Friday, January 13, 2017

Pasta and Borlotti Bean Soup

This recipe from one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks 'Verdura' - Vegetables Italian Style. As I am sick today and lazy, am just taking a photo of my cookbook. As I am sick today and lazy, this was a perfect time nourishing bowl of yum. And my sick kids liked it too, at least the one with an appetite.  So here it is, pop ingredients in the slow cooker like I did  ('prep and forget' meal for making a hard day easier) if you like, cheat and use packet pasta if it's all you have, it still works!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Broccoli and Cheese Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins. Recipe can be doubled to have extra for freezing.

Searching for a veggie muffin recipe to get my toddler to eat some 'hidden greens', I picked up a rarely used cookbook '750 Best Muffin Recipes' by Camilla V. Saulsbury and quickly found her 'fresh broccoli and parmesan muffins' recipe. And I had almost all the ingredients. I added green peppers (as didn't have quite enough broccoli left) and pinenuts and substituted leek for her green onions (scallions) and honey for her sugar. Like she wrote though, it's a versatile recipe that suits a variety of cheeses, and, I think, a few extra veggies too! I used Comte cheese and it worked well. She said she made them successfully with Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, Blue cheese, goat cheese and manchego.
The verdict? Family, toddler included, gobbled them up happily!


1 cup finely chopped broccoli
1 leek (1/2 - 3/4 cup), washed and chopped finely
50g pinenuts (optional)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (or use all normal flour)
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp honey
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup (divided) coarsely grated strong cheese


  1. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and dust with flour. Preheat oven to 200˚C (400˚F).
  2. In a frying pan or similar, sauté leek in a little olive oil till becoming tender. Add broccoli (and any other veg you're using) and stir fry a couple of minutes till tender, adding a dash of water if needed to stop it browning. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, eggs, milk, oil and mustard until well blended. Stir in the vegetables, pinenuts and half a cup of the cheese.
  5. Add the egg/vegetable mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Divide mixture evenly into muffin tins. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake 12-15 minutes or more until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes then transfer onto the rack. Serve warm or let cool. Once cooled can be frozen and later rewarmed in oven or left to defrost at room temperature.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mixed Vegetable Fritters

I hardly ever cook deep-fried food but that's not because I don't like it. I'm just reluctant to use too much oil, scared of the hot temperatures and fires and everything. But seeing a recipe for fresh vegetable fritters in an otherwise healthy cookbook must have inspired me, and it's true that if you get the oil temperature hot enough the fritters don't absorb lots of oil. I cooked these in my wok and drained them on what I guess is a draining attachment and they were light and crisp and a great treat.


Selection of seasonal vegetables. (The cookbook also proposes another recipe, herb fritters, using parsley, basil, mint and sage instead of veggies, so feel free to try that too alongside veggies or on their own with a class of something cool as an apero).

The recipe uses 1 fennel bulb, 2 fresh artichokes, 2 small courgettes, a handful of cauliflower florets, as well as 
12 large pitted green olives and 
115g / 4 oz drained fresh mozzarella, cut into 2.5cm / 1 in dice. 
(I had no artichokes or mozzarella this time but did have eggplant so used that as well as the other veggies).
Olive oil (or if not, canola oil) for frying
salt, to taste
Lemon wedges or a sauce of your choice (homemade aioli could be a nice treat) 
Leafy herbs to garnish (optional)

Beer Batter

2 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp olive oil
175ml / 6 fl oz beer
115 g / 4 oz flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


First, start batter preparation: Beat egg yolks, then slowly add the oil, beer, and flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside for one hour (I only set aside for a short time and it still worked fine. I had used quite a yeasty Belgian beer, not sure if that helped). Right before using, whisk egg whites and fold into batter.

While batter (minus eggwhite) is resting, prepare veggies:
Cut fennel into thin wedges. Cut artichokes into 8 wedges. Cut courgettes in half crosswise then lengthwise again into quarters.

Lightly cook separately in salted boiling water (or steam in rice cooker like I did) the fennel, artichokes, and cauliflower. Cook until just al dente. Drain well on clean dish towels. - Eggplants, which I used also, absorb a lot of water and frying is best when ingredients are drier.

Pour the oil into a large frying pan or wok to a depth of at least 1cm ½ inch (or fill pan ⅓ full if you have enough oil - afterwards the cooled oil can be filtered and stored in a jar for reusing later for more deep frying adventures). Heat oil until hot but not smoking.

Meanwhile, dip a few of the veggies, mozzarella cubes and olives into the batter, letting the excess drain off. Transfer to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides (turn with long handled tongs or use a strainer). Remove fritters with a slotted spoon or strainer, letting the excess oil drain back into the pan. Transfer to paper towel to drain. I kept mine warm as I continued cooking by placing them on a paper towel lined tray in the oven. I was a bit shocked how much oil was absorbed by paper towels even after initial draining! Just as well deep-fried food is just a 'sometimes' treat for me.

Continue frying the fritters in batches, transferring to paper towels to drain.

Arrange fritters on a clean plate and garnish with lemon wedges and, if desired, fresh leafy herbs.

Moroccan Cooked Carrot Salad

Serves 4 (photo shows only a small amount of what it makes)

This is my attempt* to recreate a nice salad I bought from a Moroccan vendor at the market. He is lovely and makes lots of nice salads but they are sold in plastic containers. I had people over the other day so bought a swag of his salads and have kept the plastic containers to store leftovers in. Photo shows leftovers of the salad I made based on his. It's nice and lemony/vinegary. When I have time, I'll ask if he offers cooking lessons, but for the meantime, here's this one I thought I could do, made with delicious organic carrots from another farmers' market vendor.
*using a mix of a couple of recipes online with a couple of my own variations

8-12 carrots, peeled/well scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin (or, better: 1 tsp. cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground)
1⁄4 tsp. paprika
3 pinches cayenne
2 pinches ground cinnamon
2 to 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (to taste)
1-2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (to taste)
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used coriander instead and it was nice too)

FOR THE GARNISH (optional)
black olives
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in wedges

Place the carrots and whole garlic cloves in a steamer above 1 inch of boiling water, cover and steam 5 to 8 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, rinse with cold water, and drain on paper towels. I actually used my 'multicooker' with a tiny amount of water and didn't need to drain them.
Mix through with the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice and vinegar as desired. Transfer to a platter, and decorate with olives and hard-boiled eggs if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Advance preparation: You can make this several hours before serving. The dish, without the lemon juice/vinegar and parsley, will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on top of the stove and add the lemon juice and parsley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ye Olde Porridge Cake

November and still pretty warm here (like 20 + degrees!) but some cool foggy mornings beg a nice bowl of porridge. Our toddler won't touch it though so I had leftover porridge today and as I was in a cake-making mood anyhow, wondered 'is there such a thing as a porridge cake?'. Of course there was. So here's the first search result that came up. I reduced the amount of sugar a bit as I just couldn't bring myself to add that much, and our eggs were small so I used an extra one and the texture was still fine - a crunchy caramelised top and a moist crumb inside. - My cake had an odd shape as I used scrunched baking paper (in a hurry) instead of greasing the tin.
I decided just to make the plain cake to start with to get a feel for it and would like to try some variations in the future with coconut etc - perhaps even a healthier version. This one was very nice though, and the toddler was delighted! 

Leftover Porridge Cake

 by  jrdnjlly on BBC GoodFood

1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
2 whole Eggs
2 cups Cooked Porridge
1 1/4 cup Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2-3 tsp Cinnamon
Optional Additions: Shredded Coconut, Chopped Nuts, Diced Apple.

Preheat oven to 180C/fan
Cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs and porridge. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (and any other extras e.g. nuts). Add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Pour into greased and floured 6cm x 26cm cake tin. Bake for 35 minutes or until it tests done.

Extra: Top with either cream cheese icing, or a caramel glaze with chopped nuts and coconut, if desired.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


This recipe is from Saveurs authentiques du maraîcher in the "Paul Bocuse présente.." series.' It claims that ratatouille, far from being a ragout of vegetables cooked together, is better when each type of vegetable is first cooked separately which is 'the secret' to preserving its taste. This also tends to preserve the colours which makes it look more appealing. We made lots and froze some to enjoy some summer flavours when we get bored of winter vegetables.
I've made other versions of ratatouille that use basil instead of the thyme and marjoram used here. One had the basil cooked in olive oil and gently stirred through when the dish was cooked, to keep it 'fresh' tasting.

Serves 4

750g courgettes / zucchinis
1 kilo aubergines /eggplant
1 kilo tomatoes
750 g capsicums / peppers
4 onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of thyme
1 Tbsp marjoram 
10 cl olive oil
salt and pepper 

  1. blanch tomatoes, peel and deseed. Crush tomato pulp and set aside.
  2. peel and finely chop onions
  3. wash and trim other vegetables and cube (approx. 1cm pieces)
  4. Separately cook in olive oil the onions, courgettes, aubergines and capsicums until tender (10-20 minutes depending on the vegetable). I used my multicooker as well as frying pan for this to have a couple on the go at a time.
  5. when they vegetables are cooked, add together in a large oven-proof dish with the crushed tomatoes, crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix.
  6. cook 30 minutes in a moderate oven.
  7. Serve hot or cold. Serve with fried eggs, pasta, bulgar wheat or pasta.
This dish is excellent (perhaps even better) the next day, reheated. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Beetroot Hummus Soup

2-3 large cooked beetroot (boiled till soft then chopped in chunks)
200g (approx) cooked and well-rinsed chickpeas (I used a jar, canned could work too)
1 t ground cumin
1 t paprika
2 T seasame seeds
dash of olive oil
2 c vegetable stock
200g creme fraiche / sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon, to finish

In a blender or food processor, put everything except lemon, salt and pepper. Blend till smooth. Pour into a saucepan and bring to boil on stove. Turn down to a simmer and add in lemon juice, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh bread and if you like, topped with dukkah chickpeas:
200g cooked and well-rinsed and pat-dried chickpeas
good pinch sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
cumin seeds
coriander seeds
seasame seeds

Dry fry chickpeas, stirring for a couple of minutes, then add oil, salt, pepper and seeds. Fry a further couple of minutes until browning but not burning. Sprinkle these on the top (if you want them to STAY on the top for presentation, sprinkle them gently just near the surface of the soup, not from high above or they will likely sink).

This soup idea was just a quick made-up recipe so can likely be easily improved upon by you!