Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

Here’s one from the Posterous days. It’s very summery, and beautiful reheated the next day.

Salutation Recipes

This meal takes me back to Mimizan-Plage in 1977, the first time our family had eaten anything so deliciously foreign.
6 peppers or big tomatoes or both

1 large onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots, grated

1 courgette, in small cubes

500g good quality sausagemeat

1 tin tomatoes

handfuls fresh herbs (parsley and mint are essential, thyme is nice too, if you have it)

half a teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons dried basil

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Gently fry the onion in some olive oil with half of the garlic, the carrot and courgette until it all starts to soften.

2.  Add the sausagemeat and keep stirring and breaking up with the wooden spoon.  After about 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, paprika and dried herbs.  Half fill the tomato can with water and pour into the frying pan too…

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Chicken with Lemongrass, Coconut and Spiced Mushroom Rice


Fry a chopped onion with a large green chilli until soft.

Add 2 whole cloves of garlic, 4 peeled, finely chopped lemongrass stalks and half a tablespoonful of chopped ginger.  Allow them to soften in the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.

Turn the heat up under the pan and add a little more oil.  Sprinkle 4 chicken breasts (skin on or off, as you like) with salt and pepper.  Fry on high for about a minute or two each side, until really golden, then turn the heat down.

Meanwhile, skoosh up the garlic, onion etc to a paste in the mini-processor.

When the sizzling in the chicken pan has subsided, add a teaspoonful of turmeric, a tin of coconut milk and the garlic, onion, lemongrass, ginger paste.  Stir well, put the lid on, then leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, add the juice of a lime and plenty of fresh coriander.  You will probably need to add a teaspoon of sea salt.

Spiced Mushroom Rice

Start making this fifteen minutes before your chicken is ready.  You need a smallish, lidded saucepan for this.

Fry a small red onion in 3 tablespoons of oil with 5 cardamom pods, a couple of roughly crushed cloves, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and three large, sliced chestnut mushrooms.  Let them all sizzle around happily until the mushrooms start to brown.

Take the pan off the heat and turn the heat down to low.  Add half a mugful of uncooked basmati rice, a teaspoon of turmeric and two teaspoons of sea salt and stir.  Then, add a whole mugful of boiling water, stir again, pop the lid on and leave to cook on a low heat for about 10-12 minutes.  When the time is up, fluff up the rice and stir some coriander through it.  If you want to make dinky little timbales, just use a ramekin.  It might encourage your children to eat it if they’ve had the opportunity to practise their sandcastle-making skills beforehand.




Omelette Savoyarde


Preheat the grill.  Boil 3 large potatoes (diced into 1cm squares) in salted water and drain.  Fry a finely diced onion in some olive oil and butter with six slices of bacon, snipped into small pieces, until the onion is soft and the bacon browning slightly.  Turn up the heat towards the end to crisp up the bacon, then reduce the heat to medium again. Add the drained potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add more oil if necessary.

Whisk up 6 large eggs with 3 tablespoons of milk and a good pinch of sea salt.  Stir in a tablespoon of grated gruyère cheese.  Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan, making sure that the potatoes are well distributed.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the stove top, before sprinkling with a lot more gruyère and browning under a hot grill.  Serve with salad and nice bread.

Aubergine Parmigiana


This recipe is slightly adapted from Sophie Dahl’s ‘Voluptuous Delights’ version.  Unlike other recipes for this dish, it has no breadcrumbs or eggs, but it is incredibly tasty, much greater than the sum of its parts.

2 or 3 aubergines-sea salt-olive oil-a large onion-3 cloves garlic-3 tins tomatoes-sugar-black pepper-balsamic vinegar-lots of fresh basil-dried oregano-200g mozzarella-100g grated parmesan-pine nuts (optional)-olive bread (optional)

Take two biggish aubergines (or three smaller ones).  Slice them into 1cm thick rounds, lay them out on a tray, sprinkle with sea salt and leave them for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Use a large, lidded frying pan to gently fry an onion and three cloves of garlic before adding three tins of tomatoes, a teaspoon of oregano and a dessertspoon of sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, then simmer (lid on) for 20 minutes.  At the end of twenty minutes, add a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Rinse and pat dry the aubergine.  Lay it out on a large baking tray.  Brush every piece with olive oil and place in the oven for 20 minutes, until nice and golden.

Grease your baking dishes with olive oil.  I like to use lots of little dishes as it makes any leftovers easier to deal with.  In fact, there are still two small dishes sitting uncooked in our fridge, smugly waiting to be turned into a quick dinner tomorrow night.

Put a single layer of aubergine into the bottom of each dish.  Sprinkle with fresh basil and some mozzarella slices.  Put a ladleful of tomato sauce into each dish, enough to cover the aubergine.  Sprinkle with some parmesan.  Repeat this layering once more, finishing with parmesan and fresh basil,

Put the dishes into the oven (180 degrees, fan oven) for about 20 minutes, until the mozzarella and parmesan have melted.

Leave for five minutes before serving with more basil, a sprinkling of pine nuts (optional) and some olive bread.


Viennese Whirls


This is another of Mum’s delights, a melt-in-the-mouth biscuit with buttercream and jam.  I don’t know whether she first found the recipe at Acklington W.I. or in the Bero cookbook, but these Viennese Whirls remind me so much of the days when life was like a Milly-Molly-Mandy story.

8 oz butter or a margarine/butter mixture
8 oz plain flour
2 oz icing sugar
Few drops vanilla essence

Beat the icing sugar and butter, then beat in the flour gradually.  
Finally add the vanilla essence. Pipe onto baking trays; no need to 
Bake at 185 degrees (or 165 degrees in a fan oven) for 10-20 minutes.

These can be stored in an airtight tin ready to sandwich together 
when ready with buttercream and jam.  Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Flatbreads with Spiced Lamb



You only need an hour, start to finish, to make this.  Begin by making your flatbread dough.  I use Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe (The River Cottage Family Cookbook ‘Easy Flatbreads’).  Here it is.

Mix about 250g plain flour with a teaspoon of salt.  Measure 150ml of warmish water and add a tablespoon of oil to the water.  Pour the water and oil gradually into the flour, stirring with your fingers and making sure that you stop pouring before the dough turns sticky.  If it does turn sticky, add a little more flour.  Knead the dough for just five minutes, then pop a plate over the bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Now, make the spiced lamb.  Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, then add half a cinnamon stick, 3 cardamom pods, a bay leaf, 2 cloves and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  When the seeds start popping, add two finely chopped onions, turn the heat to medium, and allow to fry for 5 minutes.

Then add a sliced green chilli, a tablespoon of grated ginger, two cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, hot chilli powder and turmeric.  Stir well.

Pop in 500g minced lamb, turn up the heat, stir it up and break it up until it’s more or less browned.  Add half a tin of tomatoes, put the lid on and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

When it’s done, finish off your flatbreads.  Roll the dough into a fat sausage shape and cut into 8 pieces.  Warm another non-stick frying pan (no oil!), then quickly roll out your first bread.  Pass it from hand to hand to remove excess flour, then put it onto the hot pan.  After 30-60 seconds, turn it over.  You may want to turn it over a few times until it has bubbled a little and has brownish spots over it.

Keep the breads warm by covering with a tea towel while you make the rest.  When you’re ready, serve the spiced lamb mince on the flatbread with a good sprinkle of fresh coriander, a wedge of lemon, some yoghurt and perhaps some watercress.  I suppose this recipe should serve four, but I could have eaten much, much more.

You know those magical family baking moments you see in the films?  This was about as close to one of those that we’ve ever come, with Annie rolling out the dough while I cooked the flatbreads.  Thank you, Hugh!

Lime and Coconut Cakes


I totally love Laura’s website and photos, so when I saw this recipe, I thought it would be a nice one with which to try out my four new dinky little loaf tins.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right ingredients, and my cakes didn’t rise beautifully like Laura’s original, but they were really addictive and delicious, so I’m posting my flawed adaptation anyway.  They were the loveliest lime and coconut cakes I’ve ever eaten, but next time, I’ll certainly use coconut cream rather than coconut milk and see if that makes them more photogenic.

You’ll need five limes for this.

Beat together 200g golden caster sugar, the rind of 3 limes and 125g soft butter until soft and fluffy.

Measure out 250g self-raising flour and set aside.

Add a large egg to the butter/sugar mix and beat well, adding a tablespoon or so of the flour if the mixture curdles.  Add a second egg, and more flour if necessary.  Beat in 200g well-shaken coconut milk (or coconut cream).  Now, fold in the remaining flour and then the lime juice.

Pour into a lined 20cm cake tin, or 4 mini loaf tins, if you prefer.  For the larger cake, you’ll need 45 minutes to an hour at 180 degrees; for the littler ones, you might want to check after 20-25 minutes.  If they are springy, they’re done.

While the cakes are still warm, make your drizzle by warming the juice of a lime with the same amount of water and a dessertspoon of honey.  Simmer until you have half of the original amount, then poke a few holes in your sponge and drizzle the drizzle over your cakes.

When they are completely cool, you can cover them with lime icing (160g icing sugar and the juice of a lime) or raspberry jam and coconut.  I turned my cakes upside down before icing to hide my shame, but after tasting, you can see that I’m actually quite proud of these little wonders after all!