Archive for April, 2011

April 30, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Italian grilled vegetable salad

Thursday 28 April

A very simple thing this, made mainly because we had some globe artichokes, courgettes and an aubergine delivered to us in our weekly box of veg.

I’m lying ever so slightly, however, by calling it a grilled vegetable salad because in this instance we roasted the veg. Char-grilling would be better, but a barbecue isn’t possible here at ETP Towers at the moment. Whichever way you choose to cook – and sweeten up – the courgettes, aubergine and some peppers, the idea is to combine them with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella like a big platter of vegetarian antipasti. Rocket and some torn basil leaves makes it a salad – perfect for a lemon and olive oil dressing. You could also add olives and maybe even some capers.

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April 29, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Pho

Wednesday 27 April

Pho, if you don’t know, is a traditional Vietnamese broth. We make various versions of this, adding vegetables, noodles and herbs and fresh chilli to our liking.

The basis is a good stock. To make the stock, soften an onion, a celery stack, two carrots, some cloves of garlic, a good bit of fresh ginger root, half a lime and some chillis with a tiny bit of oil in a deep pan. In this instance I also added a little bit of butternut squash that was lurking in the fridge – cauliflower, sweet potato, parsnip or other rot veg could also be used, Then add water and simmer for 20-30 minutes. To ‘season’ the stock as it cooks we add a splash of Chinese rice vinegar, a smidgeon of sesame oil, soy sauce, the stalks of some fresh coriander, basil and parsley, a star anise, two cloves, a teaspoon of coriander seeds and some peppercorns. You can also add a teaspoon of tomato puree and tamarind paste if you like. We like.

When the veg is soft, strain it through a sieve to remove the vegetables and return it to a clean pan. Taste and add a little more soy if necessary. Really you can then add what you like – you’re almost done. In this instance we added some rice noodles, shitaake mushrooms and deep fried tofu. To serve, garnish with some coriander leaf, a little chopped chilli and a squeeze of lime. The soup should be hot and fragrant with a good deep flavour coming from the broth.

One of Ella’s favourites here at ETP Towers.

April 26, 2011

All about aubergines

Did you know that the aubergine is a fruit? Or that it contains very small quantities of nictotine? There’s a whole heap of history about aubergines, how to cook them, and links to recipes, here.

April 24, 2011

Recipe: Broad bean and herb salad

Funny old things, broad beans. And a little frustrating too. The discrepancy in volume between their fully podded selves and the individual, edible bean is huge. I’ve heard some people complain that they don’t like oranges because peeling them is too much effort. If you’re one of those people, then you’re going to miss out on the wonders of fresh, in-season broad beans. We love them. Of course, frozen, de-podded broad beans are available, but somehow the effort of removing the beans from the pods, blanching them in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then slipping the bright green beans from their skins can be all part of the pleasure.

In any case, when broad beans start turning up in recipes for salads in the weekend papers, then you know it’s definitely spring and almost the beginning of summer. This Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, here, adds pearl barley to a salad of broad beans and herbs – a nutty addition that also makes for a more substantial salad.

April 23, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Thai salad

Friday 22 April

…yesterday’s lunch, actually. Ella made a Thai salad with some lovely Asian baby salad leaves, shredded white cabbage and Chinese leaf, pepper, herbs and chilli. The salad is pepped up with a dressing made with lime and lemongrass. Love it – and eating al fresco on the balcony is always a winner.

April 22, 2011

Recipe: Sesame, Edamame and Pea Shoot Salad

A lovely and simple recipe for a sesame, edamame and pea shoot salad on The Taste Space blog, here.

I’ve been itching to make a light, Asian-inspired salad for a while now and I think I’ll use this as my inspiration.

April 22, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Butter beans, leeks and asparagus

Thursday 21 April

Last night’s concoction came about after staring long and hard at the contents of our weekly delivery from Abel & Cole and then leafing through some of our recipe books. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests a white bean and leek salad, and this is an adaptation. A very simple spring supper.

To begin, soften the leeks in a large pan with some butter and olive oil. (I think we used to call this ‘frying’, but no one seems to advise ‘fry’ in recipes any more. You can soften, wilt or cook, but you can’t fry.) Then add two cans of butter beans. Season and cook for ten minutes until the beans take on a little colour. You can then boil, steam or grill a bunch of asparagus – which makes a warm salad bed for the beens and leeks. For a little tang we drizzled the salad with a mustard dressing made from Dijon mustard, olive oil and a little white wine vinegar. That should really have been cider vinegar but we didn’t have any.

A taste of spring.

April 21, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Soupe au Pistou

Wednesday 20 April

There are a million different recipes for pisto soup. Every home should have one. Essentially it’s a vegetable broth flavoured with pistou – a sauce made by blending basil, garlic and olive oil. The recipe we used was one from Raymond Blanc’s recent TV show – you can see it here.

We didn’t add the croutons (which actually would have been a nice touch and a bit more authentic, but we were all out of bread). Personally I’d add more parmesan than I did last night and maybe use some canned beans as part of the veg – borlotti, perhaps. Erring towards the Italian, I think a small handful of black olives would also work.

The soup is hugely vegetal – proper peasant stuff this, and a great way of using up bits of old veg.

April 20, 2011

Recipe: Raymond Blanc’s green papaya and pomegranate salad

This surprisingly summery weather can completely change the kinds of meals you want to eat. All of a sudden I’ve the urge for summery salads and light plates of zingy, tantalising flavour. I like this green papaya and pomegranate salad with a chilli lime dressing from Raymond Blanc. Of course, we’d leave the fish sauce out and use a mix of Chinese rice wine vinegar and a splash of light soy sauce instead – it’ll be just fine. The recipe is on the BBC website here.

April 18, 2011

Filling a hole

Regular visitors to this blog will have spotted that we don’t post our ‘Last Night’s Dinner’ entries each and every day. This isn’t because we haven’t had dinner, or because what we cooked ended up in the bin. No no no.

It’s just that sometimes, for example, we eat out. Luckily, while we’re here in the City of London, we can grab Bangladeshi, Italian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese – even Portuguese – around the corner. Not that we’re always so cosmopolitan – we’ve also been known to grab a bag of chips from Whitecross Street.

Usually however, and more prosaically too, it’s that we either forget to take a picture or that what we’ve eaten closely resembles something that’s been posted before. Or that it’s leftovers from the previous night.

Such was the case with this Monday and Tuesday’s dinner of a Cauliflower curry spiced with lots of chilli, cumin, cardamom and fennel seeds. It was pretty good on Monday and even better on Tuesday – a thoroughly enjoyable two days of eating, all made in one big pot. That kind of thing is standard issue at ETP Towers. It fills a hole and it’s just the kind of thing that we’re eating in the holes where Last Night’s Dinner doesn’t appear.