We much prefer a starter to a desert (though frequently have all three courses). This is a quick, easy and impressive starter if served in individual ramekins, a tasty lunch or a buffet/mezze style starter. Hummus is everywhere at the moment, on restaurant and bar menus, we put a spin on it with butter beans rather than chick peas as the main ingredient.
1 tin of Butterbans
2 cloves of Garlic
Granary pita breads
Salt and Pepper
Drain the butterbeans, but leave a little excess liquid in the can
Empty into a food processor
Add two cloves of garlic and start the food processor
After about thirty seconds, start adding the garlic oil until the mixture becomes thick and smooth
Add the chives so that there is a smattering of green in your mix
Keep whizzing until the mix is smooth and not too watery – just like the consistency of hummus!
Chop the beetroot into small chunks and then fold into the mix. Fold gently – do not stir madly as you do not want the Beetroot to completely mix with the butterbeans
Decanter into a serving bowl or ramekins and then straight to the table, or to keep in the fridge for a day or two
Cut the pita chips into little squares / triangles / whatever shapes you want, but make sure you separate the two sides. You should also remove any pappy soft clumps that might be in the middle.
Arrange these on a baking tray evenly and cover (or spray) with your oil and then season to taste. Salt and pepper work a treat, but you might want to be a bit more adventurous. Bake at 170°C until chip-like (about 15 – 20 minutes)
This is a great cheap and easy starter that is bound to impress with its festive colours, rich textures and soft flavours.
So if like us you are feeling a bit distressed that the weather has taken a turn for the worse, then perhaps some tomato soup could warm you up. Tomato soup holds memories for me of being of school sick as a teenager, now I love how quick, easy and nutritious a bowl of homemade tomato soup is…
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery
1 jar of passata or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
350ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop and fry your onion in olive oil until soft and slightly brown, add chopped garlic
Add your chopped carrot and celery and fry all together until soft, add water if it gets too dry
Once this is softened, add your passata or chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper
Add vegetable stock and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, add some fresh basil
Whizz the soup and it is ready to eat, if it seems a little too thick, add some more water
Season with salt and pepper, sometimes I even ass a little pesto. Ideally serve with homemade bread!
We do love The Eurovision Song Contest every year, and this usually involves watching the event with friends and copious amounts of food and drink inspired by the participating countries.
As we were hosting this year, I made the national dish of 2012 hosts of The Eurovision Song Contest, Azerbaijan.
A staple of the people of Azerbaijan is Plov, a sort of paella with a very different method of cooking. I went with the Chicken variety, but Lamb is probably more popular in the restaurants of Baku.
500g Chicken thighs
500g Long grain rice
150 – 200ml vegetable oil
2 large onions
1 head of garlic
3 hot chillies
Before you start, soak the rice in water and it will have lost most of its starchy-ness by the time it is needed.
Fry the chicken thighs in the vegetable oil until they start to brown
Cut the onions into rings and add to the pan and cook until these brown too
Cut the carrots into little crudité shapes and add them to the pan and keep cooking on a high heat until the carrots start to soften and brown slightly
Add half a tablespoon of cumin and stir well
Cover the mixture with hot water and leave to simmer until most of the water is absorbed
Drain the rice and pour in over the mix to cover it completely DO NOT STIR!!!
Add more hot water so that the rice is submerged and still refrain from stirring and salt well
Keep the gas high and add more water if necessary
When all the water is absorbed and the rice is still slightly al dente, place on a low heat and steam for about 20 minutes. Place the whole chillies and garlic head in the rice layer while it all steams.
Remove the chillies and garlic and stir the mixture
Allow to rest for a minute or two before piling high on a serving plate and adding the chillies and garlic back to the pile for that final touch
These little cakes are perfect for any upcoming Jubilee plans you may have, they look very British. Sainsbury’s also have cupcake cases with the Union Jack flag on for some extra Jubilee glitz. Inspired by something I saw on sale on Fortnum and Mason, this recipe was free styled.