Pea, Peach and Goats Cheese Salad

Peach, Courgette and Goats Cheese Salad

After remembering to take my cookbook home with me yesterday, I chose to make this very simple but incredibly tasty salad from Hemsley & Hemsley’s cookbook ‘The Art of Eating Well’. Not sure why the courgettes don’t get a mention in the recipe title – there are more of them than any other ingredient.

We took our daily walk to the supermarket, bought all the ingredients (of which there are very few) and I knocked this up in maybe 15 minutes.

Good quality ingredients are essential in dishes like this and – although the peaches weren’t as amazing as the ones we bought at Borough Market at the weekend – a slightly more juicy and sweet peach would have really lifted this dish. I guess the trick would be to go to a greengrocer and try them until you find the ones you want. I doubt the grocer would approve however!

The only cooking in this is to lightly caramelise some courgettes with a little ghee. The rest is all raw and simple construction.

While your courgettes are caramelising tear some lettuce into a bowl, add podded peas, cut peaches, sliced red onion and some soft goats cheese. Add the courgettes when they are done. Finally dress with some olive oil and balsamic – and season.

Very simple dish. And very adaptable. You could add shaved parmesan instead of goats cheese, add different fruits – the skies the limit.

Peach, Courgette and Goats Cheese Salad

I must admit I didn’t think I’d be fulfilled when it was ready. But two bowls of salad later and I was certainly satisfied. Another very quick and easy dish that you can add to your repertoire.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

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First rule of cooking things from a recipe book is to remember not to leave the cookery book on your desk at work! Oh well. Hemsley Hemsley will have to wait until tomorrow.

Another impromptu dish then is this Chickpea and Sweet Potato stew which I’ve grabbed from the ladies at Honestly Healthy. This is from their first book and I chose it because I already had all the ingredients in the cupboard (apart from the aubergine which I popped out and bought).

This is a pretty basic stew. And it kind of looks after itself once you’ve done all the prep.

Quite simply this is sliced red onion and garlic softened, with some diced sweet potato, quartered vine tomatoes and a little water which you cook for a while until it starts to break down and the sauce starts to thicken. Oh – during this stage you also add some cumin, cayenne, a red chilli and some bay leaves.

You then add a couple of tins of chick peas, some diced aubergine, some more water and let it cook for around 30 minutes.

At the recipe’s suggestion – and because I quite fancied having enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, I cooked some brown rice to accompany the stew.

Once your stew is ready, stir in some chopped coriander and serve with the rice.

We quite liked this although it did feel like it was missing something. That something was something unhealthy (obviously) because when you look at the ingredients this couldn’t be any lower in fat. I tasted like a low fat meal.

Also, don’t eat low fat food when you are watching 22 contestants making desserts on Australian Masterchef. You’re just going to feel like you’re missing out on something!.

Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips

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Now here’s a wonderful find. I don’t think I’d have been drawn to these if it weren’t for the really good photo that accompanied the recipe in ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ by Maria Ella. Basically the chips were arranged in a kind of Jenga tower and they looked very impressive. As you can see I didn’t copy that presentation!

I’ve decided that keeping a packet of polenta in the cupboard is a good thing! I’ve only ever made one thing with polenta – Polenta and Sage Pizza¬†– but this is far cooler. I think I could even convince my six year old daughter to eat these – she’d never know they weren’t potatoes.

Making these is pretty easy – but not necessarily quick. There’s not a lot of cooking time – just a lot of waiting time for things to cool.

Firstly you dice some butternut squash very small and boil it with some rosemary. Then you add polenta – and when it thickens you pour it out into a greased tray (or one lined with parchment) and allow it to cool. You really need to season polenta well as it is broadly tasteless. I pressed a load of sea salt and pepper into the top of my slab.

When it is cool enough to put it in the fridge, do so – or do what I did and whack it in the freezer. As you all know by now I eat at stupid o’clock most evenings – we ate these past 10pm again – so the freezer was the quickest way to get this nice and solid.

Once it’s set – turn it out. It’ll look like this:

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Cut it into chip sized errr chips, dust them lightly in plain flour and fry them.

I did mine in two different ways – in a halogen oven – and in a frying pan. It’s pretty hard to take a picture of the excitement inside a halogen oven – so here’s a picture of a frying pan!

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I have to say the crispier chips came from the halogen oven. And they stayed hotter for a lot longer.

Once they are nice and golden and done, take them out and roll them in some very finely grated parmesan cheese. If you have one of those fancy microplanes like I do this really does the trick beautifully.

I served Freya’s chips with mayonnaise and my own with ketchup. I think mayonnaise was the better option!

The book suggests swapping out the butternut squash for either peas or sweetcorn. Both of which I plan to try. I have to say I couldn’t taste the butternut squash, nor the rosemary. I think it would be better not to add the rosemary to the butternut squash when you are boiling it – I just think it ruins the herbs. It might be better to add it in when you are stirring the polenta – just to keep it fresher!

I really liked these – I could eat a bowl of these anytime – even if they are really just a side. The slab was big – so we had these again the next day as a ‘starter’ while I cooked up our next dinner!

Spicy Carrot Salad

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One thing I really struggle with is taking photographs of Orange food with an iPhone. All the pictures on this site are taken with my iPhone – and nearly all of them look acceptable – apart from the orange and really purple things. No idea why! Anyway – apologies for the photos of this dish!

On Thursday we got home a little too late and all I could think of making in a short span of time was this. Another dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book.

This is essentially some steamed carrots mixed with some spices. Very simple but very tasty. Another dish I made in less than 30 minutes !

While the carrots are steaming (or boiling as it says in the book) you fry some onions with some harissa, cumin and caraway seeds. Once the carrots are done you slice them, add them to the onion and spices, with some cider vinegar and sugar.

Then you just serve them with some rocket. It is recommended that you leave this dish for a while for the flavours of the onion and spice mix to infuse into the carrots.

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It doesn’t get simpler than that really. In reality this is just a side dish – but given the time of day this ended up being our main meal. Typically this would be a meze dish and as Ottolenghi says you could experiment and substitute the carrots for either pumpkin or butternut squash.

The recipe calls for Pilpelchuma (or Filfel chuma if you are searching wiki) – which is very similar to harissa anyway – although it is implied it might be a little more spicy. There’s a recipe later in the book to make it yourself but I just didn’t have the time – maybe some other time!

Freya thought this was too spicy. I really liked it.

One thing I’d change is to lightly crush the carrots. I don’t like the appearance of carrots when they are just sliced – reminds me of Sunday Roasts and school dinners – they look a bit primitive this way – whereas the crushed look is far more trendy and visually appealing.

Green Pancakes and the East End Gangster Cookery Show

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There’s a woman from the US who has a cookery show. We think she’s a fake – acting as an Italian gangster’s wife and she cooks everything in character. Her name is Nadia G. and her show is called Bitchin’ Kitchen. Hopefully it’s all tongue in cheek – I’ve never really watched it – but it got Freya to thinking; maybe I should record some YouTube videos and cook in the style of Bob Hoskins or another East End Gangster. She’s often mocking my accent – being born in Ilford there’s still a bit of Cock-er-knee in there sometimes!

You could imagine it couldn’t you – ‘ere we ave some nice apples and pears with a raspberry veloute – blindin’.

She seems quite keen for me to do it. Not sure I could keep a straight face! We shall see.

Anyway – this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.

I like making this kind of pancake – and Ottolenghi has many variations on a style. I’ve made them with Sweet Potato and I think also with sweetcorn – and these with Spinach are equally nice.

The pancakes are quite small – and you can make lots of them – so you have enough to eat for now and snacks or seconds for later.

Essentially its just a pancake batter with spices – and then some cooked, squeezed and shredded spinach is added before frying them in olive oil. You’re supposed to use self raising flour but I didn’t have any – so I added 2 tablespoons of baking powder. You also fold in a ‘beaten to soft peaks egg white’ which made the pancakes quite fluffy.

I made the mistake of buying Natoora Spinach from Ocado. I usually just buy the baby spinach from Ocado, but Natoora do some amazing pomegranates, lemons and tomatoes – so I thought I’d give their spinach a go. Unfortunately, from a 400g bag of their spinach I only ended up with 200g after removing all the stalks. It was very stalky indeed !

I fried these two at a time in an omelette pan and ended up with 12 pancakes – perfect to stack in a pile of three – it doesn’t look like there is much spinach in them – but there is and you can certainly taste it.

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That said – when I make them again I’ll probably add even more spinach to them.

You eat these with a chilli and lime butter – which you make by creaming some butter, adding lime, coriander and chilli and then resetting it in the fridge in a sausage of cling film.

These are really nice. We had three each before going out to the Goth Club ‘Electrowerx’ in London to listen to Ivardensphere. And another three each when we got home at 1 in the morning. Yummy!

 

Raw Green Curry with Courgette Noodles

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Been wanting to make this one all week!

You really need a high speed blender to make this one. Otherwise you’re not going to be able to make the sauce smooth enough. I already tried with my Magimix and it was way too lumpy (something I also found with the Hot Chocolate). Magimix’s aren’t made for pureeing nuts! Fortunately Freya’s mum had a Vitamix I could borrow – so I went and did that.

To my delight she also had a birthday present for me. A voucher to eat at ‘Terre a Terre‘ in Brighton. Allegedly the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK. Freya has been wanting to eat there for quite some time – so I wonder where that idea came from !

You’ll also need a Spiraliser. Essentially a spiraliser makes spirals out of vegetables. I’ve got a cheap one that I bought from Amazon – which was apparently essential for making anything from the cookery book ‘Raw’ – which I have yet to make anything from.

I supposed you could julienne the courgettes but then they wouldn’t look like noodles. Obviously it would still taste the same!

Anyway – back to the recipe. You blitz cashews, coriander, fresh curry leaves, garlic, red chilli, lime juice, ginger and coconut milk (and some other herbs and spices) until you get a smooth paste. It goes a lovely avocado green colour.

You add this paste to your spiralised courgettes, beansprouts, mange tout, sugar snap peas, baby sweetcorn and sliced red peppers, mix it all together and serve it with a few cashews on top for decoration.

This dish is incredibly tasty. And crunchy. And fresh. And very very mild. Barely a curry at all.

You’d be convinced there were avocados in there too – but I think that’s just the mind tricking you because of the colour of the sauce.

I think if I were making this again I’d want to make it more spicy. This is certainly the mildest curry I’ve every eaten. Maybe more ginger or more red chilli would have done the trick.

It did feel like something was lacking. I just don’t know what it was. I loved it though. I’ve just been spoiled by the Honestly Healthy for Life book this week –¬†from which this recipe is taken.

Herby Omelette Thingies

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Funny name for this granted – its kind of an omelette, kind of a frittata.

I knocked this up on Monday when Freya said she was hungry and it was way too late to eat. The cupboards were pretty bare but I knew I had the ingredients for this and it was very quick and easy to make.

I’m not convinced the recipe in the book is the smartest way to make this. Basically, you fry some herbs in butter/oil and after a short while you pour a batter of eggs, flour and baking powder over the top and cook on low for 10 mins until the eggs set.

The problem with this is the herbs will burn. They get trapped under the eggs – get all the direct heat and lose all their flavour and don’t look at all appetising. The herbs lost a lot of their flavour too.

The picture I’ve taken with this was my take on the same dish. I can’t see the point of frying fresh herbs – so I make the recipe differently as follows:

  • Crack 3 eggs into a Magimix
  • Chop a bunch of mint into a Magimix
  • Add a cup of frozen peas into a Magimix
  • Add 10ml Plain flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder to a Magimix
  • Season
  • Turn on the Magimix for 5 seconds
  • Pour the omelette mixture into a medium heated pan
  • Cook on a low heat for 10 mins
  • Either flip it and cook for a couple of minutes more – or slide under a grill
  • Serve

That was a much better solution as the herbs retained their flavour and nothing looked burnt.

For added awesomeness – add cubes feta cheese – that really does make an awesome snack.