Ricotta fritters with tomato sauce & courgette salad

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Ricotta fritters with tomato sauce & courgette salad

This tasty dish went down a treat when my son’s vegetarian girlfriend came to stay and it was also enjoyed by the rest of my carnivorous family. The recipe is taken from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals and I would definitely cook it again.  The ricotta fritters were light and delicate and worked well when combined with the spicy tomato sauce and courgette salad. It is relatively easy to make as long as you do not disturb the fritters too much whilst they are cooking. A lovely little supper dish for a summers evening, although I dare say it would be well received whatever the time of year it is.

Ricotta fritters with tomato sauce and courgette salad

Prep 15 mins – although took me nearly 25mins to prep and cook

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 700g passata
  • 8 black olives (stone in)
  • ½ a bunch of fresh basil

For the fritters

  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 400 g ricotta cheese
  • 1 whole nutmeg for grating
  • 1 lemon
  • 40 g Parmesan cheese
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

For the salad

  • 400 g firm green or yellow baby courgettes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • ½ a bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 lemon

Method

1. Cover the porcini with boiling water and leave to soak.
2. In a bow,  mix the ricotta with egg, finely grated 1/4 of nutmeg, lemon zest, parmesan and flour and then beat together.
3.Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan and then dollop 8 tablespoons of the mixture in to the pan. Turn carefully with a spatula when the bottom is golden and as I mentioned previously try not to move the fritters around too much.
4. Add chilli,  anchovies and garlic to a frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Then add passata and finely chopped porcini with half the soaking water. Season and bring to the boil.
5. Add stoned squashed olives (squashing helps remove the stone) and then add the chopped basil leaves, but don’t forget to keep some to use as garnish later.
6. Using a food processor grate the courgette. Add to a bowl with seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil. Then add finely chopped chilli and some mint from the top half of the bunch. Mix the salad together gently with your hands.

7. Place the fritters in the sauce in a serving dish or if you wish to be more rustic in the pan the sauce was cooked in. Garnish with the rest of the basil leaves, some balsamic and a few lemon wedges on the side.

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Watercress Soup

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Watercress Soup

 

This delicious soup has always been a winner in our household, whether it is served as an Amuse-bouche, a simple starter or as a hearty bowl for lunch or supper. The method of making this soup is easy as can be and is based on a recipe for lettuce soup, which I found in a Sainsbury’s Easy Meals For One & Two by Anne Page-Wood many moons ago. In fact I still use up old ends of lettuces and greens to make a soup using this recipe when I’m clearing out the fridge. Just substitute the watercress with any greens you have in store.

Watercress Soup

Prep time 50mins – 1 hr (including cooking)

Serves 4 hearty bowls plus a little extra

Ingredients

1 large onion

5 medium potatoes

2oz Butter

2 bags Watercress (85 grams or approx 3oz per bag)

1 litre of Chicken Stock

Ground  Nutmeg

Lemon or lime juice

Seasoning

Method

  1. Peel and chop onion and then peel and cube potatoes into small squares.
  2. Melt the butter in a large casserole pot on top of the hob and then add the onion and potatoes. Move the potatoes and onions around for a moment until they are coated in the butter.
  3. Add the watercress to the pot with a little seasoning and then put the lid on top. Keep on a low light for 5-10 mins until the watercress is wilted.
  4. When the watercress is wilted give the ingredients a stir and then add the Chicken Stock. Put the lid back on and leave to simmer slowly until the potatoes are soft, which will take up to  25-30 mins.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked through, either leave the soup to cool slightly and then pour in a blender, or use a hand blender directly in the pan to ensure any lumps of vegetables are completely pureed.
  6. Once the soup is blended add a teaspoon of ground nutmeg and squeeze in the Juice of half a lemon. Stir and then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper (I prefer white pepper for this recipe) as required and taste again. If you wish to add more nutmeg and lemon juice  then do this a little at a time until you feel as though the flavour of the watercress has been enhanced to the required taste.

This soup will last up to a couple of days in the fridge and also freezes well.

 

 

Crispy Polenta Chicken Caesar Salad

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Crispy Polenta Chicken Caesar Salad

This hearty salad from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals Cookbook is suitable as a main meal at lunchtime or supper and is probably one of the best caesar salads I have ever tasted. Jamie includes jarred red peppers in his recipe and ciabatta, but as I didn’t have those to hand at the time, I had to make do with what I had in the cupboard. This photograph post on my instagram account @tostadacooking has received a good number of ‘likes’ and I agree with my fellow food bloggers opinion, in that, if something looks this good then it probably tastes good. Trust me and try it for yourself!

Crispy Polenta Chicken Caesar Salad

Prep 20 mins

Serves 4

Chicken

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (Jamie uses 2 x chicken breasts)

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

2 heaped tbsp polenta

olive oil

Salad

1 small petit pan

1 clove of garlic

2 red chicory

100g of bacon lardons (Jamie uses – 3 x Smoked pancetta slices)

3 Gem lettuces (Jamie uses – 2 x romaine lettuces)

10 cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

1 punnet of cress

Dressing

1 clove of garlic

2 lemons

40g Parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)

4 anchovy fillets

4v heaped tbsp of natural yoghurt

1 splash of Worcester sauce

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp English mustard

1/2 bunch of fresh basil

Method

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by blitzing all the ingredients in a processor until smooth and then season to taste. It may be worth noting that it is best to crumble in the parmesan before you blitz.
  2. On a large sheet of greaseproof paper scatter seasoning, the paprika and polenta then place the chicken on the paper and ensure both side sides of the chicken are coated with the mixture.
  3. Fold over the greaseproof paper on top and bash with a rolling pin until approximately 1.5cm thick.
  4. In a frying pan heat a splash of olive oil and then place the chicken in the pan, turning every 3 or 4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Whilst the chicken is cooking, slice the petit pan lengthways, so that you have about 3-4 slices of bread. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and rub half a clove of garlic gently over one side of each slice. Place the bread slices on a heated griddle until charred with stripes (both sides).
  6. Once the bread is charred you can use the same pan to cook the lardons.
  7. Whilst the bacon and the chicken finish cooking prepare the salad by roughly slicing the lettuce and placing this on a large serving platter. Halve the cherry toms and also add to the platter.
  8. Remove the cooked chicken and slice into strips and arrange around the salad. Drain any fat from the chicken pan and then quickly toss the chicory in a splash of balsamic in the same pan. Add the chicory to the platter and then slice the petit pain slices into soldiers and add to the salad.  Drizzle the dressing on the salad, sprinkle the bacon bits over and then snip the cress onto the top.
  9. Finally use a potato peeler to shave over a little extra parmesan.
  10. Tuck in!

 

Sticky Kicking Chicken with a Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Sticky Kicking Chicken with Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Sticky Kicking Chicken with Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

I really enjoy cooking Jamie Oliver’s recipes, and with the kids home from university, his recipes offer a youthful approach to family cooking which seems to appeal to their tastes. Dont get me wrong, they still enjoy traditional home cooking, but they also like to try new dishes, just as much as I enjoy experimenting with new flavours, ingredients and techniques. I have used Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals Cookbook several times over the summer break and I am going to post the best three recipes to date, as voted by the family, the first dish being the delicious and extremely attractive Sticky Kicking Chicken. It took longer than 15 minutes the first time I cooked this, but when I made the same dish last weekend it was much quicker, although I have to say I did play around with the order in which I prepared things…apologies Mr Oliver.

Sticky Kicking Chicken with a Watermelon, Radish and Noodle Salad

Prep – 25 mins (unless you have everything ready and close to hand)

Serves 4

Ingredients

Salad

200g thin rice noodles

sesame oil

800g watermelon

2 little gem lettuces

1 handful of radishes

1/2 a bunch of fresh mint

1/2 bunch of fresh coriander

Chicken

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 tbsp Chinese five-spice

olive oil

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 tbsp sesame seeds

Dressing

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Fish Sauce

1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli

1/2 a thumb sized piece of ginger

2 spring onions

2 limes

1 small clove of garlic

Method

Place the coriander stalks in a small processor or liquidiser along with the soy and fish sauces, peeled ginger, chilli, crushed garlic clove, prepared spring onions, a splash of water, 1 tbsp of sesame oil and the lime juice. Spritz together until the sauce is smooth and then leave to one side until you are ready to dress the salad.

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Use a large sheet of greaseproof paper and sprinkle salt, pepper and the five-spice on to it. Open out the thighs and lay them on top of the paper and sprinkle the upper side of the chicken with seasoning and then fold over the paper on top of the chicken. Using a rolling pin bash the chicken to flatten it until it is 1.5cm thick.

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Using a large frying pan (I used two pans) add a little olive oil before placing the chicken in the pan. Turn each piece of chicken after 3-4 minutes of cooking and keep repeating this process until the chicken looks charred and is cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad. I used fresh thin rice noodles for this dish so I simply poured over boiling water to heat them through and then drained them. Drizzle the sesame oil onto a serving platter and toss the noodles in the oil. Slice the watermelon and cut into chunks (these do not need to be uniformed pieces) and add to the platter. Cut the lettuce into wedges, halve the radishes, finely chop the mint and most of the leafy coriander, and scatter over the platter.

Once the chicken is ready, remove the pieces and arrange on a platter or board. Pour away any excess fat, put the pan back on the heat then pour in the sweet chilli sauce and toss with some sesame seeds. Pour the dressing made at the start of this recipe over the salad and toss through the salad and noodles gently, until everything is well coated. Pour the chilli sesame sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

This dish is a real crowd pleaser, but for those who do not like chilli you can omit this and use honey for a glaze instead, which my chilli phobic daughter prefers.

Scrambled Egg with Avocado

Scrambled Egg adn Avocado

Scrambled Egg with Avocado

I’ve recently subscribed to a new app on my iPhone which is another great idea to promote healthy living from Jamie Oliver. The YOU-app is about making simple micro-actions each day to create a better you, in order to live a happy, healthy life. I know we all try to do this but sometimes our best intentions don’t always happen. The YOU-app gives you one micro-action each day which you complete by taking a picture. So for example my action for today was to ‘Pimp my Breakfast’.  I have been aware of the health benefits of eating avocados for quite some time and have been thinking about ways to incorporate this fruit into my diet, so today was the day to try something new. Originally I was simply going to slice a boiled egg and the avocado on toast but after a quick search I came across the website thekitchn.com which listed 10 Ways to Eat and Avocado for Breakfast. However, it was the suggestion to use the avocado with scrambled eggs which caught my eye and I was intrigued to find out whether these two ingredients would work together. I started to prepare the breakfast and immediately my hubby asked what I was making and no surprise  he wanted in on the experiment. The result was eye-opening and absolutely delicious (we both agreed). The the combination of the avocado with the scrambled eggs made the dish even creamier and if you are an egg lover I recommend you give this a try. I wondered if Jamie Oliver would agree that I had managed to ‘Pimp my Breakfast’, so just to be sure I decided to add just a few dashes of Tabasco to my eggs to give a little kick to whole dish and my metabolism. A great start to the day, so thank you very much to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration.

Scrambled Egg with Avocado (Tabasco optional)

Prep – 5mins Cooking 3-5mins I

Ingredients

2 Eggs (I used Old Cotswold Legbar from Waitrose)

1 tbsp Semi-skimmed Milk

1 medium Avocado

1 – 2 slices of Granary bread

Salt and pepper

Tomatoes and cucumber to garnish Tabasco (optional)


Method Beat the eggs and milk and then add to a pan over a low heat. Prepare a simple salad garnish and pop the bread in to toast. When the eggs are barely set, and still soft, scoop out the avocado in small junks and add straight to the pan with the eggs. Stir in, gently cooking until warmed through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately! If you are feeling daring and understand the health benefits of spicy kick, then add a few drops of Tabasco before tucking in!