Roasted Vegetable Quinoa with Lime and Mustard Dressing

Howdy foodies. Apologies, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, working, studying and wedding planning. The wedding is just over 3 months away. Eek! Jemima has also been running me ragged, leaving my blog somewhat abandoned. I have been busy in the kitchen though, I’m finding my stride again. And, we’ve been putting the outside kitchen and terrace to use for barbecues, hence this post tonight; to tell you all about a special summer veggie dish I made last weekend.

This really is a super simple and deliciously tasty quinoa dish, and it was a huge hit. Strangely, not only amongst my female guests as one might expect.

Richard often pulls a funny face at the mere suggestion of something like cous cous or quinoa. Like it isn’t manly enough for him or something. That said, he really enjoyed this recipe. Having to admit defeat and confess that it had “loads of flavour” in his words, although it probably pained him to say, no doubt. He sees food like quinoa as a ‘fad’ that nobody actually likes. I admit that plain quinoa would be bland, boring and quite frankly a chore to eat. Throw in the mix though some delicious roasted vegetables and a zingy dressing and it’s transformed into a bright summery dish that is a pleasure to eat.

The dish will serve about six to eight people as a side dish, or it would stretch to four weekday lunches for work. I know I enjoyed the left over portion for my lunch yesterday. I would say this is fine to keep in the fridge for around 4-5 days, just pop it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.



Hasselback Potatoes – the best way to cook spuds

I adore hasselback potatoes, there is something quite fun about the look of them, plus they are super tasty. 

I first discovered the hasselback potato about two years ago, a Nigella recipe I believe. I thought they were wonderful, light and fluffy on the inside and a skin that gets so crispy and delicious – just like a baked potato. They are perfect served with steak, they make a nice change from chips and I guess they are a little healthier too. I believe these little fanned spuds are named so after a Swedish Restaurant ‘Hasselbacken’ in Stockholm, where they were first served.
Don’t they just look wonderful?
2 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
Medium sized Maris Piper potatoes (as many or as little as you like)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped rosemary
Freshly chopped thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 200°CWash and dry the potatoes.
Pop each potato onto a slightly curved wooden spoon, using a sharp knife cut through the potato every few millimetres, making sure not to cut all the way down and through the potato. The wooden spoon will prevent that from happening, the knife cannot cut any further then the upward-facing curves of the spoon. 
Place the potatoes into an oven proof dish and drizzle with some olive oil and a little butter if you like. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and add a generous sprinkling of freshly chopped rosemary and thyme.
Put the pan into the oven and bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, giving them a shake after about 20 minutes. The little potato fans will pop open during cooking. 

These are great served with meat or fish, or as a snack with some sour cream and chives.

Indian food that looks and tastes great…

By now I’m sure you all know just how much I love Indian food, and this week has seen two curries made in my house, the first was a delicious (and very hot) Jalfrezi and last night I made my Chicken and Cashew Curry for my friends. I just can’t get enough. Making curry at home is great, but you often miss out on all the side dishes because you either don’t know how, or can’t be bothered to make them. But let me tell you, it really is so simple and they can all be pulled together in the time your curry cooks. Check out my recipe for Bhindi Bhaji here.

So, you already know how to make the curry, and rice is rice right? Wrong! Boring plain boiled rice deserves no place at your table when you’re making an Indian meal. When I think of Indian food, I think exciting, spicy and aromatic flavours. Remember – Plain rice is for plain people! Making just a couple of small tweaks can give you wonderful fragrant rice dishes that anyone can be proud of. It will look like you have pulled out all the stops and no one need know it only took you 5 minutes longer. It can be a simple as chucking in a handful of peas and freshly chopped coriander at the last minute, or have a go at these:

Fragrant Rice

Lemon Rice – Boil the rice in half water, half chicken stock and 2 table spoons of lemon juice and grated lemon zest to serve. 

Garlic Rice – Fry a chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves in a pan until golden, add the rice and liquid, cook according to packet instructions.

Mushroom Rice – Fry a chopped onion, chopped garlic clove and a few chopped mushrooms in a pan until soft, add the rice and liquid, cook according to packet instructions

So, now you’ve got your curry and rice down have a go at these crispy aromatic Bombay potatoes. You’re going to love them.

Bombay Potatoes

8 large new potatoes

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black mustard seeds

Peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks, parboil them for about 10 minutes, drain and return to the pan.Add the butter and oil to the pan and place over a high heat, adding the spices once the butter has melted. Give the potatoes a good stir to ensure the spices cover all of the potatoes. The butter and oil will bubble up and almost fry the potatoes making them wonderfully crispy. Keep stirring and cooking for 10 minutes, then serve immediately with your curry.

That’s it, it’s that simple. Now you’re wondering why you didn’t make these little tweaks before right. I have no doubt that these simple side dishes will really vamp up your homemade curry and allow you to throw on an impressive Indian spread for your guests. 


Bhindi Bhaji

Just lately every time I have Indian food, I look straight for the bhindi bhaji, even before I select my main course. It is, without doubt, my favourite Indian side dish, just love the fresh taste of the okra combined with the subtle spices and onions. I have been meaning to make this myself for quite some time, so here we are.

A fresh batch of okra, cooked right, is simply delicious. And here’s the best part, like most veggies, it is low in calories and packed with nutrients. I think people tend to shy away from okra as it is mostly unknown, but even those who are familiar with it often find they are unsure of how to cook it.
Okra is often referred to as ‘ladies fingers’ because of its long and tapered shape, looking much like a finger. When selecting okra remember the shorter younger pods will be much more tender, and the longer, more mature pods can often be stringy and lack flavour.

200g okra, cut into 1cm pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 banana shallots sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp mild curry powder
120ml chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and spices and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is cooked through.
  2. Pour in the tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes then add the okra, cook for about 10 minutes until the okra is cooked through.
  3. Season with a pinch of sea salt and serve immediately.

Serves:                                                  2
Preparation time:                                5 minutes
Cooking time:                                     15 minutes
When cooked okra often exudes a thick, slimy liquid, which is what puts most people off, and it can be problematic if you want to eat it sautéed, fried or steamed. The trick is to keep the cooking time short. Listed below are some other ways in which you can reduce the sliminess of your okra:
  • Keep the okra whole whilst cooking, not only will this help prevent the nasty sliminess; it will also keep it crisp.  
  • Wash the okra before cooking, but ensure that you dry it straight away with some kitchen towel, and only ever wash your okra when you’re ready to use it.
  • Add something acidic. Recipes that contain acidic ingredients, such as vinegar and lemon juice reduce the sliminess.

Don’t worry if your okra is a little slimy, this is absolutely normal, and it tastes fine. I understand that some people are completely put off by this and will not eat it at all. I think this is a shame as it really is a little treat if it’s cooked right.