Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring soup

This is a big, chunky broth that I put together to celebrate the fact that spring was coming! I overestimated the size of my pan though and ended up leaving out some of the ingredients, including some extra stock which would have been useful as I kept it overnight. Make sure you use good quality stock, as the vegetables by themselves aren’t especially tasty. I used Knorr’s premade vegetable stock.

Spring Soup

Serves a generous 4

Time to make close to an hour with inefficient time keeping and inexperienced chopping!

1.5 litres of good vegetable stock

1 crown of broccoli

4 plum tomatoes

100g green beans (French beans)

1 large courgette

Bunch of spring onions

3 measures of garlic (cloves, sliced, or tsps. of Bart’s)

1 bulb of fennel

Few springs of thyme

75g pasta for soup or broken spaghetti


Optional: a dollop of pesto or cream cheese or parmesan (or all 3?) for on top.

Optional: bread to serve with

* Prepare the veg – separate the broccoli into small florets. Slice the courgette thin, long slices. Chop the green beans in half and deseed the tomatoes and slice thinly. Finely slice the fennel and the onions. Heat some oil in a large saucepan.

* Fry the fennel, garlic and spring onions on a medium heat for around 15 minutes, making sure they don’t brown too much.

* Add the rest of the veg, the herbs, the pasta and the stock and seasoning then bring to the boil. Cover, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve hot with dollops of pesto (or whatever your prefer) and some good bread.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Wild mushroom rice

A quick and tasty accompaniment to any meal, it has a variety of interesting textures and flavours. Any mushrooms can really be used, although a selection of different types would be best. I get bags of frozen wild mushrooms from Waitrose, but most supermarkets have at least two or three varieties. Don't forget to look in the dried section for porcini mushrooms! (those must be soaked ahead of time - check packet)

Wild mushroom rice

Serves 4

Cooking time varies hugely according to what mushrooms you use, but say about 20 minutes

500g - 600g wild mushrooms

2 x 250g packets of ready-cooked rice such as Tilda or Uncle Ben's.

200g cream cheese or creamy goat's cheese

Fresh chives, chopped

Fresh Tarragon, chopped

4 thinly sliced garlic cloves (Or I used Lurpak garlic butter with a couple of teaspoons of Bart's garlic paste)

* Cook the mushrooms according to which type you chose with the garlic until they are nearly done

* Stir in the ready rice, stir fry for a couple of minutes

* Add the chives and tarragon and stir well, taking the opportunity to season with salt and pepper if required

* Leave to cook on a medium heat for about 5 more minutes

* Stir in dollops of the cream cheese, and serve it either fully melted or still in gooey lumps

I served my rice with Quorn sausages.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Quorn Lasagne

Another baked pasta favourite. This is the quorn version (I sometimes also have spinach, ricotta and mushroom) and is very simple to make and reasonably good for you.

Quorn Lasagne

Serves a very generous 4

Total time to prepare and cook: around 45 minutes

500g Quorn mince

2 x 450g tins of flavoured tomatoes (i.e. with herbs or garlic in) OR 2 jars of similar-sized ready-made pasta sauce

2 peppers (I used orange and yellow)

Grated cheese enough to sprinkle over the top

Lasagne sheets - I can't say how many as there are so many different sizes and different sizes of baking tins/dishes. I use Waitrose fresh ones, 1 packet.

For the white sauce:

2 pints (1.1L) of milk

4 tbsp flour

1 tsp dried rosemary

Preheat over to 200C

* Make the white sauce as per recipe shown in this blog

* Cook the peppers, mince and tomato sauce mix for 10 minutes over a moderately high heat

* Layer the lasagne sheets with the mince and white sauce in a baking dish, remembering to keep some white sauce spare for the topping

* On top of the last layer of pasta, pour a good amount of white sauce to cover and then sprinkle with the cheese

* Bake for up to 30 minutes, checking to make sure the cheese doesn't burn!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Macaroni Cheese

My favourite food from childhood, I used to get fed this as a baby. It's perfect comfort food, and the way this one is done is a little less heavy than most other recipes you'd find. Use your favourite cheese on the top; i used Gruyere for a punchy flavour with a relatively small amount.

Macaroni cheese

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 - 40 mins

2 pint/ 1.1L milk

2 tbsp plain flour

65g Parmesan or similar cheese

Grated cheese for sprinkling on top

250g macaroni pasta

A generous teaspoon of pureed garlic - optional

A couple of bay leaves - optional

Dried bread crumbs - optional

Preheat oven to 200C

* Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water for 8-10 mins, or 2 mins less than the packet recommends

* Make the white sauce (See my white sauce recipe!) and mix in the parmesan and optional extras once the sauce has boiled.

* Put the pasta into an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce on top (I added a layer of tinned sweetcorn for some veggies)

* Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on top (and the breadcrumbs, if using)

* Bake for up to 10 - 15 mins, best to keep an eye on it and make sure it isn't getting too dry or burnt.

* You could stick it under the grill afterwards fr an extra couple of minutes for extra crispiness

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wagamama Cookbook

Last week I made a couple of meals from the original Wagamama cookbook. I won't list the recipes here, but I'll tell the basics so you can get an idea of what I made. They were both delivious, although the korokke made a royal mess!

Yasai Cha Han - A stiry fry consisting of tofu, baby corn, thinly sliced mange tout, quartered button mushrooms and egg-fried rice, drizzled with teriyaki sauce.

Yasai Korokke - Fried vegetable cakes consisting of sweet potato, potato, peas, sweetcorn and onion served with crunchy salad and drizzled with teriyaki sauce (because I had some left over).

I love Wagamama, and although a lot of the recipes in this book involve meat, I consider it worth having.