Tuesday, 30 August 2011

"Green" Pasta

So named because it uses green pesto and green vegetables! Ever since I tried pesto pasta in a Bella Pasta restaurant I've been hooked on pesto stirred through pasta. In my opinion the best pasta for this is spaghetti, but any can be used. For a healthy kick use wholewheat pasta. I'm afraid I've drawn a blank when it comes to remembering the exact amount of ingredients that I used, but in this sort of thing it's easy enough to wing it!

When I was shopping for this the vegetables in my local supermarket were buy one get one free, and had the last broccoli grabbed from right under my nose, so had to make do with what else they had, which were packs of tenderstem broccoli and baby courgettes together. It worked just fine. I also made the addition of low-fat cream cheese mainly to add some protein. It doesn't alter the taste, only makes the texture less 'slippery'.

Green Pasta

Serves 2

30 minutes cooking time if you're organised!

150g of dried spaghetti (75g per person is usually a good guide)

A jar of green pesto with enough for 2 generous tablespoons

Around 6 baby courgettes (I'm sure one large one will do fine)

A handful of tenderstem broccoli or half a crown of standard broccoli

100g of baby spinach

A clove of garlic, finely chopped or a teaspoon of minced garlic

150g low-fat cream cheese (optional)

A jar of sweet, pickled hot peppers for garnish (optional. Can also use pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes...)

Cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)

* Chop the broccoli into florets and courgettes into 1cm slices. Cook according to preference (I used a steamer)

* Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the spaghetti, cooking as per packet instructions (usually 8-10 minutes)

* When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and refresh under cold water. Set aside while heating some oil in a pan (if you haven't frid the veg previously). You can use the same pan that the pasta boiled in

* Lightly fry the broccoli, courgettes, spinach and garlic for a few minutes. Whilst frying, if you're using any garnish such as the peppers these can be chopped to the desired size

* Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons of pesto, ensuring the pasta is heated through. Then, if using, stir in the cream cheese and garnish

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Crunchy Cherry Cake

I'm afraid this was snaffled before any pictures could be taken as I made it for an afternoon tea party. However, you can rest assured that it was delicious and looked wonderful! It's a basic cake recipes with added cherries and ground rice for the crunch. I find it best if you have an electric beater to beat the sugar and butter in the first instance and beat for about 5 minutes. It sounds like a lot, but it's an easier way of knowing you've done it long enough than just looking out for it being "light and fluffy".

Crunchy Cherry Cake

Serves 10-12

Time taken around an hour

175g butter, softened

175g caster sugar

175g self-raising flour, sieved (or you can seive it directly into the cake bowl later)

3 medium eggs

25g ground rice

Juice of small lemon (or use just over half of a bigger one)

125g glace cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 180C

* First thing to do is wash and dry your cherries. This is supposed to help against them sinking. Mine invariably still do, but your mileage may vary!

* Beat the butter and caster sugar for 5 minutes

* Add the eggs one at a time and beat a little in between each one

* Fold in the flour and ground rice with a spoon, a third of the ingredients at a time

* Add the lemon juice and cherries and mix them all together with the spoon

* Put into a tin (I used a loaf tin) and level the surface with the spoon

* Bake in the oven. Time varies hugely depending on the type of tin you use; mine took 45 minutes, which I think is a good standard time. That said, I did put some of the mixture into extra muffin tins because I had too much. Start with 45 minutes and go from there.

* Leave to cool for a few mintes before turning out onto a wire rack for it to cool completely.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Fake Coronation Chicken

Looks exactly like real coronation chicken, but with no chicken! Magic! For those who don't know, coronation chicken is a dish invented to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in the 50's. It's uses mild curry spices mixed with mayonnaise, dried fruit (usually sultanas and apricots) and something to give it a little sweetness. We eat it cold, on sandwiches or jacket potatoes. It can also be served with toasted flaked almonds sprinkled on top.

Coronation 'chicken' jackets

Serves 2

Potatoes take 1hr 25 minutes to bake, the rest takes around 20 minutes to prepare.

200g fake chicken/tofu pieces/whatever

1.5 tbsp low fat mayo

2 tbsp low fat greek yoghurt

1 tbsp mild curry powder

1 tbsp apricot jam

Handful of dried fruits e.g. sultanas

2 baking (big!) potatoes

Preheat the oven to 180C

* Put the potatoes on a backing tray, prick the skins, rub them with a bit of oil if desired then stick them in the oven for roughly 1 hour and 25 minutes. Enormous potatoes will obviously take a little longer. The ones we get at our supermarket are quite modest.

* Put some oil on to heat for cooking the ficken (infused oil works nice; I used lime oil).

* While that's heating, put the coronation sauce ingredients into a bowl and mix together. That's everything that's not a potato or ficken!

* Fry the ficken until it's cooked (quorn pieces take about 10 minutes) then leave to cool a little while before stirring in with the sauce.

* Refrigerate the filling until the potatoes are done, then spoon it on top of a hot, buttery potato.

As a bonus recipe, I served this with a side salad that consisted of:
1 Romano pepper
Half a pack of ready cut mango pieces
Sprinkling of pine nuts
A dressing made from yoghurt, water, sugar, garlic and herbs.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Warm potato, green bean and broccoli salad with feta

This based on another BBC Good Food recipes from the salad section, but I seem to be having trouble accessing their site lately. I can't remember the ingredient amounts exactly, but I'll outline it as best I can here.

Serves 4

Takes around 30 minutes too cook in all

400g new potaoes or baby news

200g green (runner/french) beans

A mid-sized crown of broccoli

Juice of half a lemon

A decent handful each of dill and chives

At least 2 -3 tbsp good quality olive oil

A 200g block of feta or goat's cheese

A handful of pine nuts

A bag of baby spinach leaves to serve

I also served the meal with half an avocado each. Because I love avocadoes!

* Chop the beans in half and separate the broccoli into florets

* Bring some water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15 minutes

* While the potatoes are cooking, mix together the oil, lemon juice and herbs and pine nuts in a large bowl

* When the potatoes are done, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in the bowl with the dressing. Mix well.

* Using the water from the potatoes, boil the broccoli and green beans for about 4 minutes. When done add them to the potatoes and dressing and toss together well.

* Cut the feta into small rectangular pieces. Arrange the spinach leaves on plates and spoon the dressed salad mixture on top. Top the salad with the feta cheese. Now is the time to slice your avocado. If you have lemon juice left, squeeze onto the avocado to prevent it browning.

I loved this meal. So healthy, filling and tasty, all in one dish! I did adapt the recipe somewhat, as I served it warm, used feta instead of goat's cheese and added chives and the baby spinach, And the avocado. I didn't feel the recipes would have been interesting or tasty enough without the additions. It's a good time of year to make the most of fresh, in-season produce, so make it now!