Tag Archives: herb

Spiced Beetroot Soup with Herb Spiked Feta on Rye Crostini

7 Nov

Beetroot is one of those vegetables that I used to hate. It’s because of that nasty pickled stuff in the jars that leaks pink juice over everything else on your plate, contaminating it with cerise vinegaryness. Or is that just me?

It turns out that unpickled freshly cooked beetroot is sweet, earthy and delicious when roasted or made into purees or soups. It is also an amazingly deep, dark burgundy colour that turns a fabulous shade of fuchsia when mixed with anything white. Like white cheese, yoghurt or sour cream. Or clean white tablecloths.

It’s close relationship with white cheese isn’t only about colour mixing, it’s about flavour mixing too. You could just swirl a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt on top of this soup and still be treated to the sweet-sour, spicy-cool, hot-cold taste sensations that you get from every mouthful of this simple soup.

But adding the extra crunch that you get from a toasted slice of rye bread topped with creamy feta mixed with fresh herbs, green chilli and spring onions that you then put under a hot grill to melt, bubble and brown slightly, takes this humble soup to a whole new level.

You could also use pre-cooked beetroot to save time. It comes shrink wrapped in plastic. Don’t buy the pickled stuff in jars for this. That would be a disaster.

Spiced Beetroot Soup Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 whole medium-sized beetroot (apple sized ish), peeled, cut into small dice (wear gloves)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • 200 g tomato passata/tomate frito/tomato puree (not paste)

Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened then add the garlic, thyme, cumin & chilli flakes and cook for another minute or two.

Add the diced beetroot and the stock and season with salt & black pepper. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your dice) until the beetroot is cooked and tender. Add the tomate frito and heat through.

Blend carefully with a stick blender (cover the pot with an old tea towel if you don’t want pink soup everywhere) or puree in a blender or processor until very smooth. Add more stock or water if you need to, to get the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Feta & Herb Crostini

Makes 2, vegetarian

  • 2 thick slices rye bread (I used a rye bread roll cut in half)
  • olive oil
  • about 75 g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano/parsley leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • black pepper

Preheat the grill to hot and brush both sides of the rye bread with a little olive oil. Mix the feta and a drizzle of olive oil with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, mashing it together with a fork.

Toast the bread slices under the grill, on one side then lightly on the other. Pile most of the herby feta on each lightly toasted side, (leaving a little to top the soups) pushing out evenly with a fork then put back under the grill until golden and bubbling.

Reheat the soup and serve in warmed bowls topped with a little of the herby feta and the toasted rye crostini on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

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Smashed Broad Bean Dip with Fresh Mint, Garlic, Manchego and Lemon

27 May

This is just a quick and easy recipe that I wanted to share with you because it is perfect for this time of year. When you can’t be bothered to cook anything complicated but want something fresh and delicious to munch on. This is it.

I found the recipe in a pile of newspaper and magazine clippings that The Washer Up’s dad, Jim had sent me from England. He cuts anything food and drink related out of the Sunday papers and saves them up to send over. It’ s very handy for keeping up with what’s going on over there.

The original recipe used 500 grammes of podded broad beans, I didn’t have anywhere near that many so I have adjusted it to suit. It’s one of those things where you can taste it as you go and add more garlic, lemon or mint to your taste. 

If you have young broad beans that are still very small and bright green you can use them raw. If not you can blanch the podded beans for two minutes then squeeze the bright green peas out of the pale jade skins and you’re good to go. I know that squeezing broad beans may sound boring bit it’s actually quite a therapeutic thing to do sitting outside in the early evening sipping a glass of mint tea or even a Mojito. It’s worth it just to see that beautiful bright green paste when you’ve done.

Smashed Broad Bean & Mint Dip

Serves 2-3 as a snack, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Eat Your Veg

Prep time 15 mins

  • about 200 gr broad beans (podded weight)
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or more)
  • 50 gr grated manchego (or pecorino/parmesan)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • bread to serve, toasted flatbread/baguette/ciabatta or wholemeal toast

Blanch the broad beans (unless very young, tiny & bright green) for two minutes in boiling salted water, drain and then squeeze the bright green peas out of the pale green cases.

In a mortar & pestle, crush the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt to a paste. Add the mint leaves and pound again to a paste. Add a handful of the broad beans and grind to a paste. Add more beans and continue pounding until you get a slightly chunky textured puree.

Drizzle in the olive oil and mix well then add the cheese, lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust lemon, mint salt as necessary. Serve on/with toasted bread and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Sit back and enjoy this fresh and delicious seasonal treat, I’m off to make some more, it’s addictive. Thanks Jim.

Halloumi Cheese and Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring

6 Feb

This is the gorgeous stuffed/pull apart bread I served with my Persian Lentil & Herb Soup. I was very pleased (understatement) with how it turned out because I do not have the best of luck with yeast. Every time I have used it in the past I have a disaster. It never does the double in size thing (in a warm place) and won’t rise in the oven either. My attempts at Panettone were tasty but looked more like a tea cake than a light and airy Panettone. This may have been because the electric went off half way through cooking it both times!

I had sworn off making anything with yeast until I came across this recipe for Halloumi Pull Apart Bread. The idea of pulling apart soft bread rolls to reveal an oozing cheesy garlic centre was too much for me. I was powerless to resist. Think Pizza Express dough balls, Pizza Hut stuffed crust and the best cheesey garlic bread then mix them all together and this is what you get. A Halloumi & Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring…………. !

Halloumi & Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring

Makes 11/12 rolls. Vegetarian. Adapted from a Choosy Beggars recipe

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (1 sachet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 165 ml warm water (not hot)
  • 265 gr strong bread flour (or plain flour)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp fine salt  
  • olive oil to dip the tops in
  • 15o gr Halloumi, grated (you can use another cheese if you can’t find Halloumi)
  • 150 gr mozzarella, grated (good for stringy melting)!
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 -8 ice cubes

In a small bowl combine the yeast, sugar and olive oil. Pour the warm water over, stir to combine then leave it for 10 minutes. Sieve the flour and salt together into a large bowl. When the yeast mixture has gone foamy pour it into the flour and stir together using a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. Sprinkle over some more flour if it is very sticky. Flour your hands and ease  the dough out onto a work surface. Pat it into a ball and knead for 10 minutes, flouring if necessary,  until it becomes smooth & elastic (You can test if it’s ready by sticking your finger in flour then sticking it in the ball of dough. The hole should spring back up and disappear).

Lightly oil a large bowl and turn your dough around in the bowl to cover it in a sheen of oil. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (like next to a radiator) for about an hour. By this time it should have doubled in size (fingers crossed).  Mix the cheeses, parsley and minced garlic in a small bowl with a fork to make sure the garlic is evenly distributed. Roll the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface and gently knead a few times to get rid of any air pockets. 

Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Press it out with your hands to an uneven circle of about 3.5 inches in diameter. Place a generous heaped tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the circle then gather up the sides of your circle and pinch them together at the top like a little drawstring purse.

Put the gathered purse seamside down in the palm of your hand and, with your other hand, gently turn, press and smooth the ball until it becomes smooth and the seam has closed/disappeared.

Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and dip the top of the dough ball in the olive oil, then put it (seam side down) in a lightly oiled 24 cm (9 inch) cake tin. Repeat with the rest of the dough until the ring is finished. Keep some of the filling back to sprinkle over the bread later.

 The dough balls should be close together or lightly touching, not squashed together. You should get 11 or 12 out of the dough. Cover with clean tea towel and leave to rise again (in a warm place) for an hour.

While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 210 C (425 F). Put one rack/baking sheet in the bottom third of your oven and put the other rack /sheet right at the top. Put a rimmed baking sheet on the top rack. When the dough has risen (see above, hooray!!) slide the bread ring onto the lower rack and throw the ice cubes onto the top baking sheet and close the door. This creates steam, helps the bread to rise and makes a nice crust apparently. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until it is lightly golden but not fully cooked and sprinkle over some of the cheesey garlic & herb mix.

 Put it back in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes until it is puffy and golden brown.

 Leave to cool slightly (if you can wait) and pull apart chunks of the cheesey bread to serve with your favourite soup. Or just eat it on its own as an indulgent weekend treat with friends in front of the TV…… Is it the Superbowl this weekend?!!!

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