Archive | July, 2013

A soup is not just for winter – Deena’s emerald summer soup with Thai basil

14 Jul

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Who said that soups are for winter?Who even suggested that soups are synonymous with hibernation, runny noses or sore throats, debates about kids names on daytime TV, blankets on the sofa, cozy socks and growing heating bills? Are soups all about stoking the internal heating with heavy potatoes and creamy tomatoes?
Summer…sitting in the park, day dreaming or simply thinking.  Running your fingers through the quenched green grass with the heat on your back.  Children giggling, birds singing, ice cream melting, the breeze flirting with skirts.  All sounding a bit poetic and cliched now, but you see what I mean.
In the summer months…no wait, that’s perhaps a bit optimistic.  In the summer moments, I keep being told ‘I just want to eat something light and tasty’.  I have to say, I feel the same.  Picking is far more fun in the sun, partly because it leaves room for lollies and ice cream.  I’m sharing with you a recipe that is full of the seasonal emerald edibles and tastes light and healthy…bloated tummies are no fun in any season.
I’ve been working on spring time recipes for some of the magazines and I’ve picked one of the recipes and given it a summery make over.  It’s another easy recipe that requires just one pot, so more time to spend outdoors having fun! This recipe comes with a warning…I love lashings and lashings of this soup and I’m sure you will too.  Just watch that white t-shirt, don’t go out with the evidence of this soup splattered over you will you.
Ingredients
1.5litres of vegetable stock
One large red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
100g broccoli cut into small florets
One courgette diced into bite sized pieces
100g leek, cut into bite sized pieces
50-75g spring onions
75g petit pois
125g Capelli d’angelo (angel hair pasta)
2-3tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Thai basil paste
1. Mince together the chilli and garlic
2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and then add the garlic and chilli paste and fry them for a minute before adding add the vegetables.  Mix well before adding vegetable stock.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then cook for 3-4 minutes
3. Add the Thai basil paste and the pasta and cook for a further 4minutes.
4.  Add any seasoning if you wish, but only after tasting.  I didn’t add anything as the stock contains salt.
Cooks note: I bought the Thai basil paste for Sainsburys, it’s their own product.
Aside

Coconut yoghurt, lychee and almond lollies

8 Jul

Coconut yoghurt, lychee and almond ice lollies

Did you ever, as a child, storm into the kitchen popping with excitement and surprise belting, ‘mum, dad, there’s an indian on the TV!”
And did they rush towards the TV to witness the novelty themselves? Go on, admit it…even if you are not of indian descent, it was such a rarity and perhaps even quite extraordinary. In those days we didn’t have Bollywood TV channels either, so there was always an absorbing reason for seeing an indian other than Madhur Jaffrey on the the screen.
Oh and do you remember the early days of those unsubdued and colourful Rubicon adverts…I hasten to describe them as ‘exotic’ but yeah..all that singing and dancing and falling, thirst quenching fruits of the almost unknown. Maybe the fruits were rather unknown back then…were Guava, lychees and passion fruits as widely available?
I remember, many years ago,  there being a lot of fuss about a shop near my folks that was, allegedly selling exotic ice creams.  Imagine.  amongst the favours were rose, pistachio, mango and coconut.  Even better, I heard that they were flecked with cardamom and cinnamon, even saffron! Well.  I never visited so I don’t know if the rumours were true.  This was all before the days of these flavours being readily available in supermarkets, but I do remember thinking…why don’t they just make it themselves?
It is with these entertaining memories in mind, that I share wit you my exotic recipe of lychee and coconut yoghurt ice lollies.  Easy peasy, just chuck a few ingredients in a bowl, stir and spoon into lolly moulds without eating it all.  Perfectly easy and delightful for gorgeous sunny, happy days.
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Ingredients for 6-8 lollies
450g coconut yoghurt
2tbsp sugar, or to taste
3quarters of a 450g tin of lychees
Half the syrup from the tin of lychees
2tbsp finely chopped almonds
Method
1. Coarsely blend the lychees and pour them into a pan for heating.  Add the syrup and add the sugar. The sugar takes the edge off any sourness in the lychees and you can moderate the amount of sugar you like.  Just simmer and stir for a couple of minutes, don’t eat the lychees brown.
2.  Let the lychees cool and in the meantime scoop the coconut yoghurt int a bowl and mix in the nuts.  When the lychees are cool, mix them.
3. Pour the mixture into ice lolly moulds and freeze over night.

Smoky courgette ribboned quesadilla

2 Jul

ImageImageSmoky courgette ribboned quesadilla

I haven’t got time to cook. That’s what a lot of us say isn’t it?
Too tired, too busy, too active, too much work, too much kiddy mayhem, too fat so need to go the gym, too single so what’s the point, too expensive so what’s the point, too boring, too hot outside, too cold outside, too reliant on my mum…what have i missed?
I have to agree…kind of. The other day for example, I made onion and spinach bhajia for breakfast because my 16month old refused to eat anything else.  For lunch I made us mixed veg in dhal with rice and for dinner my little indian villager had a spinach, pepper and cheese dosa whilst the grown ups had full on salad with my beloved chargrilled artichokes amongst other gems like gentle mozzarella, sweet plum tomatoes and roasted red peppers.
Now, I love cooking..but if you team that up with the cleaning up that results, I could really have more time on my side.  Lets remember that the clearing up includes food chucked about and squashed into the highchair.
There is this kind of romantic and augmented nostalgia that repeats in the summers of my mind, you know the one where you’ve been running in and out of the kitchen for what seems like hours as a child..playing various ball games or hide and seek…and the whole time there’s something gorgeous smelling, bubbling away at the cooker or there’s some kind of chaos on the table that looks colourful and utterly edible.  Bits of cauliflower fall on he floor, grated carrots spread and flecks of turmeric threaten immediate stains.
But of course, that’s all too knackering.  I want to call our infrequent cleaner whilst just thinking about it. So here is a minimal cooking recipe.  It’s brilliant because courgette ribbons taste best when they are practically raw.  The spices are simple and few. The taste is, well delectably ‘ pow’.  I don’t even like that word, but you know what I mean.  These quesadilla taste smoky, spicy and crunchy..good huh? Not much to do really…have a go.
Ingredients for 4-5 quesadilla
2 courgettes with the skin peeled and then use the peeler to make ribbons
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt to taste
A generous squeeze of lemon
One red onion, slices
1 tsp cumin seeds
Chipotle paste.  I’ve used 2 tsp because, of course, I like it hot.
4 handfuls of grated cheese
4-5 plain flour tortilla
Method
1. Heat a 3 tbsp of oil add the cumin seeds allow them to sizzle before adding the onion to shallow fry until the onion browns.
2. Add salt to taste, the paprika, garlic and lemon juice and stir well.
3. Add the courgette and chipotle paste and stir and cook for 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat.
4. Spread a thin layer of oil onto a non stick frying pan. Take a plain flour tortilla and on one half spread some cheese, then a 3-4 tbsp of the courgette mixture, then some cheese again.  Fold the tortilla in half and then place onto the pan.  Cook for a few minutes and gentle lift it with a spatula to see if it has Browned.   Once browned, gently turn it over and brown the other side before removing from the heat.
See, told you it is easy.
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