Saturday, 26 December 2015

Chateaubriand with White Wine and Soured Cream Sauce

I haven't eaten a chateaubrian in almost 30 years and this is the first time I've made it myself. I researched recipes on the internet and came up with this. DELICIOUS!!!!

500 g chateaubriand (matured for 28 days)
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
4 banana shallots, peeled and quartered
2 large garlic cloves, julienned
120 ml soured cream
150 ml dry white wine
1 tbsp green peppers in brine, drained
1 tsp flour
2 tbsp cold water

1. Heat to oven to 200 °C/gas mark 5.

2. Place the shallots, garlic and olive oil into the oven.

3. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and sear the chateaubriand for 2-3 minutes on each side. Do NOT clean the frying pan.

4. Place the meat on top of the garlic and shallots and roast for 15 minutes for rare, 17 minutes for medium rare, 18 minutes for medium (times are approximately, I'd suggest using a meat thermometer).

5. Warm a plate in the oven. Rest the meat covered in a tent of tin foil for 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the shallots and garlic in the frying pan. When they start to sizzle, add the white wine. Bring to the boil. Mix the flour and water, then add the flour-and-water mix, green peppers and the soured cream. Bring to the boil and simmer until thickend. Season with pepper, salt and nutmeg.

7. Cut the meat into slices. Serve with potatoes and sauce.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Vegetable soup with tortellini and parmesan

My partner used this recipe for the cooking group she runs at her work and found it very tasty. Though not one of my own, I have to share it here. It will definitely become one of our staples. The original is finished off with pesto and served with garlic bread. We thought this sounded very rich and decided to use 2 packets of tortellini instead of garlic bread. We also grated the vegetables as it speeds up the cooking time and gives the soup a thicker consistency.

(serves 4 as main course)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1 l vegetable stock
1 400-g tin of chopped tomatoes
250 g frozen peas
1 400-g tin of butter beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans or similar, including the liquid
400-500 g fresh tortellini, e.g. with spinach and ricotta filling
dried mxed herbs
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan to serve
pesto (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and parsnips for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

2. Add the stock and tomatoes, then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. With 5 minutes to go, add the peas and beans.

4. Once the veg is tender, add the tortellini. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes until the pasta is just cooked. (Tortellin and similar float when ready.)

5. Season to tast with pepper and salt.

6. Serve with a dollop of pesto (optional) and grated parmesan.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Morello Cherry and Amaretto Jam

I'm pretty new to jam making but am really enjoying it. So it's great we've started renting out a room on a bed and breakfast basis that allows me to spoil guests with homemade jam and other continental breakfast goodies.

1 kg morello cherries, fresh or frozen
1 kg granulated sugar
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3-4 tbsp amaretto

1. Place a couple of saucers in the freezer.

2. Coarsely chop about 2/3 of the cherries. Place cherries and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan, cover and cook over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. This prevents the sugar from sticking and burning. Stir every now and then.

3. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for approx. 5 minutes. Take off the heat. When the jam has stopped boiling vigourously add  the amaretto, then leave to cool for 5 minutes. This is important if you don't want to burn yourself.

4. Place a little jam onto a frozen saucer and leave for 5 minutes. If it wrinkles when touched it's ready. If not repeat step 3 (minus the amaretto) and 4 until the jam has set.

5. Fill into warm steriliised jars.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Chocolate Spread

I'm personally not keen on Nutella as I find it far too sweet. Also, it's made with eggs from battery hens, which is an absolute no-no for me. A friend of mine who used to be a Nutella addict now makes her own so I asked her for the recipe because I want to spoil our Airbnb guests. The first time I used chocolate with 60% cocoa solids and though the result was nice it was still too sweet for me. So next time, I'm going to try chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, probably opting for 80%+. Since I don't tend to use white sugar I'm also wondering if I could use fine, unrefined sugar instead of icing sugar. I will report!

90 g icing sugar
60 g ground hazelnuts
100 g chocolate
70 g butter
100 ml milk

1. Place the chocolate in a saucepan and melt in a bain marie.

2. Place the sugar, hazelnuts and melted chocolate into a bowl and stir vigorously.

3. Next, add the butter and the milk, mix a and return to the saucepan. On very Using the bain marie method again, heat over a low heat (do not boil) while stirring continously with a wooden spoon until you have a homogeneous and liquid result (after approx. 3 to 5 minutes). Pour into sterilised jars and place in the fridge for a few hours. The chocolate spread needs this time to get harden so it can be spread.

Tip: Place in the fridge over night so it's ready for breakfast. Store it in the fridge.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Raspberry Liqueur

This summer, I finally got around to making raspberry liqueur though the time of year didn't really matter as I used frozen raspberries. I let them steep for almost 4 months and strained them this morning into a lovely tequila bottle given to me by a friend. I really love its gorgeous, deep pink colour. Can't wait to taste it with some cava.

500 g raspberries
1 bottle of vodka
1 small handful of brown rock sugar or unrefined sugar

Place the raspberries and sugar into a large sterilised jar then top up with vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for 3- 4 mmonths. Shake the contents every now and again. Strain and pour into a bottle. 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Spiced Apple and Date Chutney

I'm not an expert in chutney making so when my next-door neighbours gave me 2.5 kilos of apples a couple of weeks ago I had to research some recipes on the internet and found two I liked bits of, in particular an apple and pear chutney that didn't use ordinary sugar but dark moscovado. From the other recipe, I used the cayenne pepper and allspice. I still had quite a lot of elderflower infused cider vinegar from last year so I used that – the first time round. Then another neighbour send an e-mail to everyone in the street as they also have a glut of apples. I loved the first chutney so went and got another 2.5 kg. This time I used balsamic vinegar. Can't wait to find out what it tastes like!

2.2 kg apples, peeled and sliced
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
500 ml balsamic + 100 ml white balsamic or 600 ml cider vinegar
2 lemons or limes, juice and zest
1 tsp mustard seeds
250 g dates
250 g raisins
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 tbspoon sea salt
1 kg dark moscovado sugar

1. Place the apples, 500 ml vinegar, mustard seeds, onions, garlic and ginger into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is almost cooked.

2. Add all the other ingredients, incl. the remaining vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes stirring occassionally.

3. Rest for 15 minutes and fill into sterilised jars. Leave for 3-4 weeks.

German beef roast marinated in red wine and vinegar

"Sauerbraten" is a typical German dish that I ate for the first time in over 25 years a few days ago at my mums. We even marinated it ourselves and even my Scottish partner thought it was delicious. Traditionally, it's served with potato dumplings and red cabbage but I opted for boiled potatoes. The rub is that it needs to be marinated for 5-7 days but it's well worth the wait. Of course, in Germany you can buy it ready marinated at the butchers. (BTW, apologies for the picture quality. I didn't take my DSLR...)

(serves 4)

1 kg beef roasting joint
2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
1 heaped tsp black pepper corns
1 heaped tsp allspice
1 heaped tsp juniper berries
sea salt
1 onion, cut into rings
equal amounts of red wine vinegar, red wine and water to cover the meat completely
2 slices of ginger bread
1 onion, sliced
1 heaped tsp flour
cold water

Place the meat into a large ceramic bowl or traditional marinating jar, add the onion and spices, then cover with the vinegar, wine and water. Marinate in a cool place or the fridge for at least 5 days.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Heat some oil in a saucepan and sear the meat on both sides. Add the fresh onion and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add about half the marinate.

Bring to the boil and cook for 1.5-2 hours until the meat is cooked. Crumble in the gingerbread about 15 minutes before serving. If this is not enought to thicken the gravy, dissolve some flour in cold water and add. Bring to the boil. Remove the meat and strain the gravy.

Creamy Savoy Cabbage with Herbs and Seeds

Wonderful with pasta and great as a vegetable side dish.

1 savoy cabbage, shredded
1 green chili, seeded or deseeded
4 tbsp toasted seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower)
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
boiling water
300 ml soured cream
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
olive oil

Sauté the cabbage and chili in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Once it starts browning, add the water and gently cook until almost al dente. Add the soured cream and heat through. Mix in the chopped herbs, check the seasoning, sprinkle with the seeds and serve.

Stuffed Aubergines

I've probably said this before: Aubergines are among my favourite food and I try and vary the way I make them because we have them every week. Just enter "aubergine" as a search term on this blog for different ideas.
(serves 2-4)

2 aubergines
2 pointed red peppers
400 g mushrooms
1 onion
1 whole bulb garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp toasted ground cumin
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 mozzarella
extra virgin olive oil

Hollow out the aubergines using a table spoon. Chop the aubergine flesh, mushrooms, peppers into small cubes. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat some olive oil and sauté the veg until golden and starting to soften. Add the cumin and fennel. Sauté for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush the skin of the aubergine halves with olive oil and arrange in a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper. Fill with the sautéd veg, cover with tin foil and bake at gas mark 5/200° C for 45-60 minutes or until the aubergines are cooked.

Turn the oven up. Thinly slice the mozzarella and top the aubergine halves. Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is browned.

Serve with brown rice and a leafy salad.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Tuna and Pea Canneloni

It's this time of year again when fresh peas are available in the shops. I don't really like shelling them but it's a small price to pay.

(serves 4)

8 no cook canneloni tubes
500 g fresh peas in pods or 250 g frozen peas
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 pointed red pepper
250 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
1 tin of line-caught tuna in olive or sunflower oil
1 bay leaf
juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

freshly grated parmesan

1. Shell the peas, place fresh or frozen peas into steamer and steam for 3 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.

2. Drain the oil off the tuna and drizzle with the lime juice.

3. Chop the onion and garlic. Half and slice the pepper. Heat some fresh olive oil or a little of the oil from the tuna in a frying pan. Sauté onion, garlic and pepper for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and the bay leaf. Season with pepper and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then transfer into an oven-proof dish.

4. While the sauce is cooking mix the peas and tuna with a fork. Season with a little salt and pepper. Fill the canneloni tubes with this mix and place into the tomato sauce. Sprinkle any left-over filling onto the tomato sauce.

5. Now make the bechamel. Start by heating a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Sprinkle the flour into the oil. Once it's "dissolved" gradually add the milk, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Beat in the egg yolk. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the bechamel over the canneloni. Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven at 175 °C/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the tin foil, grate some parmesan and scatter over the top. Bake for a further 10 minutes at 200 °C/gas mark 6.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Pineapple Salsa

1/4 fresh pineapple, very finely diced
1 heaped tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste
1/2 red chili incl. seeds, very finely chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients and marinate for approx. 30 minutes.

Sautéed Savoy Cabbage with Balsamic Glaze

My other half loves cabbage and I have to admit the savoy cabbage looked great at the store last week – dark green, very curly leaves on the outside, tender yellow on the inside. Still it's supposed to be summer and cabbage in summer. I wasn't too happy but in the end came up with something light and very tasty.

1 savoy cabbage
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic glaze

Finely shred the leaves of a savoy cabbage, removing the stalks. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan and sautée the savoy until it starts to brown. Season with pepper and salt. Add a little water and simmer adding water as necessary
until the savoy is cooked to your liking. There should be very little cooking liquid left. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool until tepid or at room temperature. Drizzle over some balsamic glaze, toss, check the seasoning and enjoy.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Potato and Aubergine Hot Pot

My other half runs a cooking group at work, twice a week. Funny, she never cooks at home, well hardly ever... Erm, change of subject ;)

Today, they made stovies and tonight we used the idea at home and came up with this.

(serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish)

1 kg potatoes
1 large aubergine
5-6 large tomatoes
1 onion
1 red onion
1 pint of stock of your choice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
dried herbs of your choice
1 red chilli
3-4 cloves of garlic

Slice all the vegetables very thinly and layer them in a roasting tray seasoning with pepper and salt as you go: potatoes sprinkled with pepper and salt, onion rings. tomatoes sprinkled with pepper and salt and dried herbs, aubergines sprinkled with pepper and salt. Repeat the veggie layers.

Finely slice the red chilli, optionally removing the seeds, and finely grate the garlic. Mix with the stock. Pour over the veg. They'll be half covered in stock. Cover with tin foil and cook in a preheated oven at 220 °C for approx. 30-45 minutes. Check if the veggies are done or almost done. Remove the tin foil and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Serve with a green salad for a main course or as a side dish.

White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

I've just returned from a few days in my home state in Germany where I was just in time to catch the end of the asparagus season. White asparagus is not readily available in Scotland and it'd been three years since I last tasted it. Even though it wasn't that cheap I bought nearly two kilos of the stuff, enough to accompany two meals.

My godson love asparagus with an Hollandaise sauce but is generally happy with the powdered stuff enriched with an egg yolk and/or some cream. He also thinks the world of my cooking so I decided to  give him and the rest of the family a treat: homemade Hollandaise sauce!

It's been decades since I last made it and without any internet connection we first checked my mum's sparse selection of cookery books – no joy – then phoned around without reaching anyone nearby. In the end, we spoke to my other half's sister in London who did an internet search and, knowing we like Jamie Oliver, gave us his recipe, which I modified as I simply couldn't bring myself to make a sauce, in which two servings were made using 2 egg yolks and 100 g (!) of butter. Admittedly, that was probably meant as a main course but still...

Saturday, 16 May 2015


When I made membrillo (quince cheese) for the first time last autumn I realised that fruit "cheeses" have been around for a long time. Knowing I couldn't get quince for another year and expecting the batch of membrillo to be finished well before then I made a mental note to try and make perada (pear cheese) some time.

Today, my favourite discount supermarket hat 25 % of Abate pears and I seized the opportunity. I came home with 2.5 kg of pears, went on the internet and found two recipes I liked. One is from a blog called LondonEats, the other from whatscookingamerica. I based my perada primarily on the LondonEats recipe but added apples instead of pectin as suggested by whatscookingamerica.

After cooking the fruit pulp for three hours without my spoon leaving a trail I decided I'd settle for a soft spreadable rather than a firm perada that can be sliced. I'm sure it'll be just as tasty.

2.5 kg pears
0.5 kg apples
soft brown (unrefined sugar), 1 part to 2 parts of fruit pulp
300 ml water
juice of 2 lemons
rind of 1 lemon, cut into strips with a speed peeler

1. Rinse the fruit, don't remove the skin but place whole into a couple of saucepans so there's just the one layer and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the fruit is soft. The fruit is soft when a pointed knife slips easily into the pears. As my pears were still firm, this took 30 minutes of simmering. I removed the apples earlier as their skin burst when they were done.

I thought the boiled pears looked reallz funky.
2. Drain and leave to cool. Once the pears are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard. The fruit now needs to be passed through a sieve using the back of a (wooden) spoon. You can either chop it up or run it through the food processor with the coarse grater disc inserted. The latter tip I gleaned from the membrillo recipe and it makes pulping the fruit much easier.

3. Measure out the pulp. The above recipe resulted in 1.8-2 l of pulp. As it was quite sweet already I used only 1 part sugar to 2 parts fruit.

4. Place the fruit pulp, sugar, lemon juice, water and lemon rind into a stainless steel saucepan. Stir well and bring to the boil. Simmer until the mixture is thick enough for a spoon to leave trails. Mine took 3 hours but never got that thick, perhaps because I didn't use pectin.

Remember to stir regularly to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Warning: Do be careful. The thicker the mixture gets the more it spatters and those spatters are roasting. My right hand got hit numerous times. Eventually, I got wise to the danger and put on an oven glove to stir.

5. Remove the lemon rind. It seemed a shame to discard it so I set it aside and placed a slice or two on the top of each filled jar. Pour into sterilised jars , screw on the lid and turn upside down until completely cool. Store in a dark cool place.  

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Layered Aubergine, Tomato, Chorizo and Mash Bake

We've been on holiday at home for the last week and as the weather was gorgeous spend a lot of time in the garden though we still haven't had a barbecue. When the temperatures dropped to 8 °C today and we had driving rain and even hail stones, interspersed with sunny, if chilly, intervals I was a bit at a loss as to what to cook. My other half craved potatoes – baked, mashed, roasted, whatever. A look in the fridge revealed several aubergines, a couple of kilos of vine tomatoes, fresh taragon and soft chorizo sausages. There was also some left-over white bread earmarked for bread crumbs. The cooking gears in my brain started grinding and before I knew it I was well on my way to create another new dish. And only now do I realise that there was neither garlic nor onions in this dish. Never missed them.

This dish is incredibly versatile as it can be vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free. It's great as a main course with a side salad or a side dish with a roast, pork chops, poached, fried or baked fish.

(serves 3-4)

2 aubergines
4 fist-sized potatoes
2 small soft chorizo sausages, approx. 110 g
2 small pointed red peppers
5 plum vine tomatoes
(elderflower-infused) olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh taragon
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
bread crumbs

1. Peel and quarter the potatoes, wash and place into a saucepan. Season with about 1 tsp sea salt and pepper. Add boiling water so the potatoes are just covered and boil for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water, add a good glug of milk and a splash of olive oil. Mash, check the flavour and set aside.

2. Meanwhile slice the two aubergines into 1 cm slices. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry in batches until golden, then drain on kitchen paper.

3. Half the peppers lengthways and core. Slice and fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Slice the chorizo and fry until brown on both sides.

5. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 cm thick slices. Pick the leaves of the taragon sprigs and chop.

6. Assemble the dish in an oven-proof dish: Layer the first aubergine, season with pepper and salt. Place all the tomato slices on top and season with pepper and a little salt. Scatter the taragon on chorizo slices over the tomatoes. Next add the sautéd pepper and another layer of aubergines. Spread the mash on top and bake for 45 minutes at 200 °C/gas mark 5.

7. Mix a couple of small handfuls of fresh bread crumbs with a little olive oil. Scatter over the mash and bake for another 10 minutes.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Spring Onion Quiche with Herby Short-Crust Pastry

We love quiche and make it fairly regulary always trying out new toppings and this time, also a new base.

(serves 4-6)

1 quantity of herby short-crust pastry
2 bunches of spring onions, roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic
1 small bunch of parsely, finely chopped
4 large eggs
150 ml soured cream/crème fraîche/ordinary cream
splash of milk
sea salt
black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil

Make the pastry according to the recipe. Grease a 26 cm fluted flan dish with a tiny bit of olive oil. Place the pastry ball into the middle and with your knuckles spread it evenly. Stab a few times with a fork, cover in greaseproof paper, pour on ceramic baking beads (or failing that uncooked rice, chickpeas, beans or similar).

Preheat the oven to 200 °C/gas mark 5 and blind bake for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the topping. Clean and wash the spring onions, then coarsely chop them. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the spring onions over a medium heat until just softened and lightly brown.

Beat the eggs, season with pepper, salt and nutmeg. Add the cream and milk and mix well. Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press and finely chop the parsley. Add to the egg mix.

When the 15 minutes are up remove the pastry from the oven using oven gloves, pour off the beads and remove the paper. Pour the topping onto the pastry and bake at 200 °C/gas mark 5 for 35-45 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Herby Short-Crust Pastry

I've often wondered if I could make short-crust pastry with olive oil instead of butter. Yesterday, I decided to put it to the test. I didn't use just plain olive oil but a thick coriander-and-lime oil I made a few days ago, which needed using up. And I didn't dare use just oil, so used equal amounts of oil and butter. It worked beautifully.

This recipe is enough for a 26 cm fluted flan tin.

150 g wholegrain flour
100 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
65 g coriander-and-lime oil
65 g soft butter, cubed
3-4 tbsp warm water

Mix the flour and baking powder, then add the oil and butter and knead into a smooth dough adding water as necessary. Cover and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Slow cooked leg of lamb

I made this recipe with a half leg of lamb the other day, which was a little more than two people could eat. The next day, we heated up the leftovers and the resulting stew was almost better. This time, I doubled the ingredients so I can freeze some of the leftovers. However, there wasn't enough room in the roasting tray for all the veg so some of them were roasted separately.

The actual dish is the result of a number of recipes I found on the internet. The seasoning is based Nigel Slater's recipe here.

Cooking time: 4 hours

(serves 8)

1 leg of lamb (approx. 2.3 kg)
4 cloves of garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 aubergines
4 sweet red peppers
1.2 kg potatoes
3-4 courgettes
extra virgin olive oi
1/2 bottle of red wine
2 tsp flour

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160°C.

Grind the cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar, remove and set aside for a couple of minutes. Crush the garlic with some sea salt in the pestle and mortar. Add the cumin, thyme, pepper, paprika and mix with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Spread over the meat, place into a roasting tray and put into the oven for about 30 minutes. Then add the red wine.

Roast for about another 2 hours. In the meantime, cut the potatoes and vegetables into large chunks. Season with a little pepper and salt and drizzle with oil. Add the potatoes and aubergines to the roasting tray. Cover with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes before adding the remaining vegetables. Cook for one more hour. By then the meat should be really tender.

Remove the meat, cover and rest. Transfer all the vegetables into a warmed bowl. Dissolve the flour in a little cold water and stir into the cooking liquids to make a gravy. Place the roasting tin onto the hob and let the gravy come to the boil and thicken. Check the seasoning, then pour into a serving dish.

Serve the leg of lamb on a warmed platter surrounded by all the veg.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Hummus with Cumin, Paprika and Fresh Coriander

There already is a basic hummus recipe in this blog but I do like this version so much I decided it deserved its own entry.

1 440 ml tin of chickpeas in water
3-4 tbsp tahini
juice of a lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground toasted cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove, squeezed through a garlic press

Drain the chickpeas but catch the liquor. You'll need about one-third of it to ensure the hummus is creamy rather than dry.

Place all the ingredients into the beaker that comes with your hand blender or into the food processor. Whizz and check the flavour.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Beetroot, Carrot and Strawberry Salad

We eat salad year round but I am looking forward to the warmer months when salad as a main dish is irresistable.

Today at the supermarket, I couldn't resist the shiny, plump looking strawberries from Spain but I should have shown some restraint. They taste only faintly of strawberries. Ach well, as we say in Scotland. I'm not going to waste them. Some of them, I spontaneously added to a side salad tonight.

I think that some toasted chopped walnuts would go well with this. For a non-vegan version, add chunks of buffalo mozzarella or goats cheese.

1 carrot
1 raw beetroot
1 handful of strawberries
1-2 tbsp fresh basil
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
2 tbsp balsamic
4 tbsp extra virgine olive oil
juice of half an orange

Peel the carrot and beetroot, then coarsely shred. Chop the herbs. Half the strawberries lengthways and slice. Mix the veg, herbs and fruit. Make the dressing and toss the salad. Leave to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Cooked vegetable salad with mozzarella and croutons

1 head of broccoli
frozen or fresh green beans
frozen or fresh peas
1 (buffalo) mozzarella
1 bunch of basil
2 tbsp red onion
olive oil

Cut the broccoli into florets and steam for 5 minutes. Steam the beans and peas for 3-5 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Drain and pat dry. Place into a serving bowl and dress with a generous amount of vinaigrette.

Finely chop the onion. Tear the basil and break the mozzarella into bite-sized chunks. Scatter over the vegetables and toss the salad.

Cut the bread into bite-sized pieces. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bread until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Top the salad with the croutons.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Fast(ish) Pizza

We love home made pizza but making a proper yeast dough takes time, even in the breadmaker. My other half runs a cooking group at work but there's no time to make a "proper" dough, cook and eat within 2 hours. Somewhere on the internet she found an alternative recipe. In fact, it's similar to a recipe for a Flammkuchen base I brought back from my last visit in Germany. So lately, we've been making a lovely, crusty pizza base with baking powder. We like it so much we're having pizza once a week these days.

With regards to the topping, we use a "standard" method: drained chopped tomatoes out of a tin and sautéd vegetables. We vary the veg, the cheeses, the meats (see the picture legends for details). I do recommend using drained tinned tomatoes rather than tomato purée which IMHO is vile as a pizza "sauce". Plus, it goes black in those areas that aren't covered with topping.

The recipe below is from a couple of days ago. Feel free to get creative or check out the photos and captions at the end of this post, which I keep adding.

BTW, for two servings we use just 300 g of flour but roll it out very thinly so it still covers most of the tin.

400 g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt, which we find far too much)
2 tsp baking powder
150 ml water
olive oil for brushing

1 tin of chopped tomatoes, drained of all the juice
freshly ground pepper
grated garlic
1/2 chili, deseeded
dried herbs (basil, oregano or Herbes de Provence)
1/2 courgette, cored and cut into strips
1/2 aubergine, cut into strips
1 pointed red pepper, cut into strips
1 bunch of spring onions, but into 4 cm pieces
1/2 chili, sliced
garlic, grated
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 mozzarella, cut into thin slices
1 kabanossi sausage, thinly sliced
parmesan shavings
olive oil

Mix flour, salt, baking powder and water until most of the water is absorbred. Then put on a floured worktop and knead until just workable and spreadable. This takes about 2 minutes. Add a little more water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency

Roll out on a floured surface and line your baking tray. Brush the dough with some olive oil to prevent the tomatoes from soaking in.

Sauté the courgette, aubergine, pepper, spring onion, garlic and chili in a little olive oil for about 10 minutes at a medium heat.

Mix the tomatoes, garlic and chili and season with pepper. Spread onto the base. Place the mozzarella slices on top of the tomatoes, then scatter the sautéd vegetables, kabanossi and sliced avocado over the mozzarella. Bake at 220 °C/gas mark 7 for 15 minutes. Scatter the parmesan over the top and bake for another 5 minutes.

Sautéd red onion and mushrooms, mozzarella slices and feta, chopped up cooked ham/ham sausage/Schinkenwurst, uncooked green asparagus, halved lengthways, drizzled with oil and seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper.
Sautéd red onion, pointed red and yellow peppers, salami slices (quartered), crumbled feta cheese.
Thinly spread tomato sauce, sautéd onion, red onion, red pointed pepper, quartered slices of salami-style chorizo, gorgonzola, fresh, finely chopped rosemary

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Cauliflower "Schnitzels" with Fruity Salsa

I was a vegetarian for 22 years, at times eating fish and at times eating vegan. Yet, I never felt the need to eat meat replacements. So no veggie sausages and the like for me. During my transition in the mid- to late 80's I tried soja mince and tofu but both left me cold. I realised that eating vegetarian food can be very satisfying and emulating your meat and two veg was completely unnecessary.

About five years ago, I started eating meat again because my body craved it though most of our meals are still vegetarian.

The other day I wondered what it would be like to do something different with cauliflower and the "schnitzels" – though I don't like calling them that but can't think of anything else –were the result. We had them tonight and, OMG, they were sooooo yummy. I think this may very well become one of our staples.

Instead of simply drizzling the schnitzels with lemon juice, I concocted a fruity salsa that is really gorgeous and would also go well with steamed or fried fish.

Cauliflower schnitzels:
1 cauliflower
bread crumbs
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
olive oil

Fruity salsa:
2 kiwis, finely cubed, half of the cubes mashed
zest of half a lime
juice of half a lime
juice and flesh of half an orange
1/2 red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
fresh coriander chopped, if at hand
1 tsp of honey

1.First  made the salsa by mixing all the above ingredients to give them a chance to marinate. I didn't have any coriander but think it would go really well with this salsa.

2. Next, I removed the leaves from the cauliflower and cut it into 2 cm thick slices. I cut off too much of the stalk and ended up with lots of bits and only two actual slices. Lesson learned.

3. Boils plenty of water, add salt and pepper and blanch the cauliflower for 3 minutes. Remove and plunge into iced water to prevent it from cooking further. Pat dry with paper towel or a clean dish towel.

4. Beat the egg in a deep plate, season with pepper and salt. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a dinner plate. Dip the cauliflower slices into the egg first and into the breadcrumbs next. Do the same with the remainder of the cauliflower

5. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the cauliflower schnitzels and florets over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they're golden and the vegetables are tender.

6. Serve with the salsa.