Categories
Lunch Quick and Easy Starters Quick and Easy Suppers Starters and Salads Uncategorized

ROAST BEETROOT and CARROT SALAD with HARISSA AND MINTED YOGHURT DRESSING

It has been said many times that in order to stay healthy you should eat colour – lots of it. This easy salad is a great way to get a vitamin hit with maximum taste. Not only is it the prettiest plateful for your summer or autumn table, it also packs a punch with the harissa annointed vegetables and these, combined with the cooling minty dressing are seriously delicious. Serve it on it’s own, the veg warm from the oven or as a hearty but healthy side with grilled chicken or lamb. It makes a great starter or pack it into a tortilla wrap or pitta if you want lunch on the go.

The puy lentils could be left out but they add a lovely bite and make the whole thing a little more substantial. Add as many or as few as you like. The walnuts add a wonderful earthy crunch but you could just use pine nuts instead if you prefer. Add a tablespoon or two of tahini to the yoghurt dressing for a suggestion of sesame. This is a salad that you can play around with and make your own. Mint, yoghurt, harissa, root veg – it’s a marriage made in culinary heaven.

Use whatever beetroot you can find – the classic dark red are easily available in every supermarket but golden beetroot would work well here in combination with the red. Buy the smaller, more tender bulbs if you can.

Serves 4 for lunch, 6 as a starter250g small carrots (e.g. chantenay)

Four beetroot (or eight very small)
1 dessertspoon of harissa paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze honey
A little lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fennel, toasted and crushed
50g toasted chopped walnuts
Fresh Rocket
4 tablespoons cooked puy lentils, tossed in a little oil and lemon juice
Handful of fresh mint
1 lemon
Four tablespoons natural yoghurt

Pre-heat the oven to 220c (200c fan oven)

Cut the carrots into small lengths. Peel the beetroot and cut into small chunks.

Take a shallow roasting tin. Mix the harissa, oil, lemon juice and honey. Toss through the beetroot and carrot and turn into the roasting tin. Add seasoning and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until well roasted.

Remove from the oven. Allow to cool a bit for a few minutes. Toss into a bowl and mix with the lentils, walnuts and rocket. Check the seasoning.

Mix the yoghurt with lots of mint and lemon juice. Season to taste.

Pile onto plates and drizzle over the minted yoghurt or serve that separately.

carrot and beetroot salad

Categories
Lunch Quick and Easy Suppers Uncategorized

SPAGHETTI with BACON, LEEK, CHARD & PESTO

Everyone has their own favourite spaghetti recipe. It is the go to dish for those evenings when you are feeling a little bit jaded and in need of some food love without too much effort involved. This is one of ours – it is eminently adaptable to whatever you have lying around in the vegetable drawer or in the garden but the thing is that it isn’t too heavy – no rich cream or too much cheese and so you can really enjoy it without too much guilt. If you really want to make it a dish worthy of a health halo then make half the amount of pasta and top that up with some courgetti or sweet potatotti or similar. But personally, I find that a bit of pasta now and then never did anyone any harm and it is a sure fire way to ensure a good nights sleep. Apparently carbohydrates do that.

A word on the use of swiss chard – you can replace this with spinach but the advantage of the chard is that it doesn’t contain nearly as much water as spinach and consequently what you put in the pan does cook down, but stays more intense and doesn’t release very much liquid.

If you do want to use spinach then put a lot of it in a colander, pour over a kettle full of boiling water and squeeze out a lot of excess liquid with the back of a wooden spoon. Then add it as per the recipe.

Serves 2

1 tablespoon rapeseed or light olive oil
1 leek
1 small stick celery
Finely chopped oregano or a large pinch of dried provencal herbs
1 clove garlic
2 slices of unsmoked back bacon or streaky bacon
2 giant handfuls of swiss chard
1 small courgette or whatever you have lying around
a green pesto or any sort
1 ripe tomato, chopped, core removed
Parmesan to grate
Salt & pepper
150g dried spaghetti or other pasta
Extra virgin olive oil

Have a large pan of salted water on to boil while you get on with the sauce.

Finely chop the leek and celery. Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan and gently fry for a few minutes until soft, along with the herbs. I add a little water at this point to sort of fry/steam. This stops the veg colouring too much and once the water evaporates you are left with softened leeks and celery that haven’t absorbed so much oil. Now add the bacon and garlic and stir around until nicely browned and cooked.

Put the pasta on to boil for however long it says on the packet (normally around ten minutes). Chop up all the chard and put in the pan, stalks first if you can but it’s not crucial. Cook for a few minutes until well softened. Drain your pasta and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Add a couple of tablespoons of this to the pan with the chard etc in it and stir around. Add the pasta and then grate in the courgette using a coarse grater. Then add the tomato, as much pesto as you like and season well. Soften off with a bit more cooking liquid and pile into big warmed bowls, drizzle with extra virgin oil and eat with a good grating of parmesan.

A green salad made from leaves and avocado is good with this.

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Categories
Lunch Meat Quick and Easy Suppers Starters and Salads Uncategorized

ASIAN BEEF SALAD

As the weather warms up things change in the kitchen too. At this time of year its all about lighter, fresh flavours that refresh and revive rather than comfort and warm. Recipes need to be easy too. There is so much to do outside and no one wants to spent hours in the kitchen with the sun (hopefully) beaming down in the garden. This is a lovely salad for a weekend lunch or supper on a warm evening and will satisfy even the biggest appetites if you are generous with the beef. I often buy tail cuts of beef fillet from the butcher for this. They are much cheaper than the perfect centre cut and just as good. Sirloin is more flavoursome and a very good alternative, just slightly less tender but no less the worse for that. I have used rump steak to great effect here too – just make sure you rest it properly and you will have lovely tender pieces. You can ring the changes to fit whatever veg/salad you have to hand. I like to make it as colourful as I can – red radish is useful here, but green beans, sugar snaps, yellow peppers, cucumber etc etc or even a few bean sprouts wouldn’t go amiss at all. Mint is essential.

Serves four to six

1 red pepper
1 small red onion
A few radishes
1 small punnet of cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls each of fresh mint and coriander
110g roasted, unsalted peanuts
Bag of green leaves
4 asparagus spears (optional)
2 Spring onions
800g beef fillet/sirloin
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Dressing

2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 generous tablespoon fish sauce
30g palm sugar (or soft light brown)

Pound the garlic and chillies together in a pestle and mortar. Put into a bowl and add the rest of the dressing ingredients. Mix well. Check how it tastes and adjust with more chilli/fish sauce if necessary. Set aside.

Quarter the peppers. Slice thinly. Slice the red onions thinly and the spring onions. Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Toss in a bowl with the peanuts and herbs.

Heat a grill pan. Cut the beef into thick slices. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and sear until just medium rare.

Rest for a few minutes before thinly slicing. Add to the other ingredients. Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve immediately, on a bed of green leaves if liked. Sprinkle the spring onions over the top with extra herbs.
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Categories
Dinner Fish and Seafood Lunch Quick and Easy Suppers Uncategorized

SEARED FILLET OF SALMON with a TOMATO SAUCE VIERGE and COURGETTI

Quite often, an awful lot of time and effort needs to be spent in the kitchen to create something rather beautiful, extremely delicious and very elegant. For those of you who simply do not have the time, inclination or energy to spare then look no further than this gorgeous recipe. I am using a fillet of salmon here but any fish will work well. The sauce is a simple warm dressing that originates in France – perfectly diced tomato concasse combine with the best olive oil and piquant shallots that bring the fish and vegetables to life and looks so pretty against the green courgette and pale pink salmon. If you can find fresh chervil then that is lovely here, either on its own or with the basil but it isn’t that easily available.

I often finish this with a little spoonful of fresh pesto but it looks lovely unadorned. For those with heartier appetites, some crushed new potatoes under the courgetti will make it more substantial but for a summer lunch or supper I find this carb free version is enough.

Serves Four

4 fillets of salmon (approx 160 – 180g) skinless
4 small firm courgette
2 handfuls swiss chard
2 shallots (approx 50g)
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
Four medium tomatoes, very good quality
1 large clove garlic
100ml good extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons
2 tablespoons of shredded fresh basil/chervil
Rapeseed/light olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
Fresh pesto (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200c

First finely shred the chard, leaves only and either use a spiralizer to create your courgetti or finely shred them with a julienne peeler. Set aside.

Make the sauce vierge. Finely chop the shallots and garlic. Skin and deseed the tomatoes. Finely chop the flesh into small dice. Heat the extra virgin oil in a small saucepan and add the shallot, thyme and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes over a gentle heat and then remove and keep to one side. Stir in the tomato and season well with salt and pepper.

Heat a medium sized saucepan and also a frying pan for your salmon. Season the salmon. Pour a little rapeseed or olive oil into each and once hot put the salmon, presentation side down into the frying pan and the chard into the saucepan. Cook both for a couple of minutes, then flip the salmon over (it should be a pale golden colour) and put the pan into the oven for a further three minutes (maybe four if it is very thick). Add the courgetti to the chard, season and stir over a high heat for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon. Check the seasoning. Remove the salmon from the oven and leave to rest for a minute or two. The tip of a sharp knife should feel warm when pushed right into the centre. Squeeze a little lemon over each piece.

Have ready four warm plates. Divide the courgette and chard between the plates sit the salmon on top. Add juice of a lemon and the basil to the sauce vierge and warm it through gently. Check and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the sauce around the fish and courgette. If you like and have some fresh pesto to hand, a little teaspoonful on top looks pretty and goes well. Alternatively you could stir a little through the sauce.

Serve as soon as you can, although it is not a dish to be served piping hot and therefore quite useful if your guests are slow in coming through to the table!

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Categories
Ice Creams and Granita Lunch Puddings Quick and Easy Suppers

A Quick Pudding for Friends

Homemade ice cream is one of life’s great pleasures and it is very easy to make.
Of course, there are some great ice creams nowadays that you can buy in the supermarket but nothing quite comes close to your own and this recipe is so much easier to make than the classic method as you don’t need to go to all the bother of making a home-made custard.  This is really a matter of stirring some rather wonderful ingredients together and then sitting back and accepting the inevitable compliments, safe in the knowledge that it really wasn’t an entirely taxing experience in the first place.  But no less delicious for that and not necessarily a detail that you have to share.

I made this ice cream the other day for a Friday night supper party.  I was rather short of time and had one of those tubs of peaches rapidly ripening in the larder.   The ginger ice cream made  a lovely accompaniment to them which I braised in a marsala syrup, stuffed with amaretti and dark sugar and spiced up with some cinnamon and vanilla.

STEM GINGER ICE CREAM
Serves Six to Eight

1 tub mascarpone
250ml double cream
Four pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped plus syrup from the jar
2 tablespoons ginger preserve (I use Waitrose own)
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar
Lightly whip the cream and whisk in the mascarpone.  Add the ginger preserve, the finely chopped stem ginger and about three tablespoons of the syrup.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then gradually add the caster sugar until you have a glossy meringue.  Add to the ice cream mixture and fold in.

Pour the whole lot into an ice cream machine and churn.  If you don’t have a machine then put in the freezer in a plastic tub and whisk with a  fork every half an hour to break up the ice crystals that will be forming.  You will have to do this about four or five times.

Keep in the freezer but take out and put in the fridge for about 45 minutes before serving if you are not using it immediately.

PEACHES IN MARSALA with AMARETTI
Serves Eight

Eight fairly ripe peaches
Eight amaretti biscuits (crunchy ones)
Dark muscovado sugar
400ml sweet marsala
100g caster sugar
One fresh vanilla pod
2 sticks of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180c
Remove the skin from the peaches by sitting them in boiling water for a minute or two.  The skins will slip off easily.

Cut in half and remove the stone.  Put in an ovenproof dish and fill the centre of each peach half with some crumbled biscuit and a teaspoon of sugar.  Heat the marsala with the caster sugar and pour around the peaches.  Bake in the oven for forty minutes, basting the peaches occasionally.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with the ice cream or softly whipped double cream.