Monthly Archives: April 2011

Renovated vegetables

When I go on a food shop (in term time) I head straight towards the fresh fruit and veg. I think people tend to think I’m extravagant cos I by a lot of stuff fresh, but you just have to be prudent. Check what’s in season, don’t be buying strawberries and aubergines in winter. And check what’s in the basics range, you can get a bag of 4 peppers for about £1.50. Also, try to get stuff that’s easily grown in Britain because it will cost less to ship, and thus will cost less to you. In the spring, look out for cheap cucumber, asparagus and courgettes, and in the fruit section: rhubarb. Most British vegetables are grown all year round due to the climate, so look out for broccoli, onions, beetroot, carrots and parsnips. I may be stating the obvious, but it makes a difference. This roasted vegetable dish is an example of me reacting to the sudden boost in the climate. There has obviously been a massive increase in broccoli produce, we got buy one get one free in Tesco’s, and then the local shop gave my mum a bunch for free.

Roasted vegetables are probably one of my all time favourite dishes. It goes well as a side, or I tend to have it as a big salad with some lettuce, spinach and cheese, feta will work on a budget, but preferably fresh goat’s cheese (I love being on holiday). When you roast vegetables the flavour changes dramatically. I don’t really like the acidity of fresh green and yellow peppers but when I roast them I love them. My sister is a bit of raw foodist, so sometimes she likes to avoid cooking so as to preserve the goodness, but I like cooking the hell out of these things cos they taste so good. I cooked about 3 peppers today. Because of our sudden influx of broccoli I decided to fling in some florets (a bit apprehensively) this time, which was a bit of a risk. My sister also introduced me to the roasting of beans, so we threw in some left-over butter beans (which are only about 50p a tin). The broccoli re-affirmed my love of roasted vegetables, they tasted really different and I recommend you try this if you’re a broccoli fan. The roasted beans are lovely cos they’re crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside. I’m also a fan of roasted mini-sweet corn and green beans too.

Roasting, it is worth noting, is for the patient. But if you’re just sitting in your room working, you might as well stick them in an hour or so before you eat and then they’re done when you’ve finish. First you need to chop your vegetables, and douse them in olive oil in a baking tray as above (olive oil is healthier and adds a nice taste). Add some green herbage (dried or fresh) and salt and pepper and make sure all the vegetables are covered. Then stick them in the oven. My house inherited a ray-burn oven, so it takes half an hour to heat up, so these veggies took an hour and a half overall. In a normal oven pre-heated to about 220c degrees it should take an hour. Half way through give take them out and stir. It might take less than an hour; just make sure they vegetables are crisping and brown.

Sorry, but if this doesn’t turn out great, you’ve done something wrong.


Filed under Mediterranean, Vegetarian

The Guardian Savoury Cake and my own Tomato Relish

Yes I have been a busy chef today in the kitchen. It’s mostly an attempt to procrastinate. I wont waffle, only to say that this recipe for the savoury cake is not mine. It comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes for the Guardian which you can find here. I made it my own by adding chopped almonds to the top which made a nice crunch to the crust.

The tomato relish, however, is my own recipe so here’s how to do it. This didn’t make that much, but obviously just double the ingredients. I tend to not cook for a lot of people so my ingredients are normally small in number.


-Lots of cherry tomatoes, about 9 or 10

-1 red onion

-Salt and pepper

-Mixed herbs

-1 dessert spoon of White wine vinegar-this is essential to everything, if you don’t have this you might as well go no further.


-Chop up the onion and start to fry them.  Add diced the tomatoes, which should be diced into small pieces. You have to have all the juices from the tomatoes, and seeing as they’re so small, I chopped them in half, and scooped out the inside straight into the frying pan with the tomatoes, then I chopped them up a bit more.

-Fry those for about 10 minutes, adding salt, pepper and herbs. Continue to stir.

-Add your vinegar and perhaps a little tomato puree, and your done. Leave to cool or eat hot.


Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Cheese, Store Cupboard, Vegetarian

Easter Carnivore Meatball Special

No, I haven’t converted. I’m at home for Easter, meaning I’m living with the only remaining meat-eater in my family of five. I’m not that fussed about cooking meat meals, I’ll cook anything. There is a ridiculous amount of mince in my house, so instead of cooking bolognese or chilli con carne, I made these, cos I know they’re a treat for my dad. They are not THAT much work, but I’m saying that in retrospect cos this isn’t the first time I’ve made them. But give it a go, they taste good (said from memory of my meat-eating days). As a cheat, you can just make your meatballs and put them in a jar of pasta sauce, but I made my own. This is thrifty, seeing as most meat-eaters tend to have mince as a staple (use pork mince if you like), eggs, bread, pasta, chopped tomatoes etc. The one thing which might be an investment is parmesan, but you can just add finely grated cheddar instead. Anyway, here you go!


Tomato sauce

2 x can of chopped tomatoes (400g)

-1 onion

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tsp of sugar

-mixed herbs

-1 stick of celery (optional)


-500g beef mince

-1-2 Eggs

-2 tbsp of grated parmesan

-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (I used semolina)

-mixed herbs, OR just parsley

-1 clove of garlic

-1 tsp of English mustard (optional)

-salt and pepper



-Chop up onions, garlic and celery. Fry these up in a big pan  until soft.

-Add chopped tomatoes, then fill up each of these cans with water half way and pour into the pan, this waters down the mixture so it’s not too rich and gets the remainder of the chopped tomatoes into the sauce. Add sugar and herbs. Leave on a low heat to simmer.

-Okay, get all your childish laughter out the way now(there are references to balls)…

-Now the meatballs. Add everything (just 1 egg at first) into a bowl and stir really, really well. Make it all mushy. If you find it’s not combining well, add another egg. You need the mixture to be moist or it will crumble when you fry them. MIX WELL to make sure the egg has been spread throughout the whole mixture.

-Make your balls. Get a teaspoon and take a heaped pile of the mixture, then roll with your hands until it’s a ball. The mixture could make up to 20 balls, perhaps more ‘cos I tend to lose count. I had loads of balls left over, I froze these balls so one can fry them at a later date.

-Now fry them in about a tablespoon of oil in the biggest frying pan you have. People forget that beef mince has a lot of fat in it, so you don’t need tonnes of oil because the beef can fry in its own juices. (TIP When I make bolognese I never use oil to fry the mince).

-The frying will take a bit of time, and should be done in batches. Remember to brown the entirety of the meatball. It can get a bit messy. To check your ball is done, it should be brown on the outside and when you touch it, it should be really firm. Once a  ball is done, add it to your tomato sauce and add another meatball to the frying pan.

-You don’t want the sauce to be jam packed full of meatballs, so, like I said, freeze some of the meatballs to use at a later time.

-Let it simmer for a bit so the juices from the meat can go into the tomato sauce. Serve with bread, spaghetti or rice.


Filed under Italian, Meat, Rice and Pasta