After Work Cookbook

After Work, by W H Smith, published by Octopus Publishing Group Ltd 1999.

I’™ve had this book a few years and have made several of the recipes. As the title suggests all the recipes are for making quick meals from fresh ingredients plus some storecupboard items. Each recipe is illustrated with a photograph. Some dishes need more preparation than others, but none of them are difficult to make ‘“ just what you need at the end of a busy day.

There’™s a good mix of recipes divided into sections:

· ‘˜light bites’™ ‘“ sandwiches, salads and soups
· ‘˜international flavours’™ ‘“ a selection from around the world ‘“ pasta, stir-fry, curry, chow mein etc
· ‘˜quick fish dishes’™ ‘“ fish cakes, fish casserole etc
· ‘˜’™meat and poultry for dinner’™ ‘“ family meals and special occasions
· ‘˜sweet endings’™ ‘“ using fruit and chocolate eg double chocolate brownies

Today I made Two-Tomato Mozzarella Salad, one of my favourite recipes from this book. Really all you do is put it all together and eat it. It only takes a few minutes to prepare.

two tomato mozzarella
For 4 people you need:

· 500g fresh plum tomatoes sliced ‘“ or as many as you like
· chopped oregano
· 375g mozzarella cheese sliced ‘“ or use as much or you like – buffalo mozzarella is the nicest
· 12 sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil and cut into strips. I don’™t cut them up unless they are very large ‘“ again you can use as many as you want
· fresh basil leaves
· salt and pepper ‘“ I use rock or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing, whisk the following ingredients together in a small bowl or put in a screw top jar and shake well to combine:

· 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 3 tablespoons oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
· 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
· ¼ garlic clove crushed – I usually use a whole clove
· pinch of sugar

1. Arrange the plum tomato slices in a single layer on a large plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste together with the oregano.
2. Arrange the slices of mozzarella on top of the sliced tomatoes and tuck in the sun-dried tomatoes between them.
3. Scatter the basil leaves over the top and drizzle on the dressing.

Sometimes we just have this with maybe some crusty bread. Today we added some Parma ham, pasta shells with green pesto and asparagus tips ‘“ simply delicious.

Also posted on Soup’s On! blog.

Oh Yes – another Challenge – Soup’s On!

This Challenge is hosted by Ex Libris (Sharon). It runs from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. Sharon writes: All you have to do is select six cookbooks to read (enough to give an overview of the book) and make at least one of the recipes. These can be any cookbooks of your choice – brand new ones, old stand-bys that you can’t live (or cook) without, or even heirlooms. You do not have to decide on the cookbooks ahead of time (unless you want to, of course).

I love cooking, that’s my reason for joining this challenge. I’m always buying and looking at cookbooks, and watching TV cookery programmes. I’ve only written a couple of posts on cooking, so this is a great way to write more. I’m not sure yet which books I’ll be writing about between now and the end of March next year but it could be these:

The Ration Book Diet by Mike Brown, Carol Harris and C J Jackson, because I bought it a few months ago, scan read it and thought oh yes I must cook some of these recipes, but haven’t done so yet. It’s full of information about the Second World War years in Britain, photos and cartoons from the Forties as well as beautiful modern photos.

The Good Food magazine 101 Meals For Two. This is a great little book and I’ve made a few of the recipes, but lots more to try out.

How To Eat by Nigella Lawson. She’s one of my favourite TV cooks and I love this book, even though it has no photos.

Great British Menu from the first TV show of that name. Extravagant ingredients, but fantastic food.

After Work, a WHSmith publication. Another favourite book with quick recipes that work.

The Country Kitchen by Jocasta Innes. I’ve had this book for years; it’s full of information about cooking with cream, butter, game – trussing and plucking a pheasant, making raised pies, terrines and galantines and preserving food. I haven’t ventured much yet out of this book, but I’d love to have a go.

I’m looking forward to reading all the other reviews!

Red Pepper Soup

I enjoy making and eating (or is it drinking?) soup. This is one of my favourites. It’s very easy and quick to make and very tasty too.

My recipe is one I’ve adapted from The Soup Bible.The Soup Bible is a beautifully illustrated book, packed with over 200 recipes from all around the world. I’d never have thought of making soup from red peppers before.

For 2 servings

1 onion, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped. I use the long thin pointy ones that are mild and sweet – not at all hot.
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 ½ tablespoons tomato purée
1 pint vegetable stock
Juice of one lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and soften the onion and peppers.
Add the garlic, tomato purée salt & pepper and stock.
Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered for about 10 minutes.
Cool slightly and then purée ‘“ I use a hand blender
Add the lime juice. Reheat.

The original recipe includes 1 small red chilli, sliced, but I like it without. Together with some wholemeal bread (I make it in a breadmaker) this makes a filling lunch.