Category Archives: Vegetables

Mushrooms in Red Wine and Miso Sauce

 

DSCN6975

Mushrooms are too often just fried and served, or buried in a pie. This recipe, although it is for a side dish,  brings them centre stage, and it is so simple to put together, taking just over 25 minutes to prepare, cook and serve.

A word of warning for those unused to using miso paste. It is a strong flavour, and it is easy to over do it. Add a bit and taste it before adding any more. It will be worth it all. You will be rewarded with a full flavoured side dish that everyone will be calling for seconds.

Serves 4. Preparation time 10 minutes. Cooking time 15 – 20 minutes or so.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 red pepper diced

2 tablespoons red wine

16 oz button mushrooms

1/2 to 1 teaspoon miso paste

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method

DSCN6976

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan big enough to hold the mushrooms.

DSCN6977Sauté the minced garlic for a few minutes. Add the diced red pepper and continue to sauté

Add the red wine and bring back up to a simmer.

Stir in the miso paste. Taste and add more if needed.

DSCN6978

Add the mushrooms and stir to coat thoroughly, cover and simmer for 15 minutes

Remove the lid and continue cooking to reduce the liquid, for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Season to taste.

DSCN6979

Serve and sprinkle the chopped parsley over the mushrooms.

DSCN6981

Here I have served it with Peas and Saute Potatoes.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Side Dishes, Student Food, Vegetables

Shakshuka

 

DSCN6885

I rather like this African take on ratatouille, or perhaps the French copied this when they colonised parts of North Africa. Anyway who really cares, as I like ratatouille and I also like shakshuka.

This recipe is simplicity itself and you could put a meal on the table in little over 35 minutes. Ignore the title and think poached eggs in rich tomato sauce.

If you Google ‘shakshuka recipes’ you will get about 181,000 hits and if you start to read some of them, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a dish that is at home anywhere from Mauritania on the north-west coast of Africa all the way round the Mediterranean to Albania and beyond into the Balkans. Each country that has it will doubtless claim it as their own. However what is certain is the number of different ways of adding different ingredients. Essentially a vegetarian dish, in some countries sausages or shrimps are added . The cheese and the spices used vary according to country and availability.

Basically make a spicy tomato sauce and add what else takes your fancy.

In some countries this is a breakfast meal, cooked and served straight to the table, in single serving cast iron pans with hunks of bread to mop up the juices, but this is versatile enough to be served straight to table, in a paella dish for instance, as part of a dinner course, with rice and some green vegetable.

With an eye to appearances, I would have preferred to have had a green pepper, however they are basically unobtainable here in the north of Italy. I think next time I make it I will add some peas, just to add contrast with the red background.

DSCN6875

Serves 4

Total time to prepare and cook 35 mins

Ingredients

3 tbsp Olive oil

1 large onion diced

2 small zucchini diced

3 cloves garlic

1 red pepper (green would look better), diced

1 yellow pepper,diced

3 medium tomatoes or a 450 g/1 lb can of tomatoes diced small

100 ml/3½ fl oz/½ cup red or white wine

2 tsp ground cumin

1 – 2 tsp chili flakes (or whatever form of chili you are most comfortable with)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 or 3 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

100 g/3½ oz/1 cup grated cheese (Use what is local and available. I used parmesan, but cheddar, feta or pecorino would be ideal)

4 medium to large eggs

Method

DSCN6876

Peel and dice the onion, put it into the pan with the oil and soften for 5 minutes. (I used a 30 cm/12 inch pan, but you might want to use a bigger pan otherwise the eggs will look crowded)

DSCN6877

Dice the peppers and add to the pan and soften for 5 minutes

DSCN6878

Dice the zucchini and add to the pan and soften for 5 minutes.

DSCN6879

Dice the tofu and add to the pan ( I know, it is not in the list of ingredients but I found it lurking in the fridge and decided to add it)

DSCN6880

Add the tomatoes and wine, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

DSCN6881

 

Meanwhile add the spices, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir them in well. Taste and adjust the flavour according to your desire,

DSCN6882

Sprinkle the cheese all over

DSCN6883

Make 4 ‘nests’ in the mixture and crack the eggs into them. The observant ones of you will have spotted only 2 eggs, and that is because I was cooking for 2, me and Joy, but the list of ingredients is for 4.

Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, according to how soft you like your eggs.

You might have to add water if the mixture is drying out or cover the pan with a lid to help cook the eggs or to stop it from drying out.

DSCN6885

Serve immediately

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under All Year, Main Meal, Spicy, Student Food, Student Food, Vegetables

Couscous Stuffed Red Onions

DSCN5888

Like a lot of the food that I write about, I really like onions. Normally they lurk in the background of the recipe, a bit like the baseline in a pop song. It is there and you are glad of it, because without the onion, the recipe would be minus a significant item.

However in this recipe, the onion takes centre stage, with the couscous providing a very pleasant supporting role

Serves 4. Preparation 15 minutes. Cooking 35 minutes

DSCN5887

Ingredients

4 large red onions

150 gm couscous

150 ml vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic crushed

2 medium tomatoes

2 dessertspoons flaked almonds

1 dessertspoon sultanas chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

salt and pepper

Method

Carefully remove any dead skin from the onions

Put them in a saucepan, cover them with boiling water. Cover and bring water back up to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small mixing bowl bring the stock to the boil, take it off the heat and add the couscous and allow to stand for 5 minutes to absorb the stock liquid.

DSCN5880

Remove the onions from the saucepan with a slotted spoon. Reserve the liquid for future stock.

DSCN5881

With a sharp vegetable knife slice a lid from each onion and put it to one side. Holding the onions still, wearing an oven glove.

DSCN5884

Cut a deep cross into each onion, taking care not to cut too deep either into the base or the sides.

DSCN5882

Carefully with the knife, take out successive layers starting from the centre, leaving 2 or 3 layers. Here I used my ‘special’ teaspoon, which I have sharpened. This does the job much better than a knife.

Place the treated onions in a greased baking dish.

DSCN5878

Finely chop the removed onion and put them and the chopped tomatoes into a small saucepan. Add the oil and saute for a few minutes.

Add all the dry ingredients to the onion and stir well.

Add salt and pepper to your taste.

DSCN5879

Add the couscous mixture and stir well.

DSCN5885

Spoon into the onions, pressing down well and filling to the brim.

DSCN5886

Put the lids back on.

Any mixture left over can be put into a small baking dish and cooked with the onions.

Put into a hot oven set at 180 C/350 F/Gas 4/Moderate for 20 minutes.

DSCN5888

Serve immediately. I served these with steamed black cabbage and boiled potatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Main Meal, Spicy, Vegetables

Spicy Potatoes

DSCN5877As a British kid, I grew up eating potatoes. It was a staple of post Second World War Britain. But there was on offer only boiled, baked, mashed and chips, and only the chips had anything other than gravy or mint sauce on them. Potatoes with every meal and so little variation in presentation, but I was not complaining. I loved them and still do. But with cooking books and the internet, the variation on offer now is beyond belief.

I happened upon this Lebanese/Syrian recipe last year and it has established itself as a regular in our family. I have modified it slightly to suit my philosophy of cooking in the most efficient way within the bounds of a recipe.

Because it is baked it lends itself as a dish that can go in the oven alongside a main course, and therefore is cooked for ‘free’. Well perhaps I am kidding myself, but you understand where I am coming from.

Serves 4. Preparation Time 10 minutes. Cooking Time about 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 large potato per person, cut into 1 cm dice

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red pepper or 2 large tomatoes, diced to 1 cm

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

2 or 3 teaspoons ground coriander

a grind of salt and pepper

Method

DSCN5870

Mix all the ingredients, except the lemon juice, in a bowl and stir together well.

DSCN5871

Tip into a baking dish as a single layer

Put into a hot oven set at 180 C/350 F/Gas 4/ Moderate for about 35 to 40 minutes. Half way through baking, stir them through.

DSCN5876

They are finished when they are nicely browned.

DSCN5877

Drizzle with the lemon juice and serve them immediately. Here I have served them with Peas and Stir Fried Cabbage (recipe here)

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Main Meal, Side Dishes, Spicy, Student Food, Vegetables

Stir Fried Cabbage

DSCN5842

We grow and eat a lot of cabbage, and we use many different recipes in order to vary the way we eat them. This is one such way, which is quick, economical and also tasty. As with a lot of our recipes this is one that can be adjusted to suit the style of cuisine that it is accompanying.

This serves 4. Preparation 10 – 15 minutes. Cooking 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 medium cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 dessert spoon caraway seeds or fennel seeds

Method

Wash the cabbage leaves and then steam or boil them for 5 minutes.

Drain the leaves.

DSCN5844

Shred or slice them finely

In a wok heat the oil, and add the seeds and garlic, cook for 1 minute.

DSCN5845

Add the cabbage leaves and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes.

Season and serve immediately.

And if you are thinking, that is not much cabbage for 4 people, you are correct. I was doing and photographing a half recipe.

If you wanted to liven up the visual aspect of the cabbage you could add a finely chopped red, orange or yellow pepper, which takes little or no time to cook, before you add the cabbage to the wok.

 

2 Comments

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Side Dishes, Spicy, Student Food, Student Food, Vegetables

Stuffed Baked Squash

 

DSCN5824I have this lingering love affair with squash. I like it pretty much however it is cooked. However in this neck of the woods, we do not get a lot of choice. On my occasional visits to Germany and Britain, I drool over the different squashes available. Here we basically get one sort and that is the squash that looks like a green curling stone, a flattened globe. They do come in a range of sizes however, from some not much bigger than a tea plate up to bigger than a soccer football. That said it is possible, on the markets at least,  to buy a half or even a quarter of a squash, with no fuss. As an aside, it is also possible to buy one (1) stick of celery! I just love it here.

Anyway I spotted this recipe, and because of my declared love and the original title of ‘Twice Baked Squash’, investigated further.

First off it said use butternut squash. Yes I have seen them, but not around here. But I did have an ordinary squash, so I thought ‘this is a goer’.  Next it said use goats cheese. Well I have some feta that needed using – that will do. Further it said user kosher salt – haven’t got any and none to be bought around here, however as I planned to use feta cheese, which is quite salty, I decided against using any more.Next up was low-fat Greek yoghurt, and again I thought, will ordinary Italian yoghurt from Sud Tirol do? I very sensibly told myself that it would and that no one would be any the wiser.

Lastly it called for Panko breadcrumbs. Now, I have seen this word a lot just lately, but I looked it up on Wikipedia just to refresh my memory. These are breadcrumbs made from a Japanese bread that is baked specially, by passing an electric current through the dough, producing a loaf that has very little crust and has the property of absorbing very little oil or butter when it is further cooked. I make my own breadcrumbs from the bread that I make. My bread is organic sourdough and I am very happy with it, and it has not come from the other side of the world.

I have to say the original title, of Twice Baked Squash, fooled me into thinking that it was a little exotic, and it was not until I had started the first baking that I realized what I was doing. I was softening the squash in the most expensive way possible, by baking it. That is not my style, no way. So I did back-to-back test cooking on how to soften half a squash and here are the results.

DSCN5828

Original Recipe said to wrap the squash in aluminium foil and bake at 230 C/450 F/ Gas 8/  Very Hot for 35 minutes or until a knife tested soft. Well our oven takes about 20 minutes to get to that sort of temperature, so a total of 50 minutes oven time at full bore = expensive.

My Recipe. Next I put the other half, without foil, in our vegetable steamer and steamed it for about 12 minutes, using a low gas on the hob top. Done to perfection. I used a cup full of water which took less than 5 minutes to come to the boil, and that water went straight into the stock pot afterwards. I have to confess that I feel incredibly smug when I save time and money, with no loss of flavour either.

Now to my recipe.

Serves 4. Preparation 15 minutes. Cooking 30 minutes

Ingredients.

Half a medium squash cut through the middle,  deseeded

3 or 4 medium sticks of celery cut to 6 mm/ 1/4 inch lengths

1 medium onion finely sliced

1 clove of garlic minced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped finely or 1/2 tablespoon of dried sage

50 gm/ 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons of yoghurt

2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, dry toasted in a frying pan

Method

Steam the half squash for about 10 to 12 minutes or until it is fully softened. Test with a skewer or thin knife.

Meanwhile saute the onion, celery slices and the garlic in a little of the olive oil. Leave a little texture in the celery.

DSCN5826

Using a dessert spoon, remove the flesh, from the squash, transferring it to a small mixing bowl and , leaving a 6 mm/ 1/4 inch layer all over.

DSCN5830

Retain the shell

Mash the flesh and then add the cheese, yoghurt, celery, onion, garlic and sage. Mix thoroughly.

DSCN5831

Transfer the mixture to the retained shell, smoothing over the surface.

Spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.

DSCN5832

Sprinkle sparingly with the remaining olive oil.

Bake in a pre set oven at 200 C/425 F/Gas 6/Moderate Hot for about 15 minutes or until it is heated right through.

DSCN5833Serve immediately with vegetables of your choice. And very tasty it was too.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn/Winter, Cheese, Main Meal, Spring, Vegetables

Stuffed Sweet Chillis

DSCN5804

I originally tried this Spanish recipe from a blog by Frank Camorra. I was unable to buy either the cheese (shanklish), or the grain (freekah) that he used. This for me is a recurring theme. This is after all Northern Italy and I live in a mountain village. If I lived in Milan or Turin, then maybe I could buy them. That said however there are a number of North Africans living in the vicinity and I feel a trip to nearby Biella coming. Biella, the regional capital, is a small city which does have a few ‘ethnic’ shops, which I do from time to time look into, to see what is on sale. Time perhaps to investigate  again.

However, I am not easily put off, and so I substituted with parmesan (although I intend to try feta next time), and a combination of kamut and wild rice. Kamut is an ancient grain, supposedly used in Egypt during the times of the pharaohs, very similar to wheat and has a nutty flavour. Used in this recipe it gives a satisfying texture.

When you buy the chillis, make sure that you buy the straightest available to enable stuffing with ease.

Serves 3 or 6. Preparation 15 minutes. Cooking 35 minutes

Ingredients.

I large onion roughly chopped

3 sticks of celery cut into 6 mm/ 1/4 inch thick slices

2 or 3 gloves of garlic, minced

200 gm/ kamut or wheat

50 gm/wild rice

2 tomatoes roughly chopped or 225 gm/ 1/2 lb tinned chopped tomatoes

400 ml/water

Juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

salt and pepper

6 large sweet chillis

150 gm/ 5 oz parmesan roughly grated.

Method

The day before, put the kamut and wild rice in a saucepan, cover with the water and leave to soften overnight or simmer for about 45 minutes if you do not want to wait for another day.

Gently saute the onion and celery for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes.

Drain the wheat and rice and add to the onion,celery and garlic.

Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and grated rind and the herbs.

DSCN5801

Simmer for about 15 minutes without covering to allow some of the liquid to reduce.

DSCN5802

Meanwhile with a sharp knife cut a 1 cm/ 1/2 inch slot down the length of each chilli to allow ease of stuffing.

Season to your taste and then stir in 3/4 of the parmesan.

DSCN5804

Carefully stuff the mixture into each chilli, sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on the stuffing and then arrange in a greased baking dish.

Bake for about 25 minutes in a pre heated oven set at 180 C/350 F/ Gas 4/ Moderate, until the chillis have softened and the stuffing is heated through.

Serve immediately

DSCN5806

Here I have served them with the simple addition of boiled potatoes and steamed carrots

Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Cheese, Main Meal, Rice, Vegetables