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.

 

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Red Fruit Salad with Creme de Cassis or Creme de Framboise (4)

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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.

Pea and Mint Soup (4)

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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.

Blueberry Compote with Honey and Orange Juice (4)

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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…)

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

 

Red Peppers Stuffed with a Tomato Mixture and Topped with Griddled Halloumi Cheese (4)

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Rather a mouthful of a title but an apt description of the recipe. The red peppers are roasted in the oven and during that time the tomato mixture is cooked on the top of the stove in a skillet and the halloumi cheese is prepared, if possible, on a ridged frying pan which gives the cheese a nice striped look. When all three components are ready it is time to assemble the dish. Spoon the tomato sauce into the red pepper half and top with the griddled halloumi cheese (I can tolerate sheep’s halloumi cheese, if you can’t then omit). Can be a side dish or a vegetarian main.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 red peppers – halved lengthways, de-seeded and de-membraned, brushed inside and out with olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound of ripe tomatoes – skinned

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

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 tbsp. fresh basil – finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh oregano – finely chopped

4 slices of Halloumi cheese

Place the red peppers in the oven on a baking tray for 3/4 hour until tender .

While peppers are cooking, boil kettle of water and pour over the tomatoes. Leave for a minute and slit skin with a knife (it should curl up and then you know it is ready to peel).

When peeled, dice the tomatoes.

Ten minutes before the peppers are done place seasoned oil in a skillet and when nicely hot add the garlic and cook just until you can smell the garlic.

Add tomatoes and herbs and let simmer until peppers come out of the oven.

At the same time place the slices of halloumi cheese on a hot griddled pan and cook for a short time on each side until you have nice brown griddle marks.

Divide tomato mixture up between the four pepper halves and top with a slice of halloumi.

Serve immediately.