Leftover Lentils


Leftover Lentils

This is not a particularly pretty photo – and for that I apologise – but it’s still a recipe I had to share with you.

This is a dish we often have as an accompaniment to meat or fish. At the weekend, my parents came to visit and we had these lentils served with lamb cutlets marinated with cumin and ground coriander. Hence – leftover lentils.

We used the leftovers in our dinner tonight – chicken and lentil soup – (which explains the need for me to share the recipe with you) but you could use them in all manner of recipes. They would be delicious, cold, on their own as a light lunch.

They’re also extremely nutritious – being lentils, they are packed full of good things and the veggies bring lots of vitamins and minerals to the table too. Get making them, then get inventive – let me know what you serve them with!

These will take approximately 30 minutes to make and will make approximately 6 servings. They will keep in the fridge for a few days, and freeze well too.

Leftover Lentils

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 leek

2 sticks celery

1 carrot

1 small glass white wine

500ml water

750g pre-soaked ready to eat puy lentils

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

1. Chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped leek, celery and carrot. Cook for a further 6-7 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.

2. Pour in the white wine, allow to reduce, then add the water and lentils.

3. Bring to the boil, add the bay leaf and rosemary then simmer for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on it and stir often) until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Done!

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Mediterranean Vegetable and Goats Cheese Pancakes


Mediterranean Vegetables and Goats Cheese Pancakes (2)

Happy Pancake Day everyone! What are you giving up for lent?

I’ve never been particularly good at giving things up for lent. My philosophy regarding food is everything in moderation, and so giving up chocolate, biscuits or wine would be against everything I stand for unfortunately.

I thought about giving up Netflix – but then how would we spend our hungover Sundays? Giving up pavement rage would never work either (I don’t drive, so my commuter rage is focussed on people who walk slowly and cars that don’t stop to let me cross the road), because there are too many anger inducing sights every morning.

So, I’m making a promise to myself – I will post on the blog at least 6 times a week throughout lent. If you notice me slacking, shout at me!

Anyway, back to pancake day. I decided that seeing as pancakes are so delicious you have to eat more than one, why not fill them with something healthy? These savoury pancakes filled with fresh Mediterranean veggies and lovely, melty goats cheese have enough healthy ingredients to counterbalance the fact you want to eat eight of them (don’t quote me on that).

This recipe will make 6 pancakes, and will take approximately 20 minutes.

Mediterranean Vegetables and Goats Cheese Pancakes (1)

Mediterranean Vegetable and Goats Cheese Pancakes

1 mug plain flour

1 mug milk

1 large egg

4 tbsps olive oil

1 red onion

1 large courgette

1 red pepper

1 handful green olives, halved

40g goats cheese

1. Pour the flour, milk and egg into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Leave to one side.

2. Chop the onion and add to a pan with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the chopped courgette, red pepper and olives. Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often, until the veggies are soft.

3. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add a ladleful of the pancake batter and move the pan around to form an even layer over the base. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden underneath, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan, add another ladleful of batter and repeat until you have made all of your pancakes. You may need to add more oil.

4. To serve, pile a spoonful of the veg into the centre of each pancake, crumble over some goats cheese and roll up. Enjoy!

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup


Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (1)

Wow, what a weekend! I had such a wonderful, spoilt birthday filled with meals out, drinks and general revelry.

We had 4 meals out and 2 takeaways in total, and who knows how many glasses of wine/prosecco/cocktails.

Therefore, tonight we needed an instant injection of the vitamins and minerals we are sure to be lacking now. Spinach soup is the perfect way to do this. Not only is it desperately, desperately easy (look how short that ingredient list is!), it is also delicious and packed full of vitamins k, a, c, b2 (almost the whole alphabet!), not to mention iron, magnesium and folic acid. Surely this will aid our bodies’ recoveries after a heavy weekend.

I love the flavour combination of spinach and nutmeg. I got the idea for using nutmeg in this soup from a nettle soup I once made many years ago, which used nutmeg. I was quite young when I made the nettle soup, and remember so vividly the fear that it would sting my tongue! Of course, it didn’t; it was wonderfully flavourful and with spinach and nettle being fairly similar in taste, the nutmeg works beautifully in this recipe too.

The dish is completely vegetarian, and would be vegan too if you omitted the feta, which I just couldn’t leave off.

This dish is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4 with some crusty bread on the side.

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (2)

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 litre vegetable stock

450g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

20g feta, crumbled

1. Chop the onion. Add to a large saucepan with the olive oil and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the spinach, handful by handful, until it is all wilted.

3. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, then whizz the soup in a blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the crumbled feta.

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie


Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (2)

I’ve loved spinach and feta filo pie (or Spanakopita as the Greek call it) ever since I first tried it. There’s something about the heady mixture of salty feta, fragrant nutmeg and crispy, light filo pastry which really appeals to me. It has all of the elements of a comforting pie, but feels light and guilt free (although, of course, there’s far too much butter and cheese involved for it to be really guilt free).

My love for this pie was hightened on our honeymoon in Kos, where I ate it for almost every meal (yes, that’s right, our hotel served it for breakfast! Yes, it was heaven), and cooking this meal now, in the depths of nasty, cold winter, takes me back to that beautiful, golden island under the beautiful, golden sun. Sigh!

Although we’re eating this as a main by itself, it would work perfectly well as part of a Greek mezze, perhaps as a side to these amazing Greek Chicken Tacos and Za’atar and Olive Focaccia on the side, with a wonderfully simple Greek yoghurt pud.

This will take you up to an hour to make, and will serve 4 as a main, 6 as a side.

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (1)

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

200g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

400g feta

1 egg

6 sheets filo pastry

10g butter, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2. Roughly chop your onion and add to a frying pan with the olive oil. Saute over a high heat for 1-2 minutes, then gradually add the spinach until it is all wilted. Stir in the nutmeg, and season with black pepper. Allow to cool.

3. Roughly chop the feta and put in a large bowl. Add the spinach mix and crack in the egg, then stir to combine well.

4. Take a large oven proof dish and brush with a little of the melted butter. Lay one of the sheets of filo pastry over the dish and brush with more butter. Repeat until the dish is completely covered with filo, and you have used 4 sheets.

5. Pile in the feta mix. Spread out evenly, then top with the remaining two sheets of filo pastry. Brush with more butter, then fold the overhanging pieces of filo pastry from the bottom layers over the top, so that it is wrapped like a parcel. Brush with more butter, then bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

Cherry Chocolate Cookies


Cherry Chocolate Cookies (1)

It’s a good day today! Firstly, although it’s still freezing cold outside, on looking out of the window this morning I saw these little heralds of approaching Spring:

Snowdrops

They weren’t there on Saturday, so they must have popped through yesterday or overnight. It’s not too long now until it’s still light when we get home from work, and until we can step outside without the risk of flu/frostbite.

Secondly, it is now just a week until my birthday! You’d better get cracking buying my presents.

And thirdly, I have another Monday off work (I was working yesterday), and so I’m free to spend my day baking again. Yesterday, when I was working, my husband cleaned the entire house and had dinner ready for me when I got in, so I’m repaying the favour by cooking something I know he loves.

These cookies are soft, sweet and delicious. They’re cakey, rather than thin and chewy, and I promise you will love them.

These take around 30 minutes to make (plus cooling time) and will make 12 (very) large cookies.

Cherry Chocolate Cookies

200g butter

300g brown sugar

2 eggs

80g cocoa powder

300g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

200g glace cherries (get the undyed ones if you can)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs until fully combined.

3. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder, then fold this and the baking powder into the butter and sugar mixture.

4. Roughly chop the cherries and stir them into the mixture until evenly spread.

5. Grab a non-stick baking tray (you’ll probably need two, or cook the cookies in shifts) and spoon the mixture onto it, making sure there’s a gap of 2-3 inches between each dollop.

6. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. They will still be very soft when you take them out, but leave them to cool completely and they will be the perfect consistency. Enjoy with a cup of coffee. Yum!

Cherry Chocolate Cookies (2)

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (1)

Here we have a meal which is suspiciously similar in both method and look to last night’s offering (Vegetable Enchiladas); not in taste though! It also bears a significant resemblance to my Spinach, Tomato and Goats Cheese Cannelloni – however, I’ve gone for ricotta over goats cheese because I fancied the softer, more delicate taste tonight as opposed to tangy goats cheese.

I’ve made this for two reasons – 1. it snowed a bit and it was cold so I needed comfort food. The snow is gone now, as though it were never here, but I still want the cannelloni. 2. My husband was supposed to go and pick up a new car, but because of the aforementioned snow cancelled his collection, so I wanted to make something to cheer him up (unbeknown to me, the collection was later reinstated, so now we are having it for a third reason – to celebrate the arrival of the brand new car).

Anyway, back to the recipe – give it a go; it is desperately straightforward and the use of fresh lasagne sheets rather than dried cannelloni tubes also makes it surprisingly fast to make. What’s not to like?

This will serve 4, and takes 40 minutes to make.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (2)

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

200g spinach

1/2 tsp nutmeg

500g ricotta

12 fresh lasagne sheets

400g chopped tomatoes

1 handful cherry tomatoes

10g grated parmesan (or veggie alternative)

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the onion and add to a frying/saute pan with the olive oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes, then gradually add the spinach until it is all completely wilted. Stir in the nutmeg and a little salt and pepper. Leave to cool for 3-4 minutes.

3. Break up the ricotta in a large bowl, and stir in the spinach. Take your fresh lasagne sheets one at a time, and lay a large spoonful of the ricotta mix along one end of the lasagne. Roll it up around the ricotta, then lay in a large oven proof dish. Repeat for the rest of the lasagne sheets.

4. Pour the chopped tomatoes evenly over the cannelloni (you probably won’t cover them completely, but that’s fine. Sprinkle over the halved cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the parmesan is golden.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (3)

Vegetable Enchiladas


Vegetable Enchiladas (1)

Yum! Who doesn’t like enchiladas? They’re like the Mexican version of lasagne! They are perfect for cold weather, because they’re the ultimate comfort food. Anything baked in the oven is wonderful when it’s cold outside.

We looked through the cupboards yesterday and came across some tortilla wraps which were about to go, and were delighted when we realised that to use these up, we could make this.

I’ve only ever made chicken enchiladas before, but seeing as it’s still January and so we should technically be on a health kick, I’ve made this version completely vegetarian, and contains loads of different veggies which makes it fairly good for you – you could almost get your 5-a-day from this dish!

If you like these, try my Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni!

This takes around 45-50 minutes to make, and will serve 2-3 (more with a side salad/dishes)

Vegetable Enchiladas (2)

Vegetable Enchiladas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

200g button mushrooms

1 yellow pepper

2 courgettes

2 tbsps tomato puree

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 flour tortilla wraps

400g tin chopped tomatoes

30g cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

20ml soured cream

1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the sliced onion, halved mushrooms, sliced peppers and sliced courgettes. Cook over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until starting to soften, then stir in the tomato puree, smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

3. Lay out your tortillas. Place a spoonful of the veggie mixture into the centre of each one, then fold them up as you would a fajita. Lay the wraps side by side in a large oven proof dish.

4. Pour the chopped tomatoes over the wraps. Try to do it evenly, but don’t worry if they don’t reach the edges. Top this with an even layer of the grated cheese and chilli flakes.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tortillas are crisp at the edges and the tomatoes are hot and bubbling.

6. Enjoy with a dollop of soured cream, and some sliced spring onions if you fancy.

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons


English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons (2)

I can’t pretend that the weather here has been as bad as it is in Northern USA at the moment – but it is still chilly, dark and miserable as it will undoubtably remain until April. And as such, it is another soup night tonight; this time my take on a classic, and one of my all time favourites.

Usually, a French Onion Soup contains onions, beef stock, wine and very little else. This is my version, and so it includes ingredients that a typical French Onion Soup usually wouldn’t – like bay leaves, and thyme. I also used vegetable stock rather than beef stock (and brandy rather than white wine) – not only does this make it vegetarian, it also makes it lighter and fresher. I really enjoy this version, and I hope you will too.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore the original version, but I think it tastes better when the onions are cooked for a long, long time – and I don’t have time for that tonight. I’ve used comte (a hard, French cow’s milk cheese) on the croutons as a nod to where the original came from; however any hard cheese such as gouda would work equally well. With French Onion Soup, you also tend to put the croutons in the soup, but I prefer them nice and crispy so I leave them on the side.

This will take about 40 minutes, and will serve 4. The leftovers get better with time, so make great lunches!

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons (1)

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons

10g butter

3 large onions

2 bay leaves

1 pinch thyme leaves

10g plain flour

1 small glass brandy

750ml vegetable stock

4 large slices French baguette

1 tbsp olive oil

40g grated comte

1. Finely slice the onions and add to a large saucepan with the butter, bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick, for about 20-25 minutes until golden.

2. Add the flour, mix well, then add the brandy and bubble down. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more seasoning if necessary.

3. For the croutons, put the grill on high, the drizzle the olive oil onto a baking tray, then rub the bread in the oil to ensure an even coating. Put under the grill for 3-4 minutes until beginning to turn toast, then pile on the grated cheese. Put back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Cheese Scones


Cheese Scones (3)After a few days off (I was working on Saturday, then yesterday was a lounge in front of the TV with a pizza kind of day), I’m back with a deliciously simple and savoury bake.

If you enjoyed my Courgette and Gorgonzola Muffins, then I’m sure you’ll love these. I came across this recipe in an old notebook I’ve had since I was a little girl, where I would jot down all of the recipes I cooked, either at school or at home with my mum. This recipe must have come from my mum, because I remember her cooking them lots when we were younger – the smell of them baking in the oven brought back memories of coming home from school and eating these warm with butter as a snack.

The recipe is very simple, and making the scones is very cathartic. I really enjoy rubbing together the flour and butter – your mind can wander and it’s a very peaceful process. I’m sure you’ll enjoy making them, and they are absolutely delicious – particularly fresh from the oven!

How do you pronounce scone? I’ve always said it so it rhymes with gone – do you pronounce it so it rhymes with moan?

These wil take 30 minutes to make and makes 10 scones.

Cheese Scones (1)

Cheese Scones

225g self-raising flour

Pinch of salt and black pepper

55g butter

50g grated mature cheddar cheese

150ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

2. Weigh out the flour and pour into a bowl with the salt and pepper. Cut the butter into cubes and add this to the bowl. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Stir in the grated cheese and milk. Work the mixture together with your hands until it all comes together, then tip onto a floured surface and knead gently, then roll out until it’s approximately 2 cm thick. Use a 2 inch circular pastry cutter to cut out rounds, and place onto a greased baking tray.

4. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until golden and risen.

Cheese Scones (2)

Tomato Salsa Tostados


Tomato Salsa Tostados (1)

Mexican food is fantastic – I’m sure everyone agrees with that, and who wouldn’t want an evening meal which tastes like nachos but is much better for you? These tostados are bright, tasty and you can easily omit or limit the amount of cheese and soured cream to make them seriously healthy. I’m too much of a dairy fan to do this though.

If you haven’t made tostados before, do it! They’re like little pizzas on a tortilla, and you can use any toppings you like. I love these ones because they embrace Mexican flavours – but you don’t need to do that at all – you could easily make Greek ones with black olives and feta, or you could use any of your favourite pizza toppings.

These ones are surprsingly filling because of the avocado, and so I don’t think you need any meat. If you really wanted to add some, you could top with some cooked chicken breast.

These tostados will be ready in 20 minutes, and will serve 2.

Tomato Salsa Tostados (2)

Tomato Salsa Tostados

2 tortilla wraps

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans

1 handful coriander

1 yellow pepper

2 tsps smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

20g grated cheddar

20g soured cream

1 avocado

1 spring onion

1 red chilli

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Place the tortilla wraps flat on a baking tray (use 2 if you need to), drizzle with half of the olive oil and bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes until starting to crisp. Remove from the oven.

2. Pour the rest of the olive oil into a saucepan. Chop the onion and add to the saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped coriander stalks (reserve the leaves for later).

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans, sliced yellow pepper, smoked paprika and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes, until thick.

4. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the tortillas, as you would a pizza sauce onto a pizza base. Top each one with grated cheese, then put back in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden.

5. Top each tostado with a dollop of soured cream, sliced avocado, a handful of coriander leaves and some sliced spring onion and chilli. Enjoy!