Cheesy Chicken Meatloaf

My Mum was recommending to try this recipe for ages, but for some reason I always dismissed it. Maybe because we are not really big sandwich or appetiser fans, which this recipe is particularly good for. One day, something took over me and I decided to have a go, and I didn’t regret it. I think it’s brilliant recipe and I only wished I discovered it earlier. It takes no time or effort to prepare, and as a result you’ll have the most succulent, tender and delicious meatloaf. Of course, it is great sliced in sandwiches, but you can also have it on its own with just salad, or with added any grains/pulses/roasted vegetables. Also, it’s perfect dish to take with you to the picnic or beach.

VERY MOIST CHEESY CHICKEN MEATLOAF

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoon olive oil

600g chicken fillets, cut into small chunks

1-2 onion (depends on the size), finely chopped

2-3 carrots (depends on the size), grated

3 tablespoons semolina

2 eggs

200g mild cheese (Cheddar, Edam, Leicester or any other hard mild cheese), grated

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Fry the chicken pieces with olive oil until all juices run clear and chicken ready, set aside.
  2. Add more oil to the same pan and fry chopped onion, followed by carrots, until it’s cooked and translucent.
  3. Transfer in the food processor, or using a hand blender, mix it all until preferable consistency. I like to keep it a bit chunky, not completely puréed, so I’d just pulse a few times. If the mixture looks a bit dry, add few tablespoons of water.
  4. When you are happy with the consistency, transfer it to the bowl (if you are using food processor) and add the remaining ingredients, season and mix it all well, then pour it into the prepared loaf tin (you might want to butter the tin first).
  5. Bake in the preheated oven at 180C for 30-45 minutes.

 

 

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Broccoli Soup

It is one of the simplest but most comforting soups. There’s no waste with this soup. Use the whole broccoli head, including the stalk, to really make the most of this valuable vegetable. Top it up with crumbled blue cheese or a mature cheddar, or it is just as good on its on with crusty buttered bread.

Broccoli Soup

BROCCOLI SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

knob of butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek, sliced

1 carrot, diced

1 potato, diced

approx 1 litre  of vegetable or chicken stock

1 big head of broccoli,  finely chopped

100g any cheese you prefer, for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch.
  2. Add the leek, carrot and potato. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes under the lid.
  3. Then pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
  4. Now add the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve.
  5. Serve with any cheese on top or just as it is.

 

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.

Gazpacho

Apparently the ‘real’ Gazpacho has bread in it, but I prefer the ‘clean’ version with fresh bread or other bread things on the side. Easy to modify to suit your taste. Even better the next day!

Gaspacho

GAZPACHO

(Recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients:
1 medium cucumber, halved and seeded
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion

1 red chilly
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion and chilli. Put all vegetables into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process it until the mixture appears creamy.

2. Transfer the mixture into large bowl or saucepan and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the tastier it gets. To garnish you can add finely chopped onion, tomato, cucumber or small croutons on top. I’ve just splash extra olive oil on top before serving. We had it with Empanadas on a side, the combination of flavours, cold and hot was wonderful!

Cabbage Fritters

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These crispy fritters can be made as a starter or as a main meed-week meal. It is also a perfect way to use up your leftover vegetables or as an ’emergency’ meal at the end of the month, as it only requires a few ingredients and it is easy to double or triple the quantities of your favourite veg.

CABBAGE FRITTERS

Ingredients:

1/2 head of white cabbage, finely shredded

1 carrot, grated

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

salt & pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil to fry

any hard cheese, grated, to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 120C.

2. Put the prepared vegetables (shredded cabbage and grated carrot) in a bowl, add the eggs, flour, ground cumin, salt and pepper and stir until combined.

3. Add the olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat. When the oil is hot (but make sure it’s not too hot, otherwise the fritters will become brown very quickly but will remain uncooked in the middle), spoon the fritters with a large spoon on a pan, leaving a bit of space between each one. Cook the fritters in two batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.

4. Drain on a kitchen towel and transfer to the oven to keep them warm, meanwhile you cook the remaining fritters. Add the remaining oil before cooking the second batch. Serve the fritters with grated cheese on top or simply with soured cream mixed in with dollop of horseradish.

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Aubergine Fritters

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Following on my recent post on aubergines, here is another very simple but delicious aubergine dish, which is great as a snack/starter with the slice of rye bread or it can be a side dish too. It is ideal for the picnics and BBQs. This time it’s My Mum’s recipe:

AUBERGINE FRITTERS

Ingredients:

2 aubergines

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

about 1 cup of bread crumbs

sal/pepper

1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped

olive oil for frying

Method:

1. Wash the aubergine, cut into round slices, place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat up a frying pan  with a few spoons of olive oil, wait till it hot, but do not allow the oil to burn.

3. Put the bread crumbs on a separate plate, take each slice of aubergine, dunk the both sides into the bread crumbs and place it on a frying pan. Allow about 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden coloured and cooked through.

4. Place it on a plate, garnish with fresh chopped basil and garlic.

New Forest Walk & Aubergine Rolls

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What sort of thing do you think about when walking through a beautiful  rolling wilderness with its vibrant moss carpet, rolling green hills, burnt colour trails and different hues of purple? Call me crazy, but a recent walk we took through the New Forest brought only one thing to my mind – my Dad’s Aubergine Rolls. I think the same colour pallet gave me a hint, or I was just hungry…

 

AUBERGINE ROLLS WITH COTTAGE CHEESE STUFFING

Ingredients:

2 aubergines, sliced length ways

400 cottage cheese

3 cloves garlic, crushed

150g walnuts, finely chopped

salt/pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

handful of basil leaves

Method:

1. Cut the aubergines length ways, brush it with olive oil on both sides and fry on a pan until cooked through and pale golden. Set aside on a paper tower to absorb excess of the oil.

2. In a bowl mix together cottage cheese, crushed garlic, finely chopped walnuts, salt and pepper.

3. Take an aubergine slice, place the scoop of the cottage filling closer to one side and carefully roll up. Continue the same process with the rest of the aubergines and filling. Place the rolls on a plate, decorate with the basil leaves.

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