Posh mushrooms on toast

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I absolutely love wild mushrooms and this time of year is great for chanterelles, or if you’re French or just a bit fancy – girolles.  It goes without saying never to pick and eat your own unless you REALLY know what you’re doing but they’re plentiful (although not cheap) in shops and farmers markets at this time of year.  This is such an easy supper but so tasty. Ideally eaten in front a roaring fire with a good book and a glass of red….

(Serves 2)

  • Couple of generous handfuls of chanterelle mushrooms – washed thoroughly to remove any soil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Generous splash of olive oil
  • Half a glass of white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted sourdough to serve
  1. Heat the oil up in a pan and then add the mushrooms, wine and garlic
  2. Allow to simmer for around 10-15 minutes (chanterelles respond well to cooking so don’t worry about over-cooking them although you do want a little of the juice left at the end as this will absorb all the delicious flavours of the mushrooms and will soak into the sourdough nicely at the end)
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve

So simple but so good!

Whole-roast munchkin pumpkins with pumpkin and sage risotto

Pumpkin risotto

I made this for the family this weekend as part of a Halloween lunch and it went down really well, especially with the littlest Munchkin!  We ate this as a main course but if you reduced the amounts it would also work well as a starter at a dinner party.

 

Good old autumn comfort food…

(Serves 4)

  • 4 Munchkin pumpkins
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 6 shallots – peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 1.5 mugs of Arborio rice
  • 1 cup of dry white wine or dry Vermouth
  • Couple of pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo stock cubes)
  • 1 mug of pureed roast pumpkin or, if you’re feeling lazy a jar or tin of pureed pumpkin (I bought mine from Ocado)
  • Chopped fresh sage (dried will be fine if you don’t have any fresh herbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the whole, munchkin pumpkins on a a baking tray and in an oven at 180° for about 45 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and then add shallots and garlic for a few moments until they soften and then add the maple syrup, allow them to caramelise for a few minutes.
  3. Add the rice on a high heat for a few moments until the edges of the rice start to go translucent then add the wine/Vermouth.  Reduce the heat and then gently massage/stir the rice with a wooden spoon to help release the starch.
  4. Have a pan of simmering vegetable stock at the side and slowly keep adding stock to the risotto, stirring as you go for around 30 minutes minutes.
  5. Remove the pumpkins from the oven and carefully remove the tops and scoop out the insides, removing the seeds as you go.
  6. Mash the pumpkin flesh with the back of a fork and stir into the risotto.
  7. Add the pumpkin puree and sage and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring and adding more stock as you go.
  8. The risotto is ready when you have a nice, creamy texture but the rice grains still have a bit of a ‘bite’ to them.
  9. Season the risotto to taste.
  10. Spoon the risotto into the scooped-out pumpkins  before replacing the tops and then arrange the rest of the risotto on the plate, alongside the pumpkin.
  11. Happy Halloween!

Penne with an aubergine ragu

IMG_9097Yes, I know that strictly speaking a ragu is made with meat but this is it’s healthier, happier aubergine cousin.  I always crave wholesome, hearty fare at this time of year and this definitely hits the spot.  Happy autumn-eating folks!

(Serves 4)

  • Olive oil
  • 3 medium-sized aubergines
  • 2 medium-sized red onions, diced
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of smoked paprika, depending on taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (I use the sundried tomato one from Waitrose)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • Small glass of dry red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Penne – enough for four people, depending on how greedy you are (we are very greedy!)
  1. Dice the aubergines into approx 1cm squared cubes.
  2. Place the aubergine cubes in a baking dish with a generous splash of olive oil, toss to ensure all aubergine is covered evenly.
  3. Bake at 180° for approx. 45 minutes until browned and slightly caramelised
  4. Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil up in a pan and add the onions and garlic
  5. When the garlic and onion is softened add a drizzle of maple syrup, smoked paprika and tomato paste, stir through and cook for a few more minutes until onions begin to caramelise
  6. Add the red wine and simmer for approx 10 minutes before adding the tin of tomatoes, continue to simmer for approx 45 minutes
  7. Combine the sauce and aubergine and season to taste
  8. Combine with the cooked penne and serve

Lentil ragu with fresh herbs and linguine

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This is such a quick and easy recipe and great for the end of the week when you hardly have any food in but haven’t quite found the time to go to the shops.  (This seems to happen a lot in our house!)

(Serves 4)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • One large red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 1 cup of veg stock
  • 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Generous sprinkle of dried dill
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used dill, mint and parsley)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Linguine (cooked as per instructions)
  1. Heat the olive oil up in a saucepan
  2. Add the garlic, onions and maple syrup and soften the onions, allowing them to caramelise slightly
  3. Add the paprika and tomato paste and stir through
  4. Add the lentils, chopped tomatoes, veg stock and dried dill
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if needed
  6. Add fresh herbs and serve over linguine

Roasted tomato, red pepper and red lentil soup

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As the weather gets colder I crave big, wholesome bowls of homemade soup more and more.  This one is simple to make and delicious.

(Serves 4)

  • Punnet of organic tomatoes (stalks removed)
  • 1 large organic red pepper (De-seeded and chopped)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Mug of red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1-2 pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo stock cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of dill
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Pop the tomatoes and pepper in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil for about 20 minutes at 180°
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and add the spices and then the lentils, fry for a couple of minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes, pepper, dill and veg stock
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Blend (I use a hand-held blender as it’s much easier to wash-up!)
  6. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread

Aubergine and tomato bake

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Autumn really makes me crave comfort food and this ticks all the boxes when the days get shorter and colder.

(Serves 4)

  • 2-3 aubergines – sliced lengthways
  • 1 red onion – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Handful of wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Add the garlic and onions and gently fry for a few minutes
  3. Add the maple syrup and fry for another few minutes to help caramelise the onions
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika and salt and pepper
  5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes
  6. Place the aubergine slices in the bottom of an ovenproof dish
  7. Cover with a layer of the tomato sauce
  8. Continue building up the layers, finishing with a tomato sauce layer
  9. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and thyme
  10. Bake in the oven at 180° for 30 minutes

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Chinese dumplings with dipping sauce

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I absolutely love Chinese food and can spend many a happy hour wandering around Asian supermarkets sourcing weird and wonderful ingredients.  I adore dim-sum and can happily sit and devour plate after plate of these…

(Serves 4 – Or just 1 if you’re really greedy like me!)

For the dumplings:

  • 20 ready-made dumpling wrappers (Available from most Asian supermarkets – just check that they’re egg-free)
  • Punnet of chestnut mushrooms – finely chopped
  • Punnet of oyster mushrooms – finely chopped
  • Garlic clove – finely chopped
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 4 spring onions – finely chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Red chilli – chopped
  • Fresh ginger – chopped
  • 1 spring onion – chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar

For the dumplings:

  1. Heat the oil in a wok
  2. Add all the other ingredients and gently fry until the mushrooms are lightly browned
  3. Drain the excess liquid off
  4. Carefully place a small spoonful of the filling into the centre of each dumpling wrapper
  5. Fold the wrapper over and seal the edges using a small amount of water around the edge
  6. Once all the dumplings are filled and sealed heat for a few minutes each side in a non-stick frying until brown

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For the dipping sauce:

  1. Combine all the ingredients, mix and serve

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Sweet potato and spinach curry with spiced rice

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True to form the British bank holiday weather is looking as grey and gloomy as we’ve come to expect.  Cheer yourself up with a big bowl of warming and healthy curry…

(Serves 4)

For the curry:

  • One large white onion – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped
  • 1″ of fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 4-6 sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of frozen spinach
  • Generous drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon of growing cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1/2 pint of veg stock (I use Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes)
  • Approx. 1 tablespoon of creamed coconut
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the rice:

  • 1 large mug of Basmati rice
  • Generous drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 4-6 cardamon pods
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 4″ piece of cinnamon bark
  • 6-8 cloves

For the curry:

  1. Heat the oil in the pan
  2. Add the curry leaves, fennel seeds, dried chilli flakes, fenugreek, cumin and cinnamon for a few moments to allow them to dissolve in the oil
  3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and gently fry for a few minutes on a low heat to soften
  4. Add the tomato paste
  5. Add the sweet potato, veg stock and coconut milk
  6. cover and simmer for approx. 20-30 minutes
  7. Add the creamed coconut and spinach – stir thoroughly
  8. Simmer for a further 3-5 minutes
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste

For the rice:

  1. Heat the oil in the pan
  2. Add the cardamon, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon bark
  3. Add the rice, give it a quick stir and then gently fry for 2-3 minutes on a low heat
  4. Add 2 mugs of cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

NB You may wish to remove the cinnamon bark, cloves and cardamon pods just before serving

Zucchini and dill soup

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We’ve been inundated with tonnes of fresh, local squash lately and we’ve almost had more than we know what to do with.  I’ve been making soups a lot as the weather has been getting cooler and this is currently one of my favourites…  It literally takes minutes to prepare so it’s a great lunchtime option.

(Serves 4)

  • 4-6 zucchini (washed and roughly chopped)
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Couple of pints of veg stock (I generally use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • Generous sprinkle of dill (fresh or dried is fine)
  • Salty and pepper to season
  • Half a lemon
  1. Heat the olive oil up in a pan
  2. Add the zucchini and gently sauté for a few minutes to soften them
  3. Add the vegetable stock
  4. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and blend (I just used a hand-held blender for this, which worked really well and cuts down on washing up!)
  6. Add the dill, salt and pepper to taste
  7. Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice and stir
  8. Serve with warm, crusty bread

Vegetable tart with caramelised onions

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This is such a quick and easy supper and as we usually have a pack of pastry in the freezer (no, I don’t make my own – no judgment please!) plus plenty of veggies around it’s a great option for when you’re low on ingredients and short of inspiration.  It’s also great cold so a good option for picnics and packed lunches.

(Serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 pack of Jus-Rol puff pastry (ready-rolled for ultimate laziness)
  • 2-3 onions (peeled and sliced)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • 2-3 zucchini (sliced)
  • 4-5 large vine tomatoes (sliced)
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Grease a baking tray
  2. Place the pastry on the tray and pinch around the edges
  3. Pour the oil into a pan and add the onions – gently heat through to soften and caramelise
  4. Add a generous drizzle of maple syrup to the onions for the final few minutes of cooking
  5. In another pan add olive oil and slowly shallow-fry the zucchini slices
  6. Spread the caramelised onions evenly over the pastry and then alternate the zucchini and tomato slices
  7. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts, oregano and salt and pepper over the vegetables
  8. Pop in the oven at 220° for 30-40 minutes
  9. Serve with new potatoes and a large green salad