Tag Archives: Quick

Beetroot carpaccio

18 Dec

So vegetarian Christmas, eh? Little bit lame, little bit not-so-special, little bit ‘where’s the nut roast’? No, say we. No. Man Woman refuses to eat nut roast, we will not partake in tofurky and we will not be scaling down to pasta.

The ceremony of making ham over hours and stuffing turkeys, actually I’m quite jealous of all that. So this year, our first Christmas staying put in the U of K, we’ve decided to go all out, and go traditional. But not traditional at all, you know. Still, however, in the tradition of tradition in a way. Point is, there is some traditional ingredients and concepts, but an absence of animal parts and their sad vegetarian imitations.

We decided to test the limits of this concept at a recent dinner party (I say dinner ‘party’ but our tiny flat allows us to squeeze just two other people in). At an earlier ‘party’ we’d drunkenly vowed to prepare our guests a Nordic/Finnish feast. There being about 14 actual vegetarian recipes (which are not baked goods) in the now fashionable Finnish repetoire, we realised it’d have to be Finnish in spirit, if not quite yet in reality.

So, thought we, let’s break this down to its elements. Finns like beetroot. Finns like dill. Finns like preserving things in salt.  Beetroot and dill carpaccio was the only logical evolution of these three facts.

This dish, which was served as a part of a starter (recipe soon to follow), would be great as part of a Christmas feast or as a side to creamy or heavy dishes as it’s nice and sharp. Northern European ‘tapas’ anyone? While this time of year up in this hemisphere can mean loads of heavy foods and root vegetables with which Man Woman are still largely unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to, this is a nice way to introduce some seasonal rooty freshness. But also, for our friends back in summertime, this totally works for hot weather too. You can tell it’s Christmas ’cause everybody wins.

So this carpaccio was kinda in homage to the Nordic habit of gravalax and also looked a whole lot like smoked reindeer meat while being notably less gamey. Bonus!

Beetroot carpaccio with horseradish and dill (serves 4 as side)

  • 1/2 large beetroot
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP grated horseradish (we used one from a jar – use less if using fresh horseradish)
  • 4 tsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Slice the beetroot as finely as possible. If you can manage to get a full cross-section, congrats, you’ve been keeping your knives well and you deserve a gold star. Otherwise, shavings (think ham!) are fine too.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and adjust to taste. It should be very acidic.

Lay the beetroot in a shallow dish and cover with the lemon mix. It may be almost like a paste, but so long as you smear and toss it through all the beetroot it’ll be fine.

Chill in the fridge for at least ten minutes.

Estimated cost: £1.20

Musical accompaniment: She and Him, Christmas Album


Cheat’s amazing breakfast (shhh! It’s toast)

25 Oct

This is less a recipe than a ‘serving suggestion’, in all earnestness. Man Woman feels guilty about posting it here because it is so simple. It is, actually, toast. Which is why we’ve had to call it ‘cheat’s amazing breakfast’, because it is pretty amazingly good, and yet it’s stupidly easy to the point of being obvious. But again, in the face of English brunch establishments collective aversion to moving beyond fry-ups and eggs Benedict (which have their place and can be done well and so on and so forth), this almost feels necessary. It’s a straight up copy of a great, fall-back breakfast Woman used to devour at Cafe Sofia in Erskineville, around the corner from Erko Villa, aka her old share house.  It seems a very Sydney breakfast: healthy, easy, care-free and just a little bit pretentious.

Cheat’s breakfast: Mushrooms, tomato and avocado on toast

  • Sourdough
  • 6 mushrooms per person
  • 1 TBSP soy per serve
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed) per serve
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 avocado

Slice mushrooms thinly and throw into small pan with heated olive oil, crushed garlic and a dash of soy sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and glossy.

Now this is embarassing. Cut tomato. Spread avocado on sourdough (or whatever bread you like, in all honesty), top with mushrooms then that tomato. Crack pepper, drizzle lemon and olive oil if you feel so inspired.

Estimated cost (per person): £2.10

Musical accompaniment: Dark, Dark, Dark

Heart-warming miso and noodle soup

16 Mar

This is a great soup for those early March nights when you, by rights, had expected the weather to be getting warmer, but when it is totally incorrectly freezing. Compounded with that, it’s an exceptionally healthy soup which is perfect for when, on those freezing early March nights, you decide to run straight home after work and skip the gym because it’s too cold. In the gym. Umm.

Miso and noodle soup

  • 2.5 TBSP shiro (or light) miso paste (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 shallot sliced finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 shitake or dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 C cauliflower
  • 1/4 C wakame seaweed
  • 750ml (3 C) water
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 packet thick udon noodles

In a bowl, cover dried mushrooms with 250ml of hot water.

In a hot pot, heat a bit of vegetable oil and cook shallot and garlic until they have a bit of colour.

Add water, cauliflower (or other vegetable), miso paste and mushrooms with the water they were soaking in, keeping the water at a simmer.

Once mushrooms are softened and cooked enough to eat – say 15 – 20 minutes after they first started soaking – add the noodles.

Cook for another few minutes until noodles are cooked through.

Serve with spring onion and some Japanese chili flakes.

Estimated cost:£1.80

Musical accompaniment: Classical somesuch

Mexican rice and beans with tomatillo sauce

15 Mar

Man Woman has never been to Mexico. Nevertheless, we feel sufficiently informed to say that what passes as Mexican cuisine in a good part of the Anglo-Saxon world is not really Mexican food. We’re really hoping that in no country does crisps covered in cheese, covered in sour cream actually pass as food.

When in Sydney, we managed to get ourselves to Flying Fajita Sisters on Glebe Point Rd before a serendipitous Friday night at the dogs. Really. At the dogs. This was our first encounter with green sauce. My word. Sweet but tangy, gooey but refreshing – this is good shit. We’ve got big plans to go back to Casa Mexico in Bethnal Green for more Mexican supplies. Our horizons are expanded.

Mexican beans

  • 1 tin kidney beans (or 1/2 C uncooked beans, soaked overnight then cooked)
  • 1/2 capsicum diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion diced
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/4 C corn kernels
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small dried ancho chili
  • lemon or lime juice

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add coriander seeds, followed by onions and capsicum. Once these have softened, add the beans, tomato remaining spices and the ancho chili. Cook for probably another 5 or 10 minutes or until warmed through, adding lemon or lime to taste.

Tomatillo sauce

  • 10 tomatillos (1.5 cups tinned)
  • 2 tsp chopped jalepeno chillies
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 spring onion

In a small fry pan with just a tiny dash of oil, throw in halved tomatillos and cook until softened and saucy. Just before serving, add jalepenos, coriander and chopped spring onion.

Serve with guacamole and rice. Cheese not really necessary, although Man did still add substantial amounts and four kinds of chili sauce (see below).

Estimated cost: £4.10 (with guacamole and rice)

Musical accompaniment: AfroCubism

Steamed veg & tofu with sesame black bean sauce

24 Feb

This recipe is the result of a glorious sojourn to London’s Chinatown. Man Woman realised we had not been for years, despite constant complaints about the lack of east Asian produce anywhere in London. Anywhere except, you know, in the smackbang centre of it.

So we spent our Sunday afternoon gleefully wallowing in the New Loon Moon Supermarket, picking up ingredients from the eastern Orient, getting jostled by other more regular customers who clearly did not share our White People’s Joy at shopping at an ethnic supermarket.

Thus armed with a bamboo steamer and black bean sauce for the first time in nearly 5 years, Man Woman made this super quick mid-week (we can dream on a Monday) meal. Those Chinese. First they invent golf and then they invent (I’m sure) black bean sauce. Top stuff, China. Nice work.

A note about tofu here. Don’t use the Cauldron brand or other such. If it’s covered in cardboard, if the packaging does not allow you to see the tofu, as a general rule, don’t buy it. It’s probably inexplicably dry and chewy. This recipe needs good quality, fresh tofu – but it’s still dirt cheap. A 600g packet of tofu – enough for 2 very tofu-heavy dinners for 2 – cost about £1.60. Man Woman may dedicate a post to this in future, but green grocers, Asian supermarkets and health food shops should stock fresh tofu, which should be in a tray with a clear plastic cover and partially covered in water. Also, the Mori-Nu UHT-style tofu, sold in Sainsbury’s Clapham for £1, is perfectly good and fresh. At all costs, avoid Cauldron. God knows what they do to the beans.

Sesame black bean sauce

  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 3 TBSP black bean sauce
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 large clove crushed garlic


  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 300g fresh tofu, cut into chunky cubes
  • Bunch of enoki mushrooms

Corn noodles

Get water boiling in a pot underneath your steamer thingie. Throw in cubed tofu (we found no need to drain the tofu) and enoki mushrooms.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat vegetable oil. When hot – but not crazy hot – add sesame seeds. When they start to colour add blackbean sauce, lemon juice, water and garlic. Stir and adjust proportions to taste.

After about 5 minutes of steaming, and checking that the water is boiling, lift the steam levels and throw in your noodles. At this time also add the spinach (or whatever greens you fancy) to the steamer.

Keep sauce simmering in the pan.

Cook for about 5 minutes. Serve noodles and veg with sauce drizzled over.

Estimated cost: £2.60

Musical accompaniment: Seasick Steve

A happy steamer spinach monster!

Quick & chunky hummus (or houmus)

15 Feb

This recipe carries with it a startling and depressing confession: Man Woman does not possess a food processor. Gasp! Shriek!

Alack, dear readers, ’tis true. So the reason that this following recipe is ‘chunky’ is partly because we couldn’t be stuffed mashing the chickpeas for any longer. The amount of liquid added to this, however, does make for a more, well, liquid hummus, and the lack of blitzing means that the texture ends up being desirable as well as the only one we’re capable of producing.

Chunky hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/3 C tahini
  • salt
  • sumac, paprika, mint or parsley to garnish

Mash chickpeas, combine with other liquids and salt to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, fresh or dried herbs & serve with bread or veg sticks.

Estimated cost: £1

Musical accompaniment: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

Raw zucchini and goats cheese mini rolls

8 Feb

This is probably a canape, amuse bouche or some such, but we served it as part of a starter (with a luke warm zucchini and mint soup – ack, Friday night dinner parties!). Crazy easy, but it involves goats cheese, so you know it’ll be ‘right.

Zucchini and goats cheese bites (makes about 20 mini rolls)

  • 1 zucchini
  • 180g goats cheese
  • black pepper

With a peeler or cheese slicer, make strips along the zucchini – the thinner the better. Lay to the side.

Take a teaspoon of goats cheese and place in a neat blob at one end of the zucchini. Sprinkle cracked  black pepper.

Roll up and fix in place with a toothpick.

Estimated cost: £3

Musical accompaniment: Oh Ruin

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