Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chocolate Nugget Bars

Walnuts, chocolate and crispy meringue make a sweet treat that will get repeat orders. Recipe makes 25 bars.


1/2 cup caster sugar
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups mini marshmallows
2/3 cup dark brown sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) shallow slab tin. Line the base with greaseproof paper.
2. Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir into the mixture to form a soft dough.
3. On a floured surface, roll out dough to the size of the tin. Lay dough in the base of the tin; press into the corners. Sprinkle over walnuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows.
4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the brown sugar gradually, whisking at top speed. Spoon the mixture over the chopped walnuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows, completely covering the base.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a crust forms on top. Cool in the tin, standing on a rack, for 10 minutes, then score into bars. Cool for another 20 minutes before cutting the bars.

Tip: Be sure to score the bars when they are still warm as the topping becomes sticky when it is cold. If you cannot find mini marshmallows, use normal-sized ones and cut them up with scissors.

Salmon with Green Lentils and Vegetables

This delicious, colorful and very speedy meal uses vegetables that take the same time to cook as the salmon. If you want to include vegetables that take longer, such as carrots, then part-cook them before you add the salmon. If you wish to use dried lentils, cook 4 ounces in 1 pint (600 ml) of stock until soft. Recipe serves 2.


14 ounce (400 g) tin lentils
12 ounce (340 g) selection of vegetables e.g. zucchini, mushrooms, snow peas, baby sweetcorn, spinach, fresh or frozen peas, fresh or frozen broad beans, peppers
2 salmon fillets
Lemon wedges and parsley to garnish


1. Place the lentils and their juices in a large frying pan.
2. Cut your chosen vegetables, where necessary, into pieces that will all cook in a similar amount of time.
3. Place these on top of the lentils.
4. Lay the salmon fillets on the vegetables, skin side uppermost and bring the mixture to the boil. Cover with a loose fitting lid and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the salmon and vegetables are just cooked. The length of time required will depend on the thickness of the salmon.
5. Place the lentil and vegetable mixture in pasta bowls, put the salmon on top and garnish with the lemon wedges and parsley.

Chokos with Italian Tomato Sauce

The tomato and herb sauce gives a flavorsome lift to the choko and the crunchy topping provides a nice contrast in texture. Recipe serves 6.


3 chokos
4 ounces (125 g) melting cheese
1 cup prepared Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce (any brand)
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
A few drops Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 ounce (30 g) butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Peel chokos and cut into quarters. Steam for 10 minutes until just tender. Drain. Place in an ovenproof dish.
2. Combine Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce, oregano, Tabasco sauce and pepper. Slice cheese finely.
3. Spoon sauce over chokos and top with cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and dot with butter.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.

Risotto-Stuffed Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Eggplant are a challenge to the creative cook and allow for some unusual recipe ideas. Here, they are filled with a rice stuffing and baked with a cheese and pine nut dressing. Recipe serves 4.


4 small eggplant
7 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Scant 1 cup risotto rice
3 cups hot vegetable stock
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts
For the tomato sauce:
1 1/4 cups thick passata or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon mild curry paste
Pinch of salt


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and remove the flesh with a small knife. Brush the shells with 2 tablespoons of the oil and bake on a baking sheet, supported by crumpled foil, for 6-8 minutes.
2. Chop the eggplant flesh. Heat the remaining oil in a medium pan. Add the eggplant flesh and the onion, and cook over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the rice and stock, and leave to simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spoon the rice mixture into the eggplant skins, top with the cheese and pine nuts, return to the over and brown for 5 minutes.
4. To make the sauce, mix the passata or pureed tomatoes with the curry paste in a small pan. Heat through and add salt to taste. Spoon the sauce on to four individual serving plates and arrange two eggplant halves on each one.

Tip: If the eggplant shells do not stand level, cut a thin slice from the bottom.

Fried Fish with Tomato and Pickled Lemon Salsa

Coating the fish in corn flour gives it a lovely golden color but you could use other flours if you cannot tolerate corn. Salsas are very easy to make with any moist fruit and vegetables - try substituting avocado for the tomato or pineapple for the lemon. Recipe serves 2.


2 tablespoons corn flour
Salt and pepper
2 pieces white fish (haddock, hake, cod)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes
2 dessertspoons finely chopped pickled lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (coriander, parsley)


1. Place the corn flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
2. Wash the fish and dry lightly with kitchen paper. Dip the fish into the seasoned corn flour until coated on both sides.
3. Fry the fish in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, over a medium heat, for approximately 5 minutes on each side or until just cooked. The length of time required will depend on the thickness of the fish.
4. To make the salsa, skin the tomatoes (place in boiling water for a few seconds to loosen the skins) and dice the flesh as finely as possible. Mix the tomatoes with the pickled lemon, fresh herbs and the two remaining tablespoons of olive oil.
5. Season the salsa to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the fish.

Marbled Cookies

These quick and easy cookies are flecked with chocolate flavored mixture. Recipe makes 30 cookies.


4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
4 teaspoons cocoa


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until pale and creamy.
3. Beat in the egg. Sift the flour over and stir in with the almond essence and milk to form a stiff dough. Break off an eighth of the mixture and knead in the cocoa.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the almond dough to a large rectangle. Scatter small pieces of the cocoa dough over the top.
5. Roll up the dough, Swiss roll-style, then fold in half lengthwise. Re-roll into a 9 inch (24 cm) sausage shape. Wrap in clear plastic; chill for at least 2 hours.
6. Cut the length of dough evenly into 30 slices. Place the slices on the baking trays, spaced 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden in color.

Tip: To make the cocoa and almond cookies shown to the left of the picture above, knead 1/4 cup sifted cocoa into the prepared dough. Press 2 ounces (60 g) slivered almonds onto the sliced cookies and bake, as above. The unbaked dough keeps for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Roll into a sausage shape and wrap in plastic.