Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus is a fairly new addition to my kitchen, about four years I would say. Usually I just roast the asparagus in a griddle pan or under the grill with some olive oil and then sprinkle some salt and drizzle either lemon, vinegar or balsamic vinegar. This simple vegetable tastes just great as it has a very distinct flavour. I remember making mashed asparagus for my son when he was a baby and my mother saying will he like that? As she had never tried it before, I asked her to try it and she thought it was an ok taste. I am glad that I have introduced such great flavours to my son from an early age, as it has introduced him to a great range of flavours, textures and tastes.

Recently, when I saw a recipe on one of the blogs I regularly visit, I thought I have to try it because the  British asparagus season does not last very long. It is said that Asparagus is high in potassium, folic acid and low in sodium and calories, and is good for us as it does not contain any fat or cholesterol. I am a great believer in eating the right foods to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and if the food that I eat contains things I know that are good for our health/well-being then we should eat more of them. As a result I was glad that I tried this recipe. It was a great hit with the family and a recipe which I will make again with a few changes next time.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Pesto

sun-dried-tomato-basil-pesto

I only started using pesto after marriage and used to buy ready made jars. It was a convenient thing to do, as at the time I was on an interior design course on Tuesday evenings, so that was a pasta day 🙂 . It used to be a chore to find the vegetarian version of this classic Italian dish. Then about three or four years back I had bought a basil plant for the kitchen window sill and it had produces so many basil leaves, so I thought I should venture into making my own pesto. It was successful and so simple to make that I decided I would buy a basil plant each Spring and make my own pesto.

From looking at various TV chefs and other recipes, as well as a friend (who lives in Italy) telling me that I do not need to add cheese or pine nuts (as they are so expensive), just normal salted nuts are fine – I started making my own version as below. To make it more creamy I sometimes use almond, cashew, and pistachios nuts powder.

There are many uses for pesto, not only as a pasta sauce but also as a dressing for salads, for adding flavour to soups, a spread for sandwiches and roasted mushroom or eggplant. You can also create many different versions like I did by adding the sun-dried tomatoes. Other herbs and vegetables can also be added to give it an extra added flavour.

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Chilli Garlic Cassava Chips

chilli-garlic-cassava-chips

There are many spicy foods that are good to serve at parties and as a good filling starter or snack. These Chilli Garlic Cassava Chips are perfect, especially when its accompanied with your favourite dipping sauces or ketchup. Like garlic bread or fries/chips, the combination of garlic and chilli with the fried cassava makes a yummy crunchy treat.

I recently made this dish when my friend had come over for dinner, she asked me to make something different with cassava and I thought it was a good opportunity to try this recipe out. My husband had first tried this recipe at a restaurant and was very keen for me to try it so I could recreate it at home, like the chilli paneer he had first tried at an Indian pub.

It is just amazing how by adding a few simple basic ingredients the taste changes. When we used to have cassava  in Malawi, it used to be simply boiled and then served with some salt, chilli powder and lemon juice, or fried and made into crisps.  We also used to use  the flour to make various different savoury snacks. Indians also tend to eat cassava, potato etc. whilst fasting, so there are many recipes that we used to make. As I’ve grown up I’ve had more and more varied recipes using cassava as friends and family have tried experimenting with different methods of cooking and adding different ingredients.

Cassava is also known by many names including Mogo and Yuca (not to be confused with Yucca) and one of its products include Tapioca.

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Scrambled Tofu

scrambled-tofu

Tofu is fairly recent regular addition to my kitchen /cooking. It is very similar to paneer, which is an Indian cheese that does not have any particular taste and can be used for sweet and savoury recipes. As a result I use tofu more regularly. It absorbs all the flavours and hence makes it very versatile.

A few years ago I bought a basic quick vegetarian recipe book from a supermarket and Scrambled Tofu was one of the recipes in it. It was a simple red capsicum, tofu and chives scramble. I like the idea and added a few other ingredients to give extra taste and flavour to the tofu. This is a good breakfast / brunch recipe, or even to eat as a healthy snack and a good alternative to scrambled eggs.

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Chinese spring rolls

spring-rolls

My younger sister and two of my nieces love spring rolls. I have never really liked the taste of ready made vegetarian spring rolls, always preferring the home made ones.  I tend to make them in a large batch and freeze them so as they are ready to have when ever I want to make a complete Chinese meal. There are many different versions I have made. Out of them it is the Thai and Chinese versions that I truly enjoy.

Some of the dishes we learnt at a very early age, used to be at the ladies club. We used to meet up on a regular basis and food, flower arranging, house hold tips etc. used to be demonstrated. This is where we learnt how to assemble spring rolls, I remember when my mother and sisters used to do it all together, like a production line. Now when I make them on my own I have fond memories of how we used to listen to music and were gently coaxed into making sure we have enough paste and roll it tightly. After a few broken ones, we got there in the end 🙂 Of course it is much easier now that we buy the ready made frozen pastries, as opposed to rolling them out ourselves, which is where we started – Oh the joys and convenience of ready made items to make cooking life easy 😉

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