Home Made Lemonade

This is a cinch to make and is perfect for a hot day like today.

For 4-6 glasses take:
2-4 lemons, quartered (skin and all…)
1 litre water
sugar to taste (add 1 tbsp at a time)

Lob everything in to a blender goblet and BLITZ BLTIZ BLITZ till mixed. Strain into a jug and discard the pulpy bits. Check the sugar and add more if needed. Drink with ice cubes and instantly feel better.

Vanilla Shortbread

This is unashamedly Nigella’s recipe from Forever Summer. It’s the best I have ever made. MIL asked where it was from and nearly fell of her chair when I said I had made it, it was so good. Make it. You won’t be disappointed.

For about 24 squares you need:
100g icing sugar
100g cornflour
200g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
200g very soft butter

Blitz the icing sugar and flours together in a food processor till combined. Then add the butter and vanilla paste. Combine into a dough and then press into a lined swiss roll tin. Score into squares and then prick the tops. Bake at 160 degrees for about 25 mins till light brown. Leave to cool then sprinkle with vanilla sugar and break into the squares you scored earlier. Try not eat it all yourself on the day you make it…

Ricotta Pancakes with Blackcurrants and Macerated Strawberries

Waitrose had a too good to pass up stupid offer on ricotta last week – they were flogging tubs of it, well within their use by date, for 29p per 250g! So naturally I brought loads, not knowing what I would be doing with it… Today I used up 1 tub by making these pancakes. They’re an adaptation of a Nigella recipe. And delectable they are too 🙂

For 16 pancakes you need:
250g ricotta
100g flour
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
100g blackcurrants (frozen are fine)
125ml milk

Begin by mixing together the egg yolks, milk and ricotta. Once smooth add the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Mix again. Whisk the egg whites till light and frothy and then fold into the rest of the batter. Fold in the blackcurrants. Heat a flat griddle pan and drop dollops of the mix onto the pan. Cook gently for a few mins until bubbles appear on the top and then carefully flip over to cook the other side. Serve with macerated strawberries and maple syrup. A breakfast fit for a king 🙂

Rhubarb Fool Pavlova

A veritable 2for1 feast this as it’s basically 2 desserts in one! But it’s luscious summer treat, perfect for the glorious weather we have had recently 🙂

For 10-12 portions you need:
500g trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1 cm chunks
150g vanilla sugar
600ml double cream
6 egg whites
200g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla paste

Begin by making the meringue base. Whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks, then add the vanilla sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk well to mix. Once all the sugar has been added you should have a mound of shiny, soft, stiff eggs. Add the cornflour and vinegar and vanilla extract and combine well.

Scrape on to a lined baking sheet (top tip, use a little of the meringue to stick the baking paper on to the baking sheet) and form into a circle. Make a little well in the middle which will help to hold the filling once it’s cooked. Place in a 150 degree oven and cook for 60-90 mins. You want a well risen, golden brown shell which is crispy on the outside and foamy, chewy and marshmallowey on the inside. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile stew the rhubarb by placing the chopped rhubarb in a pan with the vanilla sugar. Add 1-2 tbsp of water and cook gently for about 15-30 mins till all the rhubarb is soft and sweet. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, adding the vanilla paste. Gently fold 2/3 of the rhubarb into the cream to make it ripple. Pour the fool into the pavlova case and top with the remaining rhubarb. Serve, sitting outside in the late afternoon sunshine with a glass of something bubbly 🙂

Haloumi and Vegetable Kebabs

I get so frustrated and fed up with the usual veggie fare on a BBQ. If you’re lucky you might get a veggie sausage or burger. If you’re unlucky you might get a tired, soggy selection of overcooked and bland vegetables. This recipe however shows how veggie kebabs *should* taste like.

For 4 portions you need
1 pack haloumi, cut into chunks
1 red and 1 orange pepper, cut into chunks
1-2 red onions, cut into chunks (what else…)
1/2 punnet button mushrooms
1-2 courgettes
olive oil
moroccan seasoning
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water or metal skewers

Begin by placing all the ingredients into a bowl and adding 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Toss gently to coat. Then thread onto the skewers, using a good mix of everything. Lay the loaded skewers on the BBQ (towards the edge where it’s a bit cooler) and BBQ till done. This should take between 5-10 mins depending on the heat. Turn carefully to ensure everything is evenly cooked.

Potato Salad

Ahhh it’s BBQ time! So the theme for the next few recipes will be al fresco dining…! This potato salad recipe is a quick and easy one to throw together and goes well with BBQ’d food 🙂

For 4-6 portions you need
250g new potatoes
3-4 tbsp mayonaisse
1-2 tbsp salad cream
1/2 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
2 good handfuls chives, finely chopped along with some chive flowers if you have them
salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes, cutting them into bite sized chunks if you want to. Once cooked, drain and whilst still hot toss in the mayo, salad cream, onions and chives. Season to taste and garnish with chive flowers.

Creamy Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry (v)

Yes I like curry. I like it a lot. Especially when it’s creamy and unctuous and spicy. Which this one is…

For 4-6 portions you need:
1 butternut squash, cut into a 1.5cm dice
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp korma curry paste
1 tin coconut milk
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 chilli, sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
large handful roughly chopped corriander

Fry the onion for a few mins and then add the squash and curry paste. Cook out for 2-3 mins. Add everything else aside from the corriander and cook for 15-30 mins till the squash is tender. Serve with paratha and topped with the corriander.

Quick Malaysian Laksa

This is a variation on a previous laksa recipe but sufficiently tweaked to warrant its own entry…

For 4 portions you need:
1 can coconut milk
1 pack marinated tofu pieces
2 bundles thin rice noodles
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp curry paste
1 tomato, cut into 6 wedges
1 lime, quartered
4 spring onions, sliced
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 cup fresh corriander, roughly chopped
1/5 cucumber, thinly sliced into sticks
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 pack baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas, cut into bite sized chunks
1/2 pack bean sprouts
2 tbsp soya sauce, plus more for serving.
1/2 tbsp oil
500ml veg stock

Fry the onion in the oil for a few mins then add the curry paste. Cook for 2-3 mins and then add the coconut milk and stock. Add the carrots and cook for 1 min. Add the noodles, sweetcorn and peas and cook for 2 mins. Season with soya sauce and add more curry paste if you want it more strongly flavoured.

Serve in large bowls topped with the beansprouts, cucumber, tomato, spring onions, mint and corriander and seasoned with a little more soya sauce.

Pasta Bake with Cauliflower

Apparently the cauliflower is in danger of dying out because we don’t eat enough of it. Bonkers! I love cauli, and it works especially well with cheese. This recipe brings together the best of macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese by combining cauli with pasta in a rich cheese sauce. Perfect comfort food. Love your cauli!

For 4-6 portions you need:
250g pasta
1 large cauli, cut into florets
1 pint milk
2 oz butter
2 oz plain flour
150ml single cream
1 cup grated strong cheddar
1/2 cup mixed grated gruyere and parmesan
1 tsp french mustard
1 tsp english mustard

Begin by making a mornay sauce: melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook out for a few mins before adding the milk. Stir well to avoid lumps and then heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer till thickened. Add seasoning, the mustards and take off the heat. Add the cream and 3/4 of the cheddar and half of the gruyere and parmesan mixture. Stir well. Meanwhile cook the pasta and steam the cauli. Drain and tumble into an ovenproof dish. Pour over the sauce and top with more cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 30 mins till crispy, bubbling and perfect. Eat more cauli!

Lentil Savoury (v)

This is an old recipe but a favourite. Inspired by a follower making recipes with lentils in, this is for her! (omit the baking and cheese/cream for a vegan version)

For 4 people you need:
250g green lentils (or brown or a mixture of the two)
2 tins chopped toms
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried herbs
small pot soured cream (or use yogurt)
1 cup grated cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

Begin by cooking the lentils: put them in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 mins then reduce the heat and cook till al dente. This will vary depending on how old the lentils are but should take between 15-45 mins. Drain.

Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5-10 mins till soft. Don’t let them colour. Add the tomatoes, seasoning and herbs. Simmer over a medium heat to reduce a little. Taste. They might need a little stock powder or more sugar or vinegar depending on how sweet they are. Once the lentils are cooked, mix into the tomato mixture and then pour into a baking dish (or save on washing up by using an ovenproof pan to cook the toms in!). Dollop the soured cream/yogurt on top and then sprinkle over the cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 20 mins till the cheese is bubbling and browned. Scoff with a green salad and some crusty bread. Leave out the cream and cheese for a vegan version.