Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (25 mins)

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This unique, rustic Beetroot Soup recipe caught my eye in Ocado magazine and I gave it a go.  It’s based on the Eastern European soup called borscht, and is particularly delicious topped with feta cheese and dill.  Just what we need as autumn arrives!  Enjoy it with bread – I like those frozen baguettes that you can heat in the oven and pretend you baked yourself…

As an alternative to feta and dill you could have the soup with a swirl of creme fraiche and some fennel seeds.  You need a blender and a spare 25 minutes to make it : )

Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (serves 2 as a large main/4 as a starter)

1 tbsp oil e.g. vegetable/olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped very small

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

500g cooked beetroot, diced

1 apple, cored, peeled and diced

800ml hot vegetable stock

50g feta cheese, crumbled

Small handful of dill, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook for 7 minutes, until softened.  Stir in the beetroot, apple and stock.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Use a hand blender (or pour the soup in to a blender) to blitz the soup until smooth.  Add a little more water if it is too thick.  Season to taste.

Pour the soup in to bowls and scatter over the feta and dill.  Eat and feel warmed up!

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Gazpacho (Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you enjoying the sun but feeling super hot?  This Gazpacho (chilled Spanish tomato soup) is the best and most delicious way of cooling down!  I have tried to make the recipe as simple and quick as possible, so all you need to do is put the following ingredients in to a food processor, blitz well and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Even better if you top it with some finely chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber for a little crunch.  And a sprinkle of black pepper.

Gazpacho (serves 2 with bread as a light meal)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp of vinegar e.g. red or white wine vinegar/sherry vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Blitz the above ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.  Chill for atleast a couple of hours in the fridge (it will last a few days in there).  When ready to eat, pour in to bowls and serve with a little garnish of chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber.  Eat and feel refreshed!

 

 

 

Family-Friendly Scandinavian Smorgasbord

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Once in a while we have a ‘theme’ night at dinnertime when we try food from another country.      It’s a fun way to be a little adventurous and learn about different cultures.  I sometimes simplify or adapt the original version to make it more kid friendly and not too overwhelming, so there is no need to completely stick to tradition.  Our latest theme dinner was a Scandinavian Smorgasbord consisting of smoked salmon and lemon wedges (the kids felt all fancy squeezing the lemon over the salmon!); potato salad made from boiled potatoes, capers and a little mayonnaise; and rye bread with butter (you can get rye bread from big supermarkets).

If you wanted to be even more authentic you could add meatballs, boiled eggs, crayfish, crackers, beetroot salad or dill and mustard sauce.  Or you could have a look in the Ikea food shop for easy inspiration (they even do vegetable balls as an alternative to meatballs).

There are endless possibilities for theme nights – we have had Italian pasta meals listening to opera and Mexican fajitas after watching the Pixar kids film Coco!  Google will give you lots of ideas.

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Fantastic Family Nachos!

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Here is a fantastic family-friendly Mexican nachos recipe that we all loved and takes only 5 minutes to prep (plus 10 minutes baking).

The tortilla crisp base is topped with kidney beans, sweetcorn, olives, grated cheese, avocado and coriander.  Put it in the middle of the table for everyone to share, and eat with hands!  You could have some salsa and sour cream on the side.

Fantastic Family Nachos (serves 4 but you might need dips and side salad to make it go further!)

1 large pack of plain tortilla crisps

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained

1 regular sized tin of kidney beans, drained

Handful of chopped olives

1 reduced salt vegetable stock cube (I like OXO)

2 handfuls of grated cheddar

2 avocados, chopped

Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Spread out the tortilla crisps on to a casserole dish/baking tray.  Separately mix the sweetcorn,  kidney beans, olives, crumble in the stock cube and mix well. Spoon the mix over the crisps, evenly top with the cheddar and bake on gas mark 7/220 degrees for around 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped avocados and coriander. Put on the table for everyone to help themselves, and eat with hands!

Effortless Egg Curry

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This totally delicious egg curry is based on a BBC recipe.  It is quick to make (about 20 minutes) and great with some rice and mango chutney.   An excellent, effortless recipe to have up your sleeve!

Effortless Egg Curry (serves 4)

Oil

2 white or red onions, thinly sliced

2 heaped tbsp curry paste (I used Patak’s Korma Paste but apparently Tikka Masala also works)

400g can chopped tomatoes

8 eggs

140g frozen peas

2 tbsp natural or Greek yoghurt

Rice and mango chutney to serve (I use microwave brown rice to save time)

Heat the oil in a pan and add the sliced onions.  Gently fry for around 10 minutes, stirring, regularly, until golden.  Stir the curry paste in for 2 minutes then add the can of chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 9 minutes until hard boiled, remove the shells and cut in to quarters and put aside.  Add the peas and yoghurt to the curry sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the hardboiled eggs.  And your curry is complete!

Best enjoyed with rice and mango chutney on the side.

One-Pot Gnocchi Bake

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I am very excited to share this 20 minute, one-pot gnocchi recipe that went down great at tonight’s family dinner!  Gnocchi is a sort of bite-sized Italian potato dumpling that you can buy fresh from most supermarkets.  To make the bake, simply fry an onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, olives and the gnocchi and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Stir in some torn basil, top with mozzarella and grill until golden!  It would be nice with salad on the side too.  And I might add spinach to the bake for extra goodness next time.   Brilliant!

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One-Pot Gnocchi Bake (serves 2-4 people)

Olive or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped small

1 red pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g can chopped tomatoes

Large handful of black olives, roughly chopped

500g pack of gnocchi (available at most large supermarkets)

Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Ball of mozzarella, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, pepper and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes, olives and gnocchi and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender and cooked (it doesn’t take much to cook it), stirring regularly.  Stir in the basil leaves, top with the torn mozzarella and grill until golden.  Eat straightway!

Cooking With Kids – Salmon and Green Bean Curry

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This is a gently spiced Salmon and Green Bean Curry recipe from the lovely Nadiya Hussain’s free kids cookbook for World Book Day.  It is all made in one pan so nice and simple.

My youngest son Robin (5) helped me make the curry using his new proper grown up chopping knife (the knife brand is ‘kitchen devil’, so obviously he was sold).  Luckily he is naturally cautious so I wasn’t scared for long!  I just had to make sure there was no loud music on and he and his brother were in different rooms and not distracting each other.  He helped me cut the green beans and salmon, holding one end with one hand (fingers curled in) and cutting slowly with the other.

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He also helped me put the ingredients in the pan and stir.  Great job Robin!  Hopefully Freddy will cook with me soon too.  Freddy and us adults loved the dish with some brown rice.  Robin wasn’t keen on the green beans but enjoyed the rest of it and we agreed to try it with peas next time.  Canned chickpeas would make a great alternative to the salmon.  Allow about 30 minutes to make everything!

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Salmon and green bean curry (serves 4 with brown rice)

Glug of oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb of ginger, grated very small

1 small onion, chopped small

1 tsp tomato puree or 1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Water

170g green beans, chopped

450g salmon, skin removed and chopped in to chunks

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and onion in a pan for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened.  Add the tomato puree or tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala and cook for another minute.  Add a 2 tbsp water and then the green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if need be, to just cover them.

Add the salmon and cook for another 5-7 minutes, adding a little more water to help them cook if necessary.  Take off the pan and stir in the coriander.  Eat with brown rice!