RECIPE: Potato Gratin

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If you want an interesting way of serving potatoes as a side dish or you want a filling vegetarian option, then potato gratin is a delicious choice. It is a quick and simple to make. Here is a recipe for potato gratin.

Ingredients for Potato Gratin

  • 8 medium white potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 100g soft cheese
  • 200g cheddar or similar cheese, grated
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Potato Gratin

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Peel the potatoes and then slice them thinly- approximately 3mm thickness.
  3. Layer the enough of the potatoes in an ovenproof dish to completely cover the bottom.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Top and tail an onion and remove the skin. Cut in half lengthways.
  6. Lie the onion on the flat side and slice thinly.
  7. Spread the onion slices over the potatoes. 
  8. Use two teaspoons to create small ‘dollops’ of soft cheese and dot these across the potatoes and onions.
  9. Layer more potatoes over the top, overlapping slightly to create a pattern, as in the photos.
  10. Cut the butter into small cubes and dot over the top of the potatoes.
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and add the grated cheese.
  14. Return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Here is the finished result with braising steak in onion gravy, fine beans, and julienne carrots.

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RECIPE: Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges

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If you are looking for an alternative to chips or mashed potatoes, then potato wedges are a great choice as they are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and will give you your carbohydrate fix for the day. They are so easy to make that even those who claim not to be able to open a tin of soup can make potato wedges. This lightly spiced option gives an extra element of flavour to this delicious side dish. Here is how to make these with an easy recipe for lightly spiced potato wedges. 

Ingredients for Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges

  • 8 medium white potatoes
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Salt

How to Make Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
  3. Cut potatoes into wedges by first halving, then quartering, and then cutting the quartered pieces lengthways one final time. 
  4. Put potato wedges into the pan of boiling water to blanch for five minutes. 
  5. Drain the potatoes onto a sheet of kitchen paper to remove moisture.
  6. Transfer the potatoes to a baking tray and drizzle with the oil.
  7. Turn and rub the potatoes to make sure they are all coated with the oil. Add a little extra oil if necessary. 
  8. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt and paprika.
  9. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and turn the potatoes to prevent cooking and make sure they are evenly cooked.
  11. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until crisp and brown. 
  12. Remove from the oven and transfer potato wedges onto kitchen paper to remove excess grease before serving. 

RECIPE: Bombay Potatoes

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Bombay potatoes is a traditional Indian side dish that also works well as a main course option for vegetarians. There are many variations of this dish as people often use different spices or add alternative ingredients. It is simple to make as it consists of just potatoes, tomatoes, and spices. Another bonus is that it is a really cheap meal option, so it is great for people on a budget. Therefore, even if you are an Indian cooking novice, this is a simple dish to make. Here is an easy recipe for Bombay potatoes.

Ingredients for Bombay Potatoes

 

  • 3 large potatoes cut into chunks
  • 1-inch chunk of peeled ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 chilli, deseeded
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

 

How to Make Bombay Potatoes

  1. Boil the potato chunks in salted water until cooked (approximately 15 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, add one of the chopped tomatoes, the ginger, the garlic cloves and the chilli to a blender and whizz into a paste. 
  3. Add the oil to a saucepan and put over a medium heat. 
  4. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook for two minutes.
  5. Add the chopped onion and cook for a further two minutes.
  6. Add the ground spices and cook for one more minute.
  7. Add the salt and the paste of tomato, chilli, ginger, and garlic. Cook for two more minutes.
  8. Add the second diced tomato and cook for five minutes.
  9. Drain the cooked chopped tomato and add to the pan. 
  10. Stir through until all the potatoes are coated in the mixture.
  11. Cook for a further five minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb the flavour.
  12. Add the chopped fresh coriander at the last minute and then serve. 

 

A Glimmer of Hope for My Kitchen Garden

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Something that I have always dreamed of is a kitchen garden. I love cooking with fresh ingredients and what better way than growing your own food? I also think it is a fantastic way of teaching children about food, getting them involved in both gardening and cooking, and doing something outdoors as a family. I love the idea of walking out into the garden and selecting your ingredients to create a meal.

My back garden is more of a yard than a garden. It is mainly concrete with a few borders that for a long time were massively overgrown with shrubs and brambles. I was a single working parent for a lot of years and felt overwhelmed at the thought of transforming the garden into a more usable space. My efforts at growing food in the past have only extended to a few tomato plants and some potted herbs in the conservatory. The only other food picked from my garden is blackberries from an accidentally grown bramble. 

Now that my partner has moved in with us, I have a glimmer of hope for getting the kitchen garden I have always wanted. He is a passionate gardener and a master of making useful items out of scraps of wood. He has completely cleared the space and built wooden troughs around the borders and created large wooden planters. He has built a decking section for us to eat on and put up some handmade trellises and crossed canes for growing climbing plants. 

We have worked out a plan together for where we are going to plant different vegetables and herbs and to which sections we will add herbs. So far, we have only planted some peas and tomatoes, but we are keen to get going and excited about getting the children involved.

Over the next few months, there will probably be several posts about our gardening adventures and the meals I have created from our mini-harvests.

Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Glimmer’ on The Daily Post.

RECIPE: Vegetable Soup #1

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There are multiple ways of making vegetable soup using a variety of ingredients, hence the title of ‘Vegetable Soup #1’. I will no doubt, in time, list many more versions of this simple but tasty soup. You can make it using any vegetable you like and is a great way of using up any vegetables that are sat in your refrigerator. Here is just one of the ways of making a delicious vegetable soup that serves six people. 

Ingredients for Vegetable Soup

  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 courgette (zucchini)
  • 1 tin of garden peas
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 2 oz of butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and black pepper

 

How to Make Vegetable Soup

  1. Dice the celery, potatoes, carrots, courgette, and onions.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan over a medium heat on the hob.
  3. Add the diced vegetables and saute in the pan for approximately ten minutes until they are beginning to soften.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the tin of peas and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook for a further five minutes. 
  8. Blend the soup using either a food processor or a hand blender to the consistency of your choice. 
  9. Serve into soup bowls with warm crusty bread. 

Why You Should Consider Using Micro Greens in Your Cooking

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Many people are unaware of what micro greens are let alone why they should use them in their cooking. Also known as microgreens or micro herbs, these are simply the early versions of herbs and vegetables. You may have seen them being used in television cooking shows or garnishing plates in fine dining restaurants. However, these are not just an ingredient for the use of celebrity chefs as there are plenty of reasons why you should consider using them at home. Here are just a few of the benefits of using micro herbs in your cooking.

You Can Grow Your Own

Even those who are not green-fingered and do not have a large garden can grow microgreens. You can grow them at home in small pots on your windowsill and snip off the leaves to use in your cooking.

Micro Greens are Packed with Nutrients

Research has shown that younger plants are packed with more nutrients and antioxidants. They are especially rich in beta-carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C. If you are looking for a health boost, it is well-worth considering adding these into your meals.

They Have an Intense Flavour

The flavours in younger shoots are more intense than the flavours of older leaves. For example, the micro greens of arugula or radish have an intense peppery flavour, while young pea shoots have a strong flavour of fresh peas.

Visual Appeal

Many people believe that you eat with your eyes before your mouth and that the presentation of a dish has a big impact on a person’s experience of eating the food. Microgreens look pretty on a plate and add to the overall visual appeal.

Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Micro’ on The Daily Post.

Food News: The Growing Trend Towards Veganism

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More people than ever are deciding to follow a vegan diet. While for some, this is for ethical reasons, others are choosing to follow a plant-based diet as they believe it is beneficial to their health. There are also others who follow a temporary vegan diet as a way of cleansing their systems and those who continue to eat meat but are including more vegan dishes in their diet. This trend is also being followed by the food industry with vegan eating establishments popping up all over the world. 

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One such example of this is plant-based chef Matthew Kenney (pictured left) who has recently opened a vegan restaurant called ‘Alibi’ in the Ovolo Hotel in Sydney. Although many traditional Australian dishes are based on steak or seafood, the chef believes that his food can compete with these dishes and has described it as sexier. In fact, the famous chef believes that vegan lifestyles will become even more the norm in the future.

‘Alibi’ has a diverse menu that serves dishes including tacos, burgers, pizza, and lasagne. These dishes would usually contain meat and cheese, but Matthew Kenney has redesigned these meals so they are completely plant-based. He has even found a way to recreate cheese using ingredients including cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.

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The trend towards plant-based diets is also obvious in the number of celebrities who have now become vegan. Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas (pictured right) announced in January that he had made the transition to veganism. He has credited following a vegan diet with his dramatic weight loss and improved health. 

 

Sources: 

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/future-of-food-is-vegan-says-leading-chef

https://www.livekindly.co/will-i-am-credits-vegan-diet-improved-health-weight-loss/