Lemons are so versatile whether you put the juice or the zest or both in a recipe. Where would Greek cuisine be without them? I use lemon juice to make a vinaigrette dressing. I grate lemon zest into my fishcakes and both zest and juice are used in this risotto and are what makes it a little different. Risotto – Italian comfort food – is endlessly versatile too. This one includes asparagus tips, portobello mushrooms, peas and spinach. With this dish the broth is added a little at a time – when the rice has almost absorbed the stock add a little more and stir frequently.
1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots – finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves – grated
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 oz. portobello mushrooms – diced
4 oz. baby asparagus
4 oz. frozen peas
4 oz. baby spinach
Pour oil into a cast iron Dutch oven and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the shallots and let cook for a couple of minutes, then turn heat down a little and add the garlic.
After a few minutes tip the rice into the pot and stir before adding a cup of broth. Bring broth to a boil then turn down to a simmer and add the lemon zest and juice and all of the vegetables.
Simmer for some 20 minutes until rice is cooked and the broth is absorbed.
A lovely light salad – good for lunch – served on a bed of arugula with a lemon dressing. If you want to cheat you can buy a pre-cooked chicken.
1 chicken breast – poached or equivalent amount of pre-cooked chicken
Arugula – enough to use as a bed to put the chicken
Juice of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp. olive oil – if poaching
1 avocado – diced
4 oz. blueberries
If poaching chicken, place chicken on a piece of aluminum foil and pour over juice of 1 lemon and the oil. Wrap chicken into a parcel and place in over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so until chicken is cooked through.
Line a serving dish with arugula.
Cut chicken breast into small pieces and arrange on bed of arugula.
Scatter avocado over chicken pieces, then sprinkle with blueberries.
Toss with lemon dressing or serve dressing on the side.
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
Whisk together the mustard and lemon juice until smooth then add the oil and continue whisking until amalgamated or shake mixture in a small screw top jar.
So simple and sophisticated. The addition of a couple of tablespoons of either of the liqueurs gives the fruit salad a delicious, richer flavor. I serve it in either a large glass bowl or individual glasses. Make the salad an hour or so ahead of serving and leave out of fridge so that the liqueur can permeate the fruit and stir it periodically. Creme de Cassis and Creme de Framboise are found fairly easily in a good drinks store and a little can be added to champagne. When I serve champagne like that I add either a blueberry or a raspberry to the glass for a nice effect.
6 oz strawberries – cut into quarters
6 oz raspberries
6 oz blueberries
2 tbsp. Crème de Cassis/Framboise
Combine all the fruits in a bowl.
Pour over the Crème de Cassis/Framboise, mix the fruits together and leave for an hour outside of the fridge before serving so that the liqueur permeates the fruit. Stir periodically.
Have you noticed pickled red onions cropping up as a condiment these days? They are so easy to make and add a tangy crunch to a dish. Because I used apple cider vinegar there was no need for any sugar in this recipe. You will have more than enough pickled onions than needed for this dish and they can be used for other purposes. They go well with the other ingredients in this dish – diced beetroot and the diced cheeses (I can tolerate halloumi and feta cheese as they aren’t derived from cow’s milk).
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
1 largish red onion – halved and cut into fine slices then separate the pieces
3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
Boil the water while chopping the onion then place onion pieces in a pan, pour over boiling water until pieces are covered, leave to stand for 3 minutes and drain.
Pour the apple cider vinegar into a bowl and add the salt.
Tip onions into this bowl and stir.
Leave to stand for a couple of hours before serving, stirring occasionally.
3 medium beetroot
Place beetroot in a dish and roast in the oven for about an hour and a half until tender to the touch.
Let cook, then chop into cubes.
1 good ounce each of Halloumi and Feta cheese
Cut cheeses into small cubes
Top beetroot with the cheeses and surround beetroot with pickled onions
I was surprised to find this on a winter menu seeing it more as a summer item made with fresh peas and mint from the garden – maybe even served chilled. Frozen peas, an onion, garlic, a potato for thickening, some stock and mint from the supermarket made a really lovely, bright green soup – a change from the more hearty winter fare.
1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium size onion – finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic – grated
2 cups – chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 a large baking potato – peeled and cut into small cubes
12 oz. frozen peas
1 tbsp. mint – finely chopped + a little extra for garnish if you wish
Heat the oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the onion and let brown a little, then add the garlic.
Pour the broth into the skillet, add the potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just soft.
Add the peas and mint and cook for a further few minutes.
Place the contents of the skillet in a food processor and process until smooth.
Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with some chopped mint.
Bought too many blueberries to nibble for breakfast and didn’t want them to go to waste. The only thing I could think of doing was to stew them but I wanted them to taste of something as blueberries can be quite bland and I didn’t want to add lots of sugar – I added a good teaspoon of honey and the juice of half an orange and the pulp too.
1 punnet of blueberries – about 8 oz
4 fl.oz boiling water
1 heaped tsp. honey
Juice of half an orange and its pulp
Place blueberries in a small pan and add the boiling water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and keep simmering until liquid reduces quite a bit.
Add the honey, orange juice and pulp and simmer for a while longer.
Can be served warm or cold – as is or over other fruits as dessert or breakfast (over banana slices hmm…)
Another way with potatoes and these are particularly good with a firm white fish such as cod or haddock or, if you want to push the boat out, swordfish. Only the zest of a lemon is used and mixed with the chopped parsley, then mashed into the potatoes with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. The potato mixture is then made into smallish patties shapes and pan fried on the stove top.
2 large baking potatoes – cut into dice
2 tbsp. olive oil + extra for frying
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boil potatoes until soft enough to mash, then drain.
Add the lemon zest and parsley to the potatoes and mash with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Take 1 tbsp. of potato mixture and shape it into a cake.
Heat some oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the potato cakes and brown nicely on each side.