Archive for the 'Lunch' Category

Chicken Provencale with roasted peppers, courgettes and olives

February 15, 2011

As you know I have been on a quest to find meals that freeze well. Sadly most recipes don’t have any advice on freezing. Nevertheless I have come up with a selection of great meals that freeze well and are healthy too. We all have such hectic lives these days that having a few tasty meal in the freezer is an absolute winner. A good way to build up your supply is cook one new dish each night for a week but instead of making just enough for dinner make a few extra portions and freeze them. By the end of the week you will have 10 – 15 fabulous meals tucked away for a rainy day. Excellentio!

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8 people)

1.5 kg boneless chicken thigh (ideally free range)
60 grams butter
3 tins of peeled tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
3 courgettes
2 red onions
8 cloves of garlic
12 anchovy fillets
4 vine ripened tomatoes
Small bunch of parsley
1 1/2 glass of white wine
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Tsp of sugar
1 small jar of Kalamata olives (about 300 grams)

Method

Halve and remove the seeds for the peppers and pop in a ceramic oven proof dish, add an anchovy fillet a 1/4 of a tomato and sliced garlic (2 cloves between the lot). Liberally drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 45 mins – 1 hour or until peppers have collapsed and are tender.

As the peppers are baking finely dice the onion and crush the rest of the garlic. Saute in a large glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp) and a pinch of salt. Saute on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. Add 4 anchovy and continue to cook until they are “melted”.

Add the tinned peeled tomatoes, 1 glass of white wine and the drained Kalamata olives and tsp of sugar.

Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat until tomatoes have broken down (30 mins).

While the sauce is simmering, trim the chicken removing any excess fat. Melt butter in a heavy based frying pan add chicken and brown all over . Once browned remove and set aside in a separate bowl/plate. Do not over crowd the pan so do this in batches.

Once all chicken is browned pop it back into the pan and add a little wine to ensure all the pan flavours are used. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add into the tomato sauce (add a little water if sauce is too thick). Simmer for a further 35 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through and tender).

Slice the courgettes length wise into 4 mm slices (approx). Toss in olive oil and season with S & P and grill in a char grilling pan. If you do not have one you can roast the courgettes in the oven on a baking sheet or fry in a normal frying pan.

The courgettes need to tender.

Slice courgettes into 2 cm slices and mix through sauce with finely chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve with one halved baked pepper. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes. Delish!

When freezing, portion out into individual serves adding 1 half pepper to each. Make sure the chicken is cooled as quickly as possible and frozen straight away.

This should keep for 3 months in the freezer. Remove from freezer 1 day before and defrost thoroughly in fridge before reheating. Reheat by popping into a heavy based sauce pan and slowly bringing to a simmer. Always ensure that when reheating food it is heated until piping hot. Try not to reheat too vigorously as it may toughen up the chicken.

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Roasted butternut squash, spinach and feta tart

February 13, 2011

After a rather big night out with the girls I am feeling a smidgen jaded and have a wee tiny hangover. Sunday lunch with the family today and unfortunately I’m on cooking duty. The last thing I feel like doing is cooking! Can I go back to bed please…… Something simple and quick is in order me thinks. A whip round in Tescos for some essentials – tasty tart and salad, that’ll do nicely. Did I mention how much I love puff pastry? Shop bought puff pastry is a winner every time. No faffing around making your own and to make it even easier you can get ready rolled pastry – how good is that? Tarts are very simple and you can pretty much put anything on them. Mushrooms and caramelised onion, leek and Gruyere, Roasted tomato, basil and goats cheese etc etc. There are so many different combos to chose from. You can even do fruity sweet tarts too. YUM!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tin peeled tomatoes
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 butternut squash (about 700gm unpeeled)
250 grams of spinach
Parmesan (about 50 grams)
1/2 block of feta (about 100 grams)
1 ready roll sheet of All butter puff pastry

Method

First thing you will need to do is get the butternut squash prepared and in the oven to roast. Peel the squash and dice into 1cm cubes. One of my friends recently posted a status update on Facebook whingeing about how he had just been struggling with peeling a butternut squash. His biggest mistake was he was using a peeler. I strongly recommend you do not “peel” a squash you cut the peel off with a sturdy chef knife. Cut the top and the bottom off so that it sits on the board without rolling around then cut the bulbous end off (the bit with the seeds in). You should be left with the long thinner part and the bulbous bit. This will make cutting the peel off a heap easier. Does that make sense?

Ok now you have your butternut squash diced, pop it into a roasting tin or oven proof dish season with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil so it is evenly coated.

Roast in the oven at about 180 degrees for 30 mins or until soft and golden.

Set aside.

While the squash is roasting you can make the tomato sauce. Finely dice the onion and crush the garlic. Saute on a low-medium heat with a good hearty glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and sweet and the harshness of the onions has disappeared.

Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has thickened up – about 30 minutes. The sauce needs to be the consistency of a pizza sauce.

Wash the spinach and saute in a pot with a splash of olive oil and season with S & P. Cook until just wilted then squeeze out the excess liquid through a sieve or colander.

Time to put the tart together.

Pop the sheet of puff pastry onto a non stick baking sheet. Score the pastry sheet along each edge about 2 cm in to create a border.

Spread the inside of the tart (not the edge part) with tomato sauce.

Finely grate over some Parmesan, sprinkle with butternut squash and dot with spinach. Crumble over 1/2 the feta and pop in a preheated oven 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until edges have puffed up and pastry is golden.

Serve immediately with a huge bowl of salad.

You will probably have enough to make 2 tarts and depending on how greedy your guests are it’s probably worthwhile having another puff pastry sheet on hand just in case (we had 2 between 5 of us AKA greedy).

Laughably easy fish pie

February 3, 2011

My sister Fiona has been going on and on about her spectacular fish pie for as long as I can remember. It’s a winter meal apparently so it wasn’t on the cards until winter kicked in. Well Missy it’s February now and still no fish pie…..what’s going on! On my recent quest for Freezer Friendly meals I decided to live on the edge and make my very own fish pies. It can’t be that hard to make! So with a little bit of online research I got the general idea and gave it a bash. The pie has now been sampled and given the big thumbs up from Eilidh (the recipient of all the freezer meals). She actually admitted to having a Harry Met Sally style “moaning” session in her flat while sampling the first one. Go Eilidh!! What will the neighbors thinks….

Ingredients (makes 8 individual pies or one huge one)

2 leeks
200 grams Butter
Salt and Pepper
1 ltr Whole Milk
100 ml cream (optional for mash)
100 gram fresh parmesan finely grated
2 tbsp plain flour
Dijon mustard
Dill
Parsley
300 grams undyed smoked haddock fillet (or similar white fish)
300 grams haddock fillet
300 grams salmon fillet (or trout)
2 kg potatoes (I used Maris Piper)
150 grams of baby frozen peas

Method

Peel and boil potatoes.

Finely slice the leeks and rinse to remove any grit. Saute in a heavy based pan on a low heat with a large knob of butter (50g). Saute until soft and sweet – this is called a fondue.

Make white sauce buy melting 60 grams of butter in a pan. Mix in the flour and slowly add the milk until sauce thickens and all milk has been incorporated. Make sure you stir constantly and honestly add the milk little by little if you don’t you are going to end up with a really lump sauce. Add a heaped spoon of Dijon mustard and finely grated parmesan. Stir in the leeks, frozen peas and some finely chopped parsley and dill (approx small bunch of parsley and 1/2 small bunch of dill). Season well with Salt and Pepper (make sure you taste it). Leave to the side to cool.

Cut the fish into bite size pieces 2 cm cubes, stir through the cooled sauce.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash. Stir in the rest of the butter and if the potatoes are floury and a bit dry you can add some milk or cream. Season well with salt and pepper – again make sure you taste it.

I used individual single serve foil containers for freezing but you could use ceramic or pyrex dishes. Put the fish and sauce mix in the bottom and top with mash.

And that is it!

To cook the individual portions pop in the oven at 180 degrees (or 170 in a fan assisted oven) for 35 – 40 minutes – until cooked through. You will need to cook it for a little longer if it is one “mega” pie.

If you do freeze the pie make sure it is fully defrosted before you bake it in the oven – I don’t recommend that you microwave it to defrost.

So Fiona I don’t need you to make me a pie anymore – I can make it myself!! Tee Hee.

Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with ricotta and parmesan

February 2, 2011

Lasagne is one of those fabulous dishes that I don’t think you really need a recipe for or an ingredients list for that matter. You can put almost anything in it. All you need is a tomato based sauce, a cheese based sauce some fresh or dried lasagne and game on! So basically I feel as if there is no need to write this recipe at all. Although I tend to forget that some people actually have never made lasagne or don’t really “wing it” with recipes like I do. So for all you people out there that need a recipe here goes.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry people)

Tomato sauce

4 tins of peeled tomatoes
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion
Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Sugar

Mediterranean Vegetables

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
4 red peppers/capsicum (you could use yellow or orange or a mixture – not green)
3 medium sized courgettes/zucchini
1 butternut squash peeled and diced 1 cm (approx 600 grams prepared weight)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Cheese Sauce

2 tbsp plain flour
50 grams butter
1 ltr whole milk
Dijon mustard
100 grams parmesan finely grated
500 grams ricotta

2 packets of plain lasagne sheets (or equivalent of fresh)

Method

Start off by making your tomato sauce. The rule of thumb is the longer you cook the tomato sauce the taster it will be so I recommend at least an hour.

Peel and finely chop garlic, peel and finely dice red onion. Add to a large heavy based non reactive pan. Add a pinch of salt and a generous glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp).

Heat on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. This will take 10-15 mins. Do not brown. If it does start to brown remove from the heat and add a little more oil, this will cool everything down and stop the “burning”.

Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil.

Once boiling reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 mins – 1hr. Add water if it gets too thick and make sure you stir it regularly.

By this time the tomatoes should have broken down, if not help them along by breaking them up with a wooden spoon and cook for a further 10 – 15 mins. Make sure you taste the sauce at this stage and if it is a little bitter at a teaspoon of sugar.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to the side.

While this is all happening you can get on with preparing the veg. Place a char-grill pan on the stove and heat until blistering hot.

Slice the aubergine and courgettes length wise and drizzle with olive oil.

Char-grill until cooked through (a minute or 2 on each side) remove and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.

Char-grill the peppers until blackened all over and soft, place in a large bowl and cover to steam then cool so that you can peel them.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel the blackened skin off and remove the seeds, you can keep the “juice” and add it to the sauce if you wish (it has a lovely smokey sweet flavour).

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pop the butternut squash into a baking dish – ideally a large one so that there is only one layer. Toss in a little oil and season. Bake in oven until tender and a little golden (about 35 – 35 mins)

Cut the courgettes, aubergine and peppers into bite size pieces (about 1cm strips) and add to the tomato sauce along with the roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning and add a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour.

Time now to make the ricotta cheese sauce.

Put the butter into a pan and melt over a low-medium heat, once melted add the flour and stir to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two. Slowly add in the milk, little at a time constantly stirring. Once all the milk is added keep stirring and cook until thickened (coat the back of a spoon).

Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan, a large teaspoon of Dijon mustard and season.

Once the sauce has cooled a little fold through the ricotta cheese.

You are now ready to layer up the lasagne.

Add a ladle of the tomato and veg sauce to the dish, spread evenly. Layer the lasagne sheets over this. Top with the cheese sauce (about a ladle) and repeat the process until you have used up the sauces and lasagne sheets or until your lasagne dish is full.

Your last layer should be cheese sauce and a slightly thicker layer. Then sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 min – 1 hour or until cooked through and golden brown.

This can be par cooked sliced and frozen. Serve with a big salad.

12 out of 10 Moroccan Lamb Tagine with chickpeas

February 2, 2011

Meltingly tender lamb with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce. Another freezer friendly meal for my friend which was rated a 12 out of 10 by her a couple of days ago! This is a dish inspired by Gordon Ramsay. I have found a whole new level of respect for him since I made this and his Malaysian Chicken curry. There was some “artistic license” with this recipe mind you, however the general gist is from Mr Ramsay’s recipe on the Channel 4 website. Lamb is a bit of an acquired taste so you could substitute it with beef (or chicken I suppose).

Ingredients (serves 4- 6)

900g boned lamb shoulder (or beef)
2 tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion or 2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1½ tbsp ras el hanout
1½ tbsp tomato purée
Approx 800ml chicken stock
100g dried apricots
1½ “quick” preserved lemon (you will need 3 tbsp of salt and 1 1/2 lemons)
lemon juice
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tins of chickpeas
4 carrots

Method

Quick Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are really easy to make but they take a few weeks to mature so when I decided to make this dish I thought I would just buy some. Emmmm….easier said than done! Obviously Scotland doesn’t have a massive preserved lemon demand – I couldn’t find them anywhere. The only thing to do was to “google” it. And voila a quick preserved lemon recipe. Really quick and really easy so if you are ever cut short without a preserved lemon around you can survive! Phew.

I made just enough for this dish but I suppose you could do as many or as few as you wanted.

Ingredients
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 lemons, washed and quartered

Combine water and salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Add lemons; cook 30 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and lemon rind is tender. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Yep it’s that easy!!

Now that we have that out the way we can get stuck in with the Tagine.

Cut lamb into bite size pieces and dust in seasoned flour.

Take a large heavy based pan (Le Creuset is a winner for this) and add the olive oil. Brown the lamb in batches and leave to the side.

In the same pan saute the onion (finely sliced) for about 5 mins until soft (do not brown) you may need to add a little more oil. Add in crushed garlic, peeled and grated ginger, ras-el-hanout and tomato puree and fry until fragrant (about a minute or two). Add browned lamb and any juices, the stock (enough to cover) and bring to the boil.

As soon as it is boiling reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered with a lid for 1 1/2 hours skimming fat that rises to the surface.

Add in peeled and sliced carrot (I would cut on an angle and about 3 – 4 ml thick), drained and rinsed chickpeas, halved apricots, runny honey, finely chopped preserved lemons with pulp removed and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Simmer for a further 35 – 40 mins until lamb is tender.

Tagine with apricots and preserved lemons added

Taste and adjust seasoning – you may want to add more honey or lemon too.

Again you really could put any veg in this, would be nice with butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas etc. You could also use dates too instead of apricots but be careful not to use too many as they are really sweet. Serve with couscous or rice and I would probably serve it alongside some super fresh crunchy salad like fatoush – lots of mint and lemon.

My trusty chickpea and spinach curry with Tahini yoghurt

October 25, 2010

Chickpea and spinach curry

I must have cooked this curry a thousand times. It’s fab – I suppose it is more like a stew than a curry as it is not very curry-y. It’s one of those “I don’t really have much time but I want something healthy and hearty for dinner” meals. This has been cooked for many of my friends as a last-minute meal and they loved it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

Chickpea curry

2 tins of chickpeas
2 table spoons of cumin powder
2 red onions
6 – 8 cloves of garlic
1 kg ripe tomatoes (ideally roma/egg tomatoes not not essential)
200 grams baby spinach
Salt and pepper

Tahini and Yoghurt sauce

2 tbsp Hulled tahini
1 cup Greek yogurt

Method

Onion and garlic

Finely dice onions and finely chop garlic. Add to heavy based pan with a hearty glug of olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt.

Saute onions and garlic

Saute onions and garlic on a low/medium heat until soft and sweet. Add cumin and cook spice until fragrant making sure that the spice does not burn – this should only take a couple of minutes.

Add diced fresh tomatoes

Dice the tomatoes and add to the pot.

Simmer on a medium heat for 20 – 25 mins until tomatoes have fully broken down and has become “saucy” if you know what I mean. You may need to add a little bit of water if you feel that it is getting too thick.

Add chickpeas

Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 – 15 mins until chickpeas are nice and soft. The tinned ones tend to be a little bit firm.

Add baby spinach

Add the baby spinach and stir through – season with salt and pepper to taste. N.B. You will need quite a bit of salt.

Spinach and chickpea curry

Mix the yogurt with the tahini, you can add a little lemon juice and some seasoning if you wish but you don’t really need to.

Serve chickpea curry with brown rice and tahini and yogurt sauce – I sometimes sprinkle the top with oven roasted unsalted cashews and a drizzle of peppery olive oil.

**** Please note the photo of the curry has plain yoghurt on it not the yoghurt and tahini sauce – I ran out of tahini. It’s really worth making though and just to let you know tahini is packed full of calcium and is really really good for you.

Homemade Roast Butternut pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with parmesan cream sauce…..dribble

September 4, 2010

Rolling pasta

I am hoping that the pasta maker will not turn out like the bread maker – 1 month of fun then several years of being tucked away in the back of the cupboard. One week in and I feel like that won’t be happening. Back in Sunny Sydney I made my first homemade pasta with my friend Kate who had been to an Italian cooking course, she arrived at my house Tipo ’00 and pasta maker in hand. We made cracking spinach and ricotta cannelloni. It was sensational and relatively easy. Since then I have had a few pasta making flutters including gnocchi – which, may I add, is VERY easy to make and you do not need any special equipment. (see my recipe for Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and walnuts). Other than that the trusty De Cecco Linguine has been my pasta of choice. Until now! My lovely sister decided to by herself (or should I say me) a pasta maker. After a few minor hiccups we managed to produce a rather wonderful roast butternut pumpkin ravioli with a burnt butter and sage sauce. As this was my first venture back into pasta land I didn’t take any photos (doh!!) So decided to do a re run for “the blog” this week. I didn’t have any sage so whipped up a creamy sauce instead which turned out to be rather delicious. By the way you can make pasta with a rolling pin and a bit of elbow grease – worth giving it a bash if you are not sure whether to invest in a pasta maker. However they are not very expensive you can get one for about £20.

Ingredients

Pasta

500 grams plain flour (ideally Tipo 00)
6 medium sized eggs or 5 large eggs

Filling

200 grams ricotta
50 grams finely grated Parmesan
Approx 800 grams Butternut Pumpkin (squash) whole weight before peeling and de-seeding
Whole nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Sauce

1 clove garlic
1 large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Splash of dry white wine
100 mls double cream
50 grams finely grated Parmesan

Method

Flour

To make the pasta dough.

Put flour in a large mixing bowl. Crack eggs into a separate bowl or jug and lightly whisk to combine.

Whisked eggs

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg mix.

Mix eggs in with a fork

Mix together with a fork until egg has been mixed in.

Bring dough together with hands

Bring together with your hands into a dough.

Remove from bowl and knead until smooth. The dough will feel relatively dry – don’t worry it will soften up a little.

Dough

Wrap in cling film and rest in fridge for min 30 mins.

Dough wrapped in cling film

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Peel butternut pumpkin and remove seeds. Cut into 1cm cubes and add to a baking dish. Toss through a little olive oil until coated and pop into the oven.

Bake until soft and a little golden – make sure you check regularly and give the pumpkin a toss around.

Leave to cool.

Mashing pumpkin with fork

Mash with a fork until smooth (ish).

Mashed pumpkin

Add ricotta, grated Parmesan and some nutmeg (about 1/6), mix well to combine. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want you can add more Parmesan.

Add ricotta Parmesan and nutmeg

Once the pasta has rested split the dough into 4 smaller balls. Keep one of the balls and re-wrap the rest and place back int he fridge.

Set the pasta maker to the widest setting.

Roll pasta

Flatten the dough into an oval shape, dust in flour to prevent it sticking and feed it through the pasta maker.

N.B. My first try came out with holes through it, this was because there were air bubbles trapped in the dough. I mashed the dough back into a ball and then rolled it out again with a rolling pin – this helped remove the bubbles and kick start the rolling process.

Turn the pasta maker down a notch and roll again, you may need to lightly dust the pasta again with some flour.

Keep doing this until the pasta is about 1mm thick.

Pasta strips with pumpkin mix

Lie the pasta onto a floured surface and cut into 4 cm strips.

Put a small amount (approx 2/3 teaspoon) at one end of the strip and lightly brush around it with water. Fold the other half of the strip over to create a parcel. Be careful not to trap air inside the ravioli as this will expand when cooked and may burst open.

Making ravioli

Keep doing this and lay them out onto a floured tray, do not pile them on top of each other as they may stick – from experience!!

Ravioli

Once you have used your first batch of rolled out pasta you can continue with the rest of the pasta until you have made as many as you wish. This amount of dough and filling should feel 8 people for main course or 14 starters.

You can freeze the pasta, pop them in the freezer on the tray. Once frozen you can bung them in a tub or a bag. You can cook them straight from frozen.

Ok to cook and serve.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a teaspoon of salt.

Warm a non stick frying pan with the knob of butter and a splash of olive oil.

Butter and garlic

Add crushed garlic and saute for a couple of minutes until soft and sweet – no colour. Add glug of white wine (approx 3 table spoons). Simmer to reduce wine to almost totally evaporated. Add the cream. Simmer until thickened a little then remove from heat and add Parmesan. Stir through and season to taste (you probably won’t need salt).

Add wine

Reduce wine

Pop the pasta into the pot, I probably wouldn’t do not than 4 serves in the one pot.

Ravioli in boiling water

Cook for about 4 minutes then remove one and see if it is cooked. You may need to cook the ravioli for a little longer it really depends on how thick the pasta is – everyone’s pasta is slightly different. Once cooked drain in a colander and toss through sauce, serve immediately in warmed bowls.

Ravioli in cream parmesan sauce

Ravioli

The creamy sauce is great but so is the burnt butter and sage. This is made by taking about 75 grams of butter and heating it on the stove until it is bubbling (this is for 4 people). Do not heat at too high a temp as it may actually burn, you are looking for a nut brown colour. Add sage leaves (about 8 small to medium leaves per person or 4 large). The sage leaves should be crisp once cooked. Pour over the top of the ravioli when it is plated up and top with some finely grated Parmesan.

I am planning on trialing some other filling so will keep you posted!

Feta, tomato and herb toasts – a cheeky little snack with a hint of Greece

August 30, 2010

Grilled feta, tomato and herbs

This is a bit of a twist on grilled cheese on toast with a little bit of Greece thrown into the mix.

Ingredients

Good bread or rolls
1 block of feta (approx 200 grams)
1 tasty tomato
1/2 small red onion
Fresh herbs (I used parsley, mint, chives, thyme)
Dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Method

Finely dice onion and tomato and add to a bowl with crumbled feta. Add finely chopped fresh herbs removing any touch stalks. Add 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano and a healthy glug of olive oil. Mash together and season.

Pile on top of halved rolls of slices of good bread, drizzle with olive oil and grill until golden.

Eat with relish.

Grilled Halloumi and roast baby beetroot salad

August 19, 2010

This is the first time I have ever properly grown my own veg. It was a wee bit of a trial actually to see what would grow (if anything) and if I could do it. Much to my surprise I have managed to grow things. It’s funny I never really expected anything to grow. Over the past few months I have been regularly harvesting my own rocket, baby cos lettuce, parsley, radishes and tons and tons of beautiful flat leaf parsley. Oh the joy of being able to step out side to “gather” the ingredients for a meal – sigh!

It is so exciting watching my beetroots grow steadily larger and on the flip side rather disappointing seeing my fennel struggling along – pesky rabbits are munching on it!

The beetroot is plentiful and I decided yesterday it was time for my first harvesting. Roasted baby beetroot – yummy yummy yummy. With a little bit of a whip round the kitchen and the parsley patch I had all the ingredients I needed for a lovely hearty salad.

Ingredients

8 baby beetroot
4 medium tomatoes (the sweeter and tastier the better)
large bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
1 block of Halloumi
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Method

First things first, cut the stems from the beetroot leaving approx 1 cm. Scrub all the dirt from them and leave some of the tail (root).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Place in a ceramic oven proof dish whole, if some of the beetroots are a bit large you can cut them in half.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Add about 3 tablespoons of water and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake in oven for 35 – 45 mins or until tender (check with a sharp knife – knife should slide in with only a little bit of resistance).

You may need to add a little more water half way through the cooking as you do not want the juices to burn. A little bit of caramelisation is fine but not charred.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.

Wash and dry parsley, picking the leaves and leaving any tough stems.

Add to a large salad bowl or platter.

Roughly cut tomatoes into chunks and sprinkle over the parsley.

Heat a non stick frying pan and dry fry slices of the Halloumi until golden brown on both sides.

Scatter beetroot and Halloumi over the top of the tomato and parsley and dress with best quality extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Serve immediately. Good on it’s own with pita bread or as a side with chicken, lamb, kebabs etc.

Lebanese green beans in tomato sauce

August 19, 2010

Green beans are generally difficult to get excited about mainly because of the “squeak” factor. When green beans are not quite cooked enough they squeak when you bite into them. It really sends a shiver up my spine and gives me goose pimples. However, (you knew there was going to be a however didn’t you!!) this dish is so delicious and doesn’t have a squeaky bean in sight.

I have eaten this bean dish on many occasions since I was a little kid and always wondered how they can taste so good. The Greeks, Turkish and Lebanese all make a similar dish, I generally call it “collapsed beans” as they are cooked until they collapse. Several years ago I was discussing this dish with my Lebanese fruit and veg grocer who ran off to get his wife so that she could give me the recipe. What a legend. I have been making it ever since. They also gave me a pot of “Lebanese Pepper” which until recently I had no idea what was in it. I now have the recipe for that too…phew!

The beans are a great side to meat, grilled fish, chicken or just served as the main part of a meal with some spicy rice with toasted almonds, pine nuts and cashews.

Ingredients

500 grams of round green beans (french beans)
4 medium brown onions (I had a mixture of red and brown – doesn’t really matter)
1 1/2 tins of best quality tinned tomatoes
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Lebanese Pepper (blend of ground Allspice, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Ginger)

Peel and slice onions by cutting in half and slicing thin half moons. Add to a large heavy based pan with a good glug of oil.

Fry onions on a medium heat until soft, sweet and translucent. Do not brown.

Add washed beans with tops/stalks removed (leave tails). Add to pot. Boil kettle.

Once beans have turned a brilliant green colour add enough boiling water to cover the beans.

Cook on medium heat until water has reduced by half. Add tinned tomatoes.

Continue to cook until tomatoes have broken down and beans are cooked through and collapsed.

Add teaspoon of Lebanese peppers and season to taste.

This dish reheats well and tastes even better the next day.