Thursday, 23 December 2010

Ginger biscuits (0 colours)


Ingredients
Plain flour - 350 g
Bicarbonate of soda - 1 tsp
Ground ginger - 2 tsp
Butter - 100 g
Light brown sugar - 175 g
Egg - 1
Golden syrup - 4 tbsp

Methods
1) Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until it forms small crumbs.
2) Add the sugar, egg and golden syrup and again mix with your hands until it forms a dough.
3) Roll out the biscuit dough to the desired thickness - between 0.5 and 1 cm should be about right. Cut into shapes.
4) Place the shapes on a greased baking tray, being careful to leave some space between them as they will get larger in the oven. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

5) Leave to cool for a minute and then remove from the tray. We found that leaving them any longer than this made them really difficult to get out whole because once the biscuits cool they can become quite brittle.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Aubergine and goat's cheese parcels with cranberry sauce (2 colours)

Aubergine parcels, served with Christmas cous cous.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Aubergine - 1 small, sliced
Filo pastry - 2 sheets
Melted butter for brushing
Goats cheese - 60 g

For the cranberry sauce:
Cranberries - 150 g
Caster sugar - 50 g
Clementines - juice and grated rind of 2.

Methods
1) Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine slices until golden brown on both sides, in batches if necessary.
2) Leave the aubergine slices to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the pastry. Cut each pastry sheet in half, giving four large pastry squares. Brush each with butter and then layer in pairs with the corners offset.

3) Meanwhile, place the cranberry sauce ingredients in a small pan and cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly. When all the cranberries have popped open turn the heat down to low and cook until the aubergine parcels are ready.
4) Place three slices of aubergine in the centre of the pastry square and top with half the goats cheese. Fold the pastry upwards around the aubergine and pinch at the top. Brush with butter and then repeat for the other parcel.
4) Cook in the oven at 200°C for about 10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve and pour over the cranberry sauce. Serves 2.

Christmas cous cous (2 colours)


Ingredients
Cous cous - 200 g
Dried apricots - 5, chopped
Dried cranberries - small handful, chopped
Pomegranate seeds - small handful
Unsalted pistachios - small handful, shelled
Vegetable stock - 250 ml

Methods
1) Place the cous cous in a large bowl.
2) Make the stock and pour into a small saucepan. Add the dried apricots and cranberries. Bring to the boil again and pour over the cous cous. Add the pomegranate seeds and pistachios to the bowl and stir.
3) Cover the bowl with a large plate and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff up the cous cous with a fork before serving. Serves 3-4.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Iced clementine cake (1 colour)

The original recipe for this called for a square tin, the cake to be divided into small cubes and for these to be covered in marzipan and iced individually. Not being particular fans of marzipan we decided to skip it, but that proved a bad idea as without it the cakes were very difficult to ice - the soft cake mixture just crumbled into the icing. After a couple we gave up and just iced the top of the cakes. Next time I shall make a round cake and simply ice the top as described below.

Ingredients
Caster sugar - 225 g
Self-raising flour - 225 g
Ground almonds - 55 g
Butter - 225 g, softened
Eggs - 4
Clementines - 4
Icing sugar - 2 tbsp
Royal icing sugar - 400 g

Methods
1) Place the sugar, flour, ground almonds, butter and eggs in a large bowl.
2) Grate the zest of three of the clementines and add to the bowl with the juice of one of the clementines. Reserve the remaining clementines for making the syrup.
3) Beat the mixture well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4) Line a 7 inch round tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the mixture and bake at 180°C for 45-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
5) Leave the cake to cool for a few minutes and then prick the top all over with a skewer. Make the syrup by placing the juice from the remaining 3 clementines and the icing sugar in a small pan and heating until dissolved.
6) Pour over the syrup. Remove the greaseproof paper and leave to cool completely.
7) Make the royal icing according to the instructions on the pack and then ice the top of the cake. Leave to set. Serves 12.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mince pies

Okay so we cheated and bought the pastry mix and the mincemeat in a jar, but we'll make the pastry from scratch for the next batch and I hope to have a go at making mincemeat myself next year.

We didn't have enough mincemeat so we also made some with lemon curd.

It's been a long time since I rolled out pastry and cut it into shapes - we had a lot of fun :-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fruit and nut Yule slice (2 colours)

The first Christmassy cake I made this year was the yule slice from the BBC Good Food website. I added a couple of ingredients and changed the quantities a bit and it was lovely. It's also dairy free.

There's a reason that it's sliced thinly in the photo on their website - this cake is deceptively filling because of all the nuts.

Ingredients
Nuts - 310 g (I used 150g walnuts, 100g hazelnuts, 60g blanched almonds)
Dried fruit - 680g (I used 200g dried apricots, 200g raisins, 100g stoned dates, 40g dried cranberries, 140g glace cherries, halved)
Plain flour - 100 g
Mixed spice - 2 tsp
Baking powder - 0.5 tsp
Dark muscovado sugar - 175 g
Eggs - 3
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Icing sugar for dusting

Methods
1) Mix together the fruit and nuts in a large bowl.

2) Sieve the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice into the bowl and stir well.
3) Mix the eggs together with the vanilla essence in a bowl and add to the fruit and nut mixture. Stir until well combined and no dry ingredients are visible.
4) Line a loaf tin with grease-proof paper and pour in the mixture. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 150°C for 1.5 hours. Remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.
5) When cool, dust with icing sugar. Serves 16.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas recipes

I'm very excited because it's almost December and for the first time I have a wonderful big kitchen to do lots of Christmas cooking. We're also only heading North for a couple of nights this year so we'll be spending more of the festive period at home.

There are so many Christmassy recipes that I want to try. I know I won't have time to make even half of these, but at least I can look back at this blog when the festive season comes round again.

Savoury recipes:
Pomegranate stuffing
Carrot and cashew crisp with hot lentil salad
Clementine, feta and leaf salad
Aubergine and goat's cheese parcels with cranberry sauce
Canape crackers
Pine nut and carrot roast
Citrus and pomegranate salad with chilli-honey dressing
Leek and cranberry caerphilly strudel

Sweet recipes:
Stollen wreath
Candied walnuts
Tropical Christmas pudding

Gingerbread cookies

Snow-topped cupcakes
Yule slice
Lime and cranberry bread and butter pudding
Gingerbread cupcakes with clementine buttercream
Winter fruit salad
Sparkling cranberries
Snowy clementine cakes
Meringue roulade
Minty chocolate cookies
Gingerbread house
Mulled wine

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Pitta bread with bean, pepper and corn filling (3 colours)


Ingredients
Pitta breads - 3
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Green pepper - 1, chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 1 small (200 g) can
Kidney beans - 1 small can, drained and rinsed
Sweetcorn - 1 small can, drained

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and pepper, cover and cook for 10 minutes until tender.
2) Add the tomatoes and their juice and stir well. Cook for a further 10 minutes and then add the sweetcorn and kidney beans. Cook for 5 minutes until all the vegetables are hot.
3) Grill or toast the pitta breads. Cut in two lengthways and then fill with the bean mixture. Serve at once. Serves 2.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Lemon drizzle cake (2 colours)

These taste very similar to Kipling's lemon slices, but slightly softer and yet crunchier because of the polenta. This recipe also makes a lot more than you get in a box and I'll definitely be making them again soon.

Ingredients

For the cake:
Self-raising flour - 140 g
Polenta - 100 g
Golden caster sugar - 200 g
Lemons - 3, grated zest only
Butter - 200 g, well softened
Eggs - 4
Lemon curd - 4 tbsp

For the syrup:
Golden caster sugar - 4 tbsp
Lemon - 1, juice and grated zest

Methods
1) Grease and line a 20x30 cm roasting tin (I didn't have any grease-proof paper so didn't line the tin. Although the cake came out easy enough it did break into 4 or 5 pieces). Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2) Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the butter, lemon zest and eggs. Beat until creamy - I did this in a food processor, but if the butter is soft enough I'm sure this could be done by hand.
3) Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Using a dessert spoon, spoon the lemon curd in thick stripes along the top of the cake mixture. I found this to be a little difficult as the curd was quite cold and not very runny. Once you've used all the curd use the spoon to swirl it into a pattern of your choice (but don't stir it in too deep). Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes - the cake should be spongey and have come away from the edge of the tin slightly.
4) Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes. Mix the sugar and lemon juice together and then drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Cut into fingers or squares. Makes around 20-30 fingers.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sweetcorn loaf (1 colour)


I think this loaf would go well with many things and could be eaten at pretty much any time of day. It's best eaten warm, but can be reheated and you can even fry slices if you like.
Ingredients
Frozen sweetcorn - 450 g
Butter - 2 tbsp, melted
Plain Flour - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Eggs - 3
Butter / margarine for greasing the tin

Methods
1) Grease the loaf tin and preheat the oven to 190°C.
2) Put the sweetcorn in a pyrex bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Stir and drain after a few seconds, once the sweetcorn has defrosted.
3) Place the sweetcorn in a blender and blend to a coarse puree. Add all the other ingredients to the blender and blend until well mixed.
4) Pour the mixture into the tin and cover with foil. Place in a roasting tin filled with water so that the water reaches half-way up the loaf tin. Cook for 1-2 hours until the top looks like the crust of a loaf of bread and a skewer comes out clean. Serves 4.

Black bean stew (2 colours)


Ingredients
Black beans - 225 g, soaked overnight
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onions - 2 small, finely chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, finely chopped
Plum tomatoes - 400 g tin, juice + tomatoes finely chopped
Green chilli - 1, finely chopped

Methods
1) Cook the black beans as per the instructions on the pack. Drain and place half the beans in a blender. Blend until smooth and then return to the pan with the whole beans. Mix well.
2) Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice and chilli and simmer for 10 minutes.
3) Add the tomato mixture to the pan with the black beans and stir well. Heat for a few minutes until hot. Serve with tortillas, rice or vegetables. Serves 4.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake (2 colours)


A couple of things went wrong during the making of this cake, but it was definitely worth it. I'm not sure what quantities to suggest for the syrup because most (literally most) of mine leaked out, despite wrapping the tin up in foil. To be honest I'm pleased with the result so would suggest only using a little syrup and not trying to contain it as I did.

Despite doing the usual skewer test, when we finally came to eating the cake the middle turned out to be undercooked. Not really a problem as the cake is supposed to be eaten warm so we simply heated it for longer in the microwave and the mixture set well.

I shall probably blog a perfected recipe in the future, but this is how I made it this time:

Ingredients
Syrup:
Light brown sugar - 140 g
Butter - 55 g
Molasses - 1 tbsp
Cranberries - 200-400 g (you can use fresh, but frozen should be much less expensive)

Cake mixture:
Plain flour - 240 g
Caster sugar - 200 g
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Eggs - 3, large
Soured cream - 240 g
Butter - 115 g
Orange - juice and a little grated rind

Methods
1) Melt all the butter in a small pan.
2) Heat the sugar, molasses and 4 tbsp of the melted butter together with 60 ml of water in a small pan. Bring to the boil and then leave to cool for a few minutes before pouring the syrup into the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan. Layer the cranberries on top. I made one layer, but will make 2 layers next time (which would still only require a single bag of frozen cranberries in total).
3) Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
4) Using an electric whisk, mix the eggs and soured cream together until smooth. Add the rest of the melted butter, the orange juice and rind and mix again until well combined.
5) Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and beat until smooth. Pour the cake mixture on top of the cranberries and smooth the top gently (avoiding disturbing the cranberries). If you're using a loose-bottomed tin then here is where you can wrap it in foil, but my foil just leaked anyway and I'd recommend simply using less syrup.
6) Bake in the oven at 180 °C for at least an hour, but use your judgement to tell when it's done. Eat warm. Serves 8.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Butternut squash and ricotta cannelloni (3 colours)


Ingredients
Roasted, mashed butternut squash - 4 tbsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Fresh rosemary - 1 tsp, finely chopped
Passata - 400 ml
Ricotta cheese - 200 g
Cannelloni tubes - 14
Mozzarella or parmesan for the topping

Methods
1) Heat half the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add half the garlic and half the rosemary to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the mashed butternut squash, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
2) Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the rest of the garlic and rosemary and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the passata and cook for 15 minutes until reduced.
3) Pour the squash mixture into a small pyrex bowl and set aside to cool. When cooled combine with the ricotta cheese and stuff the mixture into the cannelloni shells with your fingers.
4) Pour a little of the tomato sauce into a baking dish. Layer the cannelloni shells in the dish and then pour the remaining sauce on top. Grate some parmesan or place some pieces of mozzarella on top. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Serves 3.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Courgette and feta fritters (2 colours)


Ingredients
Courgette - 1 large
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 small
Egg - 1 large
Pine nuts - 1 tbsp
Dried mint - 0.5 tsp
Feta cheese - 100 g, cut into small dice
Plain flour - 3-4 tbsp

Methods
1) Cut the ends of the courgette and coarsely grate it into a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes and then squeeze the courgettes to press out any excess water.
2) Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes until softened.
3) Combine the courgette, onion, pine nuts, mint and feta cheese in a bowl. Add the egg and mix well. Add as much flour as is necessary to make the mixture stick together.
4) Fry spoonfuls of the mixture in the remaining olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove any excess oil with kitchen paper and serve hot. Serves 2 (makes 6-8 fritters)

Kenyan mashed potatoes (1 colour)


Ingredients
Potatoes - 4 large, peeled and quartered
Canned kidney beans - 220 g can, drained and rinsed
Frozen sweetcorn - 100 g
Butter or margarine - for mashing
Parsley or watercress - 1 tbsp, chopped

Methods
1) Place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
2) Add the kidney beans and sweetcorn to the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
3) Drain the vegetables and then mash with the butter and parsley or watercress. Serves 2.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Baked new potatoes (0 colours)


This has to be my favourite way of cooking potatoes at the moment - a combination of baking and roasting. Cook as many or as few as you like, but be warned they're very moorish. We ate a whole bag of baby potatoes between three of us.

Ingredients
New potatoes
Olive oil - to drizzle

Methods
1) Par-boil the new potatoes for 10 minutes and then drain.
2) Place the potatoes in a roasting pan with a very small amount of olive oil (the idea is to lightly cover the potatoes and not to let them swim in oil). At this point you can cover them with sea salt or herbs, but I think they're lovely as they are. Cook in the oven at 200°C for 40 minutes to one hour, depending on how crispy you like them.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Blueberry cake with cheesecake frosting (1 colour)

This easy-to-make cake looks beautiful and tastes absolutely delicious.


Ingredients
Self-raising flour - 225 g
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Golden caster sugar - 175 g
Butter - 175 g, warmed to room temperature
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Eggs - 3 large
Soured Cream - 4 tbsp
Fresh or frozen (defrosted) blueberries - 190 g

For the frosting:
Cream cheese (philadelphia) - 200 g
Soured cream - 1 dessert spoon
Icing sugar - 100g
Fresh blueberries - 150 g

Methods
1) Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the butter and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla essence and eggs and mix well.
2) Beat in the soured cream and then gently stir in the blueberries.
3) Pour the mixture into a round 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin, spread it level and bake at 180°C for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
4) When the cake has cooled completely, mix together the cream cheese, soured cream and icing sugar in a bowl. Spread on top of the cake and scatter the blueberries on top. Keep the cake in the fridge, but remove an hour before serving. Serves 8.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Black bean and pumpkin soup (3 colours)


I had half a pumpkin left after making a risotto the other night so I decided to add it to a soup. I think this would be just as tasty with the other half of the pumpkin included.

To make pumpkin puree: halve a culinary pumpkin and remove the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. Place the two halves in a roasting tin, cut-side down. Add 300 ml of water and roast in the oven at 175°C for 90 minutes. Remove the flesh with a spoon and puree in a blender.

Ingredients
Dried black beans - 1 cup, soaked overnight and cooked
Chopped tomatoes - 400 g can
Butter - 60 g
Onions - 2, chopped
Shallots - 4 small, chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, finely chopped
Ground cumin - 1 tbsp
Vegetable stock - 1 litre
Pumpkin puree - 1 cup

Methods
1) Blend the tomatoes and black beans to a coarse puree - I didn't blend them very much and the soup turned out quite thick, but you can obviously blend them to your preferred consistency.
2) Heat the butter in a large saucepan until melted. Add the onions, shallots, garlic and ground cumin. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes until the onions have softened.
3) Add the bean and tomato mixture, vegetable stock and pumpkin puree to the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Serves 4.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Mango and tempeh curry (5 colours)


Until I made this curry I had no idea that mango skin could be eaten. I tasted it when it was barely cooked and it was a bit too chewy, but by the time the curry was cooked it was quite tasty. I'm sure this curry would be just as good without the mango skin if you prefer to remove it.

I added the tempeh for some protein, but it could be left out or replaced with chicken.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Tempeh - a third of a block, chopped into cubes
Red onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, finely chopped
Green chilli - 1, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Mango - 1 large, with or without the skin, deseeded and cut into cubes
Pineapple - 1 small tin of rings, cut into bite-sized pieces
Tomatoes - 4 large, chopped into large pieces
Curry powder - to taste
Yoghurt - 250 ml

Methods
1) Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the tempeh until browned on all sides. Remove the tempeh from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
2) Add the remaining oil to the frying pan and cook the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger for 5 minutes until the onion has softened.
3) Add the mango, pineapple and tomato pieces to the pan with the curry powder and stir well to coat the fruit. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the tempeh back to the pan and stir. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mango skin has softened.
4) Stir in the yoghurt and heat through for a couple of minutes. Serve with rice. Serves 4.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Pumpkin, bean and tomato risotto (3 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Butter - 25 g
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Pumpkin - 325 g (about half a small culinary pumpkin), peeled, seeded and chopped into 1cm chunks
Freshly ground pepper
Arborio (risotto) rice - 275 g
White wine - 125 ml
Vegetable stock - 650 ml
Tomatoes - 3, diced
Baked beans - 415 g can
Fresh basil leaves - 3 tbsp

Methods
1) Heat the olive oil with the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and pumpkin and season with the pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the pumpkin has started to soften.
2) Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Add the white wine and cook until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Add half the stock and cook for around 10 minutes until the stock has been absorbed.
3) Add the rest of the stock and cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes until the stock has been absorbed. Add the tomatoes, beans and basil to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serves 4.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Algerian mixed vegetables (4 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Ground cumin - 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick - 1, snapped into two pieces
Sweet potato - 1 medium sized, chopped into medium-sized chunks
Courgettes - 2, sliced into thick strips
Carrot - 1 large, sliced into thick strips
Celery - 2 sticks, sliced
Turnip - 1, chopped
Dried chickpeas - 100g, soaked overnight and boiled for 1.5 - 2 hours
Sultanas - 1 tbsp
Chopped tomatoes - 400 g can
Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
Honey - 1 tbsp

Methods
1) Begin by chopping all the vegetables.
2) Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened.
3) Add the cumin and cinnamon and stir well. Add all the vegetables and stir to coat with the spices.
4) Add the sultanas, chopped tomatoes, cooked chickpeas, tomato puree and honey. Add a little water to the pan (but not enough to cover the vegetables) and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
5) Serve over couscous. Serves 4.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Black-eyed bean cakes (1 colour)


Ingredients
Dried black-eyed beans - 150g, soaked overnight and cooked
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Cayenne pepper - 0.35 tsp
Egg - 0.5
Plain flour - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

Methods
1) Place the beans in a food processor or blender and blend with 3 tablespoons of water until reduced to a smooth thick paste, adding more water if necessary.
2) Add the onion, cayenne pepper, flour, baking powder and egg to the blender and blend until well combined.
3) Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, fry heaped teaspoons of the bean batter for a few minuts until golden on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with a tomato-based dip, salsa or sauce. Makes around 15 - serves 2.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tagliatelle with lentil sauce (3 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Carrot - 1, peeled and thinly sliced
Celery - 1 stick, thinly sliced
Chopped tomatoes - two 400 g cans
Green lentils - 1 cup
Tomato puree - 2 tbsp dissolved in 1 cup of hot water
Tagliatelle - 500 g

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook for around 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
2) Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker and add the tomatoes, lentils, tomato puree and season. Stir well. Cook on low for 6 hours.
3) When ready to serve, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, drain and toss with the sauce. Serves 4.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Celeriac gratin (2 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Plum tomatoes - 400 g can
Red wine vinegar - 1 tsp
Brown sugar - 0.5 tsp
Celeriac - 750 g, peeled
Double cream - 90 ml
Parmesan - 100 g

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
2) Add the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
3) Meanwhile, peel the celeriac, cut it into quarters and then slice thinly. Add the celeriac to the tomato sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the celeriac is tender. Stir in the cream.
4) Pour half the mixture into a gratin-dish and sprinkle over half the parmesan. Pour over the remaining mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 35 minutes at 200°C. Serves 2 as a main course or 3 as a side-dish.

Ginger cake (1 colour)


This is an old family favourite and I can't remember ever having a Christmas without it.

Ingredients
Golden syrup - 55 g
Black treacle - 170 g
Margarine - 115 g
Brown sugar - 55 g
Milk - 140 ml
Eggs - 2, beaten
Plain flour - 225 g
Bicarbonate of soda - 1 level tsp
Ground ginger - 2 level tsp
Mixed spice - 1 rounded tsp
Sultanas - 115 g

Methods
1) Heat the treacle, syrup, margarine and sugar in a small pan until the sugar and margarine have dissolved. Add the milk and leave to cool for a few minutes.
2) Meanwhile, sift the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
3) Add the eggs to the cooled treacle mixture and stir well. Pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and fold in the sultanas, mixing until everything is well combined. Bake in a greased tin for 1.25 - 1.5 hours at 150°C until a skewer comes out clean. Serves 12.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Spaghetti with aubergine and ricotta sauce (3 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Aubergine - 1 medium, cut into 1 cm cubes
Onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 400g can
Fresh basil - handful of leaves, torn into pieces
Spaghetti - 150 g
Ricotta cheese - 125 g, crumbled

Methods
1) Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine pieces until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2) Add 1 tbsp of oil to the frying pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute until fragrant.
3) Place the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water and cook on a medium heat. Meanwhile add the tomatoes and basil to the frying pan and cook on a medium heat until slightly thickened.
4) When the spaghetti is almost cooked add the aubergine pieces to the tomato sauce and stir well. Drain the spaghetti and then mix with the sauce and the ricotta cheese. Serves 2.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Courgettes with tomatoes (3 colours)


For the meat eaters out there, I think this dish would also go very well with lamb.
Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onions - 2, finely sliced
Tomatoes - 350 g, finely chopped
Tomato puree - 1 heaped tsp
Flour - 1 tsp
Dried mint - 1 tsp
Allspice - 0.35 tsp
Courgettes - 2, thinly sliced widthways
Mild red chilli - 1, finely chopped
Water - 100 ml

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the onion for 5-10 minutes until softened.
2) Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, mint, allspice and flour to the pan and stir well.
3) Add the courgettes and chilli, stir and then pour over the water.
4) Bring to the boil then cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes until the courgettes are tender. Serve with pita bread. Serves 3.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Red lentil and tomato soup (2 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onions - 250 g, chopped
Tomatoes - 375 g, quartered
Split red lentils - 285 g
Water - 900 ml
Lemon juice - to taste

Methods
1) Heat the olive oil in a large pan and when hot add the onion. Fry for 5-10 minutes until the onion is just beginning to turn brown.
2) Add the tomatoes, water and lentils to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
3) Pour into a blender and blend to a creamy consistency. Return to the pan and reheat for 5 minutes. Serve with a little lemon juice or lemon wedges to squeeze over. Serves 4.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Lentil and vegetable shepherd's pie (4 colours)


This is a really tasty version of a traditional British classic and contains lots of healthy sweet potatoes too.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, halved and sliced
Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
Red pepper - 0.5, chopped
Carrot - 2 large, chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 400 g can
Vegetable stock cubes - 2, chopped
Green lentils - 400 g can
Sweet potatoes - 900 g, peeled and cut into chunks
Margarine - for mashing
Cheddar cheese - 85 g, grated

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes until soft.
2) Add the carrots, pepper, chopped tomatoes, 150 ml of water and the stock cubes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3) Tip in the can of lentils with their juices and then simmer for a further 10 minutes until the carrots are cooked, but not soft.
4) Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes in a large pan for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash with a little margarine.
5) Pour the lentil mixture into an oven-proof dish and top with the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the oven at 190°C for 25-30 minutes. Serves 4.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Nectarine and raspberry muffins (2 colours)


Ingredients
Plain flour - 300 g
Granulated sugar - 150 g
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - 0.5 tsp
Raspberries - 70 g, halved
Nectarines - 150 g (approx 2), chopped into small cubes

Olive oil - 100 ml
Whole milk - 200 ml
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Egg - 1

Methods
1) Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a 12 muffin pan. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the raspberries and nectarines and stir gently.
2) Place the egg, oil, vanilla essence and milk in a mixing bowl and quickly beat together.
3) Pour the egg mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir well. Spoon into the muffin pan and cook for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown. Serves 12.

Potato, tomato and garlic soup (2 colours)


This simple soup has a lovely flavour and is made with ingredients that we always have in the house. I'll definitely be making it again soon.
Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 large, sliced
Garlic - 4 cloves, crushed
Potato - 3 small, finely sliced
Paprika - 1 tsp
Chopped tomatoes - 400 g can
Thyme - 1 tsp
Vegetable stock - 900 ml
Cornflour - 2 tsp

Methods
1) Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, potato and paprika and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
2) Add the tomatoes, stock and thyme. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
3) Mix the cornflour with a little water in a small bowl. Add to the soup and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes until the soup has thickened a little. Serves 5.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Turkish baked vegetables (4 colours)


Ingredients
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Aubergine - 1, chopped into 1 inch chunks
Courgettes - 2, chopped into small pieces
Yellow pepper - 1, chopped
Green pepper - 1, chopped
New potatoes - 225 g, cut into cubes
Frozen peas - 60 g
Green beans - 60 g, cut into 1 inch pieces
Ground cumin - 0.25 tsp
Ground cinnamon - 0.25 tsp
Paprika - 0.5 tsp
Vegetable stock - 175 ml
Tomatoes - 2, chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 400 g can
Garlic - 2-3 cloves, finely chopped

Methods
1) Fry the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes until soft. Add the aubergine and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add the courgettes, peppers, potatoes, peas and green beans to the pan with the cumin, paprika and cinnamon. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
3) Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the vegetables in a large oven-proof dish and pour over the stock.
4) Mix together the chopped tomatoes, tomatoes and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Serves 3.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Brown lentil and vegetable soup (3 colours)


Ingredients
Brown lentils (dried) - 325 g
Water - 3 pints
Onions - 250 g (about 2 medium sized), roughly chopped
Carrots - 250 g (about 4), roughly chopped
Potatoes - 150 g (about 2), roughly chopped
Ground cumin - to taste
Lemon juice - to taste

Methods
1) Place the lentils in a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil then add the vegetables.
2) Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
3) Pour the mixture into a blender and blend to a creamy consistency (in batches if necessary). Return the soup to the pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 minute. Sprinkle with cumin and stir well.
4) Serve with toast and lemon juice to pour on the soup (this enhances the flavour). Serves 6

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Orange and cranberry muffins (2 colours)


I've finally got round to buying a muffin tin - something I've been meaning to do for several weeks. There are so many muffins I'm looking forward to making - blueberry and lime, blueberry, lemon and raspberry, raspberry and nectarine...

Thanks to Mark at cookbook for this recipe. I used frozen cranberries (defrosted) for this as we can't buy fresh ones at any time of year other than Christmas. The recipe actually makes about 15 muffins (the holes in my tin are 7cm wide by 4cm deep), so I poured the excess mixture into a small pyrex dish to make one large muffin:

Ingredients
Cranberries - 140 g
Orange juice - 175 ml
Unsalted butter - 170 g, warmed to room temperature
Granulated sugar - 170 g
finely grated rind of 1.5 oranges
Eggs - 3 large
Plain flour - 300 g
Salt - pinch
Baking powder - 3 tsp
Milk - 175 ml

Methods
1) Place the cranberries in a small pan with the orange juice and heat gently until the juice just starts to simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2) Cream the butter with the sugar and grated orange rind. Beat the eggs into the butter. Sieve the plain flour, salt and baking powder and fold in to the mixture along with the milk. Fold in the cooled cranberries and orange juice to form a batter.
3) Grease a 12 cup muffin pan. Divide the batter into 12 cups and bake in the oven at 190°C for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 12.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Lentil and cashew loaf (3 colours)

The original recipe for this suggested cooking the loaf in a slow cooker, but I cooked it in the oven. I haven't perfected the cooking time / temperature yet, so use your judgement and if in doubt try popping a skewer in to see if it comes out clean.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Celery - 2 sticks, chopped
Carrots - 4, grated
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Red pepper - 1, chopped
Red or green chilli pepper - 1/2, finely chopped
Cashew nuts (unsalted) - 1 cup, coarsely chopped
Cheddar cheese - 2 cups, grated
Green or brown lentils - 1 large (~400g) can, drained and rinsed
Eggs - 2

Methods
1) Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot add the onion and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
2) Add the carrot, garlic, red pepper and chilli pepper to the frying pan. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes, then set aside.
3) In a large bowl mix together the cashew nuts, cheese and lentils. Add the carrot mixture and stir well.
4) Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then add to the mixture. Stir well.
5) Grease a loaf tin and fill with the mixture. Cover with foil and cook for an hour at 160°C. Remove the foil and cook for another hour at 180°C. Serves 4.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Rhubarb shortcake bars (1 colour)


I got the recipe for these lovely sweet cakes from Lara Ferroni's blog. Unfortunately the rhubarb here in the UK (whether it be from the shops or from our greenhouse) is mostly green in colour rather than the lovely pink that they have elsewhere in the world. I assume that's related to the number of hours of sunshine or something similar.

The colour of the rhubarb curd turned out to be yellow rather than pink, but these still tasted delicious.

Ingredients
For the curd:
Rhubarb - 400g
Caster sugar - 1 cup
Water - 0.25 cups
Egg yolks - 6
Salt - pinch
Unsalted butter - 50 g, cut into chunks

For the shortcake:
Salt - pinch
Plain flour - 136 g
Caster sugar - 0.25 cups
Butter - 115 g at room temperature

Methods
1) Begin the curd by slicing the rhubarb into 1 cm slices. Place in a large pan with 0.25 cup sugar, stir to coat and let sit for a few minutes. Add the water and cook on a low heat until the pieces have broken up. Leave to cool to room temperature.
2) While the stewed rhubarb is cooling, preheat the oven to 175deg;C.
3) Place the butter, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. It will first become breadcumbs and finally a soft dough. Press the dough into the bottom of a small baking tin (around 6 inches by 5 inches) and leave to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
4) Bake for about 20 minutes until the shortcake is lightly golden. While the dough is baking, finish preparing the curd...
5) Whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt in a bowl over boiling water. Add the rhubarb and stir until the mixture is warm. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
6) Pour enough curd onto the crust to make a layer around 0.5 - 1 cm thick. There should be quite a bit of curd left over that will keep in the fridge for a few days. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the curd has set. Leave to cool. Once the cake is at room temperature, refrigerate for half an hour before cutting into squares. Makes around 9 squares.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Green bean and corn hash (3 colours)


This recipe is adapted slightly from Lisa's Kitchen.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Fresh green beans - 1 pack, cut into 1 inch pieces
Sweetcorn - 0.75 cup kernels (either frozen or from a can)
Potatoes - 2 large, diced
Onion - 1, chopped
Spring onions - 2, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped / crushed
Red chilli peppers - 2, finely chopped
Black beans - 0.25 cups
Chilli powder - 0.5 tsp
Dried oregano - 0.25 tsp
Sour cream and cayenne pepper for garnish

Methods
1) Soak the black beans overnight. Drain and cover them with several inches of fresh water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the beans are soft. Drain and lightly mash with a fork.
2) Place the potato pieces in a small pan of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, adding the green beans to the pan for the last couple of minutes.
3) Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Drain the potatoes and beans. Add the potatoes to the frying pan with the spring onion, onion, garlic and oregano. Stir to coat the vegetables with oil and then cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are turning golden brown.
4) Add the chilli peppers, green beans, sweetcorn and chilli powder. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
5) Mix in the black beans and cook for another minute or two until the black beans are warm. Serve with sour cream and a little cayenne pepper. Serves 3.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Pear terrine (2 colours)


Ingredients
Pears - 1.5 kg
Juice of 1 lemon
Cloves (whole) - 10
Water - 90 ml
Caster sugar - 115 g

Methods
1) Peel, core and slice the pears. Place in a large saucepan with the lemon juice, sugar, water and cloves. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the cloves and leave to cool.
2) Blend the pears and juice in a blender until smooth. Freeze in a pyrex bowl covered with cling film until firm, but not solid.
3) Spoon the pear mixture into the blender and blend again until smooth. Pour into a loaf tin lined with cling film.
4) 20 minutes before serving remove the tin from the freezer, turn out on to a plate and place in the fridge to soften. Serve on its own or with chocolate sauce. Serves 6.