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Cover: A dish for all seasons

06Jul 12

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: Place a wok on a high heat and when hot, add a couple of tablespoons of […]

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29Jun 12

Paella Valenciana – Rabbit Paella with Spring Onions

Paella Valenciana is a Spanish dish from the coastal region of Valencia. During certain fiestas in Spain, the whole village congregates in celebration, and a feast is cooked up for everyone in a gigantic paella dish (which can be metres wide)!  Everyone is there.  The kids play and the grandparents sit and talk in the sun.  I’ve been to a few of these events over the years, and I love both the community feeling, and watching on as the paella is cooked over coal. One of the secrets of making good paella is this – when you add the stock, stir everything once, then don’t stir it again for the rest of the cooking time.  This way you can create a pretty arrangement of all of the ingredients and they stay in place.  This is particularly effective with seafood paella such as this prawn paella with chorizo. What you need: […]

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28Jun 12

Slow Cooked Spring Lamb Shanks in Cognac

An aromatic infusion of lamb that will melt in your mouth… I first tasted slow cooked spring lamb shanks in Cognac in Northern Spain, just a stones throw from the farm where the animals were raised.  We ate it in the spring, when lamb is in peak season.  The meat becomes so soft that it falls off the bone, and it melts its aromatic Cognac infusion onto your palate.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, replace step 3 by cooking the lamb in a covered casserole dish in the oven.  Cook at 170ºC for about 3 hours, checking that the lamb is thoroughly cooked before serving. What you need: 2 lamb shanks on the bone 350ml extra virgin olive oil 200ml Cognac ½ chicken stock cube 1 onion, peeled and quartered 1 tomato, halved 5 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled 2 whole laurel leaves 1 tsp Demerara sugar A […]

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26Jun 12

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 […]

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25Jun 12

Artichoke Heart Linguine

I find myself eating quite a lot of pasta in the spring and summer. All of the different shapes, flavours and textures seem to complement simply cooked green vegetables really well. Artichoke Heart Linguine is a well-established favourite of mine. It’s such a quick and simple vegetarian meal to throw together, so it’s great for nights when you want to be a bit creative, but don’t have much time!  Here’s another great pasta dish to try sometime too…sprout, chestnut and thyme tagliatelle. Artichokes come into season in June and stay with us throughout the summer. They are a wonderful vegetable but can be a challenge to cook well. Because of this, my recipe uses artichokes that have already been marinated and softened for you, in herbs and oil. You’ll find these in most supermarkets in little glass jars; and they really are wonderful. If you prefer to cook, marinate and […]

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22Jun 12

Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel (Spanish Omelette with Sorrel)

We spent Easter in Spain, in a small village in the northeast; where the hills are like bulbous ferrous rock, and the villagers weave deep familial roots through the generations – including ours. It’s a beautiful place. My daughter is half Spanish, and one of her favourite foods is Tortilla – Spanish omelette.  Here’s a seasonal version for you: Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel. There’s a little restaurant that we always go to just before our long journey home. It’s called Ben y Ben’s, and we love it because they lavish us with tea, glasses of red wine, pancetta, olives and best for our little one, tortilla de patata. We cut it into shapes: circles, squares and triangles and then pop a piece of olive on the top – that’s how she likes it best. When we were there at Easter, they came out from the kitchen with a very […]

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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 […]

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19Jun 12

Pasteli or Olympic honey and sesame bites

Here 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? Print Pasteli […]

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17Jun 12

Traditional Scotch eggs

While 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!) Print Traditional Scotch eggs Author: Toni Simpson Recipe […]

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14Jun 12

Rich and Tasty Watercress Soup

Watercress! 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 […]

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