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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Less than 1 hour

16Oct 12

Raspberry Mousse

Raspberry MousseWho doesn’t love a cool chocolate or fruit mousse for dessert? Well, now that raspberries are in season (traditionally throughout July and August), what better dessert to make with those freshly picked, or freshly bought, pink, furry, juicy fruits than a delicious raspberry mousse? It makes a real summertime treat for adults and kids alike.

Everyone in my family loves it, and we can never get enough! The best thing about it is that it can be made all year round because frozen raspberries make for an equally great mousse.

Fun fact: I found out the other day that almost all the raspberries sold in the UK are grown in Scotland, and that their production forms an important part of the Scottish economy, particularly in the Tayside area where raspberry farmers earn about £12m a year!

I’d always thought mousses were hard to make, but it’s actually not that difficult, especially if you have an electric whisk! You just need to be very careful and slow when folding in the whipped cream and beaten egg whites so as not to deflate the mixture, and it should be a success! (Also have a go at this white chocolate mousse.)

Raspberry Mousse
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A delicious mousse made from freshly picked raspberries
Ingredients
  • 300g raspberries
  • 250ml double cream
  • 80g white sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 gelatine leaves
  • A few raspberries for garnish
Instructions
  1. Blend the raspberries in a blender to make a smooth purée.
  2. Add 60g of sugar to the purée and mix in.
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of double cream to the purée and place over a low heat, without allowing to boil.
  4. At the same time, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes to soften them.
  5. Remove the purée from the heat and leave to cool down.
  6. While the purée is still warm, mix in the gelatine leaves until totally dissolved, then leave mixture to cool.
  7. Whisk the rest of the double cream until soft peaks form. Add the raspberry purée little by little, folding it into the whipped cream slowly, letting air into the mixture.
  8. Beat the egg whites. When peaks start to form, slowly add the rest of the sugar while whisking, until stiff peaks form.
  9. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture, as before, to complete the raspberry mousse.
  10. Spoon the mousse into individual glasses, cups or bowls and leave to set in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.
  11. Garnish each bowl with some fresh raspberries before serving.

 

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31Jul 12

Courgette Carpaccio

Courgette Carpaccio
Courgettes
are great versatile summer vegetables, and right now they are at the height of their season in the UK. They are a good source of potassium, folate and vitamins A and C and, as we all know, the best way to get the most vitamins and nutrients from vegetables is to eat them uncooked. I had always cooked courgettes until I discovered that they are also quite nice raw, in salads and even in juices!

Sliced very thinly, drizzled with a basil, olive oil and lemon juice dressing and topped off with Parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts, this courgette carpaccio is a light and appetizing starter that’s really easy to make. (Also try these courgette and leek fritters!)

Courgette Carpaccio
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 small courgettes, washed and dried
  • 100g walnuts
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 packed handful fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the courgettes very thinly and arrange on a large serving plate.
  2. Grind the basil leaves together with a large pinch of coarse sea salt and the garlic using a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add the olive oil and grind together again.
  4. Put this mixture in a clean jar, add the lemon juice, secure the lid and shake vigorously.
  5. Drizzle this basil dressing over the courgettes.
  6. Sprinkle the courgettes with walnuts, cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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27Jul 12

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)

SalmorejoSalmorejo is a wonderful Spanish dish, from the region of Cordoba, usually served as a starter and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg. Basically, it’s a cold tomato cream, and its main ingredients are tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.

It’s one of my favourite summer dishes, so easy to make and really delicious and refreshing on a hot summer’s day! But don’t confuse it with gazpacho, the Spanish cold soup made with tomatoes. Gazpacho is thinner, contains less bread, more water and additional ingredients like cucumber and red or green pepper.

I would say you drink gazpacho, but you eat salmorejo. You can also spread it on toast, with some Serrano ham on top, so if you want to do this you could make it a little thicker – by adding a bit more bread and a little less water. (For a hot treat, try this cream of tomato soup.)

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
The Spanish dish Salmorejo is a cold tomato cream made from tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg.
Ingredients
  • 1kg ripe plum tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 4 medium thick slices white bread (loaf or sliced)
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 hard boiled egg, finley diced (for garnish)
  • 1 large handful Serrano ham, finely diced (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and rip into pieces.
  2. Blend all the ingredients for the salmorejo, except half the olive oil, the ice cubes, the salt and the garnish, in a blender.
  3. Add the ice cubes and liquify in the blender.
  4. Strain the salmorejo through a conical sieve to remove any solid pieces.
  5. Blend again, adding the rest of the olive oil and salt to taste, until it has a smooth, thick consistency.
  6. Serve immediately in small bowls, topped with diced eggs and Serrano ham.
  7. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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25Jul 12

Gooseberry and Almond Cupcakes

Gooseberry and Almond CupcakesI remember warm summers when I was a little girl, helping my grandmother make jams, cakes and pies with the gooseberries from her garden. I used to love their tangy taste, but was oblivious to the fact that they are a good source of fibre and vitamins A and C! (Also try these lemon blueberry muffins.)

We don’t have gooseberries in our garden, unfortunately. But when I saw them in a farm shop the other day, they brought back such nice memories that I had to buy some. They are in the peak of their season right now (June and July), so they may even be sweet enough to be eaten raw. However, I’ve baked some gooseberry and almond cupcakes, based on my grandmother’s “cherry financiers” recipe, changing some of the ingredients. I was quite chuffed with how they turned out actually!

Gooseberry and Almond Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24-30 cupcakes
 
Gooseberry and almond cupcakes made with fresh British gooseberries, tangy summer fruits that are in the peak of their season in June and July.
Ingredients
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 250g butter
  • 200g fresh gooseberries, washed and quartered
  • 165g powdered or icing sugar
  • 120g powered almonds
  • 5 egg whites
Instructions
  1. Mix together the sugar, flour and powdered almonds in a bowl.
  2. Soften the butter on a low heat and add to the mixture, stirring until smooth.
  3. Beat the egg whites until fluffy peaks form and then fold carefully into the mixture.
  4. Add the quartered gooseberries and mix in.
  5. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven (180º) for about 20-25 mins or until golden and well risen.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.
  7. Sprinkle each cupcake with a little icing sugar before serving.

 

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06Jul 12

Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls

Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls

The shiitake mushrooms in these crispy vegetable spring rolls help to give them a Chinese-style flavour.  You will find spring roll wrappers in Asian supermarkets, or you can order them over the internet. (You can also try these Vietnamese spring rolls.)

What you need:

  • 10 spring roll wrappers
  • ¼ white cabbage, shredded into fine pieces
  • 60g shiitake mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 50g sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 6 bamboo shoots, finely sliced
  • ¼ to ½ pack of beansprouts
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped width-wise
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 1L vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Handful of fresh mint, chopped into fine shreds

What to do:

  1. Place a wok on a high heat and when hot, add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add all of the vegetables and stir fry until slightly softened.
  2. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar, and season well with salt and pepper.  Stir well and remove the wok from the heat.  Stir in the mint and transfer the vegetables into a cold bowl to cool.
  3. Add the litre of vegetable oil to a deep heavy-based saucepan (or deep fat fryer if you have one) and heat the oil on a medium to high heat.
  4. As the oil is coming up to the heat, make up the spring rolls.  Lay out a spring roll wrapper in front of you with one corner facing you to create a diamond effect.  Brush a little of the beaten egg onto the four edges of the wrapper.
  5. Spoon a portion of the vegetables onto the wrapper, a few centimetres from the bottom, in a thin strip, taking care not to touch the edges with filling.
  6. Lift the bottom of the wrapper over and tuck it in under the filling.  Fold the left, then the right sides over the top, and roll upwards to form a tube.  Now brush a little more egg over the top edge and seal it along the roll.  Repeat with the other wrappers until you have 10 rolls.
  7. When the oil is hot, lower in the spring rolls and deep fry them until golden brown all over – just a minute or two.  Drain them on kitchen paper before serving.

Try serving with dips of fresh minty yoghurt and Pantai sweetened chilli sauce.

30 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook
Makes 4-6 servings

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26Jun 12

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream
As you may have noticed if you read my blog regularly, one of my favourite vegetables is asparagus, particularly the green kind. Not only is it tasty, it is also really good for you, being a good source of fibre, potassium and folic acid. It also helps to prevent water retention and lower cholesterol. Asparagus is still in season in June, so this is a good time to make a nice, smooth cream of asparagus soup, before summer really gets going and it’s too warm to for hot soup.

I don’t use cream in my recipe, as I prefer the taste of extra virgin olive oil, and I’ve realised that a little of it is enough to give the soup that rich, creamy texture. Plus, it’s much better for you!

If you love asparagus as much as I do, try these other recipes: Curly Asparagus Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Medjool Dates, Steamed Spring Vegetables with Toasted Pine Nuts or asparagus risotto.

Cream of Asparagus Soup, without the cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Cream of Asparagus Soup with extra virgin olive oil instead of cream
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch (about 250g) fresh green asparagus
  • 150 – 200g potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 large leek, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the asparagus, being careful not to damage the tips and discarding any tough woody parts from the lower ends.
  2. Lightly fry the chopped leeks, asparagus and garlic in a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Set aside 8-12 asparagus tips if you want to use them for garnish.
  4. Add the potatoes and water until all the ingredients are covered. Add the stock cube (crumbled), bring to the boil and boil until the potatoes are soft (about 20 mins).
  5. Remove from heat, add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then blend everything with a blender until smooth, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot.

 

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21Jun 12

Grilled stuffed mushrooms

White button mushrooms are one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world. They are available in shops all year round, but those who like mushroom hunting can usually find them after rainfall from late spring through to autumn. I love mushroom hunting, but I’m never sure if the ones I’ve picked are edible! So for safety I prefer to use the cultivated ones.

I love them; in pasta sauce, in risotto, in pies, in soups, in salads… they are so verstile. This dish is inspired by some “tapas” we had in Spain this Easter: grilled stuffed mushrooms made with Serrano ham (Spanish dry-cured ham), garlic and parsley. I brought some ham back from Spain so I used that for this recipe and added some sun-dried tomatoes for a personal touch. They are so delicious and easy to make, you should try them!

Little tip: They make a great appetiser for this mushroom risotto recipe.

Grilled stuffed mushrooms
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
This dish is inspired by some "tapas" we had in Spain this Easter: grilled stuffed mushrooms made with Serrano ham (Spanish dry-cured ham), garlic and parsley.
Ingredients
  • 12 medium sized white button mushrooms
  • 50g Serrano ham (or any dry-cured ham), finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Olive oil, for sautéing
Instructions
  1. Clean the mushrooms, cut off the tips of the stems and dry if necessary.
  2. Remove the stems, making sure not to break the mushroom caps. Leave the caps aside.
  3. Finely chop the mushroom stems and mix them with the chopped garlic, dried tomatoes and parsley.
  4. Sauté this mixture in a little olive oil on a high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the chopped ham to the mixture.
  6. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture. (There will usually be a small amount of mixture left over).
  7. Cook the mushrooms in a grill pan on a medium heat until they are light brown and serve.
Notes
What are "tapas"? Tapas are typical in Spain. They are small portions of food, anything from some simple olives to a dish of paella, served to accompany a drink. In most parts of the country tapas are ordered and paid for separately, but in some provinces, especially Granada and Almería, the tapa comes free with each cold drink you order.

 

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19Jun 12

Pasteli or Olympic honey and sesame bites

Pasteli or Olympic honey and sesame bitesHere is a very old and very easy recipe fit for any Olympic sportsman! The Ancient Greeks may well have made Pasteli for the participants of the original Olympic Games in 776 B.C., as these chewy and crunchy honey and sesame bites are packed full of energy, minerals and vitamins. Sesame seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and B1, to name just a few, and honey is antibacterial and contains antioxidants. The health benefits of honey depend on its quality, so I always try to buy organic or raw, unprocessed honey, which contains more healthy substances (that haven’t been eliminated through so much processing) and makes this snack or dessert much more tasty and nutritious!

For extra protein, try these grilled chicken wings with a honey and lime butter sauce. They don´t have sesame seeds, but why not sprinkle some over the top for extra measure?

Pasteli or Olympic honey and sesame bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: various
 
These honey and sesame bites are packed full of energy, minerals and vitamins.
Ingredients
  • 120g toasted sesame seeds
  • 5.5 tbsp or 115ml raw honey
  • unrefined sea salt
Instructions
  1. Heat the honey in a saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to boil.
  2. Add the sesame seeds and a dash of sea salt to the honey and stir using a wooden spoon, cooking slowly and stirring continually for about 10 minutes or until the mixture boils again and caramelizes (turns golden brown), then remove from heat.
  3. Carefully pour the mixture of honey and sesame seeds onto a large piece of baking paper on a smooth surface and smooth out the mixture with a spatula, patting down to a uniform thickness.
  4. Cover the outspread mixture with another large piece of baking paper and use a rolling pin to spread out and thin the mixture some more, to about 1cm thick.
  5. Set aside until the Pasteli is cool enough to handle (but still warm) and cut into equal sized pieces.
  6. Wait until cold before serving.
  7. Uneaten Pasteli bites can be stored in an airtight container with a sheet of baking paper inbetween each layer.

 

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17Jun 12

Traditional Scotch eggs

Traditional Scottish EggsWhile looking for ideas for traditional British food to prepare for our little Jubilee street party at the beginning of the month, I saw some Scotch eggs in the supermarket and thought “typically British!” and realized that I had never tried home-made ones because they can be found all year round in any supermarket. As I’d never made them before, I decided to do a test run yesterday and discovered how delicious they can really be, rolled in sausage meat and breadcrumbs and then deep-fried. Not very healthy, I know!

They can be oven baked, but for tradition’s sake I’m definitely going to use this recipe again for this weekend’s Jubilee celebration; it’s well worth the effort! (If you like eggs, you can also try this typical Spanish dish called a Spanish Potato Omelette. It’s really just eggs and potatoes, but it’s quite a treat!)

Traditional Scotch eggs
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser, Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 portions
 
Traditional Scotch eggs, rolled in sausage meat and breadcrumbs then deep fried; delicious finger food for any Jubilee street party.
Ingredients
  • 6 large hard boiled eggs, cooled
  • 450g sausage meat
  • 200g plain flour (seasoned with salt and black pepper)
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground)
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Peel the hard boiled eggs and set aside.
  2. Add the parsley, thyme, chives, some salt and black pepper to the sausage meat and mix in a bowl.
  3. Divide the sausage meat mixture into 6 equal portions and flatten them out into ovals.
  4. Roll each boiled egg in the seasoned flour and then warp each one in a sausage meat oval, making sure to totally cover the egg and smoothing out any bumps.
  5. Coat each sausage-covered egg in beaten egg and roll into the breadcrumbs, covering completely.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. You’ll know it’s hot enough when you drop a breadcrumb into it and it sizzles strongly.
  7. Place each Scotch egg into the hot oil very carefully and deep-fry for around 8 minutes or until golden brown and completely cooked.
  8. When cooked, carefully remove the eggs from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towel.
  9. Can be served warm or cold.

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14Jun 12

Rich and Tasty Watercress Soup

Rich and Tasty Watercress SoupWatercress! That crunchy, peppery green leaf that’s in season in May! There are lots of meals you can make with it if you use your imagination. I love it stuffed copiously into sandwiches, laced into salads drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar, and many other ways. But today I’m here to share a really yummy version of  soup – rich and tasty watercress soup.

It’s developed over time, based on several recipes that I’ve tried and tested until I’ve reached this particular set of ingredients. No doubt the recipe will keep evolving; as I love to experiment and move things on after a while. It’s good to keep fresh and enjoy change in life, wouldn’t you say? I love the addition of a little Tabasco in this soup; it’s just there in the background giving a little extra twang to your taste buds!

Soup and salad is a perfect meal for spring and summer. Why not pair this soup with a watercress and mango salad?

Watercress is actually a member of the mustard family (which explains its mild heat). When you’ve bought it, cut the stems, wash it really thoroughly and then pat it with kitchen paper. You can store it for up to 4-5 days in the fridge in a plastic bag. Watercress is full of vitamins A and C; contains calcium; and is of course fat and cholesterol free – until you add the cream!

Rich and Tasty Watercress Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Rich and tasty watercress soup - featuring that crunchy, peppery green leaf that’s in season in May!
Ingredients
  • 600g fresh watercress, thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
  • 600ml chicken stock, hot
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 medium shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced (or reduce to taste)
  • 3 fistfuls of fresh mint, saving a little to garnish
  • 3 fistfuls of fresh parsley, saving a little to garnish
  • 8 tbsp double cream
  • 4 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • A generous swirl of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • Salt flakes and fresh ground black pepper to season
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter in a deep-based saucepan; and then brown the shallots and garlic gently together for 5-8 minutes until soft.
  2. Add in the watercress, fresh herbs and the hot chicken stock; stir and bring the soup up to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes to cook the watercress.
  3. Splash in the Tabasco and spoon in the cream. Continue to simmer for a couple more minutes.
  4. Swirl in the olive oil and season really well with salt and pepper. Transfer into a food blender and whizz until smooth.
  5. Serve in individual bowls topped with a sprig of fresh herbs.
  6. You could also add a spoonful of Greek yoghurt while serving, but that is optional.

 

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