Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’


Ratatouille and Rice

It was bonfire night yesterday (seriously, how is it November already?!) and we went out to watch an excellent local firework display with some friends. We had less than an hour between getting home from work and having to leave again to cook and eat dinner so needed something that was going to be incredibly quick. Ratatouille is not that something; however, because it only gets more delicious the longer it’s left it was the perfect thing to cook on Wednesday night and then heat up again last night while the rice was cooking.

I mentioned the last time we blogged about ratatouille that I hadn’t got round to changing my recipe to include aubergine and thought this time was as good as any!

Ratatouille (v2)
Serves 4
Prep time: 10-15 mins (though much of it is while the rest is cooking)
Cooking time: at least an hour

2 medium red onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 large peppers
2 courgettes
1 small aubergine
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Herbs des Provence
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan – keep the heat low
2. Peel and cut the onions into chunks then add them to the pan and stir them into the oil
3. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them finely – add the garlic to the pan.
4. Halve the peppers, remove the stalk and seeds and chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir.
5. Stir in the herbs
6. Top and tail the courguettes, slice them lengthways and then chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir
7. Top and tail the aubergine and chop into chunks – add it to the pan.
8. Add 2 tbsps of water to the vegetables, stir them as best you can (there’ll be a lot in there) and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft – stir occassionally to prevent sticking.
9. Tip in the tin of chopped tomatoes, stir, season, then bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for at least 40 minutes.
10. Serve with rice, jacket potato, crusty bread or just have a big steaming bowl full of it on its own!

Rob said this was the best ratatouille I’ve ever made, so I’ll stick to this version in the future, maybe using fresh tomatoes in place of tinned when the season comes back around!

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Sea bream en papillote

Cooking fish en papillote (literally translated from French as ‘in parchment’) involves wrapping it up the very tightly in parchment paper to ensure that the moisture stays in the parcel as it cooks. The wrapping process is very important as you don’t want even one bit of steam to escape! You can tell if you get it right because the parcel puffs up in the oven.

Many recipes involve using fillets of fish but there’s nothing to stop you using a whole fish, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. The fish steams as it cooks and ends up wonderfully moist and tender. It does have enough water in it to help the steaming process but it’s always good to give it a bit of a helping hand with some fish stock or white wine, as this adds to the flavour. In fact, if you do try the recipe with a fillet of fish, adjust the cooking time accordingly and put the vegetables inside the parcel – beans and cherry tomatoes work well. When doing a whole fish for 2 people you may need to cook the vegetables separately as it could be a struggle getting everything to fit.

When you cut the parcel open you’re initially treated to a burst of steam – watch your hands! – and then the wonderful smell of the delicately cooked fish. It’s so simple – just put it in the oven, sit back with a glass of wine and let the magic happen.

Sea Bream en Papillote
Serves 2
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 20 minutes

1 sea bream (approx 500g), gutted, washed and patted dry.
8 new potatoes, sliced to the thickness of a pound coin
dash of white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper
a lemon
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
vegetables, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200c. Boil the potatoes for 6 or 7 minutes until tender but not completely cooked. Drain and leave to cool briefly whilst you prepare the fish.

Score the skin of the fish a with a sharp knife, leaving 2-3cm gaps, then season all over (inside and out) with the salt and pepper. Stuff some long slices of lemon zest and a few sprigs of rosemary inside the cavity of the fish, then do the same on top, putting the rosemary in the scored parts of the fish and laying slices of lemon on top.

Get a large piece of parchment paper and oil it slightly. Put the potatoes on the parchment in one layer so that they form a base for the fish, then place the fish on top. Wrap it up as tightly as possible leaving one end open, pour the wine in (not too much, maybe 30ml?) then seal the parcel. We got a bit paranoid with the parcel and stapled it together along the top – there’s no need to do that yourself! Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your fish, until cooked through completely.

Serve on a warmed plate with the vegetables.

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Vegetable kebabs and corn on the cob

We both love corn on the cob (especially done on the barbeque) and as July marks the start of the season, we’ll most likely be having it a few times over the coming months. This time, we decided to keep everything very simple, griddling the corn and serving it alongside grilled vegetable kebabs.

Vegetable kebabs ready to be grilled

The kebabs were made up of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, corguette, red onion and red and yellow pepper. They were brushed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme before going under the grill for about 20 minutes, which turned out not to be long enough – the corguette was still a little raw and the onion hadn’t lost all of its kick.

Other than the undercooked kebabs, it was a good dinner – fresh-tasting, light and easy to prepare.

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Gammon, eggs and bubble and squeak

Making bubble & squeak is a tasty way of using up leftover vegetables. Unfortunately due to visiting the pub the night before we never had the meal which would have created said leftovers. So tonight we made some mashed potato and and cooked some savoy cabbage in preparation for dinner. The potato is required for the bubble and squeak but you don’t have to use just cabbage – leftover brussels sprouts, peas and carrots add to the flavour and texture.

Whilst the griddle was preheating for the gammon, we mixed the potato with the cabbage, added some salt and pepper then formed into cakes. Once in the pan they only take 10 minutes or so, turning halfway through. Meanwhile the gigantic piece of gammon was cooked on the griddle for 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Just before plating up I fried a couple of eggs to serve alongside (Erika had baked beans instead of gammon).

We had bubble & squeak because I was looking for something different to have with the gammon as I didn’t feel like mash and I’m not great at making chips or potato wedges. In the end it was a good combination: everything in the dish went well together – especially the runny egg yolk and the bubble and squeak.

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