Tuesday, February 21

Potato Wedges

Potato wedges can be really hard to get right. Some times they're too thin and come out too crunchy, other times they seem to take an eternity to cook through! But here's what I do....

  • Chop up a potato, an obvious first step. No need to peel it, simply wash it. Make chunky wedges and try and keep them all the same size.
  • Put on a baking tray and add some oil and sprinkle on some mixed herbs. Get your hands in and make sure every wedge is covered.
  • Flatten them out ready to go in the oven. To help them cook through I find it's best to put the biggest wedges on the outside and the smallest in the middle.
  • Put in the oven for around 20 minutes at 200 degreesC. 
  • Take them out, mix them round and pop them back in for a further 20-30 minutes. Timings require some of your own judgement and although it may seem a long cooking time I find waiting for them is better than finding some aren't fully cooked!

These are a great alternative to cheapo oven chips, and can either go with a meal or be a snack with some nice dip. For a slightly different flavour you could add garlic puree or chilli powder along with the olive oil and herbs.
Cooking for more people? Simply find bigger potatoes or use more of them!

Sunday, February 19

Parsnip Soup

This is a recipe my Dad gave me, I have no idea where he got it but it's brilliant. In all honesty, I could eat this by the gallon!

3 large parsnips (or 5 of the skinnier ones you tend to find in supermarkets)
1 large onion
Chilli powder - 1 heaped tsp
Garamasala - 1 heaped tsp
Plain flour - 1 tbs
2 pints vegetable stock (2 stock cubes should be enough)
Splash of lemon juice (optional)

  • Peel and chop the parsnips and the onion. 
  • Fry these on a medium heat in some oil for around 10 minutes. Stay with them and don't let them rest for too long, you don't want them to brown or burn.
  • Take off the heat and add the chilli powder, garamasala and flour. Stir, then add the vegetable stock.
  • Put back on the heat and bring to the boil.
  • Bring to a lower temperature, cover, then leave to simmer for around 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Blend it! I transfer to a large bowl (to avoid damaging my saucepan) and blend using a hand held blender. The soup will be thick but smooth when finished.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

There's no need to go all out and get a fancy blender. Mine was about £5 from Asda and works perfectly.
You'll probably get 4 decent sized portions from this recipe. Don't worry if it isn't all being eaten at once. It keeps well in the fridge (a week is probably the longest I'd leave it though) and can be heated up in the microwave or on the hob when you want some more!

Thursday, February 9

Quick Curry

200g chopped tomatoes
3 or 4 mushrooms
Half an onion
Curry paste
Soft cheese (optional)

  • Finely chop the onion and fry on a high heat for around 5 minutes to soften. It's important to stay with them and keep stirring and moving them so they don't brown/burn.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Lower the heat then chop and add the mushrooms.
  • Add 1 and a half tablespoons of curry paste and stir through.
  • Leave to cook for around 15 minutes.
  • In this time you may like to stir in a dollop of soft cheese (such as Philadelphia) to make it slightly creamier. I also added some mixed herbs and a little black pepper.
  • As it bubbled and spattered the hob I took the time to heat a naan bread, timing it so everything was ready at the same time.

I made this as lunch for 1 and had it with a naan bread. To make it a more substantial or simply meatier meal you could serve with chicken and rice. Start by frying chopped chicken breast, add the onion once the chicken is sealed. When the chicken starts to brown and the onion has softened, add the chopped tomatoes and continue with the recipe as described. 
I've not really used curry paste before so I didn't know what would be best, but this tube was just £1 from Asda. It wasn't too hot and it worked perfectly.