Recipe: Old-Fashioned Vegetable Soup

When I was little my granny looked after me until I started nursery at four years old, and I still remember being around her every day. We would grow vegetables in the garden and pick them as needed and make lunch together, all the while granny was happy and singing and playing with me. She made everything fun and lighthearted and was such a joy to be around.

I miss her so. But through memories our dear ones live on.

She made a version of this soup quite often, and often boiling a piece of meat first to have on the side and using the broth for the soup. I don’t remember the taste of the meat very well, but the soup has stuck with me and a while ago I decided to recreate it with the vegetables I had on hand.

I started with softening some leeks, then adding carrots and potatoes, cubed small, and cooked until almost soft in homemade chicken stock. Then I added the kale and peas and adjusted the seasoning and removed the bay leaf. It’s probably the most classic vegetable soup there is, and each family have their own version. It’s similar to French pot au feu and the addition of pesto or pistou when serving would work really well. Or just eat it plain tasting each vegetable as it hits your tongue.

Old-fashioned vegetable soup, serves 2

1 tbsp butter or mild olive oil

1 leek, washed, but in half lengthways and then sliced quite thinly

2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed small

2 medium firm potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and cubed small

750 ml -1 litre chicken stock, to cover

1 bay leaf

100 ml frozen petit pois

2 strands of kale, stalks removed and leafs torn into bite size pieces

salt and pepper

Add the butter or oil to a medium-large saucepan and sweat the leeks without browning, for a few minutes until soft. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots and fry for a minute or so in the oil. Add the stock to cover the vegetables generously. Add a bay leaf, put a lid on and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature to medium-low and put the lid half on. Let it cook for approx 10 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are cooked but still a bit firm. Add the kale and peas and cook for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Recipe: Aubergine Pizza Toast

This recipe is the culmination of my struggle to come up with yummy ways to eat aubergine for my boyfriend who doesn’t particular like aubergine. I struggle to understand why as it’s one of my favourite vegetables, but I accepted the challenge and after having tested a few different dishes (layered melanzane parmigiana – edible, but not great according to him; quick aubergine and courgette lasagne – better!; non-layered melanzane – he thought this was a lot better than the layered version and something I can make again (hurrah!); fried aubergine with lumpfish roe and dill for canapés – this was a no go) I somehow came up with this aubergine pizza toast. I obviously liked it and luckily the boyfriend did too!

There are no complaints when I cook aubergine this way, so since its inception I have made it many many times! It’s perfect for lunch or dinner together with a green salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (trust me on this, the balsamic goes SO well with this!) but I have no doubt I will adapt them into canapès some time soon, as they would be perfect pre-supper and are vegetarian!

Aubergine pizza toast, serves 2

I often roast the aubergine the day before, refrigerate and heat up again (either in the oven or in the microwave) just before assembling the toasts.

1 aubergine, peeled and cut into 1, 5 cm cubes

1 tbsp mild olive oil

salt and pepper

4 pieces sourdough or seeded bread

olive oil

1 garlic clove, cut in half

1-2 tsp dried oregano

4-5 tbsp tomato sauce

1 ball (125 g) buffalo mozzarella, sliced

grated parmesan

To serve:

good olive oil, to drizzle

salt and pepper

8 basil leaves, if you have

green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Place the diced aubergine in an ovenproof dish drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle with more oil. Add salt and pepper. Stir until evenly coated and roast in the oven for approx 15 minutes or until soft and a little dark around the edges.

Place the bread on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven to toast until golden brown, approx 5-10 minutes. Rub the garlic, cut side down, over the bread slices. Divide the cooked aubergine between the bread slices. Scatter with oregano. Spoon the tomato sauce on top. Divide the mozzarella and grate the parmesan over the toasts. Put the tray in the oven until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.

Transfer the toasts to plates (two per plate) and add the finishing touches; , basil, a drizzle of good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Serve with a green salad, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Recipe: Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnuts, Rocket, Prosciutto and Tomato Crème

One of the best discoveries of last year was how easy it was to roast a whole head of cauliflower at home. I’ve had it in restaurants but it’s SO easy and delicious to make at home.

I have a very complicated relationship with cauliflower as I love the taste of it, but my stomach struggle with the high insoluble fibre content. But as I tried it again a few times last year, I discovered I could eat it if I made sure not to eat too much or eat other things high in fibre on the same day. So yay, I found a way to eat it again!

And last week I came up with this combination of how to eat it and it was so so good. I like the different textures and flavours and the tomato crème just brings it all together.

As you can see from the pictures, we also had some potatoes with it, because we needed carbs, and they totally worked, but didn’t really add much, so if you want more carbs with it I would suggest some good crusty sourdough bread on the side instead.

Whole roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts, rocket, prosciutto and tomato crème, serves 4 (as a large starter or smaller main course)

1 large head of cauliflower

75 g salted butter

salt and pepper

handful of hazelnuts

Tomato crème:

200 ml full fat creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp slow-roasted tomatoes in oil

To serve:

8 prosciutto slices

rocket

Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Place the whole head of cauliflower in a large ovenproof dish with sides. Place the butter on top of the cauliflower and place in the hot oven for 45-60 minutes. The cauliflower should have a nice brown colour and feel soft when pierced with a pairing knife. Spoon the melted butter over the cauliflower a few times while it cooks.

Place the hazelnuts on a small oven-proof tray and roast for the last 5-10 minutes the cauliflower is in the oven. Shake a few times while cooking, make sure they don’t burn.

For the tomato crème: Mix the slow-roasted tomatoes in a small blender or chop finely. Mix with the creme fraiche and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add salt and pepper.

To assemble: Place two slices of prosciutto on each plate. Cut up the cauliflower (I usually slice it) and arrange on the plates. Drizzle with the browned butter from the dish. Chop up the nuts and sprinkle over the cauliflower. Add rocket and tomato crème. Serve with crusty bread.

Recipe: Huevos Rancheros

Deep-frying corn tortillas until cripsy has been a revelation. I suppose it’s the same as the hard shells you can buy at the supermarket, but it tastes so much better!

That fried corn tortilla is the base for huevos rancheros, a dish I wasn’t sure I would like, but I absolutely adore it. I do cheat with store-bought refried beans, because the M&S ones are really good and comes in a small tin perfect for two portions of huevos rancheros. The other toppings are of course optional but I think there should be avocado, soured cream, some kind of salsa or tomatoes, a fried egg obviously, grated cheese and plenty of coriander and lime.

I could never eat this for breakfast (it is a breakfast dish!); it’s much too filling, but it would be great for brunch or for supper, which is how we’ve eaten it.

Huevos rancheros, serves 2

Inspiration from Matrepubliken.

2 corn tortillas

200 ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 small tin refried beans (I buy from M&S) or homemade

Toppings:

1 avocado, sliced

soured cream

salsa

grated cheese

2 lime wedges

coriander

Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan until 170C. Place one tortilla at the time in the oil and fry until crispy and golden, approx 30 seconds. Turn it around so it’s golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel.

In a separate frying pan fry the eggs on high heat. Heat up the beans. Place the crispy tortillas on plates. Add a fried egg to each, divide the beans and follow with the toppings, salt and pepper. Eat while it’s warm.

Recipe: Fried Greens with Crispy Fried Egg and Avocado

In one of my twice-monthly oddboxes I came across a new to me vegetable. Kalettes. A cross between brussel sprouts and kale. They looked like leafy broccoli florets and tasted delightful. And my silly tummy could handle them (at least in small quantities). Yay!

We had them blanched instead of broccoli with roast chicken and although nice they weren’t amazing. But another night I fried them in oil with some onions and served it with a crispy fried egg, avocado and a cold sauce and they were SO good. So if you see them in a shop, I highly recommend buying a bag of kalettes and try this dish. I cannot wait to make it again! I think it would work really well with tender stem or purple sprouting broccoli or a mix of broccoli, brussels and kale, if you can’t find kalettes.

Fried greens with crispy fried egg and avocado, serves 2

1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped

200 g kalettes, trimmed and cut in half

2 tbsp mild olive oil

salt and pepper

lemon juice

2 eggs

2 tbsp mild olive oil

Toppings:

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 avocado, sliced

cress

Sauce:

100 ml creme fraiche

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon with basil

salt and pepper

a little squeeze of lemon

Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Heat up the oil in a medium frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and fry until they just start to brown. Add the kalettes and fry until they also start to brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In another frying pan (large enough for two eggs), heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat and crack in the two eggs. Fry until the white is set (cover with a lid for half a minute or so for the top of the white to set), the yolk is runny and the bottom is browned. Remove the eggs to a cold plate. Reheat the kalettes and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add a little lemon juice and divide between plates or large bowls. Add the eggs, tomatoes, avocado and cress. Serve with the sauce.

Recipe: Burrata with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Wild Garlic Pesto

One of my favourite foods is undoubtedly burrata. It’s just so creamy and delicious and a nice weekend treat. But, it’s also the easiest thing to use for a lovely starter. When you have burrata you don’t have to work so hard with the rest; just make sure it goes well together.

So for a lovely spring time starter a few weekends ago I made minimal work. Apart from taking the burrata out of the fridge an hour ahead of eating I really didn’t do much; my appliances did all the work for me. The oven slow roasted the cherry tomatoes until jammy and sweet and the food processor made a really delicious wild garlic pesto to smother the burrata with. Add to that some bread and Bob’s your uncle.

Burrata with slow-roasted tomatoes and wild garlic pesto, serves 2

1 x 150g burrata

150 g cherry tomatoes

mild olive oil

1 tsp oregano or herbes de Provence

salt and pepper

1 batch wild garlic pesto

grassy olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper

bread to serve

Preheat the oven to 150C. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Place them in an oven-proof dish and drizzle with mild olive oil. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and mix to coat. Place in oven for approx 1 hour.

Take the burrata out of the fridge an hour before it’s needed. Make the pesto.

To assemble, place the burrata on a deep plate, place the tomatoes around the burrata and dollop the pesto on top. Drizzle with a grassy olive oil and add salt and pepper. Serve with bread.

Recipe: Warm Butternut Squash, Pitta Chip and Halloumi Salad

Isn’t it crazy how quickly time flies, even in a pandemic?! We’ve been in lockdown for two months now (two dark and grey winter months I might add), but time has still flown by. I don’t understand how, but it has both positive and negative aspects. Positive in the way that time is moving on and therefore this too shall pass. But negative in the way that it feels like we’ve all lost a whole year of our lives. So many things have been put on hold and there is no certainly when we will see our loved ones again…

But I digress. The reason I brought up the time aspect is that as time moves on, so does the seasons. And I really must tell you about this wonderful winter salad recipe before winter is well and truly over. The recipe is courtesy of Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen (one of my favourite food blogs that I have followed for years) and it’s basically a way for her to trick her children into eating vegetables for dinner. But, it works just as well on vegetable adverse adults!

We both loved it and the leftovers re-heat really well! It’s definitely the pitta and halloumi that makes it so delicious but the red onion play a big part too, so don’t miss those out!

Warm butternut squash, pitta chip and halloumi salad, serves 4

Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe (I substituted cabbage for kale).

5 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Aleppo pepper

1 red onion, cut into wedges

1 butternut squash, halved seeds removed and sliced 1,5 cm thick

1-2 white pitta breads, cut into triangular pieces

1 packet halloumi, sliced

4 stems of kale, leaves only

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

1 1/2 tsp sumac

mint sprigs for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 220°C. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tbsp oil. Mix garlic, salt, Aleppo pepper and 3 tbsp oil in a large bowl. Add onion and squash and toss to coat. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet and roast until squash is browned underneath, approx 30 minutes.

Toss pitta, halloumi and kale and remaining 1 tbsp oil in a bowl. Scatter over the squash and onions, then turn vegetables over with a large spatula. Roast until squash is fork-tender and onion, pitta, and Halloumi are browned in spots, 10-15minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with vinegar (or lemon juice). Top with sumac and mint.

Recipe: Green Tahini Yoghurt + Veggie Rice Bowl

As this third UK lockdown coincides with the beginning of a new year, I’ve been trying to cook a bit differently during the weeks. More vegetables (I have subscribed to a vegetable box), less meat and a bit healthier. But also more variety; trying new dishes and recipes.

One of my latest discoveries is this green tahini yoghurt, which goes with absolutely anything! I initially made it for our veggie rice bowls but I’ve also used it with fritters and lots of different leftovers.

It’s the perfect healthy sauce and dressing option to keep in your fridge! It’s fresh and herby, but has depth and a bit of a kick from the garlic. I just love it!

Our veggie bowls were nice too, but really just a clear out of the vegetable drawer so I won’t give you a recipe. But I can give you a formula for what I think a good veggie rice bowl should contain to make it interesting and delicious!

Green tahini yoghurt, one batch

1 150 ml pot Greek yoghurt (not fat free)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

1-2 tbsp water

2-3 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp tahini

1 small bunch of coriander, stems included

plenty of salt and a bit of pepper

Mix all the ingredients together using a stick blender or a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Veggie rice bowl formula

1 portion rice per person

at least five types of vegetables, some fresh, some roasted and some pickled (think different textures but flavours that go together)

season well

add some lemon or lime juice

serve with a sauce or dressing

garnish with something interesting like crispy fried onions, fresh herbs, seeds, nuts etc

Recipe: the best side salad!

I don’t say this lightly, but this is, in my opinion, the best side salad. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s got crunch, it’s creamy and tangy and covered with grated parmesan.

So far I’ve paired it with lasagne and shrimp rolls with skin-on oven fries; two dishes that I love but I felt some kind of freshness was needed and this is the only salad that has really worked so now it’s forever in my repertoire.

It’s quite simple really, just crunchy little gem lettuce leaves (you don’t even need to cut or shred them) slathered in a homemade ranch-ish dressing with herbs and covered in a scattering of grated parmesan and some more herbs to make it look a bit more exciting. That’s it! It will only take you mere minutes to make but it will complement so many dishes.

Creamy side salad with parmesan, serves 2

1 little gem lettuce, rinsed and patted dry

4 tbsp soured cream

1,5 tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 tsp dijon or English mustard

3 drops of tabasco

1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Topping:

approx 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan

some finely chopped chives

Cut the bottom off the lettuce and place the leaves whole in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine soured cream and mayonnaise. Add dijon, tabasco and herbs. Season to taste. Mix the lettuce with the dressing until every lettuce leaf has a thin coating of dressing. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Scatter with finely grated parmesan and some more chives.

Recipe: Crispy Sweet Potato Oven Fries

During lockdown when I was cooking so many burgers, I also became adamant to learn how to make crispy sweet potato fries. And with some help from the internet I did!

I love when somebody else have already done all the hard work for you (thank you Gimme Some Oven!) and you can just tweak it to suit you. Because, as we all know, if we put sweet potato in the oven it becomes soft, not crispy. But there are ways to get this delicious (and healthy!) vegetable to crisp up! So let’s jump straight to the recipe.

Crispy sweet potato oven fries, serves 4

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven’s recipe.

500 g sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cornstarch

black pepper

sea salt

Preheat the oven to 215 C and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

Slice the sweet potatoes into long, thin strips, about 50 mm wide. It’s important that the fries are uniformly sized for even cooking. 

Add the fries to a large clean bowl, drizzle with olive oil and mix until the fries are evenly coated with oil.

Mix the cornstarch with black pepper in a small bowl. Pour it into the bowl with the fries and mix until all the fries have a light coating of cornstarch on them.

Spread the fries out in a single layer on the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip all the fries over with a spatula. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a little brown around the edges.

Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack, sprinkle with your desired amount of salt, then let the fries rest for another few minutes. Serve warm.