Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Feta and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This is a nice and simple dish which is quick to make with delightful flavours. I like making it on summer days as it means that I can quickly leave the heat of the kitchen once I've put the oven on.
 

Ingredients:

  • 8 large tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 200g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Wash the tomatoes and cut them into quarters by cutting down through the stem.
  3. Put the tomatoes on a large baking tray with sides and add the olive oil and herbs.
  4. Use your hands to mix well so that the baking tray and tomatoes are well coated with oil.
  5. Roast in the oven for 1 hours.
  6. Transfer the tomatoes to a couple of plates, making sure to take the juices from the baking tray with them.
  7. Top with the cubes of feta cheese and serve while still warm.
  8. Works very well with either boiled potatoes or crusty white bread on the side.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Falafel

I'd always assumed that falafel were tricky to make, but as long as you have a blender they are very easy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tins of pre-cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • a bunch (about 30g) of leaves of coriander
  • a bunch (again about 30g) of parsley leaves
  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp gram (or plain) flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Enough sunflower oil to fill a frying pan to about 1cm depth

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the oil into a blender and blend until combined. Don't over blend or the falafel will lose all their texture.
  2. Heat the oil in the frying pan over a medium heat.
  3. Use your hands and palms to shape the blended ingredients into small falafel shaped balls or into flat patties.
  4. Place in the oil and cook for a couple of minutes on each side. If the oil doesn't sizzle when you first add the mixture then it isn't hot enough, so raise the heat under it a bit.
  5. Serve hot or cold on a salad of fresh leaves.
Makes enough falafel for 3 or 4 people.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Baked Feta Parcels

These parcels are easy to make and seal in a wonderful flavour while baking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 fresh chilli, sliced
  • 200g Feta (or Greek salad) cheese, sliced in half along the long side

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Arrange two large sheets of foil on a baking tray.
  3. Distribute the onion between the two sheets.
  4. Place the tomatoes on top of the onion, followed by the chilli slices.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Finally place the block of cheese on top of the stack.
  7. Wrap up the parcels in the foil, making sure to seal the edges well.
  8. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  9. Serve with fresh bread.
Serves 2.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Aubergine and Olive Spaghetti

This is basically spaghetti alla puttanesca minus the anchovies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 10 black olives, sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers

Method:

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a separate saucepan until soft.
  3. Add the garlic, chilli, aubergine and tomatoes and simmer gently.
  4. Put the pasta in the water and cook as per instructions.
  5. After about 5 minutes, add the olives and capers to the tomato sauce
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the tomato sauce.
  7. Mix well and serve garnished with freshly milled black pepper.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Grilled Tomatoes

These go great as a side dish to accompany any Italian style dish such as pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 9 medium sized tomatoes, washed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the grill (or broiler if you're North American) on a medium/high heat
  2. Cut each of the tomatoes in half so that the top where the stalk attaches is in the middle of one of the halves.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking tray, cut side up.
  4. Place the garlic slices on top of the tomatoes.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil over each tomato half, you want a couple of drops on each one.
  6. Season with ground black pepper.
  7. Place under the grill/broiler and cook for between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on how long it takes the top to cook nicely.
Serves 3, but easily expandable up to as many people as you need, just use more tomatoes.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara with Capers

This replaces the bacon that should be used in a proper Carbonara with the saltiness of capers.

Ingredients:

  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 4 eggs
  • 60g vegetarian hard Italian style cheese (vegetarian Parmigiana)
  • 2 heaped tbsp of capers, drained

Method:

  1. Put on a pot of water to boil the pasta in.
  2. Drop the spaghetti in the pot of water when it's boiling, breaking it in half before adding it to make it easier to eat.
  3. While the spaghetti cooks, which should be about 12 minutes but check the packet, break the eggs into a measuring jug.
  4. Add the cheese to the eggs in the measuring jug and whisk with a fork until well combined.
  5. When the pasta is done, quickly drain it (leaving a bit of water clinging to the pasta) and return it to the same pot it was cooking in.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the pot containing the pasta and mix well. You don't need to heat it any more, the heat in the pan and the pasta will cook the egg.
  7. Once the egg has started to firm up, stir in the capers.
  8. Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper and more grated cheese.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Stilton and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms

I'm a fan of the combination of flavours of blue cheese and mushrooms. This straightforward recipe combines those flavours and adds some nuts to provide a bit of crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium or large mushrooms
  • 150g blue cheese such as Stilton, roughly chopped
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Make sure the baking tray has edges as the mushrooms will produce some liquid while cooking.
  3. Clean the mushrooms with a dry kitchen towel and carefully remove the stalks from them.
  4. Place the mushrooms onto the baking tray with the open side face up.
  5. Mix the blue cheese and walnuts in a bowl.
  6. Fill the mushrooms with the blue cheese and walnut mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Serve with warm cous-cous and enjoy.
Serves 2.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Satay Sauce

This sauce traditionally goes with grilled pieces of chicken from a skewer, but the combination of creamy peanut with spicy chilli is a favourite of mine. It goes well with other forms of grilled or fried foods, such as courgettes or aubergines, and goes nicely with rosti.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 to 3 dried chillis, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp (heaped) crunchy peanut butter
  • 75ml water

Method:

  1. Fry the onion and chilli in the oil in a medium sized saucepan until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add the soy sauce, water and peanut butter to the saucepan and stir while slowly bringing it to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom burning.
  4. Serve while still hot with grilled meat or vegetables.
Enough sauce for 4 people.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

(Fried) Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'd heard about grilled cheese sandwiches in various films and TV series from the USA, but it wasn't until I looked into it that I realised that they are actually fried. As far as I can discover, in American English grilling is the equivalent of frying in British English and broiling is the American English equivalent for grilling in British English. Regardless of cultural differences, grilled/fried cheese sandwiches are rather tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 100g cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 5 olives, thinly sliced
  • 1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the olive oil to the frying pan and wait for a couple of minutes for it to heat up.
  3. Place the slices of bread on a couple of plates and place the cheese on two of the slices.
  4. Cover the cheese of one slice with olives and use the chilli slices to do similarly on the other slice.
  5. Carefully place the empty slices of bread over the cheese and olive/chilli stacks.
  6. Transfer the two sandwiches to the frying pan and fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until it's gone a wonderful crispy brown colour.
  7. Enjoy while hot, possibly with a blob of ketchup on the side.
Serves 2.