New Herb and Veg Discoveries – Thai Basil

Thai Basil
Thai basil is one of those lovely aromatic and exotic herbs that you only hear people like Nigella Lawson talking about. It’s as easy to grow as regular basil, is delicious in salads and makes a nice addition to your everyday kitchen garden. Article will appear here soon….

Spaghetti Bolognese

This spaghetti bolognese is one of the few recipes which my family and I continue to revisit as it is delicious, warm and comforting. This makes it ideal for the wintry weather months as it perks you up very well, especially the morning after when you can put it on toast with a fine shower of cheddar cheese to finish (I prefer parmesan closer to dinner). I find it also very enjoyable on a cool summer night, preferably with a simple basil, feta and tomato salad lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to accompany. I would say that this is probably not a traditional, Italian bolognese but then again I don’t know any people from Italy and so therefore have not had the chance to ask how it’s done. Even if I did though, the answer would depend on what region of Italy they hailed from as each one makes it differently. This recipe however is very nice and should do fine, especially for the everyday cook (and aspiring food writer) like me.

Spaghetti Bolognese –
Serves 4, just

2 small glugs of olive or vegetable oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
500g mince
2 cloves of garlic, also diced (adjust quantites if necessary)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 heaped tsp of oregano
¼ Cup of tomato paste
½ – 1 glass of red wine, any variety

Some water

3 or more tsp of worcester sauce

½ tbsp or so of sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp of soy sauce (optional)

4 small fistfulls of spaghetti

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (optional)

Cheese of your choice

Note – ingredients are listed in order to be used

Get out a large pot and leave to warm up on a medium heat. Peel and dice your onions and add to the pot along with the oil and leave till lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add the mince, breaking it up thoroughly with your spoon and brown for at least 10 mins. After that, add your garlic and cook for a further minute or so, then throw in your tomatoes, oregano and and paste (you can also add fresh oregano if desired, 1 large tbsp being sufficient) and also pour in the wine. Note – the longer you cook the bolognese, the more flavour from the wine is lost so if intending to cook for a few hours, then I’d recommend for you to add a small amount of wine about an hour prior to serving or add a large glass in advance. Stir every 10 mins, believe me, every 10 mins and if you notice the water level getting low then top up with a bit of water. 10 mins before intending to serve, boil some water in a large pot and add a small pinch of salt. Add spaghetti. Cook until al dente, about 8 mins. Add basil to mince. Serve on warm plates with mince and spaghetti mixed together, a scattering of parmesan or cheddar cheese and a drizzle of freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil and salad on the side. !Bon apetito!

New vegetable discoveries – beetroot

I would say that beetroot has to be one of the best vegetables out there. It is fantastic for your health, for its delicious taste and like many of the marvels of nature, it turns your wee pink.
I have only recently decided that I like beetroot and am very glad I did, it can be served with or in a multiple of things, like salad, sandwiches, to accompany roasts or (and this is my personal preference) served on its own with a sizeable lump of blue vein cheese and maybe a sprinkling of sesame seeds for interest. You will find the last recipe below.

As many beetroots as needed
Maple syrup (from trees not chemicals)
balsamic vinegar
scattering of sesame seeds

Pour the vinegar and maple syrup (about 9 tbsp of each) into an accomodating glass or metal oven dish, add the beetroots whole, you will not need to do anything to them, and cover with a sheet of tin foil. Put in an oven at about 180 degrees celsius / 350 degrees fahrenheit and slowly roast for a few hours till they’re terribly tender to the touch. It’s also a good idea to check on them every other hour and baste in the sticky syrup. When done, serve with blue vein cheese (I recommend Mainland special reserve blue or Galaxy blue vein, for NZ readers) and maybe a scattering of sesame seeds which is optional.

If you have any other ideas of what else you could do with them then do not hesitate to comment at the bottom of this page and constructive feedback for this blog would be welcome.

Below are a few other interesting recipes for beetroot which you might like to add to your
repertoire –

An interesting balsamic baked beetroot recipe from Gordon Ramsay; I would like to note that its accompanying picture is very bad –

A beetroot chutney. –

Beetroot flavoured hummous which looks good –

Beetroot and steak sandwich with honey and mustard dressing –

Next time – Thai basil, not actually a vegetable though so it might have to be called new fresh-herb discoveries. I think I might try to think of a better name. How does herbs from my garden sound?