Green Beans Hazelnut Orange Salad

Greens Beans, Hazelnut & Orange Salad

I recently discovered a new type of green bean, the Purple Queen Bush Bean. In actual fact its outer skin is an aubergine colour which turns to a deep shade of green when cooked. Magic!

You could use these for this recipe but I only had normal green beans (French beans) on had, which work just as well. Toasting the hazelnuts removes their slightly bitter taste and allows you to rub off part of the skin, exposing the nut below. The orange is a nice contrast to the nuts and sweetness of the beans.

The original recipe is from the Ottolenghi cookbook. I adapted it as snow peas (mangetout) are often difficult to find here and I try, when possible, to buy local produce.

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Greek Spinach Leek Pie

My friend Lucy said to me ” being a vegetarian shouldn’t be a side dish”.

More often than not she is confronted with restaurants lacking luster and creativity when it comes to vegetarian food. Glorified side dishes of pasta, risotto, tossed greens or sauteed veggies is all they can muster. Which is disappointing really, as cooking for vegetarians shouldn’t be seen as a curse.

Despite being a carnivore, I am also a vegetarian at heart and dedicated to the pursuit of delicious vegetarian recipes. Here is my take on the Telegraph’s original Greek Spinach & Leek Pie. I removed the dill, forgot the Parmesan (it happens) and added nutmeg.  This is a great dinner party recipe, just serve the pie hot, right out of the oven, when it is at it’s best and the filo pastry, crispy.

Greek Spinach Leek Pie

Asparagus Risotto

26 May 2010

Asparagus Risotto

Classic asparagus risotto made with arborio rice, onions, stock, Parmesan cheese and fresh asparagus.

The season for asparagus always seems too short. In a blink of an eye it’s gone and you have to wait a whole year to enjoy these tasty shoots again. So when I was in Provence this past weekend I took advantage of the Uzes Market.

There were many different varieties of asparagus to choose from – white,  green, purple tipped, but for this recipe I prefered the green.  What is great about risotto is that it doesn’t over power the asparagus, but compliments it. This is quintessential Italian cooking, which is all about tasting each ingredient.

For other asparagus recipes see these links: Pumpkin Risotto Grilled Asparagus

See link ‘asparagus risotto‘ below for recipe:

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Bear's Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic, ramsons, bear’s garlic….

Whatever you choose to call it, it is delicious and currently in season. In French they call it l’ail des ours (garlic of bears) as apparently this is a brown bear’s Achilles’ heel! Humans also love these wild, garlic flavoured leaves, which are edible and great to use in soups, salads, omelette etc.

Wild garlic is currently in abundance at the local fruits and veg market. Every stall seems to have a large basked of these bright green leaves. I have taken advantage of this and made a basic bear’s garlic pesto, half of which I keep fresh in the fridge and the rest I divide into smaller portion to freeze. There is just too much to use all at once and as the season is relatively short it is a nice way to enjoy bear’s garlic for weeks to come.

Click link  below for bear’s garlic pesto recipe:

BEAR’S GARLIC

ROCKET PESTO

8 April 2010

Rocket (Arugula) Pesto

ROCKET (ARUGULA) PESTO

Peppery rocket pesto is a nice alternative to basil.

Now I love basil pesto just as much as the next person, but every once and a while it’s nice to have  a change. Instead of basil leaves and pine nuts I like to use rocket (arugula) and pecans. The strong peppery taste of rocket with the mellowing effect of the slightly sweet pecans works perfectly together

When you think rocket, the first thing that generally comes to mind is salad. Don’t limit yourself, break free, break free I tell you!

This rocket pecan pesto is great with pasta, meat, fish even rice. Why not use it in a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or mustard.

See the link ‘‘rocket pesto” below for recipe:

Rocket Pesto

Baked Potato

21 March 2010

Baked Potato – Jacket Potato recipe

How do you like you spud?

Crispy golden outside, tender fluffy inside. The baked potato a meal in itself, and such an easy recipe to make – child’s play really.

Just take large baking potatoes, scrub, dry, prick, rub with olive oil & sea salt, in the oven for about an hour and they are done. Now your only care in the world is what to top them with! My preference is a little sour cream, cheese (Gruyère & sharp English Cheddar) and a sprinkle of chives.

The type of potato is important for best results. Baking potatoes are generally large, long, starchy potatoes with a thick, coarse skin. They are high in starch, with a dry, floury texture. If you are wondering what the best baking potatoes are, look for Russet, Estima, Marfona or Victoria.

See the link ‘baked potato‘ below for recipe:

Baked Potato

Lemon chicken

9 February 2010

Lemon Chicken

Chicken recipe : Roasted Lemon Chicken with Sumac

What to do with chicken…. that ever versatile white protein. My mother has been trying to disguise it for years while my father throws every curry in the book at it just to ‘add’ some taste.

I was looking for a change, so went sniffing through my cookbooks for an EASY CHICKEN RECIPE when I came across Ottolengi’s ‘Roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon’.

The basis of the recipe looked good but I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on hand  ie) no za’atar (Middle Eastern blend of dried thyme, sesame seeds and salt) or allspice and didn’t feel much like messing around with a whole chicken, so I simplified things.

All you need is a few chicken breasts, fresh lemon, sumac (a spice made of crushed Mediterranean berries), garlic, stock and a few other spices. This makes a delicious, fragrant dish, that is healthy and great served over basmati rice.

See the link ‘lemon chicken’ below for the recipe:

LEMON CHICKEN

BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

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