Friday, 28 January 2011

Spaghetti with garlic yoghurt sauce

A bit of a mix of middle-eastern and mediterranean here; the garlic yoghurt sauce is what you usually get on your kebabs, but it's pretty versatile. This is a quick, tasty meal which can be played around with to get exactly what you want. Oh and no picture, we ate it too fast!

Spaghetti with garlic yoghurt sauce

Serves 4

Total time taken to cook and prepare was 20 minutes!

300g dried spaghetti (I generally use brown)

A 450g tub of yoghurt

Around 300g of ficken (fake chicken!), but you can have more

2 avocadoes

A bag of baby spinach salad leaves

A bunch of chives

Garlic (crushed, in a tube or in a jar... you choose, it'll be up to you to decide the amount that you want.)

Lemon juice for keeping the avocado from going brown

2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp Olive oil

* While waiting for the water to boil for the pasta and 1tbsp of the oil to heat in a pan, chop the ficken into small pieces and chop the chives.

* Add the spaghetti to boiling water, bring back to the boil and boil gently for 10-12 minutes.

* Add the ficken to the pan, toss, sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar, then fry gently until the spaghetti is done.

* In the meantime add your garlic of choice to the yoghurt and stir vigorously. It's best to start small and taste as you go along.

* Add the remaining 1tbsp of oil, a splash of lemon juice if you have spare and the chives to the yoghurt sauce.

* Just as everything else is finishing cooking arrange the baby spinach on a plate along with the half of avocado (sprinkled with lemon juice).

* Serve with the garlic sauce on the pasta and the ficken on top. Season as required.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Dutch Boterkoek

This recipe is for a Dutch cake which is thick, soggy and almost pastry-like in textures. I have to admit I didn’t get it quite right the first time, I could have used a less wide pan and I should have cooked it less (I have an obsession about overcooking anything with eggs in). However, I have to use the pans I have, and I don’t have room for more. Mine turned out more like a soft cookie which a chewy outside and soft centre. But despite all my complaining, it was heavenly. If you want the authentic boterkoek, you might want to search for another recipe, or alter it a bit.

A note on the almond essence: I think it could be optional if you have a nut allergy. I’m not sure plain Boterkoek is supposed to be an almond cake, so the small amount should do fine just to enhance flavour. However, my partner and I both LOVE almond flavour, so I doubled the amount.

Dutch Boterkoek

Serves… no idea, but will fit a 8” cake pan with about 1” thickness.
Total time taken 1 hour for a messy cook, 45mins for the more organised!

160g butter

200g sugar

210g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 egg, beaten (reserve a teaspoon of egg for brushing)

1 ½ tsp almond essence

Preheat oven to 180C

* Mix together the butter, sugar and almond essence

* Add the egg and mix in well (all the above best done with an electric beater)

* Sift in the flour and baking powder

* Try and resist eating it already (hard even for me, the raw egg-phobe)

* It should look more like dough than cake batter. Flop it into a cake tin (7-9”) and pat down so it’s even.

* Brush over the top with the reserved egg mixed with equal amount of water.

* Bake for 25-30 minutes. This all depends on the pan and your thickness of cake. A 9” tin only took 25 minutes. I imagine a 7” would take longer. Just observe the colour of the top.

PS no picture, because it didn't looked like I wanted it to!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Home baked beans

A rich, warming and ultimately quite healthy meal (if you ignore the sugar content) which is light enough to be followed by a dessert (less healthy). There are probably hundreds of recipes telling you how to bake your own beans, but this is one I liked. Cooking time varies enormously according to what equipment you use. I didn’t have the preferred casserole dish with a lid, so that cut the cooking time down by at least half. Also note that as well as being sweet, it’s also quite acidic due to the concentrated tomato. But don’t let that put you off too much – it’s delicious!

Home baked beans

Serves 4
Cooking time varies a lot – done my way it took 1.5 hours

2 x 400g tins of borlotti beans, drained

300ml passata (sieved tomatoes)

450ml vegetable stock

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp molasses/black treacle

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste (optional)

2 generous tsp of dried savory (optional, but yummy and an old remedy for

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 160C

*Put all ingredients in a pan, cover and bring slowly to the boil on the hob.

*Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour (if using a covered dish, 1.5 hours covered and an extra 30mins uncovered). You want the sauce to be thick.

*Serve with hot, buttered toast, maybe with a sprinkling of cheese.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Back from La Palma

Back to reality. Busy today so just whacked together a stir fry using pre-packed veg and sauce. Lazy! Will return to usual cooking tomorrow.

I thought I'd use this space to note down my New Year's resolution; if I write it down it feels more concrete. As a vegetarian I admit I eat pretty poorly. I am iron deficient (which isn't all to do with my diet, admittedly, but it can't help) and often feel tired or run down. Which leads me to the resolution - to eat properly!

By properly I mean using food combining to get all the right protein and utilising foods I don't necessarily like too much in order to get all the nutrients I need. For example, beans and lentils. Yergh. However, they are invaluable to a vegetarian's diet. So now the challenge is how to cook these things so that I will actually eat and like them!

In short, in order to eat healthier:
Combine grains and pulses in order to get complete protein (and eat more dairy for complete protein)
Eat beans and pulses which give protein and fibre
Eat more 'hero foods', such as eggs, dried apricots and spinach
Combine food colours, so if one day I eat greens, the next day I'll include yellows, etc

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Holiday Time!

On Sunday I'll be off on holiday for a week, so I won't be cooking anything new for a while. Just Chicken (Quorn) Tonight with roasted sweet potato tonight and tomorrow and Quorn burgers on Saturday. I might add some old recipes or basics in the meantime but from the 9th-17th I'll be having all my meals cooked for me!

And I'm going to La Palma - bright sun, blue sea and, uhm, black sand. Teehee!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Parsnips - Dutch style

I’m not a huge fan of parsnips. I never was. But done like this, slathered in cheese and butter, they become just about bearable! This was taken from a recipe from a Dutch cookery book but I messed around with it because it was far too fiddly and I’m not into lots of swapping dishes and preparations stages. I’ll give the recipe the way I did it, then give the way you’re ‘supposed’ to do it. I served these with vegetarian steaks (yes really – Quorn is great!)and onion rings, but I think they’re pretty versatile. Just make sure you serve them with something strong tasting.

Parsnips – Dutch style

Serves 4

I think variances in cooking time are quite forgiving. I cooked them for about 40 minutes.

800g parsnips chopped lengthways then into 1-2cm thick slices

2 tblsp flour

50g butter

200ml vegetable stock

200g strong, tangy cheese, like mature cheddar (you can use less, but I’m a cheese freak)

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C

*Prepare the stock and whisk a small amount of cold water with the flour so it doesn’t form lumps.

*As the oven is heating, melt the butter in a roasting dish/pan. Once melted, take the tin back out and shake the parsnips around in it until coated. Season with the salt and pepper.

*Pour over the flour and stock so that all pieces are evenly covered.

*Sprinkle over the cheese and again make sure everything is evenly mixed.

*Cook in the oven for however long you feel is necessary (I did 40 minutes, 30 minutes is probably also possible).

Notes: It really, really helps if you use a non-stick tin. The cheese will melt and burn (Just the way my mum likes it!) which will stick horribly if you don’t.

The real Dutch way – Preheat oven to 250C. Boil the parsnips with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and the flour paste over a high heat for 5 minutes. Then melt the butter in a casserole dish (I think a frying pan or saucepan is meant), add the stock (Only 100ml used now), salt and pepper and 1tsp ground nutmeg and braise for 5 minutes. Layer parsnips and the sauce with the cheese in a greased, ovenproof dish then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

P.S. Oops! I forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I’ll remember tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Pea, potato and rocket soup

This is a very thick soup and best suited to the cold winter nights! It doesn’t look all too pretty - it won’t convince anyone who doesn’t like their greens - but it honestly does taste good, even for someone who is a bit ambiguous about peas. The best way to blend it is in a food processor, but I’m a bit squeamish about handling boiling soup (and I don’t like washing up extra bits) so I used a hand blender. If a food processor is used then it’ll come out a lot smoother. Oh, and use your largest pan for this one! I had to skimp on the rocket because it simply would not all fit.

Pea, potato and rocket soup

Serves 4-6 (A very generous 4)

Took about 40 minutes in all, but I used leftover ready cooked potatoes from the day before.

1 onion, finely chopped

250g potatoes, chopped

500g frozen peas

100 rocket leaves, roughly chopped

1L vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp thyme

Oil for frying, salt and pepper for seasoning

*Heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Then add the potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

*Stir in the peas, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

*Add the rocket and lemon juice then blend the soup on whichever way you prefer.

*If gone cold then return to the pan and heat through.

*Serve with some good rustic-style bread.

Notes: You can decorate the surface of the soup with a swirl of sour cream, a squiggle of good olive oil or a sprinkling of multi-coloured ground pepper.

P.S. Happy new year!