Carrot, Parsnip and Apple Latkes with a Cucumber Ribbon Salad


I haven’t cooked anything new for a while. We’ve been running down our fridge as we spent several days at Freya’s and my Mums and didn’t want anything to go bad. Freya has been reupholstering our sofa and it needs lots of space – one thing we don’t have on the boat.

These Latkes are from a new book I have called Mildred’s. Mildred’s is a vegetarian restaurant in Soho and this book has some pretty amazing recipes.

This is the first thing I’ve made from the book so it’s too early for me to give it the big thumbs up – but I have a shortlist of many dishes so watch this space.

I picked this out as it seemed light and was just the ticket for a hot summery day.

It’s pretty simple. Grate carrots, parsnips and apple into a bowl. Add coriander, cumin, chilli powder, fresh ginger, polenta, flour and egg and combine.

Then just fry the latkes in batches.

I did struggle a bit with these. They weren’t keen on staying together at the beginning and I had mixed results throughout the cook.

The salad was simply a cucumber cut into ribbons with one of those wide vegetable peelers and then mixed with chopped green chilli, lime zest, lime juice and spring onions.

The combination of the two was quite excellent. The cucumber neutralises the kick of the ginger and the chilli powder.

Certainly one to make again. I was planning on making some courgette and haloumi fritters after I’d made these but they were more than filling enough.

I’ll do those tonight!

Gluten free Quinoa Tabbouleh

Wednesday night saw us being really naughty and eating a burger in The Railway – a JD Wetherspoons in Putney.  Freya was meeting someone so I waited in the pub patiently with a pretty good pint of Devils Backbone American IPA. Tough as it was I managed.
Today was time to rebalance the scales and have a much lower calorie dinner – just to put us back on track with the diet.

This dish comes from a new cookbook that I only received today – The Superfood Diet by Gurpareet Bains. He has previously published Indian Superfood and it is a great book too so I knew I’d made a good choice.

It’s the first of two dishes we ate today. Both are very low in calories and both very very easy and tasty and good for you.

The only thing you cook in this dish is the Quinoa – unless you fancy cooking your own Puy Lentils. I never do; the precooked stuff from Merchant Gourmet is spot on for this kind of thing – especially given you serve the dish cold. If you cook the lentils you’ll have to cool them!

To the cooked and cooled Quinoa you add Puy Lentils, fresh petite pois, fresh broad beans, a red onion, a spring onion, parsley and mint and mix it all together.

The recipe says you can use frozen peas and broad beans and this will soon be a necessity as the fresh variety will be hard to come by soon.

To the mix you add a really simple dressing of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. I added lots of lemon juice and all the bits still left over – segment skins and all. It made the dressing super lemony.

Finally, stir the dressing into the Tabbouleh and chill for an hour to let the lemons infuse into the salad.

This salad is amazing. So tasty, crunchy, lemony and herby. Really great salad.

We are having a BBQ at the weekend and if we do I’ll certainly make this again as a side.

For my Tabbouleh I used mixed Quinoa which had red, black and white Quinoa combined. Regular quinoa can get a little too fluffy and looks a bit plain on the plate. The mixed quinoa cooks at different rates and you get some interesting textures; it looks prettier too.

Loved this. Will definitely make it again.

Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa and Tomato Sauce & Coriander

Baked Eggs with Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander

Another amazing dish from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. We had this before we went to Morocco; part of a week where we thought we’d try out the types of food we were likely to eat while we were on holiday. Sadly stuff like this was nowhere to be found.

It’s an incredibly tasty dish and, although it is supposedly what people eat for breakfast, it was a main meal for us. I should knock one of these up the morning before our next Monopoly Board Pub Crawl (we are well over half way !).

Our local Syrian supermarket has fresh feta. Its far superior to the stuff you get in packets, much smoother and it matures if you keep it a couple of days. We buy it a lot and it often ends up in this recipe (as well as the pistachio dip) – I’ve made them both many times.

It’s very simple to make but does take a while if you want your sauce to be rich and your eggs well baked.

The sauce isn’t unlike most tomato based curry sauces. You fry some red onions, add lots of garlic, stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and then the harissa paste. Once the onions are well coated add both tinned and fresh tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Very simple.

Pour this sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and break chunks of feta into the sauce, and stir in lots of coriander.

Then make four wells in the sauce, crack eggs into the wells, season with pepper and bake in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

I like recipes like this because you don’t have to paw over them for ages. It can be a one pot creation if you start your sauce in the right dish. First time round I doubled my washing up by not planning properly.

The recipe recommends eating this with flatbreads, which we did. Mopping up that awesome tomato sauce was very satisfying.

Beetroot Buckwheat Risotto

Beetroot Buckwheat Risotto

Where are all the Deliciously Ella recipes I hear you ask. Well – I have been making them – I just haven’t blogged them yet.

This book is a tricky one for me. As are all the dishes I have made so far. The book is effectively a collection of blogged recipes from a lady that needed to change her eating habits to overcome illness. As a consequence Ella has had to cut out lots of good stuff.

I admire her for producing a whole book with the limited ingredients she has at hand but for me I am struggling with the lack of punch or pizzazz that I like to get from the things that I make.

Obviously this is going to put me in the doghouse with many people (especially those that love this book) but it isn’t working for me.

This risotto really isn’t a risotto at all – even though it looks like one. If you follow the recipe to the letter it isn’t particularly tasty either. I found it quite bland. I pepped mine up with a squeeze of lime. I think some coriander and some creme fraiche might be a good addition too!

To make it you roast some beetroots skin on, peel them once they are soft and blitz them in a food processor with coconut milk, lemon juice and seasoning.

While the beetroot is roasting, cook the buckwheat until it is al-dente. Then combine the two ingredients and serve.

It’s very easy to make and I absolutely guarantee it is good for you – just looking at the ingredients will tell you this – but for me there just isn’t enough flavour.

I’ve made four or five things from this book now and the same issue exists with all of them. My tastebuds just want more – so I usually add something else to liven it up.

That said Freya says she feels much better, less bloated and generally healthier this week – so this does seem to be having an effect.

My experience in the past is that low fat or diet books (not that this is really either of those) tend to cut out so much that the food is dull. You just know it’s low fat and it leaves you wanting. Not that this should be a problem for most – it just doesn’t float my boat.

One thing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Hemsley and Hemsley and the Honestly Healthy girls achieved is both the light and health without sacrificing the great flavours and textures. For me this book falls down in this area.

Don’t let that put you off. One man’s meat is another mans poison!

Chickpea salad with avocado mayo

Chickpea Salad with Avocado Mayo

Friday lunches are a bit hit and miss. Usually because Thursday night is Film Club at work and we don’t tend to get home until quite late. This week we watched ‘Cube’ which is a very low budget Canadian film about some people that have been put in a cube full of rooms and traps. It wasn’t bad but the acting was pretty poor. That said I will be giving Cube Two and Cube Zero a go just to see if they get any better!

We got home pretty late and I prepped the mayo for this before we went to bed. It’s a very good vegan mayo and is almost a runny guacamole. The ingredients are quite similar except for the lack of any chilli.

The may is simply a large avocado, rapeseed oil, a little english mustard and some cider vinegar in my Nutribullet and blitz until smooth. Couldn’t be easier.

Serving was simply some crisp lettuce, chickpeas, the mayo and some sunflower seeds.

The dish is another Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall offering from River Cottage Light and Easy. The mayo had me curious the first time I flicked through the book and I knew it could be used elsewhere so why not give it a go.

Personally I think the mayo didn’t go so well with the chickpeas. The dish was very balanced and was quite tasty but there are better things I would have put it with – even just dipping Nachos in it would have made me happy!

Not bad though! Sorry about the picture – It kind of all got thrown on the plate in a rush!

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

Every other weekend we don’t really get to eat very well. My daughter comes to stay on Friday thru’ Saturday and then on the Sunday we go to Freya’s parents. Killing two birds with one stone as it were!

My daughter lives a fair old way away and by the time I’ve picked her up and brought her back to the boat it is usually way too late to eat. So we tend to have a big lunch on the Friday and power through to Saturday morning – or we grab something on the way to picking her up.

After spending the day in the British Museum on Saturday and safely dispatching my daughter back to her mother, I got home and threw this together. Very little effort – just time  roasting the vegetables. But it is very tasty.

The plan was for Freya to cook while I took Olivia home but there was a mix up with the boat keys so Freya ended up sat in a pub knitting for two hours while I was gone. On the plus side I now know that the Magpie and Crown has two new Craft Ales on tap – and both were excellent!

This recipe is also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. I’d highlighted it as one of the dishes I was going to make when I skimmed the book and it was well worth it. I love asparagus and it goes very well with eggs too.

It’s not much of a recipe more than bake stuff in the oven. You bake the potatoes, then add the asparagus, then right at the end make four wells and crack an egg into each well. Bake until the eggs are done and serve. Very simple indeed.

On Sunday I remade the Shallot and Mushroom risotto and the Brussels Sprouts, Puy Lentils and Walnuts for the six of us. It seemed to go down well although it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. The only thing I changed was the stock and the quantities – their oven was just more feisty than mine and the onions were overdone in my opinion!

Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Chill – and – Potato Cakes

Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Red Chilli

Tuesday Nights is Rock n Roll dancing and Hedsor. Dinner needed to be quick as we have a reasonable drive from West London to Maidenhead so I same up with these two dishes.

Dancing was great this week. During the lesson we rotated partners and ended up dancing with everyone. Very cool. Really helps you realise what you’re doing wrong and how different people dance in different ways. Lots of newcomers too. So we aren’t the newest ones there anymore!

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Surprisingly we had time to watch Broadchurch before we went out. Not sure we like this series as much as the first one. Lots of sleuthing – not enough detective work. Lots of sub plots – not enough focus on one thing. We shall see!

The Broccoli takes minutes. The potato cakes need cold mashed potato so you’ll need to do these in advance to allow them to cool down.

The broccoli dish is simply a medium-hot pan – toast some almonds but don’t burn them and allow to cool. Then dry fry the broccoli for a good 10 minutes – add the red chilli – fry a little more then serve with the almonds.

This dish was too hot for Freya. The broccoli really takes on the heat from the red chilli and she wasn’t a fan. I loved it. I love chillies. I added a mustard dressing which made the dish far more enjoyable for Freya. The dressing was simply mustard, egg yolk, cider vinegar, oil and garlic all whisked together.

The potato cakes are simply mashed potato, baking powder and rice flour, mixed together and fried as patties until they go fluffy.

All in all a very simple dinner. Nothing special but very tasty and a good fast dinner that filled a hole.

Sesame Roast Carrots

Sesame Roast Carrots

Doesn’t everyone always have a bag of carrots lying around in the bottom of the fridge. I know I do. Every time I go shopping I get carrots and I never use them all. They are so cheap that you always just buy a bag, use 2 and leave the rest to shrivel up in the fridge.

Well this dish could be the answer. Well – a better answer than carrot and coriander soup – which I just don’t enjoy!

Another offering from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook, this does use up a kilo of carrots with minimum effort.

Simply prep the carrots, toss in sesame seed and rapeseed oil and roast. Season them and roast them until they caramelise. Job done!

But what’s that you see in the picture – raisins? While the carrots are roasting simmer some runny honey and some orange zest and juice and add some raisins. Turn off the heat and let them soak up the juice.

When the carrots are ready, add the raisins and serve with a little chopped parsley. Very simple indeed.

I had every intention of serving these as a side yesterday but it got too late to eat – so I ended up eating these on their own for lunch. I didn’t have anything else to eat as my Ocado order doesn’t come until tomorrow morning.

These are quite sweet and very orangey  – the carrots really soaked up the juices from the raisins. Not sure they work on their own. Probably better to serve these with something more substantial.

Baked Onions and Savoury Porridge

Baked Onions and Savoury Porridge

Yes you read it right. Savoury porridge!

One of the more curious offerings in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook – this recipe was potentially the dud in the book. I remember making practically everything in one of Ottolenghi’s books once and then tried something with Verjus and it make me think ‘well you can’t always get it right’. This recipe for me could have been that recipe.

But it wasn’t – it was very good indeed. Freya looked puzzled – and a little cautious but she liked it too.

We ate quite late today having gone to the gym after work – I didn’t start making it till 8:30pm and it is quite time consuming. Fortunately we were watching the film ‘Locke’ – another film I thoroughly recommend you watching. It only has one person in it and he drives a car from Birmingham to London for the duration of the film. Curious!? Give it a go!

To make this you top and tail some big onions (leave them in their skins) and roast them on a bed of oil, thyme and sea salt until they caramelise. The you add bay leaves, and garlic, wrap in foil and bake for even longer this time until they are tender. This took about an hour.

Take the onions out and keep them warm. Add stock to the herbs and oil and then make a porridge as you usually would – stirring for about 10 minutes, checking the seasoning along the way. While the porridge is cooking, toast some hazelnuts and chop a little parsley.

Then you’re done. Just serve the porridge with a couple of onion halves, a few crushed hazelnuts and the parsley.

It’s very much like a risotto. Quite creamy despite there being no dairy. Much like the ‘actual’ risotto I made the other day it feels like it’s got cream in it but it hasn’t at all.

This really was better than I expected and I would probably make it again if I was having someone round just to see them raise their eyebrows in disbelief. If it were just for me I would probably give it a miss as it takes too long to make and I much prefer the oven baked risotto I made the other day.

That said. How often do you only have onions and porridge in your cupboards! Pretty sure it could be an emergency meal!

Beetroot Burgers with a Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

Beetroot Burgers with Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

And now for something completely different!

I’ve dabbled with non-meat burgers before from many other chefs and I’ve always had the issue with them falling apart. I wondered if the same would happen with these burgers from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook.

We love beetroot. Not the processed cooked kind you get in jars or plastic wrap but raw beetroot that you either roast yourself or eat raw in salads.

These burgers caught my eye because of the colours. They looked so moist, bright and purple that I had to give them a go. Looking through the ingredients list I figured they were pretty healthy too and had a good chance of holding their form.

This is another one pot – well in this case a food processor – dish. Get your magimix out and add raw beetroot, carrot, onion, garlic, chickpeas, porridge oats, an egg and some spices – and blend it all together to a thick paste. I thought my paste was a little too wet so I added some more porridge oats. Not sure if I needed to but it didn’t affect the outcome.

Then, simply make patties out of the mix and fry in a pan until they start to brown. Turn them a couple of times while you cook them. I used 2 spatulas because I was convinced they were going to fall apart. They didn’t – I was pleasantly surprised.

Once cooked allow them to cool – they will firm up if you do. And it gives you time to make the salsa.

This salsa was very easy too. It’s just chopped red onion, a tin of black beans, blueberries, garlic, red chilli, paprika, sugar, lime and cider vinegar all mixed together with a little oil and seasoning.

Very very simple. And surprisingly tasty. It’s not something I would have thought of putting together but it certainly works – especially with the burger.

As you can see I served the burger on a plate with the salsa. It tastes far better than it looks – and it looks pretty good – it’s just that red food is very hard to photograph in low light.

Also, its strange that picture makes the burger look wet and sloppy but it really wasn’t at all. It does have a falafel feel to it and I think it would be better server in a wrap. Obviously you’re then adding a bread element to your meal – but where’s the harm in that!