Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

I was given a bag of organic Jerusalem artichokes grown in a local allotment. Although it’s still a mystery why they are called artichokes, as they are more likely to come from potato family; and why they are ‘Jerusalem’, if  they are originated from North America and has nothing to do with Holy Land.

However, I know that one of the best options to appreciate the delicate, sweet and slightly nutty flavour of this wonderful vegetable is soup.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SOUP

(Adapted from BBC Food)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

5-7 (depends on the size) artichokes, peeled, chopped

100ml white wine

300-400ml chicken or vegetable stock

50ml double cream

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter (do not allow to burn). Add the onion, cook gently until it has softened.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for another two minutes.
  3. Then add the artichokes, white wine and stock, continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the artichoke has softened. Pour the mixture in to the blender, add cream and blend mixture until smooth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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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.

 

Winter Slaw with Herbs and Pomegranate

Fresh, bright, full of goodness salad to brighten up your winter dinner.

Winter Slaw with Pomegranate

WINTER SLAW WITH HERBS AND POMEGRANATE

Ingredients:

1/2 medium head of white cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 teaspoon salt

juice of 1 lemon

1 small batch of parsley, finely chopped

even smaller batch of mint, finely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

seeds from 1/2 – 1 head of pomegranate (depends on the size, optional)

Method:

Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl, sprinkle the salt on it, mix and allow to sit for 15 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the lemon juice, herbs, oil and mix well. Taste, season well with salt and adjust to taste. It should be sharp and lemony. At the end, sprinkle the pomegranate seed on top, if using. Enjoy!

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.

Roasted Aubergine and Lentil Soup

It was one of those situations, where I didn’t have a lot in the fridge and had to ‘jazz it up’ as I went along. I had one aubergine and just few cupboard basics. I never thought of adding aubergine to any of my soups before. “What a mistake-a to make-a”!  It works perfectly in a soup. I actually prefer it to potato. This soup is rich, earthy, with a subtle hint of spice, a good helping of garlic and gentle Mediterranean aromas. You can adjust the spice level by adding less/more chilli of course. The soup goes very well with these stout & honey buns.
Roasted Aubergine and Lentil soup
ROATED AUBERGINE AND LENTIL SOUP
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 aubergine, cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

1-2 carrots, depends on size, chopped

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of herbs of your choice (I had oregano)

1 teaspoon of paprika

pinch of sugar

1 cup of puy lentil

2 cans chopped tomatoes in its own juice or about 500gr fresh tomatoes, chopped

approx 3-4 cups of water/stock, depends how thick you like your soup to be.

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (optional)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced

1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste
parsley/seeds to garnish (optional)
Method:
1. Heat oven to 200C. Arrange the cubed aubergine in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, mix well and roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and nicely brown.
2. Preheat the rest of the oil in a cooking pot, add onion and carrots and cook them for 5-7 minutes.
3. Then add the spices, herbs, sugar, lentil, tomatoes, water/stock. Bring it to boil, then reduce the heat, cover with the lead and cook it until the lentil is cooked.
4. When the lentil is cooked and tender, add the roasted aubergine to the soup, along with red wine vinegar, garlic and chilli. Season well with salt and pepper.

Banana Bread with Chocolate & Walnuts

Banana bread is like a trusted family member you can always rely on. It is a delicious no fuss cake. Basically, if in doubt, bake a banana bread. And if it’s good just on its own, it’s even better with the addition of chocolate and nuts.

Banana and Chocolate chips bread

 

BANANA BREAD WITH CHOCOLATE AND WALNUTS

Ingredients:

2-3 (depends on the size) ripe bananas, mashed

180g caster sugar

2 eggs

140g softened butter

250g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

100g walnuts, chopped in pieces, plus reserving a few for decoration (optional)

100g plain chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170C. Line the loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mash the peeled banana in a mixing bowl first. Then add the remaining cake ingredients (except the nuts and chopped chocolate) and beat with an electric mixer until combined and smooth. Once combined add and fold in with a spatula the walnuts and chocolate.
  3. Pour into the prepared tin, decorate top with some walnut halves if you want, and bake it for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave it to cool slightly in the tin before transferring it onto a serving dish.

 

Roasted Cauliflower & Aubergine with Lemony Tahini Dressing

Here is a great winter salad for your lunch boxes or an alternative side dish. You can literally roast any veg you like (butternut squash, beetroot, carrots, courgettes, red onion, etc.) In this instance, my chosen vegetables are cauliflower and aubergine.

Grilled Cauliflower & Aubergine with Green Lentil and Tahini dressing

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, AUBERGINE & GREEN LENTIL SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup puy lentil, cooked

1 small cauliflower head, separated into the florets

1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, grated

2-3 tablespoons of hot water

spring onion and parsley to garnish (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Toss cauliflower and aubergine with olive oil, salt and pepper then spread out in an even layer on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring half way through.
  3. Meanwhile cook the lentil according the instruction on the packet, if it’s not cooked already.
  4. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, zest, garlic and salt. Slowly add in the hot water until it’s reached the desired consistency. Stir in parsley and set aside.
  5. When vegetables are ready, serve on a bed of cooked green lentil and drizzle with tahini sauce. Serve warm or at room temp.