Beetroot and walnut hummus

Beetroot hummus — what an amazing pink hue!

I introduced Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s style of cooking to you in my post last December, A cook book recipe and a recipe too, when I was given a copy of his latest cook book for Christmas. I recommend it and if you’d like your own copy, it’s available at Amazon: River Cottage Veg Everyday at I promise I am not being paid to promote it! I am merely a fan of tasty, simple food.

River Cottage Veg Everyday has become my go-to recipe book and today I made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s beetroot and walnut hummus. You’ll need to use a measurement converter as Fearnley-Whittingstall is English and therefore uses British cooking measures. But don’t worry about it too much; in a recipe like this one it doesn’t matter if quantities aren’t exact. The recipe (see below) is from the Mezze & Tapas section of the cookbook, which is filled with all kinds of delicious dips and snacks. Hummus doesn’t just have to be all about garbanzo beans (chickpeas). The cookbook includes recipes for cannellini bean hummus, carrot hummus and of course, beetroot hummus.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and as always, please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section. Have you tried making an unusual variation of hummus? I’m always on the alert for new recipes to try!

Beetroot and walnut hummus

Serves 4
• 50g walnuts
• 1 tbsp cumin seeds
• 25g stale bread, crusts removed
• 200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp tahini
• 1 large garlic clove, crushed
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• A little rapeseed oil (optional)

1 Put the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 5-7 mins, until fragrant. Leave to cool.

2 Warm a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and dry-fry them, shaking the pan almost constantly, until they start to darken and release their aroma – this should take less than a minute so be careful not to burn them. Crush with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.

3 Break the bread into small chunks, put in a food processor or a blender with the walnuts and blitz until fine. Add the beetroot, tahini, most of the garlic, a good pinch of the cumin, half the lemon juice, a little salt and a good grind of pepper, then blend to a thick paste.

4 Taste the mixture and adjust it by adding a little more cumin, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper, blending again until you are happy with the result. Loosen with a dash of oil if you think it needs it. Refrigerate until required but bring back to room temperature to serve.

Recipe © Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, 2011, River Cottage Veg Everyday, Bloomsbury. No copyright infringement intended.

Blog challenge recipe #6: India

If you are a new visitor to my blog, you can read about my blog challenge here in my post ‘I’m setting myself a challenge’.

For the sixth recipe in my blog challenge, I decided to head to India (not literally!) and cook a delicious curry. So far the title, ‘challenge’, has been slightly misleading because none of the recipes I’ve cooked are especially challenging. But sometimes simple is best! I hope to work some challenges into my cooking during the next few weeks and since I have had blog visitors from nearly forty countries, I have plenty of opportunities to cook unusual dishes and investigate different world cuisines.


Public domain image: Spices by Jiří Dokoupil

When you think of Indian food, you probably think of curry. It is a staple dish in many Asian countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there are thousands of different types of curry. In India alone, curries vary according to tradition and region, for instance, in Kerala (a state in south-west India) curries are often vegetarian and are made with creamy coconut along with spices such as coriander and turmeric.

Coconut palm tree

Public domain image: Coconut 1 by Greg Getten

The recipe which follows is one which I created using basic ingredients from the store cupboard. Simple, nutritious and very, very tasty! It took me approx. 15 minutes to prepare and about 30 mins to cook. I made this for dinner last night and didn’t bother measuring out ingredients so the quantities listed here are very approximate and you will have to adjust according to the amount of servings you need — recipe below serves 2 with generous portions. Feel free to alter, change or add anything (it might be nice with a few crushed garlic cloves) and as always, let me know if you enjoyed it and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Potato and cabbage curry

10 baby potatoes, chopped into chunks
½ green cabbage, chopped into shreds
1 onion, finely chopped
Cream of coconut – a block of compressed coconut, not coconut milk. I used approx. ½ cup of this.
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
Black pepper to taste
A 2 cm chuck of fresh ginger, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
Boiled water


1. Finely chop the onion and gently saute in the olive oil. While the onion is cooking, prepare the curry paste mix. Add the creamed coconut, chopped ginger and spices to a blender with approx. ½ cup of boiled water and blend until the coconut is dissolved and no lumps remain.
2. Wash the potatoes and chop them into approx. 3 cm chunks. Add them to the onion along with the coconut mix. Cook on a moderate heat, stirring frequently.
3. When the potatoes are nearly tender, add the chopped cabbage. Add just enough water to almost cover the vegetables and cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked but not overdone (overcooked cabbage = eww!) and the potatoes are soft. I served it with steamed carrot sticks and brown basmati rice.

Spicy tomato sauce recipe

This recipe comes courtesy of my brother who requested to be credited as the Master-chef! It is delicious served with roast potato wedges and only takes a couple of minutes to prepare.

Public domain image source: Small Tomatoes by Jiri Hodan


⅓ can chopped tomatoes
4 cloves crushed garlic
½ tsp sea salt
2 heaped tsp hot smoked paprika (Spanish Pimentón if possible)
2 tsp dried oregano
Lots of ground black pepper
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the tomatoes in a jug, add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly together, then serve. If you cannot find pimentón, use cayenne pepper but use less of it.

Blog challenge #5: nettle soup


Public domain image: Nettle Flower by Максим Кукушкин

Recipe number 5 of my blog challenge comes from Panem….no, not really. Just kidding! Please ignore my current Hunger Games obsession. But it does sound like something they would eat in District 12 because it’s inexpensive, simple and nutritious. No one knows the exact origin for nettle soup but it’s a traditional recipe in Northern and Eastern Europe, in countries like France, Sweden, Poland and Ukraine. Since I have had blog visitors from all of those countries, this is the perfect recipe for my fifth challenge.

I followed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s nettle soup recipe (link) and it is really delicious. Because you’ll need to sort through the nettles when you’ve picked them to avoid bits of grass and stalks, the method I used is to blanch them in boiling water for five minutes, making sure all the nettles are covered by the water. After that, I carefully drain them and rinse them in cold water. The boiling water gets rid of the stings so they are fine to handle and chop if necessary.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! Don’t be deterred by the unusual sound of it. You will probably be pleasantly surprised by the taste.

Blog challenge recipe #3: Honduran cuisine

WordPress has recently added country stats to the regular stats page and I have had blog visitors from a few countries which my little flag counter widget didn’t identify. So now I have even more recipes to prepare! One of those countries is Honduras so, without further ado, here is a post on Honduran cuisine.

I already knew that the typical dishes served in Honduras were based on beans and rice. The food varies depending on the area, for example, the food of coastal regions of Honduras is focused on seafood and fish as you might expect. Ceviche, a dish prepared with fish marinated in lime juice, is very popular and I would love to make it sometime as I have never eaten it. The following recipe is very simple and is inspired by traditional rural Honduran cuisine. Pimenton (hot smoked paprika from Spain) is not commonly used in Honduran food – cumin is a staple spice there – but I decided to use a little anyway as it is so delicious with nearly every savory dish!

Blog challenge recipe 3

Honduran pinto bean recipe – serves 4


½ cup pinto beans (per person)
Onion, finely chopped (2 medium)
Garlic, crushed (3 cloves)
Carrots, diced (4 medium)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp pimenton (or cumin, if you want it to be more authentic)

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Then rinse them and boil until soft (approx. 1 hour). Rinse in cold water again.
2. Saute the onion and garlic together until soft and golden. Add the diced carrots and cook gently until the carrots are tender (about 20 minutes). Add your chosen spice – pimenton or cumin – along with the pinto beans and canned tomatoes. Cook until piping hot and serve with rice. Cheese is a common ingredient but I made this recipe for vegan family members so it’s entirely dairy-free. If you choose, mix some crumbled quesillo cheese or regular cheese into the dish just before serving. ¡Buen Provecho!

Blog challenge recipe #2: hummus

No-one really knows exactly where hummus originated from but it is a staple dish in many countries in the Middle East, including Israel. So far, I have had exactly one blog visitor from Israel so this is my blog challenge recipe #2! It is a really easy recipe and didn’t take me long to make. This is my own recipe and so I have included quite a lot of garlic because I love garlicky hummus. But if you would prefer not to have garlic breath for the next 24 hours after you have eaten a serving of the following, you can cut down the amount of garlic to 3 or 4 cloves! The smoked hot paprika is optional, although it adds a wonderful smoky, spiced flavor.

Hummus recipe


¾ cup/170 grams chickpeas (dried weight)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp tahini
6 cloves garlic – crushed
A pinch of hot smoked paprika
Approx. 1 cup water (boiled, then cooled)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in cold water. The following day, drain and rinse them. Put them in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and then cook on a moderate heat for approx. 60 minutes or until they are soft.
2. When the chickpeas are cooked, drain them and rinse with cold water.
3. Mix all ingredients together and then blend until this mixture is thoroughly pureed: you don’t want lumpy, chewy hummus!
4. Sprinkle a little paprika on top and decorate with fresh herbs. Serve and enjoy!

Food: butternut squash quiche recipe

There are other butternut squash quiche recipes out there but this one is mine, all mine. And it is delicious! 🙂

Butternut squash quiche

Butternut squash Quiche

Ingredients for the short crust pastry quiche crust:

1½ cups/187 g plain all-purpose flour

½ cup/113 g margarine

Approx. 3 – 4 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for the quiche:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes

4 eggs

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Smoked paprika (optional)

Step 1: Make the shortcrust pastry. Put the flour into a bowl and add the margarine. Use your fingertips to lightly rub the margarine into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Then slowly add the cold water and mix gently together with a wooden spoon to bring the mixture together to form a dough. If the dough is a bit soggy or you added too much water, add a little more flour.

When you have made the dough, put it in a food bag and pop it in the fridge while you prepare the filling for the quiche.

Step 2: Sauté the onion and garlic lightly in olive oil with a pinch of oregano for about 10 minutes. Then add the butternut squash cubes and continue to cook. Stir frequently to avoid the vegetables sticking to the pan and add more olive oil if necessary. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook until the butternut squash pieces are fairly tender (about 20 minutes).

Step 3: While the squash is cooking, take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it out and carefully put it into a greased quiche pan. Pierce the bottom of the quiche crust a few times with a fork to prevent air bubbles when it cooks. Next, line the quiche tin with baking parchment and place baking beans or pastry weights on top of it. Blind bake the quiche crust at 365ºF/185ºC for approx. 10 – 15 minutes. Then take it out of the oven. Keep checking the squash and when it is cooked, remove it from the stove while you prepare the eggs.

Step 4:  Beat the eggs thoroughly, adding salt and pepper and, optionally, a small pinch of smoked Spanish paprika if you have some. Then pour the eggs into the saucepan and mix well with the butternut squash, adding another small pinch of oregano.

Step 5: Pour the eggs and squash mixture into the quiche pan and smooth it with a spoon so that the filling is evenly dispersed. If you wish, top with a little grated cheese. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes at 365ºF/185ºC. It should be golden on top and have a firm consistency.

Step 6: Serve and enjoy!

A cook book review and a recipe too!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall wants us all to eat more vegetables. “Who the heck is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?” you might be thinking, after reading that sentence.
The answer: he is a British celebrity chef and, according to Wikipedia, a “‘real food’ campaigner”. His latest cook book, River Cottage Veg Every Day!, is packed full with recipes which illustrate his ‘real food’ principles.

That phrase amuses me. Sure, I know what it means but it just sounds funny. ‘Real food’, as opposed to what? Fake food?

My copy of 'River Cottage Veg Every Day!'

Anyways, getting back on topic: Fearnley-Whittingstall is not trying to preach or to convert everyone to vegetarianism but he believes that “We need to eat more vegetables and less flesh, because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good, and our planet the least harm” (from the Foreword to River Cottage Every Day, text 2011 copyright Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).

I was given a copy of River Cottage Veg Every Day for Christmas and it is a great book with about 400 pages of delicious recipes. Fearnley-Whittingstall’s style is simple: no fancy recipes which take hours to prepare, no expensive and exotic ingredients which only city-dwellers can find in specialty food shops…
The recipes are all vegetarian but almost all of them can be side dishes to meat or fish. There is also plenty of scope to create entirely vegetarian meals. I like the way River Cottage Veg Every Day is presented: there are several different chapters which range from “Comfort food & feasts” to “Hefty soups” and “Mezze & tapas”. The photography is wonderful. Every page has a color photo of the end results of each recipe.

The following recipe is from the Store-cupboard Suppers chapter of River Cottage Veg Every Day!:

Tomato, thyme and goat’s cheese tart

Serves 4 – 6
A little sunflower oil
½ teaspoon fine cornmeal or polenta (optional)
375g all-butter, ready-made puff pastry
Beaten egg, for brushing
About 350g tomatoes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
A little extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
100g rinded goat’s cheese
A handful of thyme sprigs, leaves only
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a baking sheet and scatter over a little fine cornmeal or polenta, if you have some – this helps to keep the pastry really crisp.
Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and trim to a rectangle about 30 x 25cm. Put it on the baking sheet. Cut a 1cm strip from each edge. Brush these strips with a little beaten egg, then stick on to the edges of the rectangle, to form a slightly raised border. Brush the edges with a little more egg.
Thinly slice the tomatoes across into 2 – 3mm slices; discard the stalky top and skinny bottom slices. Scatter the garlic over the pastry, then arrange the sliced tomatoes on top, overlapping them only slightly. Season with salt and pepper and trickle with a little oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and lightly browned.
Take the tart out of the oven, scatter over the cheese and thyme, add another twist of pepper and a trickle of oil, and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and the pastry golden brown. You can serve this hot, but I think it’s better half an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, with a green salad.

Recipe text © 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. No copyright infringement intended.

This is a fantastic cook book with a lot of simple, delicious and nutritious recipes. If I had to summarize it in one word: Yummy!