Thursday, 8 December 2011

Home-made baked beans

These taste a lot nicer than shop-bought baked beans and you have control over the amount of sugar you add (if any – I don’t). I make this dish in two different ways: really thick with practically no sauce or with sauce by adding passata.

1 440 g-can of beans, no salt or sugar added, (e. g. Cannelini, black-eyed, )
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp. dried basil
2 tbsp. tomato puree
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
tomato passata (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan that can be placed in the oven and sauté the onions and garlic until softened. Add the herbs and stir for a minute, then add the beans and tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add a little water or (if used) the passata.
Cover with a lid and bake at 200 °C/gas mark 5-6 for 15 – 20 minutes.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Mushrooms Stuffed with Aubergine and Black-Eyed Beans

4 flat mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
dried herbs (e. g. oregano, basil)
1 tin of organic black-eyed beans
2 tbsp. tomato purée
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

1. Wipe the mushrooms and remove the stalks. Coarsely chop the stalks.

2. Using a speed peeler cut a stripe of skin off two opposite sides of the aubergine. Cut the aubergine lengthways in 5 mm thick slices and chop into small chunks.

3. Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the aubergines and mushroom stalks until they begin to brown. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

4. Heat a little olive oil in the same pan and sautée the onion, garlic and chilli until softened. Add the aubergines, and beans. Season with pepper and salt.

5. Using just over half of the vegetables fill the mushrooms.

6. Add the tomato purée to the remaining vegetables and transfer the mix into a roasting tray. Sit the mushrooms on top. Cover with tin foil and bake at gas mark 6/200 °C for 30 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.

Serve with mustard mash or warm crusty bread.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Vegetarian Carbonara with Courgette

I can't believe that in all my years as a vegetarian/pescatarian I never tried this. But it's never too late and this is going to be a firm favourite from now on. Also, I've substitued the spaghetti with fettucine and, OMG, this is luxury comfort food!!!!

Normally my pasta to veg ratio is about 50:50 but here the pasta definitely domintates so it's a great idea to have a salad on the side, as a starter or afterwards.

This recipe serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter.

200-250 g fettucine
1 large or 2 medium courgettes
2 medium eggs
50 g parmesan, grated
1 garlic clove
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

1. Cook the fettucine in salted water according to packet instructions.

2. Using a speed peeler remove the skin on two opposite sides of the courgette, slice the courgette lengthways into 4 strips and julienne. Crush the garlic clove with a knife - no need to peel it.

3. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and courgettes and sauté the courgettes until browned. Remove the garlic.

4. Beat the eggs, season with pepper and salt and add about half the parmesan.

5. Warm a large bowl with boiling water. Empty and dry. Drain the pasta keeping some of the cooking liquor. Pour the pasta into the bowl, add the courgettes and slowly pour in the the egg-cheese mix using tongs to mix without scrambling the eggs. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquor from the spagetti to make the dish more moist but not wet.

6. Serve immediately in heated plates sprinkled with the remaining parmesan.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Thrice Cooked Tomato Sauce

You need:
vine tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
salt, optional
demerrara sugar
dried oregano or basil
extra virgin olive oil

Halve the tomatoes and sauté cut side down for a few minutes in an non-stick pan until browned - try not to disturb them during this time.

Place cut-side up into a roasting tray, season with pepper (and optionally salt), sprinkle with oregano, demerrara sugar and finely julienned garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and cook at 200° C/gas mark 5 for about 45 minutes or until softened.

Leave to cool, then remove the skins, chop the tomatoes and transfer everything (juice included) into a heavy saucepan, e.g. Le Creuset. Simmer for at least an hour until the sauce has thickened. Check the seasoning and serve.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Imam Bayildi (vegetarian version)

February 2016: Photos at last! I can't believe I never posted photos. We eat this dish a lot. This time I used cherry tomatoes as we had a few punnets. I just simmered the topping until the tomatoes were soft.
After Fabiana's guest recipe for the meat version - here is the way I make the vegetarian/vegan/gluten free (replace couscous with rice or quinoa) version.

I just love aubergines - and this is one of my favourite ways to prepare them as this dish is delicious hot or at room temperature. When served cold it can be prepared in advance, for example for a summer lunch or BBQ. I ususally serve the hot version with couscous but it also tastes great with warm crusty bread. For the

Depending on your appetite and the size of the aubergines, use either 1/2 an aubergine or a whole aubergine per person.

(serves 4)
2 large aubergines
2-3 mixed peppers (or any colour you prefer)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (in thick juice, if available)
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp. freshly ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

250 g couscous
a little sea salt
500 ml boiling water
fresh herbs, chopped (optional)

1. Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Cut the aubergines length-ways and cut the flesh in a coard criss-cross pattern.
2. Fry the aubergines cut-side down until golden. Remove, season with pepper and a little salt and place cut-side up into a roasting tray.
3. Add more olive oil to the frying pan and sauté the onions, garlic and cumin for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the peppers to the pan and keep sautéing for a nother 3 minutes.
5. Season the vegetable with pepper and salt.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.
7. Take off the heat and stir in half the coriander.
8. Heap the mix onto the aubergine haves and cover the roasting tray with tin foil.
9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 5-6/175-200° C for approx. 45 minutes or until the aubergines are soft.
10. With about 15 minutes of cooking time to go boil the kettle and soak the couscous in a bowl covered with a lid. If using fresh herbs mix them in before serving.

Imam Bayildi (meat version)

This is a family recipe from Fabiana who currently divides her time between Romania and Italy.

The origin of this dish is Turkish, its very old - presumably more then 300 years ago. The name derives from a legend about an Imam (Turkish title) who fainted (bayildi means faint, pass out in Ottoman) when he tasted this dish.

The original dish apparently did use the meat but then it was left out and nowadays people in Turkey prepare it mainly without meat, where as I do - I love it with meat and tastes great.

(serves 6)

aubergines (one or two per person)
300-500 gr mince (e.g. 50-50 pork and beef or lamb and beef)
3-4 onions
6-7 ripe tomatoes tomatoes or a 500 g tin of chopped tomatoes
Mediterranean herbs (e.g. oregano, basil, thyme etc.)
whole garlic cloves, peeled (two per aubergine)
fresh basil, 2-3 leaves per aubergine
olive oil
1 glass of red wine
1 hot red chilli (optional)

1. You start by peeling one line of skin all around the aubergines, then split the aubergine lengthways and hollow out some of the flesh to make room for the filling. Chop up the scooped out flesh and sauté with the onion.

2. To make the filling finely chop the onion really and sauté together with the chopped aubergine in a pan with olive oil. When they're golden, add the mince. Fry together until all the meat is browned stirring occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking together. When the moisture has evaporated from the meat and onions add some red wine and then regularly add a little water and cook for 2 hours (keep adding water regularly). After two hours or so, add the chopped tomatoes and herbs of your choice and cook for another two hours. This procedure is pretty similar to the Bolognese Sauce (ragu Bolognese). Optionally add the chilli at this stage as well.

2. Sauté the aubergines all around in a pan with oil until they are a little colored. Then set aside on kitchen paper to drain. Place into a roasting tray.

3. When you are happy with the sauce let it cool a little. Take a spoon and start filling the aubergines with the meat sauce. Pour the remaining sauce around the aubergines. Then add 1-2 garlic cloves per each eggplant and 1-2 basil leaves per each eggplant. Put in the oven and bake for 40 minutes at 190-200°C/gas mark 5-6.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


To be honest, I can't remember where this recipe comes from. Somehow I doubt it's my own concoction but I found it in my handwritten recipe book and it's so tasty I've decided to share it anyway.

(serves 4 as a side dish)

1 large or 2 small aubergines, cut into cubes
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. raisins
3 tbsp toasted pinenuts
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
sea salt
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
60 g of pitted olives (green or black), sliced
1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

- To start with, soak the raisins in a little tepid water.
- In a bowl combine the vinegar and maple syrup.
- Place the tomatoes in a bowl, add boiling water and leave for 30-60 seconds. Then remove the skind and chop up the tomatoes.
- Slice the olives.

1. Sauté the aubergines in olive oil until browned. Cover and continue cooking over a low heat until they're soft. Then drain on kitchen towel.

2. Sauté the onions in a second frying pan for approx. 2 minutes, then add the sliced pepper and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the capers, aubergines and the mixed maple syrup and balsamic to the onion-and-pepper mix. Heat through and check the seasoning. Sprinkle with pinenutes before serving hot or cold.


Black & Brown Rice with Black Beans

I'd not made this for a while so couldn't figure out why I should cook the brown and wild (black) rice separately as they both take approx. 30-40 minutes. Well, I remembered as soon as the water started to heat up - the wild rice was leaking colour. I'll have to update the photo next time I make this dish.

(serves 4 as a side dish)

50 g wild rice
200-250 g of wholegrain rice
2-3 tbsp. raisins
2-3 tbspl toasted pumpkin seeds
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 sweet red chilli, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can of organic black beans (no salt or sugar added), drained and rinsed.

1. Pour each type of rice into mug or something similar, then transfer into a saucepan. Add 3.5 times as much cold water and optionally a little salt. Boil for 30-40 minutes until the rice is tender, adding more water if required. Then drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile cover the raisins with a little tepid water and set aside.

3. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and sautée the onion, garlic and chilli over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Then add the cumin and sautée for another minute or so.

4. Next add the beans and season with pepper and salt. Heat through.

5. Combine both types of rice, the drained raisins, the pumpkin seeds and the bean mix.

Delicious hot or cold.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Königsberger Klopse (Meatballs in a tangy creamy sauce)

Here's another guest recipe, this time from Peter in Maidenhead.

This is a recipe of my mother’s which she, in turn, learned from her mother. Mum grew up in East Prussia just before and during the Second World War which is just about as far east as you could go in the old Germany. It is the area in the eastern “elbow” of the Baltic Sea just below Lithuania, and Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) is its capital.

The “Klopse” of the recipe’s name are in fact meatballs which are cooked in a typically East Prussian creamy, yet tangy sauce. The dish was a favourite Sunday dinner in the Königsberg region and even though we have become a bit blasé about meatballs these days, I think it still holds up well as a choice for an informal dinner party with friends or a Sunday lunch for the whole family.

A couple of advisories before we start: The recipe calls for “gemischtes Hack” as the basic ingredient for the meatballs. This is a 50/50 mixture of ground beef and ground pork. I would wholeheartedly recommend using this rather than straight minced beef and I would also recommend not going for the “extra lean” option. In my experience, meatballs turn out much juicier if the meat has a little bit of fat in it. An alternative to the ground pork is ground veal and I have also tried the recipe with half ground turkey, although I didn’t think this turned out as flavoursome as it could be.

Secondly, the dish involves pickled capers which will cause concern to some. My recommendation is not to tell anyone about the capers beforehand – you will most likely find that your guests love them in this dish (even if they were iffy about them beforehand). However, if you really can’t stand the taste of capers, then diced pickled gherkins will serve as an adequate replacement.

I hope you will enjoy this unique taste of the Baltic as much as I have – both as a child and as an adult.

OK, now on to the recipe...

(serves 4)

For the meatballs
500g ground meat (ideally 250g beef and 250g pork, not too lean)
2 dry white rolls (or slices of white bread)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 egg
marjoram, salt & pepper to taste

For the broth
1 medium onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
A few pepper corns and allspice berries
Approx. 0.75 litres (1 1/2 pints) of beef stock (a stock cube and water will suffice)

For the sauce
A large knob of butter (ca. 40g)
2 tablespoons of plain flour (ca. 30g)
1 small glass of pickled capers
3 tablespoons of soured cream or crème fraiche
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A good splash of white wine
1 egg yolk

Soak the bread in warm water, then press to remove excess moisture. Combine the meat, bread, chopped onion, and egg in a large bowl and knead thoroughly (use your hands for this, so that you can really feel the ingredients come together). Season to taste with salt, pepper and marjoram. Form meatballs roughly the size of an egg and put them aside on a plate.

Meanwhile, heat up the broth in a suitable saucepan and let it boil on a medium heat for a few minutes while you finish making the meatballs. Add the meatballs to the saucepan, bring the broth back to a boil and then cook on a low to medium heat for 10-12 minutes. When the meatballs start rising to the surface, they are usually done. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and keep them warm.

Pour the broth through a fine sieve and reserve it. Melt the butter in the saucepan, add the flour and make a light roux. Gradually add the broth, stirring well all the time. Add the capers (including the pickling juice), lemon juice, wine and soured cream and cook on a low heat for a few minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and maybe even a bit of sugar (if the sauce is too tart for your taste). Re-introduce the meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for a good 5 minutes. Finally, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the whisked egg yolk.

Decorate with extra capers in the serving dish. Traditionally, this is accompanied by boiled potatoes, grated carrots and pickled beets (or gherkins).

Any leftovers can be frozen and will make a quick and tasty supper on a slice or two of fresh granary bread.

Schmorgurken (Braised Cucumbers)

This recipe is from Birgit in Berlin. I hope you'll enjoy the story that goes with this dish as much as the dish itself.

This is a family recipe exactly how my grandmother used to make them. There are hundreds of different variations, as each family has developed their own over the years. But my grandmother’s was special: Since I am a vegetarian she made it meat free for me.
A few years ago I returned from hospital after a gall bladder operation and whined to my grandma that just that day they were going to have braised cucumbers at the hospital, and that I missed having my favourite dish. So she came over, bags full of goodies and cooked me braised cucumbers. That day I watched her closely and wrote everything down.
For this dish you best use garden cucumbers, these are the fatter, yellow-green type of cucumber rather than the green long things you usually get in a supermarket. If you can't get garden cucumbers, you can use normal ones too.

(serves 2)

500 g cucumbers
1 medium onion
½ red pepper
1 medium red tomato
Powdered vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the cucumbers and halve lengthways. Deseed the cucumber with a teaspoon. This will produce quite a bit of juice, so put the seeds in an extra bowl and strain them keeping the juice. This way you don't have to add water to the cucumbers later which gives the dish a stronger taste. Quarter the cucumbers and cut them into thick slices (6-8 mm).
2. Cut half a pepper into very thin strips (2-3 mm). Quarter the pepper rings. Also slice the tomato very thinly. These slices will actually disappear in the stew, so you might want to peel the tomato first (pouring hot water over it makes the job easier) or pick out the tomato peel from the stew later.
3. Dice the onion and lightly sauté in butter or margarine until transparent. (You can also use olive oil, but butter tastes better).
4. Add the cucumber, pepper and tomato and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the cucumber-juice and two teaspoons of powdered vegetable stock, stir and leave to simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Serve with boiled potatoes.

If you want meat with your meal, a common variation is to put very small meatballs into the stew. In that case you don’t need the vegetable stock. You can also serve the meatballs separately.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Spaghetti with Tiger Prawns

(serves 2)

200-250 g spagetti
16 tiger prawns, cooked or uncooked
1 garlic clove, very finely sliced or coarsely grated
1/2 red chilli, finely sliced
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime
a few basil leaves, finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil

1. Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to packet instructions.
2. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the prawns and season with pepper and salt. Sautee the prawns until they're cooked and very lightly browned. (Sautee cooked prawns just for a minute or use them simply at room temperature.) Squeeze over some lime juice and remove from the pan and place on kitchen towel.
3. Once the pasta is finished, drain.
4. In the pasta pot, heat a some olive oil and sautee the garlic and chilli at a low temperature to soften.
5. Add the spaghetti and prawns. Mix and check the seasoning.
6. Drizzle with the remaining lime juice. Sprinkle with the basil and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Vegetarian Quiche

Please see Variations under Quiche Lorraine.

Quiche Lorraine

I have abolutely no idea whether there are onions and garlic in a traditional Quiche Lorraine but they are in here. It's really easy to convert this dish into a vegetarian option. See variations below.

Shortcrust pastry:
125 g wholemeal flour
100 g bread flour
100 g unsalted butter
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water
a little sea salt

3-4 eggs
150 ml soured cream
2-3 onions, finely chopped
60-100 g lardons or chopped pancetta
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
75 g cheese (e. g. Gouda, mature cheddar, gruyère, emmental), grated
sea salt
black pepper

1. Make the pastry by combining flour, baking poweder, salt and butter adding water as required. Wrap in cling film and leave at room temperature until needed.
2. Fry the onions, garlic and lardons at a low to medium temperature in olive oil until the onions are soft but not brown.
3. Combine the eggs, soured cream and cheese and season with pepper and salt.
4. Grease a 26 cm quiche base with a little olive oil and press the pastry into it. Stab several times with a fork make. Cover with grease-proof paper and dried peas or similar and bake blind at gas mark 5, 200 °C for 10 minutes.
5. Remove the grease-proof paper and beans.
6. Fill with the onion mix and pour over the egg mix.
7. Place into a hot oven and bake at gas mark 5, 200 °C for 30-40 minutes.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Make this an onion pie by omitting the lardons and adding a red onion instead.
2. Sauté a mix of onions and mushrooms.
3. Sauté sweet red peppers.
4. Use tiny uncooked broccoli florets.
5. Use your imagination ;)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pan-fried whole Seabream

The amount of fish really depends on the individual. So you either use one seabream for two people or one for each person.

(serves 1-2)

1 whole seabream, descaled and gutted
fresh basil
thinly sliced lemon wedges
sliced garlic
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1. Season the fish inside and out with pepper and salt.
2. Stuff the cavity with basil, lemon wedges and garlic slices.
3. Pan-fry in olive oil for approx. 10 minutes on each side.


I just love aubergines and for many years I've only made vegetarian moussaka, which come to think of it I must try again, particularly the version with baby courgettes.

(serves 4)

800 g small to medium potatoes
2 aubergines, sliced
500 g mince (half pork, half beef)
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 - 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 tsp dried herbs, e.g. Oregano, Herbes de Provence
extra virgin olive oil
250 ml semi-skimmed milk
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp of white or wholemeal flour

1. Peel the potatoes. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes, pepper and salt and boil for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a large frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, then add the herbs and keep sautéing until soft.
3. Add the mince, season with pepper and salt and fry until cooked. Then pour into the base of one or two oven-proof dishes
4. Clean the pan and fry the aubergine slices in batches in olive oil. Layer on top of the mince and season with a little salt and pepper.
5. Now slice the potatoes and place them on top of the aubergines. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg.

6. Now make the béchamel by heating a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the flour and stir until the flour is bubbling lightly. Add the milk and stir until the sauce starts to thicken. Season with pepper and salt. Take the sauce of the heat and add one egg yolk at the time, constantly stirring to prevent it from cooking.
7. Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Cover the dish(es) with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes at 200-220° C/gas mark 5-6.

Believe it or not, this is actually quite a light dish as it doesn't have a lot of sauce. You may also double the quantity of béchamel and pour some of it onto the mince.

Spätzle with Chanterelles

A couple of weeks ago, on a visit to Germany I spotted chanterelles at the supermarket and just couldn't resist. Although they're in season in September you just can't find them in UK supermarkets.

(serves 4)

1 packet of fresh spätzle
500g chanterelles, cleaned
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 tsp dried herbs, e.g. Oregano, Herbes de Provence
extra virgin olive oil
250 ml whipping cream

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, then add the herbs and keep sautéing until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Heat a little more oil in the cleaned pan and add the chanterelles, season with pepper and salt and sauté till softened.
3. Add the onion and garlic, mix together, then pour in the cream.
4. Add the spätzle and heat through.

Serve immediately with a leafy salad.

1. If using dry spätzle, cook as per instructions and mix in at the end.
2. If you can't get spätzle, Italian trofie make lovely alternative.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pasta Salad with Chorizo

This is a a light and tasty summer salad that goes with outdoor eating of any kind.

250 g of cooked pasta
250 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
100 g chorizo, halved length-ways, sliced and sautéed, drained on kitchen paper
fresh parsley, chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
a touch of sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

1. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, pepper, a little salt and Dijon into a dressing.
2. Mix in the pasta, tomatoes and chorizo.
3. Leave at room temperature for a couple of hours.
4. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Add one or two 250 g bundles of pan-fried green asparagus.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Lambs Lettuce with Sautéd Mushrooms

Just came home from 5 days in Berlin that envolved a lot of eating and drinking. So for now, it's salad days!

Serves 2 as lunch/supper or 4 as a starter.

100 g lambs lettuce
250 g mushrooms, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms when hot. Fry over a high heat golden all over and season with pepper and salt.

2. Meanwhile wash and spin the lambs lettuce and arrange on plates. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette.

3. Sprinkle with the hot mushrooms and serve immediately.

If you're worried about the fat content, mix the juice of a lemon, pepper and salt and drizzle over the lettuce instead of the vinaigrette,

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Roast Tomato Soup

I've recently started making soups with roast vegetables and have found that they're easy to make and very tasty.

1.5 kg vine tomatoes, halved
1 small red chilli, deseeded (optional) and finely sliced
5 large garlic cloves, greated
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
extra virgin olive oil
500 ml vegtable stock or stock of your choice
2 handfuls of breadcrumbs

1. Scatter the thyme sprigs into a non-stick roasting tray.

2. Place the tomatoes cut side up into the roasing tray. Seasson with pepper and salt. Scatter the garlic and chilli on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Place in a pre-heated oven and cook at gas mark 6-7, 200-220° C, for 15 minutes. Then turn the tomatoes cut side down and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.

4. Transfer everything into a saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and stock, then purée. Check the seasoning and serve.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Boozy Bolognese

Okay, so the Italians call it ragù and baulk at the idea of eating spaghetti, this is a very tasty recipe. Just use a pasta type that'll catch all the lovely juices :)

500g mixed mince (half pork, half beef if possible)
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
dried basil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
curry powder
paprika powder
Worchester sauce
100g tomato purée
125ml red wine
1 tin (440ml) chopped tomatoes

1. Sauté onion, garlic for 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the basil, stir for 30 seconds, then add the meat.

2. Brown the meat all over. This should take about 10 minutes. Add seasoning.

3. Lastly add the tomato purée, red wine and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with enough pasta for 4.

Multi-Layer Vegetable Bake with Asparagus

1 aubergine, cut into 1-1.5 cm thick slices
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
4 large vine tomatoes, sliced
500 g boiled potatoes, sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
250 g green asparagus, whole with woody bits snapped off
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a small handful of freshly grated parmesan.

a few tbsp of rocket oil (see variation of the basil oil recipe)

1 quantity of béchamel sauce

1. Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the aubergines, if necessary in batches. Don't use too much oil. It's okay for one side to brown in a dry pan.
2. Place the aubergines with the oily side down into a large oven-proof dish,covering the bottom of the dish. Season with a little pepper and salt.
3. Place the peppers skin-side down into the hot pan without adding oil. Remove after a minute or when they have browned a little.
4. Distribute the peppers on top of the aubergines.
5. Scatter the mushrooms and chilli. Season with a little pepper and salt.
6. Cover the vegetables with sliced potatoes.
7. Drizzle the potatoes with 1-2 tbsp. of rocket oil.
8. Cover the potatoes with the tomato slices.
9. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1-2 tbsp. of rocket oil.
10. Place the asparagus on top.
11. Cover with the béchamel and a small handful of freshly grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven at 175-200°C or gas mark 5-6 for approx. 45 minutes, covering the dish for the first 35 minutes to prevent the sauce and cheese from burning.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Creamy Chicken Salad

This is a rich and creamy dish - real summer comfort food!

Serves 4-6

300-400 left-over free range or organic roast chicken, a room temperature
3 tbps of Greek yoghurt or soured cream
1 avocado, cubed
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
freshly squeezed lemon juice
frehsly ground black pepper
mixed salad leaves
a handful of cucumber slices, peeled, halved and cored
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
vinaigrette (optional)

1. Mix all the chicken, yoghurt, avocado, egg, lemon juice and black pepper.
2. Place a generous portion of salad leaves on a individual deep plates. Scatter with cucumber and tomatoes and drizzle with a little vinaigrette, if used.
3. Place a couple of heaped tablespoons of the chicken mix on top.

Artichokes with 2 Dips

The first time I tasted artichokes was in France when at the age of 17 I visited my pen pal who lived abuot 6 km outside of Paris. They served them with a vinaigrette and a mayonnaise based dip, which may or may not have been aïoli. I've since introduced quite a few people to artichokes always serving them with two similar dips. :)

1 artichoke per person, cooked
freshly ground pepper
sea salt

Balsamic dip:
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Yoghurt and mayonnaise dip:
2 heaped tbsp greek-style yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
a squeeze of lemon juice

1. Bring a pan of water that's large enough to hold your artichokes to the boil.

2. Add pepper and salt and add the artichokes.

3. Boil for approx. 30-45 minutes. They're ready when you can pull one of the other leaves off and the flesh at it's bottom is soft.

4. Tip into a collander and rinse with cold water to prevent them from cooking further.

5. Serve at room temperature with the dips and optionally fresh crusty bread.

Alternative dips:
1. classic vinaigrette
2. aïoli

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Fricassee of Left-Over Chicken with Grapes

Traditionally a fricassee is made from boiled chicken but I thought I'd give it a try with my left-over roast chicken. I was also curious to experiment with using grapes and the result was rather yummy. The recipe below should be enough for four people.

350 g left-over organic or free range chicken, deboned and skin removed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 ml whipping cream
2 handfuls of mixed red and white seedless grapes, halved
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
fresh parseley or coriander for serving, if at hand

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy oven-proof saucepan (I used my Le Creuset) and sautee the onion and garlic until soft.
2. Add the chicken and grapes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour in the cream and season with nutmeg.
4. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to prevent from sticking. Check the seasoning.
5. Then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven at gas mark 5/200° C for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the meat is piping hot.
6. Serve with rice.

1. You could simply heat the fricassee on the stove. I decided to place it in the oven so it would be ready at the same time as the rice.

2. Try adding a teaspoon or two of capers, a tradional fricassee ingredient.

Parsnip Soup with Grated Apple

This is quite a thick and filling soup. You may have to add more stock or water to use it as a starter.

1 kg parsnips, peeled and diced
250 g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground very finely
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground very finely
1.75 l vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped
pinch of saffron, optional
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated apple

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sautee the onion, garlic and chilli over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the spices and sautee for another couple of minutes.
3. Add the parsnip and potato and mix until coated with the spices. Season with pepper
4. Add the stock and saffron, if used, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
5. Puree and serve each portion with a heaped tbsp of freshly grated apple.

Cream of Spinach Soup

This is a superfast, tasty and healthy soup. The spinach can be substituted with watercress or rocket.

1/2 l vegetable stock
1 red onion or shallotte, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
200-250 g spinach, optionally coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
sea salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil
crème fraîche or Greek-style yoghurt

1. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil, add the onion and garlic and stir over a medium heat until soft.
2. Add the spinach and coat with the onion-garlic mix. Season with black pepper and nutmeg.
3. Add boiling stock and turn of the heat. When the spinach is wilted, puree, check the seasoning and serve with a little crème fraîche or Greek-style yoghurt.