Montezuma’s hash

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If you Google ‘Montezuma’ you will enter into an ancient world and boost your knowledge somewhat but it will do nothing to sate your appetite. This recipe was born out of a fancy for an easy breakfast one weekend and making the most of a few ingredients that needed a bit of love which lent themselves to a Mexican inspired dish hence the slightly obscure name (got to be creative, right?). The hash includes flavours which are sweet, spicy and savoury to create a moreish meal that will certainly set you up for the day ahead. But why stop there? It would also be perfect for a light dinner.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
1 large white potato- peeled and chopped
100g chorizo- chopped
1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cumin and paprika
1 red onion- finely sliced
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced or crushed
2 vine tomatoes- deseeded and finely chopped
1 mild green chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
2-3 eggs
1 large ripe avocado- peeled and cubed
Fresh coriander

1. Bring a medium pan of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan whilst you peel and chop the potato into chunks. Add salt to the pan and boil until the potatoes are par boiled; drain and set aside.

2. Take a large frying pan that is large enough to fit all the dish in and that has an ovenproof handle. Heat to medium high. Dry fry the chorizo before removing from the pan and setting aside for later. Toss in the potatoes and fry them in the chorizo fat until tender and coloured.

3. When the potatoes are nearly ready, add the onion, garlic, ground coriander and ground cumin to the pan; continue to cook until the onion is softened. Return the chorizo back to the pan. Stir through the tomato as well as half of the green chilli and cook for one more minute.

4. Use a spoon to create two or three wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Bake in the oven until the egg whites are set but the yolk is runny.

5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the avocado cubes so they start to slightly warm through on top of the potatoes. Scatter the fresh coriander, remaining green chilli and paprika to finish. Serve immediately.

Montezuma’s hash- a breakfast feast fit for a king!

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Asparagus, feta and mint frittata

This time of year brings the end of the asparagus season so cue me raiding the shops and markets for what’s left in an attempt to hold onto this glorious British grown vegetable. Green, white and purple- you can’t beat asparagus in all its splendour and each with different flavour profiles so you can choose your favourite.

Frittata is perfect for a light summer lunch or dinner. I have chosen to add Jersey Royal potatoes as well to add another flavour and texture so all you need to do is serve the frittata with a salad and away you go! The frittata is also brilliant the next day when chilled overnight and then served at room temperature which makes it perfect for a make ahead picnic idea.

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Ingredients- serves 4
300g new potatoes
Glug of olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
6 large eggs- lightly beaten and seasoned
200g asparagus
100g feta
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped

1. Boil a kettle of water and simmer the new potatoes for a few minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside, allowing them to cool until you can handle them. Slice them into thin rounds and place in a large bowl.

2. In a frying pan that is going to be large enough to hold the eggs, potatoes and asparagus, add a glug of oil and gently fry the shallot until softened. Depending on the size of the asparagus you have, cut them into chunks and if they are particularly thick then you can also cut these lengthways. If the asparagus is a little more woody (as it can be at the end of the season) you may like to blanch it for a minute or so before using it.

3. To the bowl with the potatoes, add the beaten eggs, asparagus and most of the feta along with the mint. Gently mix to combine and add into the pan with the shallot. Sprinkle the frittata with the remaining feta. Increase the heat to medium and cook until set. Towards the end of cooking, fire up your grill and pop the pan underneath to melt the feta until golden. Serve with a salad.

Asparagus, feta and mint frittata- a frittata fit for picnics across the land this summer!

Hot and sour chicken noodle soup

So, we all love comforting chicken soup- it’s such a classic and cures all ills. Well this is my twist on chicken noodle soup which is packed full of flavour and has taken inspiration from Chinese hot and sour soup. Hot and sour soup is exactly as it sounds- a combination of hot and sour ingredients which give a balanced finish.

I have used leftover roast chicken for this recipe and the dark meat from a chicken is best to use if you can as this is more tender and have most taste. You can also use pork, mixed vegetables or even tofu for this if you prefer. As with a lot of Asian cooking, make sure you everything prepped as it won’t take long once you get going!

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 garlic cloves- roughly chopped
1 red chilli (as hot as you dare!)- roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger- grated
Pinch of salt
100g bundle of fine rice noodles
Groundnut or vegetable oil
100g shitake mushrooms
2-3 spring onions- chopped
1 1/2 tbsp dark soy and 1 1/2 tbsp light soy
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 rice wine
1 head of pak choi- stems finely chopped and leaves shredded
2 chicken legs- cooked and meat removed from the bone
450ml good quality hot chicken stock
1 large egg- beaten

1. Start off by making the paste which forms the base of the soup. Simply grind the garlic, chilli and ginger in a pestle and mortar. Add a pinch of salt to help form the paste and set aside.

2. Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the noodles until tender- this is usually 2-3 minutes depending on the noodles you use so remember to check the packet instructions. Drain well and run under cold water; this stops the cooking process and stop them sticking together as they cool.

3. Take a large pan which is going to be able to fit the stock and chicken in. Add a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the paste for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms, spring onions and chopped stems of the pak choi. Pour in both types of soy, the rice wine vinegar and rice wine and cook for a further minute. Shred the chicken meat into smaller bite sized pieces and add to the pan; coat in the paste and sauce.

4. Next up goes the hot stock so carefully pour this into the pan; it is important that it is already hot before being added to the pan so don’t miss this out. Bring the stock to a gentle boil and leave for around 10 minutes until slightly reduced and the chicken is warmed through. Remember to taste as you go and adjust with more soy or vinegar to suit your tastes. Now for the fun bit! Hot and sour soup has egg which look like little strands of ribbon. To do this, take a chopstick and swirl the stock until a whirlpool forms. Gradually add in the whisked egg and keep the stock moving; you will see the egg cooking before your very eyes and dispersing- that’s all there is to it!

5. When you are ready to serve, divide the noodles between two deep bowls before serving the soup on top. The soup will heat the noodles again. Add the pak choi leaves to the soup at the last minute. Top with a little extra sliced chilli if you like and grab a spoon!

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai

Pad thai is a classic street food dish that can be tweaked and adapted to please even the most fussy of eaters. As long as it is packed with delicious noodles and flavours then the world is your oyster- or crab and prawn in this instance. I have also added tofu in for extra texture- if you don’t routinely use it then do give it a go! You may well be surprised. I have chosen a firm tofu here which I think is the best way to introduce yourself to the bean curd world. The key to a perfect pad thai is in the preparation. Once the you start, it happens relatively quickly so you really do need to prep everything beforehand.

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Ingredients- serves 2 hungry people
2 large eggs
4 spring onions cut on the diagonal
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 30ml boiling water
2 tbsp palm sugar
125g firm tofu cut into 2cm cubes
30g grated ginger
2 red chillies finely chopped
1 banana shallot finely sliced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
150g raw king prawns deveined and roughly chopped
100g rice noodles
100g white crabmeat
75g beansprouts
10 chives cut into 3 cm lengths
50g peanuts roughly chopped
Small handful of Thai basil and coriander finely chopped

1. Beat the eggs lightly and add a tablespoon of the fish sauce before setting aside ready for later. Read the instructions for your rice noodles at this stage as some need soaking for longer than others. Prepare according to instructions all ready for later.

2. Take the tamarind water and add the palm sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir well to ensure the sugar dissolves; if you find it has not fully dissolved you can add a splash of boiling water to help things along.

3. Place a large wok over a medium/ high heat and add 2 tsp of vegetable or groundnut oil. Add the tofu cubes, in a couple of batches if needed so as to not overcrowd the pan, and fry off until golden all over. Set aside to blot of kitchen paper.

4. Next you need to cook the garlic, chillies, ginger, shallots and spring onion until softening. You could also add a piece of finely sliced lemongrass at this stage of you like.

5. Pop in the prawns and the tamarind water to the wok and cook for a few seconds to make sure the prawns are coated. Add the noodles back into the wok and cook for a minute or so, again ensuring the strands are coated in the tamarind. Next into the wok goes the crab, bean sprouts, chive, basil, coriander and tofu. Toss gently to heat through. At this stage I then pushed the noodle mixture to one side in the wok and added the beaten eggs. Beat them in the wok until it begins to scramble and then you can mix it all the way through the rest of the noodles so the egg is well dispersed. Heat until the noodles are warm, the tofu is reheated and the prawns are a delicate blush pink.

Divide between 2 bowls and serve with a garnish of chopped peanut and you can add some roasted chilli flakes for an extra bit of spice or some extra chives if you like.

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai- a satisfyingly savoury dish that will leave you wanting more!

Summertime courgette, feta and mint tart

Courgette is now in season so make the most of it with this courgette, feta and mint tart recipe. To make this as flavourful yet light as possible I also used a little added halloumi alongside the feta but you could always use extra feta if you prefer.

This will make two 12 inch tarts or one larger one so get your apron on and get cooking! To make this as simple as possible I used readymade shortcrust pastry to save time but feel free to make your own if you fancy.

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Ingredients
Pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
4 large eggs
100g feta
30g halloumi
1 large courgette or 2 medium
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tin (or tins if making two smaller ones) and blind bake for 10 minutes. You can do this by placing a layer of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. You really do need to blind bake otherwise the base of the tart will be soggy and unappetising. After the ten minutes, I then removed the lining and baked for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Whilst that is in the oven, crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly beat; emphasis on lightly! Add in the cheese, mint and seasoning. Now comes the star of the show: the courgette. I finely sliced two thirds of the courgette and added this to the egg mixture. I then sliced the remaining courgette so this could be layered across the top of the tart when it’s assembled but you could add it all through the egg if you prefer. You could also sprinkle an extra bit of feta or halloumi over.

3. Fill each tart tin with the egg mixture and cook for around 15 minutes until the egg has set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving- nobody wants to burn their mouths on scalding egg! Serve with a salad and dig in!

Courgette, feta and mint tart- a celebration of summertime!