Spiced roasted tomato soup

Last night we made a fiery roasted tomatoes and coriander soup which despite being spicy was quite difficult to stop eating.  Guess it is true what they say about the addictive nature of chillies.   We will probably tone down the chillies next time around but the rest of the ingredients work well together to produce a delicious soup.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 8 medium tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small green pepper
  • 2-3 red chilli peppers
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 small handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • 50 gms butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

2 large portions or 4 smaller servings

How do I make it?

Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes, garlic, chillies, onion and green pepper and roast in a 180 degree pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to an hour till the vegetables begin to char a bit.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skin and blend to a paste with roasted chillies, onion and green pepper.  Remove the skin from the tomatoes and blend to a puree.   Heat butter in a large pot and add the paste – stir over medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the chopped coriander.   Stir for a minute and then add the pureed tomatoes and sugar.  Add the stock cube and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil over a medium heat.   Adjust the seasoning before finishing off the soup with some roasted cumin seeds and creme fraiche.

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Gratinated Mexican rice

One of my favorite dishes growing up which mom would pull together for dinner parties was her rendition of Spanish rice.   Back in those days exotic ingredients were hard to come by and she made do with what was available.   I’ve had her recipe with me for 15 odd years and have never attempted to make it once but Saturday night was an opportunity to try it out.  We had invited some friends over for dinner and decided to go with a Mexican theme.   I have taken mom’s recipe as a base and made a few tweaks before rechristening it gratinated Mexican rice!   The dish was a hit with our guests and hope you enjoy making it.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked rice (long grain or even Basmati)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper sliced thinly
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 1 carrot chopped into tiny pieces
  • 4-5 baby corn chopped into bite size pieces
  • Handful of green beans trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili paste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

For the garnish

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp pickled jalapenos
  • 2 sprigs of green onion chopped
  • 50 gms of mature cheddar cheese

How much will I make?

Serves 6

How do I make it?

First par boil the carrot, beans and baby corn.  Then heat a wok/kadai, add oil first before sauteing the garlic for a minute.   Add the sliced onions, green pepper and celery and cook till the onions start turning golden brown.   Add the chipotle paste, sprinkle cumin powder and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till fat begins to leave the mixture.   Stir in the par boiled vegetables, adjust the seasoning and cook for another 5 minutes.   Switch off the heat and garnish with fresh chopped coriander.  Once the cooked rice has cooled stir in the masala and prepare the dish to be grilled.

Assembling the dish 

Transfer the mixed rice into a large rectangular oven proof dish.   Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the top.   Arrange the red pepper, tomato and jalapenos on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle the chopped spring onion and grill under a pre heated oven at 220 degrees Centigrade till the cheese melts, bubbles and turns golden brown.   Serve with a fresh tomato salsa or mango salsa as we did (1 large ripe mango cubed, 1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped, juice of half a lime and salt/pepper to taste).

Garden fresh – cream of tomato soup with a simple pasta

We have been blessed with plenty of tomatoes this year and having used it in our daily cooking for the last three weeks last night was an opportunity to make some fresh tomato soup.  There is something to be said about picking vegetables fresh and cooking them as there is a distinct difference in flavour versus supermarket bought vegetables.   The soup was simple to make and tasted great with a simple pasta starter.

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Cream of tomato soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes boiled, pureed and strained
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Small handful Thai basil chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the garlic for a few minutes before adding the onion and carrot.   Cook for 5 minutes till the onions appear translucent and then add the paprika and strained tomato.   Add a vegetable stock cube with 500 ml water and simmer over a low heat for another 20 minutes.   Blend the soup and return to heat.   Adjust the seasoning before adding the single cream and chopped Thai basil.  Enjoy.

Cherry tomato pasta

What do I need to make it?

  • 2 large handfuls of gluten free penne boiled
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 6-8 queen size olives sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Handful fresh oregano and basil chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp oilve oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat oilve oil in a pan and then add the garlic.  Saute for a minute and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn before adding the chilli flakes.   Stir for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes.   Cook for five minutes before adding the sliced olives and cooked penne.    Adjust the seasoning and add the fresh organo and basil.   Enjoy as a starter or make a larger portion for a main meal.

Garden fresh – tomato salad

Our garden pots of tomatoes are in full bloom and we have managed to pluck enough to use in our daily cooking and salads and some.  This evening’s salad was predominantly garden fresh cherry tomatoes with cucumber, salad leaves and feta cheese.  It was dressed with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette and then finished off with some fresh figs and toasted walnuts.  All in all both of us enjoyed the fruits of our labour and look forward to experimenting with new dressings to compliment our garden fresh tomatoes.

 

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Honey/mustard vinaigrette

What do I need to make it?

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp candied orange and lemon peels
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Enough to dress 4 side portions of salad

How do I make it?

Mix the mustard and oil first and then add the lemon zest and juice – give it a good whisk.   Add the honey and adjust the seasoning.  Finish off with the candied orange and lemon peels and keep vinaigrette aside.  Place salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese in a large bowl and mix in the dressing.   Serve the salad in bowl and garnish with toasted walnuts and fresh figs.

Mexican night

In the legendary words of Hannibal Smith “I love it when a plan comes together”.  Dinner tonight was inspired by Mexican flavours and the discovery of an amazing marinade for our chicken and fish barbecues.  Anna had some left over pickled chipotle peppers in the fridge and I decided to try it out in a marinade for some cod fillets.  The corn salad that accompanied the fish was an experiment to avoid wasting some unripened heritage tomatoes that fell off the vine when moving pots.  End result is one kick ass marinade (literally not for the faint hearted – I didn’t realise chipotle peppers packed that much of a punch) and a fresh corn salad with green tomato salsa as the dressing.  What made making the salsa most enjoyable was having our little son in tow in the kitchen with his plastic knife (courtesy of his Dubai aunt).  He wanted to help out and I must say he makes one helluva sous chef.

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Chipotle Fish

What do I need to make it?

  • 4 cod fillets (tends to take on different flavours well)
  • 5-6 pickled chipotle peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced finely
  • 1 tbsp Manuka honey
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • Handful chopped coriander
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it.?

Place peppers in a blender and puree to a fine paste.  Then add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.   Clean and pat dry the fish fillets and coat both sides with the marinade and refrigerate for a couple of hours.   Take the fish out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature before baking in a pre-heated 200 degree Centigrade oven for 20-25 minutes (the last five minutes switch the oven to grill to char the top of the fish).  Serve with fresh tomato salsa and corn salad.

Corn salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 3 ears of fresh corn – roast on open flame
  • 3 small heritage tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 Apache green chillies (use jalapenos or any other fiery green variety) – picke fresh from our garden
  • Juice of a lime
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First roast the corn, then shuck it and keep aside.   Mix all the salsa ingredients in a bowl and then add the corn to the mix.

The perfect Sunday

What a great way to spend my Sunday – warm 20 degree sunshine and the family around me.  It started off with taking Ansh and Lola for their weekly swimming lessons followed by a trip to the local park where both enjoyed riding their bikes and generally running around.  Both behaved for a change and ate their lunch without a fuss.  Anna and I then proceeded to clean the barbecue which has not seen much action in over a year and prepped for the evening meal.  Out of the blue,  Ansh said he felt like having some tomato soup for dinner.  I thoroughly enjoyed making him a batch of fresh tomato soup and grilling some portabello mushrooms and trout for our dinner.   For all my vegetarian friends and family the mushrooms are a great addition to your barbecue repertoire and you can have fun tinkering with the various topping combinations.

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Tomato soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 large tomato cut in pieces
  • 10 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onion chopped
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 pearl of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (use normal or cream if not bothered by lactose)
  • Handful fresh basil chopped
  • Knob of butter
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 comfortably

How do I make it?

Heat a pan and add olive oil to it.  First add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds before adding the onion, celery and sprig onion.  Saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the carrots.   Continue sauteing for another couple of minutes before adding chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then add stock cube and about 1 cup of water.   Allow to cook for 10 minutes before adding the fresh basil.  Blitz the liquid in a blender and bring it back to the boil before adding almond milk and a knob of butter.  Adjust the seasoning  and serve hot.

Barbecued portabello mushrooms

I don’t have exact measures for this recipe but can share with you how I make it.  Skin the portabello mushroom before adding the seasonings.  Sprinkle a pinch of mixed herbs, crushed red chilies and some garlic salt.  Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil and grill on the barbecue for 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively you can repeat the first step with the dry ingredients and  add some lemon juice and butter instead of the vinegar and oil.

 

Salad therapy – Italian nirvana

One of my key challenges on the trip away from home is my ability to stay true to the Paleo lifestyle.  Admittedly it has been tough and I have wavered and cheated a bit.  I enjoyed pulling together a mushroom and tomato sauce pasta accompanied with my all time favourite Italian salad – tricolore with a twist.  Traditionally tricolore is made with beef tomato and fresh mozzarella slices – I used cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls instead (I know cheese is not Paleo but then again my sister and family are not on the same journey are they!).   The pasta we had was gluten free (rice and maize flour) and every time I have it I feel it is lighter than traditional pasta – so even if you are not on a gluten free diet I urge you to give it a try – what’s the worst that could happen.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 10-12 mozzarella balls
  • 2 ripe avacados skinned and chopped into bite size cubes
  • Sprig of fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (buy some good salad oil tastes better)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4 as a side salad

How do I make it?

Place all ingredients in a salad bowl.  Sprinkle salt and pepper and the drizzle olive oil and lemon juice.   Mix together gently (don’t want guacamole) and serve.

Footnote:  

Anna and I are not Paleo purists and we make a conscious decision on the non Paleo foods we eat.  We are strict on gluten and wheat but fairly relaxed on other ingredients in moderation.  We have cut back on our rice consumption and as stated in previous blogs we do incorporate rice and maize flour in our diets once a week at best.