Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dinner 27.06.11

Griddled Courgette and Aubergine
With butterbeans, red onion and tomato


Opening my fridge tonight, I was faced with a slightly sad looking aubergine, and, as usual, an abundance of tomatoes and courgette. Deciding they needed using, I spent a while flicking through the nearest cookbooks I had to hand before giving up and doing what I always do: winging it.

The result got the job done. A healthy pile of butter beans, tomato and griddled veg, the smoked paprika and garlic I through in gave it a smokey, rich flavour.
This took no time at all. Fry two small red onions with some crushed garlic and a little freshly chopped chilli. Once they are soft, tip in four or five chopped tomatoes and simmer, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Finally, tip a tin of butter beans into the pan and mix in.
Whilst this is reducing slightly, slice your aubergine and courgette and griddle till cooked through and nicely scored.
Spoon the tomato and bean base onto a plate and top with the grilled vegetables.

This is a nice summery recipe, not only rich in vitamins but won't leave you feeling heavy or sluggish. Perfect with a glass of white wine and a sun lounge!


Friday, 22 July 2011

How to: Make home made falafel and hummus


I love Middle Eastern food- it's a real influence on the way I cook. Its light, fresh tapas style is especially perfect for the summer.
Any of you who follow my blog will know that I regularly turn to Ottolenghi for ideas when cooking, but if you want to start with the basics, you can't go wrong with falafel and hummus.
I made it a little more interesting by substituting the chickpeas that you traditionally use in falafel for sweet potato... It results in a beautiful coloured ball, and is a little sweeter.

This makes for a really lovely lunch or light supper. Serve it with warm pitta bread (gorgeous) or in wraps with the lettuce and hummus for something simple you can eat on the go.

Sweet Potato Falafel

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and roast two large sweet potatoes whole until just tender - This will take about 45 to an hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel. (Not wanting to waste anything, I save the skin and chew on them later. Remember- this is where all the goodness lives!)

Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl with a teaspoon and a half of cumin and ground coriander, two cloves of crushed garlic, a good splash of lemon juice and a small cup of gram/chickpea flour. Add this a little at a time as you stir it all together- you don't want too much. The first time I tried this it was a little heavy and dry. You want the mix to be sticky, but not too sloppy. But remember that when you chill it, it will set a bit more!

When it is fairly smooth season well and stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary at this stage if you think it still needs it.

Reheat the oven to 180C. (My directions are for a fan assisted oven.) Scoop up handfuls of the mix roll into falafel shaped balls- about an inch in diameter, and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.


This is an insanely quick and easy recipe! (Let's be honest- if it wasn't I probably wouldn't be doing it...) Just drain a tin of chickpeas and rinse, reserve a handful of whole chick peas for serving. Combine the chickpeas with four tablespoons of lemon juice, two cloves of crushed garlic, a tsp of cumin, salt, and 100ml tahini, with a few tablespoons of water in a food processor, and blend to a purée. Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste.

Spoon out into a bowl- ideally something Middle Eastern, blue in tone and beautiful! Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with the reserved chickpeas. Finally, sprinkle on a bit of paprika. Serve with pitta bread.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Recipe: Baked Ricotta Cakes with Red Sauce

Rumour has it it's summer- although I wouldn't blame you if you weren't convinced! Looking outside at the heavy clouds and perpetual drizzle, I'm not either.
But if there's one thing we English do with the same skill as complain about the frequently erratic weather, it is maintain a stiff upper lip. So I recommend defying the climate with a summery dinner party, and while you're at it, make the most of summer's fresh produce.

I cooked this pudding for some dinner guests and managed to feel distinctly summer-y. It's a really quick, simple pudding which makes the most of the summer fruits. Best of all, it looks deceptively elegant and has minimal ingredients. I always find this to be benefitial when I'm totting up my dinner party shopping list! So here it is- Baked Ricotta Cakes with Red Sauce...

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place 250g ricotta cheese in a bowl and break it up. Add two beaten egg whites and 4tbsp honey, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.

Grease four ramekins. Spoon in the ricotta mix, making sure the tops are level. Bake for twenty minutes.

Whilst you are doing this, make the fruit sauce by placing 450g mixed fruit (You can either use fresh raspberries, blackberries strawberries, cherries etc or you can buy a bag of frozen. They're a lot cheaper and just as good for this purpose! Reserve a quarter or so to decorate, and heat the rest in a pan until soft. (Add a little water if the fruit is fresh).

Press the fruit through a sieve and sweeten with honey if it's a little too tart. When the cakes are baked, removed them from the oven and turn them onto plates. Gently tap the base of the ramekin to release it. It should drop out into a soft, beautiful dome. Drizzle over with the red sauce and top with the remaining fruit.

Ideally, serve on large, white simple plates, pooled in the fruit juices!
Happy "summer" !