It’s Pepper Time! A little about Peppers and a Pepper Smoothie recipe

Peppers are so underrated! I normally use the humble vegetable for toppings on pizzas or in curries but have realised that I have not been using them to their full potential. One fact I learned about peppers that shocked me is that they contain more vitamin C than oranges, kiwis and strawberries. Yes its true! They are so good for you.  They are also jam packed full of other vitamins such as E, B1, B2 and A!

Now it might sound a little crazy but peppers taste really good in smoothies and here is a recipe for a vitamin enriched smoothie courtesy of “It’s Pepper Time,” which is an initiative to promote the use of peppers and widen their scope in recipes.

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Orange Vitamin Hit

In a blender or juicer, blitz together 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, 2 apples, 2 orange bell peppers and for some zestiness, the juice of 1 lime.

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That’s it and you get a glass full of an orange delicious smoothie which will make you feel good. It is perfect for summer and to spruce it up a little further you could add some crushed ice and perhaps some lemon grass for some extra zest.

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Not only do peppers taste good on pizzas, in curries and smoothies, you could blitz peppers to make dips for crisps to snack on in the park on nice hot lazy summer days, or cut them in strips and dip them in a dip of your choice or even just eat them raw in a salad! They are sweet, crunchy and one of my favourite ingredients.

The best part is that peppers come in all shapes and sizes, as well as a rainbow of colours. My favourite are the orange peppers although when I am using them on pizzas I love using the yellow, red and green bell peppers.

Do you use peppers in your cooking? I would love to know in the comments section below.

For more information about the campaign “It’s Pepper Time” check out their Facebook page Colourful Taste.

 

Pasta in a Thyme and Oregano infused Tomato Sauce

Want to make a romantic dish for your other half or simply adore pasta? This recipe is filled with lots of tomato love and aromatic herbs and is absolutely delicious! It is so easy to cook yet such an impressive and such a hearty meal.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta shells of your choice
  • 1 carton Cirio Polpa Fine Finely Chopped Tomatoes with Basil (360g)
  •  1 can Cirio Pomodorini Cherry Tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig Oregano
  • handful Thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Method:

  1. Boil your pasta and cook for the length indicated on the packaging.
  2. In the meantime, in a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil on medium heat.
  3. Add the onions, garlic and peppercorns, and sautee for 5 minutes, before adding the Cirio Finely Chopped Tomatoes with Basil.
  4. Now add the salt, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
  5. Mix well and cover the pan and let this cook for around 10 minutes.
  6. Now add the Cirio Cherry Tomatoes.
  7. Add the pasta in and mix well.
  8. Garnish with a few oregano leaves.
  9. Eat hot.

This post is in collaboration with Cirio UK, whose range of Tomato products have been much loved for Italian cooking since 1856. Even Antonio Carluccio loves them and earlier last year I had the opportunity to interview him, which you can read about and watch here.

A simple Gujarati style Toor Dal

Sometimes when you want a nice simple dal but one that gives you great comfort, toor dal is always a winner! This recipe is simple and has a lot of fresh and healthy ingredients. I especially love this dal when I am feeling under the weather or it is a chilly evening.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oily Toor Dal washed in several changes of cold water
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • handful curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

  1. In a saucepan of simmering water, boil the toor dal for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
  2. After the toor dal is ready, in a  separate saucepan heat the oil.
  3. Add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, chilli and tomato and sautee on low heat.
  4. Add the salt, sugar, garam masala, turmeric and red chilli powder
  5. Now add the toor dal and water.
  6. Mix well and cover the pan for around 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and using a hand blender, blitz the dal until it is a soup like consistency.
  8. Taste and add more salt if required.
  9. Enjoy hot!

Creamy Methi Peas

If you have been following my blog you will know by now that I absolutely love fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) and try and incorporate them in as many dishes as I can. For a simple yet utterly delicious meal, I have used them for a creamy peas dish.


Ingredients:

Cashew Nut Paste

  • 50 grams cashew nuts. I soaked these in boiling hot water for around 20 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 150ml water

Other ingredients:

  • 500 grams frozen peas, boiled in simmering water for 15 minutes
  • Handful fresh methi, finely chopped and then spritzed with a little water
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of kasoori methi
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (mango) powder
  • I teaspoon garam masala
  • 150ml single cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated raw mango (optional)
  • Handful of coriander to garnish

Method:

  1. In a blender, blitz the soaked cashew nuts, ginger and green chilli with some of the water used for soaking the cashew nuts until a fine paste.
  2. Next heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle a little salt and then cook the tomatoes for 6 minutes, stirring regularly
  4. Now add the chopped fresh fenugreek, cashew nut paste and 1/4 cup of  water.
  5. Cover the pan and let this cook for around 4 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Remove the lid and you will get that instant aroma of methi I love so much!
  7. Now add the cream, peas, spices and sugar.
  8. Next add the grated raw mango if using. I love the tanginess it gives this dish.
  9. Finally add the kasoori methi and coriander as garnish and serve hot.

PS if you have leftovers, add 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup cream to make a delicious soup!

Impress your guests this Christmas with a Martell Cognac 4th Course Food Pairing

Christmas time is my favourite part of the year where you get to spend time with friends and family over good food and drinks and I am always looking for different ways to raise the bar and impress them with new dishes and fusions.

Sometimes after a great meal you still want to feast on delicious but light food while you may be drinking, and this year Martell, one of the oldest Cognac houses, has collaborated with Cordon Bleu trained chef Luiz Hara for a different take on Petits fours known as the 4th course.

I wanted to try out one of the recipes created by Luiz Hara pre-Christmas so I could recreate it on the day and had a go at making the Pears, Roquefort and Almonds with Martell Soaked Raisins, which sounded like a dreamy combination.

It was so simple to prepare and there was no cooking involved – all I had to do in advance was soak the raisins in the Cognac. It was a great excuse to crack open the bottle and have a few sips too!

This 4th course food pairing was so easy to assemble, and a dish you can definitely prepare in advance and impress your guests with and relax at the same time.


It was absolutely delicious and the Martell Cognac soaked raisins were a huge hit with my other half.

If you would like to have a go making this pairing, the recipe, courtesy of Martell and Luiz Hara is as follows:

Pears, Roquefort and Almonds with Martell Soaked Raisins

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears
  • 200 grams Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 50 grams whole or flaked almonds, lightly toasted and crumbled
  • 100 grams dark raisins soaked in 75ml Martell Cognac

Method:

  1. Soak the dried raisins in the Martell Cognac for a few hours (preferably overnight) until they are plump and juicy.
  2. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and cut them into quarters, making sure you remove the core.
  3. Top each slice of pear with the crumbled Roquefort cheese, toasted almonds and a few Martell soaked raisins on top.

The other pairings include Iberico Charcuterie and Cognac soaked prunes, as well as Christmas Pudding Ice cream.  Keep an eye out on my Instagram over the festive period for sneak peeks of more 4th course pairings with the hashtag #Martell4thCourse.

If you have a go recreating this dish over the festive period would love to know in the comments section below!

Martell VS is available from all major retailers in 35cl, 70cl and 100cl bottles.

For more information on Martell and The 4th course head over to http://www.martell.com/en-uk/ or search for #Martell4thCourse.

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary bottle of Martell VS. I am a Cognac lover and all views are my own. Recipe is courtesy of Martell and Luiz Hara.

 

Spicy Mexican Vegetarian Tacos

The word Taco means the Mexican equivalent of the English word sandwich. The tortilla, which is made from corn or wheat, is wrapped or folded around fillings, of which you can be as creative as you wish.

Tacos are so much fun to eat and here is a quick and easy, yet delicious, spicy vegetarian version, perfect for a tasty and enjoyable lunch or dinner.

I have collaborated with Gran Luchito sauces for this recipe, who have a wonderful range of Mexican condiments, which go perfectly with Tacos, as well as other Mexican dishes – especially if you love spicy food.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 350 grams Quorn chicken pieces
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Gran Luchito Smoked Chilli Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Gran Luchito Smoked Chilli Pickle
  • Store bought flour tortillas
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • Salad leaves
  • 1 mango
  • 1 lime
  • sliced tomatoes for garnish

Method:

  1. In a pan, heat the oil on medium heat.
  2. Add the quorn pieces, red and yellow peppers, spring onions, garlic, salt and pepper and stir fry for around 4 minutes.
  3. Now add the Gran Luchito Smoked Chilli Honey and Smoked Chilli Pepper and around 3 tablespoons water.
  4. Mix well and stir fry for a further 4 minutes.
  5. In a blender, blitz the mango, juice of the lime and red chilli.img_0242
  6. Place the salad leaves in a bowl, and pour over the mango, lime and chilli mixture.
  7. Now assemble each taco, by first placing the salad at the base and topping with the tofu mixture.
  8. Add a few slices of tomato and feast away!img_0255

NB: You can use chicken for a non-vegetarian version if you wish but these taste just as good and can convert any non-vegetarian into loving them!

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For more information on the Gran Luchito range, go to: http://gran.luchito.com/products/