. Nothing has been a failure, but ya know, just not right. Either, too dry so it needs to be somethered in sauce (tahini FYI, it heals all things bad in the world), or too dense, or not enough flavour. Give me the issue, i’ve had it, eaten it, but not been completely satisfied.

So on this lovley sunny bank holiday Monday, instead of enjoying the sunshine I of course spent it in the kitchen. When you bake falafel, of course its not going to be the same crispyness that you achieve from deep frying but we don’t want those oxidised fats anyway. The sweet potato keeps them soft, so no dry and crumbly disappointments. Packed with spices and herbs and some sundried tomatoes to give that deep umami flavour that turns anything from meh, to MEGA!


Sundried tomato sweet potato falafel

Eat hot from the oven, or leave to cool slightly. I prefer them this way, or even cold from the fridge, we all know how I love to eat cold leftovers. Top a salad and some grains with a few of the falafel, wrap up in some nori, lettuce, perhaps socca or nibble as is for a snack when those 4pm munchies arrive. Full of protein from the beans and carbohydrates from the sweet poatatoes they’re a well balanced little ball of goodness. need i say more?

Ingredients

  • 2 small sweet potatoes baked until soft in the oven or microwave
  • Big handful coriander
  • Big handful parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp groundcoriander 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lemon zested 
  • 1 tin white beans (I used Cannellini but chickpeas or butter beans will work equally well)
  • 2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour (maybe 3 tbsp if your mixture is too sticky)

Method

  1. Peel the cooked sweet potato and put the flesh into a food processor with the two peeled cloves of garlic and blend to a smooth purée
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the beans and gram flour, with a big pinch of salt and blend again until fairly smooth and well combined
  3. Add your beans and pulse until mixed in but still a little chunky for some nice texture.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the gram flour
  5. Cover and put in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour to firm up slightly
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees fan and line a baking tray with baking paper
  7. Wet your hands slightly then roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, it will be sticky but this is what ensures a soft and squidgy falafel
  8. Place on the baking tray until you run out of mixture, I got around 16 falafels
  9. Brush each falafel with a little oil, and then put in the oven
  10. Bake for 18-20 mins until they feel slightly firm, still with a little squidge and then leave to cool
  11. Serve as you like, maybe with a dip like tahini, hummus or guacamole

Speaking of dips, how about a bonus recipe. Anyone else ADORE tzatziki? I don’t know what it is about the creamy Greek yogurt combined with grated cucumber and finely chopped mint, not forgetting the lemon spritz…it just hits the spot rather nicely.

I do love me a good yogurt. Not those ones aiming at kids with more sugar than a can of coke, I mean a full fat organic natural yogurt with probiotics, give the tummy some lovin’. I know sometimes I overdo the yogurt and the cheese, it’s easily done, but i now need to think of other ideas. The other day I was really craving some tzatziki, but wanted the creaminess without the dairy. So in steps Mr Avocado. No it’s not traditional, but you’re adding another portion to your 5 a day, and I mean come on, avocado, is anyone really going to be complaining.

Avocado tzatziki

Super fresh and herby, but with that cooling creaminess we all love from avocado, perfect for dunking your falafel into. Or dunking anything into for that matter. Pass me over a spoon, I’m hungry!

Serves up to 4 as a dip or spread, or up to two if eating alone for a snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, soft enough to mash
  • Small handful dill
  • Small handful mint
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grate the cucumber on a coarse box grater onto a plate and add a big pinch of salt. Leave for a couple of minutes
  2. Meanwhile,scoop the avocado out of its skin, put the flesh in a bowl and mash it until really smooth.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the avocado and mix it in
  4. Finely chop the dill and the mint, put into the avocado and again mix in well
  5. Go back to the cucumber and squeeze over a sink so all the excess water is squeezed out
  6. Then add the cucumber to the avocado mix, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and taste for seasoning

Serve with smugness

And Enjoy

X