Three Salads and a Rice


Any night is a good night to see the children for dinner. I am happy to spend time in my kitchen whether it is the weekend or the beginning of the working week. Tonight I made three salads, a beef curry, some rice and a pistachio bundt with fruits for dessert.

Need I say it? It is raining as I write. I know some men have Man Caves where they try to hide away from the world. But you can’t get away from the rain! After nearly 40 years of living in England, I have come to accept (but not entirely embrace) it.

The three salads are very simple to make, provided you use the oven to roast the main vegetables of aubergine, celeriac, beetroot. Recipes follow for each salad, with a photo at the beginning of the recipe.


Salad Number 1: Roasted Aubergine with a Soya and Maple Dressing


Vegetable: 3 large aubergines, olive oil

Dressing: 2 tablespoons soya sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)

Garnish: spring onions, sesame seeds, red chilli

How To:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Cut the aubergines widthways into 2 cm slices.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and drizzle on some olive oil.

Place the aubergine slices on the tray in one layer. Drizzle over more olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning over once.

Whilst the aubergines are roasting, mix the dressing in a large mixing bowl.

When the aubergines are ready, tip them into the bowl and toss them gently in the dressing.

Place the aubergines on a serving plate and garnish with some sliced spring onions, sesame seeds and sliced chillies.



Salad Number 2: Roasted Beetroot with Salad Leaves and a Sherry Vinegar Dressing


Vegetables: 4 medium sized beetroots, a handful of mixed salad leaves

Dressing: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Garnish: toasted walnuts

How To:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Clean the beetroots if they look muddy. Wrap each beetroot in a piece of foil and place in a small roasting tin.

Roast for 40 minutes or until the beetroots feel soft enough for a knife to pierce through it without much resistance.

Cool the beetroots then scrape off the skin with a small knife.

Slice each beetroot in half, then each half into even sized wedges (as thin or as thick as you like).

Place the salad leaves in a serving bowl, add the sliced beetroot, whisk the dressing ingredients and pour over.

Garnish with some chopped walnuts.



Salad Number 3: Roasted Celeriac with Green Lentils and Asparagus


Vegetables: 550 g (peeled weight) celeriac, 150 g green lentils, 350 g thin asparagus spears, olive oil

Dressing: 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Garnish: some chopped flat-leaf parsley and toasted chopped almonds would not go amiss, but this time the salad was fine without them

How To:

Preheat the oven to 180 C fan.

Please see the original recipe here, and simply add some asparagus which have been roasted at 180 C for 10 minutes. This time of the year make sure the asparagus are locally grown.



Confit Garlic and Mushroom Rice


Rice: 300 g basmati rice (soaked for an hour if possible), 8 large garlic cloves, 6 tablespoons olive oil, 200 g sliced mixed mushrooms, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 whole star anise

How to:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Please see the original recipe here. I make this rice a lot and today I used mushrooms. I have also added cherry tomatoes, courgette and bell peppers at other times.

Place the garlic and olive oil in a large oven-proof pot (I used Le Creuset) and cook over a low heat until softened.

Turn up the heat a little, add the mushrooms and sauté this for around 2 – 3 minutes.

Tip in the drained rice, add 600 g boiling water along with the cinnamon and star anise.

Give everything a gentle stir, cover the pot and place in the oven for around 35 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

If you have an inkling that your guests might be running late, switch the oven off after 30 minutes and leave the rice covered until everyone is ready to eat. This rice dish is very forgiving in this way.



Dessert: Pistachio Bundt


Recipe in a separate post, as it is a bit more detailed. Need I say it? I love cakes baked in bundt pans.


PS: I left out the beef curry because I had a lot to do, and used a ready made paste. But the tip is to use beef short ribs and cook this in a pressure cooker for one hour. Remove the meat from the bone, cube the meat, reduce the sauce, skim off the fat, return the meat to the sauce-turned-gravy and serve to your guests.



The Happy Everything Dinner



What a great evening for our family to have a communal dinner. With our combined faith and cultural backgrounds we are celebrating both Passover and Easter. Over in Malaysia, Cousin A and Kepong Auntie went to visit the grave sites of our extended family as it is the Chinese Ching Ming Festival, where we remember our ancestors. It was also Brasenose Girl’s birthday yesterday. So it is a Happy Everything dinner where we have multiple reasons to celebrate life and Spring and the gathering of those whom we love around the dinner table.

The first I did this morning was to sharpen my knives. The first thing I did yesterday morning was to work out the menu, which we wanted to keep mainly vegetarian. I shared the workload with Junior 2. I made Carrot Salad with Cinnamon, Aubergine in Charmoula, Grilled Red Pepper Salad and a Roasted Cauliflower Salad. The recipes for the first three dishes are here and the cauliflower salad recipe is below.

Junior 2 made Hummus, Tabouleh, Harissa Roasted Potatoes, and sliced and grilled two blocks of haloumi cheese. We roped in Junior 1 to bring in some flatbreads and pastries as he lives near Green Lanes, home to multiple Turkish and similar ethnic restaurants and food shops.


Carrot Salad with Cinnamon



Aubergine in Charmoula



Grilled Red Pepper Salad



Roasted Cauliflower Salad (recipe follows)



For the Salad:

900 g trimmed cauliflower florets + cauliflower leaves, if any

300 g trimmed tender stem broccoli florets

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons dried sour cherries

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

60 g toasted hazelnuts, chopped

30 g fresh coriander, chopped

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped

salt and ground back pepper to taste

olive oil for roasting


How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan.

Place the cauliflower on a roasting pan and drizzle over a good quantity of olive oil. Sprinkle on some fine sea salt and ground black pepper.

On a separate roasting pan do the same with the tender stem broccoli and cauliflower leaves.

Roast the broccoli and cauliflower leaves for around 8 minutes, until they are slightly charred around the edges.

Roast the cauliflower for around 15 minutes, until it is slightly charred around the edges.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting, place the pomegranate molasses, sesame oil, dried sour cherries and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Chop the hazelnuts, coriander and chilli. Leave aside.

As soon as each vegetable is cooked, add them to the mixing bowl. Toss everything together and place on a serving plate.

Garnish with the hazelnuts, coriander, chilli and sesame seeds.


Hummus and Tabouleh


Cod fillet in a ‘sandwich’ of sliced sweet peppers, preserved lemons and fresh coriander. Roast in an oven at 180ºC/ 160ºC fan until the fish feels firm


Dessert was sliced oranges in vanilla: Slice the top and bottom off 12 oranges. Place each orange, flat bottom down, on a chopping board. Slice the peel away from the flesh, using even downward strokes. Carefully trim away any remaining white pith. Slice each fruit horizontally into 5 or 6 segments. Place in a salad bowl with 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste. Stir through everything and add a few fresh mint leaves before serving.



I made another chocolate and olive oil birthday cake (recipe here) because Junior 3 continually urges me to make it, saying it is the best chocolate cake she has ever eaten. It is not even her birthday! Today’s frosting was a chocolate ganache, made easily by warming up 150 g each of 70% dark chocolate chips and double cream in a small pot, stirring, cooling then pouring over the top of the bundt. This has almost no sugar compared to the regular cocoa and icing sugar frosting, but we made up for it with the sweet chocolate eggs.



We finished dinner very late, everyone helped with the washing and drying, and there were enough leftovers for a simple meal tomorrow. I will attempt to finish writing up my Singapore notes in the next week or so. For the Easter weekend Mr Gochugaru and I are heading to the Cotswolds to walk, eat and sleep. We are so looking forward to it.