Parsley Sauce

Knock Knock
Who’s there!
Parsley!
Parsley who?
Parsley the sauce please!

Excuse this bad joke, but I just couldn’t resist..
I have to admit that not only have I never made parsley sauce, I never even tried it before.  One of my colleagues always says how much she loves it. I had to try it to see what it’s all about.

I see the appeal now,  it’s a really delicious, quick and no fuss sauce to make and can be used with ham, fishcakes, baked fish, or even vegetables. We had it simply with baked salmon and green beans.

CLASSIC PARSLEY SAUCE

(adapted from BBC Food)

Tip:  Make it just before you need to use it.

Ingredients:

25g butter

25g plain flour

400ml milk

a good handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.

  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, watch the heat to ensure sure the paste does not burn.

  3. Gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce. I prefer to use a whisk for that, stirring all the time, bring to the boil.

  4. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, stir in chopped parsley, serve it straight away.

 

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Mixed Beans and Aubergine Chilli

Aubergine is not the vegetable you usually find in a chilli, but their meaty, spongy texture perfectly absorbs all the flavours and together with the beans makes a delicious combo.

Mixed bean and aubergine chilli

MIXED BEANS AND AUBERGINE CHILLI

(recipe adapted from S. Rimmer’s ‘The Accidental Vegetarian’ book)

Ingredients: 

about 80ml vegetable oil

1-2 aubergines, depends on the size, cut into chunky cubes

1 red onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 red chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin mixed beans

1 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese/soured cream to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the aubergine pieces for about 7 minutes or until they get some colour and soften. Remove and drain on the kitchen towel.
  2. Fry the onions until soft and translucent, add chopped green peppers, continue to fry for another 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chillies, all spices, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Then add the beans, tomatoes, aubergines, sugar and cocoa powder (if you use it) and a cup of water. Season well, cover with the lead and cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Check again for seasoning and serve with rice/baked potatoes, with dollop of soured cream and some grated cheese.

Leftovers Cheesy Gratin

It’s not the most sophisticated dish, to be honest, but it works on so many levels. It helps to tidy up the loose ends from your fridge and takes minutes to assemble the dish, and goes so well on a midweek cold evening.

Leftovers Gratin

Leftovers cheesy gratin

LEFTOVERS CHEESY GRATIN

Ingredients:

50g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

50g flour

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

500ml milk

200g mature cheddar, grated

3 cooked potatoes, sliced

200g frozen peas

200g any cooked meat/ham (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion, cook until it’s soft and translucent. Then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth with no lumps, (I prefer to use a whisk for that) keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens to a creamy sauce. At this stage add the mustard and cheese, leaving a handful of grated cheese aside for the topping. Check for seasoning and remove from the heat.
  3. Place potatoes, peas and cooked meat or any other cooked vegetables you’d like to use up, in a deep oven proof dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, then sprinkle with remaining cheddar.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden and crisp.

 

Aubergine and Chickpeas

I always say, if I had to choose to have just one cookery book, it would definitely be  Eat by Nigel Slater. I just love his approach to food and cooking, his frugal, seasonal, simple no-fuss, but innovative and always delicious food. So, this book is never far away from me and I constantly refer to it either for recipes or just for inspiration.

One of my absolute favourite recipe from it is  an Aubergine and Chickpea dish. It’s embarrassingly easy to make, but it always gets a ‘wow’ reaction from everyone who tries it. The main thing is to season the dish well, as both of the main ingredients (chickpeas and aubergines are rather bland by nature). You can eat it as a main or make it as a starter on its own or on a slice of good toasted bread.

Aubergine and Chickpeas

AUBERGINE AND CHICKPEAS

(Recipe is taken from Eat book by Nigel Slater)

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine

1 400g can of chickpeas

sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped

2 garlic cloves

black pepper and salt to taste

Method:

  1. Slice an aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side.
  2. Drain a can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some bread.

From a long experience cooking this dish, I can say that sometime, I found the grilled aubergines can be a bit dry, so I prefer to bake them in the oven instead. It takes a bit longer then grilling, but the end result is much better. Also, the puree can also come out a bit dry, in this case, just simply add more olive oil/splash of water. You can play around with adding some spices or herbs you like. Serve any green veg or chunky potato chips on the side.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

It’s a really hearty, earthy, yet fruity light dish. I can’t say it’s the most presentable creation as the red cabbage lends a distinctive monotone colouring to the whole thing. However, if not made for dinner party, it will impress just as well as a mid week supper. This dish is a winner and a budget friendly one too. I served it with a yoghurt and tahini lemon drizzle to top, but it’s just as good on it’s own.

Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew

MOROCCAN LENTIL AND LAMB STEW

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

pinch ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon za’tar (optional)

350 g dried green lentil, rinsed

1.5 litre chicken stock

1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded

400 g lamb leg steaks, diced

50 g dried apricots, chopped

50 g dried currants, chopped (optional)

1 lemon, for squeezing

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large casserole heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the diced lamb and brown over a high heat until it just cooked. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the casserole and gently cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the lentil and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until the lentil are tender.
  4. Stir in the apricots, currants and lamb for the final 10 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Check seasoning, squeeze some lemon juice, serve on its own or drizzle with Yoghurt & Tahini dressing.

Yoghurt & Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Mix by hand or blend in a food processor everything up and drizzle on top.
  • The tahini sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

Potato Pancakes

To celebrate The Pancake Day (yesterday) I chose a less conventional recipe for pancakes. Someone, probably, would debate even if you can call them ‘pancakes’, but that’s how we call them at home and I will continue to do so.

When we grew up, we didn’t really have any ‘take away’ places and the only ‘fast food’ we knew, it was the food made by our Mums and Babushkas. It was always the food with few ingredients, probably not always healthy (but what sort of  ‘fast food’ is?), but always comforting and delicious! These pancakes are in that ‘fast food’ range. And you don’t need to wait for Pancake Day to have it really, it’s perfect any time, when you crave for the comfort food.

Potato pancakes / Druniki

POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients:

4 potatoes, peeled

4 tablespoons plain floor

2 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

vegetable oil for frying

soured cream for serving

Method:

  1. You can grate finely, coarselyor mince the potatoes by hand, or you can simply put it in a food processor and blitz it until it becomes fine mass without any big pieces (imagine you blend the soup, so the consistency of the potatoes should be like that).
  2. Add the eggs, flour, salt and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.
  3. In a pan pour oil, wait until its hot (but not burning!), put potato mixture with a spoon. Fry each side until brown, flip. The pancakes brown rather quickly, so do not walk away very far from the pan, keep an eye on them.
  4. When the pancakes are cooked put then on kitchen towel to drain the excess of the oil. Serve meanwhile they are hot, on its own or preferably with soured cream.

Potato Pancakes

Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

This is a take on Italian Cotechino with lentils, a dish traditionally eaten during Christmas time. It is believed to bring good luck to those that eat it in the year to come. I said it is ‘our take’ because the original version is more like a thick stew, but our came out something between stew and soup, so stoup it is. In any way I love both versions and it is really up to you to make as thick or thin as you like. You can easily double or triple the recipe and make ahead too.

  • It isn’t necessary to soak the lentils, you can even use canned lentils too, but if you have time, please try soaking it overnight prior to cooking, as it’s worth it. It becomes much more tender and absorbs all flavours even more.
  • Also, when you cook lentils, remember to salt them at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

PUY LENTIL STOUP WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 large carrots, chopped

2-3 large ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400 g brown or green dry lentils, preferably soaked overnight (optional)

1 tomato (chopped)

3 cups water

3 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild, sweet, or spicy, your choice)

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Method:

1. Heat a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, thyme and bay leaf. Once the onion is translucent, but not yet brown, add the carrots, celery, cook further for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the lentils, and add them also. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato. Mix well and cover with stock.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but aren’t falling apart.

3.  While the lentils are cooking, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add the Italian sausage (you can fry whole sausages and cut onto the smaller chunks later, but I removed the outer skin of the sausage and broke into smaller pieces by hand). Gently cook, browning pieces all over, until just cooked through. Remove from pan and add to stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

4. At the end of the cooking, add a splash of vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste.