Tag Archives: garlic

Brown Rice Risotto With Mixed Mushrooms

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It wasn’t so long back that I would never have thought brown rice can become irresistible and fit for a fine dinning experience. I always liked it and thought it was OK, but for a dinner party……not really.

Well here that theory is blown out of the water. Continually searching for healthy options around classic meals I went round the block and back with risotto using barley, kamut and spelt. Quinoa will work but is nowhere near the consistency of a good risotto and really, it is not a risotto. A risotto is with rice, in this case round brown Italian rice.

Using the round brown Italian rice is perfect for this dish. Health food shops and sections at the supermarkets will stock it. It might not even say it on the packet in the supermarket, just look for the smallest roundest grain. Cooking the rice a bit longer than directed gives it a similar richness to what butter gives  which is that creaminess. Brown rice is very forgiving as it will retain a bite even when it goes a bit over. The ‘bite’ in risotto is so important. So over cook it a little to add a rich texture. You can lose the parmesan easily, yeast flakes would work as a substitute and therefore becoming a vegan option or it stands alone with the depth of the mushrooms.

Brown rice outweighs the health benefits of any white rice. A dish like this has a certain air of originality about it as well.  Making healthy food taste good is very popular at the moment.  If you are familiar with brown rice then you will know what a chore it can be to cook time wise which is why I pre-cook this for twenty minutes before starting the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g round brown Italian rice
200g chestnut mushrooms (use any mix of mushrooms, these are just easy to get)
150g portobello mushrooms
75g dried mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of veg stock (cubes or powder)
150ml white wine, sherry or vermouth
30g parmesan
1 green chilli (optional)
100g spinach
Maldon salt and black pepper
1 spring onion or chives
1 lemon

Prep list

Soak the dried mushrooms for twenty minutes (the dish is noticeably better with them and I saw them in all supermarkets when I was back in the UK). Cook the rice in boiling water for 20 mins and drain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit sticky.

MixedmushPeel and cut the shallots into small squares. Brush any dirt off the chestnut mushrooms, do not wash though as this gives the mushrooms a sliminess which tends to put people off them. Cut into similar sized squares as the shallots. Cut the portobello mushroom into thick slices. Chop the soaked mushrooms as finely as possible. Press the garlic to a pulp. De-seed and chop the chilli. Grate the parmesan. Make up the stock which needs to be kept hot and add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms to it.

Method

Sautee the portobello slices until browned on each side (if you are using them). Take out of pan and put onto paper to remove excess oil. Fry off the chestnut mushrooms (or mixed mushrooms) and the dried ones in oil. When they start browning add the shallots. When it is all browned and dry add the garlic and green chilli ,combine and cook for a further two mins. Add the precooked rice and stir it in until the excess oil has been absorbed. Add the white wine and let the liquid cook out.

RisottopanWhen the rice starts sticking to the bottom add the stock, a ladleful at a time. Everytime it reduces add more stock. Keep it moving with a spatula which stops it sticking to the bottom.

P1090274After 20mins taste a grain and if its soft but with some bite turn off the heat making sure it is still wet. Add the grated parmesan, ground black pepper, spinach leaves and cooked portobello mushrooms. Put a lid (or cover with foil) on and leave for 5 mins. Take the lid off and gently fold the contents until they are evenly mixed through and the cheese has melted. Be gentle so as not to break or mash up the contents. The risotto needs to be loose so add some more stock if necessary.

To plate up put the risotto put a spoonful in the middle of the plate and smooth it over the surface, to make it nice and flat instead of a pile. Sprinkle to finish with finely cut spring onions.

Roast Butternut Squash Chickpea and Coconut Curry

Pumpkin

This kind of dish is a staple of South Indian cuisine. Straightforward and quick to make, it will also add a vegetarian option to your repertoire. I have worked on the textures by roasting off the squash which gives it a crispy and sweet feel, not mushy like when you cook it in the coconut milk. The cashews also add a big crunch to the curry.

Here we also have a solid introduction to the basis of Asian curries which is the paste. This an example of the most basic of pastes which is onion, garlic and ginger blended. You can see where the consistency of Indian and Thai curries come from when you start cooking this way.

Fenugreek can be harder to find than other spices.  It takes a pestle and mortar to grind it to a powder, but it does add another depth to a dish which is always good, but you can lose it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g butternut squash
1 medium onion
6 cloves of garlic
25g ginger
2 to 4 fresh chillies (red or green)
1 lime
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tsps ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek (optional)
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
750ml coconut milk (2 tins)
1 tin of chick peas (400g)
Sunflower oil (or any oil)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
70g cashews

Prep list

Blend or grate the onion, garlic and ginger. Peel and cut the squash into 3cm chunks. Drain the chick-peas, pick the coriander, and mix together the fenugreek, cumin and coriander. Chop the chillies and roast off the cashews.

Method

Turn the oven to 200 degrees. Toss the cubes of squash in oil, put onto a baking tray and roast off in the oven. Spread the squash out so its not heaped on top of each other. Cook until browned and soft, about twenty mins, being gentle so it doesn’t turn to mush.

Meanwhile, put a pan with the oil onto a medium heat. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, as soon as they begin to pop add the onion, garlic and ginger. Fry off without colouring them too much. When really soft after about 5 minutes add the spice and cook some more, constantly stirring so it doesn’t take on the bottom and then take off the heat. Stir in the coconut milk, salt, sugar and chilli then return to a low heat with the chickpeas and cook for thirty minutes. Take off the heat and taste.

PasteSqueeze half of the lime and tweak as you feel necessary for salt. Don’t worry if you think the sauce could be a bit sweeter, the sweetness of the squash will come through when its all combined. Gently fold in the roasted squash, again,  being careful it doesn’t turn into a mush.

To serve put some steamed rice in the bowl, and ladle the curry with some sauce. Roughly crush the cashews (I use the bottom of a pan and lean on it so it breaks them up). Sprinkle a generous amount of  cashews then finish with a fat pinch of picked coriander.

Re-Fried Beans

re fried 4
I am going with red kidney beans for this dish as I prefer the colour and they are probably easier to find. In the photos I have used pinto beans which are typically Spanish, but on reflection I normally use red kidney beans and prefer them.

Re- fried beans will liven up any simple protein eg. grilled chicken, fish or tofu, and there will be no need to make a sauce. Amongst other things they are a good source of protein so you could just have them with brown rice, salad, green vegetables or even just a bag of tortilla chips. This is not a mash, it is fluid with plenty of the kidney  beans visible.

If you are using from a packet you need 250g and to soak them overnight and cook them accordingly until soft. Otherwise use a tin. If you are soaking and cooking them, keep the liquor they have been cooked in and use that to make the dish. If you are using them from a tin then wash the beans well before using them. There is never very much of this left after it is served up. If there is then put it in the fridge and reheat by putting a splash of water in a pan and adding the beans, keep stirring the beans until they are hot and you have a thick but wet consistency.

ChipotleIngredients

250g red kidney beans
1 medium white onion
6 cloves of garlic
Chipotle tabasco or regular tabasco (an optional ingredient – the dish will survive without it)
1 1/2 tbsps (15g) ground cumin
1.5 – 2  litres of stock (cube or powder is fine from health food section)
Fresh coriander (if you can get it, nice touch)
Light olive oil

Method

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Put a large frying pan onto the heat, add the olive oil and sweat off the onions and garlic. Add the cumin and stir for a couple of minutes.

Re fried 2Add the beans and the liquid (if kept), stir and add the stock. You will need to keep adding more water in the cooking process, so boil your kettle again in preparation,  make up a hot stock and keep topping up as the beans thicken. It is said, and I always do it, not to add cold water to pulses when you are  cooking them or the pulse will not soften.

re fried 3Keep adding liquid and breaking/mashing the beans as you go. I use a silicon spatula and just press down onto the beans as they are cooking, don’t break them up too much, you want some texture.

If you have chipotle tabasco or even ordinary tabasco add to taste. Finish off with chopped coriander.

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Croutons

 

Here’s the thing;  if you put 250ml of double cream into cauliflower soup, like every other recipe I have read,  then for sure you will have a rich and scrumptious soup. That soup will also be intensely  calorific.  This is a lighter soup relying on the cauliflower being cooked properly and not stewed. This alongside the addition of the mustard which adds some depth and a small amount of zero yoghurt finished off with a scratch of parmesan on the croutons (which can be left out if you wish) gives it depth and richness with out the fat content.

Ingredients

1 large white onion
1 small to medium cauliflower (450g)
2 cloves of garlic
1 litre of stock (either homemade or from an organic stock cube)
1 tspoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
30g parmesan
Spelt bread (or any old bread you have in the house)
Natural yoghurt

Method

Roughly chop your onion and cauliflower keeping them seperate.  Take a good pan and cover the bottom with the oil,  place onto a mid heat and sweat off the onions. Try not to brown them as this will colour the soup the wrong way, you want it as light as possible. Add the garlic and cauliflower, keep stirring for 5 mins then cover with stock. Let this cook out for about half an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the croutons. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Cut the bread into small squares, toss with some oil. Put on to a baking tray lined with paper. You only need enough for about 8 squares in each bowl. Toast off in the oven when they are ready take out and scratch some parmesan over them. Put back in for another minute. Put to one side until the soup is ready.

Take a stick blender, a magi-mix or a smoothie maker, and blend the soup until really smooth. Add the mustard and blend some more. If it is a little bit too thick, alter the consistency with some more of the stock. Knock down the yoghurt with just a little water so it is more of a pouring consistency.

To serve; Pour into a bowl, place a big pinch of croutons in the middle, then draw a circle of yoghurt around the croutons for a nice cheffy finish. Young thyme leaves or chives work well with with this soup sprinkled onto the croutons.

Pan-fried Trout and Provencal Vegetables

It is rare that I don’t put a sauce with fish, but the Provencal vegetables give the same context to this meal as a sauce, that being moisture and texture. This is one of those recipes where it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have one or two of the ingredients and for example, you can swap basil and parsley for thyme or rosemary.  We are just trying to encapsulate that southern France feeling and that is done by using ingredients that are typically grown and produced in Provence.  You can use any filleted piece of fish with or without skin for this, again I place a certain importance on pin boning, see chef´s tips for details or you can ask your fishmonger to do it, not saying he will as it is quite fiddly. Once you get into the habit it takes the eating of fish to the next level.

Ingredients (four people)

4 175g fillets of trout. (This is based on using the large salmon-trout fillets)
1  large aubergine
1 large red pepper
1 large courgette
3 lemons
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
10 black olives pitted and halved
1 tablespoon of capers
10g parsley and basil mixed
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method

Cut the aubergine and courgettes into 3cm squares, again take your time to make  straight even cuts.  Toss them separately  in oil and lay the aubergines onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and lay them out next to the aubergines.Put the red pepper and the garlic bulb on whole and roast in a 200 degree oven for 20 mins.

After 10 minutes take out the tray and gently turn over the aubergines and make some space and put in the courgettes and olives for the final 10 mins, use your instinct if it needs more time then give it, I just worry about the courgettes being overcooked and too soft.

When cooked, put the roast pepper onto a plate and the vegetables into a bowl. This is a warm salad so don’t worry about serving it piping hot. Peel the pepper and cut it into a similar size to the rest. Thinly slice the spring onion into rings. Add the olives, capers, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Cut the roast garlic bulb in half through the middle and squeeze the paste into the bowl. Gently turn over the mix until it is thoroughly mixed being careful not to mash it up.

Put a non-stick pan on a high heat, brush with olive oil and lay the fillet into it skin side down.  Cook until crispy and turn over the fish and turn off the gas.

While your fish is cooking through, lay the plates out and spoon a quarter of the mix onto each plate making sure everyone has a bit of everything.  Cut the lemon and put it next to the vegetables, then lay the fillet skin side up slightly off centre on top of the Provencal mix

Crispy Fish Fillet with Tahini Sauce

This is a meal that once you have done it you will keep using it. It’s got a nice Mediterranean feel to it as well as an interesting twist with the tahini sauce.  A recipe like this can be used as inspiration. Don’t get put off with what ingredients you don’t have, fish and tahini is the magic combination here, the rest of the ingredients just keep lifting it up.

Ingredients(serves 4)

4 fillets of white fish, trimmed and boned skin on (eg sea-bream, snapper, sea bass, salmon or cod)
2 oven roasted red peppers
1 aubergine
2 courgettes
2 lemons for garnish
Olive or sunflower oil for griddling

Tahini sauce ingredients

5 cloves (half a bulb) of garlic
125g tahini
Juice of a whole lemon
1tbsp (15ml) tamari
50-100ml water

Method

For the roast red peppers see Side Dishes.

Cut the aubergines into discs and the courgette into 1cm thick slices. Put a cast iron griddle pan onto a high flame, lightly oil the courgette and aubergine and sear either side so the lines of the pan are prominent on the vegetables. Aubergines take longer than courgettes.  When cooked, squeeze lemon juice over and season.  Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, ready for re-heating in the oven.

To make the tahini sauce the first thing you need to do is roast the half bulb of garlic in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes.  You can use raw garlic but when garlic is roasted the taste is subtler and works better with fish.Put the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and tamari into a bowl. Take a small whisk and bring the ingredients together.  The mix will become very thick at this point, you will need to slowly add the water until you get the right consistency.  We are looking for a single cream type pouring consistency.  For this dish, the sauce needs to be fairly thick as it will sit on the plate with the fish and the vegetables (if you were using this as a salad dressing, the sauce would be of a thinner consistency).

Buy the fish filleted and pin-boned, if possible.  If you do find any protruding bones then remove with pliers or tweezers.  To stop the fillet curling in the pan, pinch it on either side and score small incisions just below the skin, being careful not to cut too deep.

To cook the fish you will need a good non-stick frying pan.  Brush the pan and the skin of the fish with oil (sunflower oil works well as it has a higher heating point).  Lay the fish skin side down into the hot pan giving the pan a good shake until the fish starts to cook, this prevents the skin sticking and peeling off.  Don´t turn the fish until the skin is really crispy approximately 8 minutes cooking time.  When the skin is crispy turn the fillets over and turn off the heat.

To serve;

Whilst the fish is cooking lay out the four plates, distribute and arrange the courgette, red pepper and aubergine in the middle and pour the tahini sauce around them.  Then sit your fish on top of the vegetables and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Smoked Paprika Chicken

Smoked paprika drives this dish so its worth having a good look for some. It’s not always easy to find so be warned. Alternatively you can use ordinary sweet paprika so don’t be put off if you can’t find smoked. The longer you leave the spice to permeate the chicken the better, overnight is good, but even half an hour does the trick.

Ingredients

2 small chicken breasts
4 medium sized sticks (soaked in water if you are cooking on a bbq)
3 cloves of garlic
1 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or sweet)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepperFor garnish
100g (a small pot) of natural yogurt
A squeeze of lemon
15g chopped coriander or parsley

Method

Cut each breast into 8 pieces and put into a bowl. Squeeze half the lemon, press the garlic add salt and pepper, olive oil and smoked paprika into the chicken and mix together with your hand. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour, preferably overnight.

Thread four pieces of marinated chicken onto each stick and leave on a plate in the fridge ready to cook, you can prepare these well in advance if you need to.

Cook on a cast iron griddle or put under the grill or bbq. Most importantly, do not over cook, when the meat is firm to touch it is done, better take one of the sticks off the heat and open the largest piece of chicken to make sure it is cooked through. Usually it takes 3-4 mins each side on a medium flame. Remember you can always put it back on or under the heat if it is not cooked.

To make the sauce, add salt pepper and lemon juice to the yogurt, you might need to add a touch of water to get the sauce to drizzle, finally sprinkle with chopped herbs.

Hummus

If you are going to have one dip nailed and down in your repertoire then let it be hummus.  There are a lot of different dips out there but hummus without a doubt is King.  It´s good for a week in the fridge so don’t worry if it seems like a lot when you make it, keep it in covered in the fridge for ‘snack attacks.’  Raw vegetables, rice crackers anything like that with hummus fills the hole in a low fat and healthy way. It also works  well as an accompaniment with lamb, chicken, boiled egg and salads.The main ingredient in this dish is tahini (sesame paste) – readily available in UK supermarkets and health food shops – so don’t scrimp on it.  Here I use 125ml, you could get away with 100ml, any less and the hummus will not taste right.  It seems like a lot to use, but tahini is the money shot ingredient.Hummus is a double dose of protein from the chick peas and the sesame paste as well being of high fibre content.

Ingredients

250g cooked chickpeas (soaked and cooked or from a tin)
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
125ml (half a cup) tahini
80ml (third of a cup) olive oil
175ml (1 cup) of water
Three large pinches of Maldon sea salt

Method

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender, until smooth  (you can use a stick blender if you don’t have a Magi-mix type blender).  You may need to add more water – as there are so many different sizes and types of chick pea, its hard to quantify, just add water bit by bit.  You are looking for a smooth consistency and not too thick.  Taste for seasoning.

Place into a serving bowl, pour a little olive oil over before serving.

Red Lentil Soup with Feta & Coriander

Red lentil soup is a soup rooted in Middle-Eastern cuisine particularly Lebanon and Israel. It is a solid source of protein and dietary fibre, as well as being tasty and economical. This ‘half an hour soup’ could easily be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge.  I have kept it close to its roots taking it to another level with a feta, yogurt and herb mix. This works well if you are trying to eat a small lunch as it will keep you going until the evening.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g red lentils
60 ml sunflower oil (4 tablespoons)
4 litres of vegetable stock (good stock powder is fine)
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 teaspoon  of black pepper
1 fresh red chili or a pinch of cayenne pepperFor the garnish
1 small pot of natural yogurt (120g)
100g Greek feta cheese
1 spring onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
10 grams of fresh coriander
10 grams of fresh mint
Olive oil

Method

Heat the oil, then  add the chopped onions and pressed garlic. When the onions and garlic are soft add the spices, chili and black pepper, stir into a thick paste. Add the red lentils, then the stock and tomatoes. Stir together, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for a further 25 minutes.  Turn off the heat.

With a stick blender or a food processor  pulse the soup 8 or 9 times. Don’t blend until it’s a smooth soup, pulsing just brings it together.  If you don’t have either accessories don’t worry it will still be good.

Season with a few drops of fresh lemon and sea salt

The Garnish
Put the yoghurt in a bowl, crumble in the feta, add the lemon zest, chopped mint and spring onion. Mix really well with a few drops of lemon.

To Finish
Pour the soup into the bowl, add a generous spoon of the feta mix in the middle then the fresh coriander broken onto the yogurt-feta mix. I like to drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the top (optional).

Quick-Fix Spanish Soup

I don’t often use the word ‘quick’ when referring to my recipes as I don’t normally focus on that kind of quick cooking, but from start to bowl this delicious soup takes 30 minutes – 20 of those were letting it cook. This is a typical lunchtime soup across Spain that you would find on any ‘menu del dia’ in cafes, bars or restaurants. I always put in a handful of something green at the end to cook in the soup – in this instance I used spinach because that’s all I could find in my local shop, but it can be any green vegetable – cut it so it fits into the rest of the soup. Make sure you allow for it’s correct cooking time eg. 1 minute for spinach, 5 minutes for peas, 7 minutes green beans. Always taste to be sure.

Ingredients (serves 4) 

1 medium sized onion
1 carrot
1 leek
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 sweet potato
1 tin of chick-peas
1 heaped tablespoon of paprika
10g parsley
200g spinach
1 litre of stock
You can also use any bits of vegetables that you have left in your fridge. The onion, carrot and garlic are important as the base. I had sweet potato and red pepper in my fridge to use up and it really worked. It will make for a better soup if you cut all the vegetables the same size.

Method

Cut the vegetables into 1cm pieces. Open and rinse the chickpeas. Fry off the vegetables and garlic in olive oil. When they are looking a bit brown, add the paprika, stir well and then add the stock. When it comes to the boil turn the soup down. Cook for a further 15 minutes then add the chick-peas.

Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the soup, grind some black pepper into it, then add the spinach and parsley and leave with the lid on for a minute. Taste for seasoning and serve.