Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Vegetable Chilli (4 colours)


We found this chilli to be too mild with just the mild chilli powder so I add a little hot chilli powder as well.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Aubergine - 1, cut into 1-inch slices
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Red pepper - 1, finely chopped
Yellow pepper - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 3-4 cloves, finely chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 1 can
Ground cumin - 0.5 tsp
Mild chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Hot chilli powder - 0.5 tsp
Dried oregano - 0.5 tsp
Courgettes - 2, sliced
Kidney beans - 1 can, drained & rinsed
Tomato puree - 1 tbsp
Water - 300 ml
Spring onions - 6, finely chopped
Cheddar cheese - 115 g, grated

Methods
1) Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the aubergine slices and cook until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate and cut into 1 inch pieces.
2) Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes, cumin, oregano and chilli powder. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4) Add the courgettes, aubergines, beans, water and tomato puree to the pan and return to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes.
5) Serve topped with the spring onions and cheese. Serves 4.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sweet Potato and Apricot Croquettes (4 colours)



I'd quite forgotton about these sweet potato and apricot croquettes that I made a few weeks ago. I'm not generally a fan of frying food in oil, but for these I shall make an exception.

Ingredients
Sweet potato - 1 medium
Cooked chickpeas - 1 cup
Spring onions - 4, finely chopped
Dried apricots - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Pine nuts - 4 tbsp
Fresh red chillies - 1, finely chopped
Fresh basil - 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Fresh dill - 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Egg - 1 large, lightly beaten
Polenta - 1/2 cup
Breadcrumbs - 1/2 to 1 cup
Flour - 1/2 cup
oil for frying

See the recipe for instructions.



Friday, 6 November 2009

Black bean and corn bake (3 colours)

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite food blogs: Lisa's Kitchen. Our local supermarket has a pretty impressive range of foods, but doesn't have either cayenne and jalapeno peppers. I added a green chilli pepper instead and although I'll probably be braver and use two next time it did taste delicious.

Ingredients
Dried black beans - 1 1/4 cups
Dried red kidney beans - 1/4 cup
Sundried tomatoes - 5
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, crushed
Green chilli pepper - chopped
Frozen sweetcorn - 2 cups
Honey - 1 tbsp
Medium or hot chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Ground cumin - 1 tsp
Dried tarragon - 3/4 tsp
Bay leaf
Cheddar - 1 cup, grated

See the recipe for instructions.



Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Aubergine and courgette bake (4 colours)


Ingredients
Aubergine - 1 large or 2 small
Courgettes - 2, sliced length ways
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 2 400g cans
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Sunflower oil - 5-6 tbsp
Plain flour, for coating
Basil - handful of leaves, shredded
Parsley - 1 tbsp, chopped fresh
Mozzarella - 350g, sliced
Parmesan - 25g, grated

Methods
1) Slice the aubergine, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 45-60 mins.
2) Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, half the basil and half the parsley. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook, stirring, for 30 to 40 minutes, until thickened to a pulp.
3) Rinse and dry the aubergines. Coat the aubergines and courgettes with flour. Heat the sunflower oil in another frying pan and fry the aubergines and courgettes (in batches) until golden brown.
4) Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4. Put a layer of aubergines and then a layer of courgettes in an ovenproof dish. Pour over half the source and scatter over half the mozzarella. Sprinkle over half the remaining basil and parsley. Repeat the layers and sprinkle parmesan on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serves 4.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Butterbean and tomato soup (2 colours)


I made this soup a couple of nights ago while Ian was washing up, which shows how quick it is to make. I blended all of the soup, but might try half and half next time.

Ingredients
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 1 clove, finely chopped
Butterbeans - 1 can
Chopped tomatoes - 1 can
Sun-dried tomatoes - 3 or 4, chopped
Olive oil - 1 tbsp

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes.
2) Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped tomatoes and butterbeans and their can juices to the pan. Cook without a lid for 10 minutes.
3) Process in a blender and serve. Alternatively process only half the soup in the blender and mix with the other half. Serves 2.

Tomato and chilli soup (3 colours)


This soup is really easy to make and well worth it. The recipe states to use 5 chillis, but that probably depends on their size and the most we've made it with was 4 (which turned out to be a little hot for our liking).

Ingredients
Plum tomatoes - 1.5kg, halved
Red chillis - 2-4, seeded
Garlic - 6 cloves, crushed
Red onion - 2, roughly chopped
Red (bell) pepper - 1, halved and seeded
Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Vegetable stock - 400ml

Methods
1) Preheat the oven to 200° / gas mark 6. Place the tomatoes, chillis, red pepper, garlic, onions and tomato paste in a roasting tin. Drizzle all the vegetables/fruits with oil and toss. Roast for 40 minutes.
2) Process the vegetables/fruits in a food processor in batches, adding a ladleful of stock to each batch to make a smooth thick puree. Be careful at this point to make sure that the chillis don't all end up in the same batch.
3) If you prefer to remove the seeds then press through a sieve or strainer and add more stock to thin as necessary. Heat gently and serve. Serves 4-5.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Provencal bean stew (4 colours)


Ingredients
Dried pinto beans (soaked overnight in water to cover) - 350g
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onions - 2, sliced
Garlic cloves - 2, finely chopped
Red pepper - 1, deseeded and sliced
Yellow pepper - 1, deseeded and sliced
Chopped tomatoes - 2 400g tins
Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
Fresh basil - 1 tbsp, torn
Fresh thyme - 2 tsp, chopped
Fresh rosemary - 2 tsp, chopped
Bay leaf

Methods
1) Drain the beans. Place in a large saucepan, add enough cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 and a half hours. Drain, reserving 300 ml of the liquid. (I found that I had to add more water to the pan about 45 minutes in to stop the beans drying out).
2) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and peppers and cook for 10 minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes and their can juices, the tomato puree, the reserved liquid, herbs, bay leaf and beans. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. At this point you can add some black olives if you like and cook for another 5 minutes. (Serves 4).

Monday, 19 October 2009

Figs

I ate my first ever figs last week. According to Ian they weren't anywhere near as tasty as the ones he had in Africa (fresh from the tree), but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Nut roast (3 colours)



We made this without the cheese and it still tasted very good.

Ingredients
Mixed nuts (e.g., walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews) - 250g
Shallots - 100g
Chopped tomatoes - 400g tin
Egg - 1, beaten
Cheddar cheese - 100g, grated
Dried thyme - 0.5 tsp
Dried sage - 0.5 tsp
Dried mint - 0.5 tsp
Parsley - 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Marmite or other yeast extract - 1 tsp blended with 1 tsp boiling water
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Black pepper
Butter / margarine for greasing tin

Methods
1) Dry fry the nuts, stirring gently, until golden fragrant, taking care not to burn. Remove to a bowl and leave to cool.
2) Blend in a food processor until thoroughly ground.
3) In a large bowl, combine the ground nuts with all remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
4) Preheat the oven to 180° / gas mark 4. Grease the loaf tin with butter/margarine.
5) Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until firm and golden. Cool slightly, then turn out.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Thai Fried Bananas (0 colours)

Ingredients
Butter (or margarine) - 1 tbsp
Bananas - 2 large, slightly under-ripe
Dessicated coconut - 1 tbsp
Soft light brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Lime juice - 2 tbsp

Method
1) Dry-fry the coconut in a frying pan until lightly browned, and reserve.
2) Heat the butter in the frying pan and fry the bananas for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are lightly golden in colour.
3) Sprinkle the sugar onto the bananas, add the lime juice and cook for another 3 minutes.
4) Arrange the bananas on a plate and sprinkle the coconut over the top. (Serves 2)

Friday, 16 October 2009

The 7 colours of health

I bought a book entitled "What color is your diet?" several months ago and though I've yet to read it from cover to cover have dipped into it countless times and read and reread a few of the key sections. The book, written by the director of the UCLA center for human nutrition, contains lots of useful information on the properties of foods and how they impact the body. It explains the major differences in diets across the world and how these influence the incidence of cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

The book suggests that to stay healthy and reduce the risk of cancer etc we should eat not 5, but at least 7 portions of fruit and veg each day. It presents 7 colour categories and provides a list of fruit and veg that fall into each category. Each colour is important for a different reason and the book recommends that we eat at least one item of each colour every day.

At present I do not eat the 7 colours or even 7 portions of fruit and veg each day, but I do consider this to be my goal. Even ignoring the possible health benefits it will make for a varied and interesting diet and encourage me to grow some more unusual fruit and vegetables in the garden and on our land when we get some.

I shall blog the 7 colours, why each is good for you and a list of foods of each colour over the next couple of weeks. I shall also state in brackets how many colours each recipe I post contains.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Imam bayildi (3 colours)


Imam bayildi (also known as Imam bayouldi) is a lovely vegetarian Turkish dish. It is both sweet and healthy, which pleases Ian as he has a very sweet tooth.

Ingredients
Aubergine - 2
Olive oil - 6 tbsp
Garlic - 3 cloves
Onions - 2, chopped
Canned chopped tomatoes - 2 400g cans
Red peppers - 2, deseeded and chopped
Celery stick - 1, sliced
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Sultanas - 1 tbsp
Flat-leaf parsley - 1 tbsp

Method
1) Cut each aubergine in half lengthways. Scoop out the flesh, leaving 1 cm of flesh around the inside of each shell. Chop the flesh. If preferred, sprinkle the flesh and shells with salt and leave to stand for 30 minutes (we find most aubergines these days don't need this).
2) Heat half the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened.
3) If the aubergine was salted, rinse and drain well. Add the flesh to the saucepan with the tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the red peppers, celery, raisins, sultanas and chopped parsley to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Put the aubergine shells in an ovenproof dish. Spoon the tomato mixture into the shells. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold with rice or quinoa. (Serves 4)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Butternut squash and roasted garlic soup (2 colours)

I bought a book on soups from Otter Nurseries last year and on the whole have been disappointed. It's my own fault for not flicking through more before I bought it as I hadn't realised that most of the recipes were for meat or fish soups, neither of which I find particularly appealing.

However, there are a couple of wonderful vegetable/fruit soups. The tomato and chilli soup is divine and I shall blog the recipe another time. Yesterday I made the butternut squash and roasted garlic soup... very easy to make and I was very pleased to find that you don't have to peel the squash before you cook it. I find butternut squash quite annoying to peel, but scooping out the flesh once it has been cooked is easy. The only disadvantage was my fingers getting very messy when squeezing the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the soup, but it was definitely worth the mess.



Ingredients
Butternut squash - 1 large halved and seeded
Onion - 2 chopped
Garlic - 2 whole bulbs, outer skin removed
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Ground coriander - 1 tsp
Vegetable stock - 2 pints
Salt and ground black pepper

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 220°C / Gas 7. Place the garlic bulbs on a piece of foil and pour over 1 tbsp of olive oil. Fold the foil around the garlic bulbs. Place the foil on a baking tray with the butternut squash and brush the squash with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
2) Roast the squash and garlic for 25 minutes then reduce the temperature to 190°C / Gas 5 and cook for a further 20-25 minutes (until the squash is tender).
3) Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and cook the onions and ground coriander gently for about 10 minutes.
4) Squeeze the garlic out of its skin into the onions and scoop the squash out of its skin, adding it to the pan. Add the stock and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Cool slightly and then process in a blender or food processor.
6) Reheat the soup and season to taste.

A substitute for rice

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is often described as a grain, but is actually a seed related to the spinach family. Quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids required by the body as building blocks for muscles. It has twice the protein of rice and is a good source of dietary fibre. Quinoa is easy to digest, contains no gluten and is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.

Quinoa can be found in all the UK major supermarket chains that we've tried, although only Tesco seem to repackage it under their own brand name. When cooked it is light, fluffy and slightly crunchy.

Because of the health benefits and more interesting consistency and flavour quinoa has now pretty much replaced rice in our house.

Vegetable chilli with quinoa:

Another new blog

Until leaving my job at the University I've always considered myself too busy to play around with cooking and if asked I would say that I "couldn't cook properly" whatever that means.

I guess I've had a difficult relationship with food so far. As a child I was the awkward one who wouldn't eat anything. As an adult that changed a little, but I think it's only in the last three or four years that I've realised that I'm not awkward - I just don't really like eating and hate preparing meat. If meat couldn't be bought in non-animal shapes in tins or cardboard boxes in the freezer section of the supermarket I would have turned vegetarian years ago.

As it is I'm not currently vegetarian, but I eat meat probably at most once every couple of weeks. I don't know if I will become fully vegetarian and if I do what time scale that will be on - we will just have to wait and see. I'm creating this blog as a journey on the way to being healthier and more inventive with food, and in addition to posting recipes will be writing my thoughts on food in general, particularly 'new foods' that I've only just tried or starting cooking.