Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Bean Salad with Eggs

The addition of the eggs means extra protein here!  This is enough for four people but you can easily halve the quantities.

  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 small red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tins cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • packet flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • packet oregano, leaves only, chopped
  • black olives (about 30)
  • 4 large eggs

Put a medium sized pan of water on and bring to the boil.  When it is boiling reduce the heat and gently lower the eggs in one by one with a slotted spoon.  Now turn the heat back up and set a timer for 8 minutes.

While the eggs are cooking prepare the salad.  Put the olive oil and the lemon juice into a serving bowl and whisk with some salt and pepper.  Then add the onion, beans, herbs and olives.  Mix gently to combine.

When the eggs are done put them into a bowl of cold water, then place the bowl under a running tap for 2 minutes.  This will stop the eggs from cooking any further and make them cool enough to handle.  You can then peel off the shells, quarter the eggs, and place them on top of the salad.

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Dal

There are many, many versions of dal out there and this is just one of them.  It’s a good one though!

  • 225g red lentils
  • 900ml water
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 40g butter
  • salt

Rinse the lentils thoroughly.  Put them in a pan with the water, cloves and some salt and bring to the boil.  Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until mushy.  You will need to skim the foam off the top of the lentils from time to time.

While the lentils are cooking, heat a dry frying pan till it’s very hot and then toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in it.  I usually find that moving them around in a hot pan for about a minute does the trick.  You want to smell the aroma of the seeds.  Put the toasted seeds into a pestle and mortar and grind them to a rough powder.

When the lentils are cooked, add all the other ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Test the seasoning – I add a bit more salt but see what you think.

Serve this with rice or naan and veg or just with some plain bread for lunch.  It makes a great soup too if you add a touch more water.

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Lime Pickle Potatoes

This is yummy – if you like lime pickle!  If you don’t then maybe try another dish…

  • 1.2 kg potatoes
  • 280g jar lime pickle
  • sunflower oil
  • salt

Preheat oven to 220C/Fan 200/Gas 8.  Leave the skin on the potatoes.  Cut them into small pieces, about an inch or so square, and then put them into a large roasting tin.  Slosh some sunflower oil into the tin, sprinkle a bit of salt and then add the lime pickle and mix thoroughly.

Pop the tray into the hot oven.  The potatoes should take about an hour to cook, you will need to turn them from time to time as they will probably be quite a tight fit in the tray and you want them to cook evenly.  Also the lime pickle with blacken in places – just turn it into the dish and let another bit blacken.

These are great served with Dal and some veg.  They also go down well as a sort of tapas style snack with a few beers!

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Potato Wedges

I have been asked for my recipe for potato wedges so here it is!  Floury potatoes are best for wedges, if you’re not sure just go for ‘baking potatoes’ they will usually have the right texture.FullSizeRender-3

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes
  • 1 tsp oil
  • heaped teaspoon sea salt flakes

Heat your oven to it’s highest setting.

Cut the potatoes into wedges, I usually find eighths are about right but if they are very large potatoes you might need to go to sixteenths.  Put the wedges into a large bowl.

Now you need to get the excess moisture off your potatoes.  I do this by getting some good quality paper kitchen towel, plunging it into the bowl of potato pieces and moving it around until it is wet, then doing it again.  I’m sure you could use a clean tea towel for this if you don’t want to use paper kitchen towel.

Now drizzle your teaspoon of oil all around the bowl of potatoes, sprinkle the salt flakes too, and toss the potatoes well to combine.  They will have the tiniest coating of oil!  Spread the potatoes out onto two large baking trays and put into the hot oven.

The wedges should take about 30-40 minutes to cook.  You will need to take them out of the oven every 10 minutes and toss them to stop them sticking – the oven is very hot and they WILL stick a bit and some of them will break when you toss them but don’t worry, just scrape them up and put them back in, the bits that have stuck and broken will go lovely and crispy when they are all done.

Pile all of the wedges onto one tray and tuck in!  This recipe makes loads of wedges which is just right for my family of five, but obviously you can make much smaller portions by reducing the quantities.

Pear and Almond Tart

This recipe is so versatile – you can use other fruits instead of the pears.  If your fruit is very hard then just soften it a bit before use by poaching lightly.  You will need a 23cm fluted tart tin.

Pastry

  • 350g plain flour
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 100g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • 2 medium pears, cored and cut into eighths
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam

First make your pastry case.  This recipe makes enough for two cases.

Put the flour and cold butter cubes into a food processor.  Pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs, then add the sugar and pulse again.  Now add the beaten eggs and run the processor until the mixture comes together into one large lump.  Remove from the machine, divide into two and wrap each half tightly in cling film.  Put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 210C/Fan 190C/Gas 7.  When you’re ready to roll your pastry (if it has been in the fridge for a long time and is very hard, take it out 20 minutes before you roll) lightly flour your surface and the top of the pastry and start rolling, turning the pastry a quarter turn each time you roll.  Hopefully you will get a perfect roll and transfer the pastry straight to the tart tin BUT don’t panic if you don’t and it starts to crack up – just bring the pastry together again with your hands, knead it ever so slightly to put it back together in one lump, flour again and re roll.  Every time I do this with this pastry it comes out perfect on the second roll!  If you try this recipe please do let me know if this works for you.

Transfer the pastry to your tin, carefully press it down into the edges and lightly prick the base all over with a fork.  Now cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake in the preheated oven for 9 minutes.  Take the case out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and bake for a further two minutes.  This should crisp up your pastry perfectly and avoid a ‘soggy bottom’.  Allow to cool while you make the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5.  The filling is easy to do – just put all the ingredients except for the pears and the apricot jam into your food processor and blitz until it looks pale and creamy.  Now arrange the pear pieces in the pastry case and spread the filling mixture over the top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

When your tart is done, put the jam in a small pan with a tiny splash of water and heat it through, then brush it all over the top of the tart to get a lovely shiny glaze.  Now allow the whole thing to cool – this tart is much better at room temperature than hot.  Enjoy!IMG_1523

 

Celeriac Remoulade

There are lots of versions of celeriac remoulade out there – this one is the best in my opinion.  And very, very simple to do.  You will not be disappointed by this dish!

  • 1 medium celeriac, approx 600g
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100ml mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Peel the celeriac and cut it into large chunks.  Rub the chunks all over with one of the lemon halves to stop it discolouring (it will do this quickly).
Grate the chunks of celeriac and transfer to a bowl.  Squeeze the rest of the lemon over it and add the salt.  Mix.
Combine the mustard with the mayonnaise and then add it to the grated celeriac.  You will find this easiest to do with a fork, try adding it bit by bit.  Mix well.
That’s it!  You might like a bit more mustard or to add some chopped parsley – once you get the hang of it it’s very adaptable.IMG_1471

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

This is the only way to make ratatouille as far as I’m concerned – oven roasting the veg first gives so much flavour…

  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tins plum tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 aubergines, diced
  • 4 courgettes, sliced fairly thickly
  • 4 peppers (ideally 2 red and 2 yellow but as long as they’re not green it doesn’t really matter), deseeded and cut into fat strips
  • 1 packet flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 packet basil, leave stripped from stalks and chopped
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.  Add the onion and garlic and sweat over a low heat, covered, for at least 15 minutes until the onion is very soft.  Then add the plum tomatoes and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third.

In the meantime, put the aubergine into a large bowl, add olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper.  Then spread out onto a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes till golden and charring in places.  Halfway through cooking give them a stir around the tray to stop them from sticking/burning.  Repeat this process with the peppers and courgettes.  You will need a separate tray for each, the peppers and courgettes should take a bit less time to cook than the aubergine.  You want all the veg to be really soft.

When your sauce has reduced stir in the chopped herbs, cover and set aside.  As your different trays of veg reach readiness, add them to the sauce along with any oil in the tray and mix in gently. When all the veg has been added check the seasoning and you are ready to go!

This ratatouille is really delicious and so versatile.  You can serve it with almost anything.

Barley Broth

This is an incredibly simple soup to make and it has the added bonus of containing absolutely no fat.  It’s quite a large quantity but you can freeze it (or eat it for lunch all week!)

  • 3 litres vegetable stock (I like Kallo)
  • 175g pearl barley
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 125g swede OR 1 small turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced thinly
  • 2 sticks celery, washed and sliced thinly
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped small
  • 175g Savoy or green cabbage, ribboned
  • 175g frozen peas
  • salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the stock and add the barley.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 45  minutes.

Add all the vegetables apart from the peas.  Bring to the boil again and simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes.  Add the peas for the last 8 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!

Focaccia with Blue Cheese and Pear

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in the River Cottage Fruit book.  I keep coming back to St Agur as the cheese of choice but you can experiment with your favourites.

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  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tsp fast acting yeast
  • extra virgin olive oil (lots!)
  • 150g blue cheese
  • 1-2 pears
  • Sea salt flakes

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 350ml lukewarm water and mix to combine.  You might find this dough easiest to knead in a freestanding mixer with a dough hook, but it can be done by hand too – turn out onto an oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes.  This is a very wet dough!  You will need some sort of scraping device to get it off your hands from time to time – you might find oiling your hands helps.  It will still be sloppy when it is done.  Oil your bowl and put the dough back in, put it in a warm place and leave until it has doubled in size, which will take 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.  Liberally oil a large, shallow baking tin (a tray won’t do – you need sides).  Tip the dough straight into the tin and spread it out with your hands to roughly fill the tin.  Leave again for at least another 30 minutes, up to an hour, until it looks puffy.

In the meantime cut your cheese into chunks, you should get about 10 even sized pieces, and peel and chop your pears.  I like slightly more chunks of pear than cheese here but you do what you like.  Add more cheese if you want!

When the dough is ready press the cheese and pear chunks into it at evenly spaced intervals.  I usually do the cheese first and then fit the pear in around it.  Drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5 and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Remove the focaccia from the tin and put it to cool on a wire rack.  Eat while still warm for maximum enjoyment.

 

 

Heather’s Shepherds Pie

This is my own recipe for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie.  It’s a big hearty dish that will serve six easily with leftovers, and reheats well.

Buying the different types of lentils may seem confusing as some manufacturers call very different things green lentils.  I use the larger, flat, almost grey looking lentils as green lentils.  If they are small and dark brown looking they are also sometimes sold as green lentils!  I would say these are more similar to Puy lentils, though not as firm.  You can use them in place of the Puy lentils here no problem.  Or you could use all green or all Puy or any lentil really, as long as you’ve got 100g of the red lentils and 250g of something else…

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  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped small
  • 1 large carrot, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 700ml veg stock (I like Kallo)
  • 300ml red wine (any old wine will do)
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100g red lentils
  • 100g green lentils
  • 150g Puy lentils
  • 1 packet flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Other herbs – optional, but they do really add to the flavour.  I usually throw in a handful each of sage and rosemary, finely chopped, and a few thyme sprigs.
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1.5kg floury potatoes
  • Knob of butter
  • 180g pack smoked cheddar (I like Applewood)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic.  Cover and sweat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While this is happening wash your lentils.  The green and Puy lentils will be fine with a quick rinse but the red ones will need rinsing in several changes of water until the water is clear.

Add the stock and wine to the pan and bring to the boil, then add all your lentils, the chopped tomatoes and your herbs.  Bring to the boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  You will need to stir the mixture every now and then.  You want the lentils to soften and absorb the liquid.  If the mixture is drying out and then lentils are not yet soft (taste them!) then add a bit more water and keep doing so until they are soft.  If the lentils are soft and the mixture is still like a soup, don’t worry just keep simmering it till it reduces down – it will be fine.

Once the lentil mixture is simmering, peel your potatoes and chop into even sized chunks.  Place them in a pan, cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes till tender.  They are done when you stick a sharp knife into one and it slips off the knife easily.  Drain the potatoes and leave them in the colander for 3 minutes so they release their steam and dry out a little bit.  Then put them back into your pan and mash them with a potato masher as well as you can.  When they are pretty much mashed, add the knob of butter and mash them a bit more.  Put to one side.  Preheat your oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

When your lentil mix is done remove the thyme sprigs if you added them, put in the tamari and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t hold back on the seasoning as lentils need it!  Don’t be tempted to season the mixture before it is cooked as it will impede the softening of the lentils.  Put the lentil mixture into a large lasagne dish or similar, then top with the mashed potato.  It’s easiest to do this by placing big tablespoons all over the top of the dish and then gently smoothing them over with a fork.  Now grate your cheese and sprinkle evenly over the top of the potato.

Place in the hot oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The top should be browning and the lentil mix bubbling up from underneath.  Serve with some green veg.  And if you fancy it, roasted tomatoes like in my picture!

You can make this in advance – just give it longer in the oven.