Corn Bread

Like everyone else I’m trying to limit how much I go out at the minute. Also because some people are being eejits and stripping supermarket shelves, I’m trying to work with ingredients I already have at home.

While having a look around the cupboard I found some polenta. I bought it to try a recipe for the Italian supper club and was not really a fan of how the Italian’s use it. However, it works well in the Soul Food staple of corn bread. The American version is too sweet for my taste, so I reduced the amount of sugar.

The recipe also calls for butter milk, which I didn’t have. No problem, just add a good squeeze of lemon juice to ordinary milk for the same effect (the acid in the butter milk/lemon juice helps the chemical reaction that makes the bread rise)

I serve this with chilli, but it’s also good served alongside soups. An American friend of mine also uses left over corn bread, crumbled up over casseroles to make a crunchy topping when baked in the oven. This also freezes really well.

115 Grams Cornmeal/fine polenta

150 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

1.5 Tsp Baking powder

0.5 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

2 Eggs

350 ml Butter milk (or semi skimmed milk, with a good squeeze of lemon)

50 Grams Butter

1 Onion (finely sliced)

Extra butter to grease the baking tin

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees, grease a round 23cm cake tin
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and fry the onion until translucent, and allow to cool
  3. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl
  4. In a separate bowl combine the the eggs, butter milk, and fried onions (including the butter the cooked in)
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until any large lumps are gone. It’s quite a wet mixture so don’t panic
  6. Pour the mix into your greased baking tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a skewer or toothpick and when it comes out clean, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes

Vegetable Chilli

I’m not a vegan or even vegetarian, but still enjoy a good meat free recipe.

This is a good way to get your 5 a day, and is quick and tasty, with a nice range of flavours and textures. I served mine with some avocado on top, and corn bread, but it’s also really good with rice or tortillas. You can also top it with sour cream or grated cheese if you’re not vegan.

Ingredients

1 Red pepper

1 Onion

2 Stalks celery

150 Grams Sweetcorn

400 Grams Cannelli beans (you can use whatever beans you have)

400 ml Passata

1 Tsp Ground cumin

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tsp chilli powder

2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables into equal sizes (I like to keep mine pretty chunky)
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until they have softened
  3. Add the garlic, spices and tomato puree to the pan and cook for a few minutes before adding the beans and passata
  4. Simmer over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened

Goat’s Cheese and Roast Vegetable Galette

The last couple of months have been cold, wet and sh*tty. I needed something that reminded me of sunshine, so I made this. It’s relatively easy to make, and looks impressive when you bring it to the table if you’re cooking for people.

If you’re super organised you can use this recipe to use up leftover roast vegetables. I made my own pasty, but as always you can use shop bought if you’re short on time.

Alot of people aren’t fans of goat’s cheese. If you’re one of them, you can swap it for another soft cheese like brie or camembert.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

1/4 Tsp Salt

100 Grams Butter

1 Egg yolk

Cold water

(Plus 1 Egg to brush the pastry with)

Sesame or onion seeds (optional)

Filling

1 Onion (cut into 8)

1 Red pepper (cut into 8)

1 Aubergine (cut into 2-3 cm cubes)

125 Grams Soft goat’s cheese

200 Grams Cherry tomatoes still on the vine

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tsp Dried oregano or thyme

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables, and place them in a flat oven proof dish. Drizzle with oil and bake in an oven for 30-40 minutes until starting to chat at the edges a little. Allow to cool before using.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour and butter and pulse until this looks like breadcrumbs (the rubbing in method if you prefer).
  3. Add the yolk, and gradually add the cold water, mixing until the dough comes together in a ball. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. After chilling, allow the pastry to come to room temperature. Roll the pastry out in as neat a circle as possible, place on a sheet of baking parchment, and then lay on a baking sheet
  5. Break up the goat’s cheese and sprinkle across the centre of the pastry, leaving an edge of 3-4cm around the pastry
  6. Top the goat’s cheese with roast vegetables (having squeezed out any liquid). Top with the vine tomatoes
  7. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Gently fold in the edges of the pastry and pleat the pastry to create a crust for the galette
  8. Brush the exposed pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle the pastry with sesame or onion seeds for some extra colour and flavour.
  9. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve with salad

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

Normal mac n cheese I think we can all agree is a thing of beauty!

I had a friend coming for lunch and was doing my usual scoot around the fridge to see what I had, and came up with this. I’ve added some vegetables to help lighten it up, as well as add flavour and texture. But if you feel that you want pure filth (and hey doesn’t sometimes), you could leave them out or substitute them for other veggies you like, sweetcorn works well in this too.

This makes a great week night dinner, and is quite happy to live in the fridge for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

500 Gram Bag of ready made gnocchi

50 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

1 Green pepper (sliced)

50 Grams Green beans (canned/frozen)

2 Tbsps of Chopped Parsley (optional)

1 Tbsp Oil

25 Grams Butter

25 Grams Flour

250ml Milk

50 Grams Grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, but use what you prefer or what you have in the fridge)

50 Grams Breadcrumbs (optional, I always keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer, it’s a cheap, quick and easy way to add a bit of crunch to dishes)

Method

  1. Cook the gnocchi as per the instructions on the packet, then drain and set to one side.
  2. Add the oil to a pan and over a medium heat cook the vegetables until softened
  3. Put the gnocchi and vegetables in an oven proof dish, and pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a smooth paste over a medium heat, stir in the milk gradually to avoid lumps.
  5. The sauce will start to thicken as it cooks, reduce the heat and let the sauce cook out for another five minutes or until it no longer tastes of flour. Stir in half the cheese and mix until it has melted
  6. Add the sauce to the gnocchi and vegetables, and mix until well combined. Cover with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if your using them
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how brown you want the topping to be

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka

I’ve loved moussaka ever since I first tasted it. But it can be very rich, so this version even though it’s still packed with protein is a little lighter.

This is based around a Jamie Oliver recipe and it’s proper comfort food. I added some roast red peppers, as I think it brings a little bit more freshness to it. There’s still enough cheese to make it still taste decadent.

The only draw back is that this is a time consuming recipe. I usually wait to make this at the weekend when I have more time, but it’s worth the time and effort, and tastes so much better than some gloopy supermarket version. This is also a great dish if you have a group of people to cook for.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

4 Aubergines

4 Roasted red peppers (I used a jar of red peppers to save time)

500 Grams Potatoes

2 Tins Chopped tomatoes

2 Tins Chick peas

1 Sprig Rosemary

1 Small bunch of sage

100 Grams Green lentils, boiled until soft (or 1 can of lentils)

2 Onions, sliced

400 Grams Feta cheese

50 Grams Butter

50 Grams Plain flour

500ml Milk

25 Grams Parmesan (or other strong, hard cheese)

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 200 degrees, peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm slices. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, place on baking trays and bake until tender and golden brown
  2. Peel strips into the aubergines, and then cut into 2 cm rounds before sprinkling with salt and leaving to drain a colander for an hour
  3. Wipe off any excess moisture and the salt, and sprinkle the aubergines with a little olive oil and place on baking trays and bake in the oven until tender, just as you did with the potatoes
  4. Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and add the onions and herbs to pan. Cook gently until the onions have softened (I keep the herbs on the stem so that they are easier to fish out of the sauce later.
  5. Add the cooked/tinned lentils and chick peas to the pan along with the tinned tomatoes. Simmer over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened, check the season and add salt and pepper if necessary
  6. When the vegetables have finished roasting and the sauce is ready, it’s time to start assembling the dish
  7. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a large oven proof dish, then top this with a layer of the cooked potatoes and crumble over some of the feta cheese. Top this with another layer of sauce and then add a layer of roasted peppers sprinkle with some of the feta cheese. Top again with the sauce and add the cooked aubergines and any left over feta
  8. To top this you will need to make a white sauce, in a medium sized saucepan, melt your butter over a medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Continue to stir as you add the milk (if you find that you are getting lumps there is no shame in breaking out a whisk to beat the living daylights of the sauce to get rid of rid of them).
  9. The sauce will start thicken as it heats, so continue stirring and reduce the heat and allow to cook for another 5 minutes or until the sauce no longer tastes “floury”. Add the grated hard cheese and mix well
  10. Top the layers of vegetables and with the white sauce and bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes of until all bubbly, brown and delicious

Rumbledethumps

This recipe comes from one of my co-workers Ruth. She knows I love a good recipe and was kind enough to share this. It’s one of the things I like about food. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone has a favourite food. Many of my recipes come from people who just wanted to share something they really enjoyed.

This is a traditional Scottish recipe, and was probably developed to use up left over vegetables. I wasn’t that organised so I made this from scratch, but if you plan ahead and have left over veggies then this can be really quick to make. The name supposedly comes from the fact that cabbage and turnip can make some people a bit “windy”. Rumbledethump refers to the noises they may make. Thankfully this wasn’t my experience.

Rumbledethumps are traditionally fried, I oven baked these to make them a little healthier.

These make a great side dish or are delicious served with a fried egg.

Makes 8

Ingredients

500 Grams Potatoes (peeled and cubed)

200 Grams Turnip (peeled and cubed) – in England this is known as swede, but in NI we call it turnip)

1/2 Onion (finely sliced)

125 Grams Cabbage (finely sliced)

1 Egg yolk

50 Grams Cheddar cheese (grated)

2 Tbsps Oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Cook the potatoes and turnip until soft, drain and mash roughly before allowing to cool
  2. Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a pan and gently fry until soft, allow to cool
  3. Combine all the ingredients (except the remaining oil), in a bowl. Check the seasoning, I found this recipe needed quite a lot.
  4. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Get your hands into the mixture, and make 8 equal sized patties.
  5. Set the patties onto a greased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining oil and bake for 25-30mins

Walnut Skordalia

This is a traditional Greek dip and is super easy to make and super delicious. I made this as part of a meze at our February supper club, and it was the most popular dish of the night.

While you can use it as a dip, I’ve also used this as filling in wraps and sandwiches along with salad and chopped vegetables and it was amazingly tasty. It’s also really good drizzled across roast vegetables. To be honest you could spread this on a flip flop and I’d eat it, it tastes that good. This is also vegan, so you can keep all the non meat eaters in your life happy with something totally scrumptious.

Ingredients

80 Grams Walnuts

40 Grams Breadcrumbs (I know I bang on about it, but one of my favourite kitchen hacks is making a big batch of bread crumbs to keep in the freezer, it makes recipes like this a 2 minute job)

1-2 Cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (I used 2 and it was pretty garlicky which I don’t mind, but adjust to your own taste)

2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar (Again adjust to your own taste, the first time I tried a the recipe out it was a bit too sharp for me, so I’ve reduced the amount of vinegar but have a taste and you can always add more)

100ml Olive oil

Method

  1. Add the walnuts to a food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until the nuts are finely ground
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, oil and vinegar and blitz again. The mix is meant to be quite thick, but if it is too thick for you, you can a small amount of water and and blitz until you get the consistency you like