Friday, 25 May 2012

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

So I’m back in the blogosphere! It has taken several years but amazingly (and rather terrifyingly) I’m done with my degree. Finally things can return to normal and I can return to blogging without the impending doom of deadlines or dissertation stress.

I had the house to myself last week so rather than spending the night periodically freaking out about monsters under the bed (and every other available dark space), I had a dinner date with a friend, she bought the wine, and this is what I cooked.

It pretty much is the perfect dinner party meal, it looks and tastes impressive and it’s a bit different, but it actually really isn’t effortful. You can prep everything beforehand and if you make the broth in advance and do all your chopping all you have to do is sweat the herbs and throw everything in a big pot. Occasionally I make this with chicken as well but since my friend is vegetarian/occasionally vegan I omitted the chicken in favor of tofu but in all honestly I’m not sure it needs either, guess it just depends if your feeling the need for some protein.

Serves 2

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ a hot red chili, chopped
zest of 1 lime
thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped
Enough tofu for 2, cubed
various green veg (I use pak choi and green beans)
Enough noodles for 2, cooked according to packet instructions
½ a can of coconut milk
1 veggie stock cube
500ml water
juice of 2 limes
large handful of coriander, chopped
large handful of mint, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat the water and stir in the stock cube, add the coconut milk, soy and lime juice and taste/adjust to your liking so you get a good balance of salt, sour and sweet flavors  in the broth.

In a large pan or wok, fry the tofu until golden then sweat off the first 4 ingredients.

Add the veg and cover with the broth and simmer until everything is tender.

Add the noodles, bring back up to heat then stir in the herbs and ladle into large bowls. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Roasted Vegetable Tart.

Amongst the final weeks of my degree I am really struggling to find time to cook, well more accurately, the time to go to the supermarket. After 2 weeks (don’t ask, I have no idea how I survived) I FINALLY went and turned to a family favorite for my evening meal along with a LARGE glass of wine.

I like to think that this dish has a lot of the satisfaction factor of a pizza, but is crunchier, quicker to make from scratch and somehow fools you into thinking it's healthier. In truth, I’m not sure it actually is given the butter laden pasty but I tend to choose to just not think about that. What ever it is, it's yummy.

Its also hugely flexible, the ‘sauce’ you use on the base could be anything from cream cheese, to tomato puree, to ricotta, to pesto and the topping can comprise of anything really - veg, meat, cheese, the options are endless.

I made individual tarts because I think they’re cuter, however the recipe below is for one big one for convenience factor.
Serves 4 (if very hungry)

2 tbsp Olive oli
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry.
½ tub cream cheese or ricotta
2 tbsp pesto
2 large sweet potatos, peeled and cubed
2 courgettes, cubed
handful asparagus spears, chopped
2 onions, wedged
2 cloves of garlic, whole
1 large aubergine, cubed
Freshly grated parmesan

Firstly get your veg on. Throw it all in a roasting tin with some olive oil and seasoning, roast until soft and you can easily push a knife through the potato.

While this happens get your pastry ready, score the pastry about 2 cm in from the edge to outline the edge of your filled section. Spread the cream cheese and then the pesto on top inside of these lines, leaving the 2cm boarder clear.

When the veg is ready pile it on top of the cream cheese and pesto then top with the parmesan.

Bake the tart until the edges of the pastry rises and turns golden.