Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cabbage Soup, Tomato Ketchup, Cep Omelette and Huge Scones!

Well, I had visions of halcyon days, spent in meadows with picnics and joyful children, but somehow that didn't quite occur!  Ah well, we had a good time anyway.  Unfortunately, my beach hut was broken into and we haven't had access for all of August - boo hoo! But we managed to make it to the French Alps, and to Devon and a week in Poole, so we did pretty well.
Hope your holls were sunny and relaxing - I am spending the first day for 9 weeks alone - blissful!

My veggie patch is overflowing, especially with cabbage which I have never grown before and didn't really know when I should pick.  So now it stands about 3 feet tall!  I dug out a lovely book called, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen and found what turned out to be a delicious Cabbage Soup recipe - perfect for gluts of cabbage from the allotment.  Cabbage is a superfood - helps to combat cancer and all sorts of ailments from engorged breasts to prostate problems and contains the vitamins A, C, D and E in large quantities AND it is an amazing immune system booster.  We all need to eat more of this very underrated veg!
And I managed to make my annual batch of Tomato Ketchup - which I LOVE!   It is a labour of love and rather time consuming, but only because you have to boil it for about 4 hours.  If you fancy an afternoon of slow cooking, this is your baby!

It is the North Holmwood Village Day on Saturday, and my usual contribution is to make a large batch of scones for the cream teas.  I use a recipe by Paul Hollywood, master baker and all round good egg!  Check out his book, '100 Great Breads' - another delightful way to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen.  If you've never made bread, now is the time to start!  It is very theraputic and I guarantee you'll be successful and SO proud of yourself!  I run bread-making courses so get in contact if you're interested.

And finally, I am obsessed with foraging in the forest for food, so you can imagine my delight when I found out that my friend, Mel, has a fungus fetish!  I have always wanted to find out what fungi is good or bad to eat, and he gave me a Penny Bun or Cep.  I made the most lovely omlette with my mushroom and I am now hooked on looking for more!

Here are the recipes.

Cream of Cabbage Soup (serves 3-4)

1 leek, chopped and washed
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 knob of butter
8 largish cabbage leaves, thoroughly washed and shredded
2 medium potatoes, cubed
750ml of vegetable stock
large pinch of sea salt
A good grinding of fresh pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
4 tbs creme fraiche

Heat a large saucepan, and fry the leek and garlic in the butter until soft (about 5 minutes).   Add the shredded cabbage, potatoes, stock, seasoning and caraway seeds and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Puree in a blender and return to the saucepan.  Stir in the creme fraiche, check the seasoning and serve.

Tomato Ketchup

5kg ripe tomatoes
450g sugar
600ml white vinegar
1 tbs salt
1tsp each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and cook gently in a very large pan until softened (about 20-30 minutes)
Sieve the pulp and pour the puree into the pan.  Simmer this with all the other ingredients until thickened, about 4 hours (it will thicken in the jars) and pour into hot jars that you have sterilized before hand (see below).  Put the lids on loosely and place in the oven for about 30 minutes at 170 C to sterilize the ketchup.  Remove from the oven and do the lids up tightly.

To sterilize the bottles without using nasty chemicals, place them all on a baking tray in the oven set at about 120 C for about 30 minutes.  They will be hot and ready for you to pour in the ketchup.

Huge Scones (a la Paul Hollywood)

500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
30g baking powder
75g softened butter
2 eggs
230ml milk
100g sultanas

Place the flour, baking powder and butter into a food processor and pulse until 'breadcrumbed' (or rub in by hand).  Be very gentle and don't over mix.  Stir in the sugar, then add the eggs and milk and stir to combine.  Work the dough as little as possible.  Press out gently to about 4 cm deep and use a 5cm cutter to cut rounds.  Place these on a floured baking tray, leaving a little space between them.  Sprinkle with a little flour.  Bake in an oven set at 200 C for about 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden.
Serve with jam and cream (or is that cream and jam?)

My Mushroom Omlette  (serves one)

1 penny bun (or a handful of mushrooms)
1 tsp butter
2 eggs, beaten

Heat a small frying-pan and add the butter and mushrooms.  Cook until golden.  Turn the heat down and pour the eggs all around the pan.  Move the egg around so the mushrooms lift off the bottom and more egg is exposed to the hot pan below.  Cook as long as you like it.  I don't like runny egg, but the egg cooks a little more when you fold it over.  Slide on to a plate and devour with relish!

Have fun!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Carrot Cake, Pea and Leek Tart, Quinoa Salad, Green Soup and Gooseberry Fool

I have been a busy bee!  Hence my lack of posts.  But I'm making up for it with these delectable delights!
I had a catering job at the weekend; lunch for 12 on Saturday and Sunday (with the help of my beautiful assistant, Paula!).  It is amazing how much work is involved when you are catering for others on a professional basis, but I love doing it!  I love that people love my food - it makes me feel great to nourish others!
One of my dishes included Quinoa (pron: keenwah).  Quinoa is an amazing super food.  It is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, it has high levels of magnesium which relaxes muscles and blood vessels and therefore blood pressure; it contains fibre and lots of manganese and copper which act as antioxidants!  (Thanks bodyecology.com for the info!).  It tastes delicious too and is a great substitute for wheat.

Then I rolled out my Leek and Pea Tart, to sighs of delight, and a fail-safe Carrot Cake recipe.  Finally, I bought a load of gooseberries in the market and conjured up one of my child-hood favourites: Gooseberry Fool, mmmmm!

Here are the recipes:

Pea and Leek Tart                               Serves 6

300g plain flour
150g butter
pinch salt

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 6.  Rub the butter into the flour with the salt.  Add 2-3 tbs cold water and bring together to form a dough.  Roll out and fit into a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.  Bake blind for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, make the filling:

3 leeks, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped rosemary

Saute the leeks in the oil until softened, stir in the rosemary.

Crush or blend 250g thawed peas, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1  tbsp lemon juice.
Mix together 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 300ml double cream and season well.  Pour in the leeks and the pea puree and stir.  Spread  into the pastry case and bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 30-35 minutes until lightly set.

Carrot Cake
This recipe is adapted from 'brownies and bars' by Liz Franklin and is ideal for fetes and fairs and school events because it is baked in a 20 x 30cm tin.

250g butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
300g self-raising flour
3 large carrots, peeled and grated
2 tsp ground cinnamon
juice and zest of an orange
50g sultanas (optional)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs a little at a time until smooth, alternating with a tablespoon of flour.  Stir in the remaining flour, the grated carrot, the cinnamon and the orange juice and zest.  I process this mixture so the carrots are really mixed in.  The stir in the sultanas.
Tip into a parchment paper lined tin, smooth and bake for 50 minutes or until risen and golden.  Cool in the tin.
To make the topping, beat 250g mascarpone with 100g caster sugar and the remaining orange zest, then spread carefully over the cake.  You can also cut the cake and serve with little dollops of the topping, finished off with a piece of orange zest.

Green Soup
It's just dawned on me how useful a recipe this is with allotments about to start producing copious amounts of green veggies!  Delicious too and so good for you in a Popeye kind of way......

a large knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 courgettes, sliced
1 small potato, diced
a large handful of spinach, washed and roughly chopped
500ml or so of vegetable stock
some double cream
Fry the onion and garlic until golden.  Add the rest of the ingredients plus some broccoli if you have it, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Process in a food-processor until smooth, season to taste and serve with a swirl of double cream.

Gooseberry Fool

Take some gooseberries (about 250g) and place in a saucepan with a dash of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until they are all bursting.  Add sugar to taste.  Whip about half a pint (142ml or more) of double cream until softly stiff, then fold in the gooseberries.  Tip into glasses and chill until you want to serve.  You can also freeze this now for a delicious ice-cream, and you could use Elderflower Cordial instead of the dash of water.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Frittata, Pizza, Quick Pizza, Apple Cake, Meze

Well, the strangest thing happened this week.  I was invited for lunch at my friend Jen's house, and she cooked one of my recipes for me!  She cooked my Fritatta (May 2010) and it was delicious.  You know how it is; food that someone else has cooked usually tastes better than your own!  Thanks Jen!  The pic is a little steamy......

So, after a lack of inspiration, suddenly I seem to have cooked lots this week.  We love Pizza and I have developed a dough recipe that is easy and lovely.  It is very freezable, especially if you roll it out, spread with some tomato sauce and then bake for 5 minutes to 'set' it.
I have also included my 'instant' pizza recipe, using tortillas for the base.  Just Fill, Grill and Go!
I baked an apple cake this week too from Healthy Baby and Toddler Foods by Amanda Grant, a very useful book for alternatives to meat.  The cake used to be Barney's favourite..... yes, you've guessed it, he has now decided that he doesn't like it any more!  Ahhhhh!  It is a great way to use up those apples left in the fruit bowl, and is very portable for picnics.
Another good supper came about by accident.  I actually managed to have the ingredients for a Meze in the fridge!  Cold potatoes with mayonnaise, houmous, taramasalata, olives, roasted vegetables and some toasted pittas - hurrah!  (anyone know what hurrah is in Turkish or Greek?!).  I had lunch at the Jolly Farmers pub in Buckland, Surrey on Monday and they had a platter with delicious sauces like houmous and red pepper sauce, and a lovely little dish of marinaded feta cheese with chives, so I tried to make that myself.  See what you think.
And last but not least, tomato soup.  I had some tomatoes which were past their best in the bottom of the fridge and decided to make them into tomato soup.  Mm mm.
Pizza  (makes about 5)

500g strong white bread flour
12g fast-acting dried yeast
12g salt
300ml hand-hot water

Jar of tomato pasta sauce
Mozzarella x 2
Tuna, capers, olives, mushrooms, etc.

Mix all together to form a dough.  Knead (pull, push, fold) for about 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and mixed.
Now you can leave this to rise for about 20 minutes, or use it straight away.
Either way, flour your surface again and tip the dough out.  Divide into the desired pieces (4-5).  We always try to leave some to make dough-balls too.
Roll the dough into the shape you want, either thin and crispy or thicker and more deep-pan.  Place on an oiled baking tray and add the toppings you like.  I use a jar of pasta sauce for speed spread very thinly, mozzarella sliced thinly, tuna, capers, olives, pepperoni, whatever you like. 
Bake in a hot oven (210 degrees/Gas Mark 7-8) for about 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is bubbling.
For the Dough Balls, cut the piece of dough into rough shapes and place on an oiled baking tray.  Bake alongside the pizzas.  Drizzle some garlic butter or butter over them and eat!

Instant Pizzas

Tortilla wraps (as many as you need)
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
Other topping that don't need much cooking

Simply heat your grill.  Spread the tomato on to the tortilla, add the toppings and grill until the mozzarella is melted.  Watch them all the time because the tortillas burn easily!

Apple Cake

310g self-raising flour
180g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp all-spice
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
115g butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml milk
1 egg
2-3 eating apples (no need to peel)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.
In a bowl or a food processor, sift the flour, sugar and spices together.  Rub in the butter.  Spread half of this mixture into a greased 20cm square cake tin.  Pat down evenly.
Dissolve the bicarb. in the milk.  Add the beaten egg and some chopped apple and add all of it to the remaining flour mixture.  Combine well and pour into the tin.  Slice the apples, then arrange on top and bake for 45 minutes until golden.  Carefully, cut into slices.


Houmous (mine was shop-bought!)
Taramasalata (ditto!)
Cold, cooked potatoes, sliced and mixed with mayonnaise and capers
Cold roasted Mediterranean vegetables (courgette, aubergine, peppers, mushrooms, sweet potato cut into cubes and roasted in olive oil and garlic for about 30 mins)
Feta cheese, cut into cubes, dowsed in olive oil and mixed with chopped chives and pepper.
Pitta bread, toasted and cut into fingers

Tomato Soup

A knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp celery salt or a stick of celery, chopped
8 tomatoes or a 400g tin
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
150ml vegetable stock

In a medium saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in the butter until soft.  Add the celery salt or celery, tomatoes, ketchup and stock and simmer for 15 minutes.  Whizz in a blender until smooth, then season to taste.
Better than a can!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Spaghetti with Prawns, Lasagne and Chocolate Brownies

Well, another very hectic week here in Dorking!  I always forget how busy the summer term is, what with cricket seemingly every night of the week and swimming and May Queen festivals and Prize Days, the list goes on!  My ability to cook every night is somewhat diminished, but here are a couple of quick and easy recipes to keep you going.  I made some brownies last weekend and my friend, Beth, requested the recipe - Happy Cooking!

Spaghetti with Prawns

2 red chillies, remove the seeds
2 cloves garlic
400g spaghetti
olive oil
12 large prawns preferably raw
a knob of butter
a large handful of rocket
1 lemon, juiced

Using a pestle and mortar, crush the chilli and garlic with a pinch of salt.
Cook the pasta until al dente, 8 minutes for spaghetti.
Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp of oil over a high heat.  Fry the chilli paste for 30 seconds then add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, a handful of rocket, lemon juice and the pasta.  Toss to mix and serve with extra rocket on top.

Easy Lasagne

1 box lasagne sheets
Olive oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Splash of red wine
400g tin tomatoes
Some fresh herbs
500g creme fraiche (I use half-fat)
3 handfuls of finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for the top
1-2 balls of mozzarella, diced

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 7.  Fry the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan until soft.  Add the garlic, stir, then add the red wine.  Cook for 2 minutes until the liquid is reduced.  Add the tomatoes and herbs and season well.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, tip the creme fraiche into a bowl and add the Parmesan and lots of seasoning.
When the tomato sauce is done, put two spoonfuls into the base of a shallow oven dish and place three sheets of lasagne on top.  Spread a quarter of the tomato over and then some dollops of the creme fraiche.  Sprinkle some mozzarella over.  Repeat these layers, making sure you keep a little of the creme fraiche sauce for the top.  Spread the remaining sauce over the lasagne sheets, right to the edges.  Sprinkle over some Parmesan and any mozzarella left and bake for 35 minutes until oozing and crispy on the top.

Everyday Chocolate Brownies (from Brownies and Bars by Liz Franklin)

250g butter
500g caster sugar
100g cocoa powder
4 eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour (use wholewheat to even out your energy levels)

Melt the butter, caster sugar and cocoa in a large saucepan.  Add the eggs and beat to mix well.  Add the flour and mix.  Tip into a baking tin 20x25cm or so, lined with parchment paper, and bake for 35 minutes at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Allow to cool, if you can, and cut into squares.  Dust with icing sugar for a professional effect!
These keep in a tin for at least 3 days, and even then are just a little dry around the edges and perfectly acceptable.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Vegetable Curry, Stuffed Tomatoes and Sticky Chicken

I succumbed to Football Mania this weekend..... or at least, had some people round for the lads to watch it and the ladies to sit and chat!  I made some curries and bought some from Waitrose because it was the Crowning of the May Queen at Jolie's school that morning, so the whole day was rather hectic.  In fact, I don't think I have recovered yet, because Sunday was Jake's birthday party!  Phew!
Anyway, here is my Veggie Curry recipe, which went down very well, and I had a request to include it here (thanks Jane!).  Tonight, I couldn't decide what to do, so I threw some chicken thighs in the oven covered with BBQ sauce and, Voila!, Sticky Chicken.  The children wolfed it down, which makes a change.  I was so fed up the other day that I was going to post the fact that Jolie only really eats chocolate, pesto pasta and roast potatoes.... no wonder she is a skinny-biffer!
And then we have Stuffed Tomatoes.  My friend (another Jane) is cutting down on the amount of wheat she eats because she feels so much better.  It made me realise just how much I consume, and think that I 'need', so I tried some quinoa (pron: keenwah) in some lovely, beefy tomatoes that were perfectly ripe for a change.  Lovely.
Have fun!

Vegetable Curry (forgot to take a pic!)

4 cooked potatoes, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 a cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs curry paste (I love Bart's Veeraswamy Gujarat Masala paste, from any supermarket)
1 courgette, sliced
1 tin tomatoes
4 tbs double cream

Boil the carrots and cauliflower for 5 minutes, until tender but still with some bite, and drain.
Fry the onion in the oil until soft.  Add the curry paste and stir. 
Add the cooked vegetables, the courgette and the tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add some seasoning.  Stir in the cream right at the last minute and serve with rice.

Sticky Chicken

Chicken thighs
HP Original BBQ Sauce (Classic Woodsmoke Flavour)

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees/Gas Mark 8.  Slash the thighs a couple of times and smother in a dollop of sauce each.  Then bake in the oven for 35 mins until sticky and caramelised. 

Stuffed Tomatoes

1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 courgette, finely diced 
6 mushrooms, finely chopped
Handful of fresh herbs: chives, sage, oregano
3 slices of halloumi cheese, diced
1 cup of quinoia (or basmati rice)
4 large beef tomatoes
4 slices of Emmental cheese

Tip the quinoia into a saucepan and add 2 cups of boiling water.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes and drain.  
Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil until soft, then add the courgette and mushrooms.  Stir until starting to soften, then add the herbs, halloumi and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the quinoia and mix well.
Cut a 'lid' off each tomato, scrape out the seeds and pulp.  Fill each one with a good helping of the quinoia mixture, place a slice of cheese on top and bake in a hot oven (220 degrees/Gas Mark 8) for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.  Lovely!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Home-made Ravioli, Cherry Buns, Turkish Beans and Frittata

I don't cook for a while, and then I cook everything at once!  Had a very hectic weekend just gone with my friend Gill's new shop opening on Saturday - the Fluffatorium in West Street in Dorking.  She is dealing with all things fluffy, is an expert felt-maker and felt-artist and is also stocking knitting yarn.  I am the knitting coach so sign up for some blissful time, click-clacking and eating cup-cakes with me!  Knitting is peaceful, calming and allows you time for inspiration to seep into your otherwise hectic mind (it is for me, anyway).  It is a meditation without having to get into the lotus postion and light incense sticks!  Check out her website at www.gilliangladrag.co.uk

Cooked a few things this week, although I lost the plot tonight and used up some beefburgers, new potatoes and peas for the children!  I made a frittata for myself, using up bits and pieces from the fridge.  Frittatas are great because they are wonderful hot or cold, so ideal for the next day's lunch-box, or for a picnic.  Try this recipe, and you won't look back......
Then, I have been trying to reduce the amount of sugar my kids are eating, and haven't had biscuits or cakes in the house.  It's done a world of good, to me if no-one else!  But they have just finished a week of exams, so I baked some Cherry Buns for when they came home.  So comforting and lovely, they remind me of when I was small, sitting on a stile, having a break from walking with Mrs. Shelton and Steven her nephew on a Saturday afternoon.  Lovely!


1 onion, chopped
1 tbs oil
1/2 a courgette, coarsely grated
1/2 a carrot, finely grated
a handful of pine-nuts
a cup of peas, preferably defrosted, but ok frozen (or spinach)
5 eggs, beaten in a jug
a splash of double cream
a grating of cheese (I used emmental)

Fry the onion in the oil in a frying pan about 25-27cm across.  When soft, add the grated courgette, stir for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle the carrot evenly across the pan, then sprinkle on the peas and pine-nuts.  Pour the egg mixture over, pushing the ingredients down a little and season generously.  Leave to cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.  Preheat the grill.  Grate some cheese over the surface of the frittata and grill until the top is beginning to turn golden-brown.  Serve with the Turkish Beans below.

Turkish Beans

This recipe came with my organic veg. box this week (www.greenergreens.com), along with some flat green beans.  You can try it with any kind of green bean, especially when you have a glut of runners later in the year!  I have lost the recipe, but this is the gist of it.

1 onion, chopped
25ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
100ml stock
400g green beans, cut to fit your saucepan
1 tbs sugar (do put this in, it makes all the difference)

Fry the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and stir, then add the tomatoes, stock, beans and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and 3/4 cover.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Season to taste.  This dish should really be kept in the fridge overnight and served cool.

Cherry Buns

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 a tub of un-dyed (what is that about?) glace cherries

Process all but the cherries together until smooth.  Cut the cherries into quarters, place into the processor and whizz for 10 seconds to mix.  Spoon the mixture into 12 cake cases and bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 15-18 minutes.  Eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle, or leave to cool!

I will post Home-made Ravioli tomorrow!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Leek and Vegetable Soup and Cheesy Dampers

Just spent the night camping with my lovely friends in Michelle's paddock.  Spent a lovely evening around the campfire, with marshmallows and damper bread on sticks - takes me back to Guide Camp and making out tea over an open fire, so blissful!

So, home again with a glut of vegetables and several bags of marshmallows later, I need some nutrition!  Aha, Leek and Vegetable Soup, with leftover damper bread dough, to which I added cheese.  I will give you my verdict later!  I think people are afraid of soup - for no reason atall.  It is so simple to create and full of vital nutritious ingredients, which you can enhance by adding lentils, or bacon, or chicken or whatever you have in the 'fridge really.  Have a go and you will see how lovely and spirit warming a bowl of your own soup can be.

Leek and Vegetable Soup

4 medium leeks, sliced and washed
a knob of butter
2 carrots, cubed
a head of broccoli, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, cubed (I don't always peel them)
Enough stock to cover the vegetables
Seasoning and as many fresh herbs as you can get

Fry the leeks in the butter in a large saucepan, until they are soft and golden - about 8 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, add the herbs and puree if desired.  Add a swirl of cream or milk to bring the soup to your favourite consistency.

Cheesy Damper Bread

300g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
50ml water
a good grating of cheese (about 35 grates)

Mix all together, adding water little by little until the dough comes together.  You don't want it to be too sticky.  Tear small handfuls off and form into rounds.  Flatten slightly and place on a baking tray.  Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Eat immediately with a bowl of soup.

Alternatively, find a clean stick and wrap the dough firmly around the end.  Hold over the embers until crusted all over.  Remove from the stick and eat with lashings of cold butter!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Patatas Bravas, Fried Squid, Flapjacks and Beetroot Salad

An unlikely mix, to be sure!  Time was short this week, so here is a sample of what I have been cooking.  A lovely friend (hi Diana!) today wanted to know what to do with vegetables; ideas for new ways to eat our five-a-day.  I am someone who tries to plan what I am going to cook, and then just at the last minute I am inspired to do something completely different!  And the fact that I have a vegetable box each week means I have to be somewhat flexible, not knowing quite what I'm going to get.  If you have a question or a query, please ask, because you will by no means be the only one wondering what to do with your glut of courgettes or a strange looking thing like a kohl-rabi!
On to the recipes.  I have just been reading Jamie Oliver's new book, 'Jamie does....Spain, Italy, Sweden, etc'.  What a lovely, enthusiastic and inspiring man.  I actually found some squid in Waitrose, and decided to do some tapas.  Here is my interpretation of his recipe.

Patatas Bravas (Fierce potatoes)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked off
1 tsp each paprika, fennel seeds and salt
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled (or one fresh, finely chopped)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 tbs sherry vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Parboil the potato pieces for about 15 minutes, until nearly done.  Drain.
In a pan, add 2 tbs olive oil and the onion and 3 cloves of garlic.  cook for 5 minutes then add the chillies, thyme leaves and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, sherry vinegar and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a frying-pan, add some olive oil and fry the potatoes until coloured on all sides (about 10 minutes).  Add the rosemary and 2 cloves of chopped garlic, cook for another 5 minutes then remove from the heat.  Sprinkle over the paprika, fennel seeds and a pinch of salt.
Finally, tip the sauce over the potatoes (you can liquidize if you like) and stir gently.  Season to taste.

Serve this with:

Baby Squid

100g plain flour
300g baby squid (cleaned, and I cut them into rings)
vegetable oil
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Season the flour with a big pinch of salt and pepper, then toss the squid until coated.
Heat a pan with enough oil to cover the bottom.  The oil will be hot enough when a small piece of bread starts to sizzle.  Lower the squid pieces carefully into the oil and fry, turning so both sides are golden brown.  Tip on to some kitchen paper to drain, then serve with the parsley and lemon.

I have found a great flapjack recipe, having searched for a long time!  They are sweet enough without being sickly, and firm enough without being too crunchy - delicious!

Flapjacks (adapted from a recipe by Liz Franklin in 'brownies and bars')

Melt together:
180g butter
180g soft brown sugar
3tbs golden syrup
1 tbs honey

When thoroughly melted, mix in:
375g porridge oats and 50g cornflakes.

Tip into a tin measuring 20 x 30cm, lined with parchment paper, and bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes.  Leave to cool and then cut into squares.  Makes about 18.

And finally.......

This week I entertained my lovely 'Ladies Who Lunch'; old friends from Pre-school days.  I cooked the asparagus tart again (I love asparagus, see previous blog for recipe) and had some raw beetroot hanging around.  Here is what I came up with - for you Corrie!

Beetroot and Carrot Salad

1 large, fresh beetroot
2 carrots
1 squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp grainy mustard
a handful of mixed nuts and seeds (pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Waitrose does a packet)

Finely grate the beetroot and carrot, then mix in all the rest, seasoning to taste.  Enjoy!  (Took the picture at the last mouthful!)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Salmon Tart and Frittatas

I spent the weekend catering for 19 lunches on Saturday and Sunday, phew!  People were so enthusiastic about what I produced, which was simple but completely home-made.  And I think that is the difference.  People are so used to being offered shop-bought quiche, coleslaw and cake that when they are given the real thing they are over the moon!  It really isn't much effort to whizz up coleslaw, but it does take a little forethought and a little extra time.  The problem is, we have been seduced by this 'live fast, buy lots of things we don't need but can't live without, constant mobile phone presence' life.  I am really bucking against it, even though I have a Blackberry.  For the first time really in my life I am taking time out each day to walk my dog and to be solitary in nature, just me and my thoughts.  I am finding more and more that I need this space to keep my sanity, and actually, I still have friends even though I didn't vacuum the house this morning!

Anyway, I am feeling calmer at least!  Here are two lovely recipes.  Smoked Salmon Tart is delicious and really quite impressive, and the Frittatas are tarts without the pastry!  Be creative because once you know how to make a tart, the variations are endless!  (The picture has some spinach put into the case with the salmon).

Smoked Salmon Tart   (Quiche Lorraine if you use fried bacon and onions!)

One pastry case (25-27cm or a similar sized tin)
200g plain flour
100g butter
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tbs cold water

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 5.  Using a food-processor, mix the flour, butter and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs, or by hand, rub the butter into the flour then mix in the salt.  Add the water (you may need a little more but don't make the pastry too wet) until a dough is formed.  Roll out to 5cm larger than your tin.  Place over and push the edges gently down the sides to touch the corner, all the way round.  Leave some over hanging and place in the oven for 10 minutes.  Trim the pastry with a sharp knife slicing horizontally.

Now the filling:

250g  packet of smoked salmon
7 eggs, made up to 750ml with
double cream and milk
Seasoning and paprika
Fresh herbs of your choice: chives, oregano, marjoram, basil, etc. all snipped or chopped

Mix all the above but the salmon together and pour into your pastry case.  Cut the salmon into strips and arrange prettily, making sure it is spread evenly.  Season the top with salt and pepper and  a little paprika.  Bake for around 35-40 minutes, until golden brown on top and there is no wobble.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Frittatas (Thanks Emma!)  (Makes 12)

8 eggs
125ml double cream
50ml milk
2 red onions
A handful of cooked spinach
A carrot, finely grated
A packet of pine-nuts
12 thin strips of smoked salmon
Ground paprika

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 5.  Fry the onions in a little oil until softened.  Grease or line a deep 12-hole muffin tin with squares of parchment paper.  Layer the onion, spinach and carrot between the holes,  season with salt and pepper and top with a sprinkling of pine-nuts.  Mix the eggs, cream and milk and season well.  Pour the egg mixture into each muffin case, trying not to spill any over the edge (makes it harder to take them out).  Place a strip of salmon on each muffin, sprinkle with paprika and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed-up.


1/4 savoy cabbage
2 carrots
1/4 red onion

Slice the cabbage and onion as finely as you can.  Grate the carrots and mix all together with mayonnaise until you reach your desired consistency.  Keeps in the 'fridge for a few days, just mix well when serving.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Asparagus Tart

Just been on a lovely trip to the beach with Barney's class!  Thank you for taking me - I hadn't been to Birling Gap and it was beautiful!  The boys were all very pleasant to be with and very well-behaved.

As we were walking to the sea, I spied some sea kale, which I had read about but not recognised before.  While no-one was looking, I picked a handful and we ate it for tea this evening; more iron than Pop-eye could shake a stick at!  (Barney declared it poisonous and didn't eat any.... )  Jake and I thought it was lovely; a cross between spinach and curly kale.

Moving on (!), I cooked this tart last Friday, adapted from a recipe by Lucas Hollweg.  As I love to cook as much asparagus as possible during it's short season, I am always keen to try new ways to eat it.  It is very simple and very tasty.

Asparagus Tart

250g asparagus, ends snapped off
a knob of butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced and washed
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
1 packet of puff pastry
1 egg
100ml cream
50g parmesan cheese, grated
Some prociutto ham, torn

Heat the oven to 220 degrees/Gas Mark 7.  Par boil the asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain and cover with cold water for a few seconds to stop them cooking, then drain again.  Cook the leeks and garlic in a knob of butter until soft. 

Roll out the puff pastry into a recangle, about 40x15cm.  Score a  line around the edge without cutting through about 1 cm wide.  Bake for 5 minutes until a little raised.  Remove from the oven and press down the centre rectangle.  Mix the egg, cream, cheese and seasoning. 

Spread the leeks over the base of the tart, then pour in the cream mixture, making sure it doesn't spill.  Arrange the asparagus in lines on the cream and place the ham on top.
Cook for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.  Leave for a few minutes before eating!

A variation on the theme is Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Tart.

Use the same method, but instead of the cream mixture, us 250g goat's cheese, such as Chevre, thinly sliced and arrange over the pastry.  Top with the asparagus, brush the border with milk or beaten egg and bake for about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lamb Koftas and Home-made Naan

My son, Jake (nearly 12) had a cookery session at school last week.  He loves to cook and was very enthusiastic about the ladies who were running the class, Kids Can Cook (Find them at www.kidscancook.com).  A group of about nine boys produced Lamb Koftas, with Naan Bread and Raita and then ate the lot!
So, I decided he could produce it for our tea yesterday.  What a stress (for me!), and what a Success!
Very easy to assemble and to cook, we managed it in around 30 minutes, probably eating within about 40 minutes - pretty good for a weekday!  Have a go.  The Naan taste very authentic because of the onion seeds, and they are So Easy to make.

Lamb Koftas

300g minced lamb
half medium onion, finely chopped
1.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika

olive oil for frying
Grated carrot and finely chopped lettuce

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Grate the ginger and garlic and add all the ingredients to the bowl.  Wet your hands and roll into balls, just smaller than a golf ball.
Gently fry in the olive oil until browned and cooked right through.
Serve with naan bread.

Naan Bread

350g self-raising flour
1 tsp black onion seeds
3/4 tsp salt
25g butter, melted
230ml half yoghurt/half water

Mix all the ingredients until just combined.  Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat another frying pan (or heat the grill).  Cut the dough into 4-5 pieces and roll to 3-4mm thick.  Dry fry in the pan.
Split and serve with the koftas and raita.


250g plain yoghurt
10cm cucumber, chopped finely
pinch salt
pinch cumin
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and serve.

I also had a go at these again!  And this time was quite successful!

A can of drained chickpeas
A small onion, chopped
splash of olive oil
1 egg
2 grated carrots
salt and pepper
pinch of cumin powder

Whizz everything in a food-processor until pureed.  Fry in oil until browned on each side, then serve with the above.


Somerset Apple Cake

What a delicious cake!  It is moist enough to be a pudding, and the cider-soaked sultanas and lemon zest lift this cake to something really special. You have to start this the day before and soak the sultanas in the cider overnight. The recipe is from long ago in my recipe book, hence the imperial measurements! 

8oz caster sugar
6oz butter
10oz plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
zest of a lemon
2 large Bramley apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
6oz sultanas
5 floz dry cider

Heat the oven to 160degrees/gas mk 4.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Fold in the dry ingredients, lemon zest and thinly sliced apples.  Add the sultanas.
Tip into a lined 20cm cake tin and bake for about 1 hour until golden brown on top.
Cool and serve with sweetened, whipped cream!

Chocolate Crispy Squares
Last, but not least, I rustled up some of these for a sweet treat.  They take all of 10mins to make!

3 Mars Bars
2oz butter
3oz rice crispies

Melt the butter in a medium pan.  Add the Mars Bars and stir until melted.  Add the rice crispies and coat thoroughly with the chocolate.  Tip into a 20cm square tin and put in the 'fridge to set.  Yum!