Recipe of the Week – 5th June 2017 – Mini Veggie Quiches


There is something about making a good quiche that is really satisfying – I like the way that you can use any combination of fillings, plus they are generally as good cold as they are warm. Here is the recipe for two of my favourite ones that flew off the shelves in my cafe recently – Leek & Cheese and Butternut Squash & Red Pepper.

Makes 2 large or 6 small quiches

Ingredients

Pastry

230g plain wholemeal flour

120g butter

120g margarine

1 tsp English mustard powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of salt

120g grated mature cheese

100ml water

For the filling

4 large free range eggs

150ml single cream

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper

1 large leek, sliced and gently sautéed, plus 30g mature cheddar cheese, grated, or,

1 small butternut squash, finely diced, plus 1 red pepper, finely sliced

Method

1. Mix all of the pastry ingredients in a food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then slowly add water to bind to a dough. knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs, cream, herbs and salt and pepper together.

3. When chilled, roll out the pastry and line a 2 x 9″ flan tins or 6 x 4″ tins.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put a baking tray in the oven to preheat.

5. Add the leeks, or quash and peppers to half-fill the tin and pour the egg and cream mixture over. Top with grated cheese.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown. Serve hot or cold.

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Recipe of the Week – 22nd May 2017 – Cauliflower and Cashew Biryani


I have always felt that the cauliflower is one of the most maligned and neglected vegetables, yet it is very versatile. It’s proper use in a number of dishes is a long way away from the over-boiled mush that some people may remember from their childhood. This recipe really highlights it’s subtle flavours whilst adding great texture, and it’s very filling!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients 

300g basmati rice, rinsed and drained

1 medium cauliflower cut into small florets

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

25g root ginger, grated

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

600ml hot vegetable stock from bouillon

1 x 200g bag young-leaf spinach

50g cashews, toasted and chopped

3 tbs coriander leaves, roughly chopped

3 free range eggs

Salt and pepper

Mango chutney, to serve

Method

1. Place the cauliflower florets in a large pan of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes only. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan then fry the onion, covered, over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, cashews and spices and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the rice and stir. Add the cauliflower and pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until the rice and cauliflower are tender. 

3. Add half the spinach to the pan, remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with 1 tbs water, season and fry in a small saucepan with 1 tbs sunflower oil until set as a thin omelette. Set aside.

5. Season, add the remaining spinach and coriander and top with a slice of the omelette. Serve immediately with mango chutney.

Recipe of the Week – 15th May 2017 – Easy Peasy Vegan Burgers!


With the ubiquitous restaurant chains and bad press attached to them, I think that burgers generally have had a bad deal. As a quick and easy snack or meal they can be ideal for a fast family tea, and don’t have to be unhealthy and high in fat, and of course they should always be meat-free! This recipe is simple, nutritious and low in fat, but most importantly, it is very tasty, and can be easily modified to your own tastes, by adding beans, or chilli, or your favourite herbs and spices.

Makes 6 burgers

Ingredients

200g soya mince

1 large sweet potato

2 tbl olive oil, plus 1 tbl for brushing

2 slices of wholemeal bread, toasted then grated

50 ml water

2 large spring onions, chopped

Salt and pepper 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Cook the sweet potato until soft. I microwaved it in the same way as you would a jacket potato, then halved it and scooped out the insides, but peeling, chopping and boiling works too.

3. Add all of the ingredients into a large bowl, then mix together well with your hands.

4. Form the mixture into 6 equally sized balls then place them on a greased baking tray and flatten slightly to make burger patties.

5. Brush the remaining oil on top of each burger and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

6. Serve in a bun with salads, garnish, sauces, or however you prefer!

Recipe of the Week – 7th May 2017 – Pea and Asparagus Risotto


I have recently come back from a trip to see my family in East Anglia, and a bonus to going at this time of year is that it’s asparagus season – there’s something about going to remote farms and buying bunches of the stuff that I love. This is a nice straightforward recipe that really brings out the best in the flavour of asparagus and complements it well with the subtle herbs and flavour of the rice – real comfort food!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 large bunch of fresh tender asparagus, roughly chopped, retaining 6 stems whole for decoration

2 medium white onions, finely chopped

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

250g Arborio risotto rice

100g frozen peas

100ml white wine

750ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

1 tbs dried mint

1tbs dried marjoram 

20g vegetarian Parmesan style hard cheese, grated (optional if vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste 

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic and fry gently until the onion is soft, ensuring it doesn’t brown.

2. Add the asparagus pieces and rice and stir continuously for two minutes to ensure the rice doesn’t stick and is coated evenly with the oil.

3. Add the herbs, vegetable stock and wine, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.

4. Add the frozen peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a griddle pan gently fry the whole asparagus stems in a little water until tender and set aside.

6. Season the risotto to taste, top with the whole asparagus stems and grated cheese if using, and serve immediately with a side salad or toast.

Recipe of the Week- 10th April 2017 – Moroccan Vegetable Gratin


This recipe is a spicy variation on the traditional French gratin, substituting spices for some of the herbs, and as such is a sort of tagine/gratin hybrid! This is really simple to prepare and make, and is open to lots of changes of ingredients to suit whatever is in the fridge or cupboard!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

2 aubergines, sliced

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced at 45 degrees

2 large onions, sliced

100g quinoa, rinsed (red split lentils work well too)

500ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon 

2 tbs ras el hanout

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tsp dried cumin

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

50g mature cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and add the aubergine slices. Gently fry until lightly brown only (3 minutes or so each side). Set aside.

3. In a large casserole dish, layer the sweet potatoes, onions, carrots and aubergine slices in alternate layers until used up. 

4. Sprinkle the quinoa, herbs and spices over the top then pour over the hot vegetable stock to ensure all is mixed through the dish. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

5. If topping with cheese, add this after 20 minutes, and continue to bake uncovered for 5 minutes until brown.

6. Serve immediately with couscous, fresh bread and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 3rd April 2017 – Smoky Cauliflower Frittata


Since adopting our four chickens last year we are generally inundated with eggs at our house, so I am always looking for new ways to do them justice. This recipe is adapted from one by Yotam Ottolenghi and is a nice variation on the classic fritatta. It also another way to use one of the most under-rated vegetables, the cauliflower.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbs olive oil

100g frozen peas

6 free-range eggs

3 tbs natural yoghurt or crème fraîche

2 tbs fresh chives, finely chopped

2 tbs Dijon mustard

1 tbs sweet smoked paprika

100g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

salt and black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Place the cauliflower florets in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, yoghurt, paprika, chives and mustard. Season and beat well.

4. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan then sauté the cauliflower florets for 5 minutes until light brown.

5. Grease a large casserole dish then add the cauliflower, peas, half of the grated cheese and the egg mixture. Stir well to combine, top with the remaining cheese and place in the oven for 20 minutes until set and brown.

6. Carve the frittata into slices or wedges and serve immediately with new potatoes.

Recipe of the Week – 20th March 2017 – Tagliatelle with Oven Baked Aubergines


This is a nice recipe if you fancy a quick but satisfying midweek tea. Ok, I know it’s cheating a bit using bought tagliatelle rather than making it from scratch, but often fresh supermarket pasta is just as good (in fact often better than the pasta I make!). This does however use freshly-made pesto, which is really required and much better than most that is available in jars. Once you get a taste for freshly made pesto, there really is no turning back!

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g fresh tagliatelle

2 large aubergines, cut to 1cm wide slices

For the pesto;

100g fresh watercress

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

50g cashew nuts, lightly toasted

25g vegetarian Parmesan-style hard cheese, grated

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Small handful of basil leaves 

For the tomato sauce;

1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs dried Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Put the tomato sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes to combine.

3. In a large casserole dish, arrange the aubergine slices, alternating with the tomato sauce to cover each layer until all is used up. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth-ish (I like a bit of crunch).

5. Place the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until cooked. Rinse and drain.

6. Stir the pesto into the tagliatelle and arrange the pasta over the slices of baked aubergine. Garnish and serve with fresh bread.