Friday, 30 September 2011

Aubergine Parmigiana

Stictly speaking this isn't parmigiana as it should use Parmesan cheese. However as Parmesan cheese isn't vegetarian I used Sainsbury's Basic Italian Hard cheese, which is vegetarian and similar in taste to Parmesan. I would also recommend the exceptionally good hard Italian style cheese from Bookhams, but I've yet to find that for sale anywhere near me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 50g tomato puree
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 aubergines, washed and sliced into 1cm slices
  • 3 x 125g mozzarella balls, sliced into thin slices
  • 50g grated hard italian cheese (Parmesan or equivalent)
  • 50g grated mozzerella

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the oil until soft.
  2. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and leave to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. While that's simmering, cook the aubergine on a griddle or in a frying pan. Cook it on a medium to high heat until each side is nicely browned off, turning it over once each side is done.
  4. Put the aubergine on a plate to the side while you wait for it to cool a bit.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  6. Remove the 3 bay leaves from the tomato sauce.
  7. In a couple of large oven proof dishes, spread 1/4 of the tomato sauce over the base of each one.
  8. Next layer half the aubergines between the two dishes, then a layer of the sliced mozzarella followed by a sprinkling of 1/4 of the Parmesan in each of the two dishes.
  9. Then layer the remaining aubergines on top of the Parmesan layer, followed by the remaining Parmesan.
  10. Carefully divide the remaining tomato sauce between the two dishes, trying to not disturb the layer of Parmesan as you spoon it on.
  11. Finally sprinkle the grated mozzarella over the dishes.
  12. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  13. Serve with a fresh green salad.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Spinach Grill Pizza

I heard about being able to cook pizza on a barbecue too late in the year to be able to try it. However I realised that a similar technique could be used to cook using a grill, so I gave it ago. It leaves you with a pizza with a wonderfully crisp base and I highly recommend giving it a go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity of pizza dough
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 150g leaf spinach, washed
  • 125g ball of mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 50g grated mozzarella
  • 25g thin shavings of Parmesan or other hard Italian cheese

Method:

  1. Make the pizza dough as described in the other recipe.
  2. Grease a baking tray with the oil.
  3. Place the spinach in a microwave proof bowl with a lid and add a couple of drops of water. Microwave for 4 minutes. If you don't have a microwave then a saucepan over a low heat will work just as well.
  4. Roll out the pizza dough so that it covers most of the baking tray.
  5. Put the grill on medium-high power and wait for it to get up to temperature.
  6. Grill the dough under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and crisp.
  7. Carefully turn over the pizza on the baking tray so that the raw dough side is face up.
  8. Pop under the grill for a couple of minutes, but only enough to slightly dry out the dough.
  9. Spread the cooked spinach out over the top of the pizza.
  10. Arrange the sliced mozzarella, then the grated and finally the Paremsan over the top of the pizza. Season with black pepper.
  11. Place back under the grill for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted.

Serves 2.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Satay Vegetable Stirfry

I'm a big fan of satay sauce and always like finding a new way of using it. This recipe is a simple stir-fry where the vegetables end up being coated in the satay sauce.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small chilli, crushed/finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 30ml water
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 3 carrots, washed and sliced into thin slices
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 sweet pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 blocks of medium egg noodles
 

Method:

  1. Put on a pan of water to boil for the noodles.
  2. Fry the onions in a small pan with 1 tsp of sunflower oil until they start to soften.
  3. Add the chilli, peanut butter and water to the small pan and mix well. Turn the heat down low so it just simmers.
  4. Stir the peanut butter mixture every couple of minutes to ensure that it's well mixed.
  5. When the water for the noodles is boiling, cook the noodles as per the instructions on their packet (usually 4 minutes).
  6. Fry the potato and carrots in a wok with the other tsp of sunflower oil. Use a low to medium heat.
  7. Stir the potatoes and carrots every couple of minutes to ensure that they are evenly cooked.
  8. When the noodles are cooked drain them and then return them to the pan. Add a couple of drops of oil and mix well. Place a lid on the pan and put to one side. The small amount of oil and the lid on the pan will stop them from becoming one solid block of noodles as they cool.
  9. After 10 to 15 minutes check how soft the potatoes are. They should be starting to soften but still be firm.
  10. Add the sweet pepper to the wok and turn the heat up to medium-high.
  11. Stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
  12. Add the peanut sauce to the wok, give it a quick stir and then serve it on top of the noodles.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cauliflower Cheese

Generally cauliflower cheese is made with pieces of cauliflower. However I think it's a shame to chop up the wonderful dome shape of the cauliflower so prefer to keep it whole until serving it.
 

Ingredients:

  • One whole cauliflower, green leaves removed and washed
  • 600ml milk
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 200g coarsely grated cheese
  • 50g finely grated cheese
  • 25g breadcrumbs
 

Method:

  1. Steam the cauliflower in a steamer for 15 to 20 minutes. Test the stalk at the bottom has started to go soft before removing it from the steamer.
  2. Add the milk, flour and mustard to a cool saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a whisk to stop it sticking or burning.
  3. Simmer and stir the milk and flour mixture until it thickens into a white sauce.
  4. Pre-heat the grill on high.
  5. Stir the coarsely grated cheese into the white sauce and remove from the heat.
  6. Place the cauliflower in a large ovenproof dish with the stalk side up. Pour a bit of sauce into the spaces between the stalks and then turn over so the dome of the cauliflower is face up.
  7. Pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top of the cauliflower.
  8. Mix the finely grated cheese and breadcrumbs on a plate and then sprinkle over the top of the cauliflower.
  9. Place under the grill for 5 minutes or until the top is nicely toasted (but not burnt!).
  10. Serve on it's own or with baked potatoes. The cauliflower goes especially well with some ketchup or english mustard as condiments.
 
Serves 2 to 3.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Savoury Crunchy Cornflake Cake

After finding out that Pizza Hut can put cornflakes on a pizza, I decided to make a savoury version of chocolate cornflake cakes.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 75g cornflakes
  • 50g parmesan or paremsan style cheese, finely grated
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. In a clean bowl whisk the egg white until it becomes a stiff white foam.
  3. Fold in the cornflakes to the egg whites, being careful not to beat the air out of the foam.
  4. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the cornflake and egg white mixture and mix well.
  5. Use your hands to form the sticky mixture into a block about 1cm high, or into 6 small round blocks, again 1cm high.
  6. Place on baking parchement on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cornflakes start to brown.
  7. Serve hot or cold as a started with some green salad.
 
Makes 1 large or 6 small cornflake cakes.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Feta and Olive Pie

This is a quick and simple pie which looks great. The use of ready rolled puff pastry is a bit lazy, but does eliminate the need to get floury hands making pastry.
 

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 100g black olives, finely chopped
  • 100g feta cheese, finely chopped
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, rolled out thinly
  • 1 egg, beaten in a cup
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Sweat the onions and butter in a saucepan with the lid on over a medium heat until they are soft, this will probably be 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the black olives and feta cheese to the pan and stir well.
  4. Roll the sheet of pastry out slightly thinner so that you can make two large squares with it.
  5. Place one square in the middle of a greased baking tray and spread the olive and feta mixture over the middle of it, leaving a 1 cm gap at the edges.
  6. Dampen the 1cm gap at the edges with water so that the pastry goes sticky and then place the second square of pastry over the top.
  7. Fold and press the edges together until they are well sealed.
  8. Use a sharp knife to gently score a pattern into the top of the pasty. Don't worry if you go through in a few parts, it will help to let steam escape when cooking.
  9. Brush the egg over the top of the pastry so that it's all coated in a thin layer. If you don't have a pastry brush to do this then a bit of scrunched up kitchen roll works just as well.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.
 
Serves 3 to 4, depending on what you serve with it.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Aubergine and Tomato Pasta

This dish has a flavoursome and rich sauce which only needs a handful of ingredients.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 aubergines, washed, top and bottom removed and cut into half inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g dried pasta
  • 75g black olives, chopped in half
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
 

Method:

  1. Put on a large pan of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Put the oil, garlic and aubergines in a big pan (I prefer a flat bottomed wok) and fry over a medium heat, stiring frequently.
  3. When the aubergine has nicely browned, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the time it says on the packet.
  4. After adding the pasta to the boiling water, add the olives and chopped tomatoes to the aubergines and bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer the tomato mixture over a low heat while the pasta cooks (so about 10 to 15 minutes)
  6. Drain the pasta, season with black pepper and serve with the aubergine sauce spooned oever the top.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Foil Wrapped Leek and Potatoes

Wrapping these vegetables in foil while they're cooking in the oven allows all the delicate flavours to be trapped in the food. I recommend trying it with other vegetables as well, it makes a nice change from the traditional roast vegetable flavour.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced into 1cm slices
  • 10g butter, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced, not chopped
  • 8 new potatoes, washed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Tear off 2 strips of foil each about 70cm long and place on two sides of a baking tray.
  3. Place the leeks near one end of each of the strips of foil. Top with the butter.
  4. Mix the cabbage and onions together in a small bowl and then divide between the two strips of foil, placing the mixture next to the leeks so that it's just touching.
  5. In a large bowl mix the potatoes, garlic and herbs with the olive oil until everything has a nice coating.
  6. Divide the potatoes between the two strips of foil, placing next to the cabbage.
  7. Fold the foil over and scrunch the edges together to get a good seal.
  8. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  9. Serve still wrapped in the foil to allow people the pleasure of unwrapping it themselves.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Baked New Potatoes

This method of cooking new potatoes leaves you with something which is halfway between roast potatoes and baked potatoes. It's a nice change from the usually ways of cooking new potatoes and it's especially fun to let your dinners unwrap the paper themselves.
 

Ingredients:

  • 12 new potatoes (6 per person), washed, any bad bits removed and cut in half
  • 4 cloves of garlic (2 per person), peeled
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (2 per person)
  • 2 tsp chopped herbs (1 per person), sage is good, but you can use the same herbs that you've used in the dish the potatoes are accompanying
  • salt and pepper to season
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until the potatoes are all covered evenly in oil and herbs.
  3. Take a large piece of greaseproof paper and place 6 potatoes and 2 cloves of garlic in the middle of it.
  4. Fold the edges of the greaseproof paper into the center and fold over themselves a few times to seal the package shut. If you can't get it to keep shut using just folding then use a couple of staples.
  5. Place on a baking tray and make the other package(s) with the remaining potatoes.
  6. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  7. Serve on the plate while still wrapped up.

Serves 2.