Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Pepper and Spring Onion Spread

Bursting with vitamin C, peppers (capsicum) have crunchy, moist flesh that makes them an ideal raw component in spreads. Recipe makes 1 1/4 cups.


2 spring onions, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper (capsicum)
1 cup Creamy Yogurt Spread or thick Greek yogurt
Black pepper to taste


1. In a small bowl, mix together the spring onions, pepper and yogurt spread. Stir in the pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Spicy Red Pepper Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup red pepper for the green capsicum and 2 drops Tabasco or chili sauce, or to taste, for the black pepper.

Chinese Cabbage with Ham

This easy Chinese vegetable stir-fry is perfect for using up leftover cooked ham. Recipe serves 4.


1 small leek
10 ounces (315 g) Chinese cabbage
11 ounces (345 g) cooked ham
2 cloves garlic
3/4 inch (2 cm) fresh root (green) ginger
1/4 cup sunflower or corn oil
Salt to taste
Freshly milled pepper
1 tablespoon medium sherry
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce


1. Trim leek, slit length-wise and wash thoroughly under cold, running water to remove grit and mud between layers. Shake dry. Cut into thin rings.
2. Separate Chinese cabbage leaves. Wash each leaf thoroughly under cold, running water and drain. Cut leaves into thin strips, discarding stalks.
3. Cut ham into thin strips, removing any fat and gristle.
4. Crush garlic on to plate with garlic press. Peel, slice and finely chop ginger.
5. Heat oil in wok until hot, but not smoking. Add ham, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute.
6. Mix in leek and strips of Chinese cabbage leaves and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Moisten with sherry.
7. Mix cornflour with stock and soy sauce until smooth. Add to vegetables in wok. Bring to boil. Reheat until piping hot, stirring. Adjust seasoning to taste.
8. Serve straight away with rice or rice noodles.

Blueberry Muffins

These easy muffins, studded with succulent fresh berries, are best served warm. Recipe makes 12 muffins.


2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 large eggs, beaten
8 teaspoons milk
4 ounces (125 g) blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin tins or stand large paper cases on a baking tray.
2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter lightly with your fingers. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind.
3. Beat the eggs and milk together, then add to the flour mixture. Mix in with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. Spoon the muffin mixture into the prepared tins or paper cases. Make a hollow in the center of each muffin with a teaspoon and carefully spoon in the blueberries.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and springy to the touch.
6. Turn out the muffins and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Tip: You can use other fresh fruits in the muffins, depending on what is available. Try cherries, raspberries or blackcurrants. If using frozen fruit, thaw and drain well before using.

Artichoke Vinaigrette

Fresh artichokes are a wonderful spring-time vegetable and a real treat - especially when simply boiled and served warm with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Recipe serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.


4 artichokes
2 lemons
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper


1. Rinse artichokes well in cold water. Chop off the stalks and pop them into a pan of boiling water. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and, for added flavor, drop in the peel as well. Put a plate on top of the artichokes to keep them under the water and boil for 40 minutes.
2. While they are cooking, make the dressing by mixing the olive oil with the mustard, pepper and the juice of the other lemon. Stir well.
3. To test if the artichokes are cooked, pierce the base with a fork. It should be soft. Leave them to drain upside down for a few minutes, then pour over the dressing.
4. To eat, pull out a leaf at a time and suck the fleshy part at the base. When you've enjoyed this experience, you'll find the succulent heart of the vegetable waiting for you. Remove the furry choke before eating the heart.