I haven’t pressed flowers since I was little girl, wearing plaits in my hair and making stagnant ‘Rose Perfume’ for my mum which she obliging sprayed on herself, smelling much like a pond. I thought I would have a go again and I have to say it was very enjoyable. I loved how they turned out and the beautiful colours.
We mustn’t give in and believe summer is nearly over. This is the perfect dish to bring summer back to your table. There are loads of great flavours going on on here which are all so tasty together.
Bulgar wheat/Quinoa mix – 180g (or use a similar grain you like)
Vegetable stock – Approximately 1 litre
Aubergine – 3 whole
Mixed vegetables: Carrots, cucumber, beetroot, pepper etc
Yoghurt – 250g
Cucumber – 1/4 of a large one
Garlic – 1 clove finely crushed
Mint – 5-10 leaves finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Oil for frying
Aubergine: Finely slice the aubergine lengthways to 1/2 cm thickness or as close as you can get. Heat some oil in a griddle pan and when it reaches a high temperature, lay the aubergines flat in the pan and season them with salt and pepper. You will probably have to do this in a few batches. Cook them until they are charred a little on both sides. Lay them onto some kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
Bugarwheat/Quinoa: Meanwhile you want to cook the Quinoa and Bulgar wheat. Follow the instructions on the packet you are using but use vegetable stock in place of the water. You want all the liquid to be absorbed and the grain/seed to be cooked. Leave this to cool on a tray whilst you prepare your other ingredients.
Tzatziki: Normally with Tzatziki I would salt the cumumber to remove the water but as this is just a filling I didn’t bother with this and it was fine. Finely chop or grate the cucumber and the mint, add this into the yoghurt along with the garlic and season to taste.
Assembly: Finely chop or grate the vegetables and set them aside. Now lay the aubergines onto a chopping board and begin to fill them. Spread a little Tzatziki onto the aubergine, followed by some quinoa and the vegetables and roll tight being careful not to push the filling out.
– Be creative with your fillings. This is just what I had to hand but you could use a whole range of things. Hummus, mince, chilli absolutely anything.
-If you are worried , you can secure these with a cocktail stick through the centre but otheyhold pretty well.
One of the best parts about the Courgette is the beautiful orange flower that grows with it. So often its discarded of and you would very rarely find them in the supermarket. So if you are lucky enough to grow your own, or find some along your travels, take advantage and use them as they are an absolute delight to cook and look impressive.
Serves 2 as a starter or a side dish
Courgettes – 2
Courgette flowers – 4
Soft Goats cheese – 2 tablespoons
Cream cheese – 2 tablespoons
Parmesan – 1 tablespoon
Chives or other fresh herbs – 1 teaspoon
Salt and Pepper to season
Cornflour – 50g
Self-Raising flour – 100g
Sparkling water – approximately 175ml
Sunflower oil/ olive oil for frying
Salad leaves or Nasturtium flower to garnish
The courgettes – If you have a griddle pan then use this, failing that you can use a normal non-stick frying pan. Thinly slice the courgettes length ways and season with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in the pan and lay the courgettes flat into the pan and fry until cooked on both sides. You want to get the nice charred lines across if you are using a griddle pan. Set these aside or keep them warm in a low temperature oven whilst you cook the flowers.
The flowers – In a bowl mix together the two cheeses until they are creamy and soft, add the grated parmesan. You can add a touch of water or cream if it is too stiff. Season the mix and add the chives. Wash the flowers well to remove any bugs and remove the centre right inside the flowers and dry them. If you have a piping bag then use this to pipe the mix into the flowers, if not carefully spoon it inside. Close the petals around the mixture and dip the whole thing into cornflour, shaking off the excess.
To make the batter, add the sparking water to the self-raising flour and whisk. Add enough water to form the same consistency as single cream. Season the mix. In a deep frying pan, add enough oil to reach around 3 cm depth. Heat the oil and it should sizzle when you add the flowers. Dip the flowers that are already coated in cornflour into the batter and let the excess drip off, then place these into the oil and repeat with the other flowers. You want to fry them for a few minutes until they are light golden all over, you may have to gently turn them but be careful not to squeeze them or push them too hard otherwise the mix will come out of the centre.
Arrange the courgettes onto a plate and place the flowers on top. Garnish with some salad leaves or nasturtium flower as I have if you have one.
As a child I hated Feta cheese. I associated the taste with sweaty old onions, horrid dried up olives and some bitter lettuce leaves that we so commonly are presented with as some sort of attempt at a ‘Greek Salad’. I’m glad I gave it another chance because I love it now but I will never love those salads.
If you ever visit Greece you will find feta in everything, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It goes great in most salads but I really like this combination.
Feta – 200g
Dried herbs such as as Oregano and Thyme – 2 Tablespoons
Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
Beetroot – 2 whole and unpeeled ( or you can use ready cooked ones)
Rocket – 2 handfuls
Avocado – 1 whole and ripe
Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds – 2 tablespoons
Walnuts – A handful
Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
Dijon mustard – 1/2 Teaspoon
Honey 1/4 Teaspoon
If you are cooking the beetroots, preheat the oven to 180°c. Take two squares of tin foil and place the beetroots onto each of these like a parcel. Season them and add a touch of olive oil and few tablespoons of water and seal each parcel. This will allow them to steam in the oven. They will take 1 1/2 -2 hours depending on the size. You want them to be tender to a knife. Once they are cooked, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool. The skin should push off very easily once you can handle them. You can then slice them into wedges.
Whilst the beetroot is cooking you can marinate the feta. Chop into into cubes and drizzle some olive oil an the lemon juice over the top, sprinkling the dried herbs and some pepper and tossing them about. Leave this in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
To make the dressing simply mix the balsamic, honey and dijon together and slowly whisk a few tablespoons of olive oil into this until it becomes emulsified. I like mine very acidic so just taste it after a few tablespoons to see how you like it. Season it with salt and pepper and whisk well before you use it.
In a small saucepan you can toast the walnuts and seeds for a few minutes, this will really enhance the flavour but be careful not to burn them. No need to use any oil, a dry pan is fine.
Once you are ready to assemble the salad, chop your avocado and take all the elements. Dress the rocket leaves and place it onto the plate with everything else, drizzling some dressing around the salad.
This weekend, two of my friends were married and I was lucky enough to be a part of this wedding and asked to make the cake. Hannah and Josh are childhood sweethearts and I have watched their relationship blossom over the past years since we were at school together. It’s always a pleasure to make something like this, but when it is for two such wonderful people it really is a joy.
I was a litte nervous I have to say. I knew I would be at the ceremony and everybody would be eating my cake and all the fears of it tumbling over and what not were with me until the end of the evening. Needless to say it all went very well and a great evening was had by all.
Now this isn’t a usual recipe type post but I thought I would share some of the preparation that went into the decoration of this cake. The cake flavours were chocolate, carrot, salted caramel and Victoria sponge.
I didn’t manage to get any photos of the actual sponge but luckily a friend of mine did, so thank you to Simon Charles Photography for the following photo of the sponge, yum!
The truth is I think carrot cake is all down to preference. Some people like nuts, fruit, no fruit, sweet frosting, loaf shaped, round, filled on top, filled in the middle. I like mine with a lot of cinnamon, moist and the frosting not too sweet and a good amount of cream cheese. I quite like it baked in a square tin but thats just because I really enjoy slicing square cakes into perfect symettry, a silly little quirk I have. At the end of the day, you can’t beat a good slice of carrot cake!
This recipe I have had to develop as a nut free option for a wedding I am making it for, normally I would use walnuts but I thought it was a nice option for people with nut allergies.
Serves 8-10. You will need a large round cake tin.
Eggs – 5 large
Soft light brown sugar – 250g
Sunflower oil – 200ml
Plain flour – 250g
Baking Powder – 20g
Bicarbonate of soda – 1 Teaspoon
Cinnamon, ground – 3 Teaspoons
Nutmeg, ground – 1 Teaspoon
Desiccated coconut – 125g ( plus extra for decorating)
Grated Carrots – 500g
Sultanans – 100g
Unsalted Butter – 225g
Cream Cheese – 450g
Icing Sugar, sifted – 125g
Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
The Cake: Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line the base of your cake tin.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into one bowl. In another bowl weigh the grated carrots, sultanas and desiccated coconut and set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and whisk until very light and fluffy. Gradually add the oil whilst continuing to mix until fully combined.
Now add the carrot mixture into the eggs and combine. Lastly add the dry ingredients into the mixture a fold through gently. Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and place into the oven for 35-40 minutes or until springy to touch and an inserted sharp knife comes out clean.
Once to is baked, leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the cake tin and cooling on a wire wrack.
The Frosting: Whilst the cake is cooling you can make the frosting . Place the butter into a large mixing bowl and beat until very light and fluffy. Now add the cream cheese and gently mix to just combine. Don’t over mix your cream cheese as it can spit if you do so. Now add the icing sugar and fold through. Once it is all combined and there are no lumps, cover the frosting and place it into the fridge until the cake is cool enough to frost.
To frost just go for it! Plop it on and spread it about, job done! I decorated mine with some toasted desiccated coconut but you can leave it plain or get creative.
Chunky bread with some slow cooked green beans draped over it, mopping up the tomato and olive oil with each bite … thats my kind of food! When I visited Greece , my friends mother served these alongside most meals and I couldn’t get enough of them. They are delicious with most fish and meat or just on its own.
Green beans – Large bag, around 800g
Onion, finely chopped – 1 large
Garlic – 4 cloves
Fresh Tomato, diced – 3 or 4 large
Parsley, chopped – 1 bunch
In a large saucepan, pour enough oil to cover the base of the pan well, you want a good amount of oil for this recipe. Sweat the onions until softened a little and add the garlic and tomato and continue to cook for a few minutes. Now add the beans and stir everything together, adding a little olive oil before placing the lid onto the pot and continuing to cook on a low simmer.
Keep stirring and checking the beans and add a little water if they become dry. They will need to cook on a low heat for 1 hour. Once they are cooked, add a little salt and pepper to season and taste. Turn the heat off and stir in the chopped parley and taste again to check the seasoning.
– You can use a can of chopped tomatoes if you don’t have fresh but I prefer it this way.
– This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so I always make a big batch or I freeze some.
You come home late from a hard day at work, look in the fridge… nothing. Do you order a pizza? No, you’ve really got to start being less frivolous with money. Why didn’t you just go to the supermarket on the way home? Queue was too long, thats right! Uh, you could just go without dinner tonight that would help you fit in those jeans. Digestive biscuit yea! NO! Oooo spaghetti, oh who cares if its too late for carbs, I’m sure there is … yes there is pesto in the fridge!!! Pan, water, boil, spaghetti in, drain, pesto in, mix, plate? No plate, eat from pan!
So the next time you look at that basil plant over growing on the windowsill, make some pesto and an easy life, or buy a jar but its much nicer homemade.
Serves 2. You will need a food processor or a stick blender.
Fresh Basil – 2 handfuls
Parmesan , grated- 50-100g
Pine nuts – 60g
Olive oil – 100ml
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Spaghetti – 180g approximately.
Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped – 80g
The Pesto: Place the pine nuts into a small frying pan on a medium heat and toast for a few minutes until light golden. Remove them from the heat and cool a little.
Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan and lemon juice into the food processor and whizz it together until it forms a smooth paste. You may need to loosen it up with a touch of olive oil. Once it is smooth, keep blending it and slowly add the olive oil until it is a good consistency. Depending on the thickness you want you can add more or less olive oil. Taste it and season with some pepper, it may not need salt as the cheese it quite salty. If you want to add a touch more lemon go ahead.
Tip this into a container and lay a piece of clingfilm over the top, touching the pesto to stop it discolouring.
The Pasta: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente and drain. Tip the pasta back into the pan and stir through a few large spoons of pesto. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and serve.
– Pesto is down to preference really. You can add more or less of all the ingredients, mine is just a guide of quantities.
– I sometimes find olive oil quite overpowering so if I have some other oil like walnut I substitute a little of that with the olive oil.
– Most people add garlic to theirs so you can add a chopped clove, I just prefer it without.
– I also add a little fresh parsley if I have it, it adds a nice freshness.
– This will keep in the fridge for a week. You can also freeze it but it does compromise the cheese a little. You can just add it when its defrosted.
I tend to eat Pea and Mint soup quite often, not just because I like it, but simply because I always seem to have the right ingredients for it. Peas in the freezer, a few potatoes knocking about in the back of the cupboard and I always have onions in some form. The problem comes with the mint and after I recently found myself brewing a peppermint tea bag in my stock in desperation, I realised it was time to buy a plant!
This version here is fit for royalty in comparison with my tea bag and sprouty potato version a few months back.
Serves 4. You will need a blender or a hand held stick blender.
Onion – 1 large
Potato – 1 large
Peas – 500g
Vegetable stock – 1.3 Ltrs – 1.5 Ltrs
Mint Leaves – A handful
Watercress – A large bunch
Parsley – A few sprigs
Sour cream, watercress and mint leaves to serve
Peel and dice the onion and potato. Place a large saucepan onto a medium heat and add a knob of butter and a good glug of olive oil to the pan. Tip the onions into the pan and sweat them off for a few minutes. Now add the potatoes and cook these until softened, don’t colour them too much. If they start to stick add more butter or oil.
Now add the vegetable stock and bring this back up to the boil. You can reserve some to add later if you want to adjust the consistency of the soup. Continue to simmer until the potatoes and onions are cooked. Add the peas to the stock and cook for a further few minutes. Once the peas are cooked, turn off the heat and add the watercress, mint and parsley to the pan. Blend all the leaves and stock until smooth. Check the flavour of the soup and season as appropriate. If you want to add more stock to make it more liquid you can do that now and blend again.
Now some people like a more rustic soup and thats fine. You can leave it as it is and eat it now. I prefer a smooth pea soup so I pass mine through a sieve. Just place a sieve over a jug or another pan and ladle it into the sieve, pushing the back of the ladle against the sieve to push it though. Discard of the pea skins and debris that is left in the sieve, but make sure you really push it through, you don’t want to lose all your goodness.
Ladle into your bowls, drizzle some sour cream over the top and lay some leaves on top to make it look pretty.
– This really is “bish bash bosh” sort of cooking so don’t worry too much! Just don’t over cook your vegetables and no need to cook the leaves, the hot stock will cook them plenty. You can always add some spinach as well if you don’t fancy the watercress. This makes it gorgeously vibrant green!