Eggplant and ricotta rolls

Eggplant and ricotta rolls

eggplant-ricottaI had some ricotta left over from the Mushroom and Ricotta canneloni and being a big fan of eggplant decided to try these very simple eggplant rolls that are great as a starter or just a little something to nibble on. You could quite easily serve them as a vegetable dish with a main meal like the Chicken parmagiana and drizzle over some of tomato sauce. It actually turns out a really impressive looking  dish that you will be proud to serve. (about 12 rolls)

What you need

2 medium eggplants sliced along the length about 1cm thick
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (loosely packed)
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper

Tomato sauce or a bought chunky tomato sauce.

The process

Place the slices of eggplant on a baking tray that has been lightly oiled with olive oil and then sprinkle a little olive oil over the top. Sprinkle salt over the top and place in a 200 Celsius oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and beginning to go brown on the surface.

Place the ricotta cheese, parmesan(leave about 1/4 for the topping) and basil in a bowl and mix to combine, season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, place a heaped tablespoon of the mixture onto the eggplant slices and roll them up.

Place all of the eggplant rolls into a baking dish packed closely together, cover with a tomato sauce and sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan cheese.

Bake for a further 10 minutes or so until the cheese has melted.

Serve straight away with a little more basil.

Really good and tasty folks, give it a try.

Babaghanoush

Babaghanoush

baba-ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

Babaghanoush is a Turkish meze type dish that has a distinct sesame flavour brought on by the Tahini(sesame paste) and is a fantastic starter or just something to nibble on with drinks. Tahini is available in the deli section of most supermarkets. (4 to 6 people)

What you need

1kg eggplant (brinjal) (2 large)
200g plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch of salt
Paprika to garnish
Chopped parsley and spring onions to garnish

The process

Heat your oven to 200 Celcius, wash and dry the eggplants, then prick them all over with a fork and place them in the oven on a baking tray for about an hour or until soft. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool before removing the skin. Chop into pieces.

Place the eggplant and all of the rest of the ingredients in the first section into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Season accordingly and give it a last blitz.

Remove and place in a serving dish, sprinkle with a p[inch of paprika, parsley and spring onions.

It is also a good idea to drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Serve with pita breads or any good heavy loaf of bread heated and broken up.

Try this chorizo starter as another meze option or if you are having guests try the Lamb shanks as a main meal.

Tofu with Pistachios

Tofu with Pistachios

tofu-saladFor our vegetarian friends, here is a really great meal that is full of flavor with the pistachios adding a really nice crunch. It’s a unique flavour and can be served as a main or can happily be a vegetable side dish for something like this incredible roast brisket recipe(4 people as a main meal)

What you need

600g firm tofu cubed

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts

2 tablespoons butter

1 heaped teaspoon crushed garlic

2 small red chili’s chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

400g sugar peas

400g snow peas

4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

Peanut oil for frying

The process

Heat about 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok on maximum heat.

Stir fry batches of the tofu with pistachios until the tofu is browned. Toss them around  and have some fun with it. Remove and set aside until all the tofu is browned.

Add a little ore oil to the wok with the butter and stir fry the garlic, chili and  ginger for about 2 minutes tossing from time to time.

Add the peas and stir fry until the peas are beginning to soften but are stir crunchy.

Add back the tofu and pistachios mixture with the sweet chili sauce and toss to combine all  of the flavors, about another 2 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately. Check out all of the vegetarian recipes along with vegetable side dishes.

Roast tomato soup

Roast tomato soup

roast-tomato-soupWhen you roast tomatoes, they become soft and sweet and are just delicious in this soup. It’s a bit like a winter version of a Gazpacho and leaves you with a really fresh and satisfied feeling. It’s a great starter in the winter, rustic and chunky. (4 to 6 people)

What you need

12 – 14 ripe tomatoes halved
1 whole head garlic
2 medium onions
1 liter water
2 vegetable stock cubes
Palm of chopped fresh basil
Palm of chopped fresh mint
Salt and black pepper

The process

On a baking tray, place the tomatoes, garlic head and onions, drizzle over a little olive oil and roast at 160 Celsius for about 45 minutes until the garlic and onions are light brown.

Peel the onions and chop them roughly. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins. Chop up the tomatoes, half roughly and half as finely as you can.

In a large pot, add the vegetable stock, garlic, tomatoes and onions and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. If you have a hand blender and want it a little less chunky, just give it a few short bursts in the pot.

Add the basil and mint and season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve with warm garlic bread.

Fantastic and well worth the effort.

Roast chicken pieces with Mexican rice

Roast chicken pieces with Mexican rice

chicken_riceThis is a seriously tasty meal that has become a favorite of mine. The most important thing is to prepare the rice in chicken stock and not water, it adds an essential element to the dish. I have not include the chili in this one, but you can add 2 teaspoons of chili powder to add the heat.(for 6 people)

What you need

1.5kg chicken pieces
2 chicken stock cubes

2 cups rice
5 cups chicken stock

1 red pepper finely diced
1 yellow pepper finely diced
1 small onion finely diced
1 medium tomato diced (remove the seeds)
I teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder

The process

Heat the oven to 200 Clesius, rub the chicken pieces with the stock cubes ensuring the skin is well covered, place on a rack in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through.

While you cook the rice in the chicken stock, chop up all of the vegetables.

In a pan on a medium to hot heat, add the garlic, onions, diced peppers, cumin and coriander. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the diced tomato and cook for about a further 3 minutes tossing every now and then.

Drain the rice of any excess stock in a sieve and add to the pan with the vegetables. Toss to combine well.

Serve a nice pile of the rice toped of with a few chicken pieces.

Delicious.

If you like spicy food, you want to try this spicy chorizo, it’s just the most fantastic starter.

Minestrone soup

Minestrone soup

minestrone

Minestrone

This is a very old real Italian minestrone recipe that is full of flavor and is a meal on it’s own. It serves 4 with some left over for a late night snack. It may sound like a lot of work when you read the ingredients list, but really, it’s just chopping and really well worth it. It’s traditional and a perfect winter soup. In fact you should always have a nice veg soup of some kind in the winter, helps keep the pesky flu away.

What you need

2 onions finely chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 sticks celery chopped
2 large potatoes chopped into squares
100g green beans chopped
250g cabbage shredded
125ml olive oil
3 tablespoons butter(45g)
1 ¼ litres water
3 cubes beef stock
2 tins peeled chopped tomatoes
1 tin cannelini beans
Salt and pepper

The process

Heat the oil and butter in a large pot, add onions and cook till the edges start turning brown. Add the carrots and potatoes, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery, cabbage, water and tomatoes, then break up the stock cubes and crumble them into the pot. Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for covered for 1-1 ½ hours.

The soup should be fairly thick at this point, if it is not leave the lid off and simmer for a further 15 minutes, now add the beans, season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 15 minutes.

We like to serve it with garlic bread and a little parmesan.

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita

raita

cucumber raita

This is a fantastic little extra for any curry and takes just a few minutes from start to finish. If you are having a hot curry, you are going to thank me… Try it with a traditional biryani or any of the many other curries on the site just do a search for “curry”.

What you need

1 cup cucumber diced into small cubes
1 large onion halved and finely sliced
3 roasted garlic cloves chopped
1 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh mint finely chopped
salt

The process

Place whole garlic cloves or a whole buld in a 180 Celsius oven for about 20 minutes to roast. Do more than 1 bulb, the sweetness of the roast garlic is excellent with chicken or a good steak.

Combine garlic and youghurt in a bowl and mix well.

Add the rest of the ingredients,mix well and then season with a little salt.

You can also add a chopped fresh green chili if you are a heat freak but I prefer it just like this.

For your curries you need a good Tandoori Masala, make your own Tandoori Masala

Pepper cream vegetables

Pepper cream vegetables

vegetarian-mealVegetables have never been my favorite but we just have to eat them and this is a fantastic vegetarian dish that can be eaten as a meal or in my case as a side dish to a great steak. The pepper cream sauce was excellent and really made the vegetables morish…. and for a big time meat eater that is really saying something. It’s easy and well worth trying. (4 people as ameal)

What you need

Olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 small onions sliced
2 medium carrots sliced thinly
4 baby aubergines (eggplants)
1 red pepper sliced
1 punnet button mushrooms sliced (250g)
4 baby marrows sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tablespoon ground black pepper or 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper

The process

Add a little olive oil to your pan or wok or a medium to high heat, add the onions, garlic and carrots and stir fry until the carrots are just tender. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry until the mushrooms are starting to colour and the red pepper is just softening. Remove and add to the other cooked vegetables.

Add the water, cream, pepper and crumble the stock cube into the same pan all at once. stir constantly until the stock cube has completely dissolved and the sauce is starting to thicken.

Serve the vegetables in a pool of the sauce or drizzle over the top.

Summer bruschetta

Summer bruschetta

bruschetta

Bruschetta

It has been so hot in Cape Town lately and last night when I got home I just could not face cooking anything so I made this really fantastic bruschetta with some great rye and wholewheat bread. It was just what the doctor ordered, cool with a little acid from the vinegar that left me satisfied with a clean fresh aftertaste. I had a few skewers left over from the Greek lamb kebabs I made on Monday that complimented well. (for 2 people)

What you need

4 slices rye or wholewheat bread toasted
2 garlic cloves
2 large tomatoes
Dash of olive oil
Dash of white wine vinegar (you could use balsamic)
Salt and pepper

The process

Chop the tomatoes into smallish cubes with a very sharp knife. (there is nothing more frustrating than using a blunt knife to cut tomatoes) and add the to a bowl.

Spalsh a little olive oil over them (about 4 tablespoons), splash a little vinegar (about 1 tablespoon) and mix together.

Taste and add vinegar to your taste.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside to marinade.

Toast the bread and while still hot rub with the garlic cloves to get the garlic flavour into the toast.

Top with the tomato mixture and serve.

It’s great as a starter or an accompaniment to a meal.

You can also add some crumbled feta and a few leaves to make it really special.

Vegetables parmagiana

Vegetables parmagiana

vegetable-pie

vegetables parmagiana

This amazing vegetable dish was the result of using some left over Matriciana sauce, you could just as easily use the Marinara sauce which is similar but without the bacon. The result was seriously tasty and not being a big veggie fan was a pleasant surprise. It turned out fairly rich with the parmesan topping but with the cottage pie made for a very simple and satisfying meal. (for 4 people)

This is the kind of meal that is perfect for weekdays. You can make the cottage pies and freeze them and prepare the vegetables in just minutes.

What you need

4-6 baby marrows
handful of cut butternut
1 red pepper sliced
handful of cauliflower pieces
Handful of broccoli pieces
200ml Matriciana sauce
Parmesan cheese
knob of butter
Salt and pepper

The process

Firstly make sure that the cauliflower and broccoli pieces are about the same size. Par cook the vegetables in a steamer for about 5 minutes.

Place the vegetables in a microwave dish and season lightly with salt and a grind of black pepper, pour over the Matriciana or Marinara sauce. Place a small knob of butter on top and sprinkle over as much or as little parmesan cheese as you like. (you could use any cheese really)

Cover with cling film and pierce the clingfilm in two places with a knife. Place in the microwave for 3 minutes on full power.

Thats it. Try the chicken cottage pie, It’s really good.