Friday, 29 April 2011

Fresh Croutons

Fresh croutons are incredibly easy to make but can make any soup more exciting.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 french loaf, cut into 1cm to 2cm squares
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Use your hands to gently mix all the ingredients together to make sure all the bread has a coating of oil. Don't be too rough or you risk squashing the bread.
  4. Spread out one layer thick on a baking tray.
  5. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bread has a nice golden colour.
  6. Serve with a variety of soups.

Makes enough croutons for 2 to 4 bowls of soup.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Spicy Parsnip Soup

This is a great winter warmer, especially if you've got a cold.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 4 parsnips, washed and cut into 2cm pieces.
  • 2 dried chilis, finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 nodules of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 650ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml milk
  • 40g fresh coriander, finely chopped
 

Method:

  1. Melt the ghee/butter in a large pan.
  2. Add the parsnips, chilis, onion, ginger and coriander seeds to the pan. Fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the garam masala, stock and milk.
  4. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Just before it's ready to serve, add the fresh coriander and use a blender to blend it all together.
  7. Serve in a bowl with some crusty white bread on the side.
 
Serves 3 to 4.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Tofu Kare

This is my attempt at a Japanese kare. I couldn't get hold of the kare seasoning which is usual, so I had to improvise.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 lump of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200ml vegetable stock, room temperature
  • 8 carrots, washed and sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 tin of pre-cooked tofu, drained
 

Method:

  1. Fry the onion over a medium heat in a large sauce pan with the sunflower oil until it goes soft.
  2. Add the flour, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and garlic and mix well. Fry everything, stirring to stop it sticking, for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, tofu and stock to the pan and mix well. It's easiest to add everything except the stock, mix it all around and then add the stock.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, again stirring frequently. The flour will cook and make the sauce considerably thicker, so it's important to stir to prevent lumps forming or it sticking on the bottom.
  6. Serve with rice.
 
Serves 2 to 3.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wensleydale Pasta ala Hane

I got this recipe from a friend after he'd been on a holiday to Wensleydale. It's a great combination of bold and subtle flavours.
 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 100g Wensleydale cheese, finely chopped
  • 250g pasta
  • black pepper to taste
 
  1. Put on a large pan of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Mix the garlic, oil, lemon and cheese in a bowl.
  3. Season the mixture with fresh black pepper, but don't add any salt as the cheese has enough in it.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to it and cook according to instructions.
  5. Drain the pasta when it's cooked, but leave a bit of liquid on it, to help the sauce.
  6. Return the pasta to the pan and add the lemon and cheese mixture.
  7. Stir well and let the remaining heat in the pasta and pan warm the sauce through. If it's all cooled down too much then put it over a low heat for 30 seconds or so.
  8. Serve while still warm.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Broccoli and Halloumi Riccioli Bake

This is another variation on a favourite dish of mine: halloumi pasta bakes.


Ingredients:

  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 florets of broccoli, washed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 blocks of halloumi, about 250g each, sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 500g riccioli pasta
  • 75g grated mozzarella

Method:

  1. Put on a large pan of water to boil for the riccioli pasta.
  2. Put the tomatoes, broccoli, chilli powder and vinegar into a different saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
  3. Turn the heat on the tomatoes down to keep it just at a simmer and cover. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Fry the halloumi in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. Be sure to move the halloumi around a bit so that it doesn't stick. When it's nice and golden remove it from the pan and leave to cool.
  5. Once it's cooled enough to handle, chop the halloumi into 1cm pieces.
  6. When the pasta water is boiling add the riccioli pasta and cook as per the instructions on the packet.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  8. Drain the pasta once it's cooked and combine with the tomato sauce and the halloumi in an oven proof dish.
  9. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top is nice and crisp.

Serves 4

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Croque-Monsieur

This is a vegetarian version of the classic French dish.

Ingredients:

  • 100ml milk
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 125g grated cheese
  • 4 slices of vegetarian ham
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:

  1. Put the cold milk and flour in a small sauce pan and put over a low heat. Stir it every minute as it warms up.
  2. While the milk comes to a simmer (and while continuing to stir regularly), take two of the slices of bread and spread the mustard evenly over them.
  3. Place a slice of the vegetarian ham on each of the slices of bread.
  4. Divide half of the grated cheese between the two stacks of bread and ham.
  5. Top each with the remaining slices of vegetarian ham, followed by the remaining slices of bread.
  6. Gently press down on the top slices to compress the sandwich slightly.
  7. By now the milk and flour should be starting to thicken, continue to stir it often and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  8. Stir the remaining cheese into the milk sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Spread the milk and cheese sauce over the top of the two sandwiches.
  10. Place under a grill on a medium heat and cook until nicely browned.
  11. Serve immediately so that they are still warm.

Serves 2.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Blue Cheese and Olive Baguette

This is great for a filling lunch or a quick dinner.
 

Ingredients:

  • 250g blue cheese, finely chopped
  • 100g green olives, cut into quarters
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium sized baguette, about 45cm long
 

Method:

  1. Mix the cheese, olives and tomatoes in a bowl.
  2. Slice the baguette down the middle and scoop out some of the soft inside so that it's slightly concave.
  3. Fill the baguette with the cheese, olive and tomato mix.
  4. Place on a baking tray and put under a hot grill.
  5. Grill until the cheese has melted and started to brown.
  6. Serve on a plate and enjoy.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Tortelloni Soup

As it's name implies, this uses a soup to go with pasta rather than a thicker sauce. It makes a nice change from the usual pasta and sauce and is quick and easy to do.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cabbage, shredded into small lengths
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 75g green beans, sliced
  • 1000ml water
  • 1 stock cube
  • 300g fresh tortelloni
 

Method:

  1. Place the cabbage, carrot, beans, water and stock cube into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Add the tortelloni and simmer for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Bean and Mushroom Fajita

Some people would claim that using pre-mixed spice mixes is cheating. I'm not one of those people; they provide nice variation and sometimes it's good to not have to decide what flavour spices you want to blend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8 scotch bonnet chili, very finely chopped (coat your fingers in oil to stop them stinging when handling this chili)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tin kidney beans. drained
  • 350g mushrooms, washed and chopped into 1cm to 2cm pieces
  • 1 packet of fajita spice mix
  • 8 flour tortilla
  • Favourite fajita garnishes, such as grated cheese, salsa, yoghurt, shredded lettuce

Method:

  1. Fry the onion and chili in the oil over a medium heat until the onion starts to go soft.
  2. Add the kidney beans, mushrooms and fajita spice mix and stir well.
  3. Cook everything for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to stop it sticking.
  4. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 40 seconds before serving to make them softer.
  5. Serve with everything at the table so that people can construct their own fajitas.

Serves 2 to 3.