Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strawberry, blood orange and mint sweet

This is a very fresh, sweet and light end to a meal. The combination of fresh seasonal strawberries and blood oranges are stellar! 

1 punnet strawberries, sliced
2-3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 good sprig of mint, finely shredded
2 dsp brown sugar

Combine the strawberries, blood orange rounds, mint and brown sugar in a bowl and let macerate for ~30 minutes. Serve and enjoy :)

Aubergine dip

This dip is great served with turkish bread, carrot sticks and olives.

1 Aubergine, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
2 C water (+ extra if needed)
a good sprig of mint, finely chopped
a generous stalk of dill, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely sliced
a stalk of Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon

Throw the aubergine, garlic, salt & pepper and water into a wok and cover with a lid.
Cook for about 5-10 minutes and when the aubergine is soft and pretty much cooked, add the herbs, scallion and lemon juice and check for seasoning. Add water if it looks like it's sticking. Sauté a little longer. Turn heat off and then transfer to a food processor and blend until the consistency you desire.
Scrape out into a bowl and put in the fridge to cool (or freezer for a slightly more rapid cool). Just before serving, check for seasoning and add a little more salt, lemon juice or some extra mint or dill if required.

Arugula, red cabbage and pear Asian salad

This is a quick throw-together salad, with lovely accents of crisp sweet pear and lightly peppery arugula.


2 tsp kecap manis
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp soy
1 tsp dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon

1/4 small red cabbage, shredded
1 small bag of arugula
1 carrot, skin removed and peeled into long strips
1 pear, sliced finely
a sprig or two of Italian flat-leaf parsley, using leaves only
a few leaves of cilantro

In a small bowl whisk together the kecap manis, mirin, soy, dijon and lemon juice.
Throw the rest of the ingredients together in a salad bowl. Dress and toss just before serving!
Easy as that :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A beet, bean & almond side

This is another simple side.. and really one of the only reasons i think i'm blogging it is to show off the MASSIVE beetroot i happened upon in the grocery store! It deserved it's picture taken, although i'm not sure me holding it quite illustrates the scale.. it was the size of about 4 apples put together :)

1 beetroot - about 1/4 the size of the one i've shown here!
Juice of 4 oranges
1 C water
salt & pepper
3 T brown sugar
1 small bag green beans, top and tailed and cut into 1 inch pieces.
1/2 C almonds (for a more elegant side dish, slice them nicely instead of serving them whole).

Wash the beetroot thoroughly and cut into rough wedges, skin still on.
Throw the wedges into a medium sized pot and add the orange juice, water, salt & pepper and finally the brown sugar. 
Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for ~ 15 or until the beetroot is soft through (if you poke it with a skewer and it goes right through it's perfect)
Remove the beet wedges from the juice, remove skin and cut into desired size dice.
Steam the green beans.
Place in a serving dish with the beet dice and add the almonds.
You can choose to dress it with a little of the remaining beet juice, a tsp of dijon and some finely diced parsley, or, if serving along with a bunch of other dishes, you can keep it ultra simple and nude of dressing :)

Poppa's Field Mushrooms :)

This one goes out to my Poppa. I never liked mushrooms when he took me on my very first ever mushroom hunt.. but I eat them almost every night now that i'm a dastardly oil-free plant-arian :)

Serves: As side dish, or good for snacks.

As many mushrooms as you can fit in your cast iron oven dish
salt & pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
shredded parsley
zest of 1 lemon & juice from half
a little vegetable broth

Sprinkle mushrooms with all the ingredients and roast in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes.
As soon as you can start to smell them, they're about ready :)
Delicious hot or cold.

Quick warm rice noodle lunch salad

This lunch literally takes 10 minutes to make. Quick, warm and satisfying :)

1 small clove garlic, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced
1/2 red chili, finely diced
3 T kecap manis
1 pk rice noodles, sliced into thick ribbons
1 C water
1 can drained straw mushrooms
1/2 bunch of steamed chinese broccoli (or you can use fresh baby spinach, which will wilt down super quick.. i had left over chinese broccoli in my fridge that i wanted to use up).
1 sprig cilantro, finely diced
To serve: a dash of sweet chili sauce and a sprinkling of fried onions!

In a small fry pan throw the garlic, tomato, chili and kecap manis, sauté roughly and then throw in the rice noodles and the water. Cover with a lid and give it a shake after a few minutes, so the noodles aren't tempted to stick.
After about 5 minutes, remove the lid and add the straw mushrooms, the chinese broccoli or baby spinach and the cilantro.
Whack the lid back on for another few moments, give things another rough shake and it's done.
Serve with a swish of sweet chili sauce and a sprinkling of wicked fried onions!!
Deeeelicious :)

Aubergine pomodoro wholewheat pasta with sicilian olives

This is a perfect pasta for a night in early spring, with the warm depth of the slowly cooked aubergine and tomato sauce given lightness by the addition of mushrooms and red peppers thrown in right before serving. 

Serves 4-6.

1 pk wholewheat pasta
1 spanish onion, finely diced
salt & pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
2 massel cubes
~ 3 C water
1 large aubergine, peeled and finely diced 
3 cans diced tomatoes
3 large carrots, peeled & finely diced
2 zucchini, finely diced
1/2 C sliced sicilian olives
1 red chili, finely diced
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
2 handfuls sliced mushrooms
1 small red pepper, deseeded & finely sliced
2 T italian parsley
1 T capers

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a liberal amount of salt. Add the wholewheat pasta, stirring occasionally - it takes an eon to cook!!
In a large wok, add the onion, season with freshly ground salt and pepper and add the tsp of brown sugar. Sauté quickly and then add the massel cubes and 1 C water to prevent the onion from sticking.
Add aubergine and another cup water. Cover with a lid and steam for roughly 10 minutes.
Remove lid and if the aubergine is soft go ahead and add the cans of tomato, followed by the diced carrot. Stir well and cover again, for another 10 minutes.
Remove lid and add the zucchini, sicilian olives, half the diced red chili, the vinegar and the final remaining cup of water. Stir and simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes.

By this stage the wholewheat pasta should be cooked! If not, there's no harm, you can't ruin the sauce by keeping it simmering away until the pasta is cooked. 
Once the pasta is done, fantastic. Drain and pop it back into it's pasta pot, throwing in the sliced mushrooms, red pepper, capers, parsley and remaining chili. 

Mix through and again season with salt & pepper. 
Then add the aubergine and tomato sauce. 
Mix thoroughly then voila.. your pasta is ready!