Monday, 26 October 2009

Chickpea, Sausage and Kale Stew

I cooked this stew in about 20 minutes flat, with a spoonful of yoghurt this was a perfect Saturday lunch, eaten hungrily from the bowl after a morning of gardening. If you’ve some crusty bread, then by all means use it to soak up the smoky juices, otherwise a spoon is all you need.

I often slice open sausages, remove the skin and tear off little chunks, they’re the perfect size for sauces and stews and go crisp and golden in the heat. A decent sprinkling of paprika evokes the spicy smoky flavour of chorizo in it’s absence. Add the usual onion and garlic, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Wait until this is bubbling ferociously before adding some shredded kale to preserve the vibrant green colour. Then, cook the whole thing for 10 or 15 minutes until the kale is tender and the tomato sauce thickened (you may need to add a little extra water). Simple as that and you’re left with a healthy, hearty pot perfect for a biting October day. For a proper soup, add some vegetable stock to thin it out.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Courgette and Barley Salad

I bought a bag of barley last year with high hopes of making hearty soups and comforting stews in the winter months. A year later and there was still half a bag languishing in the back of the cupboard. We've still got some courgettes in the fridge, and I decided to try using the cooked barley in a filling, healthy salad. Think of cooked barley like bulghar wheat, it has a chewy, nutty texture that works perfectly with lots of fresh herbs and veggies. I've also got it on my list to try as an alternative to arborio rice for a healthier version of a risotto.

This is a simple salad of fried courgettes, mint, spring onion and goats' cheese, what really makes it is stirring the cheese into the hot barley to create a creamy cheesy sauce. This keeps well and the flavours develop over time, so perfect for making in advance although I would allow it to come to room temperature before serving and sprinkle over a few extra chopped herbs.


300g pearl barley, cooked in vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium courgettes, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juice
4tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, sliced
200g feta or goats cheese

  • Heat the olive oil in pan and fry the courgettes until golden, add a squeeze of lemon and season well.
  • Stir the courgettes and the remaining ingredients into the hot, cooked barley. Stir well and season to taste.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Apple and olive oil cake

I've been lusting after the Ottolenghi Cookbook for a while and I finally got it for my birthday a few weeks ago. A weekend lusting after the cakes and beautiful salads ensued as I littered it with post-it notes for 'must try' recipes.

For those of you not familiar with the London restaurant, this book is all about big and beautiful salads, using ingredients in new and delicious ways as well as the most fabulous cakes and pastries - the best of both worlds then...(see this post for 101 Cookbook's take on Ottolenghi and another recipe). Yotam Ottolenghi also has a regular column in the Guardian on Saturday - Yotam Ottolenghi's inventive, modern vegetarian recipes.

Everyone who has this book has recommended the apple and olive oil cake so it was top of my to-do list. A light and airy cake packed full of apples, lemon zest and olive oil. The olive oil is not overpowering at all but adds a wonderful complex flavour. And, it just keeps getting better, the whole thing is sandwiched together with luscious maple syrup icing (I used golden syrup) - a delicious butterscotch take on the classic cream cheese icing.

This cake was devoured in a matter of days to a chorus of quiet 'mmms...' Need I say more?Make this cake and make it soon.


280g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 Bramley apples, peeled cored and chopped into 1cm dice
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light muscavado sugar
85ml maple syrup (or golden syrup)
220g cream cheese, at room temperature

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, vanilla and sugar (preferably with an electric whisk) together until voluminous and smooth. Next whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Stir in the apples and lemon zest and then the flour.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the cake batter.
  • Grease and line two sandwich tins and bake for 45mins until a cake batter comes out clean.
  • Once cooked, allow the cakes to cool completely before icing.
  • To make the icing, beat together the butter and maple syrup and sugar until light and airy. Beat in the cream cheese until totally smooth.
  • Use the icing to the sandwich the cakes and smooth the remaining on top.


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Courgette Spaghetti

I discovered a new blog recently - Smitten Kitchen. It quickly went on my google reader subscribe list and I'm now suitably hooked so I urge you check it out too. This recipe immediatley appealed as it's another courgette recipe. Although very similar to other courgette pasta, this is a sort of light version. Courgettes are shredded finely, preferably with a mandolin for paper thin strips, but you can do it with a sharp knife too (see the picture below, although I must warn you now, I am particularly anal when it comes to chopping things finely). The idea being that the courgette take the place of some of the pasta, so you have a lighter summery dish. Simply soften a little garlic and chilli in a generous glug of olive oil, throw in the courgette and cook for a minute or so if that (longer if you're strips are larger). Add some cooked spaghetti, a few torn basil leaves (or chopped parsley) and season well. Serve with grated cheese if you like.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Roasted Carrot and Bean Salad

Another 101cookbooks recipe, this one caught my eye as a tasty way to eat carrots (I've been leaning towards cakes recently). I had some friends round for dinner and we eat this with roasted trout and artichokes with almonds, breadcrumbs and mint from Jamie Oliver. Unfortunately, there aren't any pictures but the recipe is here and believe me it was delicious and the carrot salad went perfectly. Just enough bulk to fill you up but light enough that you feel comfortably full.

We eat this at room temperature and I think it definitely needs a good 30mins for the flavours to settle and develop and will no doubt be delicious the day after. What follows is my version, I made a few tweaks to suit what I had at home. Parsley instead of dill and a little ground cumin for warmth.

5 medium carrots
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp ground cumin
1 can borlotti or cannellini beans, drained
1tbsp brown sugar
1 red onion, finely diced
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
juice 1/2 lemon

Wash the carrots well and slice diagonally into coins about 1/2cm thick.
Put in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Drain.
Heat the oil and cumin in a large frying pan until sizzling. Tumble in the carrots, fry over a high heat for about 5mins until golden.
Add the beans and sugar and fry until beginning to caramelise.
Spoon the mixture into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and season - checking if it needs a drizzle more oil or a little more lemon juice.