Thursday 20 May 2010

Carrot & parsnip fritters

A quick and easy dish that serves as either lunch or dinner.

I realised recently that I hardly ever eat meat these days. I would much rather eat a pile of vegetables than a big hunk of steak. This dish is a great example of how a meat-free dish can be so so good that you won't even realise you're having a vegetarian dinner even if you're a regular omnivore. I served with a simple ceaser salad but this would also be great with big fat homemade chips.

- 1 large carrot
- 1 parsnip
- 3 spring onions
- 1 slice bread
- 1 egg
- Good pinch salt
- Pinch sweet paprika


- Grate the carrot and parsnip into a bowl.
- Finely slice the spring onions and them them to the other veg.
- Whizz the bread up in a food processor to make crumbs - this works easiest if the bread is a day or two old. Add it to the bowl with the salt and paprika.
- Chuck in the egg and mix everything together really well.
- Heat some olive oil and a little butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, form the vegetable mixture into little patties in your hands and place them gently into the pan.
- Saute for 5 - 7 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Lemon vanilla shortbread

Buttery, crumbley deliciousness

Dinner was over. Tea was in hand. But something was missing; I wanted something sweet. I also wanted something quick and that didn't require a visit to the shops. Shortbread was the answer. Prep and cook time together it took less than 20 minutes to go from ingredients to in-my-face. Yum!

- 4oz butter, softened
- 2oz sugar
- 6oz plain flour
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

- Heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan oven) or 180 (conventional).
- Beat together the soft butter and sugar until smooth.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Stir in the flour and work it into a dough. Shape it into a thick disc and transfer to a lined baking tray.
- Press the dough gently to flatten it into a circle approx 1/2 inch thick; you can use a rolling pin for this if you want but it's easier to use your hands.
- Use the back of a fork to mark indents around the edge of the disc and prick some holes with the fork prongs - this is faffing really, so skip this if you're not fussed prettying up the shortbread.
- Bake in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes until it is starting to go golden brown around the edges.
- Cut into segments while it is still hot and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Minestrone soup

Delicious and healthy, an awesome lunchtime special

This has recently become one of my favourite lunches as it is really easy to make as well as packed full of goodness. It's also gentle on the finances and will keep you full for hours. I like to make a big batch and freeze it in double portions, that way I'm never stuck for a quick lunch option when I'm home. I use chickpeas in this recipe as I like how they stay intact and retain their shape. Cannellini beans or butter beans would also work well but don't overcook them as they turn to mush easily enough.

- 1 onion
- Couple of cloves of garlic
- 2 large carrots
- 4 sticks of celery
- Tin of chickpeas
- Small handful of spaghetti
- Tin of chopped tomatoes (or passata)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp sugar
- Chicken stock

- Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan on high heat.
- Chuck the onion, garlic, celery and carrots into a food processor and blitz until they are all chopped really finely. Add them to the oil, stir well and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 mins.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pot.
- Chuck in the tin of tomatoes and about the same amount again of chicken stock - add enough stock until the mixture is loose enough to be a soup rather than a sauce.
- Add 1 tsp of sugar, the tomato puree and another bit of salt and put a lid on. Cook for 10 mins at a simmer.
- After 10 mins, break the spaghetti up with your hands and add it to the soup. Pop the lid back on for 12 mins, stirring once or twice.
- Serve hot in big bowls with a side order of Eastenders and a crossword.