10 January 2011
Dry frying onions, aubergines or mushrooms
Adding oil to anything when cooking is disastrous where Sins are concerned. When you consider that 1 level tablespoon of oil is 6 Sins you can see how quickly the Sins add up. It seems silly to use your Sins on something that doesn't change the flavour of the dish and can just as easily be left out. Dry frying is a wonderful method of cooking onions, mushrooms or aubergines. Simply place the vegetables in a heavy based saucepan along with half a pint of liquid stock, cover and bring to the boil for 5-10 minutes. Uncover and reduce the heat. Continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, golden and syrupy. If the vegetables should stick during frying add a splash more stock.
Curries and bakes
The selection of flavours used in dishes such as curries and bakes is a personal choice. If you keep a stock of the following and use different combinations of these, they will give you an unlimited choice of flavours: ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander ground ginger, ground paprika, fennel seeds, fenugreek, ground galangal, garam masala, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, mango powder, wholegrain mustard, ground cardamom, mustard seeds, dill.
Quick, handy ingredients
Mung beans and lentils are a useful standby ingredient. They do not need soaking beforehand and lentils particularly are very useful for thickening many vegetable or pulse based recipes.
Chop fresh herbs and season them. Put a teaspoonful in each compartment of an ice cube tray, pour water over them and freeze. These are ideal to use in casseroles and soups when out of season.
Pressure cooking pulses
Many pulses take a long time to cook when boiling them, such as chick peas that take about 2 hours. When cooked in a pressure cooker they only take 20 minutes. Pressure cooking is a handy short cut for many pulses. Canned pulses are available but are much more expensive and contain less flavour in many cases.
Cook the day before
When cooking dishes such as risottos, curries etc, make them the day before required. This allows the flavours to mix and develop.
Couscous is a coarse ground semolina made from wheat. It offers a marvellous, cheap and quick alternative to many dishes instead of rice. It can be used in salads and eaten hot or cold. Couscous is available in most supermarkets and all health food stores. It does not require any real cooking, you simply put the couscous in a bowl, cover with stock or boiling water and cover with cling film. Leave for 10-15 minutes until it swells.
When it is cooked it should be soft and fluffy. If it tastes "gritty" add more water, cover and stand for a few more minutes.
Sin-free vegetable stock
Vecon is a really versatile concentrated vegetable stock that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. We've used it in most of the recipes as it is Sin-free on both choices. It is available in most large supermarkets and also health food shops.
Beware! Take care when cooking with chillies. Always wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after chopping raw chillies, and never rub your eyes! Unless you are a devotee of really hot, spicy food, start off with one chilli and then add more if needed after tasting. Although it's easy to increase the intensity of their fiery hotness, it is impossible to make a dish less hot.