I made some enchiladas a few weeks ago and added one chipotle chilli for four people. You couldn’t taste it at all; there was a little bit of smoky flavour but no chilli heat; it wasn’t the end of the world, they were still very tasty. When I made this Smoky Chipotle Tomato Soup I added one chilli again, this time for two people, and it was probably the hottest thing I have ever eaten. It’s amazing how different two chillies that look just the same can have completely different heat levels. Despite it being so hot, it was actually rather delicious. Served with lots of bread and a glass of milk.
A couple of courgettes turned up in the veg box this week. Although the days have been warm, borderline hot, recently the evenings are still cold reminding me that it’s firmly still spring. I’m certainly not complaining, I prefer spring in some ways; mostly that the heat (if any) is not muggy and there are many, many fewer insects. All the more enjoyable for al fresco dining I think you’ll agree; insects in summer mean I am forever swiping the air to deter a particularly determined fly or being chased round the garden by a wasp with a bad attitude. Not the epitome of glamour and demure that I aim for in every garden dining experience. But not to worry, ones absence from the dining table will hardly be noticed when a plate of these Olive and Fontina Baked Courgettes are served up.
I used to really dislike horseradish, I just didn’t understand why you would want to eat something that makes you pull a face similar to the one you would pull if someone trod on your foot. I had tried it before and had decided to avoid it at all costs from then on; until I ate some by accident in a mini Yorkshire pudding covered with rare roast beef and everything changed. If you’re like me and you’re also on Team Horseradish then you must try this recipe for horseradish celeriac remoulade. If you’re not a fan of the fiery root then just leave the horseradish out; it’ll still be tasty (just not quite the same).
The thing I like most about these vegetable Singapore noodles is that you can throw in whatever you have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Add a few simple store cupboard staples and voila, dinner in 15 minutes. I have been perfecting this recipe for a little while now to get a good balance of sweet, salt and spice and by Jove I think I’ve cracked it. No more takeaways needed! You really can play around with this recipe too; try using different noodles or rice, different vegetables and nuts.
Chard has such a fantastic earthy flavour and I love using it in all sorts of dishes. I used Swiss chard for this recipe but the rainbow variety would work just as well and look fantastic. My Sticky Soy Chard came about because I wanted to treat the chard exactly as I would treat bok choi; covering it in a savoury, sticky glaze. The chard plant itself does have a habit of getting a bit of mud stuck in the leaves so make sure you give it a good wash before you use it.
You will need (for two as a side):
I like to look forward to my lunches; whether I’m using up some leftovers to make a quick salad, sticking all sorts of ingredients in a sandwich or slurping on soup. Sometimes it can be very tempting to just grab the quickest thing in the kitchen but if I do that I am invariably disappointed at lunch time. So say hello to my three easy soup toppings which can all be made in less than five minutes, using ingredients you probably already have and can be made in advance to enjoy at work.
New Covent Garden Soups are currently encouraging everyone to revive their lunch life, something I was really keen to get involved with as I think lunch can make or break a day. Below are my three easy soup toppings and the soups that I chose to serve them with. You can get creative and add any of the toppings to any of the soups and have a go at putting your own twist on them too.
This is, probably, one of my absolute favourite meals I have ever made. Not only does it look glorious (excuse self-praising) but it is absolutely delicious. A vegetarian fish and chips if you will; a real rival to that classic seaside dish using halloumi instead of fish. With my recipe there is no crispy batter, however, the outside of the halloumi gets all crispy and wonderful so you really don’t miss it. Plus, as there’s no deep fat frying involved it’s much more suited to a weeknight dinner as there’s no faffing around.
There’s always a pack of lentils in my kitchen cupboards. Sometimes more than one; the quick cooking red variety to throw into soups, the big fat yellow ones for making dahl and the more elegant puy for making a wholesome side dish or salad. The mealy, earthy taste and texture that comes from a lentil is part of its charm; the fact that they are so humble but so versatile and filling is why I always find myself with lentils on my plate at least once a week. This dish of lentils and chard was served alongside some simply griddled chicken but it was so good that I think it’s perfect as a meal on its own.
First impressions are terribly important, but then so is not judging a book by its cover. This may look, on first glance, like a bowl of indistinct yellow mush but trust me, don’t judge this bowl of incredible-ness by its ‘rustic’ appearance. When I have a bowl of dahl it has to be three things: comforting, frugal and full of garlic. My Yellow Split Pea Dahl, which I have been trying and testing for some time now, fulfils all of my dahl needs and wants. Absolutely dahl-icious.
I tried something similar to these Mexican black beans at a restaurant a few weeks ago. They were so tasty and I loved the frugality of them that I really wanted to try and make them at home. Attempt one tasted fine but the texture was all wrong, attempt two was an improvement but the spicing wasn’t quite right. By the third attempt I’d got it; tasty, slightly spicy, cheap and easy to make. Does it get much better?
You will need (for 2):
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed £0.65
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed £0.10
- 1 small chilli, halved £0.15
- 150ml chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock to make these vegetarian or vegan) £0.30
- ½ tsp ground cumin £0.05
- ½ tsp smoked paprika £0.05
- oil for cooking £0.10
- salt and pepper £0.05
- fresh coriander, chopped £0.30
- Rice to serve £0.30
Total for two: £2.05
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or so and don’t let the garlic catch. Add the chilli and spices and keep everything moving.
Add the beans, stock, a little salt and pepper then pop a lid on and leave to simmer lightly for 15 minutes.
Take the lid off and continue to cook for another five minutes; lightly mash most of the beans with the back of the spoon until it’s like a very thick soup.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly and thicken up a little more, stir through the fresh coriander and serve.
I had this on the side with my enchiladas recently but the previous versions were served with rice or quinoa (both good choices) and a fresh tomato salad. I left the chilli out of the first batch I made and it still tastes great but adding it does give that lovely fresh chilli flavour to the beans and along with the spices, garlic and coriander this is a very tasty bowl of stuff. And I bet you’ve got most of the ingredients in your cupboards already. I would be tempted to thicken these beans up further, spread them over a wrap, top with some leftover shredded chicken and fresh tomato salsa, roll and enjoy.