David and I disagree about this salad. Both of us love the crunch and the sweetness of the vegetables and both of us think the colour is fantastic. We do not, however, agree on the dressing. He prefers a zingy gingery flavour; I like a kick of mustard.
See what you think.
Shredded Beetroot and Carrot Salad
(serves 4 as a side)
3 medium beetroot, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
- Simply use a mandoline to shred the vegetables finely. (Unless you have incredible knife skills, a mandoline is what is required here. Grating makes the whole dish a bit wet.)
- Toss with one of the following dressings (you may not want to use all the dressing) and sprinkle with the matching herb.
Dressing 1 – Mix together the juice of one lime, a teaspoon of grated ginger and 25ml groundnut oil. Top salad with coriander.
Dressing 2 – Mix together 1/2 tspn Dijon mustard, 1 tblspn white wine vinegar and 4 tblspn olive oil. Top with parsley.
A lovely loaf cake that keeps fresh for days. Nice sliced and spread with butter; even better toasted and topped with ricotta.
Apple, Date and Walnut Loaf (Adapted from Bill Granger’s Everyday)
50g rolled oats
1 tspn cinnamon
250g self raising flour
100g dates, chopped
75g dried apple, chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
75g soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tspn mixed seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180oC.
- Add the cinnamon to the milk and stir. Soak the oats in the milk for 20 mins to soften.
- Sift the baking powder and flour into a bowl then add the dried fruit and nuts. Stir to combine then add the sugar, egg and milk soaked oats. Stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Sprinkle over the seeds the bake for 45.
I love Nigel Slater. That is all.
Rosemary, Aubergine & Cannellini Bake (adapted from The Kitchen Diaries II)
Serves 2 as a main or 3/4 as a side dish.
200g dried cannellini beans, soaked for at least 12 hours
2 Bay leaves
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm chunks
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn chopped fresh rosemary
400g tin of cherry tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes)
1 thick slice of bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
Handful of grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of ½ lemon
- Heat oven to 200oC. I like to salt the aubergine at this point. Just sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander for 30 mins. Use a clean tea towel to squeeze out the moisture from the chunks before step 3.
- Add beans to a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain the beans, rinse then cover with water once again and adtd the bay leaves. Bring to the boil then simmer for 40 mins or until beans are just tender.
- Meanwhile, toss the aubergine in a little olive oil and roast for 20-30 mins until golden brown. Keep an eye on them in the oven and move them around every now and again.
- At the same time, fry the onion gently in a little olive oil in a heavy based, oven/stove friendly pot until golden brown. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the beans, aubergine, tomatoes and 200ml water to the onions and stir well. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parmesan lightly and season with pepper. Sprinkle evenly over bean mixture.
- Reduce oven temperature to 180oC. Bake bean dish for 45 mins until crust is golden and the beans are bubbling.
As much as I enjoyed my weekend of scone hunting, cooked breakfasts, seven course meals (really) and other food based indulgences, it is good to come home to my own kitchen and some lighter meals. One of our favourite meals at the moment is the below Sabzi Bhaji, a mixed vegetable curry which is extremely tasty, very filling and very good for you too. I tend to cook a big pot each month and freeze double portions for weeknight meals. This week, however, we’ve been enjoying it so much we’re gradually working our way through the pot I made on Wednesday afternoon and neither of us are even nearly fed up of it. Luckily, it’s not a very calorific dish so it’s helping us atone for all the black pudding that was consumed last weekend.
(makes 6 portions)
2 tblspn oil, ghee or groundnut or vegetable
3 onions, chopped
2 inches of ginger root, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large potato or two small, peeled and chopped into 1.5 cm dice
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1.5 cm dice
1 cup of frozen peas
1/4 head of white cabbage, sliced and cut into 3cm strips
100g green beans, cut into 2cm bits
400g tin of chickpeas
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tblspn garam masala
Optional – Coriander and yoghurt to serve
- Whizz two of the onions, the garlic and ginger in a blender until they form a rough paste.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the paste and fry for 10 mins to soften the onions, stirring often.
- Add the spices to the pan and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes adding a splash of water if the mixture starts to stick.
- Add all of the vegetables including the chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan. Fill the tomato tin with water and pour it in too. The liquid should be just below the top of the vegetables. Stir well to combine.
- Bring to a boil then quickly reduce the heat. Simmer for 45 mins – 1 hour until all the veg is tender then stir in the garam masala.
- Serve topped with yoghurt and coriander alongside some flat breads or basmati rice.
A bright but blustery Sunday morning has turned into a rather dark, threatening afternoon. Icy plops of rain are falling and the bare birch trees across the road are swaying in an increasingly strong wind. I don’t mind though. Marco’s been walked and I’ve already been for a run. There’s nothing I need do other than read my book (The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler), drink peppermint tea and make soup for the week ahead. Nice.
Today’s soup will be a wintery minestrone (this one). More often than not, however, I’ve been making the below soup. It’s David’s current favourite. He likes his soups hearty and, in this weather, so do I.
Chorizo, Spinach and Chickpea Soup
150g chorizo, skinned and chopped into small cubes
2 celery sticks, chopped finely
2 onions, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tspn smoked paprika
½ tspn cayenne pepper (optional – really not necessary if your paprika is spicy)
½ cup brown rice
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500g frozen, chopped spinach (Whole leaf is fine too but it will need to be defrosted then chopped finely first. Fresh spinach should be chopped finely first too.)
1.5 litres of stock (ham for preference but vegetable or chicken is fine too)
- Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan. Throw in the chorizo and cook over a medium heat until the chorizo releases its fat. Add the onion and celery and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and smoked paprika. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the chickpeas and brown rice. Stir well.
- Finally, add the tomatoes, spinach and stock. Simmer gently for an hour then taste for seasoning. It’s unlikely to need salt but a grinding of pepper would be good.
Parsnips last week, parsnips this week. I’m in a parsnip place right now…
I often like to make Bill Granger’s LA Burgers on a Saturday night. They’re lovely juicy patties made with pork mince and fennel then topped with roasted peppers and rocket. He recommends serving them with sweet potato chips (non-Brits: I’m talking about fries here not crisps) and, sometimes, I do. But they never get crispy enough for me to be able to dip in ketchup. Not good. Normal chips, which I generally love, ruin the freshness of the meal for me, however. It’s a dilemma…
No, it’s not! Parsnip chips are the way to go. Garlic and rosemary parsnip chips, to be precise. I’m a fan. Think you will be too.
Garlic and Rosemary Chips
(serves 2 as a side)
2 large parsnips
1 tblspn olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of peppercorns
¼ tspn chopped rosemary
1 small garlic clove
- Preheat oven to 200 oC
- Peel the parsnips and cut into chips half the length of the whole veg and half an inch wide.
- In a mortar and pestle, bash together the peel garlic clove, rosemary, peppercorns and salt to form a rough paste. Stir in the olive oil then toss the parsnips with the mixture.
- Lay the parsnips out on a baking tray making sure you don’t crown them. Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown.
My favourite cookbook of last year was undoubtedly Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Everyday Veg. Lots of lovely workable, unfussy ideas for veggie meals and snacks. It’s barely been off my cookbook stand since I got it and is already covered in splatters and splodges of various foodstuffs. Always a good sign.
One of the recipes we’ve come back to time and time again is the Lentil, Parsnip and Watercress Salad. Unusual combination but it’s a cracker of a dish.
Simply toss around 5 peeled and roughly chopped parsnips in a little olive oil then roast for 25 mins in a 200 oC oven until golden brown and slightly caramelised. Meanwhile boil 125g of puy lentils in water with a couple of bay leaves and an onion. Drain, remove the bay and onion then toss the hot lentils with a honey, garlic and mustard dressing. Allow the lentils and parsnips to cool a little (the salad is best warm rather than hot) then top with generous handfuls of watercress.
We dished this up for a couple of lunch guests recently with a Spanish tortilla, rye bread and hummus.
I heard some disturbing news recently. It seems there may be a shortage of Brussels sprouts this winter. Hooray, cheer children and sprout haters throughout the land; boo hiss boo, says me. They’re dinky wee cabbages. What’s not to love?
Hopefully, the rumours aren’t true as we are crazy about stir fried sprouts at the moment. Simply fry some garlic and chilli (more than you think you’ll need) in a pan then add a great big pile of shredded sprouts. Cook over a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes until the greens soften, adding a splash of water if necessary.
We’ve been eating this side dish recently alongside spicy bean enchiladas. Perfect for munching on the sofa on cold, dark December nights.
(Thanks to Katrina for the photo!)
This is a lovely starter to make for guests. Not only can everything apart from the chips be prepared a day in advance (in fact, the flavours improve after a night in the fridge), it’s also pretty healthy and is a nice social start to dinner with friends.
Last time I made this I followed it with lamb tagine with couscous and salad for a main and a pistachio cake with yoghurt for dessert. It was really rather good, if I do say so myself!
Middle Eastern Dips with Pita Chips
(serves 4 generously)
6 pita bread
2 garlic cloves
2 tblspn tahini
1 small lemon
Salt and pepper
- Heat an oven to 220 oC. Prick the aubergine all over (do NOT forget this part unless you want to be scraping exploded aubergine off you oven for hours) and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 45 mins until all squidgy inside.
- Let aubergine cool slightly then scrap the fleshy insides into a bowl. Add the garlic, tahini and the juice of half a lemon. Mash together thoroughly then season. Add extra lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
- Pour a little extra virgin olive oil over the dip before serving.
4 red peppers
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tspn chilli powder
1/4 tspn cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tspn pomegranate molassess (or honey, if it’s easier)
Salt and pepper
- Roast the pepper and remove their skins. I use this method.
- Pop everything except the olive oil and seasoning in a blender. Blend until combined. Season carefully. Turn the blender back on then add oil a little at a time until the mixture becomes a uniform texture
Does the world need another hummus recipe? Possibly… I use this one though (GREAT series of food articles).
Get the nice ones.
We visited Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Barbecoa, in London during the summer and were very impressed. The service was relaxed and friendly, the view of St Paul’s was spectacular and the food was excellent. Afterwards, as we walked back to our friends’ flat in the warm city night, David and I discussed our highlights. For me, it was my starter: a watercress, apple and walnut salad with a blue cheese dressing. For David, the highlight was his main of pulled pork with waffles and barbecue sauce. He loved it and, ever since, has been badgering me to make it at home.
So I did. And it was amazing.
Though it is delicious and a crowd-pleaser and ridiculously simple to make, it’s also very, very indulgent! If you are dieting or watching your weight, I advise you to just step away from the recipe. Once tried, it’ll be hard not to make again. And again. And again.
1.5 kg pork shoulder (skin on and scored)
300g barbecue sauce
200ml white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 200 oC.
- Rub the pork joint generously with salt and pepper. Place into a heavy casserole dish and pour over the vinegar then the barbecue sauce.
- Place the lid on the dish and pop in the oven for 4 hours, removing every hour to baste.
- After four hours remove from the oven. If, like me, you would like to reduce the fat content of the dish ever so slightly, carefully remove the excess skin from the top of the pork and pour off the excess oil that will be surrounding the meat. Be careful not to pour away any of the sauce though! If you don’t care about, move on to the next step.
- Use a couple of forks to shred the meat which should pull apart very, very easily then toss with the barbecue sauce which will have caramelised beautifully around the meat.
- Serve in buns with coleslaw and sweet potato fries.