Start lowering your carbon footprint on ‘Meatless Mondays’ with these dishes.

It is so important to not only help the planet but to also maintain (or reduce) our waistlines by having at least one meat-free meal a week. I have many more than that and I love sharing them here for your inspiration.

Small on size, but big on taste

Posted on May 9, 2008

[Roasted baby eggplants with mustard vinaigrette]

[Raw baby eggplants]

UPDATE 01/06/08: This canape has been entered into the Monthly Mingle competition! Which was started by Meeta from the blog What’s for lunch honey? (I love that name!). This month it’s being hosted by Mansi from the blog Fun With Food, so hop on over there and check out all the entries.

I saw these at the vegetable market and I couldn’t resist. I’m a big fan of miniature vegies and especially love the vibrant purple colour of these baby eggplants. It’s such a shame that the colour doesn’t keep when you roast them. Maybe next time I’ll try steaming them to preserve it. (more…)

My favourite no-fuss lunch

Posted on February 28, 2008

My favourite no-fuss lunch

I love cheese. I love tomatoes. I love cheese and tomatoes for lunch.

This is one of my all time favourite lunches for when I just can’t be bothered to cook properly. There’s nothing better than juicy vine ripened cherry tomatoes and a lovely big hunk of creamy feta cheese.

The feta in this shot is an organic one from the deli that’s a combination of both sheep and goats milk. It has a gentle salty flavour and a nice crumbly texture. Delicious.

One of the most important elements for this lunch to work is to have the best quality olive oil you can afford. This is crucial for dipping your bread into and really makes you feel as though you are sitting by the Mediterranean sea… I wish!

I love the rustic nature of this dish and won’t be so silly as to write a recipe for you. I’m sure you can put this together in a flash and add your favourite condiments too, a few black olives and some cracked black pepper would be right at home.

Go on, knock up your own no-fuss lunch today.

Happy cooking, Christie

The guilt trip

Posted on February 15, 2008

Feta and preserved lemon salad
[Feta and preserved lemon salad]

Last night I had two Scottish salmon fillets in the fridge and I felt like something really fresh to go with them. Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of steamed and stir fried vegetables and I wanted a change.

Plus, I had a massive burger with thick cut chips for lunch (it was a special occasion), so I kind of guilt-tripped myself. Come on, admit it, you’ve done it too.

Anyway, this is what I came up with.

Happy cooking, Christie

Feta and preserved lemon salad
serves 4 as a side salad

This salad goes really well with oily fish such as salmon, but is equally good on it’s own for lunch, maybe with a few toasted pine nuts and sundried tomatoes. You really need to use Greek feta because it has a nice sour tang that goes well with the lemon and fish, Danish feta would be too creamy (although I love it).
To buy a jar of preserved lemons, click here.

large handful baby spinach
large handful watercress
large handful rocket
100g greek feta cheese
24 kalamata olives, pitted
½ preserved lemon, rind only, finely sliced
good olive oil, preferably extra virgin
juice of 1 small lemon
cracked black pepper
fresh lemon slices to garnish

Thoroughly wash and pat dry salad leaves with a clean tea towel and place in a large bowl. Crumble over the feta with your fingers and add the olives and preserved lemon.

Then, sprinkle with the lemon juice and drizzle olive oil to taste. Season with lots of cracked black pepper and toss gently to combine.

Divide between serving plates, garnish with fresh lemon slices and top with cooked salmon.

The day I ate a perfect red capsicum

Posted on February 12, 2008

Berwick St Market Red Capsicums
[Red capsicums at Berwick St Market, Soho, London]

Berwick Street market in central London is a great place to grab some cheap fruit and veg, flowers or mixed nuts. You’ll find it hidden deep in the back streets of Soho, crammed between trendy record stores and sex shops, teeming with an ecclectic crowd of young media types, tourists, suits and dodgy characters (address below). The friendly men at the stalls show off their mighty strong lungs as they shout ‘A pound a bowl’ over the wind, rain and noisy crowds, day in and day out.

I picked up a lovely bowl of glossy red capsicums (peppers) and got 6 for my 1 pound – that’s a bargain by London standards! As soon as I got them home I sliced one up and ate it raw. It was delicious; crunchy, sweet and juicy all at once. My mind started racing with ideas on how to use these yummy delights and I honestly couldn’t decide on only one to share with you.

So I’m not going to. Here are lots of quick ideas to use this wonderful vegetable.

Happy cooking, Christie

Berwick Street Market
Berwick Street, W1
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Open Mon-Sat 8.00am-5.30pm

Quick Ideas for Red Capsicums

Roasted Place whole capsicums on a greased tray and bake in a hot oven until blackened. Transfer to a plastic bag, seal and leave for at least 15 mins. Once cool, the skin should peel away easily and they are ready to use.

Toast Top toasted slices of sourdough or turkish bread with salami, roasted capsicum strips, rocket and a dollop of bought or home made pesto or olive tapenade.

Salad Mix fresh diced capsicum with chunks of danish feta cheese, smoked chicken breast, black olives and baby spinach leaves. Toss with a red wine vinegar, grain mustard and olive oil dressing.

Soup Saute onions and garlic until soft, but not browned. Add cubes of sweet potato, finely chopped rosemary and thyme, chicken or vegetable stock and roasted capsicum strips. Season and boil until sweet potato is tender and then puree until smooth with a hand held blender. Top with sour cream or creme fraiche for extra indulgence. This is also excellent served as a chilled soup, just substitute the herbs for flat leaf parsley, which has a fresher taste.

Pasta Grease a deep baking tray with olive oil and place a thin layer of small cooked pasta, like penne, in the bottom. Top with thinly sliced red onion, roasted capsicum strips, basil leaves, sundried tomato pesto (or passata) and slices of haloumi cheese. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Add another layer of pasta and repeat ingredients finishing with the cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 30 mins until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Dip I love to buy a tub of hummous from a Lebanese or Turkish take away shop (not the supermarket ones) and mix through pureed roasted capsicums, then serve it with fresh sliced red capsicums for dipping.

Stuffed Hungarian Style Stuff whole capsicums with a mixture of rice, minced beef, paprika, onion, garlic and egg. Then boil in a large pot of tomato soup. I promise to provide the entire recipe for this as it is truly delicious – I just need to get the recipe from my mum!

Spicy Eggplant Dip

Posted on December 13, 2007

Spicy Eggplant Dip

This is a twist on the delicious Lebanese dip, babaganoush. I’ve used harissa, which is a North African spice paste that is extremely hot, so please use sparingly unless you have an acquired taste for a fiery tongue!

Serve with grissini, toasted pita bread or crunchy raw vegetables for dipping.

Happy cooking, Christie

Spicy Eggplant Dip
makes approximately 1 cup

1 large eggplant (aubergine)
1 teaspoon harissa paste*
1 heaped tablespoon thick Greek style yoghurt
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds, toasted
Sea salt and white pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C. Place the whole eggplant on a non stick baking tray and bake for 45mins, turning once.

Slice the eggplant length ways and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and mash roughly into a paste, leaving some texture. Add the harissa paste and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, add the yoghurt, mint and seeds and mix well. Serve garnished with extra seeds and mint.

*Available from delicatessens, speciality grocers and selected supermarkets.

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