Posted in American Cuisine, British Cuisine, Indian, Thai & Chinese Cuisine, Mediterranean, Mexican, Quick and Easy, Side dishes, Stir fry, Vegetarian

Perfect Rice

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Cooking rice can be rather hit or miss.  Either it can be bland, or puffy and over cooked, it isn’t as easy as you think.  But now I have a fool-proof recipe.  This recipe is based on 2 people so double amounts accordingly.

Ingredients

1 cup of rice (I use Jasmine)

2 cups of water

a pinch of salt

1 stock cube (chicken, meat or vegetable)

1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Put the olive oil, rice and salt in a flat bottom pan (as in the photo) and fry over a medium heat on the hob for about a minute stirring continuously.

Add the water and stir.

Cover pan with a lid and simmer over a low heat until all the water has evaporated (approx 20-25 minutes).

Serve hot.

**You can also add grated ginger or turmeric powder for added flavours.  Ginger goes nice with Chinese dishes, and the turmeric for Indian.

Left over rice can be chilled in the fridge over night and is then perfect for fried rice dishes.

 

Posted in Cheese, French, Potato Dishes, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Cheesy Potato Gratin Bake

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It is no secret that I love cheese, and dishes with potato and cheese are my favourite.  I recently found fresh parmesan cheese in a local supermarket (A101) at a really cheap price, which is generally unheard of here in Turkey.  This recipe includes step by step photos of how I prepared it.  Serves 2 – 4 people depending on portion size.

Ingredients

9 – 10 baby potatoes (in their skins)

Some slices of green and red pepper to decorate

A little grated parmesan to sprinkle over the top

Bowl of ice water (enough to cool potatoes)

Ingredients for the Cheese Sauce (Béchamel Sauce)

40 g butter

2 heaped tbsps flour

500 ml milk

2 tsps chopped chives

A handful of grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper (as required)

Method

Clean and place the baby potatoes in a large pan of boiling water and simmer for around 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the pan and place into the ice water, this helps the skins to peel off easily. Set aside while making the cheese sauce.

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Method for cheese sauce

Place the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.  Once melted, stir in the flour allowing it to bubble.

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Next you add the milk, a little at a time while continuously stirring (if you add all at once you risk the sauce becoming lumpy).

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Add the chives, then over a medium heat bring to a boil stirring slowly until it thickens.  Turn off the heat and add the handful of cheese then salt and pepper to required taste.

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Remove the skins from the potatoes using a flat edged knife, then slice and place to cover the bottom of an oven proof dish (which has had a little olive oil rubbed over to avoid sticking).  You do not need to pack tightly.

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Once you have one layer, gently spoon over some of the cheese sauce.

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Then repeat with another layer.  Potato and cheese sauce.  You should end up with about three layers.  Finally, de-seed and decorate with some red and green peppers, sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over the top, and bake in the oven at about 180°c for around 35 – 40 minutes, or until top is golden.

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Serve immediately.

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Posted in Greek, Mediterranean, Quick and Easy, Stir fry, Vegetarian

Stir-fried String Beans

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String beans do not need to be boring and bland.  A little imagination and a few minutes more in the kitchen can vastly change the taste of these delicious and healthy beans, and can change the whole look of a meal.

Ingredients

250 g fresh string beans

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp grated ginger

2 pinches freshly ground coriander seeds

2 pinches of rock salt

2 pinches of black pepper

1 tsp garlic butter (optional)

Bowl of ice water (enough to cool beans)

Method

Boil water in the kettle and pour into a saucepan.  Put in the beans and cook on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until al dente.

Remove from the heat and immediately transfer the beans into a bowl of ice water.  This stops the cooking process which avoids them becoming too soggy.

Towel dry and allow to cool a little.  (You can cook larger amounts and keep in the fridge wrapped in a cloth for a couple of days to fry later if you wish)

Place a  big frying pan or wok over a high heat with the olive oil and toss in the beans stirring occasionally.

Add the ginger, coriander, salt and pepper along with the garlic butter, and cook until they start to brown.

Serve.

 

 

 

Posted in Condiments, No cooking involved, Quick and Easy, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Garlic Butter

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Garlic butter can add a magical touch to many dishes.  Rub it along a corn-on-the-cob, or stick some in a jacket potato.  Make garlic bread to have on the side of many main courses or even with a cheese plate in the evening, the options are endless.  I have not included strict quantities as you can make as little or as much as you like.  I generally make enough to keep in a small pot in the fridge, ready to use.

Ingredients

Soft butter (approx 50-70 g)

2-3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

Salt and pepper

Thyme or oregano

Method

Mix all the ingredients together, place in a tub and keep in the fridge.

 

Posted in British Cuisine, Cheese, Oven, Potato Dishes, Quick and Easy, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Cheesy Potato Boat

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Jacket potatoes are an old favourite in most British homes. Traditionally they are baked in the oven for a couple of hours, then slit open and butter is added.  This cheesy boat has been prepared slightly differently, so if you are a cheese lover and have a creative streak then go ahead and give it a try.

Ingredients

A large baking potato (per person)

a knob of butter (about 1 tsp)

1-2 tbsps milk

1-2 handfuls of grated cheese (plus some for decorating)

Salt and pepper (as required)

Thyme and oregano

Tomato and cucumber slices (decoration)

Method

Wash and pat dry the baking potatoes.  Using either a fork or the tip of a sharp knife, pierce the potatoes on each side taking care not to make large cuts.  This is to allow the steam to be released as they cook.  Place in the oven on about 180°c for 2-3 hours, turning once halfway through.  The time really does depend on the size of the potatoes, but if a knife slips in easily then they should be done.

Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes to avoid burning your hands.

Using a knife with a sharp tip, run the knife down the centre of the potato on one side, lengthways.  Now make another smaller slit to form a cross.  Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut away the top potato skin to form an oval opening, resembling a boat deck.

Using a metal spoon, carefully dig out the soft potato into a large bowl, being careful not to break the skin. (Even if cooking more than one potato you can use the same bowl).  Add the butter and milk and mash until creamy.  If it seems a bit dry you can add a tiny bit more milk. Salt and pepper according to your preferences then add the grated cheese.  You can add less cheese if on a diet, or more if like me you just love cheese.  Mix the cheese and potato together until well combined.**

Spoon the potato mixture back into the skin, pressing down to compact it.  Decorate the tops of the potatoes with the last of the grated cheese and sprinkle some thyme and oregano.

Using wooden kebab skewers or even toothpicks, push slices of cucumber and tomato on them to look like sails then press down into the potatoes.  Return to the oven for around 5-10 minutes, until cheese starts to bubble, or even place under the grill (be careful not to burn them).

Serve hot.

Suggestions

Goes well with coleslaw, and is quite tasty along side Chilli Con Carne… or just eat with a lovely crisp salad.  You can find the recipes for these on my blog.

**You can also add a variety of Ham or pepperoni in with the mix before re-stuffing the potatoes.

 

Posted in American Cuisine, Barbecue, British Cuisine, No cooking involved, Quick and Easy, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Coleslaw

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Coleslaw is the perfect side for many dishes including Jacket Potatoes, Cheese Toasties and all kinds of salads. It is very easy to make and requires only 4 basic ingredients.  The quantities vary depending on how much you want to make, if it doesn’t seem enough just add a little bit more cabbage and carrot.  In Turkey, where I live, the size of cabbages vary from small to enormous, so adjust the ingredients accordingly.  In this recipe (and photo) I have used a small red cabbage as they are readily available all year round, but a regular green cabbage can be used too.

Ingredients

1 large onion (finely chopped)

1-2 large carrots (peeled and grated)

Approximately 1/4 of a small round cabbage (finely chopped)

2-3 large tbsps mayonnaise

Salt and pepper (to taste, as required)

Method

Place the grated carrots, chopped onion and cabbage in a bowl and mix.

Add the mayonnaise and again mix well to ensure all the vegetables are well mixed.

Add salt and pepper as required and serve.

Posted in Cakes, Cheese, Greek, Mediterranean, Oven, Vegetarian

Lemon Cheesecake

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I have tried many quick and easy no bake cheesecake recipes but was never really satisfied. Having been inspired by our good friend Deniz’s recipe, this is what we came up with and so far people are loving it.  So here is the recipe.

Stage 1

Ingredients for the base:

3 packets of digestive biscuits (finely crumbled) by using a colander.

60 grams melted butter

2-3 tbsps of milk

Method for the base:

Line a 24 cm spring release cake tin with greaseproof paper, on the base and the sides.

Mix the crumbled biscuits, butter and milk.

Press the mixture into the tin, pushing down firmly with the back of a spoon.

Place in the fridge for about half an hour while preparing the next stage.

Stage 2

Ingredients for the cream:

400 g Philadelphia Cheese

300 ml natural yoghurt

3 eggs

250 g sugar

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp corn starch

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method for the cream:

Mix the Philadelphia cheese and yoghurt in a blender on the lowest speed.

Then add the eggs into it one by one. Add the sugar, zest then the starch and finally sift the flour.

Add the mixture onto the base and bake it for 40-45 minutes at 165°c. While it is cooking it will rise but do not worry as it will get flatter once it cools down.

Once it has completely cooled, cover with a cloth and refridgerate over night.

Stage 3

Ingredients for the topping:

100 ml milk

100 ml water

2 tbsps sugar

1 heaped tbsp corn starch

1 heaped tbsp corn flour

1 tsp honey

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 2 lemons

1 heaped tbsp turmeric powder

1 packet (5 g) vanilla

1 tsp butter

Method for the topping:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then cook in a pan until it has some texture.  Allow to cool.

Pour the topping over the cream mixture in the cake tin. Allow to set for a few hours in the fridge.