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.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Potato Boulangere

 I love potatoes, but I always end up having them as mash, so it's always nice to prepare potatoes differently. This is similar to dauphinoise potatoes but instead of using cream it uses stock, so a lot less calorific, a lot less fat, but still very tasty with lots of flavour and very simple to make.

All the versions of this recipe I have seen ask you to peel the potatoes. I disagree and prefer to keep the skins on as it adds more fibre and adds a bite to it. Although I use vegetable stock, chicken stock is also fine.

I thinly slice the potatoes using a knife, but if you have a mandolin then I suggest you use it. To be honest mandolins scare the hell out of me and that I am going to lose top of a finger or 10.

  • 600g potatoes, thinly slice
  • 200g onions, sliced
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 3-4)

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350c/gas 4

Take a oven proof bowl and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom, then place a layer of the onions and repeat until you have used up all the potatoes or onions or until you've reach the top of the bowl

Pour in the stock, until it reaches the top. Place tin foil over the bowl and cook for 1 hour.

After 45 minutes remove the foil, serve hot with any main recipe.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Onion Soup

I have a few varieties of onions in my fridge and some had a seen better days. I really hate throwing food away and as it is cold, grey and miserable in the UK at the moment, a soup is a perfect pick me up.

Soup is one of the easiest dishes to make and I never understand why people buy them. Of course the excuse of it is easy to open the can and then stick in the microwave, but they don't taste the same. Although this does take a little while to create it's still better than any canned version.

As I said I am using a different variety of onions of brown, baby onions (which were left over from pickled onions we made) and red Spanish onions. But you can just use one variety, as I said I didn't want to throw anything away.

  • 25g butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg thinly sliced onions
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 litre of beef stock
  • (serves 4)

Place the butter and oil into a pan and gently heat.

Once the butter has melted add the onions and stir into the butter. Gently cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the sugar and let it gently stew for 10 minutes, to allow the sugar to caramelise. Stirring occasionally making sure the onions do not burn.

Add the garlic and again, gently stew for 10 minutes ensuring nothing burns.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir into the onion mixture for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the white wine and again, stir into a mixture and cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add all the beef stock, turn down the heat and cook for 10-20 minutes.

Serve with croutons or toast two slices of sliced baguette with cheese and serve on top.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Article on Onions

Onions are eaten and grown in more countries than any other vegetable but rarely seem to receive much acclaim. It's time to stop taking the tangy, tear-inducing bulb for granted and give it a round of applause, writes the BBC's Marek Pruszewicz. - to read more click on link BBC Magazine

As this is an external link I have no impact on it's contents and only published the link as I enjoyed the article

Healthy Potato Salad

I've never like potato salad and never really understood why, but since the craze of using mayonnaise in shop bought sandwiches I realised I was not a fan of mayonnaise. It's not very flavoursome and I am not a fan of the texture. That was until I attempted to make my own mayonnaise, which was an eye opener, because

a) it's very tasty with more flavour
b) it's actually really easy to make as long as your careful
c)it's very quick to make

But one day I was at a friends house and he was having a BBQ and he made a potato salad, which I originally turned my nose up. But he had made it using yoghurt with some mayonnaise and it was delicious and got the recipe from him. I now eat potato salad, but I use my friends version. It's also a lot healthier and that is what people want after Christmas and New Year.

200g new potatoes (unpeeled and washed)
small tub of plain yoghurt
4 spring onions washed and chopped
Spanish smoked paprika
1tbl of mayonnaise (optional)

Cut the potatoes into bites size pieces and place in to cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until they are cooked

Rinse out and swill then in cold water and allow to cool

Place the cold potatoes into a bowl. Add the chopped springs onions and yoghurt and mix together.

Sprinkle the smoke paprika on top and server. A great dish to serve this with is chicken thighs with lemon and thyme