Mediterranean Tomato Soup

Mediterranean Tomato Soup

 

This is a thick tomato soup made with plum tomatoes and chopped basil leaves to give it an Italian flavour. The bowls of soup are sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and garnished with extra basil leaves. Just serve with lovely, fresh crusty bread.

 

Mediterranean Tomato Soup
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450g (1 lb) plum tomatoes (6–8)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • strip of lemon rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnishing
  • 600ml (20 fl oz) good vegetable or chicken stock (2½ cups)
  • 28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 28g (1 oz) flour (1 tbsp)
  • 85g (3 oz) mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded (¾ cup)

  • To serve
  • fresh crusty bread

  • Equipment
  • a blender or liquidiser


  1. Method
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and, using a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds.

  3. Put the tomatoes, onion and carrot into a large pan along with the lemon rind, bay leaf, seasoning and basil.

  4. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

  5. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then liquidise.

  6. In a clean pan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Let it cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.

  7. Now, slowly, pour in the liquidised mixture, stirring constantly until blended. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a further 2 minutes.

  8. Divide between four soup bowls and sprinkle the cheese in the centre of the soup. Serve immediately garnished with the reserved basil leaves and crusty bread.

  9. Tip
  10. To make it easier to grate/shred mozzarella cheese, pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes first.

 

Summer Tomato Soup

Summer Tomato Soup

 

With local tomatoes now in abundance, this is an ideal time to make a pot of summer tomato soup. This recipe produces a thin, flavoursome soup with just a hint of basil. Just right for a light lunch with some crusty bread.

 

Summer Tomato Soup
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 60ml (2 fl oz) extra virgin oil (¼ cup)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 16 large ripe tomatoes
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) chicken stock (1 cup)
  • handful fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnishing
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Equipment
  • large saucepan (a stock pan works well)


  1. Method
  2. Heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat.

  3. Add the onion and garlic. Stir to coat with the oil and then reduce the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes.

  4. Quarter the tomatoes and add to the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally while also breaking down the tomatoes. A potato masher works really well for this.

  5. Stir in the chicken stock, basil leaves, and seasoning and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes.

  6. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Strain through a sieve, pushing through all the juice from the vegetables.

  7. In a clean pan, reheat the soup and serve garnished with a few basil leaves along with some crusty bread.

 

Coated Chicken with Peppers

Coated Chicken with Peppers

 

A chicken dish that can be barbecued or popped under the grill/broiler for just 10 minutes.

Chicken fillets are coated with oregano, garlic and sundried tomato in olive oil that makes it super tasty. Just serve with a green salad and crusty rolls.

 

Coated Chicken with Peppers
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the chicken and peppers
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 55g (2 oz) sundried tomato paste (¼ cup)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Romano peppers /long red peppers or shepherd peppers

  • For the salad dressing
  • 115g (4 oz) Mary Berry’s Special Mustard Dressing/Walden Farms Honey Dijon Dressing (⅓ cup)
  • 1½ tsp clear/runny honey
  • 1 small orange, juice only

  • To serve
  • A green salad and crusty rolls


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the barbecue or grill/broiler.

  3. Slice each chicken fillet in half to make 2 thinner fillets.

  4. Stir together the garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano and seasoning. Spread over both sides of the chicken.

  5. Halve the peppers lengthways, de-seed and then cut into thin strips.

  6. Whisk together the dressing with the honey and orange juice. and stir through the salad.
  7. Barbecue or grill/broil the chicken for 5 minutes on each side until they are cooked through.

  8. After the first 5 minutes of cooking the chicken, add the pepper strips to the barbecue or grill/broiler and cook for about 5 minutes, turning them a couple of times. They should be just soft but not blackened.

  9. Divide the peppers between 4 plates, top with 2 pieces of chicken and serve with the salad, and crusty rolls on the side.

Updated: July 9, 2017

Summer Cod with Cheese and Tomato

Summer is in full swing now. Lots of very hot, sunny days and being a summer person this is definitely my time of year. However, Shandy, our labrador, does not agree with me – he finds it just too hot. Even choosing the woods to take him for a walk, where the umbrella of the trees definitely cuts out the blazing heat of the sun, only gives a little respite. For him its indoors lying in a cool spot with the air conditioner turned on!

There is invariably something to see on our walks and we were surprised by a young deer with its mother wandering through the trees. They are so elegant and much larger than the muntjac deer we were used to seeing in Oxfordshire.

All that aside, the time I choose to be in the kitchen is less during the summer months and the following recipe is one from my summer collection. There was some lovely wild cod at the fish counter which is very rarely available, so I just had to buy some. It was thick and the flesh was, oh so white. I used it for this recipe. We really enjoyed it and hope you will want to try it too.

 

Summer Cod with Cheese and Tomato

 

A very tasty way to serve cod that is super quick to prepare and cook.

Sun-dried tomato and butter are spread on the cod before topping with the cheese and plum tomato slices. It is then simply grilled/broiled and served with the buttery sauce, peas, green salad and crusty bread. A complete meal in no time.

 

Summer Cod with Cheese and Tomato
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 12–17 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 600g (1lb 6 oz) cod, skinned and cut into four
  • 40g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp, or ⅜ stick)
  • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 8 slices mature Cheddar cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced into 8
  • 115g (4 oz) frozen peas (1 cup)
  • salt and pepper

  • To serve
  • crusty bread and a green salad

  • Equipment
  • A heat resistant dish that is large enough to lay the 4 pieces of cod in a single layer.


  1. Method
  2. If it is possible, set the grill/broiler to medium. If you only have a high or low setting, option, turn it to low.

  3. Lay the fish in the dish. Spread the tomato paste over the fish and then dot with the butter. Place two pieces of cheese on each piece of fish and top with the sliced tomatoes.

  4. Grill/broil until the fish is cooked through. This should take about 10 minutes under a medium heat and 15 under a low heat. Increase the heat to high for a further two minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to brown.

  5. Meanwhile, cook the peas. This will take just 2 minutes in a microwave.

  6. Serve the fish with all the buttery juices and the peas spooned round the fish. Season.

  7. Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread.

Updated: June 23, 2017

Beef Goulash

Beef Goulash

 

Beef Goulash
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 55 minutes

  • Ingredient
  • 675g (1½ lb) stewing steak, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 3 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée/tomato paste
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 55g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 600ml (20 fl oz) beef stock (2½ cups)
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned and quartered
  • bouquet garni*
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) beer (⅔ cup)

  • *In Canada these little bags of bouquet garni aren’t available so I make my own. A simple bouquet garni consists of a sprig each of parsley and thyme, a bay leaf, 2 cloves and a few peppercorns tied together in muslin to form a sack.

  • Equipment
  • A deep sided large sauté pan.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  3. Tip the 3 tablespoons flour into a small storage bag and season. Shake bag to mix. Add the meat to the bag and shake again to coat the meat with the flour. Set aside.

  4. Heat the oil in the pan over a medium–low heat and gently cook the onions and pepper for 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally.

  5. Increase the heat a little and add the meat and cook until lightly brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

  6. Reduce the heat to low and stir through the paprika and cook for a further minute.

  7. Stir in the tomato purée/paste, seasoning, flour and a little grated nutmeg and cook for a further 2 minutes.

  8. Gradually add the stock, stirring until everything is well blended. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sauce until it is a smooth and thick.

  9. Remove from the heat and stir through the tomatoes and bouquet garni.

  10. Cover, and cook the goulash in the oven for 1¾ hours. Remove, stir in the beer and return for a further 10 minutes.

 

One-Dish Beef Casserole

One-dish Beef Casserole

 

This easy beef casserole is made from chunks of steak, braised slowly with carrots, onions and potatoes in a tomato-based beef stock. Once prepared and in the oven there is nothing more to do!

 

One-Dish Beef Casserole
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2½ hours

  • Ingredients
  • 700 (1½ lb) stewing steak
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) flour
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 450g (1 lb) carrots, sliced (6 medium)
  • 700g (1½ lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced (4½ medium)
  • ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 × 400g can, or ½ × 28 fl oz can whole tomatoes
  • beef stock
  • 225g (8 oz) peas (optional) (1½ cups)

  • Equipment
  • lidded casserole dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  3. Place the flour in a plastic food storage bag and add salt and pepper. Shake the bag to mix. Cut the steak into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and add to the bag. Shake again so the flour coats the steak.

  4. Layer the steak, onions, carrots and potatoes in the casserole dish, sprinkling each layer with a pinch of nutmeg and some seasoning as you go. Sprinkle any remaining flour in the casserole and add the tomatoes. Pour enough stock to come just over halfway up the ingredients. Gently stir the stock into the ingredients.

  5. Cover and cook for 2½ hours.

  6. Peas can be added 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

Updated: March 14, 2017

Steak Marinated in a Tomato and Herb Sauce

Steak Marinated in a Tomato and Herb Sauce

 

This was the first recipe I ever cooked where I made a marinade for steaks. I have updated the ingredients for the marinade and this really does make a delicious sauce to go with the steak.

 

Steak Marinated in a Tomato and Herb Sauce
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Marinading time: overnight
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 x 170g (6 oz) steaks
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) passata (1 cup)
  • 60ml (2 fl oz) cider vinegar (¼ cup)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tsp fresh, oregano leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Method
  2. Trim any excess fat from the steaks and put in a single layer in a baking dish.

  3. Stir the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Pour over the steaks. Turn the steaks over so they are covered with the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

  4. Drain the steaks and reserve the marinade. They can be BBQ’d or cooked in a little oil and butter in a frying pan/skillet.

  5. Once they are cooked, transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm. Rest for 5 minutes for the juices to be absorbed back into the steak.

  6. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade in a small pan, stir and bring to the boil. (If the steaks were cooked in a frying pan/skillet, use this.) Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further minute. A little water can be added if the sauce reduces too much.

  7. To serve, pour the sauce over the steaks and accompany with baked potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Updated: October 24, 2017

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken

 

There is just so much flavour in this chicken dish which is served with fettuccine.

Peppers are cooked first to bring out their flavour and sweetness, then added with the chicken to a garlic and basil tomato sauce with courgette/zucchini slices and onions.

 

Mediterranean Chicken
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 1 red pepper, quartered and deseeded
  • 1 yellow pepper, quartered and deseeded
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into half-moons shapes
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 courgette/zucchini, halved lengthways then cut into 1cm/½ inch slices
  • 2 × 400g/28 fl oz can chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 20g fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tsp light brown soft sugar
  • salt and pepper

  • To serve
  • fettuccine

  • Equipment
  • a large sauté pan


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the grill/broiler for 10 minutes.

  3. Place the peppers on a baking tray, skin side up, then grill/broil until the skin has blackened and blistered. Remove from the heat and place in a plastic food storage bag using tongs. Seal the bag and leave to become cool. (The steam that is released helps to lift the skin away from the flesh.)

  4. Meanwhile, season the chicken. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the chicken and, over a medium heat, brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

  5. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan, reduce the heat to low, add the onions and cook until softened and coloured around the edges, 10 minutes.

  6. Next, add the garlic and courgette slices, cover the pan and cook for a further 4–5 minutes, until the courgettes have started to soften.

  7. While the vegetables are cooking, peel off the skins of the peppers and cut the flesh into thin strips.

  8. Finally, add the tomatoes, half the basil, sugar and peppers to the pan and season. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then return the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them down into the pan. Cook, uncovered, over a gentle heat, for 20 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.

  9. Serve with fettuccine and the remaining basil scattered on top.

 

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach with Tomatoes and Crispy Potatoes

Have been enjoying the lovely sunny weather. It has been quite hot this week and so we have been walking with Shandy, our labrador, through the woods that lie behind us. It is amazing how much the leaf canopy shields the heat.

The woods are so pretty at the moment. The trilliums have now finished but have been replaced with a number of other wild flowers – blues, purples and white, colour is everywhere. They make the woods look very pretty. I enjoy it because when we lived in England I planted up an English country garden and a lot of the plants in the woods are the same. The most common one, I guess, being the wild geranium.

Recipes we are using now take less time to prepare and cook and here is one of our favourite salmon dishes. Using the centre cut of the fillet makes it easier to slice into portions once it is cooked so I do tend to choose this cut.

 

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach

 

A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.

Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.

 

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach with Tomatoes and Crispy Potatoes
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the potatoes
  • 900g/2 lb potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

  • For the fish
  • 675g (1 lb 8 oz) salmon fillet, middle cut, skinned and cut into four even sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • a little oil
  • 14g (½ oz) butter, melted (1 tbsp)
  • ½ lemon, juice only

  • For the tomatoes
  • 400g can (½ x 28 fl oz can) chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 28g (1 oz) chilled butter, cubed (⅛ cup, or ¼ stick)
  • ½ tsp sugar

  • For the spinach
  • 14g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
  • 1 x bag (plastic container) baby leaf spinach
  • a dash of white wine vinegar

  • Equipment
  • roasting tin for the potatoes
  • medium sized ovenproof dish for the fish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

  3. For the potatoes
  4. Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and place in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes so they can be handled.

  5. Thickly slice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Season and then coat with the olive oil. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.

  6. For the fish
  7. Lightly oil the ovenproof dish. Lay the fish in the dish, brush with the melted butter and season, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

  8. For the tomatoes
  9. Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat a little and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce. Gradually whisk in the cubes of butter over a low heat. Add the sugar and season to taste.

  10. For the spinach
  11. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.

  12. To serve
  13. Divide the spinach between four serving plates and place a fish portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.

Updated: September 25, 2017

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas

 

These mini ciabatta pizzas are made with ciabatta halves topped with tomatoes, cheese, bacon and onion, cooked in olive oil and garlic. Perfect for a light snack.

 

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 bacon rashers, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 ciabattas, halved horizontally
  • 1 × 400g/½ × 28 fl oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 110g/4 oz cheese, grated


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  3. Fry the bacon in 1 tablespoon olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes until crispy. Set aside.

  4. Lower the heat and fry the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, put the four ciabatta halves in the oven, cut-side down, for 5 minutes to crisp the outer sides.

  6. Top the cut side of the ciabatta halves equally with the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the cheese then top with the bacon and onion mixture.

  7. Cook the ciabatta pizza in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted, or cook under a medium-heat grill for 2–3 minutes, taking care not to burn the onions.