March 22, 2009
Spring has sprung! ……. or at least it’s trying, last night’s freezing temperatures did make me wonder. I made soup with this week’s Cabbage and it was perfect. This recipe has beans which makes it almost like a stew so it’s almost a meal in itself…..
Tuscan style Vegetable and Bean Soup
1 head Cabbage
4 Spuds 2 Cloves Garlic
2 Medium Onions
1 Dried Chilli
1 Tin of chopped Tomatoes
1 Tin White Beans (Fagioli)
Start by chopping the Onions and begin sautéing over a low-medium heat with a generous glug of Olive Oil until they start to change colour stirring occasionally to stop things burning. This should take about 15 minutes enough time for you to prepare the other veg. Wash and roughly shred the Cabbage. Scrub the carrots and cut into 1 cm half rounds. Peel the spuds and chop into bitesize pieces. Finally, chop the garlic and chilli and if the onions are done add to the pot, stir for a minute before adding the rest of the veg including the tomatoes (but not the Beans) along with a teaspoon of Maldon Salt. Stir well then cover the pot and leave for about 15 minutes over a lowish heat then add 2 litres of weak vegetable stock (as usual I’d use Marigold and halve the quantity indicated on the packet so it’s not too strong). Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for another hour. After an hour add the beans, stir well and continue to cook uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes. To serve (and this is what really makes it) take a piece of stale Bread (ideally Ciabatta or sourdough), toast it then rub the toast with a halved clove of garlic. Place the garlic toast at the bottom of your serving bowl and add the soup. Top with a drizzle of your finest Olive Oil and some freshly grated Parmesan (if you like – this is optional and some would say not necessary).
Keep the faith that summer really will come this year by having a Blood Orange salad for pud. Peel a couple of oranges removing the pith as you go then finely slice them and scatter with some mint leaves. Do this ahead of time and all the flavours will mingle. A serving of vanilla or chocolate (Butlers do the best I’ve had) ice-cream would be lovely too…..
Hope you enjoy the recipes,
Have a great weekend,
February 26, 2009
This week all our selections have Chillies which can be used to add interest to almost any dish. They’ll keep in your fridge for at least a week or you can hang them up and let them dry out then keep them in a jar for future use. Drop one into a bottle of Olive Oil and you have (after a few weeks that is) a Chilli Oil that can be used to spice up anything and even makes the simplest of Pasta meals (Sauté a couple of cloves of Garlic and toss with Pasta, Chilli Oil, a little chopped Parsley if you have it and freshly grated Parmesan and voila – dinner in under ten minutes).
When preparing Chillies be very careful never to touch your face (especially your eyes) or any sensitive areas as they really do burn. Either wash your hands carefully afterwards or wear rubber gloves when preparing. In terms of heat, it’s the seeds you have to watch as they have up to 80% of the heat so if you can’t stand it simply cut them out and use the less fiery red flesh. If you really aren’t sure, try a tiny bit on your tongue to get an idea and if adding them to a sauce or stew throw in a little, leave to infuse for a few minutes then add more if you want – it’s like Salt you can always add more but it’s very hard to counteract too much. Chillies usually get hotter as time goes by so you’ll probably want to use less if you still have some left in a week or so or are using dried ones.
If you’re worried about Chillies causing indigestion, don’t be because it’s a myth and the opposite, is in fact, true. Chillies are beneficial to digestion and soothing for the stomach. Furthermore, since ancient times they have been used to treat all kinds of ailments from arthritis to the common cold and can even bring pain relief due to the release of endorphins in the brain they produce. Another thing to note is that just one contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene and nearly twice the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and that because they produce heat they speed up the metabolism meaning that you digest food better and (possibly!) burn calories faster.
As those of you who read my recipes regularly have probably noticed, I use Chillies a lot, adding them to nearly all pasta dishes (except maybe the creamy ones). stirfries, roast vegetables, salsas and even deserts sometimes -they have a natural affinity with Chocolate and since discovering this I always add a square or two of the dark stuff to my Black Bean Chilli.
The recipes this week are easy to prepare and are great served as part of a selection of stuff like Olives, Hummous, Spanish Potato Omelette, Salad and Cheeses if you’re having people over for an relaxed sitting-around kind of evening over the next few weeks……….
Chilli Potatoes (for 4)
You’ll need :
Sour Cream (optional)
Peel and chop the Potatoes into large bit-size pieces 1 Potatoes. Bring to the boil in a pot of salted water and cook until just underdone (i.e. with a bit of bite left). Drain and set aside. Finely slice the Chilli. Heat about 4 to 5 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a pan, add the Chilli then the Potatoes and toss over a medium heat until the Potatoes are a lovely golden brown. Season with Salt and Pepper and serve immediately on a warm dish with a dollop of sour cream on top.
Baked Feta with Chilli and Oregano
A slab of Feta (about 200gr)
Drizzle the Feta with Olive Oil and sprinkle with a generous pinch of Oregano. Deseed and finely slice the Chilli and place in a line along the centre of the cheese. Wrap in tinfoil leaving the overlapping parts on the top so you can unwrap it later on and leave the cheese sitting on the foil when serving. Bake in a medium oven for about 8 to 10 minutes then serve immediately with crusty bread and some roasted tomatoes or salsa.
Stir-fried Cabbage with Garlic and Chilli
1 head of Cabbage
1/2 Head Garlic
Finely shred the Cabbage then set aside. Mince the Garlic and Chilli and begin to toss over a medium heat in a generous dash of Olive Oil. After a minute or two add the Cabbage and continue tossing until the Cabbage has wilted and softened. Toast the Sesame seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat until they start popping but be careful not to burn them. Top the Cabbage with the seeds and serve. A drizzle of Toasted Sesame Seed Oil on this is always lovely if you have it…
In case you were wondering………..
The salad leaves in your bag this week are Lambs Lettuce which are gorgeous with this week’s Avocado.
Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great weekend,