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‘Side Dishes’ Category

  1. Nutty rice stuffed peppers

    February 10, 2014 by Lisa

    I threw this together, so the quantities are pretty much approximate! This is a small amount, suitable for two.


    4 small sweet red and orange peppers, cleaned and cut in half
    2 baby onions, chopped
    Tablespoon of olive oil
    1/2 cup brown basmati rice
    1 cup vegetable broth
    Handful of mixed sunflower, pumpkin and pine nuts
    Parmesan cheese to taste – I used about 50g

    Cook the onions in a skillet with hot oil until soft, then add the rice and mix until coated in oil. Add the vegetable broth, lower the heat and cover for about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the peppers under a grill for about 10 minutes and remove until the rice is cooked.

    When the rice is soft, mix in the nuts and cheese and stuff the pepper halves with the mixture. Cook under the grill until browned and crunchy on top.

    Would work with loads of other ingredients. Some chili and coriander or maybe spinach and feta instead of the Parmesan?

  2. Perfectly Simple Hollandaise for Two

    December 25, 2013 by Lisa

    Whenever I make hollandaise sauce, I find that I make way too much. I’ve also messed it up a few times as it’s a bit of a pfaff. This recipe is apparently from McGees on Cooking and is as easy as it gets.


    • 2 egg yolks
    • 125g cold butter
    • 1/8 of a lemon
    • 1 tablespoon water

    Place the egg yolks, water and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly. Don’t let up or leave it. When the butter is melted, turn the heat up to medium and continue to whisk until thickened, squeeze in lemon to taste and add some salt and white pepper (black pepper is just as tasty, but less traditional and not quite as pretty). Serve immediately or keep warm in a thermos.

    Job done. Perfectly silky, delicious and just the right amount for two eggs Benedict or two generous portions of asparagus.

  3. Homemade “Rice-a-Roni”

    March 10, 2012 by Lisa

    Rice-A-Roni was one of those favourite packaged foods I grew up with.

    There are a lot of Rice-A-Roni recipes out there – most of them identical, but none has really captured that Rice-A-Roni taste for me.  This one is the closest I’ve managed to get.

    The original uses vermicelli, but that’s hard to find and spaghetti is a poor substitute. The important ingredient here is the orzo – a rice-shaped pasta. This seemed to make all the difference.


    • 1 cup long grain rice
    • 1/2 cup orzo
    • 1/4 cup of butter
    • 1/2 a small onion
    • 1-2 cloves garlic
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 3 chicken stock cubes
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Disolve the stock cubes in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Saute the onion in the butter in a skillet and when softened, add the rice and pasta and cook until the rice is semi-transparent (ish). Crush the garlic into the mixture and add the stock. Cover and simmer over a low heat until the rice is tender (15-20 minutes).


    Disappointingly, I can’t find an original ad as the jingle is inexorably linked with this side dish for me, but here’s the jingle with someone’s vacation photos:


  4. Vegan Refried Beans

    May 16, 2011 by Lisa

    I was a little random last time I made these – this is what I think I did!

    Rinse and drain one package of dried pinto beans and place in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and soak over night. By morning, they will have absorbed most of the water, so add additional water so that they are, again, covered with water. Pour into a large saucepan and add:

    • 3-6 gloves of garlic, crushed
    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon powdered cumin

    Simmer slowly for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are very tender. Make sure the pan does not run dry and add additional water periodically if needed. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher. Stir in about a cup (I used three heaping desert spoons, which I think was close to a cup) of shortening or margarine until well-absorbed.

    If you’re not concerned with a vegan version, lard is more traditional as is soaking the beans overnight with a hamhock or some bacon drippings!

  5. Balsamic Grilled Onions

    November 20, 2006 by Lisa

    Lovely, lovely, sweet red onions. No one in my household liked onions when I made this, so this made just enough for me, me, me (plus a little extra). Would have been nice with some sliced fennel grilled with the onions, I expect.


    • 1 medium sized red opinion, sliced into thin slices
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 clove minced or crushed garlic
    • salt and pepper

    Heat the vinegar, garlic and rosemary in a sauce pan until hot, but don’t let it boil. Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes. If it seems that a lot of balsamic has evaporated off, add another tablespoon or so. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Place the onions in a single layer in the pan and coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned. Toss with the vinegar mixture.

    Especially nice with any sort of pork dish.

  6. Ranch Dressing

    July 6, 2006 by Lisa

    I can’t seem to find decent ranch dressing in the shops anymore. Nevermind. I’ve figured out my own, very easy version. The only downside is that it’s quite thin, but is nice and subtle-tasting at least.

    Buttermilk is often difficult to find (although Tesco now sell it), so I make my own by stirring a tablespoon of lemon juice into half a cup of whole milk and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, creme fraiche or sour cream
    • 1/2 a vegetable stock cube
    • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 and a bit teaspoon dill

    Mix or shake well.

  7. Coriander and Mint Couscous

    June 17, 2006 by Lisa

    Obviously you can put anything you like in couscous, but I was rather pleased with this combo:

    • 250g couscous
    • Boiling water
    • knob of butter
    • 2 ripe tomatoes, cubed
    • 1/2 large cucumber, cubed (cucumbers in the UK are massive, so use a whole US sized one)
    • crumbled feta cheese to taste
    • handful of chopped fresh mint
    • handful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
    • juice from 1 1/2 limes
    • 2 tblsp olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Prepare couscous according to directions and let cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and chill for an hour.

  8. Plum Salsa

    January 8, 2006 by Lisa

    Lovely on seared tuna and salmon. Also good on a green salad or mixed with cold rice or served with anything else you’d serve a mango salsa with (I had no mangos, you see).

    Enough for 4 servings. Adjust quantities and proportions as you fancy. Chop all the bits into cubes.


    • 5 fresh plums
    • half an apple (half because we gave the other half to the rabbits)
    • 1/4 cucumber
    • 1/2 orange pepper
    • clove of garlic
    • 1 shallot
    • juice of one lime
    • fresh coriander
    • scant 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt, pepper and Shichimi Togarashi (seven spice seasoning) or tabasco as you like

    Mix it up.

  9. Rocket and Nectarine Salad

    July 13, 2005 by Lisa

    A gorgeous summer salad that’s perfect with barbequed meats and suchlike. This one is adapted from another recipe found online because I seem to be well-placed for rather mature rocket in my garden. The nectarines set off the taste really well.


    • 3 tbsp Rasberry vinegar
    • 1 tsp coarse grain or dijon mustard
    • 5 tbsp good quality olive oil
    • sugar, salt and pepper to taste

    Mix together well and pour over 2 or 3 sliced ripe nectarines and a few big handfuls of rocket leaves. I added a handful or coriander leaves once as well, which was a nice variation. Use some milder leaves as well if the rocket is too strong. The original recipe also called for toasted walnuts, but I reckon pecans or cashews would be nicer.

  10. Ceviche

    January 1, 2005 by Lisa

    This Mexican style salad/side dish is a surprise to everyone who tries it. The fish is not cooked in the traditional way, but in lime juice which gives it a cooked texture and appearance and for all I know, fulfills the qualification of “cooking”. Serves 4 to 6.


    • 250-300g fresh white fish. I used halibut, but sea bass, snapper, plaice or just about anything will work.
    • 250g cooked prawns and/or tiny bay scallops
    • Enough lime juice to cover the fish. Since limes are not so juicy, you may supplement with lemon juice if you get bored trying to squeeze enough from a lime.
    • 1/2 a large onion
    • 1 small jalepeno pepper (or 5 or 6 slices of the pickled variety we get in the uk) or one or two fresh red chili pepper
    • 2 medium tomatoes
    • 10-20 pitted green or black olives
    • 2 or 3 large spoons full capers
    • 1/4 – 1/2 spoon cumin powder
    • 1/4 – 1/2 spoon dried oregano
    • handful fresh coriander
    • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil


    Remove the skin and slice the white fish into thin strips. Place in a glass bowl and cover completely with the lime juice. If you’re using uncooked scallops or prawns, put them in the bowl as well, otherwise, hold off until later. Cover and place in the refridgerator until the fish looks “cooked” – in other words opaque and flaky. This should only take a half an hour to an hour depending on the thickness of the fish or the size of the prawns/scallops.

    Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, pepper, tomatoes and olives.

    When the fish is ready drain off the lemon juice and add the chopped vegetables and the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and return to the fridge for another hour or two. Some recipes suggest 24 to 48 hours, but I prefer the more subtle flavour when left not quite as long. On the other hand, my lunch of ceviche and avocado 48 hours later was quite fab.

    You could add all manner of things as well, like artichoke hearts, chopped avocado or black olives.