Roasted Red Pepper and Butter Bean Hummus

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I have often acknowledged my love for roasted Red peppers. I love the smell and the taste of it and often make it at home when I have some spare ones and am using the oven for cooking something else. It’s great as a pepperonata Dip or Sauce (recipe here) and its also a great addition to Hummus. Hummus are very easy to make and are very healthy too. Do not be afraid to experiment with different flavours and trust me the end product will be way better than the supermarket versions that we buy. The following recipe uses Butter beans instead of the traditional chickpeas. The Butter beans produces a creamier end product and so we do not use much oil and do not add any Tahini (sesame seed paste) and thus making it even healthier. Reserve some of the juices that ends up on the roasting pan. Roast the peppers and leave them covered to cool and this helps to peel the skin off easily. make sure that the peppers have cooled down completely before using them. I often roast them after cooking some dinner in the oven and then leave them on the kitchen top covered to cool overnight. This way I also can get fresh Hummus prepared in no time in the morning.

Ingredients
Butter beans – 1 can of about 400 gm
Roasted red pepper – 1 large or 2 small
Roasted garlic clove – 2 medium
Cumin Powder – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Crushed Chilli – 2 tsp (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive oil 4 tbsp
Salt – to taste

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Method
Drain the beans and take the skin off (optional) if you like a creamer end product. I take about a half off and leave the other half. Then put all the ingredients except oil in a food processor and process for a minute. If you want to have a less thick end product add some of the juices from the roasting tray. Now with the motor running add the oil slowly.  Mix well. Season and serve with nice toasted bread, or vegetable sticks or pitta bread crisps or whatever takes your fancy.
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Thai Green Vegetable Soup

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After a few weeks of eating to our hearts content during our trip to India, it was time for some simplicity and some home comforts. The morning after we arrived back a supermarket shopping trip was the first thing on the list. Out sleeping pattern seemed to cope with the timing better than out tummy. (India being five and a half hours ahead). We fell asleep early around 9 pm and woke up around 6.15 am feeling fairly refreshed but very hungry. Soon after the school run A bowl of Porridge followed by a yoghurt and then a few pieces of chocolate were consumed before we headed to the supermarket. During shopping we felt another hunger attack. At that point we decided to get back home and make a quick soup. My wife spotted a 450 gms mixed diced casserole veg pack with kale and pearl barley. So we came home and she started to prepare a quick tasty soup. I added the Thai Green twist but kept it simple. I have tried to break it down as best as possible to get a recipe. You can use any vegetable mixture as per your choice either from fresh or a pre packed one. Our 450 gms pack (including the Pearl Barley) produced 3 generous portions. You could choose to use coconut milk or replace it with skimmed milk to make it a bit healthy. I used about 1tbsp of creamed coconut and about 150 ml milk.

Ingredients
Carrots – 100gms
Swede – 100 gms
Celerlac – 100gms
Onion – 50 gms
Pearl Barley – 50 gms
Kale – 50 gms
Salt and Pepper to taste
Thai Green Curry Paste – 1 heaped tbsp
Coconut Milk – about 150ml

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Heat a wide bottomed pan. Add Boiling water to it and add all the vegetables. Add a heaped tablespoon of the green curry paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Make sure that the vegetables are tenter. If not then boil for a bit longer. Add the coconut milk (or cream or normal milk) and simmer for a further 10 minutes. How blend (not too smooth) using hand blender. Season with Salt and Pepper. Add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice (optional) and serve with crusty bread or on its own. It was a quick and tasty soup that was ready in no time.




			

Tomato Soup

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Tomorrow we leave for a two and a half week holiday to India. We spent the day yesterday and today trying to finish up all the fruits, vegetables and other perishables at home. This morning I discovered a few fresh tomatoes and immediately thought of making a simple soup. Winter is a time when we all enjoy a hot bowl of soup. In our home the hand blender is one of the most used kitchen gadget. We often make a soup with whatever vegetables we have at home and also we make a lentil soup using red lentils (recipe to follow later). These all are fairly easy and quick to make. Tomato soup is nutritious and a great way to get some veg into your little ones too. I usually add carrots and celery to mine. If you have any fresh fennel lying around then add a bit of that too. Try and use the best quality tomato you can get hold of as that’s the key ingredient here. I have used canned chopped tomato in the past and they give good results too. Just use a whole 440 gm or thereabout can of good quality chopped tomato. I often add a bit of cream or a spoon of cream cheese or crème fraîche at the end. You can also use fresh or powdered stock for a deeper flavour but if its good quality tomato then I prefer to let the tomato do the talking.

Ingredients
Tomatoes 4 medium sized chopped
Carrot one small cut into dices
Celery one medium stick cut into slices
Onion one small sliced ( I used shallots here)
Garlic 3 cloves chopped
Bayleaf one
Thyme a fresh sprig or a tsp dried
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil about 2 tbsp
Double Cream 4 tbsp or 2 tbsp cream cheese (optional)

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Method
Heat a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the garlic and after a quick stir add the onion. Fry for a few minutes and add the carrots and celery. Fry covered on a low heat stirring often for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato and salt and put the heat up to medium and stir till the juices from the tomato starts to come out and the mixture starts to turn into a pulp (around 10 mins). Now add about 300 ml hot water and bring to a boil. Add the Bayleaf and thyme. Lower the heat and simmer for abound 15 minutes. Take off the heat and blend using a hand blender. Add cream or cream cheese if using. Dilute if necessary. Bring to a gentle simmer. Season the soup and serve immediately with some crusty bread. ENJOY!!
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