Tag Archives: Aubergine

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!

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Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

One Pot Ratatouille

One Pot Ratatouille

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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?


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.


Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of pot roasting chicken, not only to avoid using our worse than awful gas oven, but it’s a fabulously succulent way to cook a chicken (or indeed any meat), particularly for slightly older-than-supermarket birds as ours was.

I made this a few days ago for our Sunday lunch when I was trying to think up something a little bit different and special to do with the first of our chicken brood to hit the pot, so to speak. She was a lovely lady though sadly went a bit lame. Luckily for us our kind neighbour down the  road offered to do the deadly deed and we were spared it this first time. I’m sure next time we’ll have to get involved and eventually it’ll be Phil or I bearing the knife. Something I’m wholeheartedly not looking forward to.

Sad to say but she turned into a great dinner and was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all. Slow cooked in a pan on the hob in lots of white wine, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette and peppers and flavoured with one of my favourite spices, sweet smoked paprika, and then served on a bed of fluffy couscous. Even better that there were lots of saucy and chickeny leftovers for the next day which made for a fabulous pasta sauce.

Enough for a family of 4, with plenty of leftovers for the next day:

a medium to large chicken, about 1.5 to 2 kgs

salt & pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika

500ml of white wine

200ml of water

2 x 400g cans of good quality chopped tomatoes

a heaped tablespoon of tomato puree

3 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

a red pepper

a green pepper

a medium aubergine

a large courgette

100g of stones green olives

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large deep casserole or saucepan, one big enough to easily hold the chicken and that has a lid, on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the garlic, onion and celery in the same pan and saute on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Stir in the paprika and allow to cook for a minute, whilst continuing to stir. Pour in the wine, water and chopped tomatoes, and add the tomato puree, thyme, bay leaves and a generous grinding of black pepper. Place the chicken back in the pot and bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Allow to bubble away for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the other veggies. Slice the peppers into strips by slicing each pepper in half lengthways, then each half into quarters lengthways and each of those into 3 or 4 narrow strips. Dice the aubergine into about 1.5 cm pieces. Cut the courgette into 4 quarters lengthways and dice each of the quarters into 0.5 to 1cm pieces.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a low heat in a large frying pan or saucepan. Once hot add the peppers and aubergine. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Once the chicken has been simmering for 45 minutes stir in the cooked veggies and the olives. Cover and cook for a further 45 minutes. The chicken should easily fall off the bone, if it doesn’t cook for a little longer.

Have a taste check adding more salt and pepper to the sauce to suit. Stir in the chopped parsley. Carve the chicken and serve with a generous ladleful of the Mediterranean veggies over the top. It’s great served on a bed of couscous.


Couscous with Roasted Veggies & Feta

A very easy recipe today, but oh so tasty; one of my standard dinners when I’m feeling a bit on the lazy side. It was my Big Bro Ben who first dished this up for me several years ago, and I’ve been making it pretty regularly ever since!  I actually always keep a slab of feta in the fridge for this very dinner.  Great for all the family too, and a good way to inject your wee ones with oodles of lovely veggies.  Mine love the natural sweetness of roasted veg, and always seem to eat way more than if they were just plain steamed or boiled.

If you want to meat-up your dinner it’s lovely served with some spicy sausages on the side, Philipe likes a couple of Merguez.  Merguez are spicy North African lamb or beef sausages that are soooooo good……and oh sooooooooo bad for you and are easily available to buy here in France, but a little harder to come by in the UK or elsewhere.

Like all my roasted veggie recipes you really can use pretty much any veggies you have lurking in your cupboards, fridge or garden.  For this dinner I used all veg picked from my garden and roasted up some lovely baby beetroot (their inaugural use of the season!), a carrot, some squash, half a courgette, a couple of baby aubergines (sadly almost the last of the year) and a couple of small peppers (also nearly finished).

Chop all the veggies to a similar bite size piece, though I tend to cut harder root vegetables a little smaller than others, and fill up an oven tray or baking sheet until it’s full. Don’t fill any more than a single layer or the veggies will be a tad on the soggy side rather than crisply roasted.  Whilst this always looks like an alarming amount of veggies, they really do cook down a great deal so make sure you fill it up!  And even if you do have some leftovers they’re great eaten the next day in a sandwich with a bit of goats cheese, feta or hummus.

I like adding a touch of balsamic vinegar at the end of roasting, it adds an extra level of sweetness which is a particularly nice contrast to the salty feta.

For a family of four:

1 onion (preferably a red onion), roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, left whole with skin on

Enough veg to fill a single layer on your baking sheet or roasting tray, cut into bite size chunks (you could use any combination of courgettes, peppers, aubergines, carrots, parsnips, squash, pumpkin, beetroot, swede, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green beans….)

olive oil

salt & pepper

a handful of parsley, stalks removed and roughly chopped

balsamic vinegar (optional)

200g feta, roughly chopped

200g couscous

Preheat your oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.  Place your veggies, onion and garlic cloves on a large baking sheet or tray, and combine with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes (turning at least once) until the veggies are all cooked through and a little browned.

While your veggies are roasting, prepare the couscous.  Because couscous varies in size, it’s best to cook to packet instructions. With the couscous in a largish bowl, I ordinarily  I add the same quantity in boiling water as weight of couscous, for example for 200g of couscous I would add 200ml of boiling water.  I also add a touch of olive oil and a little salt and pepper, then cover the bowl tightly and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add a little more boiling water if it seems dry.

Once the veggies are cooked remove the tray from the oven, add the parsley, the roughly broken up feta (I crumbled the feta on my veggies afterwards today, but it’s also pretty nice warmed up in the oven until it goes slightly gooey) and a dash of balsamic vinegar if using, stir around a little and put back in the oven for a minute or two to melt the feta a little.

Serve the veggies on top of the couscous. Yum…..I hope you agree?!


Roasted Veggie Lasagne

Everyone loves lasagne don’t they?  Even the most dedicated of meat eaters might just tuck into a vegetarian dinner if it happened to be lasagne?.  I make this quite often as the kids like it about as much as we do, and it’s much quicker to put together than a bolognese one.  Plus it’s a fab way to use up the excess veggies that always seem to be lingering.  You can add pretty much any veggies you want; once they’re roasted and covered in cheesy pasta layers they all taste pretty damned fab (and I’m sure your kids will agree).  I used in mine a possibly odd combination of red peppers, mushrooms, celery, french beans, aubergine, baby beetroot, carrots and a little swiss chard (the latter I added raw, finely chopped), but it worked very nicely!  A handful or two of cherry tomatoes work particularly well if you have them, as do courgettes, squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, spinach (no need to roast)…..the list could go on and on, but just chuck it in!

I tend to add quite a few fresh herbs to my lasagne as I grow them in abundance.  If you don’t have them to hand, don’t go to the trouble and expense of buying any especially to make this as it can manage without.  I either roast my veggies with lots of fresh thyme, or as I did today added a large handful of chopped parsley and basil to the veggies once they were roasted. I also used Grana Padano rather than it’s more expensive cousin Parmesan.  When making cheese sauces I always add a little english mustard. It somehow managed to eek out a stronger cheesier flavour, but it’s not essential and again if you don’t have it to hand don’t worry.

Serves 4 – 6

olive oil

a red onion, roughly diced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

750 g of mixed veg, cut into a rough 1cm dice

a handful of black olives – roughly chopped (omit if you’re cooking for kids who really don’t like them)

a handful each of fresh parsley and basil – roughly chopped (optional)

salt & pepper

50g butter

40g plain flour

500ml milk

50g Parmesan or Grana Padano, plus extra for the topping

½ tsp of english mustard (optional)

220g dried lasagne sheets – normal or green

2 balls of Mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.  Place your veggies, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet or tray, and combine with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes (turning at least once) until the veggies are all cooked through and starting to brown a little.  Once roasted turn down the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Meanwhile make your sauce. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until melted.  With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk until combined.  Add a little milk and continue to stir or 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 mustard (if using) and Parmesan or Grana Padano.

Now you’re all ready to assemble.  Into a large ovenproof dish add about a third of your veggies and about a third of the olives and a generous sprinkling of basil and parsley (if you’re using). Layer the lasagne sheets on top and spread a third of the cheese sauce over plus a third of the Mozzarella slices.

Continue with another couple of these layers until you’ve used all your ingredients up, and you’ve finished with a thick layer of cheese sauce and plenty of Mozzarella.  Now add a fine layer of grated Parmesan to finish.

Place the dish in your preheated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes until the lasagne is cooked through and the cheesy layer on the top is nicely browned.


Griddled Veggies

Not really a recipe as such, more an idea of a different way of cooking and serving veggies.  I have to be a little more inventive than most with veg, as my husband has a distinct aversion to “school dinners” plain boiled or steamed veggies, I think it’s the Italian and French in him!.

I’ve recently starting griddling my veggies which seems to bring out their flavours incredibly well.  Courgettes, aubergines, peppers, french beans and fennel all work superbly.  All you do is slice them lengthways to about a 4-5mm thickness; peppers I just cut in narrow strips lengthways, and beans are left whole but are best blanched for a couple of mins in boiling water first) and place them in a very hot griddle pan for a few minutes, turning them over to cook on the other side when they have lots of nicely charred strips.  I then marinade the cooked veggies in a good splosh of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of black pepper and sea salt, quantities obviously depending on how many veggies you are griddling. You could also add to the marinade a finely chopped chilli for a bit of punch, or a handful of chopped fresh herbs….like thyme, basil or parsley.

They’re great to serve as an antipasto just on their own, as a topping for bruschetta or pizza, or as an accompaniment to a main meal.  I made these last night to go on a couple of pizzas (pizza recipe to follow on my next blog!).


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