Tag Archives: Red pepper

Just bear with me whilst I wax lyrical about Auckland’s public libraries

I mentioned in this post that I’d requested a copy of the River Cottage Veg Every Day! book from my local library.  I requested it back in April, but apparently half of Auckland had the same idea (ok, a slight exaggeration perhaps…) so there was quite a waiting list for it.  Of course, I could have just gone and bought it rather than wait, but I’ve resolved not to buy any more books (cookbooks or otherwise) if I can borrow them from the library because A) books from the library are generally free, B) books from the library only temporarily eat up valuable and limited bookshelf space, C) library books won’t take up expensive box space when I next move country, D) if I detest a book I can just give it back rather than being annoyed that I spent good money on it when I could have used said money to buy butter or gin, and E) if I love a book so much that I know I will definitely read it again or realistically cook more than ten recipes from it, I can then go out and buy it, knowing that it will be a worthwhile investment.  Basically, it’s like test-driving books.  Particularly when it comes to cookery books (so should that be test-cooking?).

This plan only works because the Auckland public library system is brilliant.  All the public libraries across Auckland are managed by the council (apparently this is a relatively recent development and only happened in the last couple of years) and all linked up to the same computer system.  So when I request a book, it will come from whichever library has it available, it’ll be delivered to the library of my choice, and, most importantly, there aren’t any inter-library loan charges involved.  To me this seems the most blatantly logical way to run a network of libraries, but apparently it doesn’t work like that in, say, Edinburgh.  Since this system covers 55 libraries (yes, 55!), you won’t be too surprised to hear that the selection of books is very comprehensive and includes the latest releases (albeit often accompanied by long waiting lists).  This was something that I was extremely pleased, and indeed impressed, to discover.

So anyway, back to River Cottage Veg Every Day!, which is what this post was actually supposed to be about, rather than my over-enthusiasm for Auckland’s public libraries.  I finally made it to the top of the waiting list and was able to pick up a copy about a fortnight ago.  Flicking through it randomly, there were plenty of recipes that I wanted to try and I couldn’t choose what to try out.  I decided to be logical and start reading from the beginning and pick out one recipe to start with.  I got as far as the second recipe, chachouka, a North African dish which I’d never heard of but looked pretty damn delicious in the accompanying photo.  It’s a spiced (but not spicy) and flavourful sort of stew that consists of peppers, onions and tomatoes, topped with baked eggs.  It’s perfect for a lunch or light dinner, and I loved it!  The egg means that the leftovers don’t reheat all that well, so I’ll be keeping this one bookmarked for when I have guests over.

Chachouka

Serves 4
Adapted from River Cottage Veg Every Day!

Be warned that this dish does take a wee while to cook, but it isn’t difficult to prepare and doesn’t take too much effort.  This is best eaten as soon as it is prepared, accompanied by a simple green salad and bread to mop up the egg yolk.  This dish doesn’t really make for great leftovers – unsurprisingly, the egg yolks cooked completely when I reheated the leftovers for lunch the next day, so I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as when freshly cooked, although the pepper and onion mixture was still delicious.

Ingredients

3 tbsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
1 red peper
1 yellow pepper
¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of saffron
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
4 eggs

Directions

1.  Pell and finely slice the onion.  Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan (use an ovenproof one if you have one) and add the onions.  Cook over a medium heat for 8-10 mins, stirring frequently until soft and golden.

2.  Meanwhile, deseed the peppers and finely slice them (I’d suggest slicing more finely than I did in the photos),  Feel and finely chop the garlic cloves.  When the onion is ready, turn the heat down to low and add the peppers and garlic to the pan.  Cook for at least 20 mins, stirring frequently, until the peppers are softened.  Add the spices about 10 mins in.

3.  Add the tin of tomatoes, including the juice, and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook over a low heat for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally.

4.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.

5.  Adjust the seasoning of the pepper mixture if necessary.  If your frying pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to an ovenproof baking dish.  Make four hollows in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one.  Bake for 10-12 mins, until the egg white is cooked, but the yolk is still runny (it can be a little difficult to tell if the egg yolk is still runny, but basically remove it from the oven as soon as the egg white is cooked).  Serve accompanied by bread and a green salad.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #8: Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

I have a minor confession: I’m ever-so-slightly addicted to food magazines.  There are worse things to be addicted to though, so it’s all good (flawless logic).  Also, I’m not addicted to any-and-every food magazine out there, oh no, I’m quite picky – it has to be well laid-out and intelligently written, have lots of mouth-watering photos, contain a majority of recipes that I’m actually likely to make and I have to be confident that the recipes will work.  For this month’s Random Recipe challenge, we had to randomly pick a recipe from our collection of magazines or recipe cuttings (we all have them!).  My recipe cuttings are in several different folders and I have some saved on my laptop and some still saved on my old laptop because I haven’t quite got round to transferring them, making randomly choosing a recipe rather impractical.  So I decided to go for the magazine option.

I may or may not have slightly flouted the rules and not picked my magazine randomly.  All with good reason though.  See, to justify my food magazine habit, I’ve made a rule for myself: if I buy a food magazine, I have to try at least two recipes from it (though nothing happens if I don’t).  So I picked out the September 2011 issue of delicious. because A) I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet and B) we’re in September so it should have seasonal recipes in it (if I’d had September issues from previous years, I’d have mixed them all up and chosen one randomly).  Out came the trusty calculator with its random number generator which pointed me to page 19: a mouth-watering photo of a three-cheese summer vegetable bake.  Sounds yummy to me!

It turned out to be very yummy indeed, although there seemed to be an issue with the stated cooking times because they were certainly not long enough to cook all the vegetables (especially the potatoes) through.  Which disappointed me somewhat I’ve never had an issue with the recipes in delicious. before.  Have I just been lucky up until now?  It was hardly a disaster though – on taking the bake out of the oven to remove the foil and scatter the cheese over the top, it was quite obvious that the vegetables weren’t nearly cooked enough, so it went back in the oven for a little while.  No biggie.  Except that we had lunch (which we eat as our main meal, French-style) rather later than planned.  Once it came out of the oven properly cooked, it was rather delicious, filling but not too heavy, which is always a good thing!  Since the recipe uses seasonal vegetables, I’m also submitting it to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.

Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

Serves 4
Adapted from delicious. (September 2011)

I love the combination of vegetables in this dish – I don’t really tend to use fennel much, so it’s something a little different.  I also really liked that this dish was filling, but not too heavy.  I had to increase the cooking times quite significantly to the ones given here so that the vegetables (particularly the potatoes) were cooked through, so do be aware of that, and if you don’t think it’s quite cooked enough, don’t be afraid to pop it back in the oven for another 10 mins or so!

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb
2 large potatoes
1 courgette
1 red pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Handful fresh parsley
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
100g smoked ham
100g ricotta
250g mozzarella ball
50g parmesan

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Finely slice the fennel bulb, potatoes, courgette and de-seeded red pepper and finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and fresh parsley.  Mix them all together in a bowl with the flour and season well.

3.  Place a third of the vegetable mix in a large ovenproof dish.  Tear the ham into pieces and scatter half of it over the vegetables.  Scatter half of the ricotta and a third of the torn mozzarella over the top of the ham.  Cover with half the remaining vegetable mix, followed by the remaining ham, remaining ricotta and half the remaining mozzarella.  Evenly scatter the remaining vegetable mix over the top.  Set the left over mozzarella aside for later.

4.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour, before removing the foil and scattering the grated parmesan and remaining mozzarella.  Bake for a further 30-35 mins until golden.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods