Courgette Salad with Ginger Dressing

After my last successful courgette and rice wine vinegar dish I was eager to try another one.  I love strong flavours and I must warn you, this dressing is very very strong.    I used lots of fresh grated ginger and kept the seeds in the chilli pepper, but I realise that that may be a little harsh for many people and you may want to use less ginger than you can see in my picture.   However, courgette has a strong flavour of its own that holds up well against the strong flavours in the dressing.   This is certainly not a salad where you can only taste the dressing.   I also found it a nice change to use courgettes in this type of recipe as usually I use them in more Mediterranean style dishes.

I am linking this to the Veggie/fruit a month event.  This month hosted by Cooks Joy, who is also hosting Kalyani’s Only Vegan event. I am also linking to Simply Food’s Let’s Make Salad event.

Ingredients – Serves 2 as a side dish

1 courgette, sliced approx 8mm thick

1 small green chilli, sliced

Small knob of ginger, grated

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp flavourless oil

How to Make Courgette Salad with Ginger Dressing

1. Toss the courgette slices with 1 tbsp oil then place on a hot griddle pan.   Cook for up to 10 minutes on each side until they are cooked through. When cooked, remove from the pan and leave to cool.

2. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing.   When ready to serve, spoon over the courgette slices.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

I wasn’t sure whether to take part in the Secret Recipe Club this month or not.   What if the baby arrived early and I didn’t have time to make anything?   In the end, I decided to risk it, but to make my recipe as soon as I received my assignment.   This means I’m writing this in March and have no idea whether I’ll be a mother or not by the time this post goes live.   It is also the reason why I chose a fairly simple recipe.  I sometimes try to make something adventurous or new, but this month my priority was just to be organised and get my post ready in plenty of time.   Last month I made a black bean soup using dried beans for the first time and this month I am also making a black bean soup – both in the slow cooker.   But, that is where the similarities end.   Apart from the beans, the flavours and textures are completely different, and of course I wanted another opportunity to use dried black beans again.   The recipe comes from Julie at A Little Bit of Everything and she does indeed have a wide range of recipes on her blog, both sweet and savoury.   After the success of my microwave cake a few weeks ago I was tempted to try her crock pot chocolate cake but for me, the savoury dish won this time.   It made a perfect lunch two days in a row and was very healthy too.

Like Julie,  I also found that the beans lost some of their colour in the water due to the slow cooking and also dyed the sweet potato and pepper a little too.  All in all this didn’t bother me and I found it a lovely lunchtime soup which felt very healthy as I was eating it, as well as being pretty tasty and filling too.

Ingredients – serves 2

3 tbsp dried black beans

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped

1 green chilli pepper, sliced

Vegetable stock – enough to cover the vegetables

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to Make Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

1. If beginning with dried beans, soak in water overnight.   In the morning rinse the beans well.

2. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club Members have made, click on the link below:

Secret Recipe Club

Salpicon – Mexican Beef Salad

A couple of weeks ago I made a Thai beef salad and it was delicious.   It made me want to eat beef salad again, and again, and, well, you get the picture.   This time I went for a Mexican version, which meant I could keep the chillies, the lime juice and the coriander, which I love so much.   In fact, just like the Thai salad, I could eat this again and again and not get bored.  However, before I risk repeating myself AGAIN, I’ll move straight on to the recipe.

I am linking this to My Kitchen My World, which this month goes to Mexico.

Ingredients – serves 2

300g steak thinly sliced or shredded beef

200g cherry tomatoes

Large handful of coriander (cilantro)

1/4 red onion

1 chilli pepper

1 avocado

3 radishes

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Olive oil


Black pepper

How to Make Salpicon

1. Ideally use shredded beef but if not then cook the steak on both sides on a high heat in a frying pan.  Remove from the pan and leave to rest.

2. Prepare all the vegetables. Quarter the cherry tomatoes, dice the onion finely, roughly chop the coriander, slice the radishes thinly, crush the garlic, finely slice the chilli pepper and chop the avocado.   Put in a bowl and squeeze over the lime juice, add the salt and black pepper and a little olive oil.    Mix together and leave to stand for a short while.

3. If using steak, slice as thinly as possible and mix into the salad.    If using shredded beef, also mix in.

4. Serve with tortilla wraps.

Thai Beef Salad

One of my favourite Thai dishes is beef salad.   Tchilhere’s a small family-run restaurant next to our flat and whenever my husband and I go there we always share one for starters and it never disappoints.   I love the lime, the chillies, the coriander.   It’s definitely one of the best salads ever.   I tried to recreate it before, a few years ago, but it wasn’t quite right and as it’s so convenient to go out for this salad I hadn’t really tried again.    Anyway, as this month Lyndsey’s Sweet Heat Challenge  at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops focuses on Thai food, I decided it was  time I tried again.   I went about it by trying to recreate our favourite restaurant dish and I have to say, I feel I really managed it this time.   Apologies for being so smug but it was so good, I know I’ll be making it again soon.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 tbsp basmati or jasmine rice

1 steak

2 tomatoes

5cm piece of cucumber

3 handfuls spinach

1 handful coriander (cilantro)

Dressing Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime

1 green chilli pepper, sliced

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/4 small onion, finely sliced

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp root ginger, finely diced

1/2 tsp lemongrass paste

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp groundnut oil

1 tsp caster sugar

How to make Thai Beef Salad

1. Put the rice in a dry pan and heat gently on the stove top.   Shake the pan to keep turning the rice.   When it turns golden, take it off the heat and put in a spice blender or pestle and mortar.   Grind to a powder.

2. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing.  Taste and adjust any quantities if necessary.

3. Chop up the ingredients for the salad and toss together.

4. Fry the beef on both sides in a little oil.   When ready, take out of the pan and leave to rest.   Add a little water to the pan, turn the heat up and scrape the bottom.    Pour this into the bowl with the dressing.

5. Slice the beef into thin strips.  If not serving immediately, spoon a little dressing over the beef.

6. When ready to serve, divide the salad between two plates.   Sprinkle on  a little ground rice.   Divide the beef between the two plates and put on top of the salad.   Sprinkle with a little more ground rice.    Spoon over the rest of the dressing.


Spicy Chickpea Fritters

I believe if you have a can of chickpeas in the cupboard it is always possible to make a quick and tasty meal without too much thought or planning, and I love making various types of chickpea patties.   Normally I just put in a mixture of different spices and sometimes some herbs as well, but this time I decided to make a recipe I’d bookmarked a few months ago on Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.   Lyndsay’s fritters looked so dainty and delicious and the write up made them sound so tasty I decided it was a recipe I had to try.    Now, my fritters are much bigger and more like burgers than the bite-sized morsels I was inspired by, but I’m sure they taste just as delicious.   They go lovely and crispy on the outside but stay soft and spicy in the middle.   I think I may have discovered a new favourite chickpea recipe.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes and to My Legume Love Affair, hosted this month by Girlichef.

Ingredients – serves 2-3 as a main dish, more as a starter

400g tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 chillies,

1 egg

75g plain flour

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp curry powder

Pinch of salt

Black pepper

How to Make Spicy Chickpea Fritters

1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.   Blend until smooth.

2. You can deep fry the fritters but I prefered to use just a little oil in a frying pan.  Heat the oil and then put spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, flattening slightly to make small oval/round patties.   Fry for about five minutes on each side

I served with a carrot salad, lemon wedges and pitta breads but for a delicious mint dip, have a look at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.

Chicken Cafrael

Have you heard of chicken cafrael?   I hadn’t until coming across it for this month’s Random Recipes.   It’s a Goan dish of chicken, marinated in a vinegary green masala, which is then grilled, fried or baked.   I love the taste of vinegar in Indian recipes and already make a red Goan chicken dish which has a vinegary spice paste but this was my first time to make chicken cafrael.

This month for Random Recipes we had to count along our books until we came to number 17 and I was more than happy to pick Floyd’s India.    Despite my love of Indian food, I’m ashamed to say that I had never actually used this book before.   It was one of the poor forgotten ones that I got before a lot of my other books.   I know that when I first got it, I read it and drooled at a lot of the recipes but for some reason did not actually make anything.   I think it was before I began cooking a lot of Indian food at home and maybe I was little intimidated by all the spices, and also by the fact that I didn’t have a food processor back then.  Now, when I look through the ingredients for the recipes I have almost everything and can’t understand why this book has been so neglected.  It will certainly be used again after this first recipe anyway.    The chicken was delicious and I served it with rice and spinach raita, which is my current favourite raita.

This post is for Random Recipes but I am also linking it to Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

300g chicken  – I used mini fillets

Small piece of ginger

Handful of coriander(cilantro)

2 cloves garlic

4 green chillies

1 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds

3 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 tsp cinnamon or small piece of cinnamon stick

White wine vinegar

How to make Chicken Cafrael

1. Grind any whole spices in a pestle and mortar.  Then put all the ingredients except the chicken in a food processor.    Just add a little vinegar.   If the mixture is too dry add a little more.

2. Rub the mixture into the chicken and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.   If you use larger pieces of chicken, make a few slashes in them with a knife before rubbing the marinade in.

3. Fry the chicken pieces in a little oil until cooked inside and browned on the outside.   You could also roast it in the oven or barbecue it.


Inspired by Masterchef: Thai Fish Cakes

For my honeymoon 3 and a half years ago we went to Thailand, to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  I loved it – the atmosphere, the scenery, the weather, and the food of course.  So, last week on Masterchef I was delighted when the contestants were flown to Thailand to cook in a market and then for a royal banquet.   Some of the best food we ate was also in a market, so I was especially interested in the street food.   Like with lot of Thai food, the paste is the base of the dish and so the contestants spent a long time pounding away with pestle and mortars.   I was a little lazier.   I used my pestle and mortar to crush the galangal, as it’s quite tough but then put it in the blender with all the other ingredients to make the paste.    I then just added the fish to the blender once the paste was made.   So, really easy fish cakes, much easier than making them in a Thai market.   Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to make quite good ones.    I didn’t use any flour, which leads to a denser, heavier fishcake so they stayed really light and juicy, but held together well and were bursting with flavour.  Definitely one to make again.

I just served these with a little squeeze of lime juice but they would normally be served with sweet chilli sauce.  However, I’m not keen on sweet and savoury together so didn’t bother to make any.   But, after this week’s show focusing on pastry, I will now be making something sweet and next week is the last week so there’ll only be two more Inspired by Masterchef posts to go.   For now anyway.

Ingredients – Makes 6 fish cakes

4 largish red chillies, most of the seeds removed

2 tsp lemongrass paste or a fresh lemongrass stalk

4 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

Small knob of galangal

Handful of coriander leaves

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp fish sauce

200g white fish

1 lime (to serve)

How to make Thai Fish Cakes

1. In a pestle and mortar, crush the galangal then put in a food processor.   If using fresh lemongrass, also pound first in the pestle and mortar.  Add all the other ingredients to the food processor except the fish.   Blend to a paste.  Taste and made any adjustments if necessary.

2. Roughly chop the fish and add it to the food processor.

3. Take the mixture out of the food processor, using a tablespoon.   Place spoonfuls on a plate and flatten slightly.    Put in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and then fry the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.    Serve with lime wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

Leek Fritters

Throughout 2011 I kept hearing about Ottolenghi, perhaps first on Masterchef and then he just kept cropping up everywhere.   People were raving about his books and his dishes.   Whenever I read one of his recipes online I wanted to try it.  Now, I’m not a vegetarian, and neither is he, but I’m quite happy not to eat meat, and without consciously trying to, I have a few meat-free days most weeks.   What I like about Ottolenghi is that he loves making vegetables interesting and you don’t feel that anything is missing.   So, I told my husband that I wanted Plenty for Christmas.   I don’t think he was quite as enthusiastic as I was, especially as he called me from Waterstones saying, was I really sure I wanted  Plenty?   What about a rather nice book on Spanish food by I can’t remember who now or what about Ottolenghi’s other book that had some meat dishes in as well?   Hmmm   I didn’t think this was how Christmas presents were supposed to work.   Anyway, I think he realised this too, as I did get it as part of my Christmas present.   So, when Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge for January was to cook from a new book, this was the book I picked up.   And of course, my lovely husband was even less delighted when the recipe I picked had leeks as the main ingredient.    Well, I only needed two leeks, but if you’ve read my previous post about leek soup, you’ll know that I bought two bags by mistake.  Anyway, as I write this, there is only one leek left in the fridge, so I think I’ve done pretty well.   But, back to the fritters, they were very very good.   I think whipping up the egg white before mixing it in helps to keep them light in texture.   The sauce was also great, but is quite garlicy so it’s probably best to use  a very small clove and not to make it before spending too much time with other people who haven’t had any.    Despite the leeks, my lovely husband liked these too but he did compare them to onion bhajis and asked if I could make them just with onion next time.

I am of course sending this to Dom at Belleau Kitchen for Random Recipes.   I am also sending it to Couscous and Consciousness for Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients for Fritters – Makes about 6-8

2 leeks, sliced

1 onion, finely diced

1 chilli pepper, sliced

Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

70g self-raising flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

80ml milk

30g unsalted butter, melted

Sauce Ingredients

50ml Greek yoghurt

50ml sour cream

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp lemon juice

1.5 tbsp olive oil

Pinch salt

Handful of coriander leaves (cilantro)

How to Make Leek Fritters

1. Make the sauce first.   Mix all the ingredients in a food processor.    Put in the fridge until needed.

2. Cook the leeks and onions in a little olive oil for about 15 minutes until soft.   Take off the heat and put in a bowl.  Add the chilli, herbs and spices.

3. With your hands separate most of the egg white from the egg.   Whisk the egg white till it starts to form peaks and then gently mix it into the leeks.

4. In another bowl make a batter with the egg yolk, flour, baking powder, milk and melted butter.  Then gently mix this into the leek mixture.

5. Heat some oil in a frying pan and when hot, add spoonfuls of the leek mixture.   Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.    In a large frying pan you’ll need to make this number of fritters in two batches.   Serve with the sauce on the side.



Korean food has always been one of those cuisines that I’ve never really got to know.   Most recipes seem to call for pastes and ingredients that I just don’t have and as much as I have often wanted to get to know it, I’ve ended up opting to make Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or other similar cuisines instead.   I’ve only ever been to one Korean restaurant in my life, and that was about 8 or 9 years ago.    I remember the other people around the table cooked beef and vegetables on a hotplate in the centre of the table, but in those days I didn’t really eat red meat and so ordered my own salmon dish instead.   Only now do I think, how I missed out.

Anyway, over the past few months I had been thinking I needed to learn more about Korean food.   A few months ago I borrowed a Korean recipe book from the library, and was intending for a long time to experiment by making kimchi, but after renewing it a few times the book expired and I had to take it back, having enjoyed looking at some lovely pictures but no nearer to trying out the food.    And then, I noticed that this month’s My Kitchen My World was going to Korea.   It seemed I was running out of excuses not to make a Korean dish.   If only I still had that book.    Never mind,   I turned to the internet and after doing a little research I decided upon bulgogi, Korean marinated and barbecued ribeye steak.   I looked at quite a few recipes and eventually decided upon the one here at Slash Food and only adapted it very slightly.  It sounded authentic.  The ingredients were ones I already had in, the only thing I needed to get was the steak.   The dipping sauce was my own invention, but inspired by various online versions which were all quite different.

The finished result was delicious.    I don’t like sweet savoury dishes and was worried the sugar would make it too sweet but it didn’t.   Definitely a dish to make again.

Ingredients for Bulgogi

300g ribeye steak

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp rice vinegar

1.5  tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce (korean if possible)

1 tsp crushed chillies

1/4 tsp ground ginger (use fresh if possible but I’d run out)

Pinch of pepper

1/2 onion

To serve: rice and lettuce leaves

How to make Bulgogi

1. Slice the beef as thinly as you can against the grain.    If you put it in the freezer for half an hour first it apparently makes it easier to slice, but I didn’t bother.  Also slice the onions.

2. Make the marinade by mixing all the other ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.

3. Pour the marinade over the beef and onions and mix in well so the beef is coated all over in the marinade.

4. Put in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour.

5. It should really be barbecued or grilled but I decided it would be easier to use a griddle pan.   It will cook quickly over a high heat.

6. Serve with rice, lettuce leaves and dipping sauce.   To eat put some rice and meat in a lettuce leaf.  Wrap it up a little and dip in the sauce.

Ingredients for Dipping Sauce

4 tbsp soy sauce

1.5 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 chillies

How to make the Dipping Sauce

Slice the chillies finely. Add the other ingredients.    Mix well and serve in small individual bowls alongside the bulgogi.

Cheese Scones with a Chilli Kick

My favourite scones are savoury cheese ones.   My mum used to make them when I was little and I loved them straight out of the aga with butter melting in.  I also like the sweet ones with jam and a little cream, but I can take them or leave them and would rather have a piece of cake if I had a choice.   But cheese scones, if you make me fresh cheese scones with melting butter, I will be a very happy woman.   Today, I didn’t want to make scones with just cheese, I wanted to add a little extra flavour, and so I chose to add thyme and chilli flakes, probably a few too many chilli flakes (next time I’ll stick with just one teaspoon full).  If you don’t like chillies you could miss it out, and you could also vary the herbs. But the most important thing is to eat these warm, and trust me, they won’t last long.

Ingredients – makes 7-8

200g self-raising flour

40g butter

100g cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

100ml milk

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp chilli flakes

How to make Cheese Scones

1. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

2. Chop the butter into cubes and add to the flour.   Rub together with your fingertips until it is like fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add most of the cheese, the herbs and chilli flakes.   Mix together then begin adding the milk.   Add a little at a time and mix in with a knife.  It should form a dough.

4. Sprinkle a bit more flour on the work surface.   Turn the dough out and knead gently for about a minute.

5. Press the dough down until it is about 2-3 cm thick.

6. Using a dough cutter or  a cup/glass, press down on the dough to cut out circles.   Put onto a greased baking sheet.

7. Sprinkle the reserved cheese onto the top of the scones and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at about 200C.

8. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then slice in half, spread with butter and serve immediately.