Monthly Archives: September 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Cherry Tomato Soup

This morning on my walk back from the gym I was reminded why Finsbury Park is awesome. On my route I pass a grocery stall where a friendly man sells fruit and vegetables in £1 quantity bowls. Amongst other things, I bought 4 red peppers for only £1, a bargain compared to the supermarkets.

So walking back with my heaving blue plastic bags I got the idea into my head that I wanted to make roasted red pepper soup and I’ve been excited all day planning it. Although this is a fairly simply recipe, the roasting takes some time in order to get the best flavours from the peppers and tomatoes. If you’re really rushed for time you could add them to the pot raw and boil them, but I hope I can persuade you that the roasting is worth the wait.

I have a love/hate relationship with cooked peppers, so this is quite an unusual meal for me to cook. I wouldn’t normally eat them except when my parents make peperonata (an Italian dish of sliced roasted peppers with olive oil, garlic, and sometimes olives and capers; also known as peperoni in Italy). However, over a year ago I went to a sweet little tea house with my friend Sophie and we had red pepper soup which was absolutely delicious. I have no idea what they put it in but it was scrumptious. Since then, I don’t think I’ve eaten it again and certainly never made it until now, but I was so excited to try.

The smell of peppers and tomatoes roasting in the oven is absolutely delicious. I was tapping my feet and staring into the oven for a large part of the afternoon!

Roasted Red Pepper and Cherry Tomato Soup

Start to finish time: 2.5 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

5 red peppers
15 cherry tomatoes (on the vine is best)
2 red onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
2 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock/500ml water and 1 stock cube
handful of basil leaves
A few parsley stalks, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried tarragon*
1/2 tsp paprika*
75ml cream
salt & pepper

* optional

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. In a large tray, add the olive oil, garlic cloves and the peppers, whole and washed. Roast for about an hour in the middle of the oven, checking once or twice and turning the peppers.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes and bay leaves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for another half an hour. Then, add the basil and turn the tomatoes and peppers.

3. In a large pot, heat the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook on a low heat with the lid on until soft. Add everything from the oven tray into the pot, except the bay leaves and peppers. Put the lid on and let it cook slowly while you prepare the peppers. Don’t worry about all the liquid from the roasting tray, the cherry tomatoes release a lot of water in the oven which adds a beautiful flavour.

4. Pull off the pepper stalks and discard. Slice each pepper down the middle and scoop out all the seeds. Then, peel off the pepper skins. Add the soft cooked peppers to the pot and stir in. Add the stock, chopped parsley, tomato puree and dried herbs. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat. Blend the soup, and then pass through a sieve to get rid of any rogue pepper seeds and to smooth. Return to the pot and add the cream, salt and pepper (to taste). You should now have a rich orange coloured creamy and smooth soup which tastes absolutely divine.

Serve with your favourite bread as a starter or main. It should last a few days in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

All written content and photographs copyright Vered © 2011. All rights reserved.

2 Paneer Recipes For The Price Of Yum!

Paneer is a totally vegetarian Indian white cheese. I would say it has a texture similar to halloumi, (but without the salty flavour) and is delicious in Indian cooking.

Although I am half Indian, I can’t remember eating much paneer at home. Strangely enough, I fell in love with paneer in Vietnam. When I was travelling around South East Asia with my boyfriend, we met an interesting guy in a guest house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We discussed books, the best hotels and places to eat. He had been living in Ho Chi Minh City and drew us a map on the back on a receipt. He recommended an Indian restaurant called Mumtaz on Bui Vien (road) and said we had to order the paneer tikka (grilled paneer). So of course, a week later, after we took the $10 bus crossing over from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, Lewis and I went to try out this personally recommended restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious, especially the paneer tikka which was coated in spices, skewered and grilled.

Since then, I often choose the vegetarian option in Indian restaurants simply to eat paneer. I understand that the slightly rubbery texture is not for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it then here are two recipes for you to try. I can only hope that you like at least one of them!

You can buy paneer at most supermarkets (in the cheese aisle) and it is very easy to cook. Here are my two favourite ways.

Both my recipes are designed as side dishes. They are perfect served hot with rice, a chapatti and any curry or a lentil dahl.

Fried Paneer

Start to finish time: 15 minutes
Serves: 5

Ingredients:
250g cubed paneer
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the coating:
3 tbsps plain flour
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder

1. Mix all the coating ingredients in a bowl. Add the cubed paneer and stir it up so that all the paneer is covered in the mix.

2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add the paneer. Fry on a high heat and keep tossing the paneer so that is doesn’t burn.

3. When the coating looks golden and crispy, move the paneer to a plate covered with a napkin and dry off any excess oil.

Yum no. 1, done!

Paneer with Spinach and Peas

Start to finish time: 40 minutes
Serves: 5

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g paneer, cubed
5 blocks frozen spinach
75g frozen peas
1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp water
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
salt & pepper

Spices:
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander

1. Gently fry the onion, ginger and garlic in the oil until softened. Heat the spices in a separate pan and then add to the onion pan.

2. Add the frozen spinach and peas and stir through. When the spinach has started to cook, add the water, coriander and tomato puree. Stir through.

3. In a separate pan, dry fry the paneer until golden and then add to the main pot. Keep stirring on medium heat for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can also experiment with other vegetables, such as: cauliflower, tinned tomatoes, and cubed potato.

What is your favourite paneer recipe? Did you try my recipe? I’d love to hear from you.

For The Love of Cookbooks


I love cook books, if they were cheaper or I had an endless supply of money I would own every cookbook possible. The best thing about them has to be the pictures. My two sisters and I often sit in the lounge simply looking through the books, chattering about how delicious the recipes look. It is quite dissapointing when you order a book and it arrives and only every 5th page has a photo. Dear Chef, please show us more photos! Gratefully, Vered

My first cookbook was Claudia Roden’s ‘The Book Of Jewish Food’ which I received as a Batmitzvah present when I was 12. I never cooked anything on my own at that age so it sat on my shelf for several years. Nowadays, I like to flick through it here and then. Some of my favourites these days include Lorraine Pascale’s ‘Baking Made Easy‘ (I have made her banoffee pie many times) and the small BBC Good Food ones, (my sister Danya introduced me to these as she owns almost all of them – a bargain at £5 each and bursting with photos).

I often browse the book section in charity shops, as this can be a great way to find cheap used recipe books. The idea that someone else has used it and passed it on is quite romantic to me.

Yesterday, I found a wonderful cook book in the pound shop: ‘The perfect Marriage. The Art of Matching Food & Sherry Wines from Jerez’. It has a foreword and special section by Heston Blumenthal. It consists of tapas style recipes from 15 different chefs, including Marcus Wareing, and each recipe comes with a suggestion of the best accompanying sherry.

Of course, I bought it. I read my new cook book all the way home on the bus. The photos are pure food porn! Some of my favourites of the exciting recipes are:

  • ‘Deep-Fried Watercress’
  • ‘Foie Gras with Chilli Jam’
  • ‘Masala Crab cakes with Crab Mayonnaise’
  • ‘Cardamon Rice Pudding with Honey & Cumin Glazed Figs’
  • ‘Crispy Lamb Rolls with Caramelised Sweetbreads’

Hungry yet? I was!