Roasted Red Pepper Houmous

I’ve been busy…

Last week it was my birthday, and on my birthday boxing-day I immediately jetted off to the Cannes Film Festival. This basically involves a long weekend of massive over-indulgence. The first glass of rose tends to come out at midday on the dot, and then the steak and wine keep flowing until the sun rises the next day. My poor body is in turmoil. On my last full day, I sought out a healthier option and found the most incredible quinoa salad at Mocca (a cafe opposite the Palais in the centre of Cannes). It was a delicious light option to counteract the abuse I’d been doing to my body until 5am the night before.

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I returned to England on Monday, and by God have you guys had the weather! Cannes was alright, but London was steamy! I made my classic avocado-heaped wet salad for dinner and begun the slow process of returning to normality. After a whole day spent in bed yesterday (yes, it was completely necessary), I jumped up this morning in the mood for some home-cooking. 

I’ve been wanting to make my own houmous for some time now, inspired by one of my favourite health-food blogs, Deliciously Ella. She has a wonderful recipe for normal houmous, and for red pepper houmous, and I made a version of the latter today. It turned out absolutely spectacularly, and I would encourage everyone to get on and make it! Like with soups, things that involve blenders are much easier than we realise. Just get your hands on a blender and start puree-ing food. Make like a baby, and eat smush!

Here is my slightly adapted version of Ella’s Red Pepper houmous.          

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Ingredients

1 and 1/2 tins of chick-peas

2 long, sweet red peppers

1/2 a chilli pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon tahini

Juice from 2 lemons

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup of water

a generous pinch of salt

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Cut the red pepper into slices and roast for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees C. Meanwhile, add everything else to the blender and whir it all together. When the pepper is cooked, add it to the blender and blend it all together once more. You may need to switch the blender off and stir the mixture a couple of times; You may need to add a little more water – but always be careful with the latter, as too much water will destroy the mixture. Always add very little by very little.

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Enjoy dipping healthy crudites in. “Thank you Lucy”, said my body, with a sigh.

 

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Hot Tomato Orange soup

My most recent obsession has been this delicious home-made soup. I made it for a friend, who responded with the following analysis:

First you taste the tomato and think “yum, yeah nice tomato soup”, then you get the kick of the chilli and you’re all like, “woah there, what’s that?” Then in the aftertaste you notice the orange and it’s like, “alright clever dick”.

 

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I liked that analysis, and I think he liked the soup. So here it is, my recipe for Hot Tomato Orange soup. Leave out the chilli if you don’t like spicy and adapt the portion size depending on how many you’re cooking for. This will make a very large portion of soup for 1:

Ingredients:

3 large tomatoes

1 small white onion

1/3 of a chilli pepper

2 cloves of garlic

a teaspoon of dried basil

1 vegetable stock cube

a healthy dash of worcester sauce

a teaspoon of tomato puree

a dash of cinnamon

juice of 1/2 an orange

Firstly chop up your tomatoes and onion and pop them in the pan to sizzle with the garlic, dried basil and chopped chilli. There is actually no need to add any oil in this recipe, as tomatoes are such soggy food and won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. (But olive oil always adds some deliciousness to any meal – so you can decide.) After the tomato and onion have gone soft, crumble the vegetable stock cube in, add the tomato puree, worcester sauce and cinnamon and stir for a little while longer. Then add water (this is a guessing game and it all depends on how watery you want your soup. Remember you can always add more water later, so I’d always err on the side of less than more. Generously cover the vegetables at least though.) When you have left all this to bubble for about 10 minutes, you’re ready to blend it together. Pour the mixture into a blender and let the machine do its magic. The final touch is the juice from the orange. Add this at the final moment, when the pureed soup is back in the pan.

Serve and enjoy 🙂

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ps. Also, it’s crazy low in calories for maximum taste. Another wonderful fasting day meal. The above portion size has about 150 calories in maximum.

Home-made Soups

Making home-made soup is one of the most notoriously easy but underdone cooking activities. I owned a blender for over 2 years before I made my first home-made soup, but I have never looked back. All it involves is bunging together various vegetables/stock/spices/herbs, and stewing them for a while, before liquidizing! It really is that simple. And they are brilliant when trying to eat healthily or trying to lose weight. They feel substantial and filling, because when you make it yourself it is often thick and chunky. And they are full of nutritious vegetables. This is very appropriate after my last post – home-made soup is actually good for you.

My flatmate and I are now huge fans of home-made soup (it’s rare for there to not be a random coloured concoction brewing on the stove), and I’ve been meaning to do a soup post for months. Here it finally is. This is the first, but it will definitely not be the last. Here is my recipe for Courgette and Pear Soup. (The amounts are estimates, and as with all home-made soup, a little freedom to experiment is always allowed).

Lucy’s Courgette and Pear Soup

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130g sliced courgette

40g spring onion

150g pear

160g cauliflower

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

A sprinkling of tumeric

1/2 a chilli pepper (if you want it spicy)

1 chicken stock cube

Simply fry the courgette and spring onions with the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, tumeric and chilli. Then add about a cup of hot water with chicken stock dissolved. Finally put in the cauliflower and pear and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan, and pour the stew into a blender to liquidise. Once it has all been blended put the soup back in the pan and add water as necessary, until it is the consistency you prefer.

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Spicy Sweet Potato Cottage Pie with my Ex

My ex-boyfriend came round for dinner tonight.

What a potentially dramatic way to start a blog post! But the reality is much more mundane (although wonderful for being so). Rob was my university boyfriend and the most important relationship of my life thus far. However, it was not meant to be. I knew that. He knew that. Now we are almost 4 years on from the break-up and are just incredibly close friends. Not with benefits. Just friends. The platonic sort. People say it can’t happen – Well we’ve gone and done it.

Now you’ve had that bit of personal history, I’ll bring this round to food again. Rob is a boy who likes to eat. I know a lot of boys like to eat, but this boy particularly likes to eat. When we were at university he had to go to the doctors for a check-up at one point because we thought he had tape worm – he would wake up in the middle of the night with crippling hunger and couldn’t rest again until he’d eaten a banana. It wasn’t tape worm. It was just an enormous appetite. So when Rob was coming round for a catchup dinner tonight, it was important that I made something hearty. This suited me, as the seasons are changing in London and the horrid cold and rain that has crept up on us Londoners over the last few days has made me long for wintery pies and stews. However, I still like to stay healthy. So I cooked up this: My spicy sweet potato cottage pie. It’s full of vegetables and good protein. No bad carboydrates. Just vitamin-y goodness.

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Ingredients:

1 x Courgette (grated),  2 x white onion, 10 x button mushrooms, 1 x tin of tomatoes, 1 x pack of lean beef mince, 1 x chilli, 2 x garlic cloves, tbsp of worcester sauce, tbsp of wholemeal flour, about 300g butternut squash, 1 x sweet potato.

Instructions:

Fry the chopped onion, chilli, garlic and mushrooms in a small amount of olive oil until soft and golden. Add the grated courgette and stir for a little. Add the mince. Add the tomatoes. Add the worcester sauce and flour. Leave to boil on a low heat for at least an hour. Meanwhile, boil your squash and sweet potato and create a mash. I added black onion seeds and a little fresh coriander to my mash, but that is certainly optional. Set your oven to 190C. Place the mash on top of the beef mixture and grate a little cheese on top, or just season with salt and pepper. Place your dish into the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top has cooked and begun to brown.

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Experiment and enjoy! (with ex-boyfriend friendships, and cottage pie…)