You are browsing the archive for 2012 February.

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by Blondie

Meat-free Monday – Summery Gazpacho

February 26, 2012 in Mains, Veggies

It’s been too hot to even think of cooking this weekend … that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it! :)

I adapted this recipe from one I copied yonks ago from one of the many diet-books I’ve owned over the years. It’s absolutely delicious, with no hint of being a ‘diet’ recipe. It’s also a perfect light & refreshing meal for a baking-hot meat-free Monday.


Finely chop the following ingredients & toss them all into a large glass bowl (I always use my 2 litre Pyrex jug, which is the ideal size):

2 large tomatoes, peeled & seeded

6 – 8 celery fingers

5 inches cucumber, seeded

1 green pepper, seeded

120g spring onions

1 large clove garlic

The finely-chopped veggies, waiting for the liquids to be added!

To the chopped vegetables, add the following:

1 litre tomato juice

2 Tblspns white wine vinegar

2 Tblspns olive oil

2 Tblspns chopped parsley

1 tspn salt

1/2 tspn freshly-ground black pepper

1 tspn Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything, cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight.

Serve cold.

Chilled gazpacho - refreshing & healthy!



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by Blondie

Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks

February 11, 2012 in Mains

The temperature has suddenly dropped after weeks of intense heat and it’s been cool, misty & rainy since I woke up early this morning. My Younger Teen is home from boarding school for the whole weekend, which is a real treat for both of us … one of the things he looks forward to most about our weekends together is his mom’s cooking (which his mom tends to avoid when she’s not in mom-mode)!

I spotted some succulent meaty lamb shanks in the supermarket earlier this week & immediately bought 2 of them, not knowing that the weekend would provide ideal weather for this kind of comfort food. For once, Murphy wasn’t anywhere to be seen!

This recipe is adapted from one in Jamie Oliver’s first recipe book, ‘The Naked Chef’ – you can easily double these quantities for 4 people.


2 lamb shanks

freshly ground salt & black pepper

1/2 tspn whole coriander seeds

1/2 tspn Robertsons crushed chillies

1/2 Tblspn finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tspn dried marjoram

1/2 Tblspn flour

2 Tblspns olive oil

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Season the shanks with the ground salt & pepper.

Crush the coriander and chilli together in a pestle & mortar then mix in the rosemary & marjoram – rub this mixture all over the shanks then dust them with the flour.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed casserole dish. Brown the shanks all over then remove from the pan & set aside.

Add the following to the remaining oil in the pan and cook until softened:

1 large onion, quartered & thinly sliced

1 carrot, quartered & thinly sliced

4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, seeded & diced

10 whole cloves garlic, peeled

pinch of salt

Once the veggies are softened, add 1 Tblspn balsamic vinegar & allow it to reduce slightly before adding 100ml white wine – cook for another minute or two then add the following:

6 whole anchovy fillets (you won’t taste these, but they will enhance the lamb flavour)

1 tin whole cherry tomatoes with their juice

100ml water

Bring to the boil then return the shanks to the mixture, put the lid onto the casserole dish and cook in the preheated oven for 90 minutes – then remove the lid, check the liquid levels and cook for another 30 – 45 minutes without the lid.

Serve on a bed of creamy mashed potato.

Tip: any leftover sauce will go wonderfully with fettuicine (or almost any kind of pasta)! :)

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by Blondie

Take-5 … February – creamy peppered mushrooms on toast

February 2, 2012 in Take-5, Veggies

Reading Sue’s comments about Masterchef in her latest post reminded me of some of the programmes I really used to enjoy way back when I was still married & could afford DSTV (OK, so it was my ex who could – and still can – afford DSTV, but that’s a minor detail)!

One of the most inspirational programmes for me was ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ – I was regularly awe-struck at the masterpieces the chefs could create in less than half an hour with only a limited number of ingredients.

This got me thinking (along with the fact that, although it’s only the 2nd of the month, various factors have conspired to make it the financial 20th of the month for me) and I thought it might be fun to set myself a monthly challenge called ‘Take-5′, where I post a recipe using only 5 ingredients (and, if it’s around the 20th of the month, these must be ingredients I don’t have to buy).

I realised it wouldn’t be realistic to count ‘everyday’ ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen, so my personal challenge allows me (or you, if you’d like to take up the challenge too, sometime) to exclude these ingredients, for example: oil & butter etc; seasonings, including herbs & spices; flour; stock, wine (and other liquids, unless they’re ‘unusual’ & have to be specially bought); ginger, garlic, curry paste/powder etc; bread/rolls/roti/pita/tortillas etc … this isn’t a closed list, but you get the general idea.

If you’d like to give this challenge a try, please let me know in a comment so I know to come and see what you’ve achieved … and please also include a link to this post  of mine, in case anyone else is keen to give it a bash.

My first “Take-5 Challenge” recipe is creamy peppered mushrooms on toast. This is not only a perfect Meat-free Monday recipe (please ignore the fact that I’ve posted this on a Thursday – thank the Pope it’s not Monday!!), but it’s also great as a light supper for two, or a filling meal for one. But be warned: fewer ingredients does NOT mean fewer calories (just in case any of you were thinking of suing me for your increased waistline or cholesterol levels)!!


My 5 Ingredients:

1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, sliced

a few spring onions, sliced (I used the last 8 in my fridge)

1 onion, chopped

1 tspn Robertsons Peppercorn paste (see pic below)

2 1/2 Tblspns sour cream (you could use normal cream, but I already had an open half-used tub in my fridge)

Other ‘non-counted’ ingredients:

1/2 Tblspn olive oil

25g butter (plus another 1 Tblspn softened butter for later)

1 tspn chopped garlic

ground salt to taste

a liberal dash of ground nutmeg

2 sliced buttered toast

Before I get to the method, I want to rave about the relatively-new Robertsons paste range – I’m completely hooked on the mixed peppercorn one, spreading it onto steaks before frying, mixing it into coatings for fish, combining it with softened butter for baked potatoes etc … ok, I’m sure I’ve convinced you that I quite like this paste!

Moving on …

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Add the garlic, peppercorn paste, mushrooms, spring onion and onion – cook for a few minutes, stirring until softened.

Stir in the cream and salt – cook for another few minutes until the cream has reduced and thickened.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the nutmeg and softened butter – when this has melted and the mixture looks nice and glossy, serve on slices of buttered toast.

Finally – and this is the most important part of this recipe … don’t even THINK of having your cholesterol checked for at least 7 days after eating this (rather just relax and wallow in the wonderful comfort-food experience that’s a so-much-nicer side effect of this recipe)!!