Moroccan Lentil Soup with Feta and Herbs

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ras al hanout

275g red lentils

400g can chopped tomatoes

1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock

Optional extras

To serve, crumbled feta and flat leaf parsley or coriander leaves and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion and celery until tender but not browned. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining soup ingredients.. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils become a purée. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Aubergines, Butter Beans and Tomatoes with Halloumi and Fresh Herbs

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Inspired by the flavours of Greece, this is a lovely summery meal to enjoy for a light lunch or supper with some pitta or flatbread, and is a fantastic accompaniment to a slow roast shoulder of lamb or butterflied leg cooked on the barbeque.

The trick for the best result is making this in a large, shallow pan, taking time to brown the aubergine nicely, seasoning generously. 

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 tbsp olive oil

2 aubergines, cut into 1.5cm cubes

6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

Sea salt and plenty of black pepper

1 x 400g tin tomatoes

Half a can of water (I pour this in after the tomatoes have gone in, swirling the water around to extract all the juice from the can)

2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained and rinsed well

Pinch chilli flakes (optional)

1 pack halloumi cheese, cut into 8mm slices

Zest of a lemon and the rest cut into wedges to serve

2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped

Method

Place the oil into a large, shallow pan. Heat over a moderate heat and add the aubergine. Cook for at least 10 minutes, until the aubergine is nicely browned as evenly as possible and has started to soften. 

Now, turn the heat down and add the garlic. Season well and stir for a minute or so until the garlic smells fragrant, but does not brown.

Now, add in the tomatoes, water and beans, followed by the chilli, if you want to use it. Stir well and allow everything to simmer away, thicken and reduce nicely. The aubergine should be very soft. This will take 20-30 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning.  

When it’s nicely cooked and the seasoning is right, pan-fry the halloumi until it is golden brown on each side. Depending on your pan, you may not need oil, but some pans will need a dash of olive oil to stop it sticking. Make sure the pan is nice and hot before adding the cheese.

When the halloumi is fried, remove everything from the heat. Zest the lemon over the aubergine and beans and serve topped with haloumi and fresh herbs. The lemon wedges can be served on the side with some bread or even roast new potatoes.

Wheaten Bread

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Ingredients

500ml whole milk

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

250g plain flour

250g Wholemeal plain flour

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g porridge oats

30g honey

30g treacle     

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 5.

Grease a 900g loaf tin with flavourless oil and set aside.

Start by placing the milk into a jug. Pour the lemon juice into the milk and stir. Set aside until it’s required in the next step of the recipe. The lemon juice will sour the milk and turn it into homemade buttermilk.

Sift the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Add the oats, but reserve two tablespoons to sprinkle on top of the loaf. Stir again.

Now, whisk the honey and treacle into the milk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir gently to just combine. Gently spoon the bread mixture into your prepared loaf tin. Smooth off the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the reserved oats.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until browned and the crumb is crisp. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.

Serve when still a touch warm, if you like. It freezes superbly and keeps for up to three days.

Flatbreads

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Makes 8

Ingredients

500g plain or spelt flour

1 large pinch sea salt

240-250ml water

4 tbsp olive oil

Method

Place the flour and salt in a bowl and stir to distribute the salt. Add the water and oil and stir to combine. Fold and knead the dough until all the dry flour is incorporated. Once the dough is brought together, knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth. Leave to rest for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Once the dough is rested – leave it for longer if you have more time – and divide into 8 balls. Heat a good non-stick pan over a high heat.  Roll out until around 5mm thick – you might not need flour, but use a little if the dough is sticking to the surface or rolling pin. Do this one at a time. 

Roll and cook the flatbreads one by one in the hot pan. Cook until lightly browned, tuning the flatbreads half way through. They may puff as they cook. The pan needs to be hot, but not too hot so they burn. You may find the pan needs turning down once you’ve cooked one or to flatbreads. Alternatively, they could be cooked on the barbeque.

Serve warm or cold, but allow to cool on a wire rack so that they don’t soften. These flatbreads keep for a day if stored in a sealed bag or container once cool. They freeze well. They’re delicious served with salads, stews, soups and curries, instead of a naan.

Greek Moussaka

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Potatoes are a much-loved addition to moussaka. I often leave them out to make it a little lighter, so the choice is yours. 

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 large aubergines, cut into 1cm thick rounds

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

750g minced beef or half beef, half pork

1tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 glass white wine

1 x 400g tin tomatoes

Sea salt and pepper

500g floury potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

To top the moussaka

125g butter

125g plain flour

1 litre whole milk

Sea salt, black pepper and nutmeg

Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4. Place the aubergine on to a large baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, turn and roast again for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large pan, add some more oil, the garlic and onion and gently cook for around 15 minutes until soft and fragrant, but not browned. Place the onion and garlic on a plate and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan, and turn up the heat and add the minced meat. Fry for around 5 minutes until sealed. Add the onion, garlic and lower the heat slightly. Add the cinnamon and dried herbs and stir through. Now, add the wine, tomatoes and season well. Simmer for at least 20 minutes but give it longer if you have time. This can also be batch cooked in a slow cooker. 

Next, prepare the topping. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Stir in to form a thick paste. Cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly. This cooks the flour, so it’s an important step to take, even if it looks dry. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring each addition in until it’s fully incorporated. After the first few additions, you can go in with a whisk to ensure the sauce is smooth. Season well with salt and pepper. One all the milk is added, allow the sauce to gently simmer and thicken for around 15 minutes. Set aside to cool slighty.

The moussaka can be assembled now. Take a deep ovenproof dish, around 20 x 30cm square. Start with a layer of mince, followed by a layer of potatoes (if you’re using them) and then more mince and then aubergines. Finish with a thick layer of sauce spread evenly over the top. You could put grated cheese on top of the sauce if you like. 

Bake the moussaka in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes until piping hot and bubbling and the potatoes are completely tender. Serve hot with a green salad on the side.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Makes about 30

Ingredients

225g butter

200g light brown soft sugar

150g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

350g plain white flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Generous pinch of sea salt

150g chocolate chips

100g chopped nuts, such as hazelnuts or pecans

Method

Cream the butter add the sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg bit by bit, then the vanilla extract.

Mix the dry ingredients together and fold them in.  Lastly, add the chocolate chips and the chopped nuts.

The mixture can be chilled for 30 minutes to firm up, or frozen. Roll the mixture into individual cookies or logs to slice. Chill in the fridge or freeze now. 

Before you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending on size from the fridge and add an extra 4-6 minutes for cookies straight out the freezer. Timings will vary depending on your oven, so ensure they are lightly browned and slightly crisp around the edge and soft in the middle.  Cool for a few minutes on the tray and then transfer to wire racks. The cookies should firm up quickly as they cool. Store in an airtight container once cool. They’ll keep at their best for up to 5 days.

Apple Crumble

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the filling

900g apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 2cm cubes

50g light brown soft sugar

For the topping

100g plain flour

50g chilled butter

50g light brown soft sugar

50g rolled oats (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4.

Place the apples and sugar in a baking dish and stir together to combine

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and butter and rub together until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar and oats, if using, and then sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown. Serve hot or cold with cream or custard.

Courgette Fritters with Feta, Mint and Parsley

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

These delicious fritters are wonderfully simple to make, and are a great use or larger courgettes, which, in my view, do not look as appealing or have the delicate flavour of the first, young courgettes of the season. Chickpea or gram flour has a lovely flavour, but use plain white flour if you don’t have it to hand. This recipe is very versatile, so feel free to try different cheeses and herbs.

Serves 4 as a starter, lunch or light supper

Ingredients

3 large courgettes, grated coarsely

4 spring onions, very thinly sliced

200g feta, crumbled into small pieces

3 large eggs, beaten

150g gram flour

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

2-4 tbsp olive or sunflower oil, for frying

1-2 lemons, cut into wedges

Method

It really doesn’t take long to prepare and cook these fritters, so start by doing all the prep, and cooking them just before you want to eat them, so they’re at their freshest.

Start by putting the courgettes, spring onions and feta into a large mixing bowl. Stir together gently. Add the beaten eggs, flour and chopped herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Stir until the ingredients are evenly combined and the flour has been incorporated. The mixture will look a little lumpy, but don’t worry.

Pour half the oil into a large non-stick frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat. 

When the oil is hot, spoon in the mixture, one large tablespoon at a time. The fritters may take one to two minutes to become richly browned and slightly crisp underneath, and then they can be flipped over, using a spatula. Once they are turned over, press each fritter slightly, to flatten and encourage the centre to cook through. Once firm and righly browned on each side, remove and place on kitchen paper to blot. Repeat until the mixture is used up. You should end up with 15-20 fritters, depending on size.

Serve fresh from the pan, but keep them warm in the oven on a baking tray if you need to.

Serve with lemon wedges, and maybe a tomato and herb salad. If the fritters aren’t all eaten up, you can keep them in the fridge and eat them cold or reheat in the oven later.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Makes around 1 litre

Ingredients

5 tbsp olive oil or 100g butter

2 brown onions, thinly sliced

Sea salt, black pepper and sugar, to taste

4 x 400g tins tomatoes, or 1600g fresh tomatoes

Method

Warm the oil or butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and slowly cook for around 15 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and slowly cook until the sauce thickens. If using whole plum tomatoes, they can be broken up using a wooden spoon. Cook the sauce over a gentle heat, stirring regularly. Don’t let the heat get too high, or it will burn and stick. Taste the sauce after 30 minutes and see if the seasoning needs adjusting. It should be ready after 45 minutes. This sauce keeps well in the fridge and freezes nicely in smaller batches.

Boulangère Potatoes

A recipe by Charlotte Pike

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1kg large floury potatoes, peeled

500ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper

A little butter, for greasing the dish

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ Gas Mark 6. Take a large ovenproof dish – I use a shallow rectangular ceramic dish, measuring 30x20cm – and butter the inside. Set aside.

Slice the potatoes very thinly (around 1-2mm thick) using a mandolin. Rinse the slices well in cold water, until the water runs clear and dry each slice thoroughly using a clean tea towel. This takes time, but removing the excess starch from the potatoes really makes a difference to the end result. 

Place a layer of potato to cover the base of a large ovenproof dish and season generously with salt and pepper. Repeat, forming layers of potato, remembering to season each layer as you go. Finally, pour the stock evenly over the potatoes. Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven and cook for 25-35 minutes until the top is a rich brown colour and the potatoes are tender. If they feel firm, they may need more time in the oven. Cover with foil if the top looks too brown. Cook until tender and remove from the oven. Cut into portions using a sharp knife and serve hot. Delicious served with roast meats.

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