Friday, 30 April 2010

Leek and Potato Pie

Everyone likes pies. Well, maybe not everyone, but everyone should and leek and potato pies are a good traditional vegetarian combination.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 leeks, washed, outer layer removed and thinly sliced
  • 3 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 medium potatoes, washed and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200ml cold water
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Fry the onion, leek and celery in 1 tbsp of sunflower oil for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Add the potatoes, wine, bay leaves and nutmeg and turn the heat down to low.
  4. Leave the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. While simmering you can make the pastry. First mix the flour and sunflower oil together until there's no obvious lumps of oil.
  6. Add the water a bit at a time. Mix it well between adding water but stop adding water when the mixture starts to hold it's shape. You want to have the dough slightly sticky as it will dry out as you kneed it.
  7. Flour a surface and kneed the dough with the palm of your hand for a couple of minutes. To kneed you should push down on the dough to flatten it a bit, then turn it, flip it over and fold it slightly.
  8. Once the dough is a nice texture split it in two and roll each half out flat into a circle.
  9. Place one of these circles in a pre-greased dish which can hold about 1.5 litres.
  10. Hopefully by now the filling will be done simmering, so place that inside the dish. Pick out the three bay leaves that you added before simmering it.
  11. Use the last circle of dough/pastry to form a lid to the pie. It will stick more easily to the pastry already in the dish if you wet the edges of the pastry in the dish with some cold water.
  12. Poke a hole in the top of the pie so that air can escape in the oven.
  13. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry starts to crisp up.
 
Serves 3 to 4.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Butternut Squash Pasta

Roasted butternut squash has a wonderful flavour and texture which goes really nicely as a pasta sauce. The slight sweetness of the squash goes really well with the nutmeg.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 150g creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 250g pasta
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Place the butternut squash cut side down on a greased baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the butternut squash from the oven and put it to one side to cool.
  4. Put on a big pan of water to heat for the pasta.
  5. While it's cooling, fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat until it's soft.
  6. Once the onion is soft, add the creme fraiche, sage and nutmeg to it and stir well.
  7. Start cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
  8. While the pasta is cooking scoop the insides of the squash out and add it to the pan with the onions and creme fraiche. You want to leave the skin from the very outside of the squash out.
  9. Once you've added all the butternut squash to the pan, mix and mash it around with the end of a spoon until it's not in big bits.
  10. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes while the pasta continues to cook.
  11. Serve with the sauce spooned on top of the pasta.
 
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Serves 2.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Creamy Potato and Parsnip Curry

This is a mild curry with a smooth flavour which makes a nice change from a hot a fiery curry with tomatoes.
 

Ingredients:

  • 6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 3 parsnips, washed and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 dried or fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 150ml water
 

Method:

  1. Put the potato, parsnip, garlic, chilli and oil in a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes with a lid on, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the paprika, curry powder and fenugreek and stir well so it's all nicely coated.
  3. Turn the heat down to a low heat and cook for a further 5 minutes with the lid on.
  4. Add the creme fraiche and water and stir well so it's nicely mixed in.
  5. Leave on the low heat for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with onion bhajis, naan bread or rice.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Onion Bhaji

These are traditionally deep fried, but they work just as well when shallow fried.
 

Ingredients:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 100ml water
  • enough sunflower oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan
 

Method:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Mix in the onions and make sure they're evenly distributed with the flour.
  3. Mix in most of the water and stir well. You should get a thick batter around the onions which can hold it's shape. If it's too dry then add a bit more water, if it's too wet then add a bit more flour. Different batches of flour absorb slightly different amounts of water so it's not an exact science. Luckily it doesn't need to be exact, it just needs to be a sticky enough batter to hold it's shape.
  4. Heat the oil in the frying pan over a medium heat.
  5. Use your hands to shape the onion and batter mix into 4 balls and then press them flat, giving a thick burger shape.
  6. Cook the bhaji's in the frying pan for about 10 minutes on each side. Turning over once one side is cooked. It's also a good idea to push down hard on the top of the bhaji once you've turned it over. This ensures that they bhaji will hold together well (and also makes a lovely sizzling sound).
  7. Serve with a curry as a meal or some raita as a starter/snack.
 
Makes 4.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Creamy Leek Stew

The combination of flavours of creme fraiche, leek and nutmeg compliment each other well, making this a simple and tasty stew. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 150ml water
 

Method:

  1. Fry the onion and celery in the oil over a medium heat until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add the leeks, nutmeg and some black pepper and stir well to make sure everything is coated.
  3. Turn the heat down a little to medium-low and place a lid on the pan.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times to check it's not sticking.
  5. Add the creme fraiche and water to the pan and mix well.
  6. Cook for 10 more minutes, again stirring 2 or 3 times to check it's not sticking.
  7. Serve with crusty bread or potato wedges.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Potato Wedges

These freshly made potato wedges are so simple to make and can cook in the oven while you make something to go with them. They're also tasty, which is a good thing for food. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized potatoes, washed and any bad bits cut out
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 tsp chopped herbs, thyme or rosemary work well
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. After washing the potatoes, cut them into wedge shapes which are no more than 2cm thick on their thick edge. You can peel the potatoes as well, but I prefer the wedges with skins on, so only peel them if the skins are in a bad condition.
  3. Place the wedges in a large bowl and add the oil and the herbs.
  4. Use your hands to mix the potatoes well, ensure that every wedge has a thing coat of oil.
  5. Lay wedges out on a greased baking tray.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the wedges over after 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with something moist to dip them in, like a salsa or a thick stew.
 
Serves 2, easily multiplies up to more.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Halloumi Chilli Pasta Bake

This is a simple variation on a halloumi pasta bake. It can easily be made the day before, kept in the fridge overnight and then just put in the oven when you want to eat.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 chilli, finely crushed or chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 250g block of halloumi, thickly sliced
  • 350g pasta
 

Method:

  1. Put on a big pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Fry the onion in 1 tbsp of the oil until it starts to go soft.
  3. Add the vinegar, sugar, chilli, bay leaves and the tin of tomatoes and leave it on a low heat.
  4. Simmer the tomato mixture for 20 minutes.
  5. While the tomato mixture is simmering, fry the halloumi in the remaining oil over a high heat. Turn it over after a couple of minutes once it's golden brown.
  6. Put the halloumi aside to cool and cook the pasta according to the instructions.
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, chop the halloumi up into square pieces (it should be cool enough to handle, if it isn't then wait until it is, otherwise it might fall apart).
  8. Remove the bay leaves from the tomato mixture and then mix all the ingredients together in an oven proof dish.
  9. Cover with cling film and leave until you want to eat it.
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and optionally sprinkle some grated cheese over the top.
  11. Remove the cling film and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  12. Serve straight from the oven so that it's piping hot.
 
Serves 2 to 3.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jerk Tofu

This was the first time I tried both jerk seasoning and baking tofu and I was really pleased with how it turned out. It goes very well with Bean and Potato Stew.
 

Ingredients:

  • 250g block of firm tofu, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves, finely crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
 

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients apart from the tofu together in a bowl to make the marinade.
  2. Add the tofu and ensure it's well coated in the marinade.
  3. Leave to marinade for at least 2 hours, but it's best left overnight.
  4. Place the tofu on a baking tray, spooning any left over marinade over the pieces.
  5. Bake in an oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the tofu and bake for a further 10 minutes. When turning the tofu, spoon any remaining marinade over it (this is basting it).
  6. Serve once the tofu is golden brown.
 
Serves 2.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Bean and Potato Stew

This is a quick side dish which just requires a bit of chopping and then can sit bubbling away on a hob while you prepare the rest of the meal.
 

Ingredients:

  • 5 small to medium sized potatoes, washed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into 3mm slices
  • 150g frozen green beans (or fresh if you're lucky enough for it to be the season for them)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
 

Method:

  1. Place the potatoes in a pan and fill with just enough water to cover the tops of them.
  2. Heat on a high heat until the water starts to simmer.
  3. Reduce the heat so that the pan is just simmering and leave it for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic, vegetable stock and the beans when the 10 minutes is up.
  5. Leave for a further 10 minutes, stirring well after 5 minutes.
  6. If some of the potatoes haven't started to fall apart then leave it to simmer for a bit longer. You want some of the potatoes to still have their shape, but for others to have made a thick sauce around the beans and potatoes.
  7. Serve immediately as otherwise too many more potatoes will lose their shape.
 
Serves 2.