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. 

 

RECIPE: Macaroni Cheese

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The other day, my eldest son was supposed to make macaroni cheese in his food tech lesson. According to his version of events, the teacher told him to just throw all the ingredients together in a pan and the result was raw pasta and a coagulated burnt mixture at the bottom of the pan. I am sure that the teacher did not tell him to do this, but she had a class of 30+ teens to deal with in her class, so may not have had the time to spend teaching him how to do it properly.

I decided to teach him how to do it properly, making a rue for a cheese sauce and the order in which you add the ingredients. I think it is important to get children involved in cooking as it is an important life skill for them to learn. I suppose there are many variations on how to macaroni cheese, but this is how I have taught my son to make it using just pasta and a basic cheese sauce. Here is a simple recipe for macaroni cheese.

Ingredients for Macaroni Cheese

  • 18 oz/ 500 g dried pasta (macaroni or a similar variety of pasta)
  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for the sauce
  • 2 oz/ 50g cheese for the topping
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • 2 tsp English mustard (optional)
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make Macaroni Cheese

  1. Measure your ingredients first and preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Cook the pasta in a saucepan according to pack instructions. I would remove a few minutes from the cooking time so it is al dente as the pasta will continue to cook in the cheese sauce. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  4. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  5. Cook for two minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  7. Season with the salt and white pepper, add the mustard (optional) and stir through.
  8. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  10. Drain the pasta when cooked and transfer to either a large ovenproof dish or individual ovenproof dishes.
  11. Using a ladle, spoon over the cheese sauce evenly.
  12. Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top of the dishes. 
  13. Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
  14. If you have cooked one large macaroni cheese, spoon onto plates. If you have cooked individual portions, transfer the individual bowls to plates. 
  15. Serve with salad, vegetables, or garlic bread. 

How to Make Fresh Pasta From Scratch

 

Although dried pasta is widely available from grocery stores, homemade pasta tastes so much better. Most people are put off making their own pasta as they believe it is time-consuming and difficult. This is wrong on both counts as it is quick and easy to make. It is certainly worth the effort of doing it yourself. Here is how to make fresh pasta from scratch yourself.

Ingredients for Pasta

  • 10 oz/ 280 g pasta flour or plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp salt

 

How to Make Fresh Pasta

  1. Measure out the flour and add the salt. Mix together.
  2. Tip the flour and salt onto the work surface in a heap and make a well in the middle.
  3. Add the eggs and the olive oil to the centre of the well.
  4. Start to bind the mixture together using your hand and working in a little more flour each time. 
  5. When you have formed a solid ball of pasta dough, knead for five minutes.
  6. Wrap the dough in cling film and rest for 20 minutes.
  7. After resting, unwrap the dough and divide into four balls.
  8. Flour your work surface and dust the dough balls with flour.
  9. If you are using a rolling pin, then roll out the dough thinly. You should be able to see the work surface through the pasta. 
  10. If you are using a pasta making machine. then press one ball of dough at a time into a rectangular shape with your hand.
  11. Set the pasta machine to its widest setting and roll one piece of pasta through at a time. 
  12. Adjust the pasta machine down a few settings and repeat. Continue to do this until you are on the second to last setting of the machine. The pasta should then be thin enough.
  13. You are now ready to cut the pasta into the shapes that you want to create your perfect pasta dish. 

 

 

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. 

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/