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: 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.

 

Recipe: Goats’ cheese & beetroot fiorelli served with fresh spinach & chive pesto

I love beetroot and am always trying to eat more of it. A vegetable with many health benefits, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans and belongs to the same family as chard and spinach. It’s know to help with intestinal problems, has a positive effect on blood pressure…and it’s delicious.

So I was delighted to discover Dell’Ugo’s goats’ cheese and beetroot fiorelli. This family business is the longest established fresh pasta company in the UK and offer a delicious range of products. It’s now run by Paul Ugo, the grandson of the founder, who says: “My family have been making pasta since 1929 when my grandfather Luigi arrived in London from Italy and founded the first fresh pasta company in the UK. In the 1960s my father Leo took over the business and in the 1990s I followed suit.” So they’ve had plenty of practice.

The fiorelli comes with recipe and serving suggestions on the packaging so today I decided to make their spinach and chive pesto – a fabulous sauce that would go with any pasta.

Recipes don’t come simpler than this. Whizz up the pesto, cook the pasta, mix and serve. And the combination of flavours is stunning. You have the creaminess of the goats cheese and the sweetness of the beetroot as the filling in the melt-in-the-mouth fiorelli. Then the pesto adds garlic, parmesan and chive flavours to the mix – along with a vibrant greenness. Delightful.

RECIPES SERVES TWO

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The perfectly pretty plate of food in shades of green and pink

250g Dell’Ugo goats’ cheese and beetroot fiorelli

50g baby spinach

Half a bunch of fresh chives

100ml olive oil

20g Parmesan

1 clove of garlic

20g toasted pine nuts

Heat a pan of boiling water and quickly dip the chives and spinach for a few seconds so they soften but are bright green. Remove from the water and cool slightly.

Add the spinach and chives to a blender with the Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil and blend to a paste. You can read more about the many health benefits of spinach at www.cooking detective.com

Meanwhile heat a pan of water and once boiling cook the pasta for three minutes until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander.

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Beetroot pasta in all its pinkness

Return the pan to the heat and add the pesto. Warm the pesto through. Add the pasta back to the pan and toss so the pesto coats it well.

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Indulgently silken pesto

Divide the pasta between two bowls and serve.

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The Dell’Ugo range is available from Waitrose and online at Ocado. The goats’ cheese and beetroot fiorelli costs £3.49.

You can find out more about the company at dellugo.co.uk

 

Recipe: A delicious relish called Gungai

Today I’m sharing a wonderful recipe that my friend Esme made for us. It’s a relish that’s a mix of fresh, finely chopped ingredients and adds a real chilli bite and plenty of crunch to your plate of food. It’s particularly good with barbecued food – if it ever stops raining and you can light your barbecue that is!

It’s called gungai. I can’t tell you anything about its origins or background (even google failed me). But I can tell you that it’s easy to make and really yum. Make a big batch and store it in a jar in the fridge where it will last a few weeks. Just beware as it tends to get hotter the longer you store it.

Oh and if anyone can enlighten me any more about this delicious relish, please get in touch. I’d love to know where it comes from and why.

GUNGAI

All ingredients must be finely chopped.

4 onions

8 large cloves of garlic

4 green peppers

4 red peppers

2 red chillies

1 large cucumber

3 carrots

6 green beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vingar to taste ( a couple of teaspoons)

Olive oil to taste (a couple of tablespoons)

Chop and mix all the ingredients. Add the balsamic and olive oil. Bottle in jars and refrigerate. You can eat it immediately but the flavour improves after a couple of days in the fridge.

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Gungai looks as good as it tastes

Thanks Esme.

Recipe: The Black Farmer’s burgers with roast red vegetables

Today I’ve been asked to sample some beef burgers from The Black Farmer. The company was set up by Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones and produces gluten-free products that are also RSPCA assured which means the company has a vision for all farm animals to have a good life and be treated with compassion and respect. Well, I’m all for that.

The beef burgers look beautifully plump and juicy and I decided to think laterally and come up with a different way to cook them. Sometimes my somewhat weird cooking ideas don’t work out quite as I’ve visualised them in my head, but today this dish was even better than I’d expected.

I started off by roasting some vegetables. Colour in food is so important to me and when I was trawling around the supermarket choosing my veg, lots of vibrant reds attracted me. So red roast vegetables it is.

For two servings I used:

1 red pepper, cored and sliced

1 red onion, peeled and quartered

12 cherry tomatoes, whole on the vine (I think cooking them on the vine enhances the flavour of the whole dish)

3 tbsps olive oil

Place the pepper and onion in a roasting tray and pour over the olive oil. Make sure they are well coated in the oil.

Place in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes until they start to soften. Then add the tomatoes.

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A tray of redness to roast

I love the large portobello mushrooms around at the moment and came up with the idea of using them as a base for the burgers instead of a bun.

Add the mushrooms to the roasting tray when you add the tomatoes and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Cook for another 10 mins.

Then place the burgers on top of the mushrooms, return the tray to the oven and cook for 10-15 mins until the burgers are mostly cooked through. I like them very slightly rare in the middle.

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Vegetables sizzle and the burgers cook atop the juicy large mushrooms

Check that your burgers are cooked and serve with mustard mayo. I make the mustard mayo by mixing three large tsps of mayonnaise with one large tsp of Dijon mustard. It’s really delicious and goes equally well with the veggies and the burgers.

The combination of sweet vegetables, earthy mushroom, meat burgers and spicy mayo is fabulous. Give it a try. Do you have any inventive ways of serving burgers? I’d love to hear your recipes, do get in touch.

TBF_Beef_Burgers

The Black Farmer produces a range of sausages, burgers, free range chickens, bacon, eggs and meatballs. Much of the range is available online at Ocado and you’ll also find the beef burgers at Asda and the chickens at selected Budgens.

Find out more at theblackfarmer.com

Recipe: Roast vegetable salad with rocket, feta and pine nuts

Summer’s here – well sort of – today’s decidedly autumnal actually. Anyway, what can you do, it’s June, so for me that means it’s time to barbecue/braai as much as possible. Which also gives me the excuse to experiment with different salads. I made an impromptu version of this one earlier in the year with what I could find in the fridge. That’s one of the beauties of it, you can pretty much use whatever leftover vegetables you have.

I take time and effort roasting them all, regularly checking their progress and turning them, as I like them to be that perfect slightly blackened colour with a little crispiness without being burnt. Cooking them slowly with attention ensures everything is bursting with flavour and makes the salad. Lay them in a single layer in the roasting tray and cook in batches if necessary.

I dry fried the pine nuts, it brings out some of the delicious oils and enhances the flavour. But take care, they burn very easily and it’s not good to have to throw away the charred remains of this rather expensive commodity.

Do you have favourite salads that you like to make when you barbecue? I’m always looking for new ideas, so do get in touch and let me know what they are. 

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

Serves 4 – 6

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

2 courgettes, medium sliced

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 orange pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 x 140g bag of wild rocket

50g pine nuts, dry fried

100g feta, crumbled

Olive oil for frying

For the dressing

Three-quarters of a cup of olive oil

One-quarter of a cup of balsamic vinegar

2 tsp runny honey

Roast the aubergines, courgettes and peppers in the oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on kitchen roll to drain and cool.

Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.

Dry fry the pine nuts in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 mins. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily.

Spread the rocket over a large platter.

Layer the roast vegetables on top.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta and the pine nuts.

Pour the dressing over 10 minutes before serving.