Herb Salad

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My Father-In-Law is an excellent cook and one thing he does really well are salads. Instead of using lettuce or other salad leaves as the base he uses herbs exclusively. Most commonly the base is parsley, coriander or mint. It means that the salad is just bursting with fresh flavour. Last night we had one of these herb salads. The key ingredients are always the herbs, avocado and capers but to this you can add anything you like. We had celery, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes and walnuts which we added to the base of a huge bunch of chopped coriander and parsley. I then made up a mustard and agave syrup dressing with a tablespoon of dijon mustard, two tablespoons of agave syrup and a splash of water to make the dressing very runny. Served with warm pita bread, this was a really gorgeous fresh supper.

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Coriander (Cilantro)

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Parsley

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Celery and cucumber

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Lots of fresh vegetables!

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Dinner is served!

 

Tofu with bamboo shoots and pak choi

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This was quite a subtle dish where the flavours of the vegetables and tofu could really come out.

Ingredients

Firm tofu cut into cubes

2 pak choi sliced and blanched in boiling water for a few minutes before draining and setting aside

7-8 chestnut mushrooms sliced

1 tin bamboo shoots drained

sunflower oil

2-3 drops sesame oil

1 cup hot vegetable stock

2 tbs of dark soy sauce

Cover the bottom of a wok with the sunflower oil (or other light flavoured oil) and the sesame oil. Drop the tofu cubes in and fry until they are golden brown – 3-4 minutes. Drain the oil and set tofu aside onto kitchen paper.

In the wok (no need to add more oil) add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Add tofu, the stock and the soy sauce and stir through for a further few minutes.

Serve with fluffy boiled rice.

 

Vereniki with potato

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I was lucky enough to live and work in Kiev for a few years a decade ago. I absolutely loved Ukraine. The beauty of the countryside, and the glorious majesty of Kiev with its museums, its architecture and its churches made my time there one of the highlights of my life to date. While there I also fell in love with the cuisine. One of my favourite dishes was vereniki with potato. Vereniki can be filled with meat, cheese and onions for savoury dishes or sour cherries and other fruits for sweet dishes. On Shrove Tuesday I decided to make vereniki from scratch and told Baby-Gusto that they were ‘potato pillow pancakes’.

First I made the dough by mixing 2 cups white flour with half a cup of water and an egg. Once mixed and kneaded for several minutes I refrigerated it for 30 minutes.

While the dough was in the fridge, I boiled 1 large potato and when soft mashed it with a little bit of salt only. Then I diced one onion and cooked it until soft and brown in a mix of butter and sunflower oil.

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After the dough had cooled, I rolled it out onto a floured surface, then cut out circles using the rim of a very handy champagne glass.

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On each circle of dough I placed a blob of mashed potato.

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I then rolled the dough over into half moons and crimped the edges shut with a fork.

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Following this the vereniki were ready to be popped into a saucepan of salted boiling water. I boiled them for about 8 minutes until they rose to the surface. Then the vereniki were drained, and put into shallow bowls, topped with sour cream, the onion garnish and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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I was delighted with how these turned out. Baby-Gusto wolfed his down, and Husband-Gusto had seconds.

 

Shakshuka

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Shakshuka is a Tunisian dish that is usually eaten for breakfast but makes the perfect quick and easy supper dish. It is deeply, truly delicious. There are lots of recipes out there on the interwebs, some including artichokes, beans or potatoes. My version simply had peppers, tinned tomatos and onions. In retrospect I should have used two tins of tomatoes in order to make the base more liquidy, but the result was a gorgeous easy supper dish that was very satisfying.

Ingredients (serves two).

1 tablespoon vegetable oil- I used sunflower oil

1 brown onion diced very small

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 red pepper diced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup red wine

1 bunch parsley

1 large bunch chopped coriander

vegetable stock cube

1 tbs chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin

4 free range eggs

Sautee onion and garlic in oil. Add cumin and chilli powder and cook lightly, don’t let it burn. Add diced red pepper and cook until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, chopped parsley, sugar, vegetable stock and wine and simmer until cooked through. At this point I turned off the heat and let the mixture sit for several hours so the flavours all came together. Just before you want to eat, turn the heat on again and simmer. Make 4 wells into the mixture and crack the eggs into the tomatoes. Cover with a lid and gently poach. When eggs lightly cooked, scatter with fresh coriander.

Serve with hot crusty bread.

I really cannot recommend this dish more highly. It is so so easy, so quick, but so amazingly delicious.

 

Green juice

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Husband-Gusto sometimes teases me that I am a sucker for all health claims of the dubious sort, and there is more than a grain of truth in that. But recently I have been getting into juicing in a big way, and am loving it. This is my favourite green juice and is one that I have nearly every day.

1/2 cucumber, peeled

2celery sticks

2 apples

1 knob ginger

1 lemon

50 ml aloe vera juice

Juice all the ingredients and enjoy!

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Pea and mint soup

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I have posted a version of this before, but it is such a winter staple in our house. I simply sautee celery, a large onion in olive oil until tender. Add an entire bag of frozen peas, a handful of chopped fresh mint, a couple of litres of veg stock (made with two stock cubes) and 2 diced courgettes. Cook, blend, add seasoning, serve. Perfect with warm poppy seed rolls (Aldi sell gorgeous ones that are half baked and you finish off in the oven).

Dinner is done.