Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fennel and rosemary pork chops

Pork chops benefit from a good beating to tenderise them and a bit of acidity to cut the fattiness. They can take rather strong flavours (like rosemary and fennel) but in a different way to beef which goes better with really savoury things like mushrooms.

This is kind of like a spice rub.

Mix a table spoon of fennel seeds with a couple of pinches of dried rosemary, saltpepper, and garlic powder. Rub the (tenderised) pork chops with a bit of olive oil and the rub and roast them (they take less time than the potatoes and they can also be grilled). Drizzle with a bit of lemon a couple of times as they cook.

I served it with lemon and thyme roast potatoes and a light salad.

Rocky road cake: attempt 1

I wanted to experiment a bit so I tried to make a rocky road cake. Not the most successful in the rocky road sense but really good none the less. The marshmallows I used, started off large but I chopped them into mini marshmallow size and as a result the just dissolved into the batter. I haven't gotten around to repeating this will larger ones so feel free to help me experiment. You can just leave out the marshmallows in any case.

Brief discussion of making a cake/bun, some recipes tell you to put everything in together and beat. I do not like this as the more you mix, the more gluten forms making it all chewier and thus less cakelike and more breadlike. Anyway from theory to practise
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tbsp vanilla
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 50mL milk
  • 200g frozen mixed berries
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • Large handful of marshmallows
You know the drill with cakes, cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and vanilla, mix in flour and then add the milk. You can adjust the milk according to how large the eggs were, basically you make the batter nice and smooth.

Stir in the fillings and pour into a baking tray. I used a round silicone one. The silicone baking tray LINERS need to be placed on a baking sheet. They are really nicely nonstick if you brush them with oil but I tend to crudely line the base just in case. Bake at 170 degrees for a fan assisted and 180 for a non-fan assisted for 35-40 mins (check at 30 to be safe but don't forget that the oven loses a significant amount of heat, I think about 40%, every time you open the oven door). It's a good idea to allow it to cool in the baking tray for a couple of mins (to prevent melted chocolate going everywhere) before turning out onto a wire rack.

Excellent with a bit of ice cream.

Veggies moussaka

Well it's been a long time. I've been really all over the place lately: had to pack up and move house, sort out the new house (still not totally finished) and I've been really busy in work too. One of my best friends and I have also decided to try and start up a business of our own (coz, you know, we don't have enough to do anyway). More about that when it's ready.

Anyway, unsurprisingly there has been lots and lots of food in that time and obviously I'm not going to write all of it up but I'll try and put up the highlight over the next while.

Going to start with something I made absolutely yonks ago: Veggie moussaka.

This is really simple and to be honest I made it coz we'd run out of mince.

  • 2 onions chopped
  • red pepper
  • green pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 aubergines, sliced
  • 4 potatoes peeled and sliced
  • about 500mL béchamel (3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour, 500mL milk, 2 balls of mozzarella)
The ratio of the veg doesn't really matter, just use whatever is in the fridge. 
Sauté the onions in some olive oil then add the peppers chopped up. Once they are a bit softened add the tomatoes and season. I added a generous amount of oregano as well. While this is gently simmering,   boil the potatoes. While moussaka is great made with sautéed potatoes, it is also more calorific. If you have a multi tier steamer you can steam the aubergine over the potatoes, otherwise blanch it.

To make the béchamel (I believe I've previously discussed how it has a different name once you add cheese to it), melt the butter in a pan and add the flour to make a paste, fry this gently for a bit then slowly mix in the milk (much easier if you use a balloon whisk but a wooden spoon will do just fine). Heat this to almost boiling while continuously stirring to prevent it sticking. Stir in the chopped mozzarella making sure it all melts.

Assembly time! A layer of potatoes, the pepper sauce, the aubergines in a layer, followed by a layer of the remaining potatoes and the béchamel poured over. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until nice and golden brown (about 30-40 mins).

Very easy, lots of food and ridiculously healthy. If you want to further reduce the calories/fat just don't add the mozzarella.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Simon's birthday cake

I like the combination of raspberry and chocolate as it prevents the cake being too sweet. Originally I saw the recipe in delicious! magazine: chocolate and berry tray bake

I modified it a bit to make it more chocolatey (and easier to remember) and added extra baking powder to lighten it.

250g butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs (I used 5 coz they were small)
2 tsp vanilla essence
250g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g drinking chocolate
100mL milk
250g frozen raspberries

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs. Mix in the dry ingredient, then the milk (to make a nice smooth batter) and the raspberries. Pour into a lined and greased baking tray (I used a roasting dish) and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 50 mins until springy. Cool in the tin a bit then on a wire rack.

I decorated it with some melted chocolate and mushed up raspberries (and birthday candles).

Lamb and goat's cheese sandwich

One day I had to make a quick lunch for the boyfriend and myself. We had some lamb left over from dinner the night before and some goat's cheese in the fridge....

I melted the goat's cheese in the microwave. Sandwich consists of cheese, lamb, lettuce, tomato and red onion.

Multi seed bread

This is quite a healthy bread but the flavour is very strong. In my opinion it is a bit too strong for everyday use and I made it to be eaten with a curry instead of naan bread.

500g plain flour (ideally use strong white flour which has more gluten and hence is better suited to making bread but I've been using plain flour for ages and it's fine)
about 2 tsp of fast acting yeast
120g sunflower seeds
50g poppy seeds
50g sesame seeds
2 tbsp caraway seeds
3 tbsp black treacle
300ml water
pinch of salt

If making in a bread maker just chuck it all in and press start. If making by hand just follow the instructions on the back of the yeast packet!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Apple crumble with orange flavours

This is a bit of an overhaul on apple crumble (I am a bit obsessed with orange flavour)

  • 1 kg apples
  • zest and juice of 2 oranges (or 1 depending on the size and your personal preference)
  • 250 g oats
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 200 g butter
  • 200 g light muscovado sugar
Peel, core and chop the apples and place into a buttered baking dish (I like to use purex as that way you can see the food), and add the orange stuff. Mix everything else except the sugar together, then stir in the sugar. Sprinkle over the apple and bake for about 30 mins at 170 degrees Celsius (depending on the the surface area to volume ratio of the dish).

Pork chops with roast potatoes and salad

This was inspired by Jamie Oliver and prompted by the need for a quick dinner.

  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp dried sage 
  • garlic powder
  • a drizzle of honey
  • enough potatoes for 3 people, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • half a head of iceberg lettuce, sliced
  • half a red onion, slices
  • squeeze of lemon juice
Put the pork chops on a baking tray, sprinkle with the fennel seed, sage, garlic powder, drizzle with oil and season. Rub all this into the chops and then drizzle with honey.

Put all the potatoes on a baking tray, sprinkle with the rosemary season, drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the potatoes and the pork chops in the oven for about half an hour at 180 degrees Celsius, flipping the chops and stirring the potatoes half way. Take the pork chops out and let them sit for a few mins while you crank up the oven temperature to 200 to slightly crisp up the potatoes.

While this is happening make the salad by mixing the lettuce and onion with extra virgin olive oil, a bit of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bruschetta: goat's cheese; chorizo and red pepper

I made another two kinds of bruschetta. I have a bit of an ongoing obsession with goat's cheese and I got a lovely round of French goat's cheese in Dunnes that I couldn't wait to use.

I sliced the round horizontally in 2 and put one on each of 2 slices of bread and grilled them until the cheese was a bit melty. The goat's cheese was drizzled with honey and topped with raspberries (coz I was feeling fancy), chopped walnuts and a few leaves of baby spinach.

For a meaty option I fried half of a chorizo sausage in a tiny bit of olive oil then added 2 chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar), some garlic powder and parsley. After cooking for a couple of mins I used it to top 3 slices of bread.

Bruschetta: tomato and onion; mozzarella and pesto

A few of us recently went to Market Bar for dinner and I got the urge to make bruschetta for dinner. I made 4 different kinds using freshly made sundried tomato and herb bread (courtesy of my fantastic breadmaker). Normally I'd toast the bread, rub it with a clove of garlic and drizzle with olive oil but since the bread was fresh and still warm I just use it as it was.

For the first one I diced 3 tomatoes, 1 red onion and 1 spring onion (totally unnecessary but it was in the fridge on its own going off so I just used it). Then mixed them together in a bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil and some basil (I only had dried unfortunately) and left them to sit for a while for the flavours to develop.

In the meantime I spread green pesto on another slice of bread, and topped it with slices of mozzarella, and 3 chopped sundried tomatoes. 3 mins under the grill melted the mozzarella nicely.

To finish the tomato and onion one I just topped 3 slices of bread with the tomato mix.

This made 1 mozzarella and 3 tomato bruschetta.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lemony green salad

This is my favourite salad. My mother makes the best version- she uses lettuce, cucumber, onions and fresh dill (which really adds to the flavour) with a bit of salt, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Since I've no access to fresh dill (I know I can get it in the supermarket but I don't as it tends to go off very quickly) I've modified the recipe a bit to try and make it more flavoursome. I use lettuce, rocket, baby spinach, cucumber,  drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add salt and lemon juice to taste. It is really light at refreshing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tomato, mozzarella, and pesto tart

An ad on tv for jus-rol puff pastry provided the inspiration for this. I rolled out a sheet of puff pastry to fit a baking sheet, spread it with 2 tbsp green pesto, and arranged 3 sliced tomatoes and 3 sliced balls of mozzarella.

The tart was baked at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 mins (I didn't time it exactly, just judged by how the cheese looked). Next time I'll leave more of a puff pastry border but the pastry was not at all soggy anyway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eton mess

This is one of the easiest desserts there is and it can look really impressive (if you don't use too much cream like I did). I regularly make Eton mess and I've found that Tesco finest meringue nests are really great as the texture is good and they are rather large. You could of course make the meringue nests yourself but that sound altogether too much like hard work.
  • 400g strawberries
  • 500mL cream (totally too much-a 284mL pot would be better)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 meringue nests, crushed
Remove the stalks from the strawberries and cut into quarters. Whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar (adjust the amount of sugar you use according to how sweet the strawberries are). Now just mix everything together and you're done!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hotdogs for dinner!

This isn't so much a recipe as dinner inspiration. I was quite tired one evening and I always keep some good sausages in the freezer (they freeze really well and the texture remains unchanged) so I picked up some soft rolls on the way home and put some nice big sausages (I think these ones were Tesco finest spring onion) on to grill.

While the sausages were cooking I assembled the various accessories: roasted red peppers, lettuce, onion, spinach, rocket, tomato salsa, BBQ sauce and coleslaw.

After bringing everything to the table everyone was left to assemble their dinner themselves.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate and walnut breakfast rolls

The sweet dough I made a couple of days beforehand had kept nicely in the fridge and I wanted to make something with chocolate:

  • 200g milk chocolate chopped up
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of chopped walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Roll the dough out to a large rectangle and sprinkle with all the fillings. 

Roll into a Swiss roll of sorts, slice into rounds, stuff into a round baking dish (or whatever you happen to have handy) and bake for about 30 mins at 180 degrees Celsius. 

I drizzled it with maple syrup before baking but I don't think that's totally necessary or that it added much to the flavour.

Raspberry scones

The people I work with and I have developed a raspberry scone addiction. The ones in Sol are really nice and there's a bakery (/cafe) in the docklands called Valentino that has amazing ones (incidentally this bakery is really great in general). Since it was Sunday (so I had time) and there were some raspberries in the freezer I decided to make my own. I basically made a slightly dry scone mix with a bit more sugar than normal and added some (defrosted) rapsberries. I was a bit worried that the mix was too wet but they turned out fine (though I did slightly overcook them: 20 mins would be better than 25).
  • 225g self raising flour
  • half tsp of baking powder (I was worried the raspberries would weigh it down)
  • 50g butter
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • about 140 mL milk (add the last bits slowly to ensure the dough does not get too wet)
  • a large handful of raspberries (or other fruit)
Stir the baking powder into the flour and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar and milk. Gently mix in the raspberries, place large spoonfuls onto a floured baking sheet (this mix made 6 for me) and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 mins. Cool on a wire rack and then eat with butter (the real stuff mind you, not margarine).

Coffee eclairs (of a sort)

I made these a while ago for Karl's birthday but I never got around to putting this up. These are very easy to make but just don't do what I did and let them cool on the baking tray. Those allowed to cool on the baking sheet left the bottom part behind whereas as those I removed immediately remained intact.

So, start by making a choux pastry. There are many, many recipes for this out there and they are all the same in essence. I used the amounts given in Michel Roux's great book Pastry which has a nice recipe for profiteroles. By the way this is a fantastic book containing everything you need to get the hang of many different kinds of pastry and I would not hesitate to recommend it (or indeed his other books: Sauces, and Eggs).
Melt 100g of butter, 125mL milk, 125mL water, pinch of salt, and a small spoonful of caster sugar and bring to the boil. Off the heat mix in 140g of plain flour, dry the mix a bit on the heat then, in a bowl, beat in 4 eggs.

I piped this mix onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and baked at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15-20 mins (I was somewhat inconsistent with the size of my eclairs...). It's usual to brush the outside with some eggwash (egg and milk) but I neglected to do this. As I said above don't leave them on the baking sheet, instead transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The icing was very simple:make a cup of espresso coffee and mix some into about 200g of icing sugar a little at a time to make a smooth icing. After filling them with some cream (whipped with some caster sugar and vanilla essence) the ice the buns and you're done!


This is a recipe from my childhood. It is greek in origin (oregano and tomatoes are main ingredients which is a bit of a giveaway). For some reason I decided to cook a dish that requires onions on a day when we had nearly run our of onions. I'll describe the dish as I would normally make it but today I used one onion for the meatballs, one onion and a load of shallots for the sauce.

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 slices of bread made into bread crumbs using a food processor or just 3 handfuls of breadcrumbs
  • 400g beef mince (or thereabouts)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 3 tsp or oregano
Mix the chopped onion, bread crumbs, mince, egg, 1 tsp oregano and season. Make this into ellipsoids about the 6 or 7 cm long and 2 cm wide. Brown these in some olive oil in a frying pan then add the sliced onions (if there is not enough room in the pan take out the meat-ellipsoids) and gently fry them too. Add the rest of the ingredients and season generously (remember tomatoes usually need a bit more salt that you'd think). Simmer for about 15-20 mins (the same length of time it'll take you to cook some rice to go with it).

The photos do not make it look as good as it actually is.

Sweet breakfast bread

I made a large amount of rich sweet bread dough in the breadmaker using the following:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large spoonfuls of butter (say 3 tbsp)
  • 8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp fast action dried yeast
This made a lot of dough and I refrigerated half of it and used the rest to make a fruity stuffed bread. 
I rolled out a large rectangle of dough, filled it with some chopped and peeled apples, dried cranberries, crushed walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon. You can use pretty much anything as filling: dried blueberries, pecans, chocolate, raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots etc.

Cutting outward from the filling to make radial strips and folding these over resulted in something rather homely looking...

Which was baked at 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 mins to give something no less homely but still quite delicious. This is great as a breakfast bread and I think it would go really well with some custard as a dessert.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eggy in a basket

I saw this in V for Vendetta (an excellent movie btw and the comic's good too), I tried it the very next morning. That was good while ago and I've made it lots as it's a really hearty breakfast, really easy, and a bit fun too. It works better with decent bread, preferably homemade (remember how I said breadmakers were great) as you need a good thick slice. The hole in the middle can be cut out with a knife or pastry cutters (to make different shapes).

 Butter the bread on both sides and cut a bit out of the middle. Heat a frying pan (best to use a nonstick one and tefal are definitely the best) on a medium heat with a tiny bit of oil. Once the bread is in the pan drop an egg into the centre of the hole (it's easier if you break the egg into a bowl/cup/glass first) and cook gently then flip to cook the other side. Fry the cut out bits too (great for mopping up egg) and possibly some pudding too...

Veggie moussaka

I wanted to make something in the oven but healthy too. Besides dish in the picture, I had enough for another dish about half the size.

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 peppers, chopped (I used 1 yellow and 1 green)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • oregano (or whatever herbs take your fancy)
  • 1.5 aubergines (or just use 2), sliced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Half litre of milk
  • Ball of mozzarella, chopped
Saute the onions in some olive oil, add the peppers and cook for a couple of mins, then the herbs and tomatoes. Season and leave to simmer gently while you prepare the rest. Peel and slice the potatoes and parboil for 5 mins. With root vegetables you should boil from cold rather than blanching (already boiling water) as they are denser. 

A science bit: Alway, always use salted water as this increases the boiling point (boiling point elevation, a colligative property) meaning the water is hotter.A liquid cannot be hotter than its boiling point (unless it's superheated but that's a story for another day) and hotter liquid means faster heat transfer and more of it and therefore faster cooking. While we're on the subject the boiling point is when a liquid's vapour pressure is equal to the atmospheric (external pressure) and is seen to occur when evaporation occurs throughout the liquid.

Anyway back to the recipe: After cooking the potatoes the water will be nice and hot so blanch the aubergines for 3 mins. 

Some old recipes will tell you to salt the aubergine, let it sit then rinse off the salt (a browny liquid will be present on the surface). This serves 2 purposes, it reduces the amount of oil absorbed during cooking but it mainly serves to reduce the bitterness (this is tempered by cooking anyway). Modern varieties eaten in Europe have had this bitterness bred out of them so this in no longer necessary (unless you really want to reduce the amount of oil absorbed).

Now to make the Béchamel: Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and cook gently for a couple of mins to make a white roux. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and bring to the boil. Keep whisking as you heat coz the sauce will try to stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Once it has reached boiling point simmer for about 10 mins (don't forget about its sticking tendencies). Stir in the mozzarella. Technically this is now called a Mornay sauce.

I layered like so: Potatoes, tomato sauce, aubergines, potatoes and then the Mornay sauce. Baked at 180 for 25 mins. Check it to ensure the potatoes in particular are cooked through.

If you want to make this with meat you should basically make a pasta sauce in place of the tomato sauce. You can fry the aubergines instead of boiling and the potatoes as well but I don't like dealing with hot oil and avoid it whenever possible.


I started off making chilli con carne but got distracted...
  • 1 large onion
  • 250g mince
  • half a red pepper, half a yellow pepper, half a green pepper (I keep a bag of chopped up peppers in the freezer so I always have some handy)
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a generous squeeze of tomato puree
  • 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp oregano

Gently cook the onion in some olive oil, brown the mince, then add the peppers and cook for a couple of mins. Add in the chopped tomatoes (adding the rinsings from the tin to the pan), tomato puree, the herbs and spices, and season. Simmer for about 20 mins.

This is the point where I meant to add a tin of mixed beans but coz I was a bit tired and distracted I totally forgot. It turned out fine though with a bit of rice (on that note, rice is great if you add some stock to the water).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Veggie lasagna (spinach, mushrooms and peppers)

I make several types of vegetarian lasagna depending on what I have in the fridge that needs using up. This time we had some mushrooms that were starting to go a bit funny and half a bag of spinach. I supplemented these with some tomatoes and roasted red peppers. We'd run out of regular olive oil so I ended up using basil flavoured olive oil and from that came the idea of adding lots of basil. Just remember that basil should be added just before the end of cooking so it retains its flavour.

  • 250g mushrooms, sliced (the usual button mushrooms)
  • garlic (I wasn't bothered crushing some so I used 2 tps garlic granules so I'd say use 4 cloves-ish)
  • 200g spinach
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, diced (from a jar)
  • 200g (i.e. one tub) cream cheese
  • about 1 tbsp dried basil (if you have/can get your hands on fresh stuff use that coz it's way more flavourful though usually the opposite is true of dried herbs)
  • A packet of lasagna sheets (how many you'll use will depend on the size of your tray (I made 4 layers using 3 sheets for each)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella, slices
  • 2 tomatoes, slice
  • some parmesan 
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Fry the mushrooms in some olive oil until just cooked add the spinach and red pepper, season with a bit of pepper. Give it a stir so the spinach wilts then add the cream cheese and basil. 

Start layering in your chosen baking dish (I like the pyrex ones so you can see the food inside). Start with some  fairly liquidy bits from the sauce (to ensure the pasta doesn't stick) then pasta, then sauce, then pasta and so on until you run out of sauce. Finish with a layer of pasta. Top with the mozzarella then the tomatoes and sprinkle with some parmesan. 

Bake for about 30 mins. If you're feeling fancy serve it topped with rocket.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peanut butter jelly breakfast muffins

Years ago I read and interview with Kate Weatherell in a food magazine where she talked about her book Sugar and Spice which intrigued me. Today, on impulse, I went into a bookshop and saw it there (on sale btw). I have a cookbook addiction...

The following recipe is inspired by her "raspberry and cinnamon breakfast muffins".

I tried to seal in the jam as much as possible but since I was sure some would leak out I baked them at 165 degrees instead of her suggested 190 degrees as I hoped that would prevent any escaping jam form caramelising/burning thus sticking the muffins to the tray.

Makes 12

  • 160 g plain flour
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 100 g oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 180 g Greek yogurt (or creme fraiche or regular yoghurt, to be honest you could probably use flavoured yoghurt and it would work fine)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 60g butter, melted (let it cool a bit so it doesn't scramble the eggs)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 large spoonfuls for peanut butter (be generous)
  • 50 g chopped nuts (totally optional but I used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
  • about 12 tsp jam (I used raspberry)

Grease you muffin tray. Mix all the dry ingredient then add all the wet ones except the peanut butter and jam. Stir in the peanut butter. Put a spoonful of the mix into each muffin hole (you'll have to spread it out a bit), add a tsp of jam and seal it in (as much as possible) with another spoonful of mix (a bit bigger than the first one). Bake at 165 degrees for about 25 mins (check if they are firm). Cool on a rack. Delicious warm but not hot coz hot jam is like LAVA :)

Red pepper, tomato and paprika soup

This soup tastes like chorizo! You can get a massive jar of roasted red peppers in Lidl (Aldi has a little jar of bits of roasted red pepper) and they are quite big. You can roast/grill some peppers yourself but that takes time and effort. If the red peppers from your jar are a bit on the small side put in another one coz the ones I used were massive.

Makes about 2 litres of soup (1.5 L when blending then I watered it down to 2).

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a handful of chopped celery (I keep a bag of chopped celery in the freezer) or about 3 stalks
  • 2 large carrots chopped,
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • a couple of stock cubes (not essential but add flavour)

Sweat the onions, carrots and celery (I added the celery first to defrost while chopping the carrots, added the carrots, chopped the onions and added them so the ingredients that needed more cooking were in for longer) together for about 5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for a further couple of mins (do not burn the garlic!) then stir in the paprika (off the heat coz it can burn very easily) and add the rest of the ingredients and a splash of water. Simmer for about 30 mins (use the carrots to judge when everything is cooked) then season to taste and blend. I'd say you could leave it chunky if you want. After blending you can add some water to make it the right consistency.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greek salad

This doesn't really taste the same here (the tomatoes are the main problem) but it's still delicious and with the addition of the feta and a bit of bread makes a great light lunch.

In Greece this is what's know and a country salad. They use green peppers but they are a different variety than the bell peppers you mostly get here and so are a bit sweeter, as such I used red peppers. It also should include olives but I really don't like them.

Serves 2-3.
  • 3 tomatoes
  • Half a cucumber (if not fresh remove the skin, if you are not removing the skin give it a good scrub)
  • An onion (sliced not chopped)
  • A pepper (whatever colour you want)
  • A handfull of olives (optional imo)
  • chunk of feta
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • oregano

You'll come across all sorts of herb mixes but in Greece they generally just use oregano. The salad itself is lightly seasoned with salt and a bit of oregano, drizzled lightly with olive oil then the feta placed on top, olive oil poured over it and finally it is sprinkled with oregano.

The oil left at the end should not under any circumstances be wasted! Dip some bread into it.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This is a really easy to make dish that has a multitude of uses. It can be eaten as is with just some bread, made into various sauces for pasta, added to lasagna and other baked dishes as well as being a great side dish. It is several of your 5 a day  (depending on how large a serving you have). It's ingredients are variable depending on how much you have and what is in season. I realise that none of these are currently in season but sometimes you need a bit of sunshine in your life and this dish has bucketloads of it. Roast these at 180 degrees as you don't want the veg becoming soggy and tasteless but do remember that undercooked aubergine is disgusting.

To make about 10 portions you need:
  • 4 peppers (I used 1 green, 1 yellow and 2 red)
  • 4 red onions
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 courgettes 
  • 5 tomatoes
  • oregano
  • olive oil
Chop everything up into bite sized pieces, drizzle generously with olive oil, add a decent amount of oregano, season, and mix. It will look a bit like this.

After roasting for about 30 mins it should be done.