Roasted veg worthy of a visit to the gym. This recipe, one of my absolute favorites, is a delightful paradox. It’s quite healthy with its amalgamation of veggies, but also contains a loving dose of olive oil, making it sinfully rich and delicious. Serves 2 as a side.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine all the veg (without the garlic) in a large mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over the top and toss with the veg. Use your hands to toss, as it’s infinitely more fun than a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Empty the contents of this bowl into a large roasting tin, so that it forms an even layer across the bottom.
Turn every 15 minutes or so. Add the garlic after 30 minutes (this prevents that age-old dilemma of garlic cooking far faster than anything else, hastening to an irreparably burnt state). After another 30 minutes, once the veggies have been reduced to a caramelized mass of deliciousness, remove from the oven. Pour the contents into a serving bowl and mix in herbs (pronounced 'erbs, because I am American and I'm writing the recipe)
Paired with wild rice, this makes a delicious alternative to traditional sides for roast chicken. Leftovers can be scrambled with eggs for breakfast and one of my favorite variations is to toss the veggies with a little fresh lemon juice and pasta. Absolutely scrumptious. My husband would like me to point out here that this dish is also a fantastic vehicle for hot sauce, thus meeting his most important criterion for food. Please take this dish, try it out and make it your own. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it as much as I do.
I was in my late teens when my mother said it was a pity, but she did not have time to make cookies at Christmas any more. 'I'll make you some' I offered mid-December, sensing an opportunity for another Christmas gift - my mother always appreciated home-made things. That was when my Christmas cookie-baking tradition (in batch mode) started.
I come from a household full of books, many of them cookbooks, which my mother loves to read, without actually following the recipes. I imagine that is what a lot of people do. A cookbook is like porn for the cook - you look at the pictures and read the instructions, but you do not do anything like it (except in your mind). I looked at some baking books, found a basic recipe which could be combined with many ingredients - and began.
I found that the amounts given are rather small, not really worth all the effort of preparing - unless one only wants to do one tray. It depends on the biscuit and tray size of course - but how boring just doing one kind of biscuit! I thought I might as well - while I was at it - double the quantity.
Starting very basically, I cleared the kitchen table, got all the tools and surrounded myself with all the flavours and ingredients I wanted. There were all kinds of nuts, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut - anything I randomly had bought and wanted to make a cookie with. 'Wow' said my mother, 'do you have a recipe? What do you intend to do exactly?' 'I am making cookies!' Irritated by her lack of belief in my baking abilities, I threw her out of the kitchen.
It was quite a marathon. First, making the basic dough. This was still done with the measures in the book, just doubled up. Then deciding what I wanted on top - eg an almond, with or without chocolate or cinnamon - cutting the shapes and shoving all in the oven. I had exactly 10-12 minutes to prepare the next round using a second tray, getting out the first and shoving the next one in. And so on.
Catastrophe! Suddenly there was no dough and only half a tray filled. I needed more dough, more variations - there was too much of one kind of cookie! By this time I was really ambitious that I could do well. It was boiling hot in the kitchen, I was sweating, my eyes were glazed - and I felt I could at least do five different types of biscuit. This meant more dough, more cut-outs and all as quickly as possible because the oven was hot and waiting. Measures are only for doctors, I thought, and threw things in the bowl until the texture felt kind of right.
After about 3 hours I had brown biscuits, white biscuits, biscuits with nuts on top, biscuits with sugar glaze and without, biscuits in heart-, star- and tree-forms. Some were burnt because sometimes I wasn't fast enough; some broken through my haste in getting them off the hot tray; some were dry or much too fatty because the mixture was not quite right. But I managed to make about 4 big boxes of biscuits for my parents. The smell had filled the house and my mother and father poked their heads round the corner: 'May we have some biscuits for tea?'. I said 'No' - jokingly, because I had eaten rather a lot already and felt quite sick - 'they are for Christmas.' But I let them have one of each sort. I had a cheese sandwich.
Christmas came, with the four boxes under the Christmas tree. My mother said that it was the best present ever and if I did that every year, she would be content and not want anything else. So I did.
For the next 6 years, every winter I started making loads and loads of cookies for my parents - mainly for my mother - and I got better and better at the magic which involves throwing things in a bowl and getting various biscuit results. It was good to have started with some guidance, but in the end the creativity comes from trying out what works and what doesn't.
She would call me and say 'Today we had the last of your biscuits' - sometimes as late as spring or early summer - 'and I only shared them with very few people.' She told all her friends about her batch-biscuit-making daughter..
Unfortunately for the last two Christmases I have not had the time to bake. But at least I now know that it takes only a couple of hours, some ingredients and some creativity to make any kind of biscuit. And that next time I am in batch mode, vast amounts of cookies will result. I will make sure my mother gets her fair share.
Fleur Poad - (c) 8 January 2010
I prepare this fresh and crispy salad almost every week. The recipe is not really American – how could it be if the inventor (me) isn't? It just feels pretty American with all that corn and carrot (it's delicious). Serves 2.
1 bag of salad with lettuce, cabbage, carrot and possibly peppers (or buy separately and make up)
1 150-200g tin of corn
1/3 100g bag of sunflower / or pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seed oil
Grated cheddar cheese
Pepper mix / or garlic pepper / or barbeque spice mix
Put the salad ingredients in a bowl. Slice the cucumber into fairly small cubes and mix them in with the salad. Add the corn. Add the seeds of your choice. Spice with the pepper mix and pour your preferred amount of pumpkin seed oil in. Add some grated cheddar and mix so that the oil, spices, seeds and cheese fuse nicely with the salad.
I have not shown amounts for the oil, cheese or spices because I always put in plenty of everything and know many people do not like their food that way - so add however much or little you like. Whatever your preferred measurements, the result is easy, quick and healthy. Customise it as you wish - and get crunching!
(c) Milja-Maritta Innilä - May Day, 1 May 2009
Butter, for greasing
350g caster sugar
100g unsalted Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
18cm square cake tin
(Sugar thermometer if you have one, don't worry if not)
Grease an 18cm square cake tin. Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat slowly; stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Bring to the boil and boil for about 30 minutes, stirring all the time. When the mixture starts to thicken (115°C on a sugar thermometer), remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Another test to see if it's ready is: add a spoonful to a bowl of cold water, if small ball-like bubbles appear it's time to take it off the heat. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
Once cooled, beat the mixture with a spoon for about five minutes until it starts to thicken and the gloss disappears. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge). Once set (this should take less than an hour) cut the fudge into small squares and store in a sealed container.
Most recipes say this is really easy and quick. Easy it is, and quick it is not. Thankfully I had the company of a good friend while making this and a couple of gin and tonics. Most recipes say it only takes 20 minutes: add at least another 10 to 20 minutes to get the right consistency. Too runny and the fudge will not set. Too thick, it will become overly crumbly.
I made this on a hot spring day - not only did it make the house smell wonderful, it also gave me the illusion of feeling like Nigella. For that alone it’s worth trying. In these cash-strapped times, why not make vast quantities and give it to your friends as birthday presents? It's not only cheap to make - it will show that you've made the effort.
Rebecca Talbot - (c) 27 April 2009
Something quick and easy, for those who love a mushroom starter. Serves 2 people as a meal, or 4 as a starter:
250g button mushrooms, or any mushrooms (cleaned and cut into quarters)
6 large tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of crushed garlic, crushed
Pinch of salt and black pepper to season
Knob of butter
Optional : Pitta or flat bread, warm, to serve with
Melt butter in pan - add a drop of olive to prevent burning. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring until coated in butter and until mushrooms are tender. Add tomatoes. Cook for a further minute, add salt and pepper to personal taste. Serve with warm pitta or flat bread of choice.
Tip: If you want to make it spicy, add more black pepper and freshly chopped chillies.
(c) Claudia Nettleford 23 April 09
The thing I don't like - the only thing - about chocolate brownies is the guilt. And although they are obviously amazing, after eating them I can't help but hear 'that wasn't very nutritious was it?' Problem solved: introducing the Jenny G Chocolate Brownie. Not only do they cure the itch to have something a little bit naughty but - depending how many you eat - - they will also get you your 'five a day'. Cocoa beans count.
Food can't be just about taste but texture. So these brownies are crammed to the brim with all kinds of things to sink your teeth into. There's nutty crunch, there's smooth and chewy - they're full of complementary delights tackling the taste-buds from all directions.
Sorry, but to be authentic: no electric whisk, no cake mixer, no other cheating implements. No, no, no. We need good old-fashioned woman/man-power. By the time you've finished making them, you'll have worked them off. No need to be calorie-conscious - and it makes them almost healthy. Almost.
Makes roughly 16 - depending on how large you like your brownies.
275g Plain Chocolate - must have at least 70% cocoa mass - if you are a chocolate snob (like me) I suggest using Green & Blacks, Lindt, or something along these lines of chocolate calibre
125g Unsalted Butter
300g Plain Flour
325g Caster Sugar
4 Large Eggs
30 Fresh Raspberries
300g Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruit - eg pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, dried apricots, dried cranberries, Madjool dates (de-stoned), naturally-coloured glazed cherries
Roughly 2 teaspoons of Vanilla Essence
100g Broken Chocolate (eg 50g white chocolate, 50g dark chocolate with orange)
Pinch of Salt
Butter or Oil to grease tin
Baking Tray - 25 x 20 x 5cm is the size used in this recipe, or improvise with other sized tins
Preheat oven to 170ºC / gas mark 3. Prepare the baking tray by greasing with butter or oil and lining with greaseproof paper. Once you have returned from the run to the corner shop with the butter you forgot to buy the day before, take a few deep breaths and know that these are going to be the best brownies you have ever made.
Melt plain chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Or if you want to be frowned upon, melt in the microwave. Chop nuts and dried fruit to bite-sized pieces, and put to one side. Whisk eggs with a pinch of salt until light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence - roughly 2 teaspoons. Roughly, because what you decide to include is to your own taste - tailor to what suits you. But keep in mind that if you suddenly decide that you don't like flour, you may have a slight problem further down the brownie-making line.
Add sugar to eggs. Whisk until thick and creamy. Once chocolate and butter are melted, take bowl off the heat and allow to cool a little. Gently fold chocolate mix into eggs and sugar. Here comes the tricky bit. Prepare by rotating shoulder-blades, shaking out arms and legs and take an alert stance over the mixing bowl.
When adequately warmed-up, prepare to 'add the sieved flour'. Adding small amounts of flour at a time is best to ensure mix is smooth. I find singing along to Michael Jackson's Beat It helps with the stamina needed for this challenge. The amount of flour to mix may seem a lot, but - with persistence and a positive mental attitude - it will all go in.
Things will have heated up a little by now. Open window and remove items of clothing if desired. Three days and two arms later you should have a thick, smooth, chocolatey paste. Add the remnants of mixed nuts and dried fruit. Remnants, because a lot of the fruit and nuts will have mysteriously disappeared by this point.
Scoop mix into baking tray and spread evenly throughout. Add broken chocolate and fresh raspberries to the brownie mix, pushing pieces down to just below surface level. What a treat. Bake for 30-35 min. Do check to see that the brownies are cooked thoroughly before finally taking out of oven. And for the love of all that is chocolatey goodness, make sure you don't put the oven on grill - brownies are not supposed to take 5 hours to cook. (You will only ever make this mistake once). The end result should have a crisp outer-shell, with a soft and gooey centre packed with chewy cherries, crunchy nuts and sumptuously smooth chocolate. Allow to cool a little, cut into portions. And indulge.
(c) Jenny Glithero 4 April 09
This recipe has been in my arsenal for over 12 years. My requirements for a good recipe are (a) it's simple, honest and tasty, (b) I don't have to slave over the recipe, and (c) it's easy enough to remember and achieve even if you have been tucking into the red wine whilst creating your impressive culinary delight.
4 large red capsicums (known as red peppers in the UK)
4 medium juicy ripe tomatoes
8 tinned in oil anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
8 dessertspoons of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly-milled black pepper
Optional for presentation: balsamic vinegar, basil leaves
To accompany it: thick bread pieces
Roasting tray, oven, boiling water, scissors
Preparation and cooking: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Cut the capsicums in half and remove the seeds. If possible leave the bright green stalks intact as they help presentation. Lay the halves in a lightly oiled roasting-tray. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, drain them and slip the skins off. I often cheat here and slice the very tip of the tomatoes off before putting them into the bowl - it helps with the peeling. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place 2 or 3 (sometimes 4 depending on size and preferred taste), into each capsicum half. Snip with scissors 1 or 2 anchovie fillets per capsicum-half into rough pieces and add to tomatoes. Divide the slices of garlic and distribute equally among the tomatoes and anchovies. Spoon 1 or 2 dessertspoons of olive oil into each capsicum-half and season with freshly-milled black pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies). Place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the capsicums to roast for 40 to 55 minutes.
Serving: Transfer the roasted capsicums to a serving plate, with all the precious juices carefully kept in the halves. I like to sprinkle some balsamic vinegar around the edge of the plate for taste and presentation. If you wish to garnish choose fresh basil leaves - this is after all an Italian dish. The most important thing is to serve this dish with a good thick bread to mop up all the juices that go spilling around the plate when you first cut into them. I personally like to break my bread with my guests and friends as I enjoy informal bohemian-style dining - a large fresh loaf passed around is perfect fun and gets everyone involved in their food on so many new levels.
This dish is open to any sort of creative version that you can think of. I've added chilli, buffalo mozzerella, tuna, tabasco - you name it. The best thing - besides the wonderful taste - is that it is ever so easy to do after you have made it only once. Simple, honest and tasty. Who needs complication?
(c) Tamasein Holyman - 20 February 2009
This takes 20-30 mins. Ingredients:
4ozs (113g) margarine or butter plus a little extra to grease the tin with
4ozs (113g) vanilla sugar
4ozs (113g) self-raising flour or plain flour and 1 level tablespoonful (15ml, approx 15g) baking powder
1 heaped tablespoonful of jam (30ml, approx 30g) (or more, depending on how indulgent you feel)
A little icing sugar
A round baking tin
Grease tin with melted white fat.
Cream the fat and sugar.
Add the eggs whole one at a time adding a little sieved flour with each egg.
Add remainder of flour and stir in lightly. If you are using plain flour then now is the time to add the baking powder.
Pour into greased tin.
Bake on top shelf of the oven at somewhere between gas mark 5 or 6 (190-200 degrees C) for 20-30 mins – use your own judgment.
When cooked, place onto a cooling tray at once.
Cut horizontally through the centre with a sharp knife.
Spread one half with some jam and place the remaining half back on top of this one.
Sprinkle some dry icing sugar on top.
(c) Ollie Hester 20 November 2008
This usually serves between 6 and 8 people. Ingredients:
1 kg minced beef
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
250g small mushrooms, halved
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp (30ml) Lea & Perrins (other brands of Worcestershire sauce are available)
450ml beef stock
2 aubergines, chopped into small chunks
500g sweet potatoes
300g King Edward potatoes
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees C for a fan oven).
Brown the mince in a non-stick pan and set to one side.
Gently sauté the onions and garlic until soft, add the spices and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, browned mince, tomatoes, Lea & Perrins and stock to the pan and reduce the heat.
Simmer very gently for 2 to 2.5 hours.
Meanwhile, roast the aubergine in the olive oil for about 20 minutes until tender. Once cooked, add to the simmering mince.
For the topping, roast the sweet potatoes and potatoes in their skins (makes the mash creamier) for about an hour.
Scoop the cooked potatoes into a bowl, add the butter and season well. Set to one side until you are ready to assemble the dish.
Once the meat has cooked, mix in the chopped parsley, transfer to an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until topping is golden.
If, like me, you'd like a little more kick in your cottage pie, add some Tabasco, crushed chillies or just a few extra tablespoonfuls of Lea and Perrins - although I wouldn't recommend all three!
(c) Ollie Hester 20 November 2008
This usually makes 10lb (4.5kg). If it's your first time making marmalade, it's straightforward, with these tips: Seville oranges (which are bitter) are in season and in the shops for a couple of weeks in January. At other times of year, a mixture of oranges, lemons and grapefruit to the same total weight works well. In advance start saving up some glass jars and their screw-top lids to use. Wash them out and sterilise (80 degrees in an oven; if lids are plastic, they'll melt - sterilise them with surgical spirit, which is the alcohol you put on skin cuts). 'Setting point' referred to below is 105 degrees C - if you don't have a jam thermometer to tell this, spoon a little cooking marmalade onto a chilled saucer; if it forms a skin when you blow on it or push it with your finger, you've reached setting point.
3lb (1.36kg) Seville oranges
6lb (2.72kg) sugar
5 pints (2.84 litres) Water
1 muslin bag
1 heavy-bottomed saucepan
Sterilised jars and screw-top lids
Remove the peel from the oranges and cut into thin strips / chunks (whichever you prefer).
Squeeze the juice, pips and any remaining pulp into bowl.
Remove the pips and place them into a muslin bag, tie this to the handle of the saucepan (to prevent them being hard to find later).
Place the peel, strained juice, pulp and water into the saucepan and cook gently for 2 hours or until the peel is tender.
Remove the bag containing the pips, squeezing thoroughly before discarding.
Add the juice of the lemons and sugar stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached.
Skim the surface, allow to cool for 7 - 8 minutes, stir to distribute the peel evenly. Pot into warm sterilised jars and seal.
(c) Ollie Hester 20 November 2008
A great way to get rid of leftovers, this recipe is very flexible in terms of its ingredients. As a general guideline, I suggest:
4 cups rice
1 red pepper
3 or 4 eggs
(any sort of meat, or prawns can be included as well - simply cook first and cut into bite-sized pieces)
water, small amount of cooking oil
saucepan, frying pan, chopping board
Start the rice cooking while you chop the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and baby corn into medium-large sections. In a frying pan, fry the eggs - being sure to break the yolks. Remove eggs from frying pan and place on chopping board. Add a small amount of oil to the frying pan. When heated, add the onions. When onions are browned slightly, add the remaining vegetables.
Mix, season with soya sauce, and cover if possible. Cut the fried egg into pieces. If you are adding any pre-cooked meat, add it to the vegetables at this stage. When the rice has finished cooking, drain any excess water and add to the frying pan and vegetables. Before mixing, season the rice with soya sauce, add the egg pieces, and then stir. Allow to sit, mixing occasionally, for approximately 7 minutes. Serve.
(c) Kim Sheard 11 September 2008
I only know to cook two things, one is cereal (which people say isn't cooking - I don't believe them). The other is eggs on toast.
Background music. Heart FM on the radio is a favourite, but my personnel choice is Tina Turner's greatest hits - go with what suits you and your eggs best. Take a drop of sunflower oil and pour into the centre of a frying pan, run the oil around the pan and place on a medium-hot hob.
Take two pieces of bread, preferably Kingsmeal white medium-sliced. For the best result, put under a pre-heated grill for roughly one minute each side for a light golden toasting. The oil should now have reached its ideal temperature for the eggs.
Take two free-range (very important) eggs and crack them on the side of the pan, letting them open and spread into the oil. Leave a good distance between the two eggs. It important that they don't touch - they both have there own flavour and deserve the room to cook to perfection.
While the eggs fry for about a minute, spread some Flora evenly over both slices of toast and place in the centre of a plate. Letting your artistic side take over, cut the toast any way you choose - triangles, little squares - you may have a heart-shaped cutter for that special person - or leave it just as it is and let the eggs sit nicely in the middle ready to be devoured.
I don't do anything fancy with the eggs, don't flip them over, don't put oil over the top. I let them sit and cook till they are white with a lovely bright-yellow middle. Sunny-side up - as Americans say - and just how they should be. Use a spatula to remove the eggs one by one and put on the plate. I like to have one egg centrally on each slice of toast. You might want to place them in the centre with a border of toast - let your imagination be queen.
Pan and spatula in the sink. Out with the knife and fork. Out with the ketchup - glass bottle, not plastic. A good dollop on the side. A glass of cold Coca-Cola rounds this off nicely.
(c) Rebecca Windsor - 1 July 08
I am not a very good cook, but even bad cooks should be able to make Spaghetti Bolognese. It's filling and tasty and always satisfies. Only feed this to family and friends - it's not a meal to make for a date. Herbs in teeth and pasta down your front are neither sexy nor cool (unless you a dating someone with a minced-beef-and-tomato fetish). I recommend whole-wheat spaghetti. If you are feeling a bit wild, go nuts and use Fettuccine which is a good alternative. Amounts here will serve 2 people.
Spaghetti - a generous amount
2 big handfuls of minced beef
1 tin of tomatoes
Mixed herbs (or herb of your choice if picky)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated - to sprinkle over
Cooking oil - small amount
2 carrots (depending on your love of root vegetables)
1 clove of garlic (if you want to be extra-smelly)
1 music album of your choice to sing along with to make the experience more bearable
Start with two saucepans. Fill the first with boiling hot water, put a dab of oil in, then add the spaghetti. Cook for 15 minutes at low to moderate heat.
Put a drop of oil in the other saucepan. Once this has warmed up add the mince and put this on low heat until it turns brown. While the mince is changing colour, chop up the onion into the smallest pieces possible using a sharp knife. Keep some plasters nearby in case of poor co-ordination. Today I'm in the mood for carrots and garlic too. Chop the carrots into small pieces, then do the same with the garlic. Now add all vegetables into the mince and add the tin of tomatoes. Before you leave the meat to simmer, add in herbs and some salt and pepper. Stir and leave for 10 minutes. At that point, stir and leave for a further 10 minutes. Serve all, and finish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Bon Apetito!
(c) Rebecca Talbot 25 June 08
(This recipe is in English here: PRAWNS AND 'TATOES)
Questa ricetta non mi e' mai stata formalmente insegnata, motivo per cui non conosco ne' le sue origini ne' il suo vero nome. E' solamente un ricordo della cucina di mio padre tornatami in mente una sera in cui ho invitato a cena una mia amica irlandese 'semi-vegetariana' (mangia pesce ma non carne). E' un piatto molto semplice e leggero, perfetto come antipasto da servire con un bicchiere di vino bianco fresco nella brezza estiva.
Ingredienti per due persone:
Dalle 8 alle 10 patate novelle (le preferisco alle patate normali perchÈ pi_ dolci, ma qualunque altro tipo di patate va bene)
Una confezione di gamberetti gi‡ puliti
Un po' d'erba cipollina (un pizzico di prezzemolo se davvero vi volete mettere d'impegno)
Succo di met‡ limone
Olio e sale
Nel caso in cui siate sprovvisti di patate novelle, pelate le patate prima di bollirle. Suggerirei di lasciarle bollire fino al punto in cui le potreste schiacciare con una forchetta. Nel mentre, sciacquate i gamberetti sotto calda acqua corrente e metteteli in un bel piatto da portata estivo. Una volta che le patate sono bollite tagliatele grossolanamente a pezzi, aggiungete sale, olio, succo di limone (a piacere), erba cipollina e prezzemolo finemente tritati. Mischiate bene (magari schiacciate un paio di patate per dare una consistenza pi_ densa) e il piatto e' pronto!
(c) Virginia Taroni 30 June 2008
( This recipe is in Italian here: GAMBERETTI E PATATE)
This recipe has never been formally taught to me, so I don't know its origins or its proper name. It is just a memory of my father's cooking that came back to me from the past one night when I had to cook for an Irish 'pescetarian' friend. It is very simple and rather refreshing. Perfect to serve as a starter with a nice glass of cool white wine in the summer breeze.
Ingredients for 2 people:
8 to 10 baby new potatoes (I prefer the small ones because they are sweeter but any kind of potato is ok really)
One pack of peeled prawns (king prawns or whatever you prefer, I wouldn't advise the very small ones - they look sad somehow
A bit of chives
(some parsley as well if you really want to go for it)
Oil and salt
In case you didn't go for the baby potatoes, peel the potatoes and boil them. I would suggest letting them boil until the point when they could almost be mashed with a fork. In the meantime clean your prawns under hot water and place them in a pretty summer bowl. Once the potatoes are boiled, cut them roughly into pieces, add a pinch of salt, oil, lemon juice (as much as you wish), finely chopped chives and parsley. Give it a good stir (mash maybe a couple of pieces of potatoes to give a nice consistency) and it's ready to serve.
(c) Virginia Taroni 23 June 2008
Over the seven or so years I have known my husband Lars, I have discovered many Swedish culinary gems. This fiendishly simple, undeniably Scandinavian snack is perfect served with fresh coffee on a lazy weekend morning. Tubes of Kalles Kaviar can be found in Ikea food halls and most good Swedish shops. In London, there is a Swedish shop in Crawford Street, and a cafe called The Scandinavian Kitchen in Great Portland Street - both sell typical Swedish food. There is a 'lite', lower-fat version of Kalles Kaviar, but I have only seen this in Sweden. As it is very salty, adjust the amount used to your own taste. Smaklig måltid! (pronounced 'Smahkleeg mawlteed' = 'Have a good meal')
4 large round or rectangular portions of ryebread, crispbread or toasted wholemeal bread (crusts trimmed)
Kalles Kaviar (Original)
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Fresh black pepper
Lay out the bread pieces on a serving plate and arrange the egg slices in an overlapping pattern on each. Squeeze the caviar onto the egg in an 'S' shape and season with fresh black pepper. Ideal served for brunch with orange juice and coffee.
(c) Tara Paulsson 23 May 2008
Preparation - 20 minutes. Cooking - 25-30 minutes. Suitable for vegetarians.
This is a favourite meal from my childhood that I liked so much my mother taught me how to make it - and I have been making it ever since. As far as I'm aware it's a traditional Italian recipe and its Italian name translates as Easter Pie. It is, therefore, suitable for vegetarians and what I love about it is how good it tastes cold with a blob of mayonnaise on the side. It's great hot but equally great to take as a slice out the fridge for lunch or to snack on through the day. I live in a house with 3 men so one pie never lasts very long in the fridge.
1-1½ packet of fresh spinach leaves - or you can use frozen and use up to a bag for that
1 onion chopped - not too finely
5 eggs, 2 of which should be beaten for the mix, the other 3 left whole and unbroken until needed
1 tub of Ricotta cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese added to taste - I use a couple of handfuls
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 pack Filo or short-crust pastry - I find Filo is more successful but either will do
Extras - a little flour; a little oil or butter; hot water
Utensils - large pan, rolling pin and board, wooden spoon
Container for pie can be: oven-proof pan; or pie dish - eg cake or quiche dish
Roll the dough out onto a board with a little flour so as to reduce sticking. Once it is about 3/4 cm thick cut about 1/3 of the dough off and put it to one side for later (this will form the lid). Roll the dough so it fits over whichever dish or pan you will be using. You can use any oven-proof pan to make this pie, I tend to find cake or quiche dishes are the right size and height. Line the dish with butter then fit the dough around the inside covering all the sides.
Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees. I'm afraid I don't know the gas mark.
Gently heat the onion in some oil or butter in a large pan until it has chrystalised (ie turned see-through). Now begin adding the spinach. If you are using frozen spinach you will need to cook it a little in some hot water and drain it very well before adding this to the mix. Add the tub of Ricotta and stir in well. Add the Parmesan, the salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg - I don’t like to overdo it with the salt and pepper because I think it's nice to add this to taste on the cooked pie. Finally add the 2 beaten eggs, leave a little of the egg mix at the bottom of the bowl you have used to glaze the pie.
Stir this all over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes.
Tip the contents of the filling into the pie dish. Using a wooden spoon distribute the filling evenly. Now for the exciting bit:
Using a spoon, make 3 holes in the filling in the centre of the pie, leave space between the holes and try to make them as deep as possible without cutting through the dough at the base. Make sure the holes are big enough for the eggs that you have left out.
Break each egg individually into the holes, try to syphon off some of the white of the eggs into the bowl that contained the beaten eggs to add to your glaze and to remove a bit of the overspill that will happen in the pie filling. This is a tricky bit: try to keep the egg yoke whole. Don’t worry if it runs around the top of the filling too much, but try to keep as much as possible inside the holes you have made.
Cover the pie with the lid that you rolled out. If you have some cut-offs from the rim, my mum likes to use them to make little pictures on top of the pie. She usually does a chicken for Easter, but I like to write out words with mine. With the little bit of egg white and beaten egg left over, brush it over the top of the pie.
Place in the oven and leave to cook for about 25-30 minutes.
Leave the pie to cool for about half an hour. Remember that when it is hot, the spinach will still be very watery - so although it will taste good, it will be more difficult to get out of the the dish in one aesthetically pleasing piece. When you slice through the pie you should find that the eggs you put into those holes will have cooked through and they make a delightful contrast against the green of the rest of the filling.
It is extremely easy to make so making more than one just requires multiplying the amount of ingredients by whatever number. This makes a great party food too.
My friends and I like this pie so much that one tends to feed 3 people maximum but that may just be us.
(c) Natalie Pilato - 15 December 07
1/2 Bag of frozen peas
1.5 teaspoon of mint sauce
3/4 tub or so of Greek yoghourt
Pinch of salt and pepper
Very finely chopped spring onion
One garlic clove finely chopped
Pinch of paprika or cayenne pepper
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and wizz it up. Lightly toast pitta bread, chop into strips. Put in a nice bowl. Sprinkle a little pinch of paprika for show. Serve - enjoy! ♥
(c) Holly Payton 28 November 07
I cannot cook. It is a shortcoming remarked upon and constantly laughed about by my friends – the girl who can create havoc within a few minutes of entering a kitchen, especially her own. The only seasoning I am particularly adept at sprinkling liberally is vocal and in expletive form; I have the drama, I just appear to lack the skill.
However, being a somewhat proud and vaguely competitive being, I set about finding a few recipes that I could concoct and serve to friends without the outcome of at best mockery and worst legal action.
Thus, I present to you three of my tried and tested discoveries – three starters that are pretty much idiot-proof (and if there were ever a culinary idiot, it’s me) and have the advantage of giving the impression that they are much more complex than they actually are.
So, there you have it; three ridiculously simple, if not plain ridiculous starters. Now you just have to worry about the subsequent courses. Not sure I can really help you there. Good luck!
Starter - Behold the Artichoke
Well, an artichoke. One for each guest. That’s it.
Oh, and some lemon juice and salt.
To serve: a dish of garlic butter. I suggest you just buy this, unless you know how to make it. I don’t – sorry.
Firstly, I give you the humble artichoke. You would be amazed how many of the friends (who have in the past openly derided my attempts at cooking) have absolutely no idea how to cook an artichoke. Yet merely plonking a whole artichoke on each guest’s plate creates the illusion of both an exotic meal and an accomplished chef.
Take your lovely artichokes. I suggest you choose them relatively carefully when at the shopping stage – a bowl for a £1 at the market is all very well, but if the leaves are black, brittle and slightly old looking, there’s no amount of beautiful cooking that can really save them.
Wash artichokes under cold water. Cut off the stems to make a flat base and remove any tough lower outer leaves. Then trim the tips of the leaves with scissors (NB. Invest in some kitchen scissors – those plastic ones you got in your Christmas stocking three years ago are not going to be up to the job. Honestly).
Place one layer of artichokes into a saucepan. If you have too many, you’ll just have to use two pans, or do it in stages. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and some lemon juice. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the artichokes, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 45 minutes.
Drain the cooked artichokes upside down (as in, stunted stems in the air) in a colander for a few minutes. You can serve them straight away or when they’ve cooled to room temperature. Place them the right way up, one on each plate, in front of your admiring guests, then watch them tear the lovely, weird vegetables apart and dunk the leaves in a bowl of garlic butter.
NB - Only eat the soft end of the leaf!!
(c) Cecilia Colby - 27 November 07
(the 'Surprise' is that you will have prepared it yourself, not emptied it out of a plastic tub).
2 small or 1 large avocado.
2 medium tomatoes.
1 fresh green chilli (which you need to seed and chop. However, if you are incredibly lazy, you can use very fine chilli powder).
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
Lemon juice, salt, pepper.
To serve: posh nachos or strips of toasted pitta bread.
This is so easy. Serve the guacamole in a bowl, centre-stage, and invite everyone to tuck in, in a caring, sharing way. If you want something slightly more substantial, buy some hummus, spread it round the outside of a plate and put the guacamole in the middle.
Peel and deseed the tomatoes, then drain them and chop roughly.
Peel and mash the avocado.
Mix all the ingredients together, using the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Put some cling-film over the bowl, bung it in the refrigerator and serve it after about half-an-hour.
(c) Cecilia Colby - 27 November 07
aka Intentionally Cold Avocado Soup
1 large or 2 small (ripe, not rock hard) avocadoes.
500g natural fromage frais (yes, we’re getting posh now).
900ml tomato juice (without the vodka).
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed.
Admittedly, serving cold soup may not seem like the ideal way to impress your friends, but this is lovely (honest!), it is easy and it has the advantage of being completely raw, so you can boast of having become part of the increasingly fashionable ‘Raw Food Movement.’
Peel and stone the avocado. Chop it up and shove it into a blender (or use a bowl with one of those incredibly cheap hand-blenders from the economy range of your local supermarket), adding the fromage frais, tomato juice and garlic. Blend it all together until it looks like soup, ie. smooth.
Chill for 2 hours before serving to your cynical guests, then sit back at watch the admiration on their faces.
(c) Cecilia Colby - 27 November 07
This recipe works out at 1.5 Weight Watchers points per portion, and serves 4:
4 large leeks
4 medium to large potatoes (I use about 500g total)
1 pint of vegetable stock
200g low fat fromage frais
Wash and chop the leeks and peel and chop the potatoes, then cook both gently in the stock until soft.
Put them through the blender until the mix is as smooth as you like it (anything from a bit chunky to seriously creamy).
Put it back in the pan, and on the hob to keep it warm. Stir the fromage frais gently through it, until it’s all fully blended.
Eat at once – or freeze it to look forward to.
(C) Gill Smith 27 Nov 07
Butternut squash chips have all the warm comfort-foodieness of normal chips, but with far lower carbs - and very little fat. I never have the patience to see if they go really hard and oven-chippy if you cook them longer (but they do). They're fab with sweet chilli sauce, and tartare sauce - especially as a healthier accompaniment to cod or scampi.
1 Butternut squash
1-calorie oil spray
Put the oven on to something near the top of its range. Peel the whole butternut squash. A small one is plenty for two. Some of the bigger ones will easily do a family (assuming you're not as greedy as me). Chop it into small, chip-like pieces. When you meet the centre, scrape out all the pips and very soft flesh, and discard. Chop the rest up.
Spray a baking tray with 1-calorie oil, and throw the chipped pieces onto it. If you want them crisp, spread them out flat. If you're not bothered, pile them on - soft butternut squash chips are not a bad thing. Give them another light spray over the top, and pop them into the oven.
Leave them there for at least half an hour. 45 minutes is probably better, but 20 mins on very high is a minimum. If they're still a bit underdone, they're edible, but not as good. Grab a fork, pick that sauce (mayo? mint? ketchup? horseradish?), and dip in . Use a fork - they're a bit soft and soggy otherwise, but the flavour's too good to mind. Gill.
(c) Gill Smith 1 October 2006
Anyone who finds themselves sleeping on my floor gets one of these in the morning. It’s the reason I started drinking tea when I couldn’t get it elsewhere. Call me a snob. When it comes to coffee, I am.
I can’t stand coffee being so demonised. Years ago I used to drink 7-8 cups a day. Caffeine is addictive and not getting a proper hit by making-do with freeze-dried instant makes you want to drink more. When it’s fresh and ground, I am satiated with one mug - and can happily look forward to a new day for my next one. I'm sure you will too.
I’m not into froth, but if you want to, get your whisk out for whatever you need to do to at the end of the procedure below.
What you do
Strong ground coffee such as Colombian, Javan, Kenyan, Italian. From the fridge. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found an open forgotten bag losing its magic on a friend’s kitchen shelf.
Soya Milk - or preferred milk.
Honey to sweeten. I don’t, but its more special than sugar if you do.
Put the kettle onto boil. Put milk in a saucepan. If you need to measure, I’d say ½ mug or so, maybe a little more.
Measure the coffee into the cafetiere. It’s usually 1 tablespoon per person, but I use 2 if it’s just for myself - and then 1 more for each additional friend I’m drinking with. Leave to brew for around 4 minutes - although I often can’t wait so won’t mind if you can’t either.
When the water is boiled, pour into the cafetiere. Use your judgement as to how much – remember that the milk will make up the rest of the vacant space in your mug when it comes to pouring out.
As the milk looks like it’s about to boil, either let it froth to the surface once, or turn it off before it does. Pour the coffee / water liquid onto the milk. Stir and decant into mugs.
Enjoy alone, without conversation, maybe some music. The prospect of facing even the most dismal sky will look slightly more promising. Nadia
(c) Nadia Gilani 14 August 2006
This is a pauper’s dish, Italian. It’s a superb, carb-heavy, sleep-inducing supper. This traditional option is vegan - assuming you don’t use egg pasta - so it lacks protein. But this imbalance won’t kill you once in a while. Anyway, you can adulterate with whatever protein source you feel like or have to hand. I sometimes chuck in an egg at the last minute if there’s one lying around. Nothing lying around? If you’re a relaxed and lazy shopper, it’s not a bad idea to keep olive oil, some form of pasta, and garlic, in the house. I go for weeks without eating pasta and then find myself making this when there’s nothing else left. That heavy pack of linguine bought 2 months ago gets its grand finale.
* Olive oil
* Pasta – I buy linguine for the tangle in the mouth, but any kind works well
* Salt (a lot)
* (optional): 1 or 2 eggs
* Kettle of boiling water
* Large boiling pan
* Frying pan
* Knife, chopping surface
Bring kettle to boil. Throw the amount of pasta you feel hungry for, plus a bit extra, into a large pan. Pour the boiling water over the pasta and add lots of salt - Italians say that cooking water for pasta should be as salty as the Mediterranean. Check the packet for cooking time - usually 8-9 mins - until al dente (to the tooth – so it still has a bite). For pasta virgins, Italians also say that if you throw a piece of pasta on the wall or ceiling and it sticks - it’s cooked. But this is isn’t really necessary – just take a bite.
As soon as the pasta is nearly cooked, take a frying pan, chop as much garlic as you fancy, and fry in a good glug of olive oil until golden. Drain the pasta and add to the garlic-infused oil. Season and eat.
If you want to try the egg option, crack one or two open over your pan before serving, maybe adding a tad more oil and stir until the egg is lightly scrambled.
Enjoy bowl in lap, accompanied by Bach or mind-numbing TV. Sleep good - and dream deep. Nadia.
(c) Nadia Gilani 6 August 2006
Ingredients: Apples (any kind), sugar, butter, flour, water. (Optional): Honey, spices, raisins.
Tools: Oven (preheated to half past six), sharp knife + chopping board, oven-proof dish, mixing bowl.
Apple Crumble is the salvation of all ersatz Delias. It is laughably easy, and cannot be spoilt unless you burn it. Yet it is one of those dishes that you can take to a dinner party or Sunday lunch, and suddenly everyone is warmed and comforted - and reminded of all those wood-scrubbed farm kitchens that they never lived in as a child. It is truly the pudding of the urban countryside.
Like most easy recipes, crumble can be as personalised as you like. To make the topping for example, you only need to rub flour, butter and sugar together until you have a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Use plenty of cold butter so that the crumble is not too dry, and for the sugar – use as much or as little as you like, depending on how sweet you want the top. Brown sugar is best, because it gives that authentic welly-boot wheat-and-caramel shade to the food. Avoid using white flour, because the poor pudding, which ideally should be born from the oven leonesque and golden, will instead resemble the etiolated skin of a scrofula victim. Add oats and nuts to make it good 'n' crunchy - and mixed spice or nutmeg or cinammon for a touch of exoticism.
Cinammon - which goes with apples like prawns with a cocktail - can also be mixed in with the fruit part of this dessert. Stewing the apples (which I always assumed involved esoteric techniques only revealed to the WI) actually means that you put them in a saucepan with water and sugar and boil it all up for about 15 minutes. Ignore anyone who tells you that you must use cooking apples – this is tripe. Cooking apples are nice and sharp, so give the dish bite. But - as the nice lady at the fruit stall informed me (and she got it from Jamie Oliver on the telly) - so do Granny Smiths. I prefer and use Braeburns, and rarely bother to peel them as I like the skins: but you can if you like.
Drain the stewed apples, and place in an oven-proof dish. Add extra sugar or perhaps honey; raisins, more cinnamon (you cannot have too much cinnamon), and anything else that you desire. Cover this with the crumble mix, which (as my favourite part) I make about three foot thick - but which moderates may prefer thinner. Put in the centre of a pre-heated oven with the dial turned (as my mother always said) to half past six – that is, pointing straight down - or perhaps at twenty to eight, and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow the aromas to infuse your home, then serve with ice cream, cream, custard – usually I go for the lot – or crème fraiche. Whatever you prefer.
Finally, sit back and modestly accept all compliments about what a marvellously clever person you are. Gwynneth Paltrow may have made knitting cool again, but when it comes to doing it like your granny did, crumble is a far easier – and more popular – offering to your tradition-hungry friends. Philippa
(c) Philippa Tatham 1 August 06
No idea where the name comes from, because it's one of my mother's, and I'm usually too busy stuffing my face to ask. Great by itself, or with fruit like bananas or pineapple, for those pretending to be healthy. I'm loath to share this recipe - it's so easy and yet so delicious, I'm sure my friends are convinced that I slave for hours over it. Never mind - as long as they remember I'm the one that gets to bring it to parties.
* 1 pot of Greek yoghurt
* 1 similarly sized pot of double or whipping cream
* Dark Muscovado sugar
Whip cream until it's pretty thick. Stir the Greek yoghurt in gently but thoroughly. Put half this mix in a clear-sided bowl, cover with a generous layer of the sugar, then fill the bowl with the remaining creamy mix.
If you make it up a couple of hours before the event, the sugar bleeds a little, so the dramatic darkness of the stripe is enhanced. Much sooner and it'll taste as good, but the cream will be sloppier and the stripe get muddy-looking edges.
Serve straight from the fridge. If you're still feeling that generous. Gill.
(c) Gill Smith 10 June 06
Vegetables can be a bore to prepare. This recipe is easy - it's pretty much rinse and go. The flavours are subtly rich, and there’s a hottish edge to the sauce. It uses any packs of ready vegetables in supermarkets for the authentic high air mile experience. Or you can go local to the market and use any vegetables in season. The basics are some kind of potato, greens, peppers, onion, garlic. The essence is long, slow, gentle cooking. That keeps the vegetables recognisable and separate - but very soft - and blends their flavours.
This recipe is great in a vat for parties – it’s delicious and visually pretty, with orange colours from the sweet potato and carrots, and greens – and can be made the day before and reheated. You'll need a big saucepan, about 8 litres, or reduce the amounts. These quantities serve 8 people at a meal (more at parties) - or scale down to any size
Preparation time 20 minutes, cooking time 2 hours.
Make any stock you like or:
500 ml boiling water
Mixed herbs - level dessertspoon
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
Paprika - level dessertspoon
Dijon mustard - level tablespoon
2 vegetable stock cubes - crushed
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce - dessertspoon
Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
4 cloves garlic
115g pack trimmed spring onions - UK Worcestershire (or any onions)
150g pack trimmed sugar snap peas - Kenya (or any green beans)
375g pack cherry tomatoes - Spain (or any tomatoes)
250g pack brocolli florets - Spain (or whole broccoli broken to florets)
375g pack sliced mushrooms - Ireland (or whole mushrooms sliced)
1 green pepper
500g pack carrots - Scotland
1 kg pack sweet potatoes - USA (or potatoes)
Serve with (eg):
Baguette or other crisp-crusted bread
8 litre saucepan (eg approximately 23cm diameter, 20cm high)
Wash all the vegetables except the onions and garlic, and chop large ones into bite-size pieces. The sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, brocolli florets and sliced mushrooms just need a wash. Slice the green pepper into four, remove and discard the seeds and white interior, cut the pepper quarters into 1cm wide strips. Cut carrots into 2cm pieces. Peel the sweet potatoes and parsnip, and cut into 1cm thick discs. Put all the vegetables (except the onion and garlic) into a clean washing up bowl and mix them together with your hands.
Wash and dry onions and chop into 2cm pieces. Peel garlic cloves and cut into thin slices. Heat olive oil and fry onions and garlic gently for 10 minutes.
Crush the stock cubes, dissolve in a cup of the boiling water, and add to the onions and garlic. Add the rest of the boiling water and the other stock ingredients. Stir, bring to boil. Add all the vegetables and bring back to boil. Cover and reduce to lowest possible heat - a very gentle simmer - for 2 hours. Serve with bread. John.
(c) Fringe Report June 06
* Can of smoked oysters
* Salt crackers (or white bread slices)
Slice tomatoes, and then cut small triangles out of the slices. Place crackers on a serving plate, place one oyster and one tomato triangle on
each cracker. Serve immediately.
Alternatively - you can use white bread slices - cut into small circles
using the lid of a spice jar/bottle. MyAnna.
(c) MyAnna Buring Sunday 28 May 06
This serves 8. Time approximately 2 hours.
* approximately 1.5 kg lamb on leg, or shoulder - ask your butcher
* 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
* 3-6 garlic cloves (less or more depending on preference)
* 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary
* oven-proof dish
Rub the olive oil into the lamb. Rub in the salt and rosemary with your hands. Make sure to cover meat completely.
Slice garlic cloves. Cut small incisions into lamb and insert slices.
Place lamb into oven-proof dish. Place in bottom part of oven (pre-heated
to 200 degrees Celsius).
You can check it every half hour or so just to pour juice from the bottom of the pan over the meat.
After 1.5 hours remove the lamb, cover with foil and return to oven for a
further 15-30 min. Cut into it to check when ready. If bloody or very red, leave for a while longer - unless you like it raw.
Remove from oven. Let the lamb - still covered - stand for ten minutes. Remove foil, carve and serve.
Roast lamb serves delightfully with green lentils with goats' cheese. MyAnna.
(c) MyAnna Buring Sunday 28 May 06
* 1 - 1 1/2 packets of green lentils. Buy the kind that you don't need to pre-soak
* 2 packets of goats' cheese - crumbly variety
* 4 red peppers
* Olive oil
* 3 vegetable stock cubes
* Big pan
* Serving bowl
* Baking tray
Place lentils in big pan and cover with cold water. Crumble two vegetable
stock cubes into pan. Bring to boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender - but not mushy. Drain well. Place in serving bowl.
Meanwhile chop peppers into chunks, removing seeds and white bits. Place
onto baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven with lamb for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn over at half-time. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. Cut into small cubes and add to lentils.
Crumble goats' cheese into mixture, and mix gently with a spoon.
This serves well with roast lamb. MyAnna.
(c) MyAnna Buring Sunday 28 May 06
It's easy to make your own delicious muffins. Here's how:
* 2 eggs
* Cup of milk
* 1/2 cup yoghourt
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* Cup of sugar
* 1/2 bottle vanilla essence (or more, to taste)
* 3-4 cups self-raising flour
* 1 1/2 spoons baking powder
* Optional flavourings - chocolate chips, or blueberries, or raspberries
* Butter (for greasing)
* Mixing bowls
* Baking tray for muffins
* Greaseproof paper, or muffin cases
Spread the flour and baking powder out in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. Add the eggs to the flour. Mix together very gently. Leave aside for 1 hour.
In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghourt, vegetable oil, vanilla essence and milk. Add to the bowl containing the eggs and flour (after these have stood for 1 hour). Mix gently. Add the sugar, keep mixing gently.
The muffins can be cooked plain. If you would like to add flavourings, these could include eg chocolate chips, blueberries, raspberries - these are added now and stirred in. Pre-heat oven for 3 to 5 minutes to 190 degrees C. Grease the baking tray with butter. Make individual sheets of greaseproof paper for each muffin mould, or use muffin cases, to line each mould. Put mixture into each mould level with the top. Bake for 35 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes. Serve. Amine.
(c) Amine Yahia Cherif 18 May 06
This delicious assembly of (mainly) fresh fruits is easy to make and perfect for a summer day - or when you'd like to imagine it's summer. Use any fruits you like, in addition to or instead of those listed:
* Seedless grapes
* Tins of pineapple chunks
* Strawberries (fresh)
* Optional - a little fruit juice, eg orange or grapefruit, or fizzy lemonade
* Serving bowl
Wash fresh fruit. Put grapes as they come, and tinned pineapple chunks with their liquid, into the bowl. Chop up the bananas, cut the strawberries in half, cut melon into chunks, and add all to bowl. It probably won't need more liquid, but a small amount of fizzy lemonade is said to keep it fresh a little longer - don't use much. Or use fruit juice - grapefruit will add tartness. Stir gently to mix fruit up. Serve. Michelle
(c) Michelle Flower 6 April 2006
This is a delicious recipe with vegetarian or meat ingredients as below:
* 2 cans of chickpeas
* (or dried chickpeas, soaked)
* 2 carrots
* 1 small cabbage
* 1 leek
* 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
* 100g runner beans
* 2 medium sized potatoes (cut in pieces)
* 1 tomato (peeled)
* 2 tblsp olive oil
* 2 tsp vegetable stock
* 4 slices of Parma or Serrano ham (sliced)***
* 2 chicken breasts (cut in pieces)***
* salt & paprika
*** Vegetarians can substitute the meat for 150g organic almonds - the bitter taste of the organic variety suits this dish better.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Wash and slice all the vegetables. Place the chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, leek, runner beans, tomato and meats in a large saucepan with enough water to cover the contents. If you wish, when it starts boiling, you can add the vegetable stock to enhance the flavour.
Let it simmer at a very slow heat for 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the meat has been cooked. Keep an eye on the liquid so that it doesn’t evaporate too quickly. You should get a stew with a fairly liquid consistency.
Meanwhile, cook the cabbage in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes until soft, and drain thoroughly. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic and cabbage at a very slow heat for a further 10 minutes. Add salt and sprinkle a bit of paprika on. Set aside.
Once the stew is ready, add the cabbage and check seasoning. Serve with crusty bread. Maria.
(c) Maria Santos 10 March 06
2 large onions
4 buffalo tomatoes or about 8 cherry tomatoes
2 portobello mushrooms
1 clove garlic
50g feta cheese
This is the simplest and best way to start off any vegetarian meal. You don’t have to be a great cook, and you can vary the ingredients according to taste and season (although you might have to par-boil some vegetables before roasting them: potatoes and broccoli spring to mind). The following is my favourite combination, but you can leave out anything including the cheese.
Roughly chop the courgette and aubergine. I never bother to salt them, but if you want them to taste particularly sweet – or cook a bit quicker – you can cover them in salt, leave in a bowl for half an hour then blot with kitchen paper before cooking. Next, roughly chop the onions into rings or half rings. Put the whole lot in a baking tray with plenty of olive oil, and into an oven at about 150 degrees centigrade.
While that’s cooking, pour yourself a glass of wine. Turn the vegetables occasionally, and when they’re starting to go translucent add one clove of garlic, crushed or chopped finely. This is also the time to add the carrots, chopped into pieces about ½ inch square (as square as carrots get, anyway), and the peppers chopped into thick slices.
Another glass of wine. Keep checking on the vegetables every so often, turning when necessary and adding more olive oil if you think things look a bit dry. After about 30 minutes the vegetables should start to look soft and glistening, but resist! Roughly chop the mushrooms and toss them into the mix with a bit more olive oil; then sprinkle a bit of fresh basil over the top. Push it back into the oven and wash the tomatoes. Cut a cross in the tops of the tomatoes, then take the vegetables out again and squeeze the tomatoes all over them. Throw the rest of the tomatoes in, along with the feta cheese cut into cubes.
It should only take about three or four minutes for the cheese to melt, and for the vegetables to be their perfect, sweet and succulent best. You can serve this with pasta (if your guests aren’t on Atkins), couscous (if your guests aren’t on GI), salad (don’t bother with a vinaigrette), or even on their own. I also use it for roast vegetable lasagne, or as a cold side salad, or as a filling between two toasted slices of baguette. But the real beauty of roasted vegetables is you can cook them as fast or slowly as you like – keep the oven at 150 to get it done in 45 minutes, or turn it down if you’re enjoying the small talk too much. Mary.
(c) Mary Paterson 25 February 06
In Pakistani terms, daal and rice is poor man's food – it's cheap and you would not expect to eat this if you were invited to dinner (writes Nadia Gilani). And yet, I have not met a Pakistani who doesn’t love daal. This is my favourite comfort food, inspired by my nan’s recipe and adapted from what my mother taught me. It's so easy to do and very useful when you unexpectedly have bellies to fill. It’s nutritionally super and anyone I cook this for adores it.
If you have access to a Pakistani/Indian shop then you might as well buy a mixed bag of garam masala because you won’t want to eat rice any other way once you’ve made this so it won't go to waste. Ensure the spices are whole not ground. If you can’t find a mixed bag then you'll have to buy the following (usually excruciatingly overpriced at supermarkets) separately.
I tend to make a vat of the daal as it freezes well and you can retrieve a pot the morning of the night you wish to eat and simply heat on the hob once thawed.
For the rice
* Splash of olive oil (ghee is more traditional but this is what I prefer)
* Basmati rice (non-negotiable – Uncle Bens will not do, although brown is a healthy alternative sometimes) – 1 mug feeds 2 – multiply as necessary. It doesn’t matter how much rice you decide upon, but remember this: it’s always 1 part rice to 1 part water – so for 2 mugs of rice it would be 2 of water.
* 1 Onion
* 1 Cinnamon stick
* Couple of bay leaves
* Few cloves
* Few pepper corns
* 1 Dried chillie (can omit if prefer)
* ½ Teaspoon cumin seeds
* ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds
For the daal
* 1 Tin tomatoes or 5 or 6 fresh
* 1 Dried chillie or as many as you can handle
* 1 Onion
* Dried red lentils (or another kind if you prefer) – about a mug for 2 with second helpings – multiply as you see fit.
* Fresh coriander (optional but makes this dish finger lickingly exceptional)
* 2 or 3 Cloves garlic (or 5 or 6 if you like a strong hit like me)
* Another splash olive oil
WHAT TO DO
Put the kettle on. Then in a largish pan, throw in the red lentils, slice and add the onion, chillie, tin of tomatoes (you’ll need to roughly chop these). Pour over a substantial amount of the boiling water from the kettle, bring to the boil and simmer for between 20-30 minutes. The water will reduce – add more if you think you need, you can concentrate this so it is thick, or keep it runny however you prefer, I like it somewhere in between.
Meanwhile you can get the rice going. Take a second pan, slosh in some olive oil and fry the onion until brown. Add all the whole spices and fry for only about a minute more, enjoying the heady scent as they release their aromas. Then time to add the rice. Pour over the requisite amount of water – I use the kettle again for speed. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 mins. I normally check and gently give it a stir after about 15 mins.
Finally when the above is all cooked, you have to do what we call the 'tarka'. I don’t know the English word for it but its sort of the 'finishing fry'. Take a frying pan, slosh in your last glug of olive oil and fry the garlic until golden. Don't walk off, you can’t so much as blink or it will burn. As soon as you’re there, chuck it into the daal and you’re done.
Enjoy this as is, or as I do with some soya yoghurt and green salad/handful of raw spinach. And let me know how you get on! Nadia.
(c) Nadia Gilani 14 February 06
May I suggest using organic as much as possible and supporting your local farmer's market or local shops? (It's OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.)
* 4 bits of chicken – legs, breasts or thighs - or get your butcher to cut the bird up in either 4 pieces or 8
* 1 large onion (quicker to peel) - or 12 small onions or shallots
* garlic – as much or as little as you like
* olive oil
* mushrooms - any kind – button or open cap, even better are a mix of wild mushrooms
* pancetta cubes or 4oz diced bacon
* herbs de Provence – I'm picky and use the proper French ones which contain lavender, but use any herbs you like
* salt and pepper – preferably sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
* bottle of red wine – books will suggest using a good bottle of Burgundy; I use cheap plonk, which works just as well
* optional large glug of brandy
* optional cornflour, butter, flour for thickening
* cast iron/enamel casserole dish
* slotted spoon
Pour out a large glass of wine and set to one side. Get out the battered casserole dish (cast iron/enamel) - or large frying pan if your casserole dish is glass or ceramic. Chop onion or peel all the little ones.
Wipe eyes and blow nose, then wash hands. Take a swig of wine that has been set to one side.
Pour about a couple of tablespoons of oil into frying pan or casserole and gently fry chopped onion until transparent or the little ones until they are golden. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. If you are using a frying pan put cooked stuff into casserole dish. Fry bacon/pancetta until crisp and put with onion.
Add more oil to pan if needed, heat till smoking (at this point do not leave the pan by itself as it has a habit of catching fire as soon as your back is turned).
Throw in the chicken - I leave the skin on as it gives a better flavour but you can use skinned bits if preferred - and fry until the skin is crisp and golden or till the flesh has a pale golden hue. Remove the chicken and put with the rest of the other cooked stuff. Grab the glass of wine and take another sip.
Slice the mushrooms - button ones don't need to be chopped - and throw into the pan. Finely cop or crush the garlic and add to the mushrooms, give it a quick stir, but don’t let the garlic burn. Add all the cooked ingredients back to the pan, top up glass with wine and pour the rest over the chicken and veg.
Frying pan method – pour wine onto mushrooms to deglaze the pan and then chuck it on top of the chicken and bits in the casserole dish. Take a wee snifter from the wine glass, add a good pinch of herbs (not to the wine, silly!) and stir the casserole.
Shove into a hot oven (gas 5, 400 degrees F, 190 degrees C) and retire with the glass of wine for about 1½ hours. Check every now and again - if it looks as if the liquid is evaporating, add some more wine even if it means opening up another bottle - or add water or stock.
Add glug brandy and stir. There are several ways to thicken the sauce. You can reduce it - by removing all the solids and keeping them warm, and boiling the juices until they are reduced to the consistency of double-cream before you whip it. In my opinion, this is too much farking about.
Cheat's way is thicken with cornflour. Mix a dessertspoon of cornflour with some water; pour into casserole and stir until mixed; put back in oven for 10 mins to thicken.
Or there’s the professional way. Mix equal parts of butter and flour into a paste and add it bit by bit to the casserole, stirring between each addition over a low flame on the cooker - until the desired thickness is acquired. Boil for a couple of mins to eliminate the flour taste.
Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Or you can leave the salt out and let people decide whether it needs it or not. Finish the glass of wine and serve the chicken with mashed spud or rice and a good leafy veg.
Open another bottle of wine and wait for the praise from your dinner guests. Lea.
(c) Lea Harris 21 January 06
Fellow antipodean Leah D’Astoli made this for me one night for dinner and it was so yummy I had to get the recipe (writes Karen Lister). It's one of those meals that is easy as pie to make, but tastes great and gets compliments. Being the efficient girl I am (read lazy) this was right up my alley – low effort, high results. Serves 2-4
* medium-sized frying pan
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 clove garlic (or more if you love it)
* 100ml of sweet chilli sauce (any kind, but one without bits looks better)
* 200g mushrooms, sliced
* 175g of bacon, diced
* 80g tomato paste
* 2 tspn basil (fresh or dried)
* 2 tspn oregano
* kettle, water
* saucepan, big
* pasta (use about half a bowlful per person)
* parmesan cheese (get the fresh shaved stuff, it makes all the difference)
Fry onions with garlic in a medium-sized frying pan. When softened, add diced bacon. Boil the kettle and put the pasta on to cook with loads of boiling salted water.
Once bacon is nearly cooked, add sliced mushrooms, sweet chilli sauce and tomato paste. Stir together, making sure mushrooms have been covered in sweet chilli and tomato. Add herbs and salt/pepper to taste.
Cook sauce until the pasta is al dente (soft, but very slight chew in centre of strand). Drain pasta (use hot water to rinse or it will go cold). Serve with fresh parmesan sprinkled over the top. Karen.
(c) Karen Lister & Leah D’Astoli 13 January 06
* tin of tuna (in brine)
* packet of pasta (fresh or dry)
* mayonnaise (eg Hellmann’s)
* olive oil
* salt, pepper
* herbs (any kind you have on hand)
Chop up some garlic. Cook the pasta as instructions on packet - usually about 3 minutes in salted boiling water for fresh, 8 minutes for dried - and drain. Put a little olive oil in the pan. Add garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.
Add tuna, put the pasta back in the pan and mix through. Add mayonnaise so as to create a sauce. Heat through a little more while stirring. And the dish is done. Iain.
(c) Iain Davie 11 January 06
It’s not news that we actors often don’t have time to have a good healthy meal. All is not lost. This recipe’s cheap, quick, easy. It takes 20 minutes, beginning to end. If you’re lucky enough to have a local market, they’re usually a lot cheaper than supermarkets for ingredients. Happy cooking!
* 2 chicken breasts
* 1 onion
* 1 green pepper
* 1 yellow pepper
* 5-6 musroooms
* 2 red chillies
* 1 lemon
* 1 lime
* mixed herbs
* salt, pepper
* large glass of red wine
* packet of fresh noodles
* cooking oil
* wok, or large pan
* another pan for boiling noodles
Chop the vegetables into even pieces and put to one side. Cut the chicken breasts into thick pieces. Heat up a small amount of oil in the wok, and when it’s hot, add the chicken. As soon as the chicken is cooking, add lots of basil or mixed herbs. Leave the chicken to cook for 6-7 minutes. Gradually add the onions, peppers and mushrooms – but not the chillies.
Add salt and pepper (go easy on the salt). Once the chicken begins to brown, squeeze the juices of the lemon and lime into the wok – they add a real kick. The smells should be mouth-watering by now. Add the chillies. If you don’t like hot food, leave them out – but it adds that little extra bit of frisky flavour. Add the red wine.
Reduce the heat, and leave all to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Boil water in a separate pan, add the noodles and leave them for about 2 mintues. Drain the noodles, and add to the wok. Stir, and it’s ready to serve. Chris.
(c) Chris Twiselton 10 January 06
As a guide, per person, use:
* 1 large white potato
* 1 small white onion
* olive oil - good quality
* eggs - at least one
* large mixing bowl
Peel potatoes and slice thinly - about half an inch thick - and put in a pan with
plenty of good olive oil. Put on a low heat - you don't want them to brown
- and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the onion and cook for another 15. They should go lovely and soft but still hold their shape.
Drain the excess oil if necessary once done. Using at least 1 egg per person, whisk the eggs in a large bowl and salt well.
Now here's the trick. Don't add the egg to the potatoes, add the potatoes to the egg! That's why you must whisk the eggs in a large bowl - because you then tip the potato and onion into the egg mixture, and stir it around so everything is coated.
Transfer it all back into the hot pan that the potatoes just came out of. Up the heat a smidgen and let it cook. To turn - once there is only a litle bit of runny egg left on the top - slide the tortilla onto a plate, cooked-side down, and then put pan over omlette, flip over, and finish off the other side.
Hey presto, Tortilla Española! Jenny.
(c) Jenny Bell 9 January 06
Flying back into London with flu in the middle of winter, I dreamed of being in bed eating chicken soup. I could only get frozen chicken, and thought it wouldn’t work. But – surprise – in less than 2 hours, it was all done.
* pieces of chicken – doesn’t matter which pieces – best if fresh
* 2 onions
* chicken stock
Fry the onions for a few minutes. Add the chicken and fry for just 3 minutes. Add water, carrots. Add the celery last. Add salt, and when the liquid boils, add chicken stock. Reduce heat, simmer for an hour. Add dill at the end.
For Thai style, omit celery and dill. Instead add lemon grass, coconut milk and coriander. For Japanese style, only use water, chicken, and salt - and add miso powder. Taly.
(c) Taly Koren 1 January 06
This delectable recipe serves 8.
* 568 ml whipping cream
* 200g 'lite' greek yoghurt
* 325g jar good lemon curd
* 2 lemons
* 6 meringue nests
Whip cream until fairly stiff and fold in yoghurt. Zest and juice the lemons. Add to mixture plus the lemon curd and meringue nests broken into small pieces but not to dust. Add a little more lemon if too sweet. Place in shallow container(s) in freezer. Ripen in fridge for at least 40 minutes before eating.
Optional – keep a little lemon curd in jar and dilute to a runniness with lemon juice as a sweet sauce to accompany ice cream. Marilyn
(c) Marilyn Collis 10 December 05
Why buy when you can make?
I love mince pies but have always been disappointed by the shop ones - and the jars of mincemeat you buy lack something (writes Lea Harris). So now I make my own. Not just the pies but the mincemeat inside. It is soooo dead simple even the most crap cooks can make it! And the pastry is really well-behaved.
* 8oz dried apricots
* 8oz raisins
* 8oz sultanas
* 4oz glace cherries
* 8oz peeled and cored cooking apples (about 1 large one)
* 6oz walnuts or pecans
* 4oz mixed peel – try to get the whole pieces if possible otherwise use the pre-chopped stuff
* 8oz Atora veggie suet
* 10oz sugar – I use light muscavado, but you can use anything really
* 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 level tsp ground nutmeg
* 1 level tsp allspice
* grated rind and juice of 2 larges unwaxed lemons
* 3-6 fl oz dark rum or brandy
Get out that huge bowl stuffed in the back of the cupboard and give it a quick dust. Grate the apple into the bowl. Chop the apricots and peel and put into bowl. Rinse off the glace cherries to get rid of the sticky syrup and chop. Add to bowl. Chop the walnuts and add to the bowl. Throw everything else into the bowl except the booze.
Mix with your hands and then add the alcohol and give it a good stir. Cover the bowl and leave it to fester in the kitchen for 2 days. Stir whenever you feel like it.
Sterilise glass jars and lids by putting into warm water and boiling for 5 minutes. Remove and turn upside-down on a clean tea towel to drain. While they are still warm, stir the mincemeat for one last time and pack into jars.
Store in a cool place for as long as possible to mature. Or be smug and impress your friends with a jar.
This recipe is a doddle and was given to me by a German baker from Edinburgh’s Farmer’s Market. I call it the 1,2,3 method pastry – ratio is 1oz caster sugar, 2oz butter, 3oz flour. The quantities below are for 12 pies:
* 2oz caster sugar
* 4oz butter
* 6oz plain flour
* 6 tsp ice cold water
Rub the butter into the flour till it’s blended. Stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the water over the mix and draw together with a knife till it becomes a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Drop onto a floured surface and knead briefly till smooth. Let it rest in the fridge for 20 mins.
Butter a 12 hole patty tin. Divide the pastry into two balls - one ball a third, the 2nd ball- 2/3rds. Roll out, on a floured surface, the bigger lump till it’s about the thickness of a pound coin or a tad thinner. Using a 3inch cutter stamp out 12 rounds and carefully line the patty tin with the rounds. Gather up any scraps and reuse.
Put a large teaspoon of your homemade (always stress to people that you made the mincemeat yourself) into the cases and pop the whole thing in the fridge while you make the lids.
Roll out the rest of the pastry and, using a smaller cutter, stamp out the rounds for lids. Get the topless pies from the fridge and dampen the lids with water to make them stick to the bottoms. Lightly press the top and bottom to seal. Make a cross in the lids to let the steam escape while they cook and brush with either milk or beaten egg.
Pop into a hot oven (gas 7 / 425F / 220C) for 15-20 mins or until they are nicely golden. Leave in tin to cool for 5 mins and then gently tease them out and transfer to wire cooling rack or just eat the whole lot with mulled wine. Lea.
(c) Lea Harris 1 December 05
Tofu and lentils are the dirty words of vegetarianism. Tofu is hard to cook if you don’t know how. Here is a really easy recipe that is tasty too. I have tried this on several meaty types who have gone euuugh! at the mention of tofu for tea - and have then been forced to eat their words and second helpings.
* 2 packets of tofu
* 2 red peppers
* 1 yellow pepper
* 2 courgettes
* 2 carrots
* 2 red chillies, finely chopped
* lots of mature cheddar cheese
* 4 cloves of garlic (or more if you’re feeling brave and don’t have a date that night.)
* cumin seeds
* coriander seeds
* black pepper seeds
* large wok
* cheese grater
* pestle & mortar
Remove all packaging from tofu and leave to drain in a colander. Heat a generous glug of olive oil in the wok. Add finely-diced peppers. Cook till soft. Add finely-chopped courgette, chillies and garlic. Cook till soft. Crumble tofu through fingers into pan, mix well.
Add a generous dash of turmeric and stir well till a deep golden-yellow colour. Put a small teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and pepper into pestle & mortar and grind well. Add to wok. Stir well. Leave on a low heat to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Grate carrots and add. Stir in well. Stir in cheese. Serve with salad, jacket potatoes, rice or toast.
(c) Hannah Dee 22 November 05
This is easy to prepare and relatively inexpensive as it uses a cheapish cut of beef. A little bit of advance planning is necessary (to soak the beans) but, unlike a traditional Sunday roast, there is very little faffing around, and far fewer pots and pans to wash.
The dish can be left to cook unattended for long periods. Pop it in the oven, and go out for a skinful. It serves 8-10 people. Don’t worry if there are less people as you can either reheat it the next day or, better still, have the beef cold with horseradish between 2 doorsteps of crusty white bread. This recipe works better at these proportions.
* 2kg of rolled brisket (or silverside) of beef
* 2 large onions
* 6 large cloves of garlic
* 1 large sprig of rosemary
* 3 bay leaves
* Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce
* 2 pints good beef stock (if not available add a cheap bottle of red wine which gives a very different result, but an equally good one.
* 750g dried aduki beans or similar (black beans, bolita beans or any other dried beans that take your fancy)
* 6 large carrots
* 4 celery sticks
* 3 large leeks
* (Optional side dish - shredded green cabbage tossed with butter)
Soak beans overnight. Next day bring them to the boil, discard the water and set the beans to one side.
Brown the meat all over in a large Le Creuset-style casserole dish with just a splash of cooking oil. Take out the meat and brown the finely-chopped onion and garlic. Careful not to burn it. Replace the meat in the casserole dish. Add the beans, rosemary and bay leaves. Add the stock and sufficient water to cover the meat. Add several good shakes of Lea and Perrins and bring it all to the boil. When the pot has boiled, put it in a medium oven (160 - 175 degrees) for about 4 hours.
Make sure the lid is properly sealed otherwise the liquid will evaporate too quickly (if necessary cover dish with silver foil before putting the lid on). Check every so often to make sure the dish is not cooking too quickly and boiling dry (if it is, add more water and turn down the heat). Conversely, if there is no sign that the liquid has been constantly simmering, just turn the heat up.
Peel and finely dice the carrots. Peel the outside of the celery sticks to remove the stringy bits and then dice them the same size as the carrots. Peel the outer layer off the leeks and trim the root end and any ugly bits at the other end. Cut the leeks into quarters lengthwise and then slice to create pieces similar in size to the diced carrots and celery.
Gently simmer the carrots, celery and leeks in lightly salted water until soft, but do not overcook, they need to retain a bit of texture that will contrast with the rest of the dish. Drain the diced vegetables and put to one side. The preparation of the diced vegetables can be done at any stage during the cooking of the beef.
After the casserole has been in the oven for about 4 hours the beans should have absorbed most of the liquid, and be soft, but not pulp like. Needless to say the beef should be very tender (almost falling apart). Take out the beef and leave to one side. Add the diced vegetables to the pot, stir and bring back to a simmer. Add a little water if the beans are getting too dry, or boil vigorously if the mixture is too watery (but be careful not to let it burn in the bottom of the dish). Add salt and pepper. It will need a lot more than you think, so don’t be shy (but add it bit by bit, and taste in between, as you don’t want to spoil the dish).
Cut the meat into individual thick slices (it won’t slice thinly) and put it on a bed of the steaming bean and diced vegetable mixture. The dish doesn’t actually need any accompaniments but some lightly-cooked shredded green cabbage tossed with butter would give colour and a contrast in texture. Drink with a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1945, or whatever takes your fancy (except tea). Dave
(c) David Vickerstaff 12 November 05
It will be a long time before I eat this again (confesses Lara, slightly sick).
* tin of mashed pumpkin
* 3/4 cup sugar
* teaspoon cinnamon
* teaspoon ginger
* 2 large eggs
* 9" radius shortcrust pastry (I suggest the ready rolled)
* splosh of golden syrup
* creme fraiche for serving.
I may have forgotten some ingredients. C'est la vie. Blind bake (a chef's term for adding dry kidney beans to avoid pastry blistering, and then removing them) pastry for 20 minutes whilst mixing together all the ingredients at once. Pour mixture into the pastry shell. Slap it in the oven preheated to 180 degrees C. 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve with creme fraiche. This is an acquired taste. Don't eat the whole thing at once. You will regret it. Lara
(c) Lara Apponyi 3 November 05
* Packet of frozen dumpling wrappers
* 500g pork mince
* Small tin of sliced water chestnuts (easier to chop)
* ½ packet of dried shitake mushrooms
* 2 spring onions
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon sesame oil
* 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* Tube of coriander (saves chopping up fresh stuff)
* Vegetable oil for frying
* (and may need cornflour or breadcrumbs)
Take the pastry out of the freezer & leave on the bench to defrost whilst you’re chopping everything up.
Boil the kettle, put the shitake mushrooms in a bowl with boiling water and allow to soak for about 20 mins until soft. Once the shitake mushrooms are soft, take them out of the bowl, squeeze excess water out of them into the sink and then dice (discard the stems). Dice the water chestnuts and spring onions.
Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl. Wash your hands well - the only way to mix it properly is to use your hands. Mix well, if it’s too gluggy, put some cornflour or breadcrumbs in.
To taste the mix, heat up a frying pan and put a little of the mix in. Cook and then taste. You can add more ginger, garlic, coriander etc at this stage if needed.
Separate the dumpling pastry circles and put 6 circles on a clean dry bench. Have a little cup or bowl with cold water next to you. Put a spoonful of mixture in the middle of each and wet a semi-circle with your finger to seal. Fold wet and dry sides up to form a semicircle, pinching the corners and top to seal. You can do 6 at a time.
Put a thin covering of oil in a pan and heat. Put about 6 at time in the pan, cook the bottom and then both sides until golden brown. Put in a tray in a warm oven (say 170 degrees C) whilst you’re cooking the rest. You can steam these in a bamboo steamer as well, or lightly fry the bottoms and add a little water to steam in the pan. All depends on how healthy you want them to be! Karen.
(c) Karen Lister 22 October 05
Pam says: This is the best hangover food (and I should know). You have to use enough mint sauce to smear over your teeth.
* Plain Smash
* Birds Eye frozen peas
* Mint sauce
* Bisto beef gravy granules
* Aunt Bessie’s frozen Yorkshire puddings
* Salt, pepper
Defrost peas in microwave. Boil kettle, add water to Smash, mix Smash up. Add peas. Add about 2 dessertspoons of mint sauce. Mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Shove frozen Yorkshire puddings in oven on a baking tray for approximately 2 minutes. Take out. Spoon mash, peas, mint sauce into each Aunt Bessie. Boil kettle, add water to gravy granules. Pour gravy over top of all and serve. Pam.
(c) Pam Lee 24 October 05
Zena swears by this.
* Smash, any flavour
* Vegetables boiled in water
Zena says: Instead of draining vegetables – brocolli, cauliflower, or anything – add Smash. Anyone of the 5 varieties. Stir until thick and serve. It looks like a kind of mashed potatoes, but with vegetables in. Add gravy to taste. Zena
(c) Zena Barrie 24 October 05
Pam says: It’s important to use good corned beef – not supermarket own brands, because you get gristly and squidgy bits in them. And Heinz baked beans. Only the best in this recipe.
* Onion Smash
* Tin of expensive corned beef
* Heinz baked beans
* Salt, pepper
Make the Smash with boiling water. Mix corned beef into Smash till it makes a smooth paste. Add cold beans. Mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Smash is hot, the rest are cold. Serve. Pam.
(c) Pam Lee 24 October 05
* one trout fillet per person
* olive oil
Rub olive oil onto a square of tinfoil. Put the trout fillet skin-down onto it. Squeeze half a lemon over the trout. Top it with half a banana sliced lengthwise. Wrap all up in the foil. Bake in an oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Serve. Penny.
(c) Penny Sims - 6 October 05
Whenever I make these they always get scoffed in about 5 minutes flat (writes Karen Lister). I’ve done them as a starter at dinner parties, at BBQs and just because I feel like some for dinner. They look hard to make but they really are easy. The only trick is to make the stir-fry quite dry so you don’t soak through the pastry – cook off any excess liquid.
You can get mini spring roll pastry and make little ones, or big spring roll pastry and make medium or normal-sized ones. You can put any vegetables into this that you like (and can chop or slice finely).
* Packet of frozen spring roll pastry (any Chinese grocer will stock them)
* 1 Chinese cabbage or normal cabbage
* 2 Carrots
* 1 spring onion
* ½ packet of dried shitake mushrooms (or normal ones, but shitake are nicer)
* Packet of Bean shoots/sprouts (they cook down a lot so get loads)
* 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed or chopped finely – I use the fresh stuff in the jar or tube)
* Grated fresh ginger
* Soy sauce
* Oyster sauce
* Sesame Oil
* Vegetable oil for frying
Take the pastry out of the freezer & leave on the bench to defrost whilst you’re chopping everything up.
Boil the kettle, put the shitake mushrooms in a bowl with boiling water and allow to soak for about 20 mins until soft.
Chop the cabbage reasonable finely, grate the carrot (you can julienne them if you want - I’m too lazy) and chop the spring onion.
Once the shitake mushrooms are soft, take them out of the bowl, squeeze excess water out of them into the sink and slice finely (discard the stems).
Heat up a bit of vegetable or stir-fry oil in your frying pan/wok and add the garlic, ginger & spring onion. Cook for about 2 mins (don’t let the garlic burn – yuck!). Add the carrot & mushrooms and cook for another 2 mins. Add the cabbage, a small splash of water and steam the cabbage for about 5 mins. Add the bean sprouts, soy sauce, oyster sauce & sesame oil (I add a good splash of each). Stir it all in and cook for about 1 more minute. Take pan off the heat. You have to allow the mix to cool a little because otherwise you’ll burn your fingers when you roll it.
Separate the spring roll pastry sheets - they are thin but quite hardy - and put a sheet on a clean dry bench. Have a little cup or bowl with cold water next to you. Put a spoonful of mixture at one corner of the pastry (the more mix the large the spring roll will be). Roll the pastry once, tuck in both corners and continue rolling until you reach the opposite corner. Wet your finger with the cold water and put a bit on the final corner, this will stick it on. Repeat until you’ve used all the pastry.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan (about ½ the height of the spring rolls). Put in about 4 or 5 at a time and fry quickly until golden. Turn and get the same colour on the other side. Put on paper towels to drain.
Serve straight away when they’re still nice and hot with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. Karen.
(c) Karen Lister - 16 September 05
This is a hotchpotch recipe (writes Vanessa Whyte), so please take the ingredients as guidelines - they’re just my personal preference. Put whatever you like in - you can add chicken or prawns if you want - but this is a basic vegetarian green curry. OK, here goes.
* 3-4 table spoons olive oil/sesame oil
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1-2 large onions
* 1 large red/green chilli
* 2 aubergines
* 500g mushrooms
* 3 courgettes
* 100g baby sweetcorn
* 1 jar (approx 200g) Thai curry paste (Sainsbury’s do a good one)
* 2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk (either full-fat or light)
* 60g creamed coconut (optional)
* 200g rice
Chop the onion, chilli and garlic and simmer in a big wok with the oil. You can use a large saucepan if you like, but I always prefer to use a wok so that I can feel more authentic and make as much mess as is physically possible. After about 10 minutes on a low heat, the onions should be soft - don’t let them go brown.
Chop the aubergines and courgettes into large bite-size chunks. This makes the texture much better, and allows them to absorb more of the flavour. Salt them, and leave them to stand for 10 minutes. Rinse them with cold water. Place in the wok and stir in with the onions, chilli and garlic. Leave for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns.
Chop the mushrooms, or leave whole as you prefer (it all depends on how much time you have to cook this, but the bigger the better), and add to the wok. Keep stirring occasionally, making sure the onions are not getting stuck to the bottom and burning.
After 5-10 minutes the mushrooms should have started to release their juices. Once you have noticed this, add the baby sweetcorn and the green curry paste. Be sure to stir this evenly throughout the mixture. Leave to cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the coconut milk and stir in. Leave for another 15 minutes, again stirring to make sure nothing burns. Try it. Add the creamed coconut if you feel it needs more coconut flavour or slightly less heat.
You decide when the curry is ready. The best way is to taste a big chunk of aubergine. Make sure it is cooked all the way through, and has absorbed enough of the curry sauce. Don't worry how long it takes - it doesn't overcook. If it starts to get a bit thick, just add water. If you find that the sauce is too thin, feel free to add more creamed coconut or curry paste for flavour.
Once your aubergines are juicy enough, serve on a bed of rice. If you find cooking rice is more stressful than it’s worth, and you always end up burning it - Sainsbury's 'Boil in the Bag' rice is a fool-proof solution.
So there you have it. A basic recipe for Thai Green Curry (or 'Gaeng Keow Wan' if you really want to impress your guests), which you can chop and change. It may take a while, but it really is very simple. And so delicious. Vanessa.
(c) Vanessa Whyte - 8 September 05
This was originally my Scottish grandmother's recipe (writes Gill Smith). It's the best excuse in the world for adults to eat marshmallows.
* 1 tin of cherry pie filling. I think black cherries are best, but it's good
with red too.
* 1 packet of marshmallows. Including lots of pink ones. They make it look
* 2 x 170g tins of sterilised cream. There used to be a bigger tin. One of
those would have done. I can't seem to find it anymore.
* 3 cups of mashed digestive biscuits.
* ½ cup of dark muscovado sugar.
* ½ cup of margarine.
This is something of a 'fluid' recipe. It might ruin a Nigella to use butter
instead of marg, or if the sugar isn't muscovado. Not this. Consider these
recommendations - and play with it a bit if you like. Especially make the
biscuit base however sweet you like it.
Step 1 is the biscuit base. Melt the marg gently in a pan. While that's
going on, crush the digestives. I usually put them in an air-tight bag and
pummel them with a rolling pin. Be careful - if it splits, you have a
kitchen lightly dusted in digestive crumbs!
Once the marg has melted, stir the sugar in gently to dissolve. Then take it off the heat. Mix in the biscuit crumbs.
Press the crumbs-mix into the base of your dish. A clear-sided dish makes it
look great, as you can see the coloured layers down the sides. Either keep
this layer reasonably thin, or go for thick - but then don't press it down
too hard. I've occasionally ended up with it set like concrete. Delicious
concrete, but hard to serve and chew.
Step 2 is the cream layer. Chop the marshmallows - roughly quarters, but
it's no big deal. Add the sterilised cream (I believe ½ pint of whipped
double cream works as well here: never personally tried it. Sterilised has a
unique - but strangely right - flavour.) Mix thoroughly. Spread it across the
Step 3 is the cherries. Open the tin of cherry pie filling and spread it
evenly across the top. If you've ended up with spare biscuit base, you can
sprinkle it around the edges on top, or perhaps a little in the middle. Be
artistic. Have fun.
Now just try not to eat it until after the main course! Gill.
(c) Gill Smith - 15 August 05
Last year, while living in Canada, I developed an intense liking for all things
peanut-butter-related (writes a neverthelss slender Samantha Jayne Hulston). Despite the high calorie content, peanut butter gets pride of place in so many Canadian's cupboards. And once you've tasted the North American
varieties, you'll understand why.
North American peanut butter is dark and
rich in colour, with a smooth flavour - unlike the UK versions, which are pale
and sickly-sweet. In Canada, I couldn't get enough of the peanutty stuff - from the legendary chocolate and peanut butter Reese Cup Cakes, to chocolately
and chewy Oh! Henry chocolate & peanut bars and, of course, peanut butter
cookies. Soft and oh-so-slightly salty cookies, freshly baked - and available everywhere.
Here in the UK, I've been trying to
create my own home-baked versions. This is what I've come up with. Reese Can
Wait Chocolate-&-Peanut-Butter Cookies are a cross between a traditional North
American soft cookie and a Reese cup cake. Yum.
For the cookie:
* 75g unsalted butter
* 60g caster sugar
* 1 large egg
* 175g self-raising flour
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1-2 tablespoons milk
* 1 tablespoon smooth or cruncy peanut butter (go for organic for a really nutty
* 50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids, you know the score)
* 25g milk chocolate
* 50g peanuts
* a pinch of salt
Pre-heat an oven at 180 degrees C. During the time it takes for the oven to hot up, cream the sugar and butter until smooth, fluffy and light in colour. Whisk up the egg in a separate bowl. Add to the sugar and butter.
Carefully sift the flour into the mixture. Sift as high as possible above the mixture to put in as much air as possible. Fold in the flour using a spatula, taking care not to knock too much air out. Once this is all done add the vanilla extract, milk and peanut butter.
If you can get your mitts on North American peanut butter, use it. The taste is so much better than the UK versions. Otherwise, get thee to an organic food shop and invest in Whole Earth peanut butter.
Once you've added the peanut butter, the
mixture should look a little messy and be quite sticky. Which is completely
fine. Break up the chocolate (eating a cube or two in between, for essential
quality control), and add to the mixture. Sprinkle in the peanuts and the salt.
Mix everything together. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, roll out and
cut into cute cookie shapes.
I prefer my cookies to be about 1/2 cm fat, but you could do them fatter or thinner - depending on how soft and chewy or crunchy you want them. Space the cookie shapes out on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins.
First time you give this recipe a whirl, you may need to experiment with your oven. Take into account how quickly or slowly it gets the job done. Remove from the oven when going golden, but still soft and moist (the cookies). Leave to cool slightly.
Serve them while still touched by warmth, with a glass of milk.
This cookie recipe is very much a recipe in progress. I'm currently trying out
a variety of different combinations. Such as wholemeal self-raising flour, with organic smooth peanut butter for a more wholesome cookie. Use the same quantity of
flour, sifted, just fold in the bran that doesn't sieve-through afterwards.
You can use half salted and half unsalted butter to heighten the sweet-savoury feel
of the peanut butter. Or substitute some of the caster sugar for muscavado
sugar. With its dark colour and deep flavour, muscavado makes a more sophisticated cookie for coffee afternoons.
A peanut-butter-and-jam cookie is at the planning stage in my flat-kitchen at moment. Results of experiments will
be forthcoming! Samantha Jayne.
(c) Samantha Jayne Hulston - 14 August 05
* 'Reese are an American sweetie. Little chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter crunch.' SJH
I can't take full credit for this recipe (writes a modest Samantha Jayne Hulston). I came across it originally on a promotional postcard for Green & Black’s chocolate in 2002 - back in the day when those lovely bars of G&B could only be found on the shelves of ethically-sound foodie health shops. Since then, the brand has exploded, the bars have been repackaged and I am continually delighted to see 100g bars of Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate on the shelves of my local convenience store. Fudgy Chocolate Mass - as I have re-christened this cake from its original title of Green & Black's Organic Chocolate Mousse Cake - is possibly one of the easiest of cakes to make. Its impact, however, is monumental.
*** The Cake ***
* 3 bars of 100g Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate (I'm sorry, but, it just has to be G&B. Their Dark Chocolate is made from 70% organic cocoa solids and the taste is delightfully smooth, yet, intense and penetrating at the same time)
* 275g caster sugar (stick a vanilla pod in the sugar jar a week or two before
* 165g organic unsalted butter (and a little more for greasing)
* A pinch of sea salt
* 5 large free range eggs (happy chickens make happy eggs, make happy cakes)
* 1 tablespoon organic ground almonds (plus a little extra for dusting)
* 1 punnet of raspberries (optional)
Cocoa powder for serving
First up, butter a 9-inch spring form cake tin and dust with the ground almonds.
Set the tin to one side. Melt the chocolate and butter in a Pyrex bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. There is a trend, at the moment, for microwave-based chocolate melting - but I can't quite stop using the saucepan method. So long as the heat is controlled this method is, in my opinion, the best. There is a therapeutic and pensive element to watching chocolate and butter gently melt - stirring occasionally - creating smooth and glossy melted chocolate.
Once the butter and chocolate are completely melted, add the caster sugar and sea salt. Allow the sugar to combine and melt.
Meanwhile, in another bowl whisk the eggs up with the almonds. Fold these ingredients into chocolate mixture using a spatula. Finally, roughly chop-up or break-up 3/4 of the raspberries (reserve a few for later) and add to the mixture – folding in lightly.
Perhaps, this recipe should be more appropriately called fudgy chocolate mess at this stage – this is what the mixture looks like. Don't worry - it's meant to.
Pour the mess into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 mins. Probe the cake with a testing pin after 35 mins. If the pin comes out from the middle of the cake almost-clean-but-not-quite, it is ready.
Allow the cake to cool. Remove the sides of the cake tin and serve either as a complete cake with creme fraiche. Or cut up into rough chunks and slices, served piled high on a large plate. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and any left-over raspberries. PS - this cake keeps incredibly well overnight – it becomes even more fudgy and intense.
Finally, wait for the proposals of marriage to come pouring in. Samantha Jayne.
Samantha Jayne Hulston - 3 June 05
Admittedly, this recipe did sound a little bizarre when I first encountered it (writes Samantha Jayne Hulston). When I think of cheesecake, it's a chilled desert full of simple vanilla or fresh lemon flavours.
That was until I spent a winter in Quebec. Famed for its relentless arse-achingly-cold winters (-30 degrees not including wind-chill), Quebec evokes the comfort-food cook in all its inhabitants throughout the winter months. After one particularly nasty snow blizzard, I turned to the cupboard and reached instantly for the cinnamon (the most warming of spices) and whatever else came to hand.
The result was this cheesecake - which quirkily combines the creamy, light and refreshing qualities of a baked-cheesecake with the scrummy, huggable flavours of apple and cinnamon.
*** The Base ***
* 1 packet digestive biscuits - eating one or two at this point is acceptable
* 3 tbsp brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 25-50g butter, softened (unsalted is my favourite)
Grab a 9 inch spring form cake tin and butter-up the base. You could sprinkle in some brown sugar and ground cinnamon too, if you wish. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Crush the digestives – chuck them in a blender, or wrap them in a clean tea towel and hit them with a rolling pin: whichever will make you giggle most.
Mix the crushed digestives with the sugar, cinnamon and butter until they stick together. Press this sticky, buttery mess into the base of the springform cake tin. Put the tin in the oven for 10-15mins, just to fix the base.
*** The Cake ***
* 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
* 8 tbsp caster sugar (if you want a really delicious vanilla flavouring, leave a pod or two of vanilla in your sugar jar for a couple of days before making this recipe - or indeed any sweet treat)
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Mix up the cream cheese and sugar either in a food mixer/processor. If you fancy working out your biceps, do it by hand - it can take bloody ages. Once you've got a satin-like smoothness with equally distributed sugar grains, add the eggs one at a time. Mix, mix, mix. Add in the drops of vanilla and mix again. Pour this lovely-smelling, smooth mixture over the digestive base.
*** The Topping ***
4 sliced apples peeled (thin or chunky. If you’re preparing ahead, squeeze some lemon juice over the apples to stop them discolouring when in contact with the air)
1 tsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over a controlled heat, chuck in the sliced apples. Shake the pan to coat the apples. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and shake a bit more. Gently heat through to help flavours combine and to make the kitchen smell lovely, so that your flatmates/partners/children all become really interested in what you're up to. Remove from the heat, if you please. Sprinkle, pour or arrange the apple mixture over the cheesecake filling. Alternatively, if you wanted to, you could place this mixture between the base and the filling, creating a warm flavourful surprise for those you serve up to.
Place the cake in the oven at 180 degrees C for 1 hour & 10 minutes. Remove and test that the edges are firm and that it is cooked through to the middle. Loosen from sides of pan and serve while still slightly warm with vanilla pod ice-cream. Yummy. Samantha Jayne.
(c) Samantha Jayne Hulston 1 June 05
PS - Sam's favourite cakes to bake include:
Reese Can Wait Chocolate & Peanut-Butter Cookies
Fudgy Chocolate Mass
Apple & Cinnamon Cheesecake
Chocolate chilli pudding
By David Vickerstaff
Ingredients: Guinness (or red wine), onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, about quarter kilo (half pound) stewing steak per person, flour, salt, pepper, vegetable oil or olive oil, bay leaves, herbs; optional - coriander, Lea & Perrins, Marmite or Bovril; may need - butter or margarine or Bisto.
Cooking: Prepare stewing steak by chopping off most fat. Cut meat into even-sized bite-sized chunks. Toss into flour seasoned with salt and pepper, giving a light flour coat to the meat. Fry in hot vegetable (or olive) oil till brown all over. Don't burn. Don't use butter, as it burns. Do in two or three batches, or else it lowers the temperature and doesn't seal the meat. Take the meat out. Brown chopped onions and garlic, then chopped carrots, then chopped mushrooms. Don't use too much oil. Return meat to pan. Add Guinness and top up with water. Add 3 or 4 bay leaves, any herbs, a bit of roughly chopped coriander, dash of Lea & Perrins sauce, teaspoonful of Marmite or Bovril. Slowly cook in pan till meat is soft - 1.5 to 2 hours. Keep making sure it is not burning at the bottom. Keep it nice and liquid. There should always be enough liquid to cover everything all the time. When the meat is cooked, judge if the liquid is too runny. If so, make a paste of flour and butter or margarine and mix it in. This is made with 3 tablespoonsful of flour and the minimum amount of butter or margarine to make a paste - or use Bisto. If the sauce is too thick, add water. Serve with vegetables and mashed potato. David.
(c) David Vickerstaff 11 December 2004
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