French Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes with Tapenade (4)

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French green beans or haricots verts as they are known in France are a thinner version of the traditional green beans found in the US and UK and I much prefer them. In France haricots verts and tomatoes are often combined, whether it be in a salad or a hot dish such as this. I have added tapenade – a traditional Mediterranean appetizer often served on toasted bread in a similar way to bruschetta or used as a dip for crudites – and stirred it in with the vegetables. Tapenade at its most basic combines black olives, capers and olive oil. My version also includes anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. If you don’t want to make it yourself you may be able to find it in your local supermarket. Goes well with lamb or firm white fish.

8 oz thin green beans – topped, tailed and cut in half

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz cherry tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. tapenade (or more if you want)

Boil the green beans for just a few minutes until ‘al dente’, then drain.

At the same time put 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and browned on both sides.

Add the beans and 1 tbsp. of tapenade to the pan with the tomatoes and the juices and toss well together.

TAPENADE (makes approx. 1 cup – which is more than you need for this recipe)

1 x cup pitted black olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tbsp. curly parsley

1 tbsp. capers – drained

1 large clove garlic – cut into small pieces

4 anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to your desired consistency.

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Potatoes Boulangeres (serves 4)

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Potatoes Boulangeres are the poor relative to Potatoes Dauphinoises. They are made with broth instead of cream and cheese but are nonetheless a classic potato dish that pairs very well with lamb. Boulangere is French name for a baker and in the olden days, after the baker had made his bread it was traditional to let the local residents use his oven to cook their various homemade dishes.

You could use a mandolin to prepare the potatoes and onions but I used the slicer attachment to my food processor.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Olive oil for greasing ovenproof dish and for brushing the top layer of potatoes

2 large onions – peeled and sliced in food processor

2 large baking potatoes- peeled and sliced in food processor

1 cup veg/beef broth

Oil an ovenproof dish.

Place a layer of onion on the bottom of the dish and season with salt and pepper.

Next place a layer of potatoes on top of the onion and season.

Continue layering and seasoning finishing up with a layer of potatoes.

Pour over the broth.

Brush the potatoes with olive oil

Cook for some 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork – but not too soft else bottom layer will be soggy.

Spicy Peanut Noodles (2)

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The local Chinese restaurant near me does a spicy noodle dish as a side which is served cold Now that we live far away I don’t seem to have come across it. So I experimented and have, I think, come up with a good approximation. Getting the correct balance of ingredients and consistency has been an interesting process – a little bit of this, a little bit of that, how salty do you want it – until it finally tastes right. I combined the sauce with rice noodles and ate it as a vegetarian meal with scallions scattered over the top, but it could also be a dipping sauce for crudites, if you don’t dilute it too much, or as a satay sauce for chicken.

Boiling water – both for cooking rice noodles and for diluting the peanut sauce

4 oz. rice noodles

Pour boiling water over the rice noodles in a pan and let stand for 10 minutes during which time you can make the sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter

2 large cloves of garlic – finely grated

Bunch of scallions – finely chopped (reserve some for sprinkling over the top)

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce (depending on how salty you like things)

Juice of half a lime

Boiling water to dilute sauce to a coating consistency for the noodles.

Place the peanut butter, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and lime juice in a bowl and whisk together, adding boiling water to get the desired consistency.

Pour sauce over the noodles, mix together well and sprinkle chopped scallions over the top.

Serve immediately or you will find that the sauce tends to thicken up again.

 

 

Pork Chops and Honey Mustard Roasted Vegetables (4)

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The only roasted vegetable I ever remember eating as a child was a roast potato. Nowadays they appear in many guises on many menus – roasted Brussels sprouts seem particularly popular. I love the way you can mix so many vegetables together in one dish. You can keep it simple and just toss them in oil and pop them in the oven or you can add some herbs or, in this case, honey and mustard. Most Sundays I cook a roast of some sort and there is nothing better than surrounding the meat with a bunch of vegetables and potatoes and letting them all cook together. It is best if the vegetables are cut to approximately the same size and, depending on what you are roasting them with, to make them larger or smaller pieces (larger if roasting with a whole chicken, smaller if, as in this case when I cooked them with pork chops). Of course you could always roast the vegetables without any meat and they would make a perfect vegetarian dish.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

4 pork chops

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large clove of garlic – grated

3 oz. carrots – peeled and diced

3 oz. parsnips – peeled and diced

3 oz. beetroot – peeled and diced

3 oz. butternut squash – peeled and diced

3 oz. new potatoes – cut into pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Honey Mustard Sauce

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. olive oil

Put the pork chops in a large roasting pan.

Place garlic and vegetables in a large bowl, pour over the oil, season with salt and pepper

and toss well together.

Arrange the veg. around the pork and cook for around 35 minutes until chops are cooked and veg. are tender.

Spoon the honey mustard mixture over the vegetables reserving a little to put on each chop. Stir the veg. so they are evenly coated with the sauce before serving.

 

 

Lemon Vegetable Risotto (4)

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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.

Serve immediately.

 

Lemon and Parsley Potato Cakes (4)

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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.

 

 

Baby Asparagus with Peas and Leeks (4)

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Why eat one vegetable when you can have three together? Lovely blend and the flavors and textures complement each other. Even better if you can find fresh peas. They are simmered in either vegetable or chicken broth.

1 cup broth

8 oz baby asparagus cut into smallish pieces

8 oz peas

8 oz leeks – sliced thinly

Bring the broth to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

Add all the vegetables and cook for around 3 minutes until asparagus is ‘al dente’.

Serve the vegetables with the broth