Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Lemon, Asparagus and Parmesan Pasta

This is another great summery dish. This is a light pasta dish which is full of lots of good things. Perfect if you are feeling a little heavy after a weekend/week of excess or too much stress. Asparagus is full of great things, like folic acid, fibre and potassium. It's only around for a few weeks of the year, so make sure you get it while you can!

Ingredients (to serve four)
500g of pasta
Generous knob of butter
Dash of olive oil
1 large leek
2 bunches of asparagus
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 lemon (zest and juice)
Generous handful of chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese, grated.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method (it's very easy...)
1. Fry the leeks in the butter over a very low heat for about 30mins, slow cooking allows them to go all nice and creamy, but make sure they don't burn!
2. Add the asparagus and garlic and cook for about 5mins
3. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and season.
4. In the meantime cook your pasta and when it's done, stir it into the leek and asparagus mixture.
5. Serve with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sunny Sweet Potato and Cumin Soup

The weather has been so unseasonably dull for July in England. This bright, sunny coloured soup will make you feel a little brighter and the spicy kick may even stop you reverting to Autumnal tendencies a few months early.

Plus, sweet potatos are full of good stuff, lots of vitamin C and iron. As with most soups, it's very easy to make.

Ingredients (to create about 4 large portions.)
1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (finely sliced or crushed)
1 heaped tsp cumin
1 red chilli (a teaspoon of dried chili will also do.)
about 500g sweet potatos (peeled and quartered)
700ml chicken / vegetable stock
Olive oil

To make and cook:
1. sweat the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes over a medium heat
2. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin and fry for just a minute
3. Add the sweet potatos and coat them in the mixture - stirring all the while.
4. Pour over the stock and simmer over a low heat for at least 20mins or until the potatos are cooked through and fall part easily. (I see no problem in leaving this to simmer over a very low heat for up to an hour.)
5. Blend all of the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a good swirl of natural yogurt or sour cream and a grinding of pepper.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

An Old Fashioned Victoria Sandwich

There always seems to be a lot to celebrate in the summer - exam results, graduations and the end of school. There are lots of home-coming celebrations happening too, whether it be returning from university or school, or coming back from a holiday. When such occasions arise, it's always nice to have a welcoming, incredibly English, Victoria sponge cake waiting...

There are tonnes and tonnes of variations on this recipe online, one to suit every size cake dish and every type of oven. This version makes a neatly sized cake for tins which are about 20cm in diameter. Do shop around if your tins are a different size to avoid tears and burnt cake.

This is a very simple version, but once you have the basics down you can tart up your cake with whatever you want.. within reason!

100g self raising flour
100g sugar
100g butter
2 eggs
Good quality jam for the middle

1. Preheat your oven to 180C
2. GREASE and LINE your baking tins with BUTTER and GREASEPROOF PAPER (it's an easily forgotten step, but a very necessary one!)
3. Cream the butter and sugar together (use an electric whisk for ease.)
4. Beat in the eggs
5. Add the sugar and flour and stir together using a metal spoon until it has all blended nicely together and forms 'a soft dropping consistency.'
6. Spread into your mixture evenly between your tins and smooth over the tops.
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 - 25mins.
You can check if they're done by inserting a metal skewer in, and if it comes out clean the cake's done. Or, lightly pressing the tops and if they're springy, they're also done.

Fill your cake with your jam (good quality jam really does make all the difference) and whatever takes your fancy.

You could make a simple butter cream by blending butter and icing sugar together - the quantities are easily guessed!)