Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Provencale Prawn Soup (aka the Greenhouse Soup)

I thought it was bad enough going gluten free, but when I recently found out that fellow GF Blogger, Karina ( of Gluten Free Goddess fame) has a whole, HUGE list of 'no-no's', it made me realise how easy I have it, really. By The Bay challenged the GF community to come up with new or adapted recipes that would be suitable for Karina and the first appropriate one of mine that sprung to mind was this one.

This Provencale Prawn Soup is a GF adaptation of a recipe from the June issue of delicious. Magazine (to which I recently treated myself with a subscription). It uses so many of the vegetables that are in season right now, that I re-christened it the Greenhouse Soup. While the original recipe calls for prawns, I think a good version could also be made using chicken or firm white fish with the appropriate stock. Of course you could always keep it fully vegetarian as well.

Provencale Prawn Soup

3 tbsp Olive Oil
15 Large Cooked Prawns (peeled, tails intact, shells reserved)
1 tsp Tomato Puree
100 ml Water
1/2 Large Red Pepper (deseeded and chopped)
1 Large Ripe Tomato (deseeded and chopped)
1/4 Small Cucumber (deseeded and chopped)
1 Large Clove Garlic
1/2 Clove Garlic (crushed)
150 ml Vegetable Stock
Approx 6 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 Pinch Sugar
2 tsp Fresh Basil Pesto (I make my own with Basil, Pine Nuts, Garlic and Olive Oil)
Basil Leaves to garnish

1) Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large pan. Add the prawn shells and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, cover with the water and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to leave a smooth 'stock' and clean out the food processor.

2) Add the chopped pepper, tomato, cucumber, garlic clove and a little olive oil to the processor and blend until smooth. Remove the tails from 3 of the prawns and blend with the vegetables. Transfer to a pan, stir through the prawn stock and heat gently.

3) Mix the prawns and cherry tomatoes with the crushed garlic and a little olive oil. Season well before roasting or grilling for 5 minutes.

4) Stir the cayenne, sugar and seasoning into the soup and divide between 2 bowls. Top with the prawns, cherry tomatoes, a teaspoon of pesto and seasoning as required.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Pasta, Spinach and Three-Cheese Frittata

What do you do when you've got loads of food in your fridge but you really can't decide what to do with it? I had that dilemma this weekend - I had the ingredients for loads of recipes I'd planned earlier in the week but didn't fancy any of them; I was in the mood for pasta or eggs. I decided to compromise and put together a truly amazing pasta frittata with spinach and ricotta. Result? It's now officially a 'favourite'. Unfortunately it's not exactly the most health-tastic, so it'll probably be a short while before I do it again...

Oh, I also want to say that I've found the most AMAZING GF pasta! Rizopia make theirs from brown rice and unlike most other GF pasta I've tried, this has the right 'mouthfeel', tastes great and doesn't disintegrate into a sloppy mess in the pan when you cook it. Really, really good!

Pasta, Spinach and Three-Cheese Frittata

150g Pasta
200g Frozen Spinach
1 medium Onion (chopped finely)
4 large Eggs (lightly beaten together)
2 heaped tbsps Ricotta
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
Mozzarella (sliced)
1 handful Fresh Basil (chopped very finely)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Butter
1 clove Garlic (minced)
1 pinch Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper

Does 4 servings

1) Start cooking your pasta in slightly salted water.

2) Fry the garlic and onion until just going golden. Add the spinach and nutmeg and continue to cook until softened. Stir through the basil, ricotta and parmesan and season to taste.

3) Drain the cooked pasta and add the spinach mixtures - stir well.

4) In a clean frying pan, melt the butter until it just starts to froth. Tip in the pasta and arrange so it is reasonably level but not over-flattened.

5) Carefully pour in the egg mixture so it is evenly distributed through the pasta. Arrange slices of mozzarella on the top and finish with salt, pepper and a little grated parmesan.

6) Allow to cook slowly on the hob for approximately 5 minutes before finishing under the grill to cook and brown the top.

I had mine with a garlic seafood medley and salad.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

I'm Loving... Risotto

I admit it. I've been on somewhat of a risotto binge recently...
Until recently, I'd never really cooked the stuff but when shopping last month, I picked up a box of Arborio rice and figured I'd give it a go. And then another go. And then another because the first ideas were just so nice.

The wonderful thing about risottos is that you can put near enough anything you like into them and they're really very simple to make. Depending on your ingredients, they can be light or rich and work as either side dishes or as main courses in their own right. While my main picture is of a chicken variation, I've also had huge success with other ones as well. Below is my recipe for a basic Risotto 'Blanco' - do try making variations such as Mushroom risotto, Pea and Smoked Mackerel risotto or my Personal Trainer, Emma's favourite, Asparagus, Pea and Mint risotto - absolutely perfect for this time of year!

Risotto Blanco

1 cup Arborio Rice
1 Onion (chopped finely)
1 clove Garlic (minced)
2 cups Chicken (or Vegetable) Stock
1 heaped tbsp Parmesan
1 tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper

1) In a saucepan, melt the butter and slowly saute the garlic and onion together until soft (but not brown). [If using meat or mushrooms, I add them now]. Add the rice and continue to fry gently for a couple of minutes.

2) Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and stir every few minutes until the rice absorbs the liquid and it 'just' tender - it should still have a little 'bite' to it. (You may need to add more stock during cooking). [If using vegetables, I tend to add them towards the end of cooking so they aren't overdone].

3) Stir through the parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. The finished consistency should be tender grains that are almost creamy.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Feta, Potato and Onion Bread

I hadn't planned on posting this recipe, let alone making it, but when I was stuck yesterday on what to have for lunch, I came up with these absolutely delicious bread rolls and knew I'd have to share them. The recipe is largely based on Delia Smith's Goat's Cheese, Potato and Rosemary bread, but has been 'gluten-free-ised'. The bread has a much more Mediterranean feel in the feta and herbs; I also added a good spoonful of tomato puree to the dough. The best bit? I've got 2 more left over for lunch today and I might even make some French Onion Soup to go with them!

Feta, Potato and Onion Bread

175g Gluten Free Flour (rather than muck around with multiple flours, I'm more than happy with Doves Farm GF plain flour)
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Medium Potato (approx 175g)
1/4 Small Onion (chopped finely)
About 10 basil leaves (chopped finely)
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
80g Feta Cheese (cut into 1cm cubes)
1 Large Egg
3 tbsp Milk
1 tbsp Tomato Puree

Preheat oven to 190 Celcius

1) Sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.

2) Peel the potato and grate into the flour using a rough grater. Add the cheese, onion and herbs and stir to combine everything.

3) Mix together the egg, milk, tomato puree and mustard and pour into the flour mixture. Combine to form a rough, soft dough.

- split into quarters, shape each quarter into slightly flattened balls, dust with flour and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.

- Flatten the dough into a 6" round, dust with a little extra flour and bake for approximately 40 minutes until golden.

Serve warm - also good reheated in the oven the next day or frozen to keep for a later date!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Yuk Sung

You may recall that following my search for wheat-free Oyster Sauce, at the end of April I splashed out on a few bits and pices from an online Chinese superstore. One of the ideas I had in mind when making said purchases, was for Yuk Sung, a popular chinese appetiser of minced pork and vegetables wrapped in lettuce leaves. After a bit of poking around on the internet to look for adaptable recipes, I came up with the following recipe. We had it for dinner last week and this amount was enoughf or us both as a main course, so would comfortably serve 4 as a starter. Remember to spread a little Hoi Sin sauce on the lettuce leaves before wrapping for the ultimate in yumminess! It's one of those recipes that looks terrible ('like worms'), but tastes really, really good!

Yuk Sung

400g Minced Pork
1 Small Tin Bamboo Shoots (chopped finely)
1/2 Small Tin Water Chestnuts (chopped finely) - optional
3 Dried Chinese Mushrooms (softened in boiling water and chopped finely. Alternatively use Shi-take)
1 Piece Chinese Black Fungus (softened in boiling water and chopped finely) - optional
2 Cloves Garlic (chopped finely)
Approx 1" Fresh Root Ginger (chopped finely)
1 tbsp Oil
5 tbsp Soy Sauce
4 tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp Shaosing Wine
2 tsp Corn Flour
1 tsp Sugar
Salt & Pepper

1) Put the minced pork in a parge bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand until the meat is cooked, drain and set to one side.

2) Fry the ginger and garlic in the oil for a minute before adding the minced pork.

3) Mix well and stir through all the finely chopped vegetables.

4) Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaosing, sugar, salt and pepper; stir well

5) Mix the cornflour in a little water and add to the meat, stiring well.

To Serve:
Approx 100g Thin Rice Noodles (uncooked)
- Heat approx 1cm depth oil in a large pan. When hot, add small bunches of the rice noodles - they will swell up and go white, puffy and very crispy - this is really fun to do! :-)

1 Iceberg Lettuce (leaves separated)
Hoi Sin sauce

- Break up the rice noodles into small 1cm pieces (they'll break apart easily in your hands). Place on a plate and top with the meat mixture.

- Spread a small amount of Hoi Sin sauce on a lettuce leaf, top with a spoonful of the rice noodles and meat, wrap up and enjoy!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Never Fear!

Despite having a slow couple of weeks, I do have a few recipes set up ready to be posted shortly!
Get ready for the Chinese appetiser, Yuk Sung; Chicken, Bacon and Spinach Risotto; and by very special request, my special Cranberry and Orange Scones.

Service will be resuming shortly ;-)

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Pasta Primavera

With recent high pressure systems over the UK bringing unseasonably warm weather, Spring has most definitely sprung. The trees are very nearly green, the flush of cherry blossom is blowing away, and spring flowers are blooming everywhere. With the British asparagus season just starting, I'm in nearly the perfect location to take advantage of some of the best spears in the country - I'm just down the road from Evesham.
Now the weekend before last I tried my hand at making fresh pasta - it worked well, but I didn't roll it out thinly enough and it *really* didn't look pretty enough to share pics. Fortunately I froze some of the dough, which meant tonight I had fun rolling it out really thinly. Result? pretty damn good pasta, even if I do say so myself - will share the recipe another time.

The sauce recipe is loosely based on one I saw on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen show, but makes more use of the seasonal, spring vegetables I have to hand. Oh yeah, and guess who's still trying to finish up the purple sprouting broccoli? ;-)

Enough fresh spaghetti for one person
6 Asparagus Spears (chopped into 1" lengths)
4 Purple Sprouting Broccoli Spears (chopped into 1" lengths)
1 large handful Frozen Peas (fresh would have been better, but I didn't have any)
3 slices Prosciutto Ham (cut into small pieces)
2 tbsp Grated Parmesan (plus a little more to serve)
50g Butter
1/2 clove Garlic (crushed)
2 tsp mint (I used the freeze-dried stuff because I didn't have any fresh)
Salt and Pepper

1) Melt the butter in a small pan and fry the garlic for a few seconds.

2) Add the asparagus, broccoli and peas and stir in a little water. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly.

3) Stir through the mint, parmesan, salt, pepper and ham and remove from the heat.

4) Cook your pasta in salted, boiling water; drain and toss with the sauce until well-covered.

Serve immediately with a little more parmesan and black pepper on top.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I finally found somewhere that sells gluten free oyster sauce! Wing Yip have supermarkets around the country, but none very convenient for me, so I placed an order online this weekend. Unfortunately the postage cost £5, so I made sure I got my money's worth by stocking up on a couple of jars of oyster sauce, Shaosing, bags of black fungus and dried chinese mushrooms, and some other bits and pieces - I've got a couple of recipes in mind for this week, can you tell? :-)

But in the absence of oyster sauce, what do you do when you receive the most enormous bunch of purple sprouting broccoli in your vegetable box?
On Saturday night, having just finished a stack of ironing, I realised it was getting pretty late and that I was actually, pretty hungry! Wanting something quick, I figured that a stir fry would work. If you have a rice cooker, it's even better because you can just set the rice cooking and by the time the rest is ready, the rice is cooked!

1 Chicken Breast (chopped into smallish pieces)
5 Purple Sprouting Broccoli Stems (chooped into 1" lengths)
1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
1/2" Fresh Ginger (sliced finely)
1 tbsp Cornflour
1 tbsp Oil
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp 5 Spice Powder
1 large tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Lime Juice

1) Mix the chicken with the cornflour and a little of the oil until well-coated. Set aside for 15 minutes. (This is where you start preparing your rice and cooking it ;-) )

2) Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for a couple of minutes; drain and set aside.

3) Fry the garlic and ginger in the remainder of the oil for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and continue to cook until sealed. Add the broccoli and stir-fry until the chicken is *just* cooked.

4) Mix the soy sauce, lime juice, honey and five spice together before adding to the pan. Stir through until everything is well-coated. Serve immediately over your rice.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Mixed Bean and Olive Chilli

This chilli was one of my 'must-get-recipe-from-mum' ones, because it's wonderfully quick, cheap and with the exception of the minced beef, makes use of lots of storecupboard bits - brilliant if you've not been shopping for a while. That said, this week I registered with a couple of supermarkets who do online shopping / delivery services; not for the convenience (although having your groceries delivered is always a bonus and has the advantage in that it's one less car going to the supermarket), but for the simple reason that I'm a compulsive impulse buyer. Let me lose in a supermarket and I can inevitably find a hundred and one things that I *need* but weren't on my shopping list. So yeah, I signed up for online shopping. My biggest reason NOT to go shopping online before now was mainly for the fruit and vegetables - I'm really fussy and like to pick 'just' the right ones that are ripe. Now I get my organic vegetables delivered as well, it's no longer a problem!

Anyhow, back on to the chilli...
Best made with 2-for-one minced beef (on offer of course), a leftover chunk of cheese from the fridge, plus the few other random ingredients you may have laying around in your storecupboard.
Happy cooking, and I hope your weather is as nice as it is here!

500g Lean Minced Beef
1 Medium Onion (chopped finely)
1 Tin Mixed Beans (rinsed well)
Approx 12 Green Olives (stoned and chopped in half)
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
2 tbsp Sundried Tomato Paste
2 tbsp Chilli Powder (hot or mild, your call)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 Beef Stock Cube
Grated Cheese (for topping with)

Preheat oven to 200 Celcius

1) Fry the garlic and onions in a little oil until browned. Add the minced beef and continue to cook until brown.

2) Add the tomato puree and paste, chilli powder, cinnamon, beans ad olives. Mix well and stir in the beef stock cube with a little water. tir again and allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes.

3) Transfer to an ovenproof dish, cover with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is just browning and going crispy on the top. Serve with rice and/or tortilla chips.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Chicken and Pesto Lasagne

Another recipe inspired by delicious Magazine's Italian special!
Any GF'er knows that shop-bought, gluten free pasta is a really hit-or-miss affair - I've been cooking and eating gluten free since January now and in that time have come across some real winners and losers insofar as pasta is concerned. Delicious Magazine had a recipe for making your own fresh egg pasta and I had intended to make my own lasagne sheets for this recipe that I dreamt up. Unfortunately we had scrambled eggs for breakfast and guess who forgot to buy more... As a result I was forced to use 'quick' pasta sheets which resulted in a rather chewy lasagne because there's not a lot of liquid in it. Note to self - remember to buy lots of eggs next time! Other than that, this recipe tasted *really* good - again, shop-bought green pesto can either be really good or really bad. Fortunately it's really easy to make although my basil plant's looking a little sorry for itself now :-)

Serve the lasagne with fresh salad leaves - I dress mine with my favourite Honey and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

30g Fresh Basil Leaves
100g Pine Nuts
2 Cloves Garlic
100ml Olive Oil

2 Chicken Breasts (chopped into small chunks)
1/2 Smoked Sausage (Matthesons (Kielbasa-style), chopped into half-rounds)
1 Small Onion (chopped finely)

1/2 Pint Milk
200g Cheddar (grated)
100g Mozzarella (sliced)
20g Parmesan
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 tbsp Cornflour

12 - 15 Fresh Lasagne Sheets
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 180 Celcius

1) Make the pesto first; blend all ingredients together in a food processor or with a hand blender, to a creamy consistency.

2) Fry the onion in a little oil until golden. Add the chicken and sausage and fry until cooked through and slightly crispy. Set aside.

3) Make the cheese sauce; mix the cornflour in a little of the milk until smooth, before adding the rest of the milk. Heat gently in a saucepan and stir in the nutmeg, bay leaf, parmesan and half of the Cheddar. Stir until thickened and set aside, removing the bay leaf just before use.

4) Assemble the lasagne; place the chicken and sausage mixture evenly over the bottom of a 9" square oven dish. Place alternate layers of lasagne sheets and pesto, finishing with a layer of pasta. Top with the cheese sauce followed byt he mozzarella slices and the remainder of the Cheddar.

5) Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the pasta is tender and the cheese is browned on top.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Gnocchi With Sausage and Sweet Chilli Tomato Sauce

I remember eating gnocchi in a restaurant years ago and being completely put off by the plate of dense, slimy blobs. Now, many years later I felt that I ought to give the humble potato pasta another try. Inspired by Delicious Magazine's Italian month, the gnocchi here were adapted from one of their recipes to be gluten free. I also made a different sauce using my favourite Matthesons sausages (the British version of kielbasa (I think), which I recently discovered were gluten free), in a tomato and sweet chilli sauce.

The results?
Beautiful, light and fluffy diamonds, half eaten straight away and the other half stored in the freezer for another day. Brilliant!

These take a little planning in advance as the potatoes need cooking and then ricing / mashing.
I baked my potatoes as it helps dry them out a little.

500g Baking Potatoes
150g GF Flour (or '00' pasta flour for non GF people)
2 Medium Eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 tsp Salt

1) Prick the potato skins and bake until cooked - time depends on the size of the potatoes.

2) Using a spoon, scoop out the insides and pass through a potato ricer (or do as I do, and press through a sieve).

3) Add the eggs, flour and salf and combine into a pliable dough. Divide into quarters, rolling each quarter into a 1" 'tube'. Flatten slightly and cut into even diamond-shaped pieces.

4) To cook, cook in salted, boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain and melt a little butter into the gnocchi before serving.

Sausage and Sweet Chilli Tomato Sauce

1 Small Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 Small Onion (chopped finely)
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 Smoked Sausage / Kielbasa (chopped into 1/4" rounds)
1 Handful Basil Leaves (rouchly chopped)
Salt & Pepper

1) Lightly fry the Onions in a little oil until golden. Add the sausage and heat through until the sausage has nice crispy edges.

2) Lower the heat and stir through the tinned tomatoes, puree, chilli flakes and sugar. Simmer until the liquid content has reduced by about half.

3) Stir in the basil and seasoning to taste.

Serve the sauce over the gnocchi and finish with fresh parmesan and basil leaves.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Missy's Ma's Watercress Soup

Spring time = Watercress = SOUP!
Hannah and I have been on a bit of a soup binge at work recently, and with the warm, sunny weather we've been having recently, I just had to show her my mother's amazing watercress soup.

Ma's watercress soup is infamous. Sworn vegetable 'haters' love it. Soup 'haters' love it. It's wonderful both hot and cold and is great as a starter or a main course. Personally I prefer it cool with crackers and slices of crumbly, white Cheshire cheese on the side for lunch. Also, it's incredibly simple to make! There's just 5 (with an optional 2 more) ingredients and it takes just 30 minutes from start to finish.

Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, as well as high levels of vitamins A and C. It's also just in season now, and will be through until October.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter break!

500g Watercress (with thickest stems removed)
2 Medium Potatoes (peeled and chopped into 1" cubes)
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
Approx 500ml Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Oil
Salt & Pepper
Wholegrain Mustard (optional)
Cream (optional)

1) Sweat the onions in a large pan until transparent.

2) Add the potatoes and enough chicken stock to cover them. Simmer for 15 minutes.

3) Add the watercress and mustard (optional) and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender and the watercress is fully wilted (approximately 5 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4) Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor or with a hand blender.

5) Return to the pan and reheat if serving hot, or allow to cool. Stir through 2 tbsps cream (optional) and garnish with a little more to serve..

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Spring Lamb with Roasted New Potatoes

From the picture, this may not look like all that much, but I think I'm on to a winner here and it certainly gets the thumbs up!
While in the UK we can get good lamb imported from New Zealand for the whole year round, April is the start of the British lamb season and Easter weekend is also usually associated with lamb (which is of course, why I have a joint of pork :-) ). The British lamb season runs from April to October, with the best lamb coming later in the season.

While we're still a little early for new potatoes (which have the best season between May and July), the imported ones do still work nicely with the lamb. I served the lamb and potatoes with Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese and gravy made with the meat juices. Mmmmmyummy!

4 Small(ish) Lamb Leg Steaks
1 Heaped tsp Mint Sauce
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
2 tsp Redcurrant Jelly
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper

New Potatoes
A Little Oil
1 tsp Mint Sauce
Salt & Pepper

Preheat Oven to 180 C

1) Mix the mint sauce, garlic, mustard, redcurrant jelly, salt, pepper and lemon juice and marinate the lamb in an ovenproof dish for at least 20 minutes.

2) Boil the new potatoes in enough salted water to cover them, until nearly cooked

3) Drain and return to the pan with a little oil, mint sauce and seasoning and shake gently to coat. Bake for 30 minutes on a baking sheet, turning once during cooking to brown move evenly.

4) Bake the lamb in the dish it marinated in, for 20 minutes at the top of the oven.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Chinese-Style Chicken and Sweetcorn Sunshine Soup

Have you ever been for a Chinese meal (or grabbed a take-out) and been served that gloopy, grey-yellow mess that is often the excuse for Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup?
In theory it should be one of the nicest (in my opinion) soups on the menu but so frequently it's over-thickened with corn starch and there's hardly a piece of chicken in it!
Fortunately it's very easy to make your own and because it is so quick to put together (even more so if you use leftover roast chicken), I sometimes make it in the mornings and take some to be reheated for lunch at work. Because of it's high protein content, it would also be great to eat just after a workout at the gym.
If you make this with good quality eggs, the final colour tends to be a very bright yellow, hence the name :-)

500ml Chicken Stock
1 Large Chicken Breast (sliced into thin strips)
1 Small Tin Unsalted/Unsweetened Sweetcorn
1 Large Egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Approx 1 Heaped tbsp Cornflour (mixed with a little cold water until 'dissolved')
Finely Ground White Pepper & Salt
(Spring Onions to garnish)
Serves 2

1) Heat both oils in a saucepan and lightly cook the chicken until sealed.

2) Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

3) Drain the sweetcorn and add to the soup - turn the heat right down.

4) Using a fork (yes, a fork), slowly drizzle the egg into the soup in so it forms thread-like 'ribbons' - if you tip the egg in too fast it will just form a solid mass

5) Season with salt and pepper to taste, before adding the cornflour a little at a time, stirring constantly until the soup is at the desired thickness (remember that the soup will continue to thicken as it re-reaches boiling temperature, so don't add too much cornflour. If it does become too thick, stir in a little more water or chicken stock)

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Cauliflower With Spinach, Mixed Sprouts and Garam Masala

In last week vegetable box, I got something I'd never seen before; mixed sprouts. I mean, I'd heard about them on various tv shows and in diet books, but this was the first ime I'd seen them 'face to face'. Sprouted beans, including aduki, lentil, mung and chickpeas are a favourite of those on raw diets as they are an excellent source of protein and more importantly, when raw they are also rich in phytochemicals; compounds found in plants that are not required for normal functioning of the body but that have a beneficial effect on health.

Because curry was on the menu last week, I figured that as the likes of lentils and chickpeas feature frequently in Indian cooking, an Indian-style recipe would work well - and it did. This recipe is a 'jazzed up' version of my spiced cauliflower and spinach one that I regularly make to go with curries. It uses Garam Masala spice powder although you could use general purpose curry powder mixes. To make the most of the nutrients the raw sprouts were thrown in at the last minute before serving.

1 Half Head of Cauliflower (cut into 1" florets)
8 Blocks of Frozen Spinach (defrosted and squeezed to remove excess water (or a couple of good handfuls of fresh leaves))
1 Medium Red Onion (chopped)
2 Handfuls Mixed Sprouts
3 tsps Garam Masala
1 tsp Sugar
1" Piece Fresh Root Ginger (finely chopped)
1 Clove Garlic (minced)

1) Blanch the cauliflower florets in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes and drain

2) Fry the onion, ginger and garlic in a little oil until golden.

3) Add the cauliflower florets and fry until they start to develop browned spots, before adding the spinach.

4) Stir in the Garam Masala, Sugar and a little water if necessary. Stir until well mixed and the spinach is warmed through.

5) Turn off the heat and stir in the mixed sprouts. Serve immediately.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Banana and Poppyseed Cake

3 is the magic number apparently, and that was certainly the case with this banana cake; this is the third weekend in a row that I've tried to get this to work! The first time I tried it I must have overestimated how much fat it needed because it turned out as a really heavy, greasy mess. The second time I tried I overcompensated and it turned out too dry... And just like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the third attempt was near-enough perfect. Granted, I left it in the oven a little too long, but other than that it's great! Really light and fluffy and because I offset the sweetness of the cake with a cream cheese filling, it tastes simply divine! This is best eaten in 2-3 days, but slice and freeze to enjoy for longer :)

3 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
150g Butter (softened)
150g Light Brown Sugar
250g GF Flour (or slightly less plain flour if you're making it non GF)
50g Ground Almonds
2 tbsps Poppy Seeds
2 tsps Vanilla Essence
3 tsps Baking Powder
3 Medium Eggs (lightly beaten)
1 tbsp Oil

25g Butter (softened)
75g Full-Fat Cream Cheese (softened)
(Up To) 500g Icing Sugar

Preheat oven to 180C and line two 8" cake tins with baking parchment

1) Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the beaten eggs, oil, vanilla and bananas and beat again.

2) Mix the baking powder, flour, poppyseeds and ground almonds and sift gradually into butter mix, mixing well each time so the mixture stays light.

3) Distribute evenly between the two cake tins and place in the middle of the oven.

4) Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and springy to the touch. A toothpick or skewer should come out clean.

5) Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.

6) Beat the butter and cream cheese for the icing together until smooth. Gradually sift in the icing sugar, beating well, ntil the mixture is fairly stiff but soft enough to spread.

7) When cool, spread the filling between on the 'bottom' layer and sandwich them. Decorate with a final shake of icing sugar and enjoy!

Friday, 16 March 2007

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Credit for this recipe goes to my work-friend Hannah's brother-in-law (thank you!), although I was using the basic idea and its been slightly Zoe-ified!

Brussels sprouts are often vilified thanks to many people's childhood memories of bitter green, round blobs that appear on their plates once a year for traditional English Christmas dinners, and indeed it wasn't until I went to university that I actually developed a taste for them. Closely related to cabbages, Brussels sprouts are rich in many valuable nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of numerous nutrients including folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin (vitamin B1) and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin E, copper and calcium. In addition to these nutrients, Brussels sprouts contain numerous disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Pine nuts have a wonderfully mild, nutty flavour which goes really nicely with the sprouts and bacon.
As with many other nuts, pine nuts contain heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid, as well as vitamin B1 (thiamine) and loads of vitamin E. They are also a great source of protein, containing many amino acids.

Approximately 500g Brussels Sprouts (roughly chopped)
2 Rashers Back Bacon (chopped into thin strips)
1 Small Onion (chopped finely)
40g Pine Nuts
2 tbsps Cream
1 tbsp Oil (as usual, I used groundnut)
Salt and Pepper

1) Fry the onion in the oil until golden; add the bacon and cook until crispy. Set aside.

2) In the same pan, fry the chopped sprouts until just tender and slightly browened at the edges and turn off the heat.

3) Add the onion and bacon and pine nuts, season well and stir in the cream. Serve immediately - I did mine with GF sausages and mashed potato.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Soy Glazed Salmon with Sesame Seeds

I was going to give you this recipe I came up with along with the recipe for the vegetable rice noodles that I did with it, but I've still not managed to cook rice noodles so they don't stick to the pan and disintegrate (any hints anyone? I soak in cold water for 10 minutes and then blanche in boiling water until soft)! So until I suss the noodles, you'll have to make do with the salmon by itself - not literally of course; it would go perfectly well with normal egg noodles or rice and stir-fried vegetables.

2 Salmon Fillets
3 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Soy Sauce (Gluten-Free if you are that way inclined)
1 tsp 5-Spice Powder
1 tsp Minced Garlic
2 tbsp Sesame Seeds

Preheat oven to 180 C

1) Mix the honey, soy sauce, 5-spice and garlic together well.

2) Spoon 2 tbsp of the marinade on to a plate and place the salmon fillets face-down into the sauce so the flesh gets flavoured. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

3) Place the salmon skin-side down on a small baking tray and bake for 15 minutes before removing from the oven.

4) Turn on the grill to high, spoon a little more marinade over each piece of salmon and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Grill on high until the top of the fish is slightly caramelised and the seeds are turning golden.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple and Cranberries

This is another favourite recipe to use up veggie-box items and is even more brilliant because it freezes well so you can make up batches and keep them for later. This is based on a recipe that my sister Roz found, but was tweaked to use more of what I had in my cupboards and to make it slightly 'fruitier'. I find braised red cabbage is wonderful with game meats and because this version is quite 'appley', it would go really nicely with pork as well.

1 Medium - Large Red Cabbage (sliced finely)
2 Eating Apples (Such as Cox's, peeled and grated)
1 Red Onion (sliced finely)
2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
50g Dried Cranberries
2 tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Mixed Spice
150ml Cider Vinegar
100ml Water
1 tbsp Oil

1) Blanch the cabbage for 2 minutes in lightly salted, boiling water; drain and set aside.

2) Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion, garlic, bay, thyme and mixed spice until the onions are softened.

3) Add the cabbage to the pan along with the cider vinegar, water, sugar and grated apple. Stir well before covering the pan and allowing to simmer for approximately 15 minutes.

4) Stir in the cranberries, stir again, cover and simmer for approximately 10 more minutes until the cabbage is tender and the liquid is nearly gone.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Mushroom Stroganoff

"Beef stroganoff is a dish consisting of strips of lean beef sauteed and served in a sour-cream sauce with onions and mushrooms. The reicpe, which is of Russian origin, has been known since the eighteenth century, but its name appears to come from County Paul Stroganoff, a nineteeth-century Russian diplomat." An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto

While I would usually make this recipe with beef as is traditional, I wanted something really quick after the gym last week that would also do me for lunch the next day, so I threw this mushroom version together. Although traditional stroganoff recipes call for a sauce comprising bouillon and sour cream, I like mine with tomato puree (as served by my mother and apparently Brazilians) and a little wholegrain mustard. This dish is wonderful with creamy mashed potatoes or rice and mine is pictured here with stir-fried cabbage as well.

To make this recipe with beef, you can use cheap cuts of stewing or braising steak, sliced very thinly and fried, a little at a time in the pan and allowing the whole dish to simmer for at least an hour before adding the sour cream.

500g Chestnut Mushrooms (sliced to about quarter of an inch thick)
1 Medium Onion (chopped finely)
500ml Beef Stock
1 Heaped tsp Wholegrain Mustard
1 Heaped tsp Tomato Puree
Sour Cream to Taste
Salt & Fresh Black Pepper
A Little Oil (As usual, I used groundnut oil)

Serves 2

1) Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions until just going brown.

2) Tip in all of the sliced mushrooms (there will seem to be a lot, but they will shrink!) and gently fried until just soft and slightly browned.

3) Pour in the beef stock and stir in the mustard, tomato puree, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes until the stock has reduced by about a third.

4) Stir in sour cream to taste, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Purple Sprouting Broccoli With Anchovy, Garlic and Butter Sauce

Now's the season for purple sprouting broccoli - one of my all-time favourite vegetables!
Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. It is also incredibly high in vitamins C, K and A, dietary fibre and folate, as well many other minerals and B vitamins.

This is based on a recipe I saw in Country Living this month, and makes a really nice vegetarian lunch or starter. If serving as a starter, make sure it comes before a robust main course, because it is VERY strong-flavoured! I did mine for lunch with buttered, boiled potatoes.

Anchovy, Garlic and Butter Sauce:
3 Cloves Garlic
100ml Milk
6 Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil
Softened Butter (cut into small cubes)

1) Heat the milk in a small pan with the garlic cloves until the garlic is tender

2) Carefully blend the milk, garlic and anchovy fillets in a food processor (I use the Herb attachment on my funky Braun hand blender set)

3) Add the butter and blend again until the sauce is smooth. Set aside and warm just before serving.

A Good Serving of Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- Try to get broccoli with stems no wider than 1cm but it this isn't possible, split the stems lengthways up towards the floret head to ensure even cooking.

1) Bring approximately 200ml water to the boil in a large saucepan and add broccoli stems. Put the pan lid on and boil for 5 minutes before turning off the heat and allowing to continue cooking in the steam until tender.

2) Drain and toss in a little olive oil.

3) Serve with a small ramekin of the sauce or pour a little over the broccoli prior to serving.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Your Local Harvest

As I'm sure you're aware, I do quite a lot using my weekly veggie delivery box from Slipstream Organics, and anyone who knows me, knows I'm a massive supporter of British farming and local food. I posted this as a link in response to one of the comments for a post, but thought it would be useful for everyone else to see as well.

For those who'd like to support their local community by buying fresh, local (and often organic produce), check out the links below. They're both really useful for finding Farmers' Markets, local delivery schemes and much more as well.

For anyone in the UK, have a look at Big Barn

For those in the US, Local Harvest is probably the biggest and best directory.


Sunday, 25 February 2007

Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Sultanas and Almonds

Having started a new job last week, I'm now in the unenviable position of dreaming up lunchboxes; a slightly more interesting task since going gluten free. Gone are the days of the sandwich and instead, I've been having fun experimenting with alternative lunchbox meals. Amongst other things, last week I tried various salads (the easiest being simple leaves topped with grated cheese, sliced ham, sundried tomatoes and pinenuts, topped with my own balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey dressing (see below), and I also tried Quinoa for the first time.

Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wah'), is very high in manganese, and also has relatively high levels of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. Most importantly however, is that it contains a complete set of the amino acids that your body requires to build proteins. When cooked, it has a fluffy texture with a slightly nutty flavour which is useful in both savoury and sweet dishes.

Having roasted a chicken last weekend, I made a chicken stock with the bones and used it to make this really simple quinoa salad.

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Chicken Stock
Shredded Chicken (as much as you like / have)
1 handful Sultanas / grapes chopped in half
1 handful Flaked Almonds
Spring Onions

3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (I use Aspall's Apple Balsamic Vinegar)
6 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard

Does enough for 2 / 3 lunchboxes

1) Rinse quinoa under cold running water and drain.

2) Bring the chicken stock to the boil and stir in the quinoa and chicken. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and let cool.

3) Stir in the almonds and sultanas / grapes.

4) Combine the dressing ingredients well and stir into the salad just before serving. Garnish with spring onions.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Quick Update!

After having had my camera cruelly stolen last week, I've dug out my old one so I should hopefully be able to post more pics and recipies soon - unfortunately it's still got its old problem of turning itself off unexpectedly, but it'll do until we get the insurance money through...

Coming very soon: Chicken and Almond Quinoa Salad, Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Garlic and Anchovy Sauce, and the mother of all chocolate cakes based on a recipe by [Gluten Free] Goddess...

Friday, 9 February 2007

Cabbage and Bacon Gratin

One of the great things about having your veggies delivered is that you never quite know what you're going to be having for dinner that week - I struck it lucky this time with red onions and a savoy cabbage. Cabbage is extremely high in Vitamins, especially C, K, B1, B2 and B6. It is also very high in folic acid, omega 3 oils, dietary fibre and a whole host of minerals including calcium and potassium. Using the leftover bacon in the fridge after making soup, this has to be one of my favourite ways of cooking cabbage and it goes really nicely with sausages and gravy - mine were Waitrose gluten-free, 'Cambridge style' sausages!

1 Medium Cabbage (any kind would work, roughly sliced)
1 Red Onion (cut in half and sliced)
4 Rashers Back Bacon (sliced into thin strips)
3 Medium Potatoes (peeled and sliced into discs)
1 tsp Minced Garlic
2 tbsp Oil (I use Groundnut)
1 Handful Cheddar Cheese (grated)
Salt & Pepper

Serves 3-4
Preheat oven to 180 Celcius

1) Boil sliced potatoes in lightly salted water for approximately 5 minutes until slightly softened, drain and put to one side.

2) Fry garlic and onions in a little of the oil, add bacon and cook until just browning. Season and set aside.

3) Fry the chopped cabbage with the remaining oil until just starting to soften, add the onion and bacon mixture and stir well.

4) Tip into a well-buttered oven dish, arrange potato slices on top, sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

5) Bake for approximately 30 minute until the top is golden and the potatoes are tender (oven-bakes sausages should take about the same length of time so put them in together).

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Cream of Celeriac Soup with Crispy Bacon

This week I had the most enormous celeriac in my organic delivery box! Because the potatoes I've been getting have been perfect on their own as 'mashers', I didn't fancy making a celeriac mash so I thought I'd make a soup of it! :-D
All amounts in this recipe are guesstimates because it was a real case of 'a little bit of this and a bit of that', so play around with it until you get the right consistency.

1 Large Celeriac (chopped into 1" pieces)
1 Medium Onion (diced)
1 Medium Carrot (chopped into 1" chunks)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Thyme
500ml Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Olive Oil
100ml Milk
3 tbsp Cream
Salt & Pepper
2 Rashers Bacon (cut into thin strips)

1) Fry the garlic and onion in a little of the oil until softened.

2) Add the carrot, celeriac, bay leaf, thyme, chicken stock and lemon juice; cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the celeriac is tender.

3) Transfer to a bowl and blend in small batches, transfering the smooth soup back to the saucepan.

4) Stir in the milk and cream, seasoning, and reheat gently until hot (but not boiling).

5) Quickly fry the bacon in a little of the oil until crispy and pile on top of the soup.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Savoury Mixed Rice

This recipe works really well with 'alternative' rices such as brown, wild and red camargue, but should still be pretty good with your regular rice. The flaked almonds help give this dish a really good texture and I've served it with chicken or venison casserole.

1 Cup Rice (rinsed)
1 Small Leek (finely sliced)
1 Small Onion (finely chopped)
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
1 Small Piece Fresh Ginger (finely chopped)
500 ml Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock if making as a vegetarian dish)
200 ml White Wine
A Handful of Flaked Almonds
Groundnut or Olive Oil

1) In a saucepan, fry the leeks, onions, garlic and ginger in a little oil until soft and slightly golden.

2) Add the rice, almonds, wine, chicken stock, seasoning and enough water to make sure the rice is covered by about 1 cm.

3) Simmer gently until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it is required - I find it takes about 30 minutes using Waitrose Wholesome Rice.

I'm Loving... Waitrose 'Wholesome' Brown Basmati, Red Carmague and Wild Rice

We're always being told about the benefits of brown rice but until recently, I've really not been able to convince myself that I like it... until now. Wandering around Waitrose the other day, I came across a display of their new 'Wholesome' range, which includes dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and healthy pasta and rice. Intrigued, I had a good look around and found a bag of Brown Basmati, Red Camargue and Wild Rice that I thought looked kind of interesting.

A few days later, I was experimenting with recipes for acorn squash (I got one in my organic veggie box) and found one where the squash was stuffed with a savoury rice. An absolutely perfect opportunity to try out the new stuff, and with a bit of adaptation I had a very passable result!

To cut a long story short, I overcooked the squash so it was really a bit too 'squishy', but the rice inside it was amazing. The Red Camargue and Wild Rice give the brown rice a bit more 'bite' and a slightly nutty flavour which was lovely. Having frozen the leftovers, I had the savoury rice again for dinner this evening with a Creamy Chicken Casserole that I put in the oven before going to the gym - result?

A Perfect Match!

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Coconut Rice Pudding

This Sunday I did a Chinese-style roast chicken and wanted to try something a little different for pudding. This is an adaptation of Delia's Traditional Rice Pudding recipe - very scrummy but you can't eat a lot at once! Goes really nicely with slices of fresh mango.

1 cup Jasmine Rice
400ml Can of Coconut Milk
500ml Milk
50g Sugar
1 Sachet Coconut Cream
2 tbsp Dessicated Coconut
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Ground Nutmeg
Whole Star Anise (optional)

Preheat oven to 150 Celcius

1) Heat coconut milk, milk, sugar, coconut cream, vanilla essence and dessicated coconut in a saucepan.

2) Add rice and simmer until the rice just starts to soften.

3) Pour into a greased dish and place in the oven. Stir after 30 minutes.

4) Cook for another 30 and stir again. Sprinkle well with nutmeg, decorate with star anise and bake util the rice is cooked and the top is golden.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Baked Mushrooms with Mozzarella and Bacon

I *really* fancied a cooked breakfast this morning but really couldn't be bothered with all the washing up they entail. I've made a similar recipe as a vegetable dish using goats' cheese and garlic but I figured that mozzarella would be much nicer for breakfast and make the dish more 'creamy'. If you play around a bit, this would probably make a great vegetarian starter if you melt cheese over some spinach, or you could make it into a 'bigger' breakfast with a slice of black pudding or tomato under the cheese. The best thing about this recipe - only one dish to wash up (except for the scrambled eggs pan!).

2 Large Portabello Mushrooms (the big flat ones)
2 Slices of Firm Mozzarella (Buffalo mozzarella would work as well)
2 Rashers of Back Bacon
Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius

1) If the mushrooms have large stalks, slice them down so the mushroom has a 'flat' inside.

2) Place a slice of mozzarella on the inside of each mushroom and wrap the whole thing with a rasher of bacon - tuck the ends underneath and place in an ovenproof dish.

3) Grind some fresh pepper over the top and place in the centre of the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

4) Serve with scrambled eggs and the mushroom 'juice' spooned over the top.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Comforting Cottage Pie

I put this together to make use of a load of veggies I got in my delivery box.

500g Lean Minced Beef
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
4 tsps Bisto Powder mixed with a little cold water
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
approx 6 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 Small Swede, cubed
4 Carrots,
A Little Oil
Parmesan / Pecorino Romano (optional)

- Serves 4
- Preheat oven to 180 Celcius

1) Put the potatoes on to boil in one pan, and the carrot and swede on to boil in a second pan.

2) Fry the onions until just golden, add the minced beef and cook until browned.

3) Stir in the tomato puree, Bisto and enough water so the meat isn't too dry, and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

4) When the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash with a little butter (or milk) and put aside.

5) Roughly mash carrot and swede together with a little butter and pepper.

6) Layer the meat at the bottom of an ovenproof dish, followed by the carrot and swede mash and topped with the mashed potatoes

7) Grate a little parmesan or pecorino romano cheese over the top (optional).

8) Bake for 20-30 minutes and serve with something like broccoli and gravy.