“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”
I always buy fresh herbs for recipes, but end up throwing most of them out. Occasionally I buy herbs in pots, but me and plants do not go together, My father over the years has given me plants, in hope that I will look after them, but because they don’t talk and tell me they’re thirsty, all of them have hit the dust. Sorry Dad. Most people would be delighted to be given a beautiful orchid. Not me. I just know how it’s going to end, and it won’t be pretty.
I did however buy a basil plant because there weren’t any little packets available in the supermarket. I didn’t end up making the dish I had planned, or did I just forget to garnish something (something I’ve done too many times when we’ve had friends over for dinner!) – I can’t remember. Anyway, I still had the basil plant. I really looked after it, feeding it regularly with sparkling water (which was just due to convenience initially; there was a half used bottle in the kitchen and it poured well!). Basil (by this time, I was forming a bond) really liked the water and I could almost sense its delight every time I watered it. The leaves became large and lush and I knew that I was going to have to use its harvest pretty soon. Hmm, what should I make? Pesto, of course!
Pesto– makes 125ml
25g Pine nuts
40g Basil leaves
25g Grated Parmesan
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove
- Cook the pine nuts in a small pan over a low heat until golden. Give the pan a good shake from time to time, and don’t take your eye off the ball! Burnt pine nuts aren’t nice.
- Pop the basil, Parmesan, garlic in a food processor.
- Add the roasted pine nuts and blend.
- Add the olive oil and blend again.
- It’s that simple.
I love spicy soups and this one puts me in mind of a soup that was served to me at a party as a canapé, and cooked by the chef Rob Foster.
It can also be served in a bowl!
This is based on a recipe I’d torn out of a magazine ages ago. I thought it looked unusual and if I’m totally honest I really liked the photograph!
It was enjoyable to make, particularly as I love lentils and I thought that the ingredients made a really great combination, and the kitchen smelt great while it was cooking it.
It would be perfect for a vegetarian dinner party or could be served as part of a party buffet if you increase the quantity of the ingredients, or as a side dish, or for lunch………
Cucumber, cut into small cubes
- For this recipe you need to make your own judgments about quantity. Just mix the ingredients together, tasting as you go, until it tastes perfect. Don’t worry if you make too much, it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. It goes well with all spicy food.
I have boxes of recipes that I have torn out of magazines over the years, probably enough to wallpaper my entire house and more! This dish is inspired by one of those recipes. It is by Vicky Bhogal, but I’m not sure which magazine it originates from.
It makes a very easy and economical supper.
6 Yellow, orange or red peppers
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
75ml sunflower oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 onions, chopped finely
1 ½ tsp. chilli flakes
1 tsp. grated rot ginger
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
- Gluten free naan bread and cucumber raita to serve.
- Preheat oven 200C, fan180C or gas 6.
- Boil the potatoes until soft (around 10 minutes), then drain.
- Heat the oil in a large pan with the cumin seeds,
- When they are sizzling, add onions and fry gently until soft
- Add chilli flakes, ginger, salt, garam masala, lemon zest and potatoes. Mix well.
- Turn off the heat and mash roughly in the pan.
- Add the coriander and mash again. Set aside.
- Slice a small slither from the bottom of each pepper so that it will stand up right in a baking tray.
- Cut the tops off the peppers and gently scoop out the membrane and seeds. To get any stubborn seeds out, tap the peppers on the palm of your hand, cut side down.
- Do not discard the stalks.
- Stuff the peppers with the potato mixture, using your fingers to press in as much as possible.
- When they are full, pop the tops back on, so that they look like a whole pepper again.
- Stand them upright in a baking tray or dish and drizzle with oil.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with gluten free naan bread and cucumber and mint raita.
I’ve never made savoury muffins before, but I wanted to try something different to go with soup. I’m definitely a ‘convert’ now. They smell wonderful and tasted even better!
They could also be served with some homemade chutney.
140g Mature Cheddar, grated
240ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
2 Eggs, beaten
75g Melted butter, cooled
280g Gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
5 spring onions chopped
½ tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt and Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190c.
- Line a muffin tin with 10 muffin cases.
- Put the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl.
- Mix the milk, eggs and butter together and mix well.
(If the butter is added before it is cool enough it will began solidify. It happened to me-I was too impatient! If it does happen, don’t panic! Heat very gently on the hob until it liquifies again. Not too much incase you make scrambled eggs!)
- Pour the mixture into the flour and mix until just combined.
- Stir in the cheese, spring onions, herbs and salt and pepper.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (an ice cream scoop is about the right size).
- Bake in the oven until risen and golden brown – around 15 minutes.
- Serve warm.
They can be reheated for 5 minutes in the oven.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
150g carrots chopped
250g potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
2 ½ tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
250g passata (freeze the leftovers)
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 ½ gluten free stock cubes
500ml boiling water
200ml whole milk
Salt and pepper to season
- Put the oil, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and bay leaves in a large pan.
- Cook gently until the onions have softened.
- Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, vinegar, chopped tomatoes and passata, chilli flakes then crumble in the stock cubes.
- Add the boiling water and bring the soup to the boil.
- Simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Cook for a further 10 minutes if it needs its so it purees properly.
- Remove bay leaves and cool slightly. Puree with as stick blender or in a food processor until it is very smooth, and pop it in a clean pan.
- Add the milk, being careful not to boil it. (If you are not going to use it straight away don’t add the milk at this point, add it when you are reheating it prior to serving)
- Season to taste, adding another pinch of sugar if it needs it.
This soup is best made the day before it is needed to allow the flavours to develop.
It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. (Add the milk when reheating)