Gazpacho

Gazpacho - a summer favourite! 

Gazpacho - a summer favourite! 

During the hot summer months I love nothing more than a delicious gazpacho - cool and filling! I picked up the recipe years ago when I spent a summer in Madrid, young and carefree! I keep coming back to it every time the temperature starts to rise and we can eat al fresco and enjoy the beautiful garden sights and smells. 

About 2 pounds of ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped into chunks

1 green pepper, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks

1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks

1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste

Salt

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling

  1. Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender or, if using a hand blender, in a deep bowl. (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
  2. With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.
  3. Transfer to a large pitcher (preferably glass) and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water. Serve in glasses, over ice if desired. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.

Basil Dressing & Easy Pesto

Salad Dressings

Salad dressings really make a huge difference to a salad and are that simple extra touch that makes a yummy meal from a few simple ingredients. Have some fun with making them and trying different flavours. The great thing about a fabulous dressing is that you can go really simple with the food your dressing-- try stemming some asparagus and adding a yummy dressing et voila- a yummy lunch or tea!

Dressings are all about sweet and sour, or agrodolce as the Italians call it. Learn the ratio of sweet to sour that you like best – most oils are slightly sweet in flavour.

Some tips:

• Which oil you use matters. Olive oils cover a spectrum of flavours from the peppery early- season oils (which sometimes have an almost acrid aftertaste) to the softer late-season ones. Taste your olive oil. If it is too powerful for your palate, dilute it with rapeseed or sunflower oil. Also, be aware that oils can go stale if left in the heat (eg by the stove) or in sunlight.

• Make more than you need. You can keep it in the fridge in a jar for ages.

• Season carefully. Taste for salt, pepper, sweet and sour. Before you dress the salad (the point of no return) dip a leaf into the dressing, taste and adjust the flavours if

• If you are using raw garlic in a dressing, it is best to smash it to a paste with a little salt – this breaks it down more than a garlic crusher can. The flavour will spread more evenly through the mix, and you won't get little lumps floating in your dressing.

Ingredients:

A bunch of basil

1 garlic clove, crushed

100ml olive oil

A pinch of salt and black pepper

Method:

Remove the leaves from the basil and blend with the rest of the ingredients.

Optional:

Add pine nuts and parmesan for a simple pesto. This is truly delicious with spiralised courgette or pasta.

Best for drizzling over fresh tomatoes, grilled courgettes or a tomato salad.

Butternut Squash & Ricotta

Butternut squash is such a versatile vegetable, I love to roast it and use it as a base for soups salads and this simple hearty dish. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 1 Small Squash
  • 1–2 garlic cloves (unpeeled), lightly bashed
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve
  • 100g ricotta
  • 30–40g thinly sliced parma ham/bacon lardons
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190 C /370 F/ gas 5. Peel and deseed the squash, then cut into chunks.

  • Put into a roasting dish with the garlic and a few thyme sprigs, if using. Trickle over the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 40–50 minutes, or until the squash is tender and starting to caramelise, giving it a stir halfway through cooking. Discard the garlic and thyme and leave to cool completely.

  • Put the roasted squash on individual plates or a large platter.

  • Dot the ricotta over the top. Tear the ham into shreds and scatter over the squash and ricotta. Tear the leaves from the rest of the thyme sprigs, if you have them, and scatter over the dish.

  • Season with pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, then serve.

Spanish Omlette

This is one of the first things I learned to cook and I still love it to this day! It tastes even better as leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 500g new potatoes chopped into slices
  • 1 onion diced
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley
  • Optional extra: grated cheese
  • Optional extra: chorizo
  • Optional extra: asparagus
  • Optional extra: red peppers

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the potatoes and onion and stew gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are softened.

  • Strain the potatoes and onions through a colander into a large bowl (set the strained oil aside)

  • If you are adding the peppers/chorizo/asparagus- fry these now in the oil you used for the potatoes.

  • Beat the eggs separately, then stir into the potatoes with the parsley ( and your optional extras) and plenty of salt and pepper. (At this point if you are using cheese add it.) Heat a little of the strained oil in a smaller pan. Tip everything into the pan and cook on a moderate heat.

  • When almost set, invert on a plate and slide back into the pan and cook a few more minutes. Invert twice more, cooking the omelette briefly each time and pressing the edges to keep the cushion shape. Slide on to a plate and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

greek salad

Salad is so simple and really yummy. ANYTHING goes. But I find that if you bring salad to lunch it can get really soggy and not too tasty. If you can, assemble at work.

This is my all time favourite salad and one I often have for dinner! This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 4 large deliciously ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber ( leave the skin on)
  • 2 small or one large red onion
  • 200g of feta cheese
  • 1 green pepper
  • A scattering of dried oregano ( fresh is even better)
  • A glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • a sprinkle of sea salt flakes
  • Optional- 
    A squeeze of lemon
    Kalamata (black) olives.

Method

  • Roughly slice a couple of deliciously ripe tomatoes per person.

  • Roughly chop the cucumber and peel and thinly slice the red onion.

  • Cut the feta into thick slices or go authentic and leave it as one big slab on top of the salad!

  • Thinly slice the green pepper.

  • Most people use dried oregano, but it is much better with fresh- Scatter either the salad.

  • Add a splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil.

  • Sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. If you fancy, add some black olives and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serving Suggestion

Make sure the tomatoes are really ripe and juicy- this is key! Also the cucumber should be chilled and from the fridge, resist the desire to peel it.  This salad must be served cold to be truly refreshing.

Serve with some grilled tuna fillets and a squeeze of lemon or just enjoy with some crunchy fresh french baguette.

gorgeous green soup

A variation of my gorgeous green smoothie, this is a REALLY tasty and healthy lunch that is so very nourishing.

Ingredients

  • 500 ml of water
  • 3/4 cup of spinach
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas
  • A handful of coriander
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces.

  • Fry garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in a glug of olive oil.

  • Then add the chopped broccoli and cook until tender.

  • Add the spinach and the peas and cook for 3 more minutes.

  • Once the spinach has wilted, add all the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth, then reheat and enjoy.

kitchen sink bread

This is a yummy and versatile staple. I make it about twice a week and eat it most days. It works for any meal!

I don't really measure, I just throw everything in, the key is to get a sticky consistency that holds together on your baking tray. The following will make one big loaf.

Ingredients:

  • 450ml buttermilk
  • 340g of whole wheat flour (if you prefer you can use a mix of plain and whole wheat)
  • 80g of oats 
  • 80g of Seeds of your choosing (I use a combination of sunflower / chia seeds / pine nuts / linseeds)
  • 1 tbl spoon of baking soda or powder
  • A sprinkling of salt (I use Maldon sea salt flakes)
  • 1 tbl spoon of honey or maple syrup

 

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C or 355 F.

  • Take a large mixing bowl and mix the whole wheat flour, oats, seeds, baking powder and salt.

  • Then mix together the dry ingredients with a spoon.

  • Slowly add the buttermilk, mixing as you go.

  • Depending on the types of seeds you use you will need less or more milk. The key is to bind the ingredients so that they hold together in a sticky wet-ish lump.

  • Dust flour on a baking tray and put the mixture in the middle of the tray. It should look like a big lump!

  •  Alternatively you can place it in a bread tin.

  • Let it cook for approx 35-40 min depending on your oven. You'll now it's ready when you stick a knife in it and the knife comes out clean and when you knock on the base it sounds hollow.

  • Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.

  • This bread is super yummy and healthy- enjoy!

Serving Suggestion

  • Real butter & Raw honey.
  • A spread of Hummus and/or half an avocado, some chopped tomatoes, a little bit of chopped chilli, a little squeeze of lime juice and some coriander or bail or rocket. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper – YUM!
  • Butter and a poached, boiled or scrambled egg with salt and pepper.
  • Wild smoked salmon, butter, squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Avocado/tomato/onion (or spring onion) and cheese ( good quality cheese) on toasted brown bread bring the ingredients and assemble at work.

You get the idea – this bread is so healthy and filling, one slice should be plenty!