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I was reminded of this recipe this morning when a friend at church brought in duck eggs for sale.  We had a ready supply throughout last year but the ducks have been taking a break from laying and the resumed supply is something we have eagerly anticipated!  I discovered this very simple recipe last year and although you can use hen’s eggs the larger and richer duck eggs (see picture) make it an extra special light supper.  I have made egg curries in the past and we always enjoy them, but this is one of the simplest recipes I have come across.

Once more this recipe is based on one from one of my favourite books: Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner, with just a few very small tweaks.  It’s simple sauce could be used as a base for any grilled meat or fish or diced meat or fish could also be incorporated.  It reminds me a little of other recipes on this site, in particular Pork Sausages Indian Style, a Madhur Jaffrey recipe and Prawn & Tomato Korma, both of which are favourites.  If using hen’s eggs then it is probably better to serve one and a half or even two per person for a light meal: with duck eggs one should be adequate.  If you are serving this at a larger main meal then you will definitely need more eggs and the sauce will serve only two or three people.  If serving as one option at an Indian style multi dish meal then the eggs should be quartered.  This could also be served as a starter with half an egg per portion (in two quarters) and a small piece of naan or poppodums.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Egg Curry
(Serves 4 as a light meal – 2-3 as a main meal – 6-8 as a starter)

4 duck eggs (1 per person – ½ for a starter)
or
4-8 hens eggs (depending on appetite of diners – 1 or less for a starter)
1tbsp sunflower oil
1 large or 2 small white onions (be generous)
2.5cm/1inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
6 green cardamom pods
3 cloves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1.5cm/½inch piece of root ginger, finely chopped
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
¼tsp ground turmeric
1tsp garam masala
1tsp chilli powder
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt & black pepper to taste
180ml/6fl ozs vegetable stock or water (or 1tsp stock powder and water)
To garnish
Small handful fresh chopped coriander (parsley if unavailable)
1 small green chilli, a few fine slices (optional – I usually omit this)

1.  Hard boil the eggs in boiling water: 10-12 minutes for duck eggs or 8-10 minutes for hens eggs.  Once cooked plunge immediately into cold water, which will cool them and also help prevent the unsightly grey ring that can form around the yolk.  I usually steam hard boil eggs, having pierced the shells first, which takes about 5 minutes longer.

2.  Finely chop the onion and gently fry it in the oil for 2-3 minutes so it is soft but not browned.

3.  Stir in the finely chopped garlic and ginger along with the cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamoms and cloves.  Fry for 1 minute.

4.  Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder.  Stir well and fry for about 30 seconds more.

5.  Add the chopped tinned tomatoes.  Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.   Add the stock or water and bring to the boil.  Season to taste.

6.  Put the hard boiled eggs into the sauce and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

7.  Serve sauce on a bed of plain boiled rice with egg or eggs placed on top.  Garnish with coriander or parsley and, if you wish, a little finely sliced green chilli.

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From time to time the supermarket has a 2 for 1 offer on bags of large prawns so I stock up.  I buy the grey uncooked ones which change colour as they cook, just like magic, before your eyes.  I discovered a bag of these large prawns sitting in the freezer waiting for a good recipe shortly after we returned from France and I remembered this recipe and thought it would help keep our recent holiday memories alive: a simple summery dish in a piquant sauce and ideal for a light quick meal.  It would also be good as a starter.  My family’s only complaint was that they would have liked more: perhaps a mixture of large and small prawns would be possible.  Certainly this recipe could just as easily be made with the small relatively inexpensive prawns.  This is also another recipe where I can use the mild flavoured Piment d’Espelette I bought in the Basque region of France.

The recipe comes from the Tesco book Mediterranean Food by Christine France, which is fast becoming one of my favourite titles.  The original recipe used Tiger Prawns, which I am sure would be wonderful, but not what I was intending to use.  In place of a 400g bag of shell on Tiger Prawns I used a 200g bag of uncooked & peeled frozen large prawns.  I added an optional 1tsp tomato purée for extra richness as I did not have plum tomatoes, having substituted ordinary round English ones which are often less sweet, plus a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavour of the fruit.  The quantity was really only enough for a light main meal for three people and if feeding more people more large prawns or some small ones should be added.  Extra tomatoes would also give a larger quantity.

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

Prawns with Provençal Style Tomato Salsa
(Serves 2-3 – 4 for a starter)

400g/14ozs raw tiger prawns in shells
or
200g/7ozs shelled tiger prawns, large or small – raw if available
2tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed
¼tsp dried crushed chillies (Piment d’Espelette if available)
3 or 4 plum tomatoes finely chopped (round English tomatoes if plum unavailable)
1tsp tomato purée
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained & finely chopped
2tsp red wine vinegar
6 pitted black olives, quartered
2tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt & black pepper

1.  If using shell on prawns remove the shells, slit open the back of each one and scrape out any black vein.  Rinse well and pat dry with kitchen towel.

2.  If using frozen prawns they should have been prepared in advance but must be defrosted before cooking.

3.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic and chillies together for one minute to release their flavour.

4.  If using raw prawns, fresh or defrosted, add them now stir fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink and cooked through.  Pre-cooked prawns can be cooked for a shorter time, especially the tiny ones, as they only need to be heated through thoroughly (if cooked for too long they become rubbery).

5.  Stir in the fresh and dried tomatoes (plus tomato purée if using) and simmer together with the prawns for one minute.

6.  Stir in the wine vinegar, olives and most of the basil and remove from the heat.  Season and scatter with a little more shredded basil before serving with salad and crusty bread or rice.

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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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This has to be one of the best ketchup based recipes I have come across.  I know it seems excessive to repost two recipes from the same source consecutively, but this recipe and the one for home made Tomato Ketchup posted last week just have to go together – I do hope that Celia, from whom they both originate doesn’t mind.  (I do believe in giving credit where it is due!)  Actually the recipe is Celia’s but the method is my usual one and very similar to that used by Nigella Lawson.

The source is the same as for the ketchup: the inspirational Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.  Celia writes in her original post, Roasted Pork Ribs:

“I wanted a sweet, sticky sauce to cook these in and ended up concocting my own marinade…”:

(and very good it is too – did I say that before?!).  By all means use ribs but I have adapted the recipe for a more meatier cut as we don’t usually eat ribs.  Mostly I use the leanest rind free belly pork strips I can find (Sainsburys in the UK have relatively inexpensive Pork Streaky Rashers) but spare rib chops or pork steaks would be suitable too … as would chicken.  (I have collected together a list of tried and untried marinade recipes in a previous post, particularly ones for use with pork, chicken and beef – though they might be able to be used with other meats, or even fish.)  I you have a favourite one I would love to hear from you.  I have translated tCelia’s original Australian ingredient quantities into their UK equivalents, otherwise I used the recipe exactly as in the original, halving the quantity of marinade for 3-4 belly strips – the original was for 1kg (about 2lbs) ribs.  It is worth freezing a bag of ready marinaded meat.   I have been known to make two or three times the quantity (each portion family meal sized).  Once defrosted this can be tipped into a dish and cooked for a quick meal.  Sticky Tomato Pork would be good served with the pork cut into squares before marinading, then cooked and served as buffet or tapas bites.  It would also be good served as a starter dish at a Chinese meal when, of course, ribs would be particularly appropriate.

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

Sticky Tomato Pork
(6-8 pieces)

4ozs/110g tomato ketchup (see recipe for home made Tomato Ketchup)
2ozs/55g runny honey
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1.  Place a plastic bag generous enough to contain the meat and the marinade ingredients (plus a little extra room for movement) over a bowl.

2.  Put in the meat and then add the remaining ingredients.

3.  Seal the bag and gently move the meat and the marinade round together by squeezing with your fingers.

4.  Put in the fridge and leave to marinade for at least one hour but preferably all day or overnight.

5.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Tip the marinaded meat into a roasting dish and cover with foil.  Put into the oven for about 45-50 minutes, turning the pieces of meat over to baste.  Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow the meat to brown and any liquids to reduce.

6.  Serve with rice or flatbreads and salad.  They are also delicious served with crispy jacket potato wedges, as recommended in the original recipe.

Link to collected Marinade Recipes that sound worth trying
All Marinade recipes on this site…

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Back in the 1970’s I watched Ken Hom cooking Sesame Prawn Toast on TV in his classic TV show Chinese Cookery and although he said they were simple to make, it still took me years to get round to having a go.  Whatever else I order in a Chinese restaurant I always feel I have somehow missed out if I don’t have at least one piece of Sesame Prawn Toast – I have also eaten them in a Thai restaurant where they tasted much the same.  In one really good local restaurant they are just one element of a mixed starter dish so I don’t even have to choose!  It is some time since I have cooked a multi dish Chinese meal so earlier this year I took my opportunity.  It was mum’s birthday.  I know that I can take a bit more risk with something I have not made before – my family and parents are very forgiving guinea pigs – so our starter was, of course, sesame prawn toast.  As I had thought it was a straightforwad recipe and it and the meal a resounding success.

The recipe is a fairly standard one, as far as I can see, and comes from the BBC book that accompanied the TV series: Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery.  The mixture and the finished uncooked toasts can be made in advance (always an advantage) chilled and then cooked just prior to serving.  Although the original recipe was deep fried I found that the toasts could also be shallow fried.  After draining on kitchen paper I popped them into the oven, which had been on to cook the duck breast for the Duck with Chinese Style Plum Sauce I was also serving.  This kept the toasts warm and crisped them even more.  A version of the recipe can also be found at This Morning Recipes but includes water chestnuts and pork, which are not in the original recipe.  It also specifies just the white of the egg which I have kept as I think it an improvement on my recipe.

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

Sesame Prawn Toast
(Makes about 30 pieces)
For the base
10 slices bread, very thinly sliced (a square loaf looks neater when cut up)
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds (or more as required)
450ml (15 fl oz) sunflower oil (original suggests groundnut/peanut
For the prawn paste mixture
450g/1lb uncooked prawns, peeled & finely chopped
1tsp salt
½tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 egg white
2tbsp finely chopped spring onions, white part only
2tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1tbsp of light soy sauce
1tsp of sesame oil

1.  Chop the prawns finely until they are a paste and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well until it is a smooth consistency that will be easy to spread. (If available, use a food processor.)

2.  Remove the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into about three ‘fingers’ – rectangles of around 7.5 x 2.5cm  (3 x 1 inch).  Alternatively cut into triangles: 2 large or 4 small.

3.  Spread the prawn paste over the pieces of bread.  Each should be about 3 mm (⅛inch) deep, although it can be spread more thinly if preferred.

4.  Sprinkle the toasts generously with sesame seeds and press well in.

5. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer, frying pan or a wok to medium heat.  Fry the toasts paste side downwards, several at the same time, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them over and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown.

6.  Remove with a slotted spoon, place on kitchen paper to drain and place in the oven or under a gentle grill to keep warm. (The toasts will have to be cooked in several batches.)

7.  It is recommended that the toasts are served at once.  However, they can be kept for a short while (say 5-10 minutes at most) and even finished in a warm oven, in which case it is helpful if they are slightly less browned in the fryer or wok.  Beware leaving them too long as they will harden and could quickly burn.

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This is such an easy recipe: simply combine all the ingredients in a plastic bag and leave the flavours to develop. It includes one of my favourite flavours, Star Anise, which is an unusually shaped spice with an easily recognisable floral shape.   Along with root ginger, it infuses this marinade with the distinctive flavour of Far Eastern food, plus giving off a wonderful aroma when cooking.  With a holiday looming I know I will need to call on my repertoire of quick and easy recipes, but it is always a useful quick meal to for a busy day. Bearing this in mind there are ready marinaded portions of this recipe in the freezer, each bagful enough for a meal for my family.  All I have to do is remember to get one out of freeze in the morning, add the onion pieces and defrost in the fridge or a cool place during the day.  Then in the evening simply tip the contents of the bag into a dish, cover and pop into the oven.  Although cooking takes around an hour it gives time to get on with the vegetables and other jobs.  Easy-peasy!

The source for this recipe is Finger Lickin’ Ribs from the book Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson, but with some slight variations.  The title has been tweaked, adding the word aromatic and removing the reference to ribs which I would never use.  (We find them a lot of effort for very little reward.)  In their place I usually use lean belly pork strips, but sometimes spare rib or loin chops.  Chicken could also be substituted and it could even used to marinade a larger piece of meat, which should definitely be left overnight before cooking.  We like much more onion too (this can be as much as a small/medium onion per person).  The original recipe used molasses but I substituted the much more readily available black treacle.  Finally, as an alternative to ring the changes, orange juice could replace pineapple.  I found that the dish needed to be covered with foil as it tends to spatter whilst cooking, but this should be removed for the final 10 minutes or so to allow the juices to evaporate and the meat to crisp a little.  I’m afraid that this is not the easiest dish to photograph attractively (especially as it was taken on a winter evening under electric strip lighting and looks much more greasy than it really is – I must photograph it again in the summer!).  It’s very unflatteringly ‘brown’, but delicious nonetheless.  Do give it a try.  I use other marinade recipes which are equally tasty and links for these will appear further down in due course once I have added the recipes.

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

Aromatic Finger Lickin’ Pork
(Serves 4)

4-8 lean belly pork strips (1-2 per person depending on size)
or
1 spare rib or loin chop per person
4 small/medium onions (less if you prefer)
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick broken into pieces
1 small green chilli, with seeds & inner membrane removed
A 1inch/2.5cm piece fresh ginger
Juice & zest of a lime
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp sunflower oil
1tbsp black treacle or molasses
50ml pineapple juice (¼ small carton – freeze the remainder in 50ml portions)

1.  Line a medium sized bowl with an open plastic bag big enough to hold all the ingredients but leaving enough room to tie together and seal.  If you are intending to freeze for a later date then leave out the onion until it is going to be cooked.

2.  Into the large plastic bag put the meat, the peeled onions, each cut into about eight segments, the star anise and the crumbled cinnamon stick.  Add the chilli, finely chopped (for more heat do not remove the seeds and membrane and the peeled and finely sliced ginger.

2.  Zest the lime and squeeze the juice into the bag and add the the soy sauce, oil, treacle and pineapple juice and seal the bag by tying a knot.   Carefully squeeze the bag to combine the flavourings with the meat as much as possible.  Ideally the bag should be left overnight (or throughout the day) in the fridge, but it needs to marinade for at least two hours.

3.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Once it has reached room temperature pour the contents of the bag containing the marinaded meat into a roasting tin. Cover with foil and put into the oven for 1 hour, turning the pieces of meat over and removing the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow them to brown and any liquids to reduce.

4.  Serve with rice or flatbreads and salad.  If using belly strips the pieces can be cut into bit sized pieces and served as part of a hot buffet or on a starter selection plate at a chinese style meal.

—–

More pork marinades – or maybe chicken (perhaps other meats and fish too):
(Please leave comments about the following recipes with the recipe at the link given rather than here – thanks!)

Australian Spiced Roast Pork

100_2332-Australian spiced roast pork

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

Sticky Tomato Pork
based on Roasted Pork Ribs (Fig Jam & Lime Cordial)

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

Moroccan Style Marinaded Lamb Steaks

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

Other marinade recipes I have found, as yet untried (various meats):

Four Pork Barbecue Sauces via The Evening Herault
(Standard Barbecue Sauce, Cha shao – Cantonese BBQ pork, Barbecued Irish pork chops, Jamie Oliver’s best BBQ meat sauce)
Slow Cooker Chinese Ribs via Greedy Rosie
Barbeque Flavoured Pork via Farmersgirl Kitchen
Best Five-Spice Pork Spare Ribs via Best Recipes
F
rench Style Spareribs via Lemons & Anchovies
Char Siu Pork via The Spanish Wok

Red Garlic Chicken via The Complete Cookbook
Spicy & Sticky Orange marinade via Souperior
Marmalade & Wine Chicken Kebabs via The Complete Cookbook
Sticky Chicken Wings via Lavender & Lime
Poricha Kozhi (Fried Spiced Chicken) – Indian Street Food via Rhis Foodie World
Middle Eastern Marinated Chicken via Searching for Spice

Korean Style Bulgogi Barbecue Beef via Rhis Foodie World
Balsamic Roasted Beef via Noble Nourishment

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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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A bowlful of a good hearty soup sometimes takes the place of a plated main meal in our house, especially during the winter months.  This usually contains meat, but not always a large quantity and sometimes, as is the case with this recipe, there is no meat at all.  It just goes to prove that soups don’t have to to contain meat to be satisfying: this delicious recipe contains generous amounts of a good selection of vegetables, plus small sized soup pasta.

This recipe, originally just called Vegetable Soup, comes from The Creative Vegetarian Cookbook published by Bramley Books (there is no author listed – edited by Jillian Stewart & Kate Cranshaw). I made the recipe as in the book but substuted 1 sweet potato as I did not have any swede.  I also found that it needed a little extra water towards the end of the cooking time so have included this in the instructions.  Soup pasta, is available in supermarkets and is a dainty version of the pasta shapes usually served as part of a main course.  In addition to the original recipe I added a good sprinkling of grated parmesan just prior to serving.  Of course, if you really miss the meat some diced ham or bacon could be added as well, I suggest at the first stage of cooking.  The recipe gives three generous servings but can be stretched to four by increasing the size or amounts of the vegetables or by serving crusty bread or toast on the side.

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Chunky Vegetable & Pasta Soup
(Serves 3-4)

2tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled & sliced
1 large turnip or fist sized piece of swede or sweet potato, peeled & sliced
2 leeks, washed & thinly sliced
2 potatoes, scrubbed & diced
570ml/1pint vegetable stock
450g/1lb tin of plum tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼tsp dried marjoram or dried savory
60g/2ozs dried small sized soup pasta
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
90g/3ozs fresh or frozen sliced green beans
120g/4ozs okra, trimmed & sliced
60g/2ozs frozen or tinned sweetcorn niblets
60g/2ozs frozen peas
1tbsp chopped parsley – plus a little more to garnish
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated, to garnish (optional)

 1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the carrot, turnip or swede (sweet potato should be added a little later), leeks and potatoes.

2.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned. 

3.  Add the stock, sweet potato (if using), tomatoes, bay leaf, marjoram/savory, soup pasta, salt & black pepper. 

4.  Gently bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 20minutes.

5.  Add the beans and okra and cook for 10 minutes more.

6.  Finally add the sweetcorn, peas and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more before serving.

7.  Check seasoning.  Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with a little reserved parsley.  Grated fresh parmesan cheese can also be added – optional.  Serve with crusty bread.

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The combination of pulses and root vegetables make delicious soups for the colder months and this thick golden bowlful certainly keeps out the winter chill.  The food writer Nigel Slater, who devised the recipe, writes that though this is a winter soup it is also ideal for a cold spring day: a way to use up the last of the winter pulses and a good use for those parsnips hiding in the vegetable rack.  It is certainly good for using up parsnips that are slightly past their best or the thin pieces that don’t roast too well!

The recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s column in the Observer Sunday newspaper colour supplement in April 2007 which can also be found online.  The other recipe that day was Beetroot Seed Cake, which I also made and have already written about on this site.  This soup is tasty and spicy, though for a less hot version use just half a dried chilli pepper, or even less, rather than whole one.  Nigel Slater prefers cooking the vegetables in butter rather than oil but I use both.  You still get a buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent the butter from burning.  The recipe did not really need too much alteration, although towards the end of the cooking time I put in some fresh coriander, as well as adding some as a garnish to give its distinctive flavour which we love.  You can, of course, leave this out if you wish.

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

Parsnip & Split Pea Soup
(Serves 4)

2 medium sized onions
a generous knob of butter
1tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 parsnips
2tsp chilli crushed (I used 1 small crushed dried chilli)
1tsp turmeric
a large pinch of ground mace
2tsp ground coriander
125gyellow split peas
1.5 litres water
black pepper
Fresh coriander to stir through and garnish (optional)

1.  Peel and roughly chop the onions. Gently heat the butter and olive oil together in a deep pan.  (Nigel Slater prefers butter to oil but I use both as you still get the buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent it from burning.) 

2.  Add the onions to the pan and start to cook gently.  Next peel and crush the garlic and peel and roughly chop the parsnips, adding both to the pan and mixing well. Cook gently on a medium heat. 

3.  When they are starting to show colour add the crushed chilli, turmeric powder, ground mace and ground coriander.

4.  Add the split peas and water.  Season with black pepper.  (The salt needs to be added later when the peas start to soften: any earlier and it will toughen their skins.)  Simmer gently for around 35 minutes until the peas are soft and can be crushed between your fingers.

5.  Add salt to taste.  Liquidise until the soup is smooth and thick, return to the pan and gently reheat.  Rinse the liquidiser with a very small amount of water adding this to the pan as well. 

6.  Chop the fresh coriander, reserve a little to garnish and stir through the soup as it reheats.

7.  Adjust the seasoning and serve with crusty bread.

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What could be better for a Summer Sunday lunch on a scorcher of a day – a ‘too hot to cook’ type of hot day!  I was delighted when I discovered this recipe on the back of the pack of tuna and it was perfect for a busy day, just before we went on holiday, when lots of cooking was the last thing on my agenda.  (We followed it with an ice cream dessert).   Salad Niçoise is a specialty of the Côte d’Azur region of France, originating in and named after the Mediterranean port city of Nice.  Traditionally red peppers and shallots are used with the French insistent that no cooked vegetables be added, whilst it is not always usual to include salad leaves.   With these reservations, Salad Niçoise is usually understood to be a mixed salad which includes four essentials: tuna, egg, French green beans and olives mixed with other salad ingredients, all of which is tossed with a vinaigrette dressing.

My recipe starting point was found on the back of a pack of Finest Catch Frozen Tuna Steaks.  (This appears to be a small company without a website address, but their fish retails through a small nationwide chain of supermarkets and I have been very pleased with it, especially their Oak Smoked Haddock.)  I find frozen tuna steaks easy to use and relatively economical though if I was cooking for a special occasion I would choose fresh tuna steaks.  Alternatively, this can be served at a buffet with the tuna steak replaced with the contents of two tins of tuna chunks, which are placed on top just before serving at the same time as the eggs and olives.  (It should go without saying that Tuna should come only from a sustainable source and be line caught.)  I had all the ingredients to hand, the one exception being that I had a jar green olives already open, so decided to use these rather than the usual black ones.  I added a couple of additional salad ingredients which we usually enjoy: cucumber and pepper, this time orange.

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

Salad Niçoise
(Serves 4) 

4 Tuna steaks  (or 2 tins of Tuna chunks in brine, drained)
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
salt & black pepper

For the salad:
2oog small new potatoes (cook with a sprig of mint, optional)
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
175g green french beans, topped & tailed
100g lettuce (original recipe suggests 1 head Romaine – I substituted a mixed bag)
150g cherry tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes cut into quarters or eighths)
1 small red onion, finely sliced
50g pitted olives, black (original recipe) or green or mixed colours
4inches/10cm cucumber cut into four lengthways and chopped
1 orange/red/yellow pepper diced (optional)
6tbsp vinaigrette dressing (have more available if needed)

1.  Scrub the potatoes and boil until soft.  Add a sprig of mint to the boiling water (optional).  Drain and cool.

2.  Hard boil the eggs in their shells.  Cool immediately in cold water to avoid a grey ring around the yolk.  When cool, crack and remove the shell, quarter and set aside.

3.  Blanch the beans by pouring over boiling water which should be just enough to slightly soften while they retain their bright green colour.  Immerse in cold water to stop them from overcooking, drain and set aside.

4.  Prepare the remaining salad items except for the olives and pieces of egg.  Stir in the cooled potatoes and beans.  Dress with the vinaigrette and gently mix together.

5.  Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add a little olive oil and heat until the butter has just melted.  Place the Tuna steaks in the saucepan, season with salt & pepper and squeeze over the lemon juice.  When the Tuna steak has a light colour on on one side, turn it adding a little extra olive oil if necessary and cook until the second side is also lightly coloured.  The fish should not be overcooked and should still be a little pink in the centre.  Alternatively, cook the Tuna steak in your own preferred way.

6.  Serve a pile of salad onto each plate, placing a still warm tuna steak on the top and decorating with the pieces of egg and olives.  Alternatively serve the tuna steaks separately, decorating one large dish of tossed salad with the olives and egg pieces so that guests can serve themselves.  Drizzle just a little extra olive oil over the salad if you wish, or have extra dressing and seasoning available for guests to help themselves.

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