Lebanese style chopped salad

chopped salad

At the moment this is my favourite salad – light and summery and full of flavour. And it’s so easy to make – take your ingredients, which I suggest are:
– cucumber
– tomato
– pepper
– a handful of mixed herbs: lots of parsley, a little coriander and a little mint

Chop everything into small cubes and mix with the juice of half a lemon, a glug of olive oil, salt & pepper and serve.

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Basil and lemon oil

basil and lemon oil

Another recipe of Jamie Oliver’s, today I made this basil and lemon oil for the first time and will definitely be making it again.

It’s simply the below ingredients mixed with a hand blender, but would be just as good if the basil was chopped up very small, or all ingredients in a pestle and mortar:
– 8 tbs olive oil
– juice of 1 lemon
– a good handful of fresh basil
– salt & pepper

Extremely tasty when drizzled over mixed antipasti of mozzarella, tomatoes, cured meats, olives and a handful of mixed salad – great for summer days!

Home made pizza

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It might not be a perfect circle, but this is my home made pizza.

I made the dough by mixing:
300g of flour (50% white and 50% wholemeal) with
a pinch of salt
a generous teaspoon of dried yeast
a tablespoon olive oil
200ml of warm water

Make a dough, and knead for 5 minutes. You don’t need to leave the dough to rise, especially if you’re going for thin crust. This makes enough dough for 2 pizzas, with about a quarter left over.

To make the tomato base (for 2) I use:
– half a tin of chopped tomatoes
– a squeeze of tomato puree
– a crushed clove of garlic
– a pinch of dried chilli
– around 5 large shredded basil leaves
– salt & pepper

On top of the tomato base, put whatever toppings you like! I’ve gone for cheese, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and onion.

Chorizo and butterbean soup

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What do you think of these cute soup bowls I got for Christmas?

I used them to serve up one of my favourite soups – chorizo and butterbean. If you’d like to make it, here’s the recipe, it uses very little ingredients and will make 4 starter portions of 2 main portions – the butterbeans make it a filling lunch.

Ingredients
1 chorizo cooking sausage, cut into cubes
1/2 glass white wine
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of butterbeans
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree
salt & pepper
chilli flakes

Method
– Fry the chorizo on a medium to low heat for 5 minutes, so the oils ooze out

– Add the glass of white wine, leaving to sizzle for a minute, then adding the drained butterbeans and cooking for 2 minutes

– Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes, the tbsp tomato puree, add the bay leaf for depth of flavour, season with salt & pepper and put in some dried chilli flakes (to taste)

– bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes – as with any soup the longer you cook it for the tastier it is, but after 10 minutes this is ready to serve

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Greedy Italians’ fish soup-stew

fish soup-stew

You can rely on Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo for a hearty recipe, and this fish soup-stew is no different.

Just in case one day the above link stops working, here’s how I cooked it (looking at the recipe again I just spotted I missed out the red wine when adding the tomatoes – whoops):

– Fry 1 chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves in a heavy based pan
– Add a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, a chopped red chilli, a handful of chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds

frying tomatoes, parsley, onion and garlic

– Pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes
– Add your fish – I had a fish pie mix which was nice, although this would be a lot nicer with a white fish and mussels
– Dish up and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice

fish stew

ham sandwich with hollandaise sauce

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My Sunday treat – a toasted ham sandwich with hollandaise sauce dip.

I love hollandaise sauce, and thought it was so tasty that it takes a lot of skill to make. As it turns out, it’s not too hard and as ever BBC Food have a recipe for it.

Ingredients

Preparation method

  1. Put the vinegar in a small pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf. Reduce the vinegar over a high heat until there is only 1 tbsp left. Strain the peppercorns and the bay leaf from this reduction.
  2. Put the egg yolks in a food processor with the vinegar reduction.
  3. Gently melt the butter so that the butter solids fall to the bottom of the saucepan.
  4. Turn the food processor on and slowly pour the butter on to the egg yolks with the motor still running. The sauce will start to thicken. When only the butter solids are left, stop.
  5. If the sauce is too thick, add a little hot water.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice.

I treated myself to smoked applewood ham between two slices of toasted multigrain farmhouse bread, cut into strips for dipping.

Ice Cream Loving

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Although its now Autumn (and some days feels like winter) a couple of weeks ago I got myself and ice cream making machine. I love it!

It took a few unsuccessful attempts, but I’ve now mastered a classic vanilla ice cream recipe, and even got as far as making a strawberry ripple. My main learnings are:

– to make classic ice cream you must first make custard, let it cool, mix it with cream and then put through the ice cream machine (which freezes while churning)
– the ice bucket part of the machine must be properly frozen before you attempt to use it, this takes at least half a day, not a couple of hours
– 30-45 minutes of churning creates the best texture

So here’s the recipe for vanilla ice cream, taken from the Andrew James recipe book I got with my machine.

1. Make custard:
– warm 300ml of milk with a split vanilla pod in (seeds scraped out) until just before it starts to boil. Take off the heat and cover for 20 minutes.
– whisk 3 egg yolks with 100g of caster sugar. Add the vanilla milk to the eggs and sugar, whisk well, then pour back into the pan and remove the vanilla pod.
– warm over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens, coating the back of a spoon.
– leave to cool completely.

2. To make ice cream
– whisk in a 284ml tub of double cream into the custard
– pour into your ice cream machine (turned on) and leave to churn for 30 minutes (it however long your machine needs)

Once done, transfer into a tub and put in the freezer until you want to serve. I found that freezing for an hour after churning helped the ice cream firm up.

To make strawberry ripple, while churning blend strawberries with a couple if tablespoons of caster sugar. Ripple through with a spoon once the ice cream is ready (if you pour it into the machine it will just mix in).

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