Aubergine is a fairly underrated vegetable which I think is a little unfair. When cooked well it is absolutely delicious and is a fairly meaty vegetable which is great if you are looking for something to bulk up a meal.
As with many things, preparation key to making this vegetable shine. For aubergine this means cutting the vegetable as required by a recipe, place on some kitchen paper or a tea towel, sprinkle over some salt, cover and leave for 10 minutes to draw the moisture out of the vegetable. If you are using the aubergine as a layer in a dish for example as it is used in the moussaka recipe below then there this one further step that I would highly recommend – lightly oil each side of the aubergine, place under a hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side which will soften the aubergine and give it a slightly smoky taste – adding to the overall flavour of the dish.
I like to think of moussaka as a healthier version of a lasagne as aubergine replaces the pasta sheets and in this recipe the crème fraiche replaces the béchamel sauce. I would avoid using low fat crème fraiche for this recipe as it has a tendency to split and go watery. If you can’t get crème fraiche and don’t want to make a béchamel sauce then use cream cheese instead.
I would suggest serving this recipe with a green salad as this moussaka recipe is packed full of flavour and it would be a shame to overpower it. So don’t over complicate it – a rocket or watercress salad with a little French dressing is the ideal accompaniment to this dish. Enjoy!
I visited Jordan a few months ago and have been hugely influenced by the food that I ate whilst I was out there. The style of eating is typically mezze with lots of little plates not dissimilar to tapas, which are often served with delicious salads that are dressed with pomegranate molasses and olive oil which both tantalises the palate and is refreshing all at once. I would highly recommend trying to get your hands on some pomegranate molasses if you can to give it a try, the flavour is both sharp and sweet – which really enhances any salad, especially if you also add a few pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander and crumble over some feta.
The lamb burger recipe below is the perfect accompaniment to this type of salad. The burger has quite a delicate flavour with just a hint of mint. The recipe below can easily stretch to 6 burgers or will make 4 large burgers. They are a great option for a barbecue, or if the weather isn’t playing ball work just as well in a griddle pan and on the plus side they are very quick to make.
I would recommend serving these burgers with hummus (see below for a quick and easy recipe that takes no more than a couple of minutes to prepare), a few toasted pittas and a salad. Enjoy!
Quiche is a very handy recipe to be able to fall back on if you have friends coming for lunch and don’t want to worry about timings, as it can be served hot or cold and is always delicious. They also are a good option for vegetarians as you can pack them with lots of yummy vegetables and cheeses.
I think a lot of people avoid making quiches as they don’t want to bother with the faff of making and rolling pastry. Well my solution to that is buy ready-made pastry to save you the hassle. My parents who live out in France always use pre-rolled puff pastry which works incredibly well and you don’t have to blind bake it – reducing the preparation time to 30 minutes.
Personally I find the process of making pastry relatively therapeutic especially when you do it by hand. But I also fully appreciate that it is not for everyone so just do what works for you whether it be making the pastry in a food processor, by hand or simply buying it pre-made.
This quiche recipe is perfect for this time of year with the asparagus being in season. It is a nice light option for lunch served with a big green salad – ideal for these warm summer days that we are starting to get. Enjoy!
Mid-week entertaining can be a little bit tricky as you want to be able to talk to your guests instead of being tied to the kitchen. For this reason when I have friends over in the middle of the week I tend only to cook meals that can bubble away gently in the slow cooker whilst I am at work, or that I can prepare in advance. This week I had three friends over for supper on Wednesday, and knowing that time would not be on my side that evening I went for the prepare in advance option.
It was my housemate’s boyfriend that first got me into making Dhansak curry and I am delighted that he did! Dhansak is a lentil based curry that is ever so slightly sweet and can be spiced up according to your own preference. If prawns are not your thing, substitute with chicken thighs (de-skinned but preferably still on the bone to enhance the flavour) – just add them to the curry at the same time as the lentils and they will poach in the liquid.
One of the great advantages to this type of curry is that it all made in one pot, which saves on washing up – WIN! I would strongly recommend giving this recipe a go as it is both hearty and fresh tasting, and dare I say it much tastier than a takeaway curry… Enjoy!
I think it is fair to say that summer is on its way and about time too! I am pleased to report that I am writing this blog from the comfort of my garden table with my new puppy ‘Oscar’ dozing at my feet… Bliss!
Last weekend, with the weather being so glorious, there was a definite need for fresh and healthy food. I really enjoy Asian style salads as they are fragrant and crunchy. I often vary how I serve the salmon when I cook it in this way, for example if I am looking to eat something more substantial then I replace the salad with egg noodles and serve with pak choi or I add it to a stir fry using the juices of from the fish to form the sauce.
This recipe is good irrespective of whether you serve it hot or cold and takes very little time to prepare. If you are looking for a recipe that can be made in advance to be served at a summer lunch party then this is a great little option. Or if you are having a barbecue and are looking to cater for the non meat-eaters – again this recipe comes into its own as the salmon is cooked in tin foil and can be cooked alongside the meat (just remember that the cooking time will vary depending on the heat of your barbecue). Enjoy.
Last Easter my brothers and I met up in Yorkshire for a weekend of walking, eating and sampling one or two of the local drinks… Unbeknownst to my brothers I decided that we needed to balance out the gluttony of the weekend with a healthy meal. Now, for those of you that know my brothers you will appreciate that a mackerel salad would not be their first choice, so much so that when I first told them that mackerel salad was on the menu for Sunday lunch they quickly suggested a walk to the pub for a pre-lunch beer, which then led to another and another … it is safe to say that the mackerel salad did not happen that day.
However the following day there was no escaping the Mackerel salad as I prepared it before the boys were up. I suppose you are wondering why I persisted with the Mackerel salad, well first up despite the boys protests I was pretty sure they would like it. Secondly, I wanted to see if it was enough of a meal to stop them feeling hungry. The good news is that the boys were both pleasantly surprised and full, thanks to this protein rich salad. Win!
The recipe below, serves one person, but can easily be multiplied to cater for more. As with any salad you can chop and change the ingredients according to what you have available. If you are entertaining / hosting a dinner party then I would suggest serving as a starter and reducing the quantities by half. If however you are having friends over for lunch then adapt the recipe to cater of the right number of people and present on a large platter so that people may help themselves.
Alternatively if you are looking for a packed lunch ideas, this salad can be made up the night before and stored in a Tupperware. My only advice if you do this: (1) do not quarter the boiled egg until you are ready to eat; and (2) keep the vinaigrette separate in a little jar to prevent the salad going soggy overnight.
Preparation time: 10 mins
1 smoked mackerel fillet
1 handful of mixed salad leaves
¼ avocado (diced into cubes)
5-6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 small piece of carrot (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of cucumber (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of red pepper (thinly sliced)
5 black olives (stoned and halved)
2 slices of stale baguette
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1tsp fresh dill (chopped)
salt and pepper
Note: the quantities for the vinaigrette will be enough for 4 people.
First prepare your croutons: slice the stale baguette into cubes, place in a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil (roughly 1 tablespoon) – make sure that each side of the bread has a little oil on it. Place in a preheated oven on at 190°C and bake for roughly 7- 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Next prepare the soft boiled egg: place an egg in a saucepan with a little salt and cover the egg with boiling water. Boil the egg on a medium heat for 6 minutes, then pour away the boiling water and fill the saucepan with cold, set to one side and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
Whilst the egg and croutons are cooking prepare your salad: place the salad leaves on a plate to form a base, add the carrot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado and olives.
Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and place on top of the salad and scatter over the croutons.
Prepare your vinaigrette: pour the lemon juice into a jam-jar, add an equal amount of olive oil, the dill and salt and pepper. Shake well.
Finally peel your egg and carefully cut into quarters (the yolk will be runny) add it to the salad, before pouring over a little of the dressing. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Ladies and Gentlemen I am back! Each Friday going forward I am going to endeavour to post some new recipe ideas for you. So watch this space!
Today I have whipped up three different pâtés any one of which would make a great little starter if you have friends popping over, or as a light lunch with some salad or other nibbly bits. The first pâté was mackerel pâté which is a personal favourite of mine. Mackerel pâté takes a matter of minutes to make and is scrummy served on fresh bread, melba toast or even that 70s throw back a vol-au-vent.
Second up is a vegetarian option, roasted red pepper and olive pâté which requires a food processor to blend the cream cheese and red pepper together. This pâté is wonderfully light (a result of blitzing the cream cheese in the food processor) and the red pepper gives it a slightly piquant but sweet flavour. If you are tempted to blend all the ingredients together I wish to warn you that the olives will give the pâté somewhat grainy texture.
Last but by no means least duck and orange pâté, it involves a bit more effort to make but is a good contrast to the other two pâtés. To make this pâté perfectly smooth after putting it through the food processor you will need to pass it through a sieve. If you do not mind having a slightly course pâté than I would suggest that you skip this part of the recipe…