Friday, 25 February 2011

Guacamole

As long as you have a couple of ripe avocados then this is very quick and simple to make.
 

Ingredients:

  • juice of one lime
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ripe avocados
 

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients other than the avocados into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Cut the avocados in half and remove the stones in the middle. If they are fairly ripe then you should be able to scoop the flesh out with a spoon. If they're not ripe enough for that then don't worry, just peel them carefully with a knife and chop them into 1 cm cubes.
  3. Add the avocado to the onion and tomato paste and blend until no large bits of avocado remain. It's a matter of personal taste, but I prefer a slightly chunky texture, so don't blend until it's entirely smooth. However it's up to you.
  4. Chill for at least half an hour.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips to dip or as a topping to quesadilla.
 
Serves 4 or more, depending on how hungry they are and what there is to dip.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tomato Salsa

Freshly made tomato salsa is a totally different beast from it's pre-made jar from a shop equivalent, I highly recommend trying the difference.
 

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (more if you like a hotter salsa)
  • a pinch of salt
 
  1. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them so that they are fully covered.
  2. In a second bowl combine the onion, vinegar, chilli powder and salt.
  3. Leave the two bowls to stand for 5 minutes; this helps soften the onion and makes the tomatoes easier to peel. Rotate the tomatoes after a couple of minutes so that the part which was above the water is below it.
  4. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and peel. The boiling water should have made them easy to peel, just slide a knife over the skin to break it and it should then peel off fairly easily.
  5. Finely chop the tomatoes, keeping all the juice that escapes.
  6. Mix the chopped tomatoes with the onion and vinegar and mix well.
  7. Leave to stand for at least one hour and then serve with tortilla chips for dipping.
 
Makes a decent sized bowl of salsa.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Simple Quorn Curry

This is a quick and simple curry of no particular style.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 dried chilis, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, washed and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 head of broccoli, washed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 300g Quorn pieces
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 350ml water

Method:

  1. Put a small pan of water on to boil for the potatoes.
  2. In a large saucepan or wok, fry the onions and chilis in the oil over a medium heat.
  3. While the onions are frying, boil the potatoes in the water for 10 minutes.
  4. When the potatoes are slightly soft, drain them and add them to the onions.
  5. Add the broccoli and quorn to the wok and stir fry everything for a 5 minutes.
  6. Mix the cornflour, fenugreek, turmeric and garam massal with the water in a jug or bowl.
  7. Add the cornflour mixture to the work and turn the heat down to a low heat.
  8. Let the dish simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to check it's not burning.
  9. Serve with rice.

Serves 3 to 4.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Cheesy Foldovers

This was a quick and simple way to use up a bit of leftover plastic/processed cheese, but would work with more flavoursome cheeses as well.

Ingredients:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 85ml hot water
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 2 slices of cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, mustard and sunflower oil in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Combine the water and marmite in a cup and mix until the marmite is disolved.
  4. Add most of the water to the dry ingredients and mix in a bowl. Add just enough water to get a sticky dough.
  5. Kneed the dough for a few minutes and it should start to dry out and become firmer.
  6. Split the dough into two lumps and roll out each lump into a flat disc about 1/2 cm thick.
  7. Place a slice of cheese in the middle of each disc and fold the edges of the dough over, using water on the edges to seal the joins together.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until nice and crisp.
  9. Serve with some pickle or chutney.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Soya Loaf

The addition of some soya flour to a traditional brown loaf makes for a denser, more nutty flavour of bread. A good bread to go with strongly flavoured foods such as spicy bean stew.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp fast action yeast
  • 375g strong wholemeal flour
  • 100g soya flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 30g butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 330ml warm water

Method:

  1. Either combine the ingredients together in a bread maker and set it to make a medium sized loaf or do the following steps by hand:
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon until a dough forms.
  3. Kneed the dough for three minutes on a floured surface and then place it somewhere warm for 30 minutes.
  4. Kneed the dough for a further three minutes and then return to the warm place for another 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Kneed the dough one last time and then put it into a greased bread tin or onto a greased baking tray.
  7. Leave to rise for 10 minutes while the oven heats up.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bean Stew

This is a simple and tasty stew which requires minimal preparation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small dried chilis, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tin chick peas
  • 1 tin kidney beans

Method:

  1. Fry the onion, garlic and chilis in the sunflower oil until they start to brown.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients and 300ml of water.
  3. Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty bread on the side.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Beetroot and Squash Fondant Stacks

I have no idea why this technique of cooking vegetables is called fondant as it's nothing to do with fondants used in confectionary making. However it is a very tasty way to cook the vegetables, halfway between steaming and roasting. While the traditional vegetables to cook in the fondant style is potatoes, it works very nicely with butternut squash and beetroot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 beetroot
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 600ml boiling water
  • 150g block of feta, sliced in half to make it thinner then in half to make almost square pieces

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Peel the beetroot and butternut squash and cut into thick slices, about 2 cm thick. Remove the seeds (and gunky stuff around the seeds) from inside the butternut squash.
  3. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the slices of beetroot and squash. You want to remove the sharp edge from both sides of the slices. If you don't do this then the edges will burn before the rest of the surface starts to brown.
  4. Don't worry about some of the butternut squash slices having holes where the seeds were.
  5. Once you've removed the edges you should have several slices with rounded edges all around.
  6. Place the slices into deep roasting tins, you'll probably need two tins.
  7. Mix up the boiling water, oil and stock cubes in a jug.
  8. Split the oily stock between the roasting tins and place in the oven.
  9. Every 15 minutes check on the slices in the oven. You'll want to turn the slices and baste them (use a spoon to pour some of the stock over the tops of the slices) to make sure they cook evenly.
  10. After about an hour most of the stock will have evaporated and the slices should be starting to brown nicely. The beetroot slices can be hard to see the browning on, so it's best to just judge on what the butternut squash slices are doing.
  11. When the slices are lightly browned, remove them from the oven and build them up into four stacks. Build the stacks directly on the plates you're going to serve from. It's best to alternate butternut squash and beetroot slices. You'll also probably find that some of the beetroot fits nicely inside the holes in the butternut squash slices.
  12. Finish off the top of each stack with a slice of the feta cheese.

Serves 2 people (two stacks each).

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Kale Crisps

When I first heard about making kale crisps I was sceptical, but they are a really nice (and crunchy) snack.

Ingredients:

  • As much kale as you want, washed and stalks removed
  • 1tsp olive oil for each handful of kale
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix the kale with the seasoning and oil in a bowl with your hands. Make sure all the kale gets a thin coating of oil.
  3. Lie the kale out on baking trays so that it's only one layer thick.
  4. Cook in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it as it can go from crisp to burnt in a very short length of time.
  5. I found my oven isn't very good at cooking the kale uniformly. I'd found I had to remove some of the cooked crisps after 5 minutes but return the baking tray to the oven to cook the other crisps for a bit longer.