Spiced Carrot & Cannellini Bean Dip

I have been making this Spiced Carrot & Cannellini Bean Dip for my Master Veg classes and it always is a favourite but I have to say, that my life is a little too busy to find the time to be making dips. In fact it is so busy that I often don’t even have time for lunch. I am determined to get more veg into my diet, but so often at lunchtime, I just grab a sandwich and shove in it whatever comes to hand in the fridge. Then I thought, why not make up a batch of this delicious dip and put it in my sandwiches everyday along with a little lettuce, some cucumber or a tomato. Packed full of carrots and red onions, it means I am getting an extra serving or two of veg a day!

Spiced Carrot & Cannellini Bean Dip

Serves 6-8 For the dip:

2 medium carrots, scrubbed & cut into 8 sticks each

1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 whole garlic cloves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

oil for roasting

1 tin cannellini beans, drained

3 tbsp olive oil (for the beans)

salt & pepper

1 lemon, zested & juiced

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. In a roasting tray, toss the carrots, onion and garlic with the ground spices, salt and pepper and a little oil. Cover with foil and roast for 20-25 mins, until the veg is soft, then remove the foil and roast for a further 10 mins, until starting to caramelise.  Blitz the carrots, onion, beans, lemon zest and juice, loosening with plenty of extra virgin olive oil to make a smooth paste. Season to taste.

 

Asian Seared Steak with Stir-fried Savoy Cabbage

This works with any variety of cabbage but I like Savoy the best.

Asian Seared Steak with Stir-fried Savoy Cabbage

1 large organic sirloin steak

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ tbsp sesame oil, plus extra

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

½ star anise

Thumb-size piece fresh ginger, grated

¼ of a medium savoy cabbage (outer leaves discarded), shredded

1 tsp fish sauce

Juice 1 lime, plus extra wedges to serve

Small bunch each fresh coriander and Thai basil (or mint), roughly chopped, plus extra to serve

Put the steak in a shallow dish and pour over the soy sauce. Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Pour in the oil and swirl the pan to coat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, ginger and chilli, then stir-fry for 1-2 minutes – keep it moving or it will burn. Add the star anise and the cabbage and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the cabbage has coloured a little.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Remove the steak from the dish (reserve the soy sauce) and rub with oil. When the pan is smoking hot, add the steak and cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare, pressing down to flatten so it crisps and caramelises. Once cooked to your liking, remove to a plate and set aside to rest.

Add the soy to the cabbage along  with the fish sauce, then squeeze in the lime and cook for 2 minutes. Scatter over the herbs and stir. Taste and season. Add more sesame oil to taste. Divide between 2 plates. Slice the steak and put on top of the stir-fry, pouring any resting juices on top. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Save

Indian Spiced Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts are back in the boxes and I am running out of new ideas already with still weeks to go until Christmas. That is until I found this fab recipe.

Indian Spiced Brussel Sprouts

Serves 6

2 tbsp coconut oil

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

1 large or 2 small garlic clove(s), grated

1 large knob of ginger, scrape off outer skin and grate

1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

500g brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and halved if very large

¼ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

Juice of half a lemon

Large handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the sprouts and cook until to your liking. I like mine quite well done but I know others like theirs crunchy. Drain. Heat the oil in a pan, but don’t let it smoke. Reduce to a medium heat and add the mustard seeds, garlic, chilli and ginger. Next add the cumin,

the turmeric, garam masala and a little sea salt. Fry for a minute and then add the sprouts and stir to coat with the spiced oil. Add the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Stir well and serve warm.

Grilled Butternut Squash with Goat’s Cheese, Crispy Sage, Pine Nuts and Rocket

I don’t know why I never thought of grilling butternut squash before. It works beautifully and looks fab too. This is a very simple salad that you could serve hot or cold.

Grilled Butternut Squash with Goat’s Cheese, Crispy Sage, Pine Nuts and Rocket

½ a butternut squash

100g Goats cheese

Couple of large handfuls of rocket (or watercress)

Small bunch of sage

25g toasted pine nuts

Extra virgin olive oil

Juice if half a lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the butternut squash into thin slices. Leave the skin on but remove the seeds. Season them with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Grill the slices on a very hot griddle pan or on a BBQ on both sides. Arrange on a large serving plate. Make a dressing from the lemon juice and olive oil, about one part to three. Season well and adjust to taste. Dress the rocket with some of your dressing and crumble over the goat cheese. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the sage leaves. Fry until they just change colour from green to pale brown. Remove the leaves immediately onto some kitchen paper with a slotted spoon. Scatter the sage leaves and pine nuts over the squash and drizzle with a little of the sage oil and serve.

Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

I have made pasta dishes similar to this one before, but it occurred to me that you could add all sorts of different roast root vegetables, just to get even move goodness in your diet. Bacon and parsnips is a winning combination and along with the leeks, this made a really tasty dinner.

Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large parsnip

6 slices thin-cut smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips

1 large leek or 2 small, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, shredded crosswise and washed

100mls double cream

125g Tagliatelle

Finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and cut the parsnip into 1cm cubes. Toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined roasting tray and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or so until tender and golden brown. Stir once or twice to ensure even cooking.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over a low heat for as long as possible, stirring often, until leeks first completely soften and then begin to caramelize. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Add the cream to the leeks and some of the pasta water so that you have a nice creamy consistency but not too dry. Check seasoning. Drain pasta and add to the leeks and bacon. Add the parmesan to taste and serve straight away.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

I permanently seem to have butternut squash to use up at the moment. No matter how many recipes I think up for this blog, there still always seems to be yet another half of one in my fridge. So here is yet another idea – Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola. Really delicious, it will make you wish that you had squash to use up every day.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

Chicken stock is best for this risotto but vegetable stock is fine as well. If it is not home-made use a good quality cube like Kello.

½ butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and ciubed

Extra virgin olive oil

100g butter

1 leek, shredded and washed

100mls white wine

1 litre stock – either home-made of from cubes.

200g risotto rice

75g Parmesan, finely grated

Gorgonzola or another blue cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Toss the diced butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the leek and a good pinch of salt and gently fry without colour until softened for about 10 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for a minute more and then add the wine. Keep stirring. It is banging the grains of rice together which releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Gradually start to add the stock a ladleful at a time. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Keep cooking like this for 20-25 mins until the rice is chewy but not chalky. Add the butternut squash, parmesan and the rest of the butter but do not stir, and leave to sit covered for a minute or two. Finally give the risotto a good stir and crumble the blue cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Tom Kha Gai, the delicious Thai soup, literally translates as Soup Galangal Chicken. Sounds better in Thai!  My variation misses out the chicken and instead replaces it with butternut squash. They don’t have a word for butternut squash in Thailand. Or maybe they do. Listen to the translation in the link. So I simply call this soup Tom Kha with Butternut Squash. Whatever you call it, it is delicious. The clean, vibrant flavours of the lemon grass and lime leaves combine with the heat of the chilli and coconut milk and contrast brilliantly with the richness of the butternut squash.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Work at getting the balance just right, add more lime juice, chilli, Nam Pla etc to taste. It should be sour, salty, sweet and hot.

Serves 2

½  butternut squash, skin and seeds removed & cubed

1 stick lemongrass, bashed

4 kaffir limes leaves (fresh or frozen)

1 small handful fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)

1 thumb-size piece galangal, bashed

1-2 thai red or green chillies

1 can good-quality coconut milk

1  lime squeezed

2 tbsp fish sauce ( Nam Pla) Optional for vegetarians

fresh coriander leaves finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200C degrees. Add butternut squash to a baking sheet and toss with a little coconut oil and a bit of sea salt. Roast for 15-25 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the meantime, add coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, Thai basil, chillies and lime leaves to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer. If you want more heat from the chillies then gently squeeze them to release the heat. Add fish sauce to taste. Allow the infuse until all the flavours come through. Add some lime juice to taste. Strain and pour back into the saucepan with the butternut squash. Re-heat and serve with coriander leaves.

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

I always forget about polenta, which is a shame, because I love it. It is the ultimate comfort food, like savoury porridge. If you have had it before and found it a bit bland, it is because you did not add enough of two very important ingredients – a large knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan. You can have it grilled or baked but I prefer classic “wet polenta” topped with lots of lovely sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Most polenta you buy now is instant (precooked) and will be done in a minute but it is worth looking out for the king of polentas – Bramata which will take nearer 20 minutes to cook, but it is worth it!

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

8 mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of Kale, stripped from the stalks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the Polenta

750ml water

200g polenta

50g unsalted butter

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the mushrooms in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep cooking – the mushrooms will sweat and then started to fry and then turn golden brown.

Strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale Add another glug of oil to the mushrooms and add the garlic slithers and cook until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well to break up the kale and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously. Pour onto a plate and top with the mushrooms and kale.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

There seems to be a overwhelming number of variations on hummus these days. Sometimes in the supermarkets it is hard to even find the old-fashioned chickpea variety. Deliciously Ella has about 10 different types on her blog – Roasted Carrot, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil – I could go on. So  I decided to try out a few at home and was quite pleased with this Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus. I always seem to have half a butternut squash hanging around and I guess it add a few more vitamins to chickpeas alone and it went down well as half-term lunch, served up with crudités and pitta bread. It also works well with roast red peppers and a little cumin, so I am giving you that recipe too.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

½ butternut squash

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 200C. Put peppers on a tray and roast until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. Remove and place in a bowl covered with cling film, or in a sealed Tupperware, to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle gently peel away the charred pepper skin and remove the stalk and seeds. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Red Pepper Hummus with Cumin

2 whole red peppers

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven 200C.  Roast the peppers in the oven until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. This should take about 30 minutes. The blackening adds a smokiness to the flavour of the pepper and makes the skins easy to remove. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film to steam a while. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds.  Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Tartiflette

Just as I thought the weather was getting warmer, temperatures dropped accompanied by a bitterly cold wind. I need sustenance fast and nothing is going to sustain you more than the famous French dish from the Savoy region in the French Alps – Tartiflette. A mixture of Reblochon cheese, bacon lardons, potatoes and onions, it is rib sticking rich and guaranteed to warm you up.

Tartiflette

Serves 6

1.3kg (3lb) waxy potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

250g (9oz) chunky bacon lardons

2 onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Creme Fraiche

1 Reblochon, about 350g (12oz)

Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices about 1” thick. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender. You should be able to easily insert a knife. Drain. Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook the lardons over a medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Turn down the heat, add the onion and a good pinch of salt to help them cook down and cook until soft and beginning to colour. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add this to the potatoes and gently combine. Finally stir in the Crème Fraîche. Give one final stir and tip the whole lot into a oven-proof dish. Season with pepper.

Slice the Reblochon and lay on top of the potato. Bake in an oven, preheated to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5, for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.