Spiced Grilled Lemon Chicken Couscous Salad

This is one of my favourite easy weekday meals. A comforting and healthy meal that I enjoy.  So easy to prepare and cook after a busy day at work. I often substitute the chicken with salmon and in some occasions only have the salad itself. The salad is so versatile that you can add any meat or fish you prefer. In my lazy moments, I won’t hesitate to buy a pre-marinated chicken or fish and so the only thing I need to do is grill them and prepare the salad which takes less than 15 minutes.

Serves 4

KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a large bowl, a small bowl, a small whisk, a griddle pan and a tong.

Ingredients:

For the chicken marinade:

  1. 4 chicken breasts, scored
  2. 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  3. 5 tbsp. of olive oil
  4. 1 tsp. of dried parsley
  5. Juice of half a large lemon
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  1. baby Pomodoro tomatoes, halves

2 bell peppers, chopped (red and yellow)

  1. green and black olives halved
  2. feta cheese, diced
  3. 200g of couscous (cooked with 200 ml. of hot water)
  4. 100 g. of mixed leaves and rocket salad

For the salad dressing:

  1. ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  2. Juice of 1 large lemon
  3. ¼ tsp. of chilli flakes
  4. ¼ tsp of salt
  5. ¼ tsp. of freshly grounded black pepper

 

Method:

The Chicken:

  1. Mix all the chicken marinade listed above, marinade the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge overnight or for at least 3 hours. Alternatively, buy a pre-marinated chicken, widely available in many supermarkets in U.K.
  2. Place the griddle pan over a very high heat, allow the pan to heat up for 1-2 minutes. When the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken and cooked on each side for 2-3 minutes. Then set aside.

The Salad and dressing:

  1. In a large bowl, place all the salad ingredients together and toss gently.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk all the salad dressings and pour over the salad.
  3. Add the cooked chicken and serve.

Caldo Verde (A Portuguese Comfort Soup)

Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese comfort ‘soup’ a national favourite which originated from the Minho Province of northern Portugal. Where there are Portuguese settlements/communities, there will certainly be Caldo Verde. A humble, tasty and heart-warming soup that brings back childhood memories and still gives me great comfort today. I hope this gives you as much comfort as it does to me.

Serves 6

KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a large casserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Ingredients:

  1. 5 tbsp. of olive oil
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. ½ tsp. of chilli flakes
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. ¼ tsp. smoked paprika powder
  7. 1 chorizo sausage, chopped
  8. 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped in equal sizes
  9. 1 litre of vegetable stock
  10. 1 litre of chicken stock
  11. salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  12. large bunch of kale or cavolo nero, shredded
  13. 4 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to serve.

Method:

  1. Gently fry the onions, garlic, chilli flakes, bay leaves, smoked paprika and chorizo in the olive oil until onions softened and translucent.
  2. Add the chopped potatoes and fry for just a minute. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let it simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  3. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth to make a thick base. Add the shredded kale or cavolo nero simmer for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with some chopped chorizo, and drizzle more olive oil to serve.

Bom apetite!

Tuscan Ribollita (Reboiled Soup)

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During my visit to Florence I discovered this humble soup in Trattoria da Roco. Although it doesn’t look so apetising, it is a very comforting; a hearty soup that is tasty and filling. I have been making this soup since I came back from Florence and have tried a few different ways of making it. I tried using thyme and added other vegetables to it. The key ingredient is the Tuscan Kale and the beans, which I didn’t omit in any of my previous experiments. Recently, to my surprise I discovered that there is an official ‘authentic’ Ribollita recipe issued by the Tuscan Tourist office.  Although, my recipe is not the authentic recipe endorse by the Tuscan authorities it is one of my favourite experiments and the stubborn side of me can’t help but stick to my easier and quicker version. Though, I would certainly try making the authentic recipe the next time I am in Tuscany and can get access to ‘Tuscan Kale’. The best part of making this soup is that it tastes even better the day. It is no wonder the Italian’s named it Reboiled Soup.

KITCHEN KIT:
A 5 litre ceramic caserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1. 6 tbsp of olive oil
2. 65g, diced pancetta
3. 3 cloves of peeled garlic, grated
4. 2 onions, finely chopped
5. 3 celery sticks, finely chopped into little cubes
6. 3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped into little cubes
7. 1 courgette, finely chopped into little cubes
8. 2 bay leaves
9. 2 rosemary sprigs
10.400g chopped tomatoes (from a tin)
11.400g of cannellini beans (from a tin)
12.600ml chicken stock
13. 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
14. 2 slices of a loaf of bread, torn into small pieces.
15. 1/2 tsp of salt
16. 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
17. 80g of chopped Kale
18. 4 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese

Process:
1. Place the caserole in a medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Fry the garlic, pancetta, onion, rosemary and bay leaves for 5 minutes or until the onions turns translucent. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from getting burnt.

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2. Add the chopped celery, carrots, courgettes and soften for 5 minutes.

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3. Add the chopped tomatoes,cannellini bans, chicken stock, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat (lowest heat possible), stir and cover the casserole for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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4. After 30-45 minutes, add the bread and kale, stir them in and cover the caserole again. Cooked for another 10 minutes before adding the 3 tbsp. of olive oil.  Season to taste and just before serving garnish the soup with some grated parmesan cheese.

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That’s it! buon appetito!

Tips:
You can add more water if you find that the soup is becoming slightly dry. If you do add more water, give the soup a good stir and just let it simmer for a couple of minutes so you do not lose the flavour of the soup.

You can also cook this dish at the lowest possible heat for 24 hours, you need to cover the casserole to ensure that the liquid does not evaporate too much, stirring occasionally to also ensure the vegetables and bread does not get burnt. I find that this dish is actually better the next day when reheated and all the flavours of the vegetables are infused into the soup and bread. This a soup that taste good when reheated which I think could be the reason why they named it ‘reboiled soup’ in Tuscany.

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Pear, Camembert & Rocket Salad in Raspberry Dressing

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KITCHEN KIT:
Electric whisk, a large bowl, silicone spatula, a small sauce pan and a mini food processor alternatively use a blender.

Ingredients:
For the Cheese:
1. 150g. Camembert cheese
2. 300ml. Double Cream

For the Pears:
3. 2 Conference Pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes
4. 1/2tbsp. of Olive oil
5. 1tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
6. 1tsp. Sugar
7. A pinch of Salt
8. A pinch of ground black pepper
9. 70g. Rocket leaves

For the Dressing:
10. 70g. raspberries
11. 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
12. 8 tbsp. Olive oil

For the Cheese:
1. Crumble the Camembert in a large bowl, add the double cream and whisk until the you have a thick ‘whipped cream’ like texture. Pipped the cream cheese on a plate.

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For the Pears:
2. Place the pan over a low heat, add the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and pears. Cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
3. Plate the pears and some of the juices from the pears and sprinkle the rocket salad around the plate.

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For the Dressing:
4. Place the raspberries, balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a mini food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon over some of the raspberry dressing over the pears.

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Serve Immediately.

Vegetable Tagine

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This is such an easy dish to prepare so please do not be put off with the length of this recipe. Getting all the spices out is the hardest part of this recipe and trying to remember if I have already put every single one of them in! The cooking part on the other hand is super easy. There are days when I feel I’ve had far too many brownies in one day. I’d feel so guilty and decide to have a vegetarian evening. This is what I usually make in one of those evenings!

KITCHEN KIT:
Tagine, baking tray and a large pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Roasting:
Spices and Seasoning:
1. 1/2 tsp. Cumin Powder
2. 1/2 tsp. Paprika
3. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
4. 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
5. 1/2 tsp. Salt
6. 1/2 tsp. Sugar
7. 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
8. 1/4 tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes

The Vegetables:
9. 1 Aubergine, chopped into large chunks
10. 1 Red Onion, quartered
11. 3 Bell Peppers, deseeded and chopped into large chunks
12. 1 Parsnip, peeled and chopped into large chunks
13. 1 Carrot, peeled and chopped into large chunks
14. 4 tbsp. Olive Oil

For the Frying:
Spices, Seasoning and Fruit:
15. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
16. 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger Powder
17. 1/2 tsp. Dried Parsley
18. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
19. 1/2 tsp. Paprika Powder
20. 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
21. 1/2 tsp. Salt
22. 1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
23. 1/4 tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes
24. 3 tbsp. Olive oil
25. 2 tbsp. Runny Honey
26. 70g. Dried Apricots

For the Couscous:
27. 150 g. Couscous
28. 300 ml. Vegetable Stock
29. 15g. Raisins
30. A handful of Coriander leaves, roughly chopped
31. A handful of Almond flakes (approx.5g.)

For the Roasting:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Place all the ‘Roasting Ingredients’ listed above- the spices, the seasoning and the vegetables all in a baking tray. Mix them well to make sure the vegetables are nicely coated with the spices and oil.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, stir the vegetables half way through the cooking time.(a bit less if you have very ripe vegetables.)
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For the Frying:
3. Place a large pan on a medium heat, add the oil, spices and seasoning. Stir for a minute and then add the honey, followed by the roasted vegetables and their juices. Stir well for 1-2 minutes making sure that the honey coats all the vegetables. Finally stir the apricots in.
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For the Couscous:
4. Place the couscous in tagine and add the hot water. Stir in the raisins and cover the tagine for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, sprinkle over the chopped coriander leaves and almond flakes on top of the couscous.

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Serve the couscous with the roasted vegetables.

Basil and Pine Nuts Pesto

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This versatile sauce can be used in many different dishes; it can be added into pasta, risotto, meat or fish or even just as flavourings for roasted vegetable dishes. You can also be creative with pesto, you can use walnuts instead of pine nuts for instance, use watercress and basil, or spinach for instance. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice or even lime.

Ingredients
1.  30g. fresh basil leaves
2.  10g. toasted pine nuts
3.  15g. grated parmesan cheese
4.  ½ clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
5.  40ml. of extra virgin olive oil
6.  1 pinch of salt
7.  1 pinch of ground black pepper

The Pesto:
1.  Add the basil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper into a food processor.
2.  Whiz all the ingredients together while it is whizzing, gently pour the oil in a steady stream, until the pesto starts to thicken.
3.  When all the ingredients are well combined and the pesto is thick it’s ready. You can now use your pesto for your pasta, bruschetta, pizza, risotto or even just with your toast.

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Note:
Storing pesto:  You can store your pesto in a jar or any airtight container. Drizzle some olive oil on the top of your pesto, cover with a cling film before sealing your jar or container; this will keep the pesto fresh and green and prevents it from oxidizing and turning brown.
Pesto in an airtight container can be stored in the fridge for a week. You can also store it in a freezer plastic bag, or ice cube bags in the freezer for six months, before using frozen pesto best to thaw it in the fridge.

 

Tomato and Spinach Dhal

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This dish is inspired from my memories of India,  the exotic spices they use in their everyday cooking add depths of flavours in their vegetarian dishes, making it truly a spectacular dish with fire works of flavours! This is just one of the many dishes I was lucky enough to try during my visit.  In Rajasthan, I remembered trying their famous Panchmel Dhal also known as Panchratna Dhal cooked with 5 different types of Dhal, a dish that is not just flavoursome but also very healthy, a perfect source of protein for vegetarians. If I am successful at finding all these 5 different dhal in England I will certainly try and make it at home. For now I hope you will try this dhal recipe instead and hope you enjoy it.

KITCHEN KIT:
A medium size sauce pan and a frying pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Dhal Base:
1.  100g red lentils
2.  500ml vegetable stock
3.  3 medium size tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
4.  1 small onion, finely chopped
5.  1 tsp. garam masala
6.  ½ tsp. tumeric
7.  ½ tsp. chili flakes
8.  ½ tsp. fine salt
9.  ½ tsp. ground black pepper

For the Accompanying Vegetables:
10. 1 medium size sweet potato approx 350g. , peeled and cut into small cubes
11.  150g spinach leaves

For the Topping:
12. 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil
13. 1 tsp. or clove of garlic, finely grated
14. 1 dried Kashmiri chili
15. 4 curry leaves
16. ½ tsp. cumin seeds
17. ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
18. 1 cinnamon bark approx. 3 inch in length
19. ½ tsp. coriander powder

For Garnish (Optional):
20. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped and or fried onions

For the Dhal Base:
1. In a medium size pan, place all the ‘Dhal Base’ ingredients listed above. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, on a low heat without covering the pan with a lid.

For the Accompanying Vegetables:
2.  After 10 minutes of simmering time, add the sweet potatoes into your Dhal base and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes  until the sweet potatoes are cooked. (It is important to ensure that the sweet potatoes are cut into small cubes and of equal size to cook them evenly). Then add the spinach and cooked for just 1 minute.

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For the Topping:
3. On a separate frying pan, heat 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil. Add all the ‘Topping’ ingredients listed above and fry for 2 minutes. Pour this over on top of your Dhal and garnish with some fresh coriander leaves.

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Serve hot with a nice warm naan or chapati. If you’d like to make your own chapati you can find the recipe on this link: Chapati

Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous

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This is such an easy dish to prepare and perfect for a dinner party as you can do all the preparation work in advance. Although I prefer this warm you can also serve this dish cold.  If you are not too keen on feta cheese you can use other types of cheese such as  goats cheese or even brie.

KITCHEN KIT:
A heatproof bowl, a grater for the lemon zest and a roasting tin.

Ingredients Serves 6:

The cous cous:
1.  250g. couscous
2.  Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.  600ml. vegetable stock

The cooked vegetables:
4.  3 tbsp. olive oil
5.  3 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
6.  2 aubergines, sliced diagonally
7.  2 courgettes, sliced diagonally
8.  ½ red onion, sliced thinly
9.  ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10. ½ tsp. salt
11. 1 tsp. dried parsley
12. 1 tsp. dried coriander
13. 1 tsp. cumin powder (or cumin seeds pounded)

The rest of the ingredients:
14. 25 pieces of green olives, pitted and halves
15. 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
16. 100g feta cheese, crumbled into chunks
17. A handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

 

The cous cous:
1.  Place the couscous into a large salad bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Stir in the lemon zest and then cover the bowl with a plate, leaving the cous cous to soak for 15 minutes.

The cook vegetables:
2.  Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. On a roasting tin mix all the ‘cooked vegetables’ ingredients listed above and bake for 45 minutes turning over the vegetables occasionally during the cooking process.

The rest of the ingredients:
3.  Next, add all the ‘rest of the ingredients’ listed above into your cous cous and mix in the cooked vegetables.

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Serve warm or cold.

Spiced Courgette

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This recipe is inspired from my recent trip to Israel where I discovered so many amazing vegetable dishes; such as this courgette lightly coated in olive oil, mixed with exotic herbs and spices, cooked simply in a ‘Tanur clay oven’ or lightly pan fried. Most restaurants will serve this as a starter, accompanied with a flat bread or matza and some wonderful hummus. This is an excellent dish to have as a starter or as a side dish and if you are not keen on courgettes you can alternatively use aubergines, bell pepper or other types of vegetables instead of courgettes. instead. It will tastes just as good!

KITCHEN KIT:
Roasting tin

Ingredients:
1. 1 Courgette, finely sliced approx. ½ inch in thickness (can be peeled or unpeeled)
2. 2 tbsp. olive oil
3. ½ tsp. dried parsley
4. ½ tsp. dried coriander
5. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
6. ½ tsp. cumin powder (or cumin seeds pounded)

The Spiced Courgette:
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Meanwhile, in a roasting tin; rub the sliced courgettes with the olive oil and all the herbs and spices.
2. Place in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Creamy Mushroom and Thyme Vol Au vent

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Ingredients Makes 6:

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  1 tbsp. of butter
2.  1 shallot, finely chopped
3.  150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
4.  10g morel mushrooms, finely chopped (hydrate dried morel mushrooms on a 100ml hot water before chopping and reserved the liquid)
5.  1 tbsp.  thyme leaves
6.  50 ml. Madeira
7.  200ml double cream
8.  1 tbsp. cornflour
9.  ¼ tsp. paprika
10. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
11. ¼ tsp. salt

For the pastry case:
12. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
13. 1 egg, lightly beaten for glazing

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  On a large frying pan over high heat add the butter, cook the shallots, mushrooms and thyme leaves for 3-4 minutes. Add the Madeira and simmer for 2 minutes.
2.  Next, add the 100ml liquid from the morel mushrooms, cream, cornflour, paprika, pepper and salt, stir well for 1-2 minutes to prevent lumps from forming and thicken the sauce.  Season to taste and then set aside.

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For the vol au vent pastry cases:
3.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line your baking tray with a greaseproof baking paper.
4.  On well-floured surface roll out the puff pastry and cut 12 circles with 10cm diametre cookie cutter.
5.  Cut a smaller circle out of the centre of 6 of the circles.
6.  Lay the 6 (10cm diametre) circles on your lined baking tray; brush the pastry circles with a lightly beaten egg. Now place the six circles with a ‘hole in the centre’ on top of each of the full circles and glaze the sides only with egg.

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7.  Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Cut the top circle as shown in the picture below.
8.  Allow to rest for a minute and spoon over the mixture inside the vol au vent pastry cases. IMG_3888

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Serve immediately.

Ratatouille

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The name of this French Provençal vegetable strew, ‘Ratatouille’ originated from the Occitan word ratatolha or in French ‘touiller’ which means to ‘toss the food’. This dish is so versatile, it can be eaten by itself or served with an accompanying meat or fish. It can even be added or toss into a pasta with some pesto. I love making this beautiful and colourful dish. Not only it is healthy, it is also very tasty and so easy to prepare. I do two types of ‘Ratatouille’ a more traditional version making the ‘Ratatouille’ without any crunch  and another version with crunch, which is a ‘Ratatouille au Gratin’.
The picture above is ‘Ratatouille’ without the crunch on it which is the classic way to cook this dish.
The picture below on the other hand is the less traditional version “Ratatouille’ au Gratin” with its extra crunch.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large frying pan and an oven proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the Ratatouille:
1.  2 tbsp olive oil
2.  1 red onions, sliced
3.  2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4.  2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5.  2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
6.  1 courgettes, chopped
7.  1 aubergine, chopped
8.  2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
9.  1 tsp sea salt
10. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
11. 1 tbsp. herbes de Provence

For the crunch:
12. 4 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
13. ½ tbsp. herbes de Provence
14. 2 tbsp. grated comte cheese

For the Ratatouille:
1.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC on Grill.
2.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onions for 2 minutes, until they are soft.
3.  Add the rest of the vegetables, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence; gently stirring to cook all vegetables evenly for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time so the vegetables doesn’t stick into the pan.

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For the crunch:
4.  Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof dish, mix the breadcrumbs with ½ a tbsp. of herbes de Provence and 2 tbsp. of comte cheese; sprinkle this over the vegetables and place the vegetables under the grill for 3 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

 

French beans wrapped in prosciutto

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KITCHEN KIT:
A steamer and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  150g French beans, top and ends chopped and chopped into an approx. 2 inch in length.
2.  1 small garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
3.  ½ tbsp. of butter
4.  A pinch of salt
5.  2 prosciutto slices

The French beans:
1.  On a steamer, steam your French beans for 8 minutes.
2.  On a frying pan over low heat, melt your butter with the garlic and a pinch of salt. Add the steamed French beans stirring and coating it with butter all over for 1 minute.
3.  Remove from heat, half the French beans and bundle them together, wrap each bundle with a prosciutto.

Serve Immediately. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a whisk an ovenproof dish

Ingredients:
For the Vegetables:
1.  Broccoli
2.  Cauliflower

For the Mornay Sauce:
3.  30g butter
4.  30g plain flour
5.  300ml full fat milk
6.  50ml single cream
7.  30g grated gruyere cheese
8.  ½ tsp whole grain mustard
9.  1 clove
10. 1 small onion peeled
11. 1 bay leaf
12. Pinch of ground white pepper
13. Pinch of cayenne pepper
14. Pinch of nutmeg

For the Gratin:
15. Some chives finely chopped
16. 5g dried breadcrumbs
17. 5g chopped hazelnuts
18. 5g parmesan cheese (optional)
19. 30g gruyere cheese

For the Vegetables:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 200C. Meanwhile, on a medium size pan, bring salter water to a boil, add the cauliflower, and cook for 5 minutes then add the broccoli for a further 4 minutes. Darin and set aside once cooked.

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For the Mornay Sauce:
2.  On a large sauce pan melt butter over a medium heat, once melted add your flour and stir until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add your milk whisking constantly.
3.  Once all ingredients are incorporated stir in your single cream, grated gruyere, mustard, onion, clove and bay leaf. Season with some ground white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low-medium heat for 7-8 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps from forming.

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4.  After simmering, remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Pour the mornay sauce over cooked broccoli and cauliflowe.

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For the Gratin:
5.  Top the oven proof dish with the rest of the Mornay sauce, sprinkle over breadcrumbs, chopped hazelnuts, parmesan and gruyere cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, set oven to grill and return it back in the oven to brown for 2-3 minutes.

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Serve with strips of pan fried crispy prosciutto and roast pork. (Roast pork belly recipe can be found on the English Cuisine or  Meat&Poutlry section of this site)

Vladimira’s Creamy Courgette Soup

I got this recipe from my wonderful friend Vladimira who is an amazing cook. This soup is so comforting, perfect for a cold winters day.  It is filling and yet refreshing at the same time. I love this recipe so much and I am so glad she taught me how to make this soup. The good news is, not only it is  tasty but it is also quick and simple to prepare! I am sure you will enjoy this as much as I do!

KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, slotted spoon and a potato masher

Ingredients Serves 4:
1.  4 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
2.  2 tbsp. Olive oil
3.  1.5 kg big courgettes, roughly chopped
4.  100ml Single cream
5.  100ml full fat milk
6.  500ml Chicken stock or cube
7.  Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
8.  Handful of Basil leaves
9.  Pinch of salt
10. Pinch of  ground white pepper
11. Parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated

The Soup:
1.  On a sauce pan over a medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of oil, when the oil is hot add your garlic and courgettes in and fry for 10 minutes. Add your chicken stock into the pan, let it simmer for 8 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat.


2.  Using a slotted spoon, take out 2/3 of the courgettes from the pan, courgettes on a bowl and mash them roughly. You only need to take out the courgettes, leaving the liquid on the pan.


3.  Return the mashed courgettes into the pan. Return the pan into a medium heat, then add your cream and milk. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the soup has slightly thickened.


4.  Stir on your parsley, season with some salt and pepper. Garnish with some basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately with a nice warm freshly baked bread.

Zucchine palle con farfalle (Courgette balls with pasta)

This recipe came about because I had so many leftover courgettes in the fridge. I wanted to create a recipe that was light, tasty and refreshing but also had a nice crunchy texture to it. The breadcrumb coating does add a wonderful crunch to the courgette balls, so I would recommend this version if you have the time. For those in a hurry and in need of a quick meal you can simply fry the courgette balls without coating them in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. They still taste nice but don’t have the crunchy texture I’m afraid.  If you have some lemon and mint in your fridge I recommend grating some lemon zest onto this dish and garnishing it with some torn mint leaves. It makes a very refreshing dish for a weekday evening supper. Buon appetito!

KITCHEN KIT:
4 bowls, a frying pan and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Courgette balls coating: (optional)
1.  35g plain flour
2.  1 egg, beaten
3.  35g dried breadcrumbs

 

For the Courgette balls:
4.  370g Cougettes, grated
5.  20g of parsley, finely chopped
6.  4 spring onions, finely chopped
7.  100g ricotta cheese
8.  35g parmesan cheese, grated
9.  55g bread crumbs
10. ½ tsp.of ground black pepper
11. ½ tsp.of grated nutmeg
12. 150ml Olive oil
For the Pasta and Sauce:
13. 150g dried Farfalle
14. 2 tbsp. olive oil
15. 2 cloves of garlic,grated or crushed
16. ¼ tsp. dried chili flakes or 1 birds eye chili,finely chopped
17. 20g of parsley, finely chopped
18. 2 spring onions, finely chopped
19. 100g Courgettes, grated
20. Pinch of Salt
21. Pinch of ground black pepper
For the Courgette balls:
1.  On a bowl grate courgettes, mix with the chopped parsley, spring onions, ricotta cheese, grated parmesan, bread crumbs, ground black pepper and grated nutmeg. Make small balls, approx. 1inches in size.  (if you find it hard to shape the courgettes into small balls add more breadcrumbs it will make it easier to handle and shape.)


2.  Coat the courgette balls in flour, then egg and finally breadcrumbs.Set aside. (This bit is optional, you can fry the courgette balls without coating them. For this recipe I made both versions, for the first batch I made courgette balls with coating of breadcrumbs and for the second batch I simply shallow fried the courgette balls without coating them in breadcrumbs; as per the pictures below).


3.  On a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil. Once it is hot, add your courgette balls and fry for 2 minutes until lightly golden brown. Set aside on a kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Remove oil from your frying pan and wipe with a kitchen paper.

The Pasta and Sauce:
4.  On a medium size sauce pan, over a medium heat, boil some water with a pinch of salt and some oil.
5.  Once the water starts boiling add your pasta. (Follow pasta packet instructions) as some pasta takes longer cooking time.) Once cooked, drain and set aside.
6.  Reheat your frying pan over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and when it is smoking hot add your garlic, chilli flakes, parsley, spring onions and grated courgettes. Stir constantly for 1 minute, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss in your pasta.


7.  Plate your pasta, add the courgette balls on top and garnish with some fresh chopped parsley.

Serve Immediately.

 

 

 

Pear and Black Pudding (Boudin Noir) Rocket Salad with Bleu D’Auvergne cheese

KITCHEN KIT:
Frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:

1.  2 conference pears, peeled and quartered
2.  6 slices of black pudding
3.  120g rocket salad
4.  2 tbsp olive oil
5.  ½ tbsp unsalted butter
6.  a few mint leaves
7.  2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8.  3 tbsp water
9.  1 tsp brown sugar
10. 1 tbsp honey
11. Pinch of salt
12. Pinch of ground black pepper
13. 20g Bleu D’Auvergne cheese, torn into small pieces
14. a few mint leaves, torn
The Pears and Black Pudding:

1.  On a small pan over medium heat, add oil and black pudding slices, re-heat for 2 minutes(1 minute on each side), then set aside. (Some black puddings has a more reddish colour to it as per the picture below, when you re-heat it, it will turn into a darker colour pretty much immediately just like the picture below, don’t worry it is not burnt, as long as you cook it for only 1 minute on each side, your black pudding should be fine.)


2.  Reheat the same pan over a medium heat, melt your butter, then add your pears and cook for 1  minute.
3.  Add water, sugar and balsamic vinegar onto the pan and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes until liquid becomes syrupy, allow the pears to caramelised, very gently turning them a couple of times to coat the pears with the syrup.


4.  Plate the pears with black pudding and rocket salad, drizzle rocket salad with the liquid reduction and sprinkle over some torn mint and Bleu D’Auvergne cheese.

Serve warm.

 
Extra Tip:
For the Pears:
For this dish I used Conference pears, sweet and juicy, with grain like texture, taste good eaten fresh or cooked.
You can also use other types of pears, such as Comice pears; probably one of the sweetest bunch of the pears family equally good eaten fresh or cooked. Comice pears are also a very well-known match for cheeses. It has a fruity aroma, juicy and less grainy texture compared to many other varieties of pears.
Whichever type of pears you choose, I recommend using a slightly under ripe pears as they keep their shapes during the cooking process. Over ripe pears falls apart and can be grainy when cooked.

For the Blood Sausage/Black Pudding:
Black puddings bought from a local butcher or super market are already cooked, so they just need a gentle re-heating as they do crumble very easily. I found British black puddings in England are firmer compared to the ones made in France. For this dish I used a British one,  bought from my local butcher an already cooked black pudding, sliced it thickly and very gently heat them to keep their shapes. 

 

 

Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

KITCHEN KIT:
Salad bowl and small whisk

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the salad:
1.  2 yellow chicory
2.  150g Sainte Maure Goats cheese
3.  120 Rocket Leaves
4.  A Handful of chopped Walnuts
5.  A few strands of Saffron
6.  1 tbsp honey
7.  1tbsp warm water

For the French vinaigrette:
8.  130 ml extra virgin olive oil
9.  2 ½ tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
10. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
11. 2 tbsp water
12. Pinch of salt
13. Pinch of ground black pepper

For the salad:
1.  Toss only the rocket leaves with French Vinaigrette on a bowl.
2.  Mix honey and water on a separate bowl. Add walnut and cover all over with the honey and water.
3.  Plate your chicory leaves, add rocket salad in the middle, add slice goats cheese, walnut and finally some saffron strands.

For the Vinaigrette:
4.  Simply whisk all the ingredients above together.
Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Serve.

Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Extra Tip: The French vinaigrette will keep for 1 week on the fridge.