Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Chickpea, Onion and Tomato Frittata

I’m certainly creating a lot of vegetarian dishes these days. Not easy to keep making meat dishes when living with a veggie flat mate, whom I frequently cook for, as mentioned in a previous post. This is yet another simple dish, which is

I have done this recipe several times and each time I’ve used different amounts of chickpeas and I prefer about 300g, but I leave it up to you. If you like the taste more of the egg in your frittata, then use less chickpeas and vis a versa.
Also I have found that adding a bit more salt, then I would normally add, as it’s brings out the flavour of the egg.

The frying pan will be going under the grill, so please ensure that it is heat resistant

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 2 Onions, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 200-400g tinned chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 1tbs fresh coriander, chopped
  • 4 eggs at room temperature,
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Serves 4 for lunch or 2-3 for main meal

Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix together until a nice golden colour, add salt and pepper to season.

Heat the oil into a frying pan and add the onions. Cook the onions until they turn a nice golden brown colour, be careful not to burn. This can take between 10-15 minutes.

Add the finely chopped garlic and cook for five minutes, occasionally stirring as not to burn the garlic.

Add the deseeded tomato, chickpeas and coriander and stir until mixed together.

Pour in the egg mixture and quickly stir together. Once mixed together leave to cook for 5 minutes, ensuring the bottom doesn’t burn.

Then place the frying pan in to a pre-heated grill and cook for another 5 minutes or until the top is firm, again ensuring it doesn’t burn.

Serve with a nice salad, Greek or a Healthy Potato Salad being my favourite.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Vegetable Pasta Bake

My flat mate, whom I often cook for has become a vegetarian and is nagging me to become one again. I was a vegetarian for 12 years but gave it up due to health issues. As a “veggie” I use to do a lot of dishes, but this is one of my favourite and one of the easiest veggie dishes. Although this time I did add some chilli to give it an extra dimension, but if you don’t like your food spicy, then you can just leave out.

You can actually use any vegetables; the list below are ones I used on the last occasion I made this meal.  I like my vegetable to be firm and have a bite, but if you like them to be softer then cook in the sauce for an extra 10 minutes.

I am also using Wholewheat pasta as it’s a healthier option, but you can use white pasta. You can also use fusilli instead of penne pasta.

  • ·        1tbl olive oil
  • ·        1 large onion, sliced
  • ·        2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ·        1 chilli, seeds included (optional)
  • ·        1 large carrot, diced
  • ·        1 green pepper (bell), diced
  • ·        1 celery, diced
  • ·        1 large courgette, diced
  • ·        4 closed cap mushrooms, cut in quarters
  • ·        4 broccoli florets (cut into smaller pieces)
  • ·        1 400g tin tomates
  • ·        1tsb mixed herbs
  • ·        Half a vegetable stock cube
  • ·        225g Wholewheat penne pasta
  • ·        75g grated cheese
  • ·        Salt and pepper to season
  • ·        Serves 3-4

Heat up the oven until 180c/350f/Gas 4

Add the olive oil to a pan and gently heat. Add the sliced onion and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, ensuring they don’t burn

Add the garlic and chilli (if you decide to use) and stir into the onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Again ensuring that they don’t burn

Then add the harder vegetables, diced carrots, peppers and celery, stir into the onions and garlic mixture and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the courgette, mushrooms and broccoli florets stirring into the other vegetables.

After a couple of minutes add the tinned tomatoes, herbs and crumble in the vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle boil and leave for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Whilst the vegetables are cooking, boil the pasta until al dente.

When the pasta is cooked, place into a casserole dish and stir in the vegetables mixture. Sprinkle the grated cheese onto the top and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cured Meats, Vodka and Gin Tasting at Cannon and Cannon with Chase Distillery

Fennel Salami
I am very fortunate to live in London and get to frequently visit Borough Market, which used to be a great food market with some amazing products. Don’t get me wrong it still is, but it’s now more a tourist attraction rather than a food market. When I first started going it was all about small food producers selling their wonderful wears, now it’s feel more about selling hot food for lunch. Again don’t get me wrong the food they sell is very nice, like hot chorizo sandwich, paella, pulled pork sandwiches etc. But it’s pushing out the small stall holders, who can no longer afford the ever increasing rents.

But, I still visit and still come across some great food stalls and Cannon & Cannon is one such stall. They are retailers and distributors of British cured meats. They travel around the country visiting farmers and producers and have brought together a collection of some great products that can easily give our European neighbours a run for their money. They also work with, and encourage producers and farmers to expand their product list.

Fiery Nudja

Cannon and Cannon also do classes and tasting evenings and last night (23 March 2016) I attended a tasting sessions. The informal evening also included some vodka and gin products by Chase Distillery and what an exciting experience was had. They have a small warehouse in Borough Market, so the session was a small, informal and intimate affair which works in its favour, because you don’t feel that you are being lectured too. The talkers were very passionate and have very detailed knowledge of their products (as you would expect). There was also humour in the delivery which kept the evening light and fun. It appears a few hangovers was had when putting the evening together as they needed to see which spirits went with the meats.

Blood, Wine and Chocolate Salami
I won’t go into every meat and drink we tried last night, but suffice to say it was a great way to be introduced to new taste and flavours. What I will talk about are what I consider to be the highlights, but that is not saying the other cured meat and spirits were not great, as they were.

My favourite was Wild Fennel Salami, which I had tried before and it is wonderful. It has a light delicate flavour and the fennel doesn’t overpower the pork, as it could easily do. This is followed closely behind the Fiery Nduja salami. Some of the people at the event were worried as they didn’t like food too spicy, for which they didn’t and it was a big hit.  I like my food spicy and it was a hit with me also – so how does that work, keeping everyone happy. That is what is so good about the product. Like the Fennel Salami, I’d had Nduja before and I can recommend mixing into some hot cooked pasta. It also makes a great topping for pizza amongst other things. Like adding some to your morning beans on toast – okay that might just be me – but try it….

Hot Smoke Belly Pork and Air Dried Lamb Salamis
My other favourite of the evening was Blood, Wine & Chocolate salami. If, like me, you first read that and you think WHAT, don’t worry as other people did as well. Personally I am not a fan of sweet and savoury together, pineapple should never go on a pizza, sultanas should never go into an Indian Curry, so you get my drift. But, this works and the Trealy Farm have produced a full flavoured product. When you try it for the first time, you can smell then taste the sweet chocolate and then you taste the blood and wine which help reduce the sweetness of the chocolate. For me, it shouldn’t work, but it does. Maybe I need to start rethinking this sweet and savoury issue J

Brawn Salami
When it came to the Vodkas and Gin, my favourite was the smoked vodka. I found it very smooth with a smoky after taste, as you would expect being smoked vodka. It would be great in a Bloody Mary and would be great in any dish where a smoky flavour is required. When I purchase a bottle I will add it to a simple tomato sauce and serve with pasta.

Smoked Lardo
I actually learnt a lot last night and would highly recommend you attend one of these evenings. Not that I want to give anything away, but one thing I learnt was London Gin, doesn’t mean it was made in London, it means it’s the traditional way of making gin. So if you want to try something new on a “school night”, which isn’t too strenuous after a hard day at work and not too boozy then you cannot go wrong. It’s a fun way of learning about new British products in a warm and informal way. I will be definitely doing one of their bacon courses later in the year.

Click on links to see Cannon and Cannon and Chase Distillery websites for more information and events.

Below is the list of what drinks we had with which meats, as well as the name of the producers of those meats.

Chase Vodka
Smoked Lardo – Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire
Brawn Salami – Blackhand, Hackney

Chase Smoked Vodka
Air-Dried Leg of Lamb, Woodside Farm, Kent
Hot Smoked Belly of Pork, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire

Chase Apple Gin and Potato Gin
Wild Fennel Salami, Moons Green, East Sussex
Fiery, ‘Nduja, Moons Green, East Sussex

Chase Marmalade Vodka & Chase Rhubarb Vodka
Blood, Wine & Chocolate Salami, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire
Duck & Sichuan Pepper Salami, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire.

Apologies for photograph quality, but iPhone camera is not great and as you can see I’m no professional J

Monday, 21 March 2016

Mustard Mushrooms on Toast

It’s been many months since I’ve had any inkling to blog a post. It’s very hard to keep sitting down to write about recipes, restaurants and food articles in general when you have a full time job. But, I need to get my act into gear and so this is my first small article in a very long time.

I really enjoy at the weekend having a nice breakfast. Of course, a full English is the best, but too many are not only bad for you, but also boring to have every weekend. So, it’s nice to have a variety and my recent enjoyment is a simple dish of mushrooms on toast. Over the months I’ve tried to add different ingredients to see if it can enhance the flavours and my favourite is just adding one ingredient, mustard.

You can use different mushrooms, closed cap, chestnut, field and have a variety of them together. As to mustard my favourite is Dijon, as it’s not so strong, but I do occasionally use English if I want the mushrooms to have a bit of a kick.
When it comes to toast, I’ve tried sliced white, wholemeal, but I’ve found that a fancier bread works best and my favourite is spelt bread, which you can see in the pictures.

Apologies, but I couldn't wait to take a picture and had to eat some of the lovely buttered toast, before it became cold :-)

1½tsp mustard
10g butter
150g mushroom

2 slices of spelt bread toasted.
(serves 2)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Roast Vegetable Quinoa and Bulgur Wheat Salad

I have been very lazyand have not uploaded anything for over a month, note to self - must do better. It's not that I am not cooking and eating, but lately I have been busy doing other work and as usual hobbies get push to the side


I have never uploaded many side dishes, it always seems more of an effort than it's worth. But you need a delicious side to compliment the main part of the meal and this is tasty as well as healthy.

This is a very simple dish and you can actually have it hot or cold, but for this I am having it as a side salad, so cold it is.

If you cannot get the quinoa and bulgur wheat mix, then just use either on it's own. Thankfully my local Tescos does the mix.
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • big glug of virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 150g quinoa and bulgur wheat mix
Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Do not wash the carrot of parsnip, just give them a good wash, as you do the courgette.

Cut the vegetable into small pieces and put onto a baking tray.

Pour over a big glug of extra virgin olive oil and mix the vegetable into the oil.  

Add the seasoning and again mix together and place into the oven for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are brown.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting, follow the instructions to make the quinoa and bulgur wheat. I use stock to add more flavour. In this version I used a tamarind stock cube to add a slightly sour flavour.

Once the vegetables and quinoa is completed, place into a bowl and mix together and allow it to cool.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Oxtail Ragu

I've done it again, another recipe that takes hours to make and this time it really does need as long as possible. I took over 4 hours but it is worth it, also oxtail is one of those cuts that needs a long time otherwise the meat that is not very pleasant if it's chewy

  • 1kg Oxtail
  • 2 big lugs of oil
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1tbs fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tbs fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tbs plain flour
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 2 cloves
  • 500ml good beef stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • serves 4

Put baking tray in the over and pre-heat oven to 220c. Once heated put the oxtail on the tray and cover with 1 lug of oil and mix together and place back in the over for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

When the oxtail have been caramelised, take out the oxtail and put to one side, then turn the oven down to 150c.

Whilst the oxtail are in the oven, take a casserole dish and place on the hob and add the other lug of oil and gently heat.

Cut the leek, celery stalks and carrots in half, then slice and add to the casserole dish and mix into the oil.

Add the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves in the casserole pot and put on the lid and gently cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes stir the plain flour into the vegetables. Once the flour has been stirred and cooked into the mixture add the tinned tomatoes, red wine and cloves and again stir together.

Take the tray of the oxtail and put them and the liquid into and pot then pour in the beef stock.

Put the casserole dish into the oven and cook for at least four hours – for better results cook for longer.

You will need to keep an eye on the casserole ever 30-45 minutes to ensure it doesn't dry out and you should add more water or stock if required.

Once finished, take out the oven and leave for about 10-15 minutes.

Take out the oxtails and remove the meat from the bones – be careful as they will be very hot, I used a fork to pull the meat off.

Put the pulled meat back into the casserole dish and stir together.

This made a great ragu for pasta and I served it with spaghetti, but you could have it with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

It seems that I am going through a bit of a cooking fad and making lots of soups. Maybe because they are quick and easy to make and perfect for wet, cold and miserable UK winters day.

I've also had a nasty cold – actually it's manflu, which of course is a lots worse :-) and I needed to make a healthy soup. One that is high in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin c, to help combat this stupid cold.

As with all soups this is very easy to make and I will never understand why people buy them, when it so simple. It's also a good way to get children to get confidence in cooking

I also like a bit of a bite in my soup, so I don't add all the chickpeas before I blend and add them just before I serve the soup

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 400g chickpeas
  • Bunch of parsley, washed and chopped
  • 1ltr vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Place the extra virgin oil into a pan and gently heat.

Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure the onion and garlic do not burn

Place in the sweet potato, and half the chickpeas (keep the other half to one side) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to mix all the ingredients together.

Add in the chopped parsley, mix together. Once mixed, pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Allow to cool a little bit and then blend together until you have a smooth liquid. If too thick add some more water until it's at the consistency you like

Add in the remaining chickpeas and simmer for 5-10 minutes

Season as required and serve with hot crusty bread.