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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

Sometimes I look at a recipe like this and think that it is almost too simple to earn its place on this site.  However although it was simple I was so pleased with the outcome I just had to add it here.  One of my original motivations for writing here was to add some straightforward and favourite family recipes for my daughter to use (as well as for me to remember).  This certainly fits the bill and anyway, it is about time I shared here my own particular method for crunchy roast potatoes – with or without the sesame seeds.

This method of cooking potatoes is a combination of the method taught by my mother and ideas gleaned from other sources: books and television in particular.  My grandmother roasted potatoes in margerine as my grandad was vegetarian and this gave her potatoes a distinctive taste: actually not unpleasant but something I would not want to copy.  Mum originally used lard but often with dripping from the roasting meat and the potatoes took on some of the flavour of the dinner.  In recent years she has substituted healthier sunflower oil for the lard.  There is family discussion too on how to cut the potatoes: my mother in law favours large flat pieces that keep their shape whereas I grew up with smaller chunkier pieces which tended to crumble easily but had wonderful crisp crusty edges.  The potatoes pictured below are slightly crusty but not as super-crumbly as I like them.  There are many different varieties of potato and each will cook slightly differently, but all will become brown if cooked in hot fat and a hot oven even if they do not crumble very much.  This method is the way I make sure that my roast potatoes have those crispy edges, as well as the ‘cooks perks’ bits that crumble off and are left in the roasting tin.  My own choice of cooking fat is usually olive oil, because of the flavour it gives, though I often use a little sunflower oil and occasionally meat roasting juices.  Recently Goose fat (or Duck fat) has been gaining in popularity.  I bought a jar at Christmas which I combined with olive oil.  Although not especially healthy Goose or Duck fat does give a lovely flavour and a crisp golden finish.  It is quite expensive to use exclusively and most I have seen seems to be imported from France: perhaps another item to put on my ever increasing list of potential holiday food purchases?!  Be warned.  Good roast potatoes are addictive and potato is relatively cheap so don’t stint on quantities.  If you have a one or two left the garden birds will love you for it!

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sesame Roast Potatoes

Allow 2 medium sized or 1 large potato per adult, depending on appetite
Olive oil/Sunflower oil/Goose fat/Duck fat/fat & juices from roasting meat – or a combination
Sea salt to sprinkle
Sesame seeds to sprinkle (optional – be generous if using) at least 1tbsp per person

1.  Preheat the oven if not already in use.  If roasting potatoes alongside a joint I turn the oven up to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 first, putting them into the oven at the same time as I remove the lid from the roasting tin to finish the roasting meat.  Once the meat comes out of the oven to rest before carving I turn up the heat to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6   220oC/425oF/Gas 7 but if possible heat the oven to this higher temperature from the start.

2.  Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces.  A medium sized potato can cut into four larger or eight smaller pieces – your choice.

3.  Plunge into boiling slightly salted water, put on the lid and cook on a gentle rolling boil until you can slip the point of a knife easily into a potato piece.  This will be about 8-12 minutes depending on the type of potato: some break up very quickly so watch carefully especially if you are cooking a new variety.

4.  While the potatoes are cooking put the oil and/or fat into a large roasting tin and place in the oven.  The potatoes do not need to swim in fat but you need enough for them not to stick.  Remember that they will soak up fat as they cook, but you can add more if needed.

5.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and gentle toss them around so the edges of the potato are slightly fluffed up.  How much you do this will depend on how fluffy the potato edges are already.

6.  Tip the potatoes into the roasting tin and turn them in the hot fat.  Sprinkle with a little salt and return to the oven.

7.  Turn the potatoes at regular intervals, adding a little more oil only if absolutely necessary, until they are golden and crispy.  It is difficult to give exact timings for this but for really crisp potatoes you need to allow at least 45minutes and maybe a little longer.

8.  Shortly before the potatoes are cooked remove the tin from the oven and generously sprinkle them with sesame seeds.  The should be returned to the oven for at least five minutes more to allow the seeds to toast.

9.  When serving drain any excess oil away from the potatoes before serving with any dinner of your choice, although this is particularly good with roasted meat.  We enjoy a sprinkling of crunchy bits and toasted seeds that have ended up in the bottom of the pan as well!

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The addition of orange and mint to the mixture makes this couscous recipe both colourful and refreshingly delicious.  It has a summery look and taste, although it originally appeared in a winter magazine and would be perfect served as part of a summer buffet or BBQ.  It was originally designed to be served with Moroccan Style Marinaded Lamb Steaks which would be perfect cooked outdoors, although I grilled them in the kitchen.  There is already a recipe for the much less sweet Coriander & Chickpea Couscous Salad on this site, using preserved lemon and flavoured with fresh coriander.

The original recipe came from the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of the Tesco free instore magazine and there is also a link to Moroccan Lamb Chops with Couscous online.  The couscous recipe below is my own variation with slightly adjusted quantities and the addition of a tin of chick peas to make it more substantial. The original recipe included halved red peppers which were grilled alongside the meat and then added to the couscous mixture, but I simply used a diced ungrilled red pepper.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Orange Couscous
(Serves 4)

3 oranges
250g/8oz couscous
handful mint leaves – reserve a little for final garnish
50g/2oz black olives
1tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper
1 x 400g tin chick peas
150ml/¼ pt boiling water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1.   Peel two oranges and remove all of the white pith.  Holding the oranges over a bowl to catch any juice, slice them between the membranes with a sharp knife and carefully divide into segments.  Once the segments have been removed squeeze any remaining juice from the orange membranes before discarding.

2.  Cut the remaining orange in half and squeeze out the juice, adding it to any already collected.

3.  Drain and rinse the chick peas.

4.  Halve, deseed and finely slice the red pepper and cut into small pieces of around 1 inch/2.5cm. Alternatively the pepper can be grilled alongside the meat, as in the original recipe, and then sliced and stirred into the couscous mixture at step 7.

5.  Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl along with the chick peas, red pepper pieces and the olive oil.  Pour over all the orange juice plus the boiling water.

6.  Cover and allow it to stand for 5 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed the liquids.

7.  Chop the mint and gently stir most of it into the couscous along with the orange segments and the black olives.  Be careful not to break up the orange pieces.  Season well to taste.

8.  Serve the meat on a bed of fruity couscous, scattered with a little extra chopped mint.

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This recipe is a regular at my table, especially in the Summer.  I think it deserves a place on this site even though it seems almost too easy to be worth posting, but the simplest recipes are often the best.  I don’t know how many types of tomato you are able to find locally.  Most weeks just the round red type are available on our market, with unusual varieties a rarety.  In the Summer there are often the small sweet ones, useful for skewering, plus vine tomatoes and sometimes the oval Italian plum type.  One week last Autumn, therefore, I was surprised and pleased to see a number of varieties I had not come across before.  I knew, though, that if I bought several types of tomatoes I would also need to have a plan for them.  No problem: our favourite warm tomato dish, flavoured with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil – perfect!  It would be extra pretty, multi-hued rather than the usual plain red.  I decided on some medium sized pale yellow tomatoes and some enormous crinkly orange/red ones, plus the ordinary red type I had already bought at an earlier stall.  Later on I saw dark tomatoes too, a combination of maroon and olive green: my heart said yes … but my head said that I had bought enough already!  A pity as the splash of extra colour would have made the dish particularly attractive.

Although I am sure that there are many similar versions of this Mediterranean style dish in recipe books this recipe is my own.  I have not specified amounts – use as many tomatoes as you would like to serve, but be generous as this is moreish. The other ingredients should be according to taste.  Since I made (and photographed) this recipe I have discovered the existence of white balsamic vinegar, though have not yet bought a bottle.   It would be useful as the tomatoes would not have the usual dark staining associated with ordinary balsamic vinegar.  I usually serve this as a warm side dish as part of a main meal or as a warm or cold salad.  It also makes a good light lunch spooned onto a slice of crusty toast or a delicious starter, either cold or a warm, served on its own, or on crusty bread drizzled with additional olive oil, or topped with a slice of flash grilled melted goats cheese.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Roasted Mixed Tomatoes

Tomatoes – one variety or mixed varieties and colours if available
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar, dark or white
Fresh basil leaves, torn – plus a few to garnish
Sugar (a small sprinkle for added sweetness)
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
Slices of French baguette loaf – optional
Slices of goat’s cheese roll – optional

1.  Cut the tomatoes into ¼inch/½cm slices and layer in an ovenproof dish.

2.  Sprinkle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add sugar, torn basil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3.  Put the dish uncovered into a preheated oven at around 170oC/325oF/Gas 3 for about 15 minutes.  (The temperature and cooking time can be a little higher or lower as this recipe is often cooked at the same time and heat as another dish for the meal.)
OR
Cook uncovered on medium in the microwave so the tomatoes heat through relatively gently.

4.  Whichever method of cooking is used the tomatoes need to be warmed through, retaining their shape, rather than dried up (although they are still delicious if they have shrivelled a little!)

5.  Serve drizzled with a little extra olive oil and some more torn green basil, as the original leaves will have darkened and have lost their attractive colour.

6.  If adding goats cheese then, before finishing with extra olive oil and basil, lay slices of a goat’s cheese log on the top and gently flash grill to melt and colour. Alternatively toast a slice of French baguette loaf on one side, then turn over and lay a slice or two of goats cheese on the other side.  Flash cook cheesy side under the grill.   Serve laid on a bed of warm or cold cooked tomatoes.

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One of my favourite orders from the Chinese takeaway used to be one portion each of Special Fried Rice and Chinese mushrooms – haven’t had it for ages, by the way, not sure why.  Special Fried Rice is, as far as I am concerned, as near to comfort food as you can get in Chinese cuisine.  I was delighted to find this recipe in a book of recipes from around the world I found remaindered in bookshop and it was probably the first Chinese style recipe I every tried to make.  It was certainly in the days before I owned a wok.  It is a great way to use up leftover rice and worth making a little extra so you can make this recipe the next day.  It is good to serve as a light lunch as well as part of a multi dish meal.  This was very well received as part of my mum’s Chinese style birthday dinner.

The recipe was mostly based on one in Cooking and Eating Around the World by Alison Burt and I also looked at the Fried Rice recipe in Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery.  It is a versatile recipe where a selection of ingredients are fried with the pre-cooked rice.  If available Chinese Sausage “Lap Cheong (sometimes spelled Xuong)” can be added. This is available from Oriental supermarkets. (See also this interesting Fried Rice post using the same Chinese Sausage: Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage, Mixed Frozen Vegetables & Eggs from Wandering Chopsticks.)  Finally an egg is quickly stirred through the rice mixture and allowed to cook briefly before serving.  A vegetarian version can be cooked, leaving out the meat and fish and if necessary increasing the quantities of vegetables and possibly adding another egg.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Special Fried Rice

This recipe mostly does not have any quantities as it uses a mixture of leftovers and ingredients chosen by the cook.  Rice, oil to fry and an egg to bind are essential, plus at least one vegetable and one other ingredient – the more ingredients you add, the more ‘special’ it is.

Cold cooked white rice
Sunflower oil
Soy sauce
Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Spring onions, white and green, chopped finely
or
Onion
Ginger, finely chopped (not a large quantity)
Frozen Peas, partly cooked
Button mushrooms, quartered or sliced
Beansprouts
Ham or bacon, chopped fairly small – or leftover ham
Poached Chicken, chopped fairly small – or leftover chicken
Small frozen pre-cooked Prawns
Chinese Sausage Lap Cheong/Xuong (available from the Oriental supermarket)
Salt & black pepper
1 egg (more for a larger quantity)
Sesame oil

1.  Fry together the chopped onion/spring onion, ginger, garlic and button mushrooms until soft.  If you are adding any uncooked meat (ie bacon) then add it at this point so it cooks thoroughly.

2.  Stir in the pre-cooked rice and mix thoroughly.

3.  Add part cooked frozen peas, ham, cubed chicken, prawns (and/or other ingredients of choice) plus soy sauce.  Stir well to combine and cook over a medium heat for five minutes.  Watch to make sure the ingredients do not burn.  Season as required with salt and black pepper.

4.  Just before serving add the egg and stir throughly until just cooked.  Be very careful that the egg does not burn.

5.  Finish with a splash of sesame oil, stir through the rice mixtuure and serve immediately.

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Since I don’t speak Spanish (I learned French and a little German at school) I ran the words Patatas Bravas through the online translator, just out of interest.  I was surprised to find it simply means roast potatoes: but as they are roast potatoes with a Spanish twist they are unlike any roast potato I have eaten before.  Most of the recipes I found were actually for pan fried crispy potatoes rather than roasties but I am sure this could be made with traditionally oven roasted potatoes too so I have included this in the instructions.  The Spanish twist is, of course, the tangy and spicy tomato sauce which is served on top or on the side.

The recipe below is my combination of ideas from several sources.  One starting point was my book of Tapas and Paella recipes: Spanish Bar and Restaurant Cooking by María Solís Ballinger & Natalía Solís Ballinger, but I also consulted the Patatas Bravas recipes of James Martin, Simon Rimmer, BBC Good Food, Guardian online, Jason Atherton in NatWest Customer magazine (New Year 2011) and the website debskitchencreations.  In most cases the sauce is based on a tin of plum tomatoes, but it can also be made using tomato ketchup (a suggestion from the book mentioned above), especially if it is home made Tomato Ketchup, something I do make from time to time.  Smoked Paprika is essential as a spicy flavour of Spain, but the recipes also variously include hot pepper from chopped chilli peppers, chilli powder, Cayenne pepper or Tabasco Sauce.  There were huge variations in the quantities used and thus the amount of heat, but I am sure this should be according to personal taste.  Herbs were added too: most usually thyme but one recipe used a bay leaf and parsley as a garnish.  Lemon added piquancy in one recipe and in another a little sugar, something I often add to tomatoes anyway, gave additional sweetness.  Yet another added tomato purée.  Jason Atherton added a chopped red pepper, always a popular ingredient in our house, after the style of the city of Burgos.  The sauce should be spooned over the Patatas Bravas at the last minute so they reach the table crispy rather than soggy.  Some recipes also serve Mayonnaise, or the wonderfully garlicky mayonnaise based Aïoli sauce on the side.  (This is the mostly used French spelling from Provence: the Catalan spelling is Allioli.)  In the book mentioned above mayonnaise is mixed with the tomato sauce, but I prefer them separately.  The dish is common in Tapas bars throughout Spain, with the pieces of potato often on cocktail sticks.  It would make an excellent dish at a buffet table or as a starter though it is delicious served at a main meal with fish (or simply grilled meat).

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Patatas Bravas
Roast Potatoes Spanish Style
(Serves 4-6)

4-6 large potatoes (one for each diner)
Olive oil for frying
Salt
For the sauce
1 large onion
2/3 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 large red pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp fresh thyme or ½tbsp dried thyme
1 small bay leaf (optional or as an alternative to the thyme)
1tsp lemon juice
1tbsp sherry (or wine) vinegar (optional)
½tsp sugar
Salt & black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish

1.  Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves.  Gently fry in olive oil, covering the pan, until transparent but not browned.  Finely chop the red pepper, stir in and continue to cook until soft.

2.  Chop or liquidise the tin of tomatoes.  Add the spices, thyme, bay leaf (if using) and tomato purée to the onion mixture and stir.  Mix in the chopped/liquidised tomatoes, along with the lemon juice, vinegar (if using) and sugar.  Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently without a lid until reduced to a thick slightly chunky sauce.  Remove the bay leaf.

3.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as needed.

4.  While the sauce is reducing peel and cut the potatoes into one inch/2.5cm chunks.  Place in a pan, cover with boiling salted water and bring to the boil.  Cook for 5 minutes and no longer.  Drain the potatoes and blot so they dry slightly.

5.  The potatoes can be either pan fried or oven baked.
To pan fry:  Put into a frying pan with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Fry gently until browned, turning from time to time as they will stick a little.
To oven bake: Put into a baking tin with olive oil and salt and place in the oven.

6.   The potatoes should be served when golden and crispy.  Add the sauce just before serving along with mayonnaise or Aïoli and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.

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As I have said before, Sunday lunches can become rather predictable, but this is one of those accompaniments that adds some new flavours, giving a new twist to the familiar.  Other ways of bringing a fresh approach to a roast joint are pre-marinading the meat, as in Australian Spiced Roast Pork or by adding an unusual sauce, such as Roasted Balsamic Onion & Thyme Sauce.  The moment I watched Nigel Slater make this ragoût recipe on television just after Christmas I knew I had to try it.  All the ingredients were handy, including some juniper berries which I had bought in France (they were a bit old, but never mind – I just added a few extra!).  I was also already planning to serve roast beef the following Sunday.  In place of the fillet beef used by Nigel Slater in the original recipe I slow roasted a topside beef joint using my usual Sunday lunch method.  It was a definite hit with the family and I will certainly be making it again.  In fact it is an unusual dish to serve when entertaining and especially useful as it can be made in advance and reheated – always a plus on a busy Sunday! 

The original recipe was part of the programme Nigel Slater’s Christmas Suppers and was called New Year Roast Filet of Beef with Pumpkin Ragoût.  In place of pumpkin I substituted a butternut squash, which is readily available through the Autumn and Winter and useful for so many recipes.  I would be interested in trying this without using white wine as this is not always available, but the  juniper berries gave a delicate flavour and the buttery sweetness of the Butternut Squash complemented the beef really well. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Butternut Squash or Pumpkin Ragoût
(Serves 6)
For fillet beef see original recipe: New Year Roast Filet of Beef with Pumpkin Ragoût

For the pumpkin ragoût
2 large onions
2tbsp of olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 juniper berries
A large butternut squash (or a small pumpkin)
2 tbsp of plain flour
500ml/17fl oz hot vegetable or chicken stock
175ml/6fl oz white wine
salt & black pepper
a few sprigs of chopped fresh parsley

1.  Peel and finely slice the onions.   Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions slowly.   Strip the rosemary leaves from the stems, chop them finely and crush the juniper berries.   Add both to the onions.  Continue to cook gently for about 15-20 minutes until the onions are softened.

2.  Remove the peel from the squash or pumpkin, take out the seeds and thinly slice  into small 1cm/½in thick pieces (or larger if you wish.)  Add the pieces of squash or pumpkin to the onion mixture and fry for 4-5 minutes. 

3.  Sprinkle over the flour, stir well and carry on cooking for about five more minutes.

4.  Add the stock and wine, bring to the boil, season and then lower the heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the pieces of squash or pumpkin are tender. 

5.  Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.

6.   To serve, spoon the ragoût onto plates and place slices of the hot cooked beef on top.

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This is one of the best recipes I know for cooking red cabbage.  The spicy, sweet and sour, very seasonal flavours make it a perfect and attractive addition to the Christmas dinner table, but it is also really good eaten at other times of the year.  Some months ago this was one of the dishes at one of our parish Sunday lunches, when it was served with slowly cooked beef.  The recipe benefits from a long cooking time, so in recent years I have found it best to make a large quantity by cooking the whole cabbage at once, either eating the leftovers the next day or freezing them for another occasion.  I recently found a forgotten box in the bottom of the freezer which I had put there after Christmas eleven months earlier.  It was fine – we really enjoyed it!  Echoing Delia Smith’s words: ‘a real winner of a recipe.’

A number of versions of Spiced Braised Red Cabbage are available.  I usually use Delia Smith’s recipe, either from her original version of the book Christmas (Traditional Braised Red Cabbage with Apples), recommended with venison, goose, pork or sausages and mash, or from her Complete Cookery Course (Braised Red Cabbage with Apples), suggested to accompany sausages or cassoulet.  (I ought perhaps to try it with my own Cassoulet ‘Franglais’!)  It seems to be a good accompaniment for most meats. Sometimes Cranberries are included, which make a particularly Christmassy addition.  I have made this recipe in a saucepan on the hob, giving it a long cooking time over a very low heat, but it is far better made in the oven.  I follow the recipe almost exactly as it doesn’t really need any improvement, apart from the addition of the optional cranberries and the crushed juniper berries, a flavour which I love.  Some recipes add ginger, apple juice, orange juice or stir in ready made cranberry sauce: all these would add their own twist to the basic recipe and the challenge is to get the flavour mixture that you like the best.  Although I like the original flavours well enough, I may well experiment with alternative flavours so this recipe could well change as I find something which I consider an improvement.  If you make this recipe and add an ingredient or flavour not listed here please do leave a message in the comments.

‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’ http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Braised Red Cabbage Casserole
(Serves 8)

2 lb/1 kg red cabbage
1 lb/450g cooking apples
1 lb/450g onions
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ whole nutmeg, freshly grated
¼tsp ground cinnamon
¼tsp ground cloves
1tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
3tbsp brown sugar
3tbsp wine vinegar
½oz/15g butter
Salt & freshly milled black pepper
3-4ozs/75-100g dried cranberries (optional)
   or
6-8ozs/150-225g fresh or frozen cranberries (optional)

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 150oC/300oF/Gas 2.

2.  Remove and throw away the tough outer cabbage leaves.  Quarter it and making a ‘v’ shape remove and discard the tough stalk in each piece.  Shred the rest of the cabbage finely, using a sharp knife.

3.  Peel, core and chop the cooking apples in small pieces.  Skin the onions and chop them small.

4.  Layer the ingredients in a large ovenproof pot or casserole, alternating layers of shredded cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper with layers of chopped onions and apples with a little garlic, spices and sugar.  Continue with the layers until all the ingredients are used up, apart from the vinegar and butter.

5.  Pour over the wine vinegar and dot pieces of butter on top.

6.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven to cook slowy for 2 – 2½ hours.  Stir the ingredients well twice during the cooking time.

7.  Grate a little extra nutmeg over the top as it is served, if you wish.

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I wonder what you consider to be storecupboard essentials?  Which items do you always have available and make sure you re-stock almost before you run out?  Although my storecupboard is stuffed full of interesting ingredients there are those I make sure I never run out of and several of the ingredients below, including tins of tomatoes and beans which are a wonderful standby, appear in my Top Ten ‘must haves’!  I try never, ever to be without coriander leaves: fresh if possible, but when I have a part bunch left I transfer it to a box and store it in the freezer so I never run out.  It is better this way than not at all: the taste is the same it’s just  no good to use as a garnish! 

This recipe is my own and uses some of our favourite flavours.  It, or its variations, make regular appearances as a quick and versatile vegetable recipe and can easily be made in one pot to serve as a single side dish with a main course. We enjoyed it served with Roast Lamb with Chilli Sauce and North African dishes such as spicy Moroccan Style Fried Fish (a variation of a Nigel Slater recipe). Alternatively, for an ‘all  in one pot’ meal, stir in some more vegetables, topped if you want, with grated or crumbled cheese instead add or add chunks of meat (ham or bacon are delicious).  We love coriander leaves and it is particularly good if you have added some spices to the mixture, but it could be omitted or another herb substituted.  That’s the beauty of versatile recipes: they can evolve into something completely different!  It can be transformed into a soup too by adding some more liquid (you may have drained juices from the tin of tomatoes): for a chunky version liquidise about a third and return the mixture to the pan and liquidise more, say two thirds, for a less chunky version. See also Spiced Chick Pea & Tomato Soup.  This dish is delicious served hot or cold: filling and warming in the winter, but lovely as a chilled dish with a salad or on a buffet, in fact the flavours seem to develop in the fridge overnight.  Remember to save some coriander back as a garnish if using fresh.

Rather than spoil a whole meal as I once did, be warned that occasionally courgettes are bitter and it is best to try a small piece of each one before adding to a recipe. 

100_7626 Spiced vegetables with chick peas

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Vegetables with Chick Peas
(Serves 4)

1 large onion: chopped fairly small
2 large cloves garlic: crushed or diced
½tsp/2.5ml ground cumin
¼tsp/1.25ml chilli flakes (I use Piment d’Espelette): adjust to taste
½inch/1cm piece of fresh ginger: finely chopped/grated (optional)
1tbsp olive oil
1 tin plum tomatoes: drained
   or
6-8ozs/150-225g chopped fresh tomato
1 large courgette: washed, split lengthways & cut in short pieces (or other vegetables)
14oz/400g tin chick peas
Salt & black pepper
1 bunch fresh coriander (or frozen if fresh unavailable)

1.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic along with the ground spices.  If using ginger put this in as well.  Cover and cook gently over a low heat until the onion is transparent but not browned.

2.  If using fresh tomatoes peel them if you wish beforehand by making a cross shape and plunging into boiling water for about 30 seconds, which makes the skins easier to remove.  Chop them well before adding to the onion mixture and if the mixture is a little dry add some of the reserved tomato juice or a little water.  Add the courgette pieces (or substitute a similar amount of an alternative vegetable: pumpkin, squash or sweet potato are good, though you may like to reconsider your choice of spices)  Cook for about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the drained chick peas and a generous handful of chopped fresh or frozen coriander (if you only have frozen then add a little more if you wish as you cannot use it as a garnish).  Sseason with salt and pepper and continue to cook.  For crisp vegetables do not need very long but this can take a longer cooking time as well so the texture is similar to Ratatouille.

4.  Serve sprinkled with more freshly chopped coriander if available.  If serving is delayed, it will be served cold, or turning it into soup, then reserve the coriander to add just before serving so it does not wilt.

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I have had this simple but tasty potato recipe in mind for a church lunch we are having in a few weeks time.  However, I felt I needed to try them out in advance so I included them at Sunday lunch this week when they were much appreciated by my visiting parents – a bit of a change from the usual roast potatoes, though equally lovely and crispy.  (I usually sprinkle my peeled par-boiled, potatoes with olive oil and sea salt anyway.)  This would certainly an easy solution for mass catering as there is no peeling involved, in fact I found that the potatoes can can be boiled in advance and kept in cold water.  They are finished off by adding the herbs and oil just before putting them in the oven to roast.  I attacked my partly cooked potatoes with the potato masher to (not too violently) crush or ‘smash’ them, thus gaining our name for them: Smashed Potatoes.  

The recipe comes from Celia who writes at one of my favourite sites: Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, where the potatoes were named ‘Splats’ by one of her friends.  She credits the recipe to Jill Dupleix who calls them Crash-Hot Potatoes.  (Jill, like Celia, comes from Australia and not unsurprisingly I have not heard of her before.  I took a look at her site and found a whole list of other good recipes: all of the ones I saw having weights, very usefully, in metric.)  They have been much written about by other food bloggers too, so I now add myself to the list of ‘converts’ and this site, ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’, to the list of sites that sings their praises!  This time I added mixed dried Herbes de Provence with the freshly ground salt and black pepper as I wanted to keep the flavours simple to complement the marinade flavouring our Roast Pork.  Jill suggests adding either fennel or caraway seeds plus sprigs of thyme or rosemary: a great idea idea which would vary the flavour from meal to meal.  I expect there could be some other variations too, matching flavours of added herbs and spices to the meat or main course eaten: if you have tried these another way I would love to hear from you.  Just one comment: I had made these just once before and although we enjoyed them I did not leave enough time for them to fully crisp so we felt they could have been better – a mistake I made sure I did not make on this second occasion!  

I had to use halves and quarters of larger potatoes but I intend to make these again using smaller evenly sized potatoes and will post another (better) picture in due course.   

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Smashed Potatoes
(
Serves 4)

16 small, round potatoes, or pieces of larger potatoes (about 2-2
salt
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp ground Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper (could try Paprika or Chilli for alternative heat)
2tbsp dried mixed Herbes de Provence (Mediterranean herbs)
     or 
1 tbsp fennel or caraway seeds (original flavouring)
1 tbsp thyme or rosemary sprigs (original flavouring)

1.  If planning to cook these potatoes straight away, heat oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7 or even (and preferably)  230oC/450oF/Gas 8.  A good hot temperature will crisp and cook the potatoes quickly.   

2.  Scrub the potatoes and remove any blemishes but do not peel them.  Ideally choose evenly sized smallish potatoes you can leave whole, but if absolutely necessary, larger ones can be halved or even quartered.  The finished look will, of course be different though. 

3.  Bring the potatoes to the boil in a panful of salted water, turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until just about cooked but not too soft.  They should be able to be prodded with a skewer or fork without much resistance. 

4.  Drain the potatoes and if necessary, plunge into cold water to keep for a while until it is time to finish them.

5.  Turn on the oven as at No 1, if not already preheating.  Arrange the potatoes on a lightly oiled baking tray or sheet, leaving a little room between each one for them to spread. Using a potato masher flatten each potato a little, so it starts to crack open and it is about twice its original diameter.

6.  Generously drizzle over olive oil and scatter with Herbes de Provence, freshly ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper.  (Alternative herb and spice flavourings can be used, but I think that it would be a shame to omit the Sea Salt and, unless adding another hot spice, the Black Pepper.)

7.  Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until crispy and golden, gently moving them around half way through the cooking time to stop them from sticking to the baking sheet. Serve hot.  If you need to cook these at a lower temperature than indicated above then make sure you allow a longer cooking time.

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Cabbage, along with Spring Greens and Brussels Sprouts, gets a really bad press.  Its not surprising really – I am sure we have all eaten really awfully cooked cabbage, greens or sprouts at one time or another … overcooked, watery, tasteless, colourless…  It’s no wonder that generations of children rebel!  However, cooked properly, these green vegetables can be really tasty.  The secret is a short cooking time to retain crispness and colour: about 7 minutes for sprouts should be ample.  If  you wish, extra flavours can be added as in this recipe. I used a round winter Savoy Cabbage, which has a wonderfully ‘ruched’ texture.  Substitute a different type of cabbage, shredded or quartered Brussels Sprouts or even Broccoli for variety.

This recipe comes from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, originally simple called Fried Cabbage with Bacon.  It is quick and simple and can be ready in about 20 minutes, an ideal accompaniment for sausages or simply grilled meat.  Be careful not to cook the cabbage over too high a heat or it could could burn: add a little water (two or three teaspoons at most) and lower the heat if this does start to happen.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Cabbage with Bacon & Onion
(Serves 3-4)

1lb shredded cabbage (or substitute Brussels Sprouts or Broccoli)
4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped – more if you wish
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
Salt & black pepper

1.  Using a large frying pan, gently fry the diced onion and chopped bacon in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until soft.

2.  Stir in the crushed garlic.

3.  Add the shredded cabbage to the pan.  It will seem to be rather a lot, but will cook down.  Stir from time to time so it cooks evenly.   Season to taste.  After 10 minutes the cabbage should be cooked, but will still be crisp.  For softer cabbage put a lid on the frying pan so that it will cook in the steam, but beware overcooking.

4.  Serve with sausages or grilled meat and a jacket potato.

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