Miso soup

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There is something about miso soup that makes you feel like you are becoming instantly more healthy as you slurp. It is tasty and cleansing and this recipe contains noodles to make the dish a little bit more filling.

Miso soup with noodles, pak choi and mushrooms (serves 2-3)

1 vegetable stock cube

1 inch of ginger, peeled and finally sliced

2 tbsp. (I use 2 small sachets) of miso paste

100g dried rice noodles

1-2 pak choi, leaves cut off and stalks sliced in lengths

2-3 spring onions, finely sliced

100g mushrooms, finely sliced

1. Put the stock cube in a medium sized saucepan with 600ml of water and the sliced ginger and bring it to the boil. Add the miso paste and stir well before adding the pak choi stalks and mushrooms.

2.  Leave this simmering away for about two minutes so that the stalks have softened. Then add the pak choi leaves and the noodles and leave for another minute or so until the noodles are cooked.

3. Serve the soup straight away in bowls and garnish with the spring onion.

Serving Tip: If you leave the dish too long before serving, the noodles may absorb too much water and become soggy so make sure you it the whole lot whilst it is still fresh!

 

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A tart for two… or four

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I really like pastry, pies and tarts, and when you don’t have heaps of time, using readymade puff pastry to whip up something tasty can make a great hassle free dinner.

I admit it, I have never actually made my own puff pastry, but I have heard several famous bakers say that they don’t normally make theirs either… so I think we are off the hook!

Try this tart for a simple but satisfying lunch or dinner and feel free to play around with the toppings. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you like!

Asparagus and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Tart (serves 2-4)

1 sheet of ready to roll puff pastry (or half a 500g block, rolled out)

3-4 tbsp green pesto

4 slices prosciutto ham

½ a bunch of asparagus (about 6 or 7 spears)

4 sundried tomatoes

150g feta

A few squeezes of lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ᵒ/ Gas mark 7. Unroll the pastry or roll it out into a rectangle and score around the edge, leaving a 1.5cm border.
  2. In the inner rectangle, spread the pesto all over with the back of a spoon. I have suggested using 3-4 tbsp of pesto, but use as little or as much as you like.
  3. Rip and scatter the prosciutto across the tart and chop and scatter the sundried tomatoes. Then crumble over the feta cheese. Chop each asparagus spear in half and drizzle with lemon juice before spreading these across the pastry as well.
  4. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden and the asparagus is cooked.

Serve the tart with a side salad or enjoy it on its own.

Risotto for a Thursday night

Risotto is a really versatile dish than can be light and refreshing in summer or warm and comforting in the colder months. It is a great way to try out different flavour combinations, use up what you have in the cupboards, or just enjoy your favourite ingredients.

Using butternut squash and smoked mackerel in this recipe makes it quite filling and full of energy. The sweetness of the butternut squash works really well with the oiliness of the fish and adding some rocket on top or on the side of the plate gives the whole meal a bitter twist that taste great and adds colour to the plate. Try adding some dried chilli flakes to the butternut squash whilst it is roasting for an extra kick.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Mackerel Risotto (serves 2)

Oil

Salt and pepper

½ butternut squash

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

150g risotto rice

1 glass white wine

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

1 tbsp rosemary (fresh if possible)

1-2 fillets smoked mackerel

1 bag rocket

Parmesan

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  1. First things first, heat the oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Whilst it is hotting up, put a roasting tin with a glug of olive oil on the middle shelf.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks, about 1.5cm cubed, and once the oven is up to temperature, remove the roasting tray and add the butternut squash to it. Toss the squash in the oil and season with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and the rosemary. Return to the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes until soft and crispy round the edges.
  3. To start the risotto, gently fry the onion on a low-medium heat in a little oil. Use a medium-sized saucepan or a casserole dish that can be used on the hob. When it has softened, add the garlic and a drizzle more oil. Fry for a minute before adding the risotto rice and the herbs.
  4. Stir everything around the pan so that the rice is coated in the oil. To add extra flavour and richness, pour in a glass of white wine and let the rice start soaking it up!
  5. After a few minutes, add your first ladle of stock and give the mixture a good stir. You will need to stir the risotto throughout cooking to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Let the rice soak up the stock before adding another ladle. At this point, check on the butternut squash and toss the pieces in the oil, herbs, and chilli if you are using it.
  6. Continue to add stock and stir the risotto until the rice is fully cooked through. In total, this should take about 30 minutes from your first ladle. If the rice has soaked up all the stock and is still not cooked to your liking, add more or you can use hot water if you have no more or only need a little bit extra.
  7. Now, you are nearly done, so tear the mackerel fillets into the risotto and add the now cooked butternut squash. I used two mackerel fillets but, if you don’t want the fishy flavour to be too strong, use one.
  8. Give everything a good stir and leave to sit with the lid on for a minute before plating up. Sprinkle over a little pepper, a handful of rocket and grate some parmesan on each plate before serving.

Risotto does need a bit of babysitting but it is so worth it when you get a good one!

Try a little bulgar wheat…

This recipe started off as a ‘chuck it all in’ dinner that tasted good enough for me to write down what I had done and refine it for next time. It is great as a healthy lunch or supper just as it is, or as a side to something else tasty. I recently used the mixture to stuff peppers and grilled them on the bbq…

Feta and olive bulgar wheat salad (serves 1 or 2 as a side)

70g bulgar wheat

½ small onion

50g courgette

1 clove of garlic

½ tsp cumin

¾ tsp ground coriander

Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tomato (chopped)

8 green olives (pitted)

30g feta cheese (cubed)

Salt

  1. Bring a saucepan of hot water to the boil and add the bulgar wheat. Cook for 12-15 minutes on a gentle boil.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and fry the onion and courgette in a little oil. Once softened, add the garlic, tomato, ground coriander, cumin and tomato puree. Add as much cayenne pepper as you like, depending on how hot you like your food. I use a sprinkle to give the dish a gentle kick. Give the ingredients a good stir and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Once the bulgar wheat has been cooking for enough time. Turn off the hob and cover the saucepan for 10 minutes. After this time, drain the wheat and add it to the pan of vegetables which should still be on a low heat.
  4. Stir all the ingredients together and add in the olives and the feta.

This dish can be served hot or cold so serve when ready.