Category Archives: Recipes

All Aboard The Aperitivo Train!

On my last visit to France I discovered an unusual way to serve my favourite dips hummus, Tzatziki and guacamole.

All aboard the Aperitivo Train - a great way to serve dips!

All aboard the Aperitif Train – a great way to serve dips!

The idea was SO simple yet effective I’m surprised I did not think of it myself! As you can see from the photographs the peppers form the train carriages which hold the vegetable sticks, and dishes are used for the dips.

Train

– Food glue or cocktail sticks to attach the cucumber wheels to the peppers.
– Aluminum foil to cover serving tray.
– An assortment of coloured peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) which form the train carriages.
– 1 cucumber cut into slices for the wheels

1. Cover a flat serving tray with aluminum foil
2. Carefully remove one side of the pepper and remove seeds. Wash inside of peppers and dry.
3. Attach cucumber wheels with food glue or cocktail sticks (cut to size)
4. Arrange peppers in a circle or S shape on covered serving tray.
5. Spoon dips into dishes and add to the centre of the tray.

Vegetable sticks

Cut vegetables, such as carrots and celery, into sticks and arrange in the ‘pepper’ train carriages

Voilà!

Bon Appétit…

Now I just need to invite some friends to marvel at my creative genius… yeah, right. Trots off the find some ‘dip’ recipes and then some friends.

All aboard the 'Aperitif Train'

All aboard the ‘Aperitif Train’

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Simple Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake

Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake

Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake

On our last visit to France, our daughter (Piglet in France) cooked this delicious Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake. She swore blind that she’d cooked it for us before, but I’m still convinced she was telling porkies!

Serves four

Ingredients
2 Courgettes
2 Aubergines
6 tomatoes
Olive Oil
Mixed Herbs
chopped garlic (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method
Grease an ovenproof dish with oil
Slice tomatoes, but do not remove skins
Remove skin from zucchini and aubergine and neatly slice
Carefully arrange in the dish in alternate rows of courgettes, tomatoes and aubergine.
Drizzle good quality oil over the vegetables, season and sprinkle with mixed herbs.

Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 40-50 mins

Optional: Sprinkle with grated cheese just before it is cooked.

Bon Apetit!

Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake

Zucchini, Tomato and Aubergine Bake

This is my attempt.

Piglet’s Salada da Favas – Broad Bean Salad

My original idea was to try Chica’s recipe of Broad Beans with Griddled Pork Belly, but silly me left the shopping list at home and I forgot to buy avocado pears. This is my version of the recipe which I served up hot one day with roast chicken, and as left-overs the following day as a salad. This is not only simple to prepare but absolutely delicious.

Piglet's Favas Salad

Salada da Favas

Ingredients
Broad beans
Lardons (chopped bacon pieces)
Chouriço Sausage (Pimento)
Chopped Garlic
Pepper
Olive oil

Method
Fry lardons and chouriço sausage until crispy in a dash of oil.
Just before they are cooked add the chopped garlic and fry for a further minute. Drain on some kitchen towel to remove excess fat.
Gently steam the broad beans (favas) until they are soft, but the skins have not gone all crinkly and hard. (I tested the largest bean with a knife.)
Once cooked put in a pretty serving dish and mix in the lardons and chouriço sausage. Season with pepper or chili pepper as preferred.

Serve hot or cold

**********

We’ve had a great harvest of beans this year despite the plants being attacked by rust and then a plague of black fly.

Favas (Broad Beans) grown in my garden

Favas (Broad Beans) grown in my garden

Winey Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food with permission of the author, Nadia Sawalha

I am always keen to try new recipes especially those which are filling yet with not too many calories. My biggest problem with losing weight is that I usually only have to look at food and I pile on the pounds! However, at only 211 calories per serving this recipe from the “Greedy Girl’s Diet” is not only low in calories but absolutely delicious! Tip for busy dieters: Winey Chicken is simple to make AND if you cook enough, as I did, you can reheat the following day and hey presto a “Ready Meal”! I love the little heart croutons (I cut these by hand) and have stored the idea in the old memory banks for next Valentines day.

Winey Chicken

Winey Chicken

Winey Chicken

(211 calories per serving)

SERVES 4
½ tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion peeled and very finely chopped
about 100g • 3½ oz button mushrooms halved or left whole
2 tsp tomato purée
small glass of white wine (I said ‘small’!) about 100ml • 3½ fl oz
250ml • 9fl oz chicken stock made from liquid concentrate
4 chicken thighs or breasts (skin removed) sliced or left whole
1 tsp cornflour mixed with a little cold water
sea salt and black pepper
TO GARNISH
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
FOR THE PRETTY CROUTONS
3 slices of brown bread
olive oil spray

Heat the oil in a non-stick casserole and fry the onion really slowly until soft but not coloured. If the oil doesn’t seem to be enough, splash a little chicken stock in, too. Throw in the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time.

Now add the tomato purée and, still stirring, fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and bring up to the bubble, then add the stock and the chicken. Simmer over a really low heat for 25-35 minutes until cooked through. (If you are using breasts, they will take less time – approximately 15-20 minutes – and even less if sliced.)

While the chicken is cooking, make the pretty croutons. Using a cookie cutter, cut the bread into little heart shapes. Spray with oil and fry in a hot non-stick frying pan until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.

Little heart toasts

Little heart toasts

When the chicken is cooked through, take it out of the sauce and set aside on a plate while you thicken the sauce. Whisk the cornflour mixture into the pan and simmer until the sauce thickens.

To serve, put the chicken back into the sauce, taste and season if necessary, sprinkle with the parsley and adorn with your beautiful heart-shaped croutons.

ENJOY!

If you like the idea of eating yourself slim do check out Nadia’s book.

Greedy Girl's Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food

Related post: Delicious Cumin-spiced Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

Delicious Cumin-spiced Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is courtesy of Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food with permission of the author, Nadia Sawalha

I am always keen to try new recipes especially those which are filling and with not too many calories. My biggest problem with losing weight is that I only have to look at food and I pile on the pounds! I tried this recipe from the “Greedy Girl’s Diet” book and it was absolutely delicious!

Despite Mr. Piglet’s moaning and “tutting” the whole time I was cooking the soup that he did not like ginger or cumin, even he, despite his earlier reservations, agreed it was absolutely scrumptious!

Cumin-spiced carrot and butternut squash soup

Cumin-spiced carrot and butternut squash soup

199 CALORIES PER SERVING

SERVES 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped or crushed
1 red chilli (optional) deseeded if preferred and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground ginger
500g / 18oz carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 litre / 1¾ pt chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
finely chopped fresh coriander to garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft but not coloured, then add the garlic and chilli (if using) and give it all a good stir. Sprinkle in the ground cumin and ginger and stir well to release their aromas. Throw in the carrots and butternut squash, pour in the stock and bring up to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and tender.

Meanwhile, dry-fry the cumin seeds in a small pan to release their aroma. Pour the soup into a blender and blitz until smooth. To serve, ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted cumin seeds over the top and scatter over some fresh coriander to taste.

Greedy Girl's Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet

I like the thought of eating myself slim!

Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

The following recipe and photograph are courtesy of Colin, one of my blog followers.

When he first suggested the recipe I thought using beetroot AND chocolate in a cake sounded rather bizarre. But then I thought, why not, so this weekend I’m going to give it a try. Anyone else game?

If you cook the cake please don’t forget to send me your photos and I will post to my blog. Any other beetroot recipe suggestions, please?

Now you may think this sounds really strange, but it works amazingly well. After all we are no strangers to carrot cake.

Beeetroot Cake

Beetroot Cake

Serves 6

75g cocoa powder or powdered drinking chocolate
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot
3 large eggs
200ml corn oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting

METHOD:

1. Heat the oven to 180°C and line a 20cm round or square cake tin.

2. Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar, and set these dry ingredients aside.

3. Purée the beetroot in a food processor

4. Add the eggs one at a time to the purée, then add the vanilla and oil and whiz until it is smooth. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the beetroot mixture and mix it all lightly. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (cover with a loose sheet of foil if it starts to brown at about 30 minutes).

6. This cake will not rise a great deal, and the top will crack. After removing from the oven, leave it for 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Or you could make a chocolate or orange butter cream for the top.

Thanks Colin for sharing the recipe – I can’t wait to try it!

Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot and Orange Salad

I wanted something to serve with basic tinned tuna. Yes, I know it is better to eat fresh but I’d been out all day so this is my interpretation of a healthier “ready meal”.

Ingredients
1 small cooked beetroot
1 orange
Fresh chives
Ground black pepper

Method
Peel and thinly slice orange and beetroot and arrange in a circular pattern on the plate. (I added the 2 tablespoons of tuna to the centre of the salad) Chop up chives or herbs of choice and sprinkle over the salad. Season with ground black pepper.

Prep time less than 10 mins!

Facts about Beetroot

According to Self Nutrition Data beetroot is

“Very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.”

But I also learn from the About.com Guide

“Beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable. Up to 10 per cent of beetroot is sugar, but it is released slowly into the body rather than the sudden rush that results from eating chocolate.”

Sounds good to me providing I practise portion control!

Do you have any beetroot or Orange recipes to share?

(I tried to reblog this from Piglet’s Healthier Eating blog but there was a technical hitch in that it changedd all my top posts photos in my sidebar to the picture above…curious… so I will post here in full.

Simple Yummy Nougatine

During one of our visits to France I discovered an addictive sweet biscuit called nougatine. It’s a wafer thin almond concoction eaten with coffee/tea or used as a decorative wafer when serving ice cream. Or if you are like me, and a real pig, you could munch your way through this addictive creation in one serving! No, I didn’t on this occasion as I made this batch for a friend. But believe me it’s SO delicious it took all my will power to restrain myself…

Nougatine

Nougatine

My first attempt to cook nougatine proved disastrous; cooking like gardening is all about using the right utensils for the job. I’d been told to use a flexible baking tray but as I did not have one of these I decided to use a standard ceramic dish lined with grease proof paper instead. Not a good idea – the paper stuck to the nougatine as if it were super-glue which I then had to meticulously pick off bit by bit.

During my next trip to France I invested in a proper flexible cooking tray which is made from a certain type of rubbery-plastic the name of which escapes me at the moment.

Nougatine

Ingredients
200gt caster sugar
150ml water
125gr sliced almonds

Method
Add the sugar and water to the saucepan and heat until the sugar has melted and forms a light syrup.
Spread almonds as evenly as possible on the shallow flexible non-stick cooking tray.

Flexible baking tray

Flexible baking tray

Spoon the hot sugar syrup carefully and as evenly as possible over the almonds.
Cook in oven at approx 165C until starting to brown and syrup mixture starts to bubble(approx 25mins).

Leave a few minutes to cool. Gently releasing the cooked nougatine form flexible try, slide on to cooling tray and cut (well try) into squares. I found this nigh on impossible to cut through the almonds – the edges are a little uneven!

Cut in to squares (sort of) and left to cool

Cut in to squares (sort of) and left to cool

ENJOY!

Oranges With Fresh Mint

Orange and Mint Salad

Orange and Mint Salad

Orange trees grow almost like weeds here in the Algarve, except when I try to grow one of course! However, driving through the Algarve countryside it grieves me to see the amount of oranges that are just left to rot on the trees or on ground where they fall – what a waste! Still, hopefully by Christmas I may have a few home-grown oranges of my own which will certainly not be left to rot.

Always on the look out for unusual recipes I rediscovered this recipe in some old recipe notes I’d made years ago. It’s low-calorie and low-fat, so probably I was on a diet at the time! Adding mint, and a fresh lemon juice and vinegar dressing gives these simple sliced oranges a really unusual twist.

Ingredients
2 large oranges
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Dressing
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Caster sugar

Preparation
Peel oranges and remove pith. Cut oranges across the diameter into thin slices. Place into serving dish in layers sprinkling a little fresh mint on each layer.

Dressing
Mix lemon juice and wine vinegar. Add salt, pepper and sugar to personal taste.

Pour dressing over oranges and garnish with sprigs of mint.

Mint and orange go surprisingly well together, but it is the dressing that gives this salad a real “zing”. Mr. Piglet was not to sure as I served it for his dessert. Perhaps I should serve as a starter?

Related posts: Iced Oranges

I would like a nice tried and tested recipe for bolo da laranga (orange cake)if anyone can help, please…

or please share your favourite recipes which use fresh oranges!

Mediterranean Chicken – Piglet Style!

I discovered this one-pot recipe when we went to a friend’s house for dinner one evening. I loved it – not only is it delicious, but also simple to prepare and cook. Over time I discovered other favorites and it slipped from the weekly menu plan. However, a couple of week’s ago reading “Out with the Old and In with the New – Broad Beans, Garlic and Chicken” over at Chica Andaluza’s blog set my taste buds racing and reminded me of this delicious and simple recipe!

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients
Chicken pieces complete with skin
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Red Pepper/green peppers
Onions (cut in half)
Carrots
Lemon
Garlic cloves
Aubergine (optional)
Black olives (don’t forget to remove the stones)
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil
(Quantities are flexible depending on the number of people you are cooking for!)

Method
Preheat oven to 175C
Add a small glug of Olive oil to a large open dish or tray and put in the oven for about 5mins to heat.
Remove from oven and add chicken pieces, potatoes (cut into large chunks), onions (cut in half) and garlic cloves. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken and add the remaining lemon halves to the dish. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and
olive oil.

Cover and seal the dish with tin foil and return to the oven to cook for about 1-1½ hrs. I usually check progress after an hour and turn vegetables and chicken.

Cut the peppers into quarters (remove seeds) and the carrots into chunks. If you are including aubergines prepare just before cooking. Last time I prepared these in advance they discoloured. Don’t forget to remove stones if you are adding olives!
Set these ingredients to one side.

After 45mins add the sweet potatoes and carrots to the dish (I’ve discovered when roasting they do not take as long to cook!)

Once the potatoes start to soften, remove the tin foil turn the chicken and add the remaining vegetables. Return to oven so potatoes and chicken “brown” and finish cooking.

You can cook this recipe as slowly or quickly as you like simply by adjusting the oven temperature or when you remove the tin foil.

Transfer to heated serving dish so people can serve themselves at the table.

Enjoy!