Sprouts: Without the Surprises!

 

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Sprouts! They are as traditional as Morecambe and Wise, humorous socks and granny falling asleep after one too many sweet sherries. We all have memories of bullet hard offerings, or overcooked soggy and slightly brown servings with little texture.

A little variety, flavour and attention however restores some faith in this much maligned, but quintessentially British vegetable.

Ingredients

To serve 4

6-8 Brussels sprouts per person

1 clove of garlic (optional)

1 shallot or 3-4 spring onions

1oog cubetti pancetta or streaky bacon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Splash of dry white wine

Dawn: I am intrigued! Do, pray, tell more, Andrew!

Andrew: It is actually far easier than all that tedious cutting in crosses that some people do. 

Method

  • Chop the shallot or spring onion very finely and fry on a low heat in a little olive oil in a frying pan for one minute.
  • Add the garlic (optional) and keep stirring the ingredients until they are starting to turn a golden colour. At the same time add the pancetta or finely chopped bacon and allow it to crisp up
  • Slice the ends off the sprouts and remove the outer leaves. Slice each sprout into 3 or 4 sections so they fall apart, or shred in a food processor.
  • Add to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes, mixing with the shallots and pancetta.
  • Add a splash of white wine or water, put the lid on the pan and allow to steam for a minute before serving.

Dawn: How quick was that?

Andrew: Also guaranteed not to cause Granddad his regular ‘problem’!

Dawn: So that is the surprise! Keep following us on Twitter @Love_Food_UK for more Christmas updates.

Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach Omelette

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This is a filling and easy midweek supper for two or a family of four – simply double up the ingredients to rustle up something quick and healthy in minutes.

Ingredients

Serves 2

4 eggs, beaten

200g mushrooms, peeled and thinly sliced

8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Handful of chopped spinach

1 tbsp of cooking oil

1/4 tsp Sumac powder

Salt and pepper

Method

  • Heat the cooking oil in a large frying pan.
  • Put the sliced mushrooms in the frying pan and cook.

Dawn: I like mushrooms that are slightly caramelised so I cook mine until they start to look a little ‘charcoal grilled’ in appearance. It’s all down to personal preference so cook your mushrooms how you like to eat them.

Andrew: Can I use chestnut mushrooms?

Dawn: Yes Andrew any mushrooms really and again, it’s down to individual taste – or what’s in the fridge!

  • Next, pour the beaten eggs over the mushrooms and atop this egg mixture with the chopped sun dried tomatoes.

Dawn: I’ve used the oil that the sun dried tomatoes have been marinated in and this adds an extra special zing to the dish. 

Andrew: Or olive oil? 

Dawn: Yes, or olive oil or sunflower oil. 

  • The egg mixture will begin to look more opaque in appearance as it starts to cook.
  • Once the egg mixture is appearing a shiny, glistening opaque disk, sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the top and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Andrew: Spinach cooks rapidly and there’s also a lot of water content in it so you don’t need much cooking time to ensure it’s done. 

  • Next, place the frying pan under the grill to finish the cooking process.
  • Once the omelette is lightly golden and ‘solid-looking’ in appearance, the omelette is cooked and ready to serve, seasoned with a smidge of salt and pepper.

Dawn: I find it impossible to flip an omelette so I resort to placing the frying pan under the grill to finish off the omelette. 

Andrew: I won’t comment! Because I can flip! And on this flipping note, we’ll close and say please follow this food blog and our Twitter account at @Love_Food_UK: we have loads planned and more to share with you over the coming weeks. 

Dawn: Oh, before I forget: dust the cooked omelette with sumac and hey, pesto! A great, tasty and super quick meal after a long day. See you soon!

Tasty Tomato and Basil Soup

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Soups. Hearty. Warming. Sometimes served cold as in the Med. Nutritious. Filling. Easy to make. And relatively inexpensive to pull together, here’s a real Winter warmer one for you.

Andrew: I love soups. I often have one at lunchtime as they are so simple to heat through and keeps me going through the afternoon. Chilled soups are excellent too. The Mediterranean vegetables absorb so much flavour that seems even more potent when cold. Garlic is especially good for this.

Dawn: Keeping the Vampires away!  You will find this one is so easy to freeze, too.

Ingredients

Serves 6 generous portions

1 large onion, peeled, sliced and diced

1 clove of garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed

1 tsp of dried basil (or fresh)

1.2 litres of vegetable stock (using two good quality stock cubes)

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes

Method

  • Put the diced onion into a large saucepan, adding a little cold water so it doesn’t burn.

Andrew: Can I use oil? 

Dawn: Yes, a teaspoon of cooking oil, any sort, will be fine. Even butter. Simply melt it before adding the onion. And warm the cooking oil prior to adding the onions, too. I prefer not to use oil as cooking the onion in water will soften it just as well and reduces the fat content. 

Andrew: In the Mediterranean, it is almost expected that you will use Olive Oil!

  • Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring it so it doesn’t stick and if need be, to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, add a little more water but make sure its hot water added to the hot cooking onion.
  • Once the onion is soft, add the garlic. Cook for a further minute.
  • Now add the two tins of tomatoes. If whole tomatoes, chop them. It speeds up they’re cooking time.
  • Add the vegetable stock.
  • Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the basil and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • With an electric hand whisk, pulse the soup so the ingredients become one thick consistency.
  • Now, season and hey, presto! Tasty Tomato and Basil Soup for you!

Andrew: Mmm…and serve with a wholemeal, crusty slice of warmed bread?

Dawn: Absolutely! You may even choose to add a nice green mixed salad. An ideal lunch time meal to set you up for the afternoon.