Panzanella with burrata

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From time to time most households have leftover bread that it heading past its best but there’s no need to waste it- that’s where panzanella comes in! Panzanella is a traditional Italian tomato and bread salad that’s full of fresh, seasonal flavours. There is no one panzanella recipe so this is my take on it. I included fried capers to give an added dimension and texture. Anchovies are also added to ramp up the savouriness but you can omit these if you prefer. Fried artichoke is also a welcome addition but not at all traditional however it adds a wonderful earthiness.

For the perfect panzanella the tomatoes you choose are important as you want the freshest available. I have used a combination of smaller heirloom varieties which have become easier to find and add a range of colour. Panzanella makes a great light lunch or it can also be served with simple grilled meats for a more substantial meal. if you have any leftovers, you can simply baked the remaining pieces of bread on a tray in the oven until crisped and then serve with the salad- delicious!

Ingredients- serves 4
200g open textured bread such as sourdough or ciabatta
30g parmesan
500g assorted tomatoes- chopped
1 red onion- sliced
1 small fresh red and 1 yellow pepper- finely sliced
Sliced artichoke hearts
6-8 anchovy fillets- finely chopped
2 tbsp capers- drained
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt
2 balls of burrata
Fresh basil

1. Take your bread of choice and roughly tear it into pieces. Place on a tray and leave for around 20-30 minutes to help dry it out a little if it still relatively fresh; if not place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and finely grate over from parmesan cheese; cook in a low oven until golden. Meanwhile pop the chopped tomatoes, peppers and onion in a colander with a bowl underneath and add salt and pepper. Leave to sit for half an hour so it draws some moisture out of the tomatoes and softens the peppers.

2. Take a small frying pan and add a small amount of oil over a medium heat. Fry the artichoke slices until golden and crisp; remove from the pan and pop in the capers and anchovy and fry until crispy. Tip the bread, tomatoes and onion into a bowl along with the peppers, anchovies and capers. Drizzle over the vinegar and oil; taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Finish with some freshly torn basil. Tear open each ball of burrata and serve.

 

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Lime, coriander and mint paneer with spiced chickpeas

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When the mood strikes, there is nothing quite like a hearty curry, but, with the weather hopefully on the up, sometimes you want a lighter version of your favourites so if this is the case then this is the dish for you. The idea behind this is that the chickpeas are coated in a sauce that doesn’t weigh it down so you can taste and appreciate all the ingredients. Paneer lends itself to pairing with a range of Indian flavours and I have kept this paneer fresh with herbs and the zing of lime.

If you can’t find garlic and ginger paste then substitute it with a garlic clove and a freshly grated piece of ginger. The paste is available in all good Asian supermarkets and is well worth buying if you come across it as it can be used in a wide range of recipes and takes the time out of having to make your own. There will be leftover toasted lentils but fear not; they are delicious sprinkled over salads or as a snack by themselves and will keep for several days if covered over.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the paneer
Block of paneer- cut into bite sized cubes
1 tbsp cornflour
1 small bunch of fresh coriander- finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh mint- finely chopped
60ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp salt

For the chickpeas and curry
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 red bell pepper- chopped
1 yellow bell pepper- chopped
1 small aubergine- chopped
1 sweet potato- peeled and chopped
1 can of chickpeas- drained and rinsed well
2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
Salt to taste

For the crunchy lentils
Can of green lentils in water- drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
Crushed chilli flakes- to taste

1.I started by toasting the lentils and chickpeas first so I could then concentrate on the other elements of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan; pat the lentils as dry as you can after draining them, place them on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Add the salt, garlic powder and chilli flakes and toss to coat the lentils. Place in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until crunchy; you can move them around on the baking tray halfway during cooking if needed to ensure they are evenly toasted.

2. As the lentils are cooking, place the chickpeas in a deep roasting tray and add half of each of the spiced listed apart from the garam masala. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 15 minutes at the same time as the lentils until they have started to gain some colour. Remove the chickpeas and lentils from the oven when they are ready and set aside.

3. To make the curry base, add a glug of olive oil a wide bottomed pan that is large enough to hold the curry in its entirety. Over a low heat, gently cook the red onion until softened and starting to turn golden; add the tomato puree and cook this out for another minute. Add the remaining spices apart from the garam masala and the ginger and garlic paste as well as approx. 200mls of water; stir to form a paste. Add in the vegetables and chickpeas and simmer until the sauce lightly coats them; if it gets a little too dry then add another splash of water or two.

4. For the paneer, mix together all the ingredients listed under the paneer section of the ingredients list; taste and adjust seasoning and/ or the lime juice to taste if needed. Toss the paneer cubes in a tablespoon of cornflour. Add a good glug of oil to a non- stick frying pan and add the paneer; fry over a medium heat until the cubes are golden and crunchy. Remove using a slotted spoon and blot any excess oil using kitchen paper. Add the paneer cubes into the mint, coriander and lime dressing and toss well to coat.

5. To assemble the final dish simple choose a large serving dish and spoon the chickpea curry onto it. Top this with the herby paneer and finish with a liberal sprinkling of the crunchy lentils. Add extra fresh mint and coriander if you like and serve.

Lime, coriander and mint paneer and spiced chickpeas- a lighter take on a curry for the summer!

Spicy beef noodle salad

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If you’re looking for a noodle salad recipe to take you through summer and beyond then look no further! In the recent warm weather that we have had here in the UK this noodle salad was perfect for a light but filling dinner. I have used beef here however feel free to play around with the ingredients as prawn, chicken or even crispy tofu would also be delicious here. The dressing can be made in advance to allow the flavours to develop if you have the time; simply make it, cool it and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Ingredients- serves 3-4
For the dressing:

1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp fresh ginger- grated
2 garlic cloves- grated
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp galangal paste
Juice of a small lime

For the rest:
Thick cut rump steak- approx. 400g
2 nests of vermicelli rice noodles
Handful of unsalted peanuts- toasted in a dry pan
Bag of beansprouts
1 large carrot- ribboned or grated
Bag of radishes- finely sliced
Fresh coriander- roughly chopped
Fresh mint- roughly chopped

1.Start off by making the dressing; simply combine all the listed ingredients for the dressing and stir well. Place in a pan over a low heat and simmer until thickened; remove from the heat and set aside. Remember to taste the sauce to ensure that it is to your liking and then adjust if needed.

2. Soak the noodles as per the packet instructions; drain well and use scissors to randomly cut the noodles so they are easier to eat in the salad.

3. Heat a frying pan to high ready for the steak. Season the steak and cook to your liking. Remove the steak and rest for the same amount of time that it was cooked for. Use a sharp knife and thinly slice the steak.

4. Take a large bowl and combine the noodles with the carrot, beansprouts, radishes and the dressing. Add the sliced steak, peanuts and fresh herbs and toss well. Serve on a large platter, if you like.

Sweet potato, spinach and chorizo hash

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Let’s face it- who doesn’t love a good breakfast to start the day?! Well if this sounds familiar then this is the breakfast for you! This hash is absolutely packed with flavour and can easily be made for one, two or even a group; it also makes the most of ingredients that a lot of people will have in their fridge. In my mind, all good breakfasts involve an egg with a golden, runny yolk. Here I have chosen to bake the egg into the hash but feel free to serve it with a poached egg perched atop the hash if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2
Olive oil
1 decent sized sweet potato- peeled and cubed
1/2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
100g chorizo- chopped
1 red onion- peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced
1 small red pepper- finely sliced
Small bag of baby spinach- washed and shredded
1 red or green chilli
Fresh coriander- roughly chopped
2 eggs

1.Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Start off by deciding if you want to make individual hashes or one larger one and choose smaller pans or one big one. Heat a good glug of oil in the pan and add in the sweet potato chunks. Sprinkle over the ground spices and fry for a few minutes until the potato is softening and starting to turn golden.

2.Add in the chorizo, garlic, onion, red pepper and chilli;  continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the shredded spinach and combine to ensure that it is distributed evenly and starting to wilt.

3. Use the back of a spoon to create a well for each of the eggs to sit in. Carefully crack each egg into a hole and back for around 10 minutes until the egg white has set and the yolk remains runny. Serve immediately with a liberal sprinkling of the chopped coriander.

Sweet potato, spinach and chorizo hash- now this is the way to kick off the day!

 

Greek style chicken tray bake

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If there’s one thing that is always welcome in the kitchen, it’s a one pan, no fuss recipe! Tray bakes come in handy when time is short and lend themselves to midweek meals so you can be sure to have something on the table with minimal washing up. This Greek style chicken tray bake makes the most of simple ingredients and uses a straightforward dressing so you really don’t have to put much thought into cooking so get chopping, set the timer and wait to dive in!

Ingredients- serves 4
8 chicken thighs- skin left on
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
4 large potatoes- peeled and diced
1 large red and 1 large yellow pepper- diced
Handful of baby aubergines- diced
1 large red onion- diced
Handful of Kalamata olives
200g baby plum tomatoes
150g feta
2 tbsp dried oregano
Chilli flakes- to taste
1 lemon- sliced

1.Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan whilst you make sure that all the ingredients are prepped and ready to go as this really is a speedy meal to assemble once you get going. Take the chicken portions and coat in the honey and 1 tbsp of the olive oil.

2. Place all the remaining ingredients other than the feta in a deep baking tray and toss together. Arrange the lemon slices over the top. Pop the coated chicken pieces on top and cook in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender to a knife point. You will know when the chicken is ready when it is golden skinned and the juices are running clear- it will depend on the size of the chicken thighs but around 30 minutes is usual. When the chicken is nearly ready, sprinkle over the feta and put back in the oven for a couple of minutes to soften and warm. Serve immediately with a salad if you like.

Greek style chicken tray bake- if you’re after a speedy but flavoursome dinner then this is for you!

 

Blue cheese, pancetta and sprout pasta bakes

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The festive season may well and truly be over but that doesn’t mean that sprouts need to be forgotten about until December. They are still in season and can continue to be enjoyed (honestly, they are a wonderful vegetable!) and they lend themselves to a range of simple dishes so banish any thoughts of them being boiled beyond recognition and get in the kitchen. This recipe is also perfect for using up any leftover blue cheese from your cheeseboard that may have been relegated to the back of your fridge. I used blacksticks blue cheese but use whatever you fancy as the flavour of sprouts can stand up to a variety of cheeses.

Ingredients- serves 4
250g Brussel sprouts- cleaned and shredded
1 onion- finely chopped
100g cubed smoked pancetta
40g plain flour
40g unsalted butter
250ml double cream
250ml milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
150g blue cheese of your choice
70g parmesan- grated
Panko breadcrumbs
400g pasta of your choice

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take a large frying pan and heat a small glug of oil. Gently fry the shredded sprouts and onion until they start to soften and then add the pancetta cubes so they have time to begin to turn golden. Remove from the heat whilst you make the cheese sauce. Cook your chosen pasta shapes as per the instructions and, when al dente, drain well.

2. In a suitable pan, melt the butter and flour together to form a roux. Slowly add in the milk and cream whilst you stir all the while to avoid any lumps from forming. Simmer until thickened and then add in the mustard and stir well to ensure it is combined. Take the sauce off the heat and add the blue cheese and majority of the parmesan, reserving some for the topping.

3. Tip the sprout mixture into the sauce and make sure it is evenly distributed throughout the sauce. Add in the drained pasta and place in one large ovenproof baking dish or four individual ones. Combine the remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs and top the pasta. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve by itself or with a simple side salad.

Blue cheese, pancetta and sprout bakes- sprouts are for life, not just for Christmas!

 

Kimchi jigae noodle stew

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Jigae may be something that is brand new in your culinary vocabulary or, indeed, you may be well versed with it; regardless it is certainly a meal that you need to become more familiar with as it is simple, fast and a definite winter warmer. Jigae, to all intents and purposes, is a Korean stew that uses kimchi as the base along with pork and/ or tofu typically. To make even heartier I have added some instant ramen noodles but feel free to leave this out if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
3 slices of pork belly
1 tbsp rice wine
Pinch of white sugar
200g kimchi
200g firm tofu- patted dry and cut into bite sized pieces
Shiitake mushrooms- cleaned and sliced
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp gochugaru
1 tbsp. gochujang
1 tbsp dark soy
Baby pak choi- shredded
Spring onions- sliced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
200g instant ramen noodles

1.Start a little ahead of time in order to prepare the pork. Simple cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and marinade in the rice wine; season well with pepper and set aside for half an hour.

2. When the pork’s time is up, choose a heavy based, large pan that will be big enough to fit everything in. Add a glug of unflavoured oil and heat to medium; add the pork belly bites and cook until turning golden and starting to caramelise.

3. Add the kimchi and tofu into the pan with the pork and carefully combine; continue to cook for a couple of minutes along with the mushrooms. Up next goes all the remaining ingredients other than the spring onion and pak choi. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes; taste and adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more gochujang, soy and/ or sesame oil. For the last two minutes of cooking, sprinkle in the onion and pak choi and add the instant ramen noodles; it’s ready when the onion and pak choi is tender. Serve immediately.

Kimchi jigae noodle stew- a new dish to add to your repertoire and perfect after festive excess!