Category Archives: Veggie Sides

Halloumi and Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Halloumi Kebabs

We’re truly in the throws of one hot summer here. And for once the UK seems to be matching the glorious South of France climate too, hooray …. but please may it last through to August when I shall be descending on the homeland to, fingers crossed, bask in the delights of an English summer for the first time in many years!. Unlikely, but one can live in hope.

I’d like to say the fabulous weather has brought on a spate of barbecues at Chez Foti but to be honest there simply hasn’t been the time with everything else that’s going on. But we did manage a lovely one last Saturday with an assortment of Kebabs, Satay Sticks and Salads. Very much enjoyed by all and both kids happily munched away.

I LOVE Halloumi on a barbie and it makes for a fab veggie kebab. And as I recently discovered my kids like it too it’s sure to become a bit of a regular round here, though they’ll have a fight on their hands for it with me! Since Halloumi doesn’t take long to ‘cook’, more like brown, I suggest you either bbq it with quick-to-cook veggies like cherry tomatoes, finely sliced courgette ribbons and mushrooms OR like me with a pre-roasted selection of slightly longer-to-cook veggies, namely red peppers, aubergine and thickly cut courgette. Obviously the roasted veggies can be prepped in advance, so all you need to do pre-barbie is thread them with the Halloumi on to skewers.

fsf-summerCooking-with-HerbsSeeing as I’m hosting this month’s Four Seasons Food with a Barbecue and Barbecue Side theme I shall of course be entering this post! Also to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs Challenge.

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Great for Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Barbecues, Barbecues Sides, Outdoor Eating, Vegetarians

Notes: Feel free to vary your choice of veggies as to what you have in, or your kids will eat

Makes 6 – 8 Kebabs Sticks

1 small courgette

½ aubergine

1 red pepper

1 white or red onion, large

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon oregano leaves, roughly chopped

1 pack Halloumi cheese, 225g or 250g

Pre-soaked bamboo kebab sticks or metal skewers

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

2. Slice the courgette into 6/7mm slices and cut the pepper and aubergine into similar sized chunks. Cut the onion in half, then each half into quarters. Half each of the quarters and separate the layers to roughly match the thickness of the veggies.

3. Place all the veggies in a roasting tray. Stir in a tablespoon of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper (go easy on the salt for littlies). Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

4. Mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon and oregano in a bowl big enough to easily house all the veggies.

5. After 20 minutes remove the veggies from the oven and place in the bowl with the marinade. Ensure they have an even coating and leave to marinate until you’re almost ready to barbecue.

6. Cut your Halloumi into similar sized chunks to the veggies.

7. When you’re ready to barbecue thread the veggies and Halloumi onto your pre-soaked bamboo sticks or metal skewers, alternating between each component.

8. Cook the kebabs on a hot barbecue (or under a hot grill) for 4 to 5 minutes turning frequently. The cheese should be golden.

One very excited wee boy about the prospect of a barbie!

Jacques for once without a silly face. But very excited about the prospect of his forthcoming barbie fodder!

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Never much time to snap a photo before little hands start grabbing!

You might also like:

Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

One Pot Ratatouille

One Pot Ratatouille


Roasted Roots and an Easy Roasted Roots Pizza

Roasted Roots Scone-based Pizza swallow-recipes-for-lifeWhat to do with Carrots, Beetroot and Cheese? These were the three ingredients chosen for March’s Recipes for Life challenge, a new monthly event held by Vanesther at Bangers & Mash. The challenge is run in partnership with the Somerset based charity Swallow who work with adults with learning difficulties. Every month they’ll be a new trio of ingredients and bloggers are challenged to come up with tasty, healthy and easy to prepare dishes that may even appear in Swallow’s new cookbook. What a lovely challenge I say!.

Admittedly not an obvious choice of ingredients at first but after a few brief moments of ponder I realised this remit would not only include one of our regular quickie dinners at Chez Foti, Roasted Veggies with Feta and Couscous but also my Roasted Veggie Lasagna too. My wholehearted apologies for the awful photos on both these blogs, but in my defense they were taken in my very early days of blogging!. I’m a bit of a regular veggie roaster and tend to make huge seasonal batches that get used over the course of a few days. Not only are they an interesting veggie side to a roast dinner or even bangers and mash but they’re perfect in a lasagna or thrown on a tart or pizza, wonderful in a sandwich (hot or cold, with cheese or hummus or just plain) or simply enjoyed in their own right with couscous, pasta or brown rice or as an antipasta.

Roasted Roots with Feta and Couscous

Roasted Roots with Feta and Couscous

For today’s recipe I have my seasonal Roasted Roots. I’m particularly partial to my Roasted Winter Roots as they bring such flavour and cheer to an otherwise verging-on-dull selection of veggies. Go for whatever you have to hand but beetroot, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and red onions all work marvellously together and tend to cook in the same amount of time. I like to boost flavours with plenty of fresh chopped Rosemary but you could happily substitute with fresh Thyme or dried herbs.

Winter Roots

My entry for  the challenge is an easy-peasy Scone-Based Wholemeal Pizza topped with plenty of Roasted Roots and a ball of Mozzarella (or Cheddar, Goats Cheese or Feta if you prefer). Funnily enough I haven’t eaten a scone based pizza since I was a child myself (they seemed to be all the rage in the 80s!) but have been eager to give one a whirl for ages now. Mainly as they’re so easy and quick to put together with no need for kneading or rising. Results were very good though admittedly incomparable to a thin crust homemade bread dough. But very tasty nevertheless, and my kids happily wolfed it down for their tea roasted roots and all!. The perfect instant and healthy pizza if you ask me, and one I shall definitely be baking again.

Roasted Roots

simple2012smallSince you can’t get much more Seasonal than my Roasted Roots I’m also entering my blog to Ren’s Simple and in Season challenge which so happens to be being hosted by myself this month!.

And as there’s fresh rosemary or thyme with the Roots I’m also entering it to Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event, this month hosted by London Busy Body.herbsonsaturday

Credit-Crunch-MunchAnd last but not least as this so happens to be a particularly frugal eat I’m entering it to Credit Crunch Munch, a joint event by Camila of Fab Food 4 All and this month by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Roasted Roots

Roasted Roots

Great for Pizza (see below!) or Tart toppings, Lasagnas, Sandwiches, Antipasta, Veggie Sides or eaten with Couscous, Pasta or Brown rice. 

To make enough for at least two meals for a Family of Four (halve the quantity if you wish to make less)

2 Red Onions, very large dice

6 cloves of Garlic, left whole with skin on

3 Carrots*, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm slices

2 – 3 Beetroot*, scrubbed (skin left on) and cubed to a 1.5 cm dice

1 – 2 Parsnips, peeled and cubed to a 1.5 cm dice

300g of Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash or Pumpkin* (or a mixture of any of these), peeled and cubed to a 1.5cm dice

300g of Celeriac*, peeled and cubed to a 1.5cm dice

a tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemary OR 2 teaspoons of fresh Thyme or dried Oregano or Mixed Herbs

Salt and Pepper

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Special Equipment: 2 large oven baking trays

* Feel free to vary your veggies!

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Simply place all the peeled and cut veggies on two large baking trays. Sprinkle with the herbs, a large pinch of salt and pepper and the oil. Using your hands ensure all the veggies have an even coating.

Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Turn twice during the cooking time. The veggies should all be very tender and a little golden.

Scone based  pizza recipe

Easy Scone-based Wholemeal Roasted Root Pizza

Great for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Vegetarians, Quick Homemade Pizza.

Serves a Family of 4:

125g Wholemeal Self-Raising Flour

100g of White Self-Raising Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

a teaspoon of Baking Powder

a pinch of Salt and Pepper

30g of Butter

1 Egg, lightly beaten

a little Milk

a heaped dessert spoon of Tomato puree, plus 2 dessert spoons of water

2 large handfuls (or more!) of Roasted Roots

100g of sliced Mozzarella OR 75g of cheddar/goats cheese/feta

Special Equipment: A baking tray, rolling-pin

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Place the flours, baking powder, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and combine together. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and using your hands try to get the mixture to come together. You may need to add a little milk, keep adding until the mixture comes together in one piece.

Turn out the dough onto a work top or large board, shape into a ball and carefully roll out with a rolling-pin until you have your desired pizza size and thickness (as thin as possible is best, but harder to do with scone dough!).

Combine the tomato puree with the water and spread over the pizza base. Scatter over as many Roasted Roots as you can fit and then finish with a layer of cheese.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes. The pizza’s ready when the cheese is golden and bubbling.

You might also like: 

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Super-Vegged Up Chilli con Carne

Super-Vegged Up Chilli con Carne


Homemade Sun (aka Oven) Dried Tomatoes!

As regular readers will know it’s been a tomatoey summer at Chez Foti, and I have to admit my interest is now waining slightly. Though my 68 plants (beyond ridiculous I know, but down to an over-exhuberence in seed sowing and an ever growing number of fruitful self-seeders!) are most definitely not waining and unlike last year there’s not a diseased leaf in sight. And I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at this!

Of all the ways to attack a glut of tomatoes this is without question my favourite. Many a batch has been made and enjoyed over the course of our summer, and I’ve just realised I’ve not blogged how to make them. And lots of people have been asking. But beware they’re fabulously addictive. I’d hate to know how many I’ve consumed the last few weeks, but I can promise you I won’t ever be buying another shop bought jar again. The homemade ones are simply sublime beyond sublime. And I’d go as far as to say they are the single most tastiest thing I’ve EVER made! Amazing in pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizzas, salads, or served as an antipasto with drinks. The latter being my favourite way so you can truly appreciate their flavour (if stored in the fridge make sure you serve them at room temperature).

A basket of plummies!

I have to admit I’ve not made mine in the most orthodox way. After much googling it seems that few people bother with attempting real ‘sun’ dried tomatoes as it’s a pretty tricky and lengthy affair, even if you do have guaranteed hot sunshine for several days. Pretty much all commercial ‘sun’ dried tomatoes are oven dried, as are the home produced ones. So an oven is required, but all searches on google required an oven that would heat to a mere 100 to 120°C (and to bake the tomatoes for around 6 to 12 hours, depending on their size and water content). My temporary gas oven most certainly goes no where near this low so I improvised. By placing the trays in the coolest part of the oven and periodically switching the oven on and off to it’s lowest setting over the course of 24 hours (admittedly I wasn’t dedicated enough to do it through the night!) I’m pretty confident I achieved the same results. And it shouldn’t go without saying saved a good deal of energy on the normal method. A total success.

My other googling find was that plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes work the best, mainly because of their lower water and seed content and larger proportion of fleshy bits. Handily I’ve lots of those!

The Pre-baked Sun Dried Tomatoes

Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes

As many tomatoes as you want to use, preferably plum tomatoes

a little salt

a little pepper

a little sugar

several sprigs of thyme

extra virgin olive oil

Decide how you’re going to bake your tomatoes. If your oven can be set to as low as 100º or 120º you could go with this and bake the tomatoes for around 6 to 12 hours, checking every hour or so whether they’re ready. Alternatively you could bake them like myself at a temperature of around 160º but turning off the oven every time it reaches this temperature and leaving the tomatoes within to cool down and slowly dry out. This will take around 24 hours and 5 to 8 turning on and off sessions (not including the night!). You must take care not to forget and that they don’t stay too hot for long or they’ll colour and taste burnt in a matter of minutes (this happened with one batch of mine!)

Pre-heat your oven to the desired choice of heat setting.

Cut each of the tomatoes in half lengthways. Using your finger carefully scrap out most of the juice and seeds. Place each cut side up on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Continue until all the tomatoes are halved and prepared. I do at least a couple of trays at a time, but this is an awful lot of tomatoes!

Sprinkle over the merest amount of black pepper, sea salt and sugar on each tomato half. Drizzle on a tiny amount of the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of thyme.

Place in the coolest part of the oven and bake according to your chosen heat setting.

The sun dried tomatoes are ready when the liquid has evaporated, they are considerably reduced but are still flexible to touch, a very deep red and are a little chewy or tacky. The best way to judge them in my view is to taste a couple every now again! You’ll know when they’re perfect.

I stored mine, once cooled, in a jar of olive oil with a few slivers of garlic, in the fridge. They also kept very well for several days in the fridge just plain. Believe me you won’t be able to keep them long anyway! Try not to eat them straight out of the fridge, let them warm to room temperature first.

Here’s some of my other recent tomatoey recipes: A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces, One Pot Ratatouille, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

The post-baked finished sun dried tomatoes


One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ratatouille

Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?


Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Last night we had our lovely friend Debbie over for dinner and coupled with the welcome opportunity of an afternoon sans les enfants I got busy and inventive in the kitchen with our enormous glut of courgettes. Don’t ask me how but I’ve ended up with nine plants this summer. Last year’s seven were excessive despite our stream of guests the entirety of the courgette season.

Yesterday afternoon I was immensely satisfied to use six of the beasts in a three course courgette dinner, and almost get on top of the growing glut. Heavenly bruschetta topped with griddled and marinaded courgettes with lemon, feta and basil to start, followed by a chicken, courgette & chard thai green curry. The curry being a very rare treat as its nigh on impossible to get most of the ingredients here in rural France, but I happened to have a sudden success in homegrown coriander and some recently imported goodies from the UK. Recipe to be blogged shortly. Dinner was finished off rather surprisingly with a green tinged, utterly delicious and moist courgette cake, sandwiched with homemade lemon curd and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting! I’d love to take the glory for the cake but in truth it’s Nigellas from her Domestic Goddess book.

By the way, just in case you hadn’t guessed it, my Veggie of the Month for July is the not so humble courgette. I’ll be reviewing all my courgette recipes and ideas later in the month in a special courgettie round up. In the meantime I’d love to hear your interesting or novel courgette recipes and if I get a chance I’ll try them out before the round up.

Anyway, back onto the Bruschetta. I’m a big bruschetta fan, and this has to be one of my favourite toppings. And so lovely to be able to not only glorify the courgette but my homegrown basil that’s finally big and grown up enough to be picked (considerably later than last year). Griddled or barbecued in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and plenty of black pepper, marinaded in a little more oil, juice and zest and topped with salty feta and torn basil leaves this is to me the essence of summer, and an extremely tasty starter or entree. I regularly griddle or barbecue courgettes in this way, without always the further marinading, to serve as an interesting veggie side, pizza topping or pasta addition.

I’m entering this post to Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, held this month by the lovely Vanether at Bangers & Mash Chat.

Marinaded Courgettes

Enough for 4:

2 medium to large courgettes

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil plus a little extra for drizzling

juice of a lemon

zest of half a lemon

a generous pinch of Malden sea salt or similar

a generous pinch or two of coarsely ground black pepper

8 – 12 slices of good quality thickly sliced bread (sourdough works particularly well)

a clove of garlic

60g of feta, crumbled

a few basil leaves, torn

Fire up the barbie or place your griddle pan on a high heat.

Slice the courgettes lengthways into thin strips 2 to 3mm thick. Mix two tablespoons of the olive oil, half the lemon juice and the salt and pepper in a bowl.

Dip each courgette strip into the above marinade and place on the hot griddle. Allow to cook for two or three minutes until coloured and soft on each side. When cooked on both sides remove and place in another bowl and start up another batch until all are cooked.

Griddling

On to the cooked courgettes pour the rest of the marinade, a little more lemon juice (to taste), the lemon zest and another wee drizzle of olive oil. Give everything a good stir and leave to marinade until you’re ready to make the bruschettas.

In the same griddle pan or barbecue toast the bread until coloured on each side (this again will take several batches). Cut the garlic clove in half. As the hot toast is removed from the griddle rub the cut side of the garlic over the hot surface of the toast to impart a little flavour. Drizzle over a little olive oil. Top with a couple of slices of the marinaded courgettes, a little crumbled feta and a few pieces of torn basil and eat immediately. As if you could resist.


Chochori, Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

Bigger Kids, Grown Ups

We seem to have been eating quite a bit of meat lately, at least on the cyber world of the blog we do anyway, and I thought it time for a few more veggie dinners especially as my veg patch is busily coming into its own. This was one of our first ‘free’ dinners of the year with the two main ingredients, swiss chard and potatoes, both being picked and dug fresh from the garden minutes before. In fact these were our first potatoes of the year, and I can think of no better dish right now to celebrate them more than this fabulous curry. It still gives me a buzz to eat things I’ve grown myself and I’m convinced they always taste just that little bit more amazing. And it goes without saying they’re naturally all 100% organic.

The recipe, at least in the main, came from the lovely Nisha Katona of Curry in a a Hurry and her maa. Weirdly enough I was thinking of making a chard curry when would you adam and eve it, up popped a tweet from Nisha about her maa’s chard curry video. I watched, laughed (her maa’s a star!), absorbed and set to to make my own using all the same spices but guessing on quantities. So my apologies now to you both if I’m way out but the resulting curry was no less than wonderful in my opinion. And further apologies to maa that I didn’t use mooli, there’s no way I’d be able to source it in rural and notably un-multicural rural France! The spices I was lucky enough to have in, and I could even make by own fabulously fragrant Indian 5 spice seed mix called Panch Phoron (equal quantities of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and celery seeds, the latter added to replace the traditionally included black mustard seeds that I didn’t have).

Indian 5 spice seeds, Panch Phoron

I’m thinking you could happily use any veggies in this curry substituting part or all of the chard or spinach, but I was on a mission to use up as much chard as I could in one dinner so kept it simple. Great as a very healthy main served with steamed rice and/or chapattis or as a side accompanying other dishes.

Enough for four as a main or lots more as a veggie side:

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 heaped teaspoons of Indian 5 Spice seed mix, Panch Poran
an onion, finely diced
500g of potatoes, new or old, roughly chunked (I left the peel on mine)
2 whole dried chillies (I used birds eyes)
700g of Swiss chard, spinach or other veggies (including mooli if you can source)
a heaped teaspoon of turmeric
½ a teaspoon of dried chilli powder
a generous pinch of salt
a heaped teaspoon of English mustard powder thinned down in a tablespoon of water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and throw in the 5 spice. Cook for a couple of minutes or so until you can really smell the spices, but not so much the spices blacken.

Tip in the onion, potatoes (and any other slow to cook veggies you may be using) and whole dried chillies. Cover and cook for about ten minutes until almost soft, stirring regularly so nothing catches, and adding a splash of water rather than more oil if the pan dries out.

Meanwhile prepare your chard or spinach. If using chard tear any thick stems from the leaves, slice the stems and shred the leaves, keeping both separate. Shred the spinach.

Throw in the chard stems to the curry and cook for a few minutes. When the potatoes and chard are soft and cooked through add the chilli powder, turmeric, salt and shredded chard leaves or spinach. Cook for a moment or two longer until the leaves are wilted then take off the heat. Season with the thinned down mustard and a little more salt to taste.

Serve with steamed rice and/or chapatties, lovely with a little homemade mango chutney on the side.

How about trying some of my other curry recipes: Aloo Gobi Kaddu (Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin), Beetroot, Spinach & Chick Peas, Jamie’s Empire Chicken & Bombay Potatoes, Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers

Be sure to check out some of Nisha’s excellent home curry making videos, a great way to quickly and easily learn how to cook authentic indian fodder.


Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

‘Tis barbie season finally and we’ve been making the most of it this week, partly because of the great weather and partly because we’ve had our seventeen year old nephew James staying with us. I’m not terribly sure how we’re going to cope without his super-nannying skills when he leaves this afternoon (both with kids and dogs!). I’ve mainly been doing a few of my usuals on the barbie, various veggie and meat kebabs, my fat b*****d blue cheese stuffed burgers, chilli pork chops etc, all recipes that I’ll be blogging shortly plus a few exciting newbies on the block.

For today it’s my Greek Stylie Pork and Veggie Kebabs with fresh oregano. I’ve no idea how many times I must have made these last summer. At least twenty times I’m reckoning, and later in the summer using peppers, aubergines, courgettes and onions fresh out of the garden. I can’t wait to be able to do that again, rock on summer! They tend to be more of a side dish rather than a main event for me, but served with hummus and/or tzatziki, a greek salad and pitta bread they make a very substantial main. Great also with chicken instead of pork or without any meat at all (just up the quantity and variety of veggies).

The meat and veggies are best left to marinade for a good few hours, so try to make in advance if you can. And if you’re short on time, as I always am, it’s particularly handy to get all the hard work done in advance anyway, then all you have to do is a bit of skewering up just before barbecuing.


As I grow oregano in abundance I love to use it as generously as possible. It’s the chief flavouring in these kebabs, but if you don’t have a source of fresh oregano you can replace with three teaspoons of dried. I’m entering this post to the Herbs on Saturday blogging challenge held by the lovely Karen at one of my favourite blogs, Lavender & Lovage. I’ve been meaning to take part for quite a while now, but my organisational skills are not the best at times! Have a look at her blog as there’s sure to be plenty of herby and other delights on offer.

Oregano growing in my garden

If you do lots of barbecues I’d think about investing in some metal skewers, they’re so much better than the flimsy easily burnable throw away ones. My Mum and Dad gave me a set years ago that they’d brought back from Istanbul. To be honest they sat at the back of a drawer unused for some time before I got into barbecuing recently, and now they’re used countless times every summer.

Enough for six to eight kebabs:

a medium onion, white or red

a large pepper (any colour)

½ an aubergine or a small courgette or both!

the juice of a lemon

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

a handful of fresh oregano sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried oregano

350g of pork loin pieces

Start with preparing your meat and veggies. They should all be cut to a similar size so everything cooks fairly evenly. Half the onions, then half again then again into eighths. Then roughly separate the layers. Cut the aubergine in quarters lengthways then slice into pieces about 6/7mm thick. If using courgette slice  into 6/7mm thick rounds. Cut the pepper to a similar size. Finally dice the pork the same size as the veggies.

Now put together the marinade ingredients in a large non-metalic bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & black pepper and oregano leaves.

Tip the pork and veggies into the marinade and give everything a thorough stir. I use my hands. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade away in the fridge for a few hours.

Just before barbecuing, remove from the fridge and skewer up, alternating the veggies, onions and pork. Brush any remaining marinade over the kebabs.

Cook on a hot barbecue, turning every few minutes until they’re evenly browned on all sides and the pork and veggies are thoroughly cooked through.

Great served hot with pitta breads, hummus, tzatziki and a large greek salad on the side (again made with plenty of lemon juice and fresh oregano) or as a side dish to the rest of the barbecue. Any leftovers are fab eaten cold in a pitta sandwich.


Beetroot, Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Guess what’s in season at Chez Foti at the minute? Beetroot, hence the recent influx of recipes! It’s probably growing a little later than most as I didn’t get around to sowing my seeds until early October. What an easy peasy veggie to grow and so so delicioso. Not to mention pretty as a picture to cook with, if you don’t mind your food a tad on the barbie pink side!. This is my first ever attempt at a beetroot curry and I must admit a highly successful one. Beetroot’s natural sweetness works really well with a touch of heat and spice.

And a very healthy recipe too, great if you’re still keeping up those New Year’s resolutions. Which I’m not. Failing miserably as ever.

More of a grown up curry today, but you could always tone down the chilli and serve to your wee ones. They may just love a pink dinner!

Although I’ve called this a Beetroot, Spinach and Chickpea Curry, I actually used my beetroot tops instead of spinach, but I’m guessing these are only available to those that grow their own. I use them regularly in stews, curries and stir fries just as you would spinach, and if you don’t mind the pink tinge from the stalks they’re a wonderful veggie freebie.

Either serve the curry on it’s own with steamed rice and/or chapattis, or as a veggie side to accompany a larger meal.

Enough for 4 as a main curry, or lots more as a veggie side

2 tsp of cumin seeds

2 tsp of coriander seeds

1 heaped tsp of turmeric

sunflower oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, grated

a thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

3 small dried chillies, finely chopped

6 baby beetroot or 1 to 2 large full sized ones, cooked and cooled (see my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad recipe for how to cook beetroot), diced into 1 cm pieces

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of chick peas

200ml of water

200ml of plain yogurt

200g of spinach leaves or beetroot tops, washed and roughly chopped

salt & pepper

juice of ½ a lemon

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric together.

In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat a little sunflower oil and fry the spice mix until you can smell the spices, stir continuously so the spices don’t catch and burn. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously. Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are soft.

Now add the beetroot and chickpeas and cook for a further few minutes, stirring regularly. Add the chopped tomatoes, yogurt and water, bring to the boil and simmer for twenty minutes.

Finally add the spinach or beetroot tops to the curry and cook for a few minutes until the greens are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Have a good taste to check the seasoning, adding more lemon, salt or pepper to suit.

If you like this, how about trying my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad or Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry recipes?


Aloo Gobi Kaddu – Potato, Cauliflower and Pumpkin Curry!

I love veggie curries. Even though I’m a meat eater I’ve always loved, and usually preferred, the veggie sides when it comes to Indian food. A few days ago when faced with a very empty fridge bar one huge cauliflower and half a pumpkin I thought I’d make a veggie curry.  Aloo Gobi, a curry of potatoes and cauliflower is one of my all time faves, a wonderfully comforting combo, and definitely my favourite way of eating cauliflower (even above cauliflower cheese which I adore!).  I thought I’d try it out with pumpkin too, Kaddu in Hindi, and it really was rather a delicious combo. I’m also happy to report that both the kids loved it too, in fact rather surprisingly after ten days of being a little ill and only picking at his food Jacques really tucked in….even with the addition of a couple of dried chilis!. I think it’s a good thing to get your kids eating a touch of chilli at an early age, then there’s no great surprises or aversions when they’re a bit more grown up. Mine definitely have a taste for a little heat and spice, but then they were weaned on lots of yummie lentil dahls.

You could either serve this as a meal in it’s own right, as I did, with some plained steamed basmati rice and chapatis on the side, or as a veggie side accompanying a larger meal.

Enough for a main meal for 4:

1 onion, halved and sliced

sunflower oil

2 small dried chilis, or 1 fresh, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

a large thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp medium curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp brown onion seeds

2 potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm chunks

3 heaped tbsps ground almonds

a handful of sultanas

350ml water

300g cauliflower, cut into florets

300g pumpkin or squash, peeled and diced into 2cm chunks

1 400g tin of coconut milk

juice of ½ lemon

a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

salt

In a large saucepan heat a little sunflower oil and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

Add the chilli, garlic and ginger to the pan, along with the curry powder, turmeric and onion seeds. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the potatoes and ground almonds. Stir well. Add the sultanas and 350ml of water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, pumpkin and coconut milk. Continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes with the saucepan lid on, until the potatoes and veggies are all very tender.

Stir in the lemon juice and coriander. Taste and add salt to suit.


Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

I’ve not gone all American, just paying homage to a couple of recipes for Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese that I recently read on US blogs over Thanksgiving time: Brokeass Gourmet and The Garden of Eating. Being new to this world of blogging I’ve being doing a bit of reading myself of other blogs and Twitters, and I’ve found some great sites just like these two.

This recipe has rekindled my old love affair with macaroni cheese.  Mac cheese was always my ultimate comfort food, my mum without fail would make this cheesy treat when I was feeling poorly. The last few years though I’ve rarely made it, in part because my daughter Francesca has never liked creamy cheesy sauces, and it’s fallen out of my comfort food favour, preferring instead a simple casserole or pie. But this one is simply divine, bringing a slightly more grown up depth with the inclusion of pumpkin, onion and thyme. A fabulous dinner for kids, they’ll love it…although I have to admit Francesca still refused to budge on her dislike of macaroni cheese!

I’ve adapted my recipe from both these sites. They finish the dish in the oven with a breadcrumb topping.  I was intending to do this, but had two hungry mouths to feed and simply ran out of time, so I served up straight out of the saucepan. One of the recipes also uses tinned pumpkin which is something that doesn’t exist outside the US, and besides here at Chez Foti we still have a considerable surplus of pumpkins to get through!

If you don’t have any pumpkin or it’s not particularly flavoursome, substitute with butternut squash. I like to add a smidgen of english mustard to my cheese sauce, as it heightens the flavour of the cheese.

Enough for a family of four:

350g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled

olive oil

salt & pepper

225g macaroni

a small onion, or half a normal sized, finely diced

40g butter

40g plain flour

a few springs of thyme, leaves removed (optional)

350ml milk

90g cheddar cheese

½ tsp english mustard (optional)

Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash into roughly 1 to 2cm cubes. Place on a baking sheet or tray and rub in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

Meanwhile cook your macaroni according to packet instructions.

To make the sauce place the butter in a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion is translucent. Now add the thyme. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and whisk vigorously with a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to whisk vigorously, continue to add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all.  Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce constantly over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. When simmering, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard (if using).

Once the pumpkin is roasted, mash roughly with the back of a fork and add to the cheese sauce. Combine the sauce with the pasta and serve immediately….unless obviously you have a little more time than me and want to bake it. If you do place in a buttered ovenproof dish and top with a little extra cheese and a handful of breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

Here’s Jacques rather messily tucking into his Mac ‘n Cheese, refusing to use a spoon and only hands today. That’s my boy!


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