Tag Archives: supper

Sunshine food – Quesadillas

Quesadillas are something which I like to eat when I fancy a bit of sunshine –  I love them because they’re bursting with fresh and healthy ingredients and taste phenomenal for it. They’re also excellent barbecue fare for vegetarians. This is a recipe that I picked up from the excellent Otto Lenghi book ‘Plenty’ a few years ago and have written to my memory, making it time and time again.

(makes 8 quesadillas – sometimes less depending on how generously you fill them!)

1 pack of corn tortillas (the brand ‘Discovery’ do these in the UK – I always find they have them in Waitrose and make special trips to stock up on these!) – however, normal flour based ones will do the job too though if there is a corn tortilla deficit

2 ripe avocados
5 large ripe tomatoes (or lots of little ones, though these make the salsa a bit sweeter)
Half a red onion
3 spring onions (or thereabouts)
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed clove of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (finely diced)
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbsps cider/white wine vinegar

1 tin of black beans (or equivalent in soaked weight)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I often use  just one between the salsa and bean paste and add a little more ground coriander as my student budget prefers this)
1 tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of a lime

Soured cream (enough for a blob in each tortilla)
Grated cheddar (enough for a sprinkling on each tortilla)
Chopped jalapeno peppers  – also for sprinkling in the tortillas (the kind that come in vinegar in jars)

Chop the ends off the red onion, peel and then cut in half down the centre. Very finely slice this half to get neat little semi-circle slithers of onion. Place these in a large bowl (everything else will also go in here eventually) and mix with the vinegar. Then dice and slice all of the other salsa ingredients, finely chopping the leaves and stalks of the coriander and put these all in the bowl too. This is probably the most time consuming bit of the dish but well worth it!

For the bean paste, put all of the bean paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to form a lovely tasty paste.

Put a griddle pan (or failing that, a frying pan) on a good high heat whilst assembling the first 2 (unless you get several pans on the go, these cook 2 at a time). To assemble, put the tortilla on a plate, take a spoonful of the bean paste and spread it on the tortilla, leaving a good cm or two round the edge. Dollop some soured cream (or creme fraiche) in the middle of this in a little circle and then put a spoonful or two of salsa on. It’s best to go easy with the salsa otherwise it all ends up on the griddle pan which is rather upsetting. I find it’s generally better to serve it up with an extra spoonful of the stuff than overfill it and risk loosing it between the cavernous ridges of the griddle pan.

Once the salsa is on, sprinkle on some cheese and jalapenos then fold the tortilla gently in half  and put it on the hot griddle. Turn the griddle down to a medium heat so you don’t set the whole thing on fire and wait until the edges start turning the tiniest bit browned then flip the tortilla carefully and repeat (a few minutes on each side). If using a griddle this should result in lovely dark griddle lines across the tortillas.

I find that two of these alone is a good substantial lunch and one/two of these with a rice salad or some home made oven chips  is a substantial dinner.



‘Clay pot’ sea bass with ginger and lemongrass

I have been feeling unwell for a few days and have been fancying something light and fresh and uplifting – soul food really. One of my absolute favourite places to eat in Sheffield is the Vietnamese restaurant ‘Pho 68’ because they do an incredible clay pot sea bass dish which never fails to uplift so it was with this in mind that I dreamt up this evening’s supper which is not only incredibly delicious (honestly, even if I say so myself!) but is also remarkably healthy for something so tasty.

Ingredients (serves 3/ 4)

2 Whole sea bass, gutted and with heads removed
A great big thumb of fresh root ginger
Several spring onions
2 stalks of fresh lemon grass
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Juice of 4 limes
400 mls of stock (preferably chicken stock. Vegetable stock is okay but try to use a reduced salt version as the soy sauce is salty enough!)
A pinch of sugar
Half a cucumber
Bunch of coriander

You will also need either a clay pot or some kind of oven suitable dish with a lid (I am using a creuset dish).
Heat the oven to 220 degrees and if you are using a genuine clay pot, put it to soak in cold water for 20 minutes.

Top and tail the lemon grass stalks and bruise them with something like a rolling pin to bring out the wonderful heady scent. Finely slice the lemon grass, spring onions and ginger in thin strips of about an inch or two in length. Lay half of this in the bottom of the dish you will be using. Wash the fish under a tap, checking the scales have all been removed. Score the fish deeply along its width on both sides several times and rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place the fish on top of the finely sliced ingredients in the dish. Place the rest of the sliced ingredients on top of the fish and turn to preparing the sauce.

In a separate bowl combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, stock and sugar and pour this over the fish and chopped vegetables. Put a lid on and place this in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sea bass is white and falling away from the bone in moist flakes. Chop the cucumber in the same way that you chopped the rest of the vegetables but slightly thicker and place this in with the sea bass for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time. Coarsely chop the coriander and sprinkle this across the dish to serve. Serve with rice, preferably fluffy steamed jasmine rice (just watch out for bones! If you are not a fan of filleting your fish as you eat it or serve it, I’m sure this recipe would work fine with fillets too – just watch you don’t overcook them!)

Enjoy! For quantities and particularly for the sauce, I based this recipe on one from Nigel Slater’s ‘the kitchen diaries’  – a version in which he steams the sea bass Nigel Slater calls this a ‘soothing supper’ which I can certainly attest to. The wonderful intensity of flavours in this dish is remarkable and incredibly rewarding given the relatively short amount of kitchen time needed – it has certainly served its function as soul food.


Well Delia, maybe ‘One IS fun’, at least when it comes to soufflés!

Today I went out for a wonderful and rather filling lunch (Nonna’s, Sheffield, http://www.nonnas.co.uk/), and since I had the evening to myself I decided to tackle something I’ve never before been brave enough to make – a lovely light souffle.

It’s frustrating trying to find a soufflé recipe for one, despite the fact that all sources seem to suggest that they are best cooked in small quantities. However, on this occasion Delia Smith came to the rescue with a book that has previously just sat on my shelf – ‘One is Fun!’ (something my mum sent me to uni with!). This particular soufflé is courgette and cheese which was great, as they were both in my fridge!

Heat the oven to 200 degrees (i put mine on at 185 as its a fan oven) or gas mark 6. grease a 13cm diameter soufflé dish with plenty of butter and fill a roasting tin with 2.5cm of water and place in the oven to heat up with it (the soufflé will be cooked sitting in this water). I don’t own a soufflé dish and whilst I considered using my house mate’s teacups (they’re pretty sturdy), I settled for my pyrex measuring jug on the grounds that a) it’s pyrex, what can go wrong? and b) when it goes wrong, it’s mine which will save a lot of guilt. Luckily, this turned out to be a remarkably successful soufflé dish!


  • 175g Courgette(s – if they’re small)
  • 1 large egg, separated AND an extra egg white
  • 40g butter
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of flour (a dessert spoon)
  • 55 ml of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped chives or spring onion
  • 10g grated cheese – Cheddar or Gruyère or other hard cheese of choice
  •  Nutmeg
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Grated parmesan or more cheddar for the top
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1. Cut the courgettes into 4 quarters, lengthways. then slice finely to end up with little delicate quarters of courgette. The precision of this does not matter too much as the courgette melts away as you cook it, the important thing is that it is consistently small, allowing it to cook evenly and rapidly. Put this in a medium frying pan or saucepan (the milk will be poured in later so it must be deep enough to hold a bit more stuff!). Put the butter in with the  courgette and cook slowly on a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes with a lid on, until the courgettes look soft and melty, but make sure to stir to avoid burnt bits. Season with salt and pepper
2. When the courgettes are cooked to perfection, add the 2 teaspoons of plain flour and stir around to soak up the butter/courgette juices. Then gradually add the milk a little bit at a time, stirring to create a smooth mixture – this is essentially a courgetty roux. Remove this from the heat and stir in the egg yolk, parsley, chives/spring onion, grated cheese (coarsely grated!!), a good whack of nutmeg and cayenne pepper to taste – for me also a good whack! As those of you who watch masterchef will have learnt this week, cheese for a soufflé must be coarsely grated if you want your soufflé to taste cheesey as finely grated cheese gets completely lost in the mixture, resulting in a disappointing cheese flavour.Taste this and adjust seasoning of the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.
3. In a separate large bowl beat the two egg whites. Make sure that no yolk has mixed in with the whites as it will stop the aeration process working effectively!! Beat until the whites are at the soft peak stage and be careful not to overbeat. Fold the whites a third of the mixture at a time into the bowl of courgettey roux. Gently coax into your souffle dish and sprinkle the top with more cheese. Place very carefully in the hot water in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. do not open the oven door to check until about 25/30 minutes (especially not early on in the cooking!). 
This is lovely served with salad and some tasty bread and makes a surprisingly filling dinner and a substantial lunch. I made waldorf salad with mine as apart from courgette I happened to have stilton, apple, celery and walnuts! This went quite nicely actually, and I had a few lightly toasted slices of the loaf I made yesterday with it (from the recipe posted by Jack a few days ago).
What amazed and delighted me was that this soufflé actually worked!! I think I may attempt a dessert soufflé next!
So behold my very poorly photographed and extremely unglamorous but remarkably successful and totally delicious courgette soufflé. A great dinner for a freezing winter’s night and a wonderful treat for the lone diner!