Monday, 31 January 2011

Seven Delicious Meatless Monday Recipes


One of the only things my family doesn’t like about the fact that I love to invent and develop new recipes, is that often, once I have made something I rarely make it again. In my quest for the new and different, the old favourites get left by the wayside. So recently, at my family’s request, I have been cooking many of our old favourites. So here are seven of my family’s favourite Meatless Monday recipes from Mondays gone by.
















Thursday, 27 January 2011

Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home


I’m very excited to be co-hosting a new blog hop with the wonderful Alex of A Moderate Life.

The new linky is called Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home and it is a true blog hop. This means, that if YOU wish to run the hop on your blog, all you have to do is get the linky code from the bottom of this page and list it on your blog for your readers to join in.

The rules are very simple, because it is a “follow me” linky.

Just enter your link below, Follow me on Twitter and ‘Like’ The 21st Century Housewife on Facebook. I will follow you back.

Do hop on over and visit Alex at A Moderate Life as well!

You can use your blog badge as your thumbnail if you wish and you can link up any time during the week.

Visit as many other blogs as you like, to make new friends and follow their blog, grab their tweets and RSS feed if you do not already. If you do grab their info, please leave them a comment so they know they have a new friend. If someone visits you from Feed Me, and grabs your info, please return the favour!




Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Delicious Spaghetti Bolognese


Spaghetti Bolognese, or spaghetti with meat sauce, has long been a favourite in our house. However my recipe has evolved a huge amount over the past few years. When I was growing up, spaghetti with meat sauce involved a sauce in which tomatoes were a recognisable, integral and well-loved part. Then I met my husband I found that in his family, meat sauce for spaghetti bore more resemblance to beef gravy than anything else and contained few, if any, tomatoes. In an attempt to fit in, and to please him, I amended my family recipe to suit his, and began to dread serving what was once one of my favourite dishes.  Everyone else loved it, but I missed my tomatoes. The only way I could sneak them in was to use a prepared jarred sauce, and I worried that they might not be the healthiest choice.

But in the last few months, after literally years of trying, I have finally found a way to make this dish in a way that means we all enjoy it, and without a jar of spaghetti sauce in sight. In fact, whenever I serve this version to guests, I always get asked for the recipe. As for my husband, he says he not only loves it, but he prefers it to the version he was used to. And if you are thinking he is just trying to make me feel good, let me tell you, when it comes to food, my husband speaks his mind!

This recipe loves the addition of fresh herbs if you have them. Last time I was cooking this I slipped a couple whole sprigs of thyme in while the sauce was simmering and removed them before serving. It was a fantastic (although purely optional) addition.

To serve four to five people you need:-

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pound of ground beef (pasture raised if possible)
3 to 4 cups of homemade tomato sauce or jarred passsata (sieved tomatoes), organic if possible
1 beef stock cube
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons basil pesto
1 pound spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until it begins to soften and become translucent. Add the ground beef and brown, stirring to break up any large chunks. 

Crumble the stock cube over the beef and stir through. (I know stock cubes are not good for you, but just the one cube really works here.) Add the tomato sauce or passata, oregano, bay leaf and any other herbs. Stir through, reduce the heat, and simmer for at least twenty minutes (up to forty minutes is fine). 

Remove the bay leaf, and any other whole herbs you may have added (like the sprigs of thyme I suggested). Stir in the pesto. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if you feel the sauce needs it. Simmer again while you cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water according to package directions.

Drain the spaghetti and serve with the sauce. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese, if using.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Apple Pecan Cake



This is one of those cakes that is so hearty you could actually serve for breakfast, even if the only really nutritious components are really the eggs, apples and pecans. It does contain a lot of sugar.  Still, when it comes to baked goods, I take my nutrition where I can get it!

I was inspired to make this by a recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. As usual, I did play with it a bit - especially the spices and the method of mixing - but the recipe is true enough to its original format that I do want to give credit where it is due. I almost gave up on it half way through as when I finished mixing in the apples and pecans the dough was so stiff that I checked the recipe four times to make sure I had not left out any liquid ingredients. I had to dollop it into the cake pan, and I seriously doubted it was going to turn out. I’m glad I persevered though because the juices in the apples gave the cake all the moisture it needed and it cooked into a glorious tender in the middle, caramel-ly crunchy on the outside cake that everyone asked for seconds of. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook just calls this Apple Cake but as far as I’m concerned, the pecans deserve some recognition too!

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used a generous teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon ground allspice (I used ½ teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I did not pack the brown sugar)
1 cup cooking oil (I used mild olive oil)
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups chopped, peeled apples (about 3 or 4)
1 cup pecans, chopped (the original recipe called for toasted pecans, but I didn’t bother to toast them and it was fine)
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel (I used the peel of a whole lemon, and I used 2 teaspoons of the juice as well)

Grease and flour a ten inch tube or Bundt pan. Preheat your oven to 350 (I set my fan oven to 150).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

Chop the apples and place in a bowl with the lemon peel and the lemon juice. Mix together with a spoon and add the pecans. Set aside.

Combine the sugars and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat together for two minutes on low speed. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for a minute more.

Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the apple and pecan mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until a skewer, toothpick or piece of dried spaghetti comes out clean. Allow to cool on wire rack for at least twenty minutes before carefully removing from the pan and continuing to cool on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home



I’m very excited to be co-hosting a new blog hop with the wonderful Alex of A Moderate Life.

The new linky is called Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home and it is a true blog hop. This means, that if YOU wish to run the hop on your blog, all you have to do is get the linky code from the bottom of this page and list it on your blog for your readers to join in.

The rules are very simple, because it is a “follow me” linky.

Just enter your link below, Follow me on Twitter and ‘Like’ The 21st Century Housewife on Facebook. You can also follow this blog on Blogger by clicking on the tab in the top left corner of your screen. I will follow you back.

Do hop on over to A Moderate Life and visit Alex as well :)

You can use your blog badge as your thumbnail if you wish and you can link up any time during the week.

Visit as many other blogs as you like, to make new friends and follow their blog, grab their tweets and RSS feed if you do not already. If you do grab their info, please leave them a comment so they know they have a new friend. If someone visits you from Feed Me, and grabs your info, please return the favour!


Green Vegetable Pasta


Okay, if I had called this what it really is many folks would probably would have flicked past it. Yes, this dish contains the much maligned Brussel Sprout - but I promise you that properly cooked these little baby vegetables are absolutely delicious. They make a fantastic addition to this quick and easy pasta dish, which in our house is known as Brussel Sprout and Pancetta Pasta.

The trouble with Brussel Sprouts is that most folks over cook them, making them soggy and bitter. First of all, do not, under any circumstances, make tiny crosses in the bottom with a knife. Although this is traditional, it makes the water soak up inside them, leaving them quite soggy. All you have to do is cut some of the bottom off the sprout, peel off a couple of the outer leaves and wash them thoroughly. Then Brussel sprouts need to be boiled for no more than 5 to 6 minutes in water to which a teaspoon of sugar has been added. And I promise you, cooked this way they are delicious. However that is not how you need to cook the Brussel Sprouts for this pasta dish. In fact, you stir fry them, turning them into gorgeous crunchy yumminess. Seriously. Trust me. They are so good for you, you really should try this.

All you need to serve four people is:

9 to 10 ounces of penne pasta
(whole wheat if possible or you can use gluten free pasta if you need to)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
a handful of mushrooms, sliced
about half a cup of chopped pancetta or 5 or 6 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 cup of Brussel sprouts, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
4 to 5 tablespoons of your favourite pesto (I like basil with this one)
2 to 3 tablespoons of cream or crème fraîche
chopped tomatoes and dried parsley to garnish (optional)

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté until the onion begins to soften. Add the mushrooms and pancetta or bacon and the sliced Brussel sprouts. Stir fry for seven to eight minutes until the bacon is cooked. Stir in the pesto and the cream until everything is well blended together.

Drain the pasta and return it to its pan. Add the sauce and stir through. Serve garnished with the chopped tomato and parsley if desired. This is nice with warm rolls and/or a salad.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cointreau Soused Orange Slices



This may well be the easiest recipe I have ever posted.  Originally one of my Recipes of the Week in January last year, it was inspired by beautiful blood oranges and some very pretty glass dishes. I'm republishing it because blood oranges are in season right now, and this is a simple and elegant way to enjoy them.  

Blood oranges have a relatively short season. The months they are available varies depending on what country you are in and the weather conditions. Here in England we can usually get them imported from Italy in late January/February, but the season can start as early as November and carry on into March. Athocyanin, which is a pigment more commonly found in flowers than fruits and vegetables, gives blood oranges their distinctive red colour. They can be slightly more tart than ordinary oranges but are very delicious. And of course, they are very good for you too.

I originally served this as a simple dessert for two, but I think it would be wonderful at a dinner party, particularly where there is going to be a cheese course and you only want a light dessert. It would also be a lovely for the summer, although you would only be able to use ordinary oranges as blood oranges are not in season then.  I don’t honestly think it would matter that much though. You could always scatter some blueberries over top for more colour.

I used both blood oranges and ordinary oranges in this recipe because I like the idea of the contrasting colours. Instead of peeling the oranges by hand I used a knife and carefully pared the skin off along with the pith. It can help to cut a small slice off the bottom of the orange first so that you can sit it flat on a chopping board to do this. Be sure to use a sharp knife and be careful of your fingers! 

It’s nice to serve this in pretty glass dishes so the colour shows through. 

You need:-

2 to 3 oranges per person, peeled and sliced in rounds
(try to remove all the seeds)
1 to 2 tablespoons of Cointreau or Grand Mariner per person

Peel and slice the oranges and  place them all in a fairly deep bowl.  Pour the liqueur over top, covering the oranges as much as possible.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a cool place (not the fridge) to soak for about an hour or so, gently turning the oranges from time to time.  The liqueur encourages the oranges to release some of their juices, so a lovely boozy juice will develop.  

Divide the orange slices between the serving dishes and pour some of the juice over top.  Serve with a little whipped cream or crème fraîche on the side for people to dollop on top.  I have a feeling this would also be delicious served as a topping for good vanilla ice cream. 

Monday, 17 January 2011

Meatless Monday - Jewelled Couscous Salad



The multi-coloured glossy peppers make this salad look jewel-like so it is beautiful on a buffet. It is also a great thing to have in the fridge over a couple of days as it goes with just about anything and as well as being tasty, it is good for you too. Peppers and other roast vegetables are full of anti-oxidants and although couscous it isn’t a whole grain, it contains protein, some B vitamins and fibre. (You can buy whole grain varieties of couscous now, but I have to confess I prefer the taste and texture of the traditional sort. But please do use them if you prefer.) The couscous that you normally buy here in the West is an ‘instant’ variety, and does not require the long steaming that traditional couscous does, making it quick and easy to cook.

Once again, I use my favourite go to ingredient, Roast Vegetables, in this dish, but I cut the pieces smaller and roast them for less time.

1 onion (red if possible), cut in small chunks
1 zucchini, top and tail removed, cut in half lengthways and then cut in half moons
(If you cannot get a zucchini, use a sweet green pepper instead.)
1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut in small chunks
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut in small chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil plus a bit more for dressing the salad
2 to 3 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar plus a bit more for dressing the salad
2 cups couscous
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 or about 190.

Place the vegetables in a roasting dish and toss in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 to 3 teaspoons of Balsamic vinegar. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and turn golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan until nearly boiling. Place the couscous in a large, heatproof bowl and pour the stock over top. Cover with aluminum foil and set aside for about five minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir through with a fork and set aside to cool.

Mix the roast vegetables and the couscous together, adding a bit more oil and vinegar just to dress the salad and bring everything together. (You won’t need more than about a teaspoon or so of oil and a few sprinkles of vinegar.) Grind in some black pepper and taste the salad. Add salt if necessary. Stir in the parsley and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Mediterranean Chicken Cassserole



This healthy, economical and delicious one pot meal has become a favourite at our house. I used chicken breasts as my family prefers them, but it would be absolutely delicious with boneless chicken thighs. For a milder flavour, just replace the smoked paprika with ordinary paprika, but do consider trying the smoked as it really does give the dish a wonderful depth.

You need a casserole dish with a lid that goes from the stove top to the oven, or failing that, you can use a frying pan for the first part of the recipe, and then move the ingredients to a large casserole that can go in the oven.

To serve four people, you need:

2 tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
1 red onion, cut roughly in eighths
1 red or green pepper, seeded and cut in chunks
1 cup quartered white or button mushrooms
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, and then in fairly thick half moons
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless thighs, preferably pasture raised, free range or organic, cut in fairly large chunks
about ½ cup cube pancetta or chopped bacon slices, preferably pasture raised, free range or organic
1 can (about 14 ounces) tomatoes, preferably organic
3 tbsp basil pesto, homemade if possible
½ teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1½ cups of small pasta shapes (I used tubettini)
1½ cups boiling water, cooled a bit
chopped or dried parsley to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 (170 or 160 for a fan oven). Heat the olive oil in a large stove-top safe casserole oven medium heat. Add the red onion, pepper, mushrooms and zucchini and stir fry for two or three minutes.


Add the chicken and stir through.


Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, just until the chicken starts to lose its pink colour. Stir in the pancetta or bacon and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, smoked paprika, about a quarter teaspoon of salt and an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper. Finely grate in the garlic. Put the lid on the casserole and transfer it to the oven. (If using a frying pan, transfer the ingredients to the casserole now and then put it in the oven.)

Cook for about twenty minutes if using chicken breasts, or thirty minutes if using chicken thighs. Remove from the oven. Take the bay leaf out and add the pasta.


Add the boiling water and stir through carefully. Return to the oven for about ten minutes, then check to see if the pasta is done. If it is not, and all the liquid has been absorbed, you can add a bit more water. You may need to return the casserole to the oven for five minutes or so - you want the pasta to be al dente. Make sure that the chicken is cooked as well, with no pink remaining inside.

When the pasta is cooked, check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Garnish with chopped or dried parsley. You can serve this from the casserole at the table, and it is lovely with some fresh hot rolls served alongside.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home


I’m very excited to be co-hosting a new blog hop with the wonderful Alex of A Moderate Life.

The new linky is called Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home and it is a true blog hop. This means, that if YOU wish to run the hop on your blog, all you have to do is get the linky code from the bottom of this page and list it on your blog for your readers to join in.

The rules are very simple, because it is a “follow me” linky.

Just enter your link below, Follow me on Twitter and ‘Like’ The 21st Century Housewife on Facebook. You can also follow this blog on Blogger by clicking on the tab in the top left corner of your screen. I will follow you back.


Do hop on over to A Moderate Life and visit Alex as well :)

You can use your blog badge as your thumbnail if you wish and you can link up any time during the week.

Visit as many other blogs as you like, to make new friends and follow their blog, grab their tweets and RSS feed if you do not already. If you do grab their info, please leave them a comment so they know they have a new friend. If someone visits you from Feed Me, and grabs your info, please return the favour!






Thursday, 13 January 2011

Orange and Raisin Challah Loaf



Ok, I promise, just one more bread machine bread post for now! I’ve saved the best for last, as this is one of my very favourite recent experiments. It’s based on the delicious Challah bread recipe I posted last Friday.

When I first made Challah bread using my bread machine, I only used it for the dough setting because I wanted to attempt the traditional braided shape. However I was so pleased with the texture and flavour of the bread, I wondered what it would be like made entirely in the machine for everyday.

Challah is a traditional Jewish bread, and raisins are often added at times of celebration. Now I love raisin bread, so I thought I would incorporate them into it. In fact, I used some beautiful California crimson raisins, and while I need to apologise for the food miles, they really did make it extra special. And then I got to thinking about orange peel and how good orange can taste with raisins and, well, the rest is history. I love it when a plan comes together.

Makes 1 bread machine loaf.

2 eggs, at room temperature
water
2 generous tablespoons of olive or other mild vegetable oil
3 cups strong white bread flour
grated rind of one orange
½ cup raisins or sultanas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons fast acting dried yeast

Mix the raisins and the orange peel together in a small bowl.

Break the eggs into a measuring jug and beat lightly. Make up to 1¼ cups with water. Beat together lightly. Pour into the bread maker bucket.

Add the oil and half the flour. Sprinkle with the sugar and salt and top with the remaining flour. Mound the yeast in the centre.

Fit the bucket into the bread maker and set to the raisin bake setting. If you have an automatic raisin dispenser, you can put the raisins and orange peel into it now. If you don’t, you will need to listen for the ‘raisin beep’ and add them then.

When the loaf is cooked, remove the bucket from the bread maker and carefully shake it out of the bucket onto a cooling rack. Wait at least a half an hour before slicing.

This bread is gorgeous spread with butter and jam, and it tastes lovely toasted too.