Roasted carrots with butter, cumin and orange

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It’s carrots, enough said. And if it wasn’t, it has orange. And cumin. The perfect side dish for your roast…

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 750g carrots, peeled and cut into thick batons
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus some juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 175oC

Put the oil and butter into a large baking dish and leave in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the butter melts. Remove from the oven and add the carrots, cumin, and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss together, cover with foil, and return to the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Remove from the oven, take off the foil, and give everything a good stir. Then return to the oven, uncovered, for about 20 to 30 minutes, so the carrots start to caramelise.

When you take the dish from the oven, stir in the orange zest and a good squeeze or two of the juice. Serve at once


Pumpkin and tahini spread

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Smooth, creamy and  with a warm spices note – Autumn doesn’t get any better than this. It was supposed to be eaten in small portions with savoury cookies, but soon spoons made an appearance. TEoU and I ended up having it as pumpkin purée for lunch…

Pumpkin and tahini spread (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70g tahini paste
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Method

Heat the oven to 180C. Spread the pumpkin out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil and roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Transfer the cooled pumpkin of the bowl of a food processor, along with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste

To serve, spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and a drizzle of syrup.

PS – Cookies (Taralli Caserecci Pugliesi) courtesy of Coop Fine Food 


Kale, chorizo and white beans soup

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Just what you need when you get back home on a Winter: a hot plate of hearty soup. But, please don’t say my Mother I this is I am having for dinner almost every other week… Officially, I am still allergic to soup.

Kale, chorizo and white beans soup (adapted from The Hairy Bikers website)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1,5cm chunks
  • 150g green beans, cut in 3cm pieces
  • 75g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into 1cm slices
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 400g can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 150g curly kale, thickly shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan  Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often.

Add the chorizo, paprika and carrots to the onion and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring until the chorizo begins to release its fat. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Tip the tomatoes into the same pan, add the stock and sugar, then turn the heat up to medium.

Bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and leave the soup to simmer for 12 minutes. Add the canned and fresh beans and the kale and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender, adding a little extra water if the soup is looking too thick. Season the soup with salt and black pepper and serve in deep bowls


Scrambled eggs with tomatoes

eggs tomato sauce

This is supposed to be Northern China style scrambled eggs.  Even though mobile calorie intake units  friends were happy to eat it away, I cannot help but feel I didn’t make justice to the original Bill Granger’s recipe. I still blame the wok (or lack of it thereof) for a somehow odd texture. Mind you, this is far to be a total cooking failure.  As heard over and over again – it all comes down to flavour… And indeed it was delicious. It is the satisfying, filling and healthy breakfast everyone is sort of expecting in a festive days. Or any other day, for that matter…

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes  (adapted from Bill Granger‘s Easy)

Ingredients 

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper ground with a mortar and pestle together with one teaspoon of salt
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light flavoured oil
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method

Start to making the Szechuan salt, by crushing the the peppers  with a mortar and pestle together with a teaspoon of salt.

Whisk the eggs with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and swirl the pan on the heat for 30 seconds, or until browned around the edges, but still liquid in the center. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok. Add the spring onion and the garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds or until softened. Add the tomatoes and the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, unit softened but still whole. Return the eggs to the wok and fold gently until set. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for a few seconds.

Sprinkle with the Szechuan salt. Serve with white boiled rice and green leafy vegetables.


Beetroot and walnut hummus

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This #beetrootgate episode is long overdue… It has been almost a month I posted a beetroot dish, a spread turned into a creamy soup. Truth to be said,  actually never managed to get the right consistency. After trying a couple of times, I ended up doing this beetroot and walnut  hummus instead. Well, technically this isn’t exactly a hummus, as there are no chickpeas in this dish, but its colour and flavour compensate for this culinary liberty. It is a brilliant recipe, almost foolproof, with the earthy sweet flavour of the beetroot combining to perfection to the crunchy nuts and slightly tangy tahini. I had to hide it in the fridge before I ate it all, one spoon at a time.

Beetroot and walnut hummus (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall‘s River Cottage Every Day)

Ingredients

  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 25g stale bread, crusts removed
  • 200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Toast the walnuts in a stove at  180 oC  for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Leave to cool.

In a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and dry-fry them, shaking the pan almost constantly to avoid burning, until they start to sizzle. Crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.

Break the bread into small chunks, put in a food processor or blender with the walnuts and blitz until fine. Add the beetroot, tahini, most of the garlic, a good pinch of the cumin, half the lemon juice, a little salt and a good grind of pepper, then blend to a thick paste.

Adjust it by adding a little more cumin, garlic, lemon, salt and/or pepper, blending again until you are happy with it. Loosen with a dash of oil if you think it needs it.

Serve at room temperature

PS – Cookies (Taralli Caserecci Pugliesi) courtesy of Coop Fine Food 


Pork chops with sweet and sour red peppers

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After the blondies, another dish out from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course.  Insort, three main ingredients to a delicious dish super easy to put together… All of a sudden, all these recipes with loads of cream, chorizo, stock seem a bit too baroque and convoluted.  Tweaking a bit the methods you can also end up with a quasi-healthy dish.  Meaning, using olive oil sparingly, skipping the butter and take out the fat from the chops. Well, sort of – or at least, this is want I want to believe because this combination is really outstanding.

Pork chops with red peppers (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)

Ingredients

Pork chops

  • 2 pork chops, about 200g each
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin on, crushed
  • small bunch of thyme
  • butter

Sweet and Sour Peppers

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

First, prepare the peppers. Take a large frying pan and put enough olive oil to cover  its bottom. Heat until piping hot  and then add the onion and peppers. Season with salt and pepper, add the sugar and sauté over a high heat until soft and coloured.

Add the vinegar and let it bubble for a minute or two until it has reduced and the peppers are soft. Turn down the heat, add the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Take the peppers out of the pan and set  aside to infuse.

Wipe the pan clean, ready to cook the pork.

Using a sharp knife, make cuts into the fat of the chops, about 5mm deep and at 3–4cm intervals, making sure you don’t cut into the meat. (This will stop the meat from curling up during cooking and will make it cook more evenly.) Season the chops on both sides,

Place the cleaned-out frying pan over high heat and put enough oil to cover the bottom. Let it heat until piping hot and add the chops, garlic and thyme and fry for 2–3 minutes until coloured. Turn and fry for a further 2–3 minutes on the other side.

Towards the end of cooking time, add 3 knobs of butter. Let it cook for a while, pressing the fat again the sides of the pan to render the fat. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and place with the herbs on top of the chops.

Transfer the chops to a plate, and rest for 5–10 minutes, spooning over the basting butter now and again. Serve the chops on top of the peppers with the resting juices.


Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese

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Probably the last asparagus of the season, as they are slowing disappearing from the supermarket shelves. So many recipes, so little time… Nevertheless,  I wish I had tried this one dish before. As easy as it seems, it is a very sophisticated plate of salad. And, these days, nothing seems as satisfying as the flavour of grilled asparagus, with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled liberally with salt… Happy moments in an ever so stressing last stretch before the summer break.

Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 500g asparagus
  • 4 little gem lettuces
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Around 100g of feta cheese

Method

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Blanch for a minute or two, until al dente. Remove from the fire and then drain. Let cool aside and pat with a tea towel until dry.

Meanwhile, cut the lettuces in half down the middle, leaving them joined at the root end. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, season generously and toss to coat, working the oil and seasoning into the lettuces a little with your hands.

Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lettuce halves cut-side down, cook for two minutes until golden brown and wilted on the base, then turn over and cook for a minute or two more. Remove from the pan and put on a serving dish.

Now add the asparagus to the frying pan and cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and patched with brown. Put together with the lettuce.

Crumble the goat cheese and arrange over the grilled grennies. Sprinkle with a little more oil and serve at once. Serve while warm.


Asparagus, red pepper and creamy goat cheese wheat salad

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To keep up with the asparagus season, an impromptu picnic by the lake presented itself as an ideal excuse to make this salad… An almost empty cupboard forced me to do a few wild tweaks to the original recipe, though. The feta cheese was replaced by soft goat cheese. Less salty, indeed, but it made the salad creamier with occasional bursts of flavour.  The quinoa was first replaced by barley (really bad idea) and then by wheat (much more successful). All, in all, it was a perfect dish for the a perfect summer day by the lake…

Grilled asparagus, red pepper, creamy got cheese and wheat salad  (adapted from the The 10 best asparagus recipes’ column on The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 250g wheat (Triticum turgidum)
  • 900g green asparagus
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling
  • 200g roasted, marinated red bell peppers, drained and cut in to bite-size pieces
  • 200g soft goat cheese
  • 100g fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley (reserve some leaves for garnishing)
  • Salt

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp roast cumin seeds, crushed with a mortar

Method

Rinse the wheat and prepare it according to the instructions in the packet.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Gently crush the cumin seeds with a pestle and add to the dressing.

Rinse and pat the asparagus dry and place on a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and roll them until well coated. Season with salt. Arrange the asparagus in a hot griddle pan and cook, turning as needed, until nicely marked on all sides without being burned (it takes about 8 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, dressing, roasted peppers, cheese and  parsley in a large mixing bowl. Add the grilled asparagus and gently combine. Serve at room temperature.


Baked chicken with chorizo and roasted vegetables

spanish roasted chicken

Everyday food with low calories… Not sure why Hairy Dieters claim this is a Spanish style, though. Probably is the chorizo and the roasted garlic…  In any case, it is cheap and cheerful with delicious flavours, from the sweetness of the baked onion to the spiciness of the chorizo.

Baked chicken with chorizo and roasted vegetables (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges
  • 1 medium red onion, cut in 8 wedges
  • 500g new potatoes, quartered lenghways
  • 8 whole garlic, unpeeled
  • 8 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 75g chorizo, preferably hot and spicy
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken tights
  • ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 green pepper, deseed and cut into strips
  • salt and pepper

 Method

Pre heat the oven to 200oC. Put the onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with salt and lots of freshly grounded black pepper. Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20min

While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices. Put the chickens on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with black pepper. Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside.

Take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the vegetables and turn everything a couple of times. Place the chicken on the top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with paprika and oregano. Return to the oven and adjust the temperature to 220oC. Leave in the oven for another 20min, or until the chicken is golden and crisp. Every now and again, take the tin out of the oven drizzle the juices over the chicken. As you eat, squeeze the garlic out of the skins.


Baked asparagus with a paprika and yogurt sauce

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Said it once: I don’t even like asparagus…  But, it just seems right to test the The 10 best asparagus recipes from The Guardian one by one. This one  is very easy, very tasty and very filling. Just the kind of stuff you want to eat over lunch with shredded chicken or a bit of rice, if you are feeling vegetarian. For the benefit of the bikini season, I have omitted the butter the original recipe called for. It is not as creamy, but still delicious.

Baked asparagus with a paprika and yogurt sauce  (recipe adapted from the The 10 best asparagus recipes’ column from The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 900g asparagus, trimmed (and scraped if using white asparagus)
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 300ml yoghurt
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 25g fresh breadcrumbs

 Method

Preheat the oven to 200 oC. Wash and drain the asparagus thoroughly. Simmer for 5 minutes in boiling water and drain. Pat dry with kitchen paper and arrange in a large, greased  oven proof dish.

In a small bowl, mix together thoroughly the sour cream or yoghurt, flour, egg yolk, salt, paprika and sugar. Pour this evenly over the asparagus. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and then dot with small knobs of the butter. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the top is golden.