Wednesday, 29 June 2011

New Potato Salad

We dug up some lovely new potatoes in the garden at the weekend; delving into the soil and coming up with these little bits of muddy treasure is such a joy – it’s like a lucky dip, only more fun! We had quite a good haul; some of them were really tiny, just right for a potato salad.

I’m not very keen on the gluey type of dressing that you tend to find on most potato salads, mainly because I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise; I usually do quite a runny dressing that has more of a coating consistency. It does mean that half of it slides off the spuds, but it’s no hardship to mop it up with a piece of bread!

450g new potatoes
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp chopped coriander
black pepper

Wash the potatoes well and boil or steam until tender. Once they're cooked you can skin them if you like (I don't bother) and if some of them are a bit on the large side you may want to chop them into smaller chunks. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl, adding plenty of black pepper, add the warm potatoes and mix gently. Put into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a few chopped chives and refrigerate until cold. Take out of the fridge an hour before you need them and serve at room temperature.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Aubergine, Pepper and Feta Quiche

It’s a hot one here today – 30C – and I’m bad tempered, tired, fed-up and thoroughly brassed-off! I absolutely hate hot weather, but I'm very grateful I live in a country where we only get a few days like this a year.

Nothing too strenuous today, it's too hot for fiddling about; quiche for lunch with a rather nice potato salad, made with the first ones we’ve dug from the garden this year, and a somewhat different green salad (both recipes to follow as soon as I’ve written them up!!)

a 20cm blind-baked pastry case (I used ready-made pastry)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small aubergine, chopped into 2cm chunks
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, chopped into largish chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into eighths through the root
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
200g feta
3 eggs
250ml milk
½ tsp dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the prepared vegetables, garlic  and olive oil in a large bowl, mix well with your hands and turn the whole lot into a large roasting tin; roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are beginning to char.

Once the veg are cooked, allow to cool then squeeze the garlic out of its papery skin and add it, along with the rest of the veg, to the pastry case; crumble over the feta then strain over the whisked eggs and milk and sprinkle with the dried oregano.

Bake at 200C for about 25 minutes until the top is puffed and golden.

Cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Courgette Soup

As you know, I love soup in all its guises; we eat it all year round but I like to vary the type of soup to suit the season. This is a nice summery variety which looks terribly green, worthy and ‘good for you’, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a little stunner and a very worthwhile recipe to have to hand when the garden gives up its usual glut of courgettes in July and August and you're tearing your hair because you don't know what to do with the blasted things!

I wonder why it is I can never grow just enough courgettes; why do I always get snowed under with them? It's one of life's little mysteries...

1 tbsp olive oil
500g courgettes, washed and chopped
1 large floury potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
1l vegetable stock (Marigold Bouillon)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp creme fraiche

Saute the courgettes, potatoes, onion, thyme leaves and garlic in the olive oil, without colouring, for 10 mins. Add the stock and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Blitz with a stick blender until really smooth then stir in the chopped herbs and crème fraiche. Reheat gently and serve hot with a few garlic croutons and lots of crusty bread.

Serves 4 - 6

Friday, 10 June 2011

Homity Pasties

I’ve been thinking about picnic food; (that'll be the kiss of death, of course, in terms of the weather; it'll do nothing but rain solidly for the next three months, now!) in particular, I’ve been trying to think of a pasty filling that wouldn’t fall out all over me as soon as I took a bite and it also had to taste good eaten cold and be easily transportable. Well, it was so obvious, it was staring me in the face....Homity Pasties! Brainwave! 

I used shortcrust pastry to wrap up almost the same filling I use for Homity Pies and that was all there was to it. If I’m honest I should have sealed the edges a bit better or maybe I should have put a bit less filling in; you can see a bit of leakage on one or two of them, but I think it adds to the nice rustic feel of them and anyway, who expects perfect food on a picnic?

225gm potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
small handful of parsley, chopped.
75gm grated mature cheddar
ground black pepper
450g block of shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten

Boil or steam the potatoes until tender. Chop onions finely and saute in the olive oil with the garlic until lightly browned. In a large bowl combine the cooked potatoes and onions; add the parsley and the cheese. Mix well, season with black pepper and leave to cool.

Roll out the pastry to a large rectangle and, using a large saucer or small plate, cut out six circles. Put a heaped tablespoon of the cooled filling on one half of each of the circles then fold the pastry over and crimp the edges together with a fork.

Make three slashes in the top of each pasty then brush well with beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C until golden.

Makes 6.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Roast Vegetable and Pasta Bake

If you happen to go out for a pub lunch or to any High Street chain restaurant there is always pasta and salad on the menu, usually at an exorbitant price! I mean…how much does a cupful of pasta and a few veg cost, for crying out loud! Do restaurateurs think we haven't noticed the outrageous markup? 

In fact, pasta and salad is a meal that I rarely cook – when we sat down to eat tonight the husband said “We haven’t had a pasta bake for ages”, which is quite true and it’ll probably be a while before we have another one. With the exception of the lasagne we had last week at my sister’s it’s at least a couple of months since I had a pasta meal of any description. I’d almost forgotten what to do!

Oh, I must mention the salad leaves were our first from the garden this year; I was so chuffed, hopefully they’re the first of many.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small aubergine, chopped into 2cm chunks
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into large pieces
1 red onion, peeled and cut into eighths through the root
125g chestnut mushrooms, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g penne
250ml passata
2 or 3 sprigs of basil, chopped
1 slice of wholemeal bread made into breadcrumbs
100g grated mature cheddar

Put all the prepared vegetables into a large roasting tin that will allow them to be cooked in a single layer. Add the crushed garlic, drizzle over the olive oil and use your hands to mix so the veg are coated in the oil. Roast at 200C for 25 mins.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and parcook the penne for 5 minutes. Drain and return to the pan, adding the passata and basil; mix well then add the roast vegetables, mixing carefully or the veg will break up.

Tip the whole lot into a deep baking dish and sprinkle with the combined cheddar and breadcrumbs then drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese and breadcrumbs have formed a lovely golden crust.

Serve with a leafy salad.

Serves 2