Thursday, 8 December 2016

Chargrilled Mediterranean Salad

It's rather a wet, windy and cold here today - very wet - I got soaked on my way to work, so spending time 'doing my hair' this morning was rather a waste. Therefore, to cheer myself up I'm going to talk about Mediterranean vegetables which will remind me of summer ........... warm hot days ......... time for barbecues and wine........... relaxing in the sunshine ..........just don't look towards the window ......ahh it's still raining!

I used to buy a tub of these chargrilled vegetables every week from the deli counter in my local supermarket - they are great for adding to salads, mixing into couscous, piling onto cheese and cold meats or just snacking on. However, they are really expensive for the amount you get and to be perfectly honest, I can make a massive amount for the same price at home so I stopped being lazy and a few months ago started making it at home.

It's really simple to do, any Mediterranean veg are great in it - I always use courgettes and peppers as the base and then add a few of the following - aubergine, artichokes, tomatoes, onions, spring onions, chillies, asparagus, mange tout, baby corn and even broccoli spears. The list is endless just see what your fruit and veg shop has that looks good and fresh.

Recipe - enough for 4 large servings
(this is the recipe I used last week)

60ml good extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice of a lemon
Sea Salt

1 large courgette
1 large red pepper
1 large yellow pepper
1 jar artichoke hearts - in olive oil
a jar of my sunblush tomatoes - made with large tomatoes that had been quartered

You can make this either under the grill or on a cast iron griddle (but you will only get the stripes with a griddle)

Whilst the grill or griddle is heating up you have time to prepare the dressing. In a pestle and mortar pound up the garlic with a little salt and then add the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix together and add a little more salt. Set aside, in a warm place, until you have finished the vegetables.

Cut the courgettes and peppers into thick-ish slices, the artichokes need to be drained from the oil and excess patted off. The tomatoes are already perfect so they just need to be left as they are.

If you choose to use any other veg just prepare as seems fit i.e. aubergines into rings and salted if you wish, chillies, baby corn, spring onions etc kept whole. Onions peeled and sliced into thin wedges with the root still on to hold it together.

Your griddle/grill should now be ready. Do not add oil just place the veg on and leave it to burn! well not completely you want them to soften and then start to catch, keep turning the peppers so you get an even burn, turn the courgettes after they have softened, leave the artichokes until last as they have oil on them and will cook quickly - Make sure you have your extractor fan going or you will smoke the family out - once the peppers and courgettes have blackened remove from the heat and place in a large plastic container. Spoon over some of the dressing and set aside whilst you repeat the process with the artichokes. The secret to this dish is to add the dressing whilst everything

is still warm. It helps the flavours to get into the heart of the vegetables.

Once you have finished the artichokes add to the peppers and courgettes along with the tomatoes. Pour over the remaining dressing and mix gently with your hands to coat all the vegetables. Cover and leave to cool before placing in the fridge.

These Mediterranean vegetables will keep for a week in the fridge but you will need to bring them out to warm to room temperature before using.

Have an excellent day
Love Lizx

 chargrilled vegetables

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Scandinavian Porridge

There is nothing better to set you up for a winters day then a big bowl of porridge. Usually I will just cook some oats in a pan of milk and stir in a drizzle of syrup or honey but, when I have time I love to prepare my take on a recipe I found in an old Swedish cookbook.

The recipe is similar to my easy weekday one, but with the addition of apples and a little cinnamon.

Recently I seem to have aquired numerous Scandinavian cook books - an addiction I have developed since visiting Iceland! - and on reading I've found more things added to the basic porridge - from spices such as nutmeg, vanilla and clove, to dried or fresh fruits and berries which are often cooked in a syrup first and spoon over after serving, or various chopped nuts.
Some recipes are made with rice instead of oats, so are more like our rice pudding dessert, but I favour the oats for breakfast time and they are good for the digestion too.

Here's my recent recipe.......

Recipe - enough for 4 with large appetites!

150g porridge oats
750ml full fat milk - half fat if you must but please not skimmed!
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
4 tablespoons of clear honey - or caster sugar
Vanilla powder - just a pinch
2 apples - russets are ideal
handful of almonds - chopped
cream to serve

Place the oats, cinnamon. vanilla and salt in a bowl and mix well. Pour over the milk, cover with cling film and place in the fridge over night.

Next morning peel and grate the apples. Tip the porridge into a heavy based pan and add the grated apples. Give it all a good stir and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a good 10 minutes until it has started to thicken. Add the honey and keep stirring so that it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. Once you have a good 'dropping' consistency spoon into bowls, sprinkle on the almonds and serve. Place the cream, more almonds and maybe some extra grated apple on the table for others to help themselves.

The perfect winter warmer and as one of my old cook books suggested, a must if your skiing after breakfast - not something that's a regular occurrence here in Cornwall!

Have a great day
Love Lizx


Friday, 2 December 2016

Baked Portobello Mushrooms

Before I launch into the recipe for these amazingly tasty portobello mushrooms, I'm going to tell you about the dangers of being a food photographer/blogger.

The events that lead to a bruised forehead, burnt hand, sore foot and cut finger, all started because I felt I simply needed more natural light on these beautifully cooked mushrooms.
I had place the hot oven tray on the table, arranged lights etc and then decided to pull the kitchen curtain back further just to get that wintry sunlight look. Unfortunately the curtain knocked off a bag hanging on the edge of the curtain rail, this fell and was heading for the baking tray and my perfectly cooked mushrooms, so I dived forward to catch the bag with my left hand, forgetting I was holding my camera which I managed to drop on my foot! This caused me to not catch the bag but to knock it even closer towards the mushrooms, so in order to save my mushrooms, I made a grab for the hot tray .......ahhhhhhh......a very hot tray.......burnt hand.........which I drop back on the table causing a wine glass to fall and breaks as it hits the floor! .......ahhh again..... then on bending down to gather up the broken glass I hit my forehead on the back of a dinning chair, which makes me jump back and I manage to cut my finger on some of the broken glass I was picking up!

I'm so glad no one was watching!

Eventually once the detritus of my disaster had been cleaned away, wounds had been tended to and I had a stiff drink to calm my nerves I was ready to start again..........

Recipe - enough for 4

4 large portobello mushrooms
Half day old baguette
Teaspoon dried thyme or mixed herbs
Pinch chilli flakes
Tablespoon (approx) good salty butter - I use Brittany butter
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

lemon wedges to serve

Preheat oven to Gas 6/200C

Check over your mushrooms and flick off any compost, sticks etc - don't wash, if you want to gently rub over with a cloth that's fine but don't get the mushrooms wet it ruins the texture and flavour. Once your happy with them, place the mushrooms onto a non-stick baking sheet

Grab the bread and rip in half and then pull off large crouton type chunks leaving behind the crusts. You want 3 or 4 'rustic croutons' per mushroom.

Dot 3 knobs of butter onto the mushroom gills along with the croutons and then sprinkle with the herbs, chilli flakes and black pepper.

Drizzle over some olive oil and then place in the oven to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the mushroom has softened and the croutons are golden and brown.

Transfer to warmed plates and squeeze over a little lemon juice. the croutons will be lovely and crispy on top but be soggy with all the buttery mushroom juices on the bottom - perfect!

You can serve the wonderful mushrooms as they are for a starter, with a green salad for a simple lunch time meal, or with a bowled of creamy tagliatelle for a satisfying supper dish.

Have a lovely weekend
Love Lizx

 Baked Portobello Mushrooms