Summer Tart for Food Friday on BBC Radio Leicester

Between Saturday 13th and Sunday 21st of June this year it is National Picnic week.  A great opportunity for families and friends to get outdoors and involve food and drink.
  I personally love picnics, I don’t do enough of them but am determined to have more this year, as I love being outdoors and love the countryside. I feel it’s a great way for children to experiment more with food and also learn things such as the wildlife around them from being outdoors.

  Picnics are a great frugal way of spending time together with your loved ones and getting people involved with food.  Now it doesn’t have to be all about “beige food” either, be as colourful as you can with food on picnics, use up your leftovers to create rice, pasta and noodle salads.  Look in your fridge and come up with what you can. Don’t feel you have to go and buy a load of food in, thats the beauty of it, creating what you can on a budget, and thats exactly what I did here for this weeks Food Friday with Ben Jackson on my regular slot on BBC Radio Leicester. (Listen here)
   I took a look at what I had that was on its last legs, of which were my lovely British vine tomatoes and an Aubergine I bought the day before for 10p!
  I decided to do a lovely Summer tart, It is super easy to do, will cost you less to nothing but has some great punchy flavours. 

  Even if Picnics aren’t your thing, you may have some friends over for some “Al fresco” dining which I can assure you, this will impress them immensely! 
One thing to also state is the versatility of this, you can change the vegetables to something such as Peppers or courgettes. Or as Ben suggested, crumble some feta on top. 
  I know one thing, I will be making many different versions of this including a courgette one, when mine come to harvest and look out for some more Picnic recipes for you to try soon.

Summer Tart:



Ingredients:

(One Block of 500g Puff Pastry will make 2 Tarts)

*One Tart


–  Some Plain flour for sprinkling
–  Half block of 5oog Puff Pastry
–  One medium sized Red Onion sliced
–  2-3 large tomatoes sliced into wedges
–  A Few thin slices of Aubergine
–  2 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
–  A selection of fresh herbs, I used Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary
–  Sea salt and Cracked Black pepper to season
–  Drizzle of Chilli oil over the top if you wish or You could use Rapeseed or Olive oil

Method:

*  Preheat Oven to 200-220c

*  Roll out your Pastry on a floured surface with a Rolling pin to just under a Pound coin’s thickness.

*  Score slightly with a knife a couple of cm’s in around the Edge of the Pastry to allow to puff up at the sides.

*   Prick with a fork a good few times so that the Pastry won’t rise to high.

*  Place your Red onion slices on, then your Tomatoes, Season with salt and pepper and pop in the Oven for 10 minutes.

*  After 10 minutes, place your Aubergine slices in between the slices of tomato, add your Garlic, herbs and drizzle your oil over and place back into the Oven for a further 10 minutes or when the tart is Golden brown with no “Soggy bottom”













Super Spring Green Asparagus Salad





I have been meaning to post this Recipe for a good couple of weeks now. I had so much interest for the recipe it’s unbelievable, I was so pleased.  I suppose like myself others love vibrancy on their plate and know that what tastes fantastic is also great for one’s body too. 

By now, you will know that I love colourful dishes, many different colours on one plate however with this one, sticking to all green really worked. I based it around a salad I used to do years ago, but really raided my fridge and added as much other herbs that I needed to use up. Not only was it a great healthy dish that day but as always I was using things up, so Bonus! 


  If you love really Fresh, seasonal vegetables and want a bit of a boost, this is for you. The taste that the sexy, slinky Asparagus gives along-side the Peas, mint and fennel is just divine.  I don’t like to overpower Asparagus too much, I love to taste them as they are…At their best and they don’t have a very long season, so in that time, appreciate them! 


   What is also great about this dish is that you can have it as it is or as a great accompaniment to chicken or Fish. I can just see myself among Family and friends tucking into a huge bowl of this whilst passing it around, the Sun shining down on us and of course in hand with a lovely crisp White wine… or even a Light Beer.




Super Spring Green Asparagus Salad:




Ingredients:


Salad


( Can’t be too specific, after all it is a Salad so you put in as much as you want)


–  A handful of Asparagus Spears, wood end taken off

–  A handful of Washed baby Leaf Spinach
–  A Large handful of Washed Watercress, take off some of the thicker stalks
–  A good Handful about 50g of Petit Pois, defrosted and drained
–  Fennel Sliced very finely. Remember to peel the outer string like you do with Celery
–  Also Fennel fronds to sprinkle
–  Snipped Salad Cress
–  Fresh Flat leaf Parsley
–  Fresh Mint Leaves
–  Chopped Dill ( not too much as very strong)

I personally feel that this Salad doesn’t need anything to go on it as it shines on its own, however I did try a few dressings to check and one in particular jumped out. 


Dressing:


–  Plain Greek style Yoghurt ( You could use Low fat if you wanted but contains more sugar in some cases)

–  Cucumber peeled and diced finely
–  Finely Chopped Fresh Mint 
–  A spritz from a Fresh Orange and a little Zest




Method:

*  In a pan of boiling water cook the Asparagus Spears for 2 minutes, then plunge into iced water to keep them Vividly Green.


*  Chop into 1-2 inch pieces.


*  Assemble your Salad as you wish.


*  Place your Yoghurt dressing ingredients into a small glass Jar and shake or mix in a bowl.


*  Done! 


  

Bruschetta with Asparagus, Soft cheese and Homemade "Sun-Blushed" Tomatoes




One thing you will know about myself already is how passionate I am about Seasonal Food and I don’t care how many times I will repeat myself in saying this.  I feel very lucky to live in Britain and what amazing seasonal produce is all around us.  Of course I also try my best with this subject in my own Kitchen Garden.

  One seasonal Vegetable that I yearn for at this time of year and I am totally honest when I say I will NOT touch it grown from any other country but Britain, and that My readers is the Sexy, Slinky Asparagus. I know I am quite a frugal Queen, but I don’t mind a little splurge with this! 
  There is just something about the taste of our British Asparagus that is NOTHING compared to other countries who grow it. Ours has a lovely Sweet, yet Earthy and Nutty taste, not to mention the Lovely Vivid Green colour that it gives off. 



  This year, the British Asparagus season starts today, Thursday 23rd of April but prior to this, and this is just how passionate I am about seasonality. I decided that Myself and my fiancé would travel all the way over to the Wye Valley, Ross on Wye to be precise to get my hands on the very first few bunches that were starting to be sold.  My friend Ben Jackson called this “Mental Asparagus searching” which I like that! 

So to kick start off my Asparagus recipes, I wanted to do something very Easy, Fresh and clean cut, not to overpower the taste. This recipe just hit the nail on the head.  You may remember about 3-4 weeks ago I made my own “Sun-blushed” tomatoes, well I decided to use those in this recipe but of course made a fresh batch last week. It worked a treat! 


Bruschetta with Asparagus, Soft Cheese & Homemade “Sun-blushed” Tomatoes:




Ingredients:

–  Good Quality bread. I used Multigrain Rye bread. Sourdough would be great too.
–  Good Quality British Asparagus, Mine was from the Wye Valley
–  Homemade “Sun-blushed” Tomatoes or bought 
–  Soft Cheese or a mild Goats Cheese
–  The oil that the “Sun-blushed” tomatoes sits in
–  2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
–  Ice and cold water in a bowl



Method:

*  Take a Large Bowl and place in  some Ice cubes and cold water

*  Boil a small amount of water in a large saucepan

*  Take your Asparagus and take off the bottom, the woody stalk end with a knife. About an inch.

*  With a Veg/potato peeler, peel ever so slightly down about an inch 1/2 of the top layer of asparagus skin at the bottom. You will see this reveals a lovely bright vivid green.

*  As soon as you have done this, plunge the Asparagus into the Iced water, this will keep it that vivid green colour.

*  Slice your bread and drizzle some rapeseed oil onto the bread. place in a Frying pan to colour each side

*  Once your Water is Boiling, plunge your asparagus and cook for roughly 2-3 minutes depending on size.

*  When Bread and Asparagus is cooked, Start to assemble your dish and voila! A lovely starter, breakfast, Lunch…the List goes on! 



Homemade "Sun-Blushed" Tomatoes

This is something Ive always done for years with Tomatoes.  I first picked it up when I was a Commis Chef many years ago in a fine dining restaurant.  In the restaurant kitchens, it is so hot, we used to just place them under the Pass lights to do this.  In hot countries or in summer, yes you could just place them in the sun but I find and easier way of doing this and one that doesn’t attract wasps or flies! 

  I had a huge interest from people when I did these, it was lovely, so I just had to share it. There is also going to be a recipe that pairs these with something that will come shortly after.

  This is a great way of using up tomatoes when they are starting to “turn”. I used Baby Plum tomatoes in this recipe but you can do it with any, just have to have them longer in the oven (Low and slow) and the bigger they are, slice them thinner. Once you have done this you will never turn back.

  


Homemade “Sun-blushed” Tomatoes:


Ingredients:

* N.B – I haven’t put any measurements/weights down in this recipe as it’s your call on how much you make.

–  Tomatoes, I used Baby Plum
–  Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
–  Selection of Herbs chopped , I used Parsley, Basil, dried Thyme and Rosemary but you could also use oregano, Marjoram, tarragon etc…
–  Rapeseed Oil or good quality Olive oil to drizzle and marinate in the Jar so have a full bottle handy
–  3-4 Cloves of Garlic
–  Caster Sugar to sprinkle




Method:

*  Preheat your oven to 100c-120 c, depending on how powerful your oven is and size of tomato. For these tiny ones. Mine took just over an hour. Just keep checking them. 

*  Slice your Tomatoes and place onto a baking dish/tray

*  Sprinkle a bit of sea salt, Cracked Black Pepper, dried (Homemade) Thyme, Rosemary and sugar

*  Drizzle with oil and  place in the oven for anything between 1 hour and 2, as stated above.

*  Keep checking your tomatoes every 20-30 mins. 

*  In the meantime when you are waiting, Sterilise your chosen Jar, start to add your oil and Garlic.

*  A couple of minutes before they are done, I added on top some fresh parsley and basil to cool down with but placed them into a cool dish.

* Once they are cooled add to your jar and you’re done. Keep in the fridge. And the oil that comes off this will be out of this world! Do not throw it away! 









Root Vegetable Samosas for BBC Radio Leicester’s Food Friday

We Love Indian food a great deal in our house and one thing we really like is a good tasting Samosa.  We mainly opt for vegetarian ones as you always have the ingredients in but also means it costs less which is a bonus.

  For this particular Food Friday on BBC Radio Leicester,  I wanted to show just how versatile these can be.  Not to mention how incredibly easy and quick they are! On this recipe, I went with what I had in and to use up of course…and it worked perfectly. The earthy yet sweet taste that came from the celeriac among the bursting sweet petit pois was quite something and what I also love is the crunch of the pastry when you bite into these little delicacies which gives it great fun when you can’t possibly eat them without a cascade of flakey, crispy pastry going all over your Kitchen floor.

   Listen here where you will hear Myself showing Ed Stagg just how quick and easy the Samosas were to make. 

  I did send a tub full of them back to the BBC Radio Leicester team, however I don’t think they quite reached there as Ed loved them so much! 


Root Vegetable Samosas:

Ingredients: ( Makes approximately 14 samosas)

–  Approximately 4 white potatoes Diced Finely (1cm cubes)
–  1/4 Celeriac Finely diced
–  1 Carrot Finely Diced
–  1 small Parsnip finely diced or 1/2 larger one
–  100g of Petit Pois (Defrosted)
–   1 Onion finely diced
–  1 Hot Green chilli Finely Chopped or more if you wish ( Mine were a hot kind )
–  1 Level Tsp Mustard seeds (My Spices are from Spice Kitchen
–  1 Tsp Garam Masala
–  1/2 Tsp Hot chilli Powder
–  1 Tsp Mango Powder (Amchoor) 
–  small Handful of Chopped Fresh Coriander
–  Fresh Ginger Grated (Small finger end size)
–  Salt to season
–  A large pack (550g) of Spring Roll Pastry defrosted, keep under a damp tea towel (I Buy from Asian/Chinese Supermarket)
–  Sunflower oil for deep frying plus some for frying your onions and spices
–  2 Large Eggs beaten to use for egg wash



Method:

–  Boil Vegetables except the peas and onions for about 5 mins as you still want a little crunch to the veg.

–  Fry of the chopped onions for a minute or two to soften, then add your fresh chilli, Ginger and dry spices coating all the onions.

– Once the Vegetables are cooked add them to the spiced onion mix leaving a bit of the water they are boiled in as you will need this to loosen some of the dry spices in the Pan.
–  Add your Defrosted peas and chopped Coriander.Stir, coating everything.Put to one side to slightly cool.

–  On a clean flat surface place your Pastry sheet each one by one and slice with a knife into the middle length ways to make a rectangular shape. Using a Pastry brush, brush the edges with the egg wash.

–  Fold the bottom right hand corner to the top of the rectangle,  Diagonally left to make a triangle shape.
–  Fold again towards the left and you will have a bit of excess, this is your last flap for your Samosa. 

–  Hold the Pastry up so you can make a cone shape, Pull away the first fold and fill 1 Tbsp of your mixture. 

–  Place back down on the surface, finish with more egg wash and seal. Continue this process.

–  Once all made, deep fry for a couple of minutes until just turning golden brown. Place onto Kitchen paper to dry off excess oil.

–  Then serve with Chutneys and Pickles of your choice.