Recipe: Quick and simple star anise carrot puree

I learnt how to make this delicious star anise carrot puree on my lamb cookery course in Malton last year. It’s simple to make and tastes absolutely delicious with any meat. I even made it on Christmas day and it was perfect with turkey.

The star anise gives the simple puree a real exotic flavour. You can also add cream to the mix for an even more indulgent vegetable treat.

Star Anise Carrot Puree

Serves 4

1kg of carrots, peeled and chopped

Milk to cover the carrots in the pan

3 pieces of star anise

Two knobs of butter

Star anise carrot puree

Serving up the vibrant carrot puree

How to do it

Place all the carrots in a pan and cover them with milk.

Add the three pieces of star anise.

Bring to the boil and cook on simmer until soft, about 15 minutes – check they are soft before you blend.

Remove the star anise

Add in the butter and use a hand blender to blend the carrots to a puree.

You can make your puree well in advance and simply heat it over a low heat when you are ready to eat.

Star anise carrot puree

The star anise makes the carrots delightfully aromatic

My beautiful little bunny plate is from Ceramix who do a fabulous range of largely animal-inspired ceramics that come in many different shapes and sizes. I love this one for serving up vegetables and snacks. Find out more at www.ceramix.co.za

Star Anise Carrot Puree

The freshest of vibrant carrots bursting with flavour

I bought my beautiful carrots from the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. You can read all about my visits there by clicking here. It’s open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm at Granger Bay Boulevard, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

You can also read more about  my lovely trip to Malton in Yorkshire last year where I had the privilege of doing a lamb butchery and cookery course. Simply click here.

 

Recipe: Beef salad with a stunning secret dressing

It’s time to get back into the kitchen and today’s dish is inspired by my recent visit to Vietnam. We stayed in the fabulous Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa and enjoyed dishes created by genius Chef Hoang. I was amazed at the beautiful salads he served up and kept trying to work out the recipe for the dressing. Well, lucky me, when we did a cookery course with him he divulged the secret recipe which I’m sharing with you today. Keep reading to find out more.

Waste not, want not, so I used my leftovers from my huge sirloin at my recent dinner at NV80. This salad is a perfect way to use up any leftover meat, this recipe would also be great with chicken or pork.

I served my delicious salad on this beautiful frog platter from Ceramix. Their delightful and unique ceramic collections feature stylish white platters, dishes, cups and bowls with an animal motif. As well as the frogs, which I particularly love, you can choose from birds, bunnies, cats, tortoises, snails and doves.

Vietnamese-style steak salad with a stunning secret dressing

Recipe for Vietnamese beef salad

The tasty salad on my beautiful Ceramix frog platter

Serves 2

250g white cabbage, shredded

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

One quarter of a cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

A handful of fresh mint, chopped

A handful of fresh basil, torn

300g cooked sirloin steak (medium rare), sliced. I used leftovers

6 shallots, sliced, fried until crisp and left to dry on kitchen towel

A handful of peanuts

Mix the cabbage and carrot and lay as a base to the salad.

Top with the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mint and basil.

Layer the slices of steak next.

Sprinkle the fried shallots and peanuts over the top.

Pour over the dressing just before serving.

Chef Hoang’s secret dressing recipe

I make a big batch of dressing and store it in a jar in the freezer. It lasts for about a month and turns any salad into something special.

My favourite salad dressing recipe

The most delicious dressing recipe ever

1 kg fresh passion fruit

250g sugar

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp chilli sauce

Put the pulp of the passion fruit into a blender and whiz for 30 seconds. This is just to loosen it up a bit, we don’t want to break the seeds up.

Remove the pulp and put through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Add the sugar and whisk until it’s absorbed and the dressing has a slightly fluffy texture.

Stir in the chilli powder and chilli sauce and mix everything together thoroughly.

Delicious beef salad recipe

Close up salad with the frog watching over it

You can find out more about the fabulous ceramic collection from Ceramix at www.ceramix.co.za

Do you have a favourite recipe inspired by your travels? I’m always looking for new recipes to try, so do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Recipe: Traditional Vietnamese Pho

Today it’s time to get back in the kitchen and cook something Vietnamese. I loved the food so much on my recent trip there and even did a cookery course at the wonderful Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa.

Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world. It incorporates lots of fresh herbs like lemongrass, mint, coriander and basil and spices like ginger, chilli and cinnamon. You’re often given a plateful of aromatic herbs to add to your dish at the table.

We ate Pho at the rooftop bar of The Majestic Hotel in Saigon. A huge bowl of tasty broth with plenty of noodles and the meat of your choice, served with that aromatic plateful.

I left Vietnam armed with recipes to try at home and today it was time to make some Pho. It does take some time as the flavours need to infuse properly, but it’s very little work with amazing results. Go on, give it at try.

Traditional Pho noodle soup with chicken

Serves 4

The tasty noodle soup topped with herbs and fresh lime

1 x 3cm piece of ginger, peeled

2 shallots, peeled

1 litre of vegetable stock

1.5 litres of water

2 pieces of Star Anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cloves

Half a tsp of chilli powder

2 chicken breasts

200g rice noodles, soaked and ready to add to the broth

To serve

150g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, sliced into small pieces

Handful of mint, chopped

Handful of basil, torn

2 limes, halved

Place the ginger and shallots on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30mins until soft and cooked.

Leave to cool and then put in a blender to make a paste.

Place a large pot on the hob and turn on to the lowest setting. Add the vegetable stock and water, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger and shallot paste and stir.

Leave to heat through and bubble slightly for half an hour.

Add the two whole chicken breasts and leave on low for them to poach for one hour.

Meanwhile, arrange the bean sprouts, spring onions, mint, basil and lime on a plate.

After the chicken has cooked for an hour, remove it from the pan and add the noodles. Warm through for about 5 mins and while that is happening, slice the chicken.

Ladle out the noodles and broth into a bowl. Place the sliced chicken on top.

Serve with the herb selection which gets piled on top of the chicken broth mix.

Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and tuck in.

Pho chopped with tender poached chicken

Today’s top tips

Pho works equally well with beef. Instead of the chicken breasts, add 250g of rump steak and let it simmer in the mixture for about 2 hours.

You should always tear fresh basil rather than chop it to retain maximum flavour.

Try different adding different herbs like coriander or parsley to your Pho.

Vietnamese cooking doesn’t use a lot of chilli but if you’re a fan of hot stuff, up the chilli in this recipe.

Pho is also great for vegetarians, simply leave out the meat.

It also works well with fresh prawns. Just drop them in to the simmering mixture for about five minutes before serving, until they go pink.

I’ve used 200g of noodles here, if you’re a big noodle fan, add more – it can make a substantial meal.

Adding a plateful of crunch and freshness

Do you have a favourite Vietnamese recipe? What did you eat while you were visiting Vietnam. Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Recipe: Deliciously simple cinnamon rolls

Okay, I know we’re well into January – I can feel this year whizzing by already – but I felt I had to share a simple recipe for some delicious little treats. I made them first thing in the morning over the Christmas period when I had friends staying. They woke up to a deliciously aromatic house and some tasty little pastries to tuck into. Cinnamon rolls make the perfect breakfast.

Sweet and crunchy cinnamon rolls for breakfast

Makes six cinnamon rolls with each sheet of pastry.

2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted

2 sheets of ready-made puff pastry

4 tbsps ground cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

4 tbsps raisins

4 tbsps chopped hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 200C. Brush the inside and bottom of a baking dish with half the melted butter.

Roll the puff pastry out on a chopping board and brush it with the other half of the butter.

Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, raisins and hazelnuts evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough up into a spiral.

Cut the dough into six equal pieces with a sharp knife.

Lay the pieces in the baking dish and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Of course you can tuck into your cinnamon rolls any time of day – and the perfect accompaniment is a cup of tea. Absolutely one of my favourite beverages (I have lived in England for over 30 years after all). And you can make your tea with style with the beautiful stove-top kettle from Kitchen Aid. My red one even matches my oven. Now we’re talking.

Find out more about Kitchen Aid’s fabulous selection of appliances and kitchenware products at kitchenaid.co.uk.

Distributing the delicious filling evenly with my Kitchen Aid kettle at the ready

All ready for rolling

Little spirals going into the oven


Recipe: Festive cranberry and white chocolate cookies

The festive season gives me an excuse to do more baking. It’s not something I’ve done that much of in my life so it’s taken me a while to realise how amazingly satisfying it is. You mix a load of dry stuff, add wet stuff to make it stick together, put it in the oven and somewhat miraculously you’ve created something totally delicious to eat. Well, it doesn’t always work quite like that – I have had some total disasters, like the cake I produced that was the thickness of a frisbee (almost)!

Today’s recipe, though, couldn’t be simpler or the results more yummy. I decided to make these cranberry and white chocolate cookies as the perfect partner to a lovely, satisfying cup of ground coffee. For me the key to  making coffee at home is using coffee beans, it results in a way more flavourful drink and the aromas while you’re grinding make the kitchen smell delightful.

coffee-beans-618858_1920

How I love the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans

For this, of course, you will need a grinder. I love this one from Judge Cookware. It has a stylish stainless steel finish and what’s called a ceramic burr mechanism which means the beans are ground rather than cut up which retains maximum flavour. Very important!

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This handy little grinder is efficient and stylish too

And here’s the recipe….

CRANBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Half a cup of butter, softened

Half a cup of brown sugar

Half a cup of white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp sherry

One and a half cups of self-raising flour

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

1 cup of white chocolate chips

1 cup of dried cranberries

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Sweet, chewy and oh-so-satisfying

Heat the oven to 190C.

Mix together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.

Add the beaten egg and sherry to the mix.

Stir the flour and baking powder together and add to the mix. Combine well together.

Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Line a baking tray with tin foil. Mould the cookie mixture into small balls and place on the tray, flattening with your hand. Make sure to leave some space between the cookies as they will expand as they cook. You can make them as big or small as you like.

Bake for about 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. It’s nice if they stay a bit moist and chewy.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before moving them from the baking tray.

Serve with a cup of piping hot freshly made coffee. This little glass cafetiere from Judge Cookware is scratch resistant, dribble free and looks really cute. It officially serves up three cups – but I guess that all depends on the size of your cups. I’m quite partial to a large coffee hit.

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Coffee and cookies – a great combo at any time of the day

Do you have a favourite cookie or biscuit recipe? Or a secret to making the best coffee at home? Do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Judge’s great range of coffee and teaware at judgecookware.co.uk

Recipe: Cheesy roasted vegetable bake

While I do love my meat and could never imagine giving it up, I am also a huge fan of vegetables and love coming up with different dishes.

So today instead of simply roasting a fresh selection I decided to try roasting and then baking with a cheese and tomato sauce. The result is a delicious and healthy dish – an easy way of getting in your five a day.

The dish is good served with any type of meat or fish, I dished up fishcakes and cod goujons. Or it makes a great dinner all on its own, too. Give it at try and let me know what you think.

Do you have a favourite vegetable dish you’d like to share. I’d love to hear about it, so do get in touch.

MY CHEESY ROAST VEGETABLE BAKE

Serves 8 as a side dish

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Spinach and goats cheese on top of the roast veg

1 small marrow, chopped

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

1 red onion, chopped

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 orange pepper, deseeded and chopped

4 tbsps olive oil

100g baby spinach

50g fresh basil, leaves torn off stems

150g goats cheese

125g buffalo mozzarella

2 handfuls of parmesan

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My colourful selection ready for chopping

Lay the aubergine slices on a roasting tray and coat well in 2 tbsps of olive oil. Roast at 180C for about 30 minutes, turning regularly, until they are slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion, peppers and marrow to the  roasting tray. Pour over the rest of the olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes until softened and slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Start layering the vegetables in an oven-proof dish. First, half of the ones you’ve roasted. Then top with a layer of baby spinach, half the basil and half the mozzarella and goats cheese. Season with half a tsp of salt and pour over half the passata.

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Layering the roast veg and basil

Repeat the process until all the vegetables are in the dish. Top with the Parmesan. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes until well heated through and the cheese has melted.

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A vegetable medley topped with Parmesan ready for the oven

Serve hot from the oven with your choice of fish or meat.

A roast vegetable bake means a lot of chopping to start off your dish. So it’s really important to have a good set of knives to make the job as hassle-free as possible.

This fabulous set is from KitchenAid and comes in a shiny red block. They truly make any chopping a pleasure. Find out more about the range at kitchenaid.co.uk

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The sharpest of knives from KitchenAid makes chopping so much easier

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The glossy red knife block makes for a stylish display

Top tips

You can use a wide range of vegetables in this dish – try out all your favourites. Courgettes, pumpkin, butternut or carrots would also work well. I chose my selection for their different colours.

The same applies to the cheese, you could try cheddar, gruyere or even mascarpone.