Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Chunky Aubergine and Chickpeas with Fresh Basil

2-3 aubergines, cut into medium-sized cubes
1 tin organic chickpeas in water (without added sugar or salt), drained
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat quite a lot of olive oil in a heavy pan and add the aubergines.

2. Fry until browned all over.

3. Reduce the heat. Season with pepper and salt and add the garlic and chickpeas.

4. Cover and cook over a very low heat until the aubergines are completely tender.

5. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and scatter with torn basil leaves.

Chunky Mushrooms in Red Wine - 2 recipes

500 g of mixed mushrooms (any type you fancy), cut into chunks
1 red pepper, coarsely cut
1 bunch of sping onions, cut into 3 cm long pieces
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100-150 ml full flavoured red wine
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
olive oil

1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the spring onions. Sauté until brown, remove and set aside.

2. Add a bit more olive oil and when hot add the mushrooms. Fry over a highish heat until brown but don't let them draw juice. If they do turn up the heat. Season with pepper and salt and add the garlic.

3. Return the spring onions to the pan and pour in the wine.

4. Turn down the heat and simmer at a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Caramelised Courgettes and Sweet Peppers

2 sweet red peppers, halved, cut widthways and cut into thin strips
2 courgettes, halved lengthways and cut into diagonal slices
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh marjoram, leaves picked off
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic glaze

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan or saucepan and add the courgettes and peppers.

2. Fry over a high heat, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are browned and lightly caramelised.

3. Turn down the heat. Add the garlic and season with pepper and salt.

4. Keep cooking at a low heat with or without a lid until the vegetables are tender.

5. Sprinkle on the freshly picked marjoram and mix in lightly.

6. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Potato and Tomato Gratin on a Bed of Sage

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish.

4 medium potatoes
500 g of small vine tomatoes
12 sage leaves (ordinary, purple or a mix of both)
10 g butter
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, season with salt and pepper and cover with boiling water. Boil for about 15-20 minutes until parboiled.

2. Meanwhile slice the tomatoes.

3. Fry the sage leaves in the butter and a teaspoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they start to crisp. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4. Slice the potatoes with their skin on (or peel them first if preferred).

5. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a roasting tray and spread using a brush.

6. Scatter the sage leaves into the roasting tray.

7. Alternately place potatoes and tomatoes slices into the roasting tray. Season with pepper and salt and drizzle with olive oil.

8. Bake at gas mark 7, 220° C for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Serve as a main course with salad/roast asparagus etc. and Greek-style yoghurt or as a side dish.

Roasted Asparagus

It's asparagus season and in the UK, it's all about green asparagus. I just love that stuff and eat it several times a week during its short season.

200 g asparagus per person
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon or lime

1. Bend the asparagus spears until they snap - discard the bottom bit. That way you won't have any woody bits.

2. Wash and carefully pat dry.

3. Place in one layer into a roasting tray. Season with pepper and salt and drizzle with olive oil.

4. Roast in a preheated oven at gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes until the spears are tender and lightly browned.

5. Remove from the oven and drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Serve either hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Herby Quinoa, Lentils and Peas with Lime Dressing

225 g quinoa
600 ml vegetable stock
150 g puy lentils*
a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen peas or petits pois
a couple of handfuls of freshly chopped mixed herbs, e. g. basil, parsely, coriander, mint, chives
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lime juice
6 tbps extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the quinoa in a saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa has doubled in size.

2. Boil the lentils in water without adding salt until tender. This will probably also take about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. Add pepper and salt to water and simmer the peas for a couple of minutes until defrosted. Fresh peas only take a minute. Drain and set aside.

4. Place the cooked quinoa in a bowl adding 3-4 tablespoons of lentils*. Add the dressing and mix well. Leave to cool

5. When the quinoa and lentil salad has cooled completely, add the peas (to prevent them from cooking further) and freshly chopped herbs.

Serve as a side dish, e.g. with fish, meat or at a BBQ. Also very tasty on its own as a light summer lunch.

*Use the remaining lentils to make a lentil paté.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I combined 2 recipes and tweaked them a bit to come up with my version. You can find the original recipes here (the main source for my version) and here (for the lemon drizzle topping).

The result is so delicious, I'm wondering what it would taste like as an Orange Drizzle Cake. Definitely will try that out soon. And maybe next time I'll replace some or all of the white flour with wholemeal flour.

225 g softened, unsalted butter
225 g fine, brown sugar
zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
juice of 2 lemons
4 whole eggs
200 g flour
50 g ground almonds
2 level tsp baking powder

Lemon Drizzle Topping:
85 g fine, brown sugar
juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Grease a 26 cm spring tin with butter and sprinkle lightly with flour.

1. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy, then add the lemon zest.
2. Beat in the eggs one at the time - don't worry if the mixture splits.
3. Mix the flour and baking powder and add the mixture 1 tablespoon at the time while your mixer is on the lowest setting. Alternatively, mix in by hand using a spatula.
4. Add the ground almonds and lemon juice and combine well.
5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at gas mark 4/175° C for 45 minutes.
6. Use a skewer or knitting needle to check if it's done by sticking it into the centre of the cake. If it comes away clean, the cake is ready.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack. Using a knive, carefully loosen the outer rim of the cake tin. Release the spring and remove the outer rim. Don't take it off the bottom part of the tin.
8. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, mix the sugar and lemon juice.
10. Using your skewer or knitting needle, poke holes into the cake and pour the sugar/lemon mixture all over the cake.
11. Leave until completely cold before removing from the tin.

Serve on its own or with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or soured cream sprinkled with some freshly grated lemon zest.