Mexican Red Rice

This rice dish is full of flavour and texture and is great side for almost any savoury Mexican dish or just on its own with avocado and tangy salsa.

MEXICAN RED RICE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-1/2 cups vegetarian/chicken stock (from the cubes is just fine)

400g passata/canned chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 cup frozen petits pois

salt to taste

chopped spring onion/coriander for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes or until softened and translucent.
  2. Add the dry rice and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown colour. Do not allow the rice to burn. Add the garlic to the rice and cook for one more minute.
  3. Add the passata/chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, petit pois, chilli powder and salt, mix well, lower heat and cover with a lid.
  4. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

 

 

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Open Grilled Sandwich with Apple & Cheese

My Mum used to make this on Sundays for breakfast. What a treat it was, sweet apple slices make a simple grilled cheese sandwich taste gourmet.

OPEN GRILLED SANDWICH WITH APPLE & CHEESE

Ingredients:

(All quantities are flexible)

Preferably whole grain bread, sliced

sweet apple, sliced

mature cheddar, grated or sliced

black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the slices of bread on baking sheet.
  2. Top with sliced apple and grated cheddar cheese, few twists of black pepper on top.
  3. Place it under the grill until cheese has melted,  approx. 2-3 minutes or until it’s golden and bubbling.

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I could’ t recommend this veggie version of shepherd’s pie enough. I first tried it when I had to prepare a dinner  for a few vegetarians some time ago. Since then it became my choice of preference, even over meaty version. Addition of the red wine is a must!

VEGGIE SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH SWEET POTATO TOPPING

(adapted from BBC Good Food collection)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large carrots, finely cubed

2 celery sticks, finely cubed

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

200ml red wine

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 vegetable stock cubes

400g cooked green/puy lentils (alternatively 1x410g canned lentil)

About 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

25g butter

85g mature cheddar, grated

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then fry the onion until golden. Add the carrots, celery and thyme,  continue to cook for a few more minutes. Then pour in the wine, 150ml of water and the tomatoes, sprinkle the stock cubes and simmer for 15 minutes. Tip in the lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until cooked, drain well and mash with the butter, season well to taste.
  3. Pile the lentil mixture into a pie oven-proof dish, spoon the mash on top, sprinkle over with the grated cheese and some extra thyme if you wish. At this stage, pie can be covered and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.
  4. If you are cooking straight away, heat the oven up to 180C. Cook for 20 minutes if cooking straight away, or for 40 minutes from chilled. In both cases cook until golden on the top and hot  and bubbly all the way through. Serve with green veggies of your choice.

Beetroot Risotto with Prawns and Horseradish

I’ve recently made this risotto for a dinner with the girls and it turned out to be a very successful dish. Considering that the ingredients are slightly unusual for a risotto, they work so well together. Rich and smooth without an overpowering beetroot flavour, and a pretty dish to serve.

 BEETROOT RISOTTO WITH PRAWNS AND HORSERADISH

(Adapted from ‘Dinner at mine’ by Annie Nochols)

Ingredients:

About 800g small raw beetroots

50g butter

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 large tomato or 2 small ones, chopped

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

400g risotto rice

200ml dry white wine

250g cooked peeled prawns

fresh dill to garnish

3-4 teaspoons creamed horseradish

250ml soured cream to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C. Clean the beetroots, leaving the skin on, trim any stringy roots. Wrap up each beetroot in foil and bake for about an hour or until tender. When cooked, remove the beets from the oven, let it cool before peeling away the skin. Grate the beetroots and set aside.
  2. For the risotto, heat the butter and the olive oil together in a large heavy-bottomed pan, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and cook them on a moderate heat until golden colour and well softened.
  3. Then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for another few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the stock in another pan and bring to just below boiling point; keep on the heat.
  5. Add the rice to the vegetable and cook for about 3 minutes or until the grains are slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Now add the grated beetroots.
  6. Then add a ladleful of the hot stock, stir in well and reduce the heat. Keep adding the stock, one ladleful a time, stirring and making sure that each ladleful has been absorbed before adding the next. You don’t need to stir the risotto all the time, but just make sure that it’s not sticking. Continue to cook until the rice is ready and very slightly al dente. 
  7. Once risotto is cooked, remove the pan from the heat, check for seasoning, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  8. For the garnish, mix soured cream with the horseradish, chop the dill. (If you prefer, you can add horseradish straight to the risotto and omit soured cream.)
  9. To serve, spoon the risotto into bowls and top with the prawns, chopped dill and horseradish cream.

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.

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!