Saturday, 17 September 2016

Carrot and chickpea spread

The other day I was going to make a carrot dip I haven't made in ages but decided to make it a little more substantial. I was going to add tahini, the changed my mind and added chickpeas instead. Very yummy!
250 g  bunched carrots (incl. carrot tops)
carrot tops or parsley
1 440-ml-tin chickpeas
1 clove of garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
toasted ground cumin
fresh lemon or lime juice
Steam the carrots until tender, then cool. Add all the ingredients apart from the herbs into a food processor or the beaker of a handheld blender and whizz. Check the seasoning. Enjoy as a spread, dip or side for steamed or roasted vegetables or fish.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Amazing Fish Stew

It's been a while since I've added a guest recipe but this one I definitely have to share (the amounts are mine). I'm a member of the fantastically inspiring Facebook group Foodie Translators where some very talented people present mouthwatering dishes and baked goods. A few days ago, one member put up this dish and I just had to try it out. It was just WOW! and will definitely become part of my regular prepertoire. Thank you for the inspiration, Dagmara. Next time, I'll make sure I have fresh fennel in the house as in Dagmara's dish.

1 red onion

2 garlic cloves
1/2 celery stick
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary 
2 sweet red peppers
1 courgette
250 g cherry tomatoes 
juice and zest of a lemon
100 ml white wine
250 ml fish or vegetable stock
350 g fish (I used a fish pie mix containing salmon, cod and smoked haddock)
a good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Finely chop the onion, garlic, celery and herbs and sautée in EVO till softened. Slice the sweet red peppers, core and slice the courgette, add and continue sautéeing, then deglaze with white wine. Add stock with saffron, pepper and salt and quartered cherry tomatoes, zest of a lemon, reduce, top with fish chunks, cover and poach for 10 minutes or until fish is done, spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, parsley in my case, squeeze some lemon juice over the dish and serve with crusty bread or rice.

Rice "Lasagne"

A couple of weeks ago, there'd been some cooked brown basmati hanging around the fridge for a few days and my other half was up in Braco recording again where she gets pasta for lunch. There was also Scotch Angus beef mince and I fancied some lovely comfort food. Pasta was out, so the rice lasagne was born. This dish is really a gobbled together, simplified lasagne and can be made with pasta or lasagne sheets instead of rice.
Boiled rice, unseasoned
Beef ragù
Aubergine slices, browned in a pan without oil
Grated cheese
Soured cream/crème fraîche seasoned with pepper, salt, garlic
Lightly oil an ovenproof dish, spoon on a layer of rice. Top with ragù. Add the aubergine slices, season with pepper and salt. Spread the soured cream mix over the aubergines. Lastly, add another layer of rice and season. Cover with tin foil and bake at 200° C/gas mark 5 for 30-40 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle with cheese, turn up the temperature and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden.

Creamy Chicken Pot with Herby Bread Dumplings

I've fancied making bread dumplings for ages and always use a simple recipe from a German vegetarian cookbook, Vegetarisches Kochvergnügen, I've had for more than 20 years. They go best with a creamy stroganoff and I stuck with the creamy part but made a chicken pot instead. I like to serve this with a leafy salad in a sharp vinaigrette that contains plenty of mustard to help cut through the rich cream sauce. Here's the recipe for my favourite vinaigrette.
Tip: Leftover dumplings are delicious sliced and pan fried in olive oil or butter.
(serves 4-6)
400 g of white rolls or baguette
2 eggs
pinch of nutmeg
300 ml milk (250 ml, if using spinach)
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
250 g spinach, optional
Chicken Pot:
1 kg of chicken drumsticks and thighs, preferably free range or organic
1 red onion
1-2 celery sticks
3 garlic cloves
a few fresh thyme sprigs
2 small bay leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
white wine
150 ml chicken or vegetable stock
300 ml soured cream or crème fraîche
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon to squeeze over the finished dish
1. First of all, wash the spinach, if used, and shake or spin but leaving some water clinging to the leaves. Place into a no  stick pan and cook over a low to medium heat until wilted. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Reserve the liquid. Roughly chop the spinach. Set aside.
2. Next, start making the dumplings. Warm up the milk and cut the rools into very thin slices. Place into a bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk, season with pepper and nutmeg and pour over the bread. Add the parsley and spinach. Mix well by hand or with a fork until you have a chunky 'dough'. Leave for 15 minutes.
3. In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a large pan, slice the onion, celery and garlic, add to the pan together with the thyme sprigs and fennel seeds and sautée over a medium heat to soften but not brown the veg. Remove and set aside. 
4. Season the chicken with pepper and salt. Heat more oil, add the chicken pieces to the pan and brown on both sides. Deglaze with a generous glug of dry white wine, then add the reserved spinach juices and stock as well as the vegetables. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and stir in the cream. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the fresh lemon juice, sprinkle the parsley over the top and gently mix.

5. While the chicken is cooking, knead the dumpling mix and shape into 12-18 dumplings. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook your dumplings over a medium heat in gently simmering water for 12-15 minutes.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Raspberry, Basil and Vodka Mojito

When I made a raspberry liqueur last year I'd hope to drink it in white wine and bubbly but it is too alcoholic so not really a liqueur but a raspberry-infused vodka. A couple of weeks ago sipping on a mojito in the garden I had a vague idea for a mojito-style cocktail using this flavoured vodka, raspberries and basil. After consulting with my Foodie Translators group I've gone ahead and done it. It's soooo fruity and has an incredibly intense raspberry flavour. A lovely summer drink – even when it's raining and just 12C outside.

(serves 1)

5 fresh or frozen raspberries + 1 for the rim of the glass
12 basil leaves
1 wee sprig of basil
2 tsp soft brown sugar
50 ml raspberry infused vodka
50 - 100 ml sparkling wate
1-2 slices of lime, optional
ice cubes

First bash the ice cubes either in a food processor or in a tea towel. Next, place the raspberries, sugar and half the basil leaves in a tall glass and lightly crush together, e. g. with the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour in the vodka and gently mix with a spoon. Add some ice, the sparkling water, the remaining basil leaves and the lime, if used, and gently stir once more. Top up with more ice, decorate with the basil sprig and remaining raspberry and serve with a straw.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Sweet Potato, Cumin and Ras-el-Hanout Spread

I don't like buying ready-made or processed foods. Instead, I look at the list of ingredients and most of the time find that I can easily recreate a product myself but without additives, preservatives etc. Of course, not all products have "bad" stuff in them such as the dips/spreads available on Saturday at the health food shop for customers to try. One was a sweet potato dip with ras-el-hanout and really tasty. When we saw the price for a 150-g-tub we checked the list of ingredients. Easy! We had all the ingredients at home. 

400-500 gsweet potato
1/2 can chickpeas
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ras-el-hanout
sea salt
black pepper
juice of one lemon
good glug of olive oil

Cut a sweet potato lengthways, drizzle a little EVO into a roasting tray and roast for about 45 minutes at 200 °C/gas mark 6 until soft. Scoop out the flesh and leave to cool. Then season with pepper, salt, toasted ground cumin and ras-el-hanout. Add crushed garlic,  drained chickpeas, lemon juice and EVO. Blend, check the seasoning and enjoy.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Butternut Squash, Ricotta and Sage Lasagne

I'm often surprised at the leaps the mind makes. Today, a fellow foodie translator was making cannelloni filled with ricotta and spinach and I thought: "I've never made ricotta and spinach anything". Unusually, we had ricotta in the fridge but neither spinach nor cannelloni. So on the shopping list they went for tomorrow's trip to the supermarket. But what was I going to cook tonight? How else could I use the ricotta with the scarce end-of-the-week vegetables left in the house? After rummaging throught the cupboard I found some no-cook lasagne sheets and the root veg basket revealed two small butternut squashes. There's sage in the garden. We always have lots of tins of chopped tomatoes. And I had dinner sorted. At least in theory. I still had to cook it. A recipe for the tomato sauce can be found here.

Update: It was WONDERFUL!!! Might be even nicer by adding a handful of toasted pine nuts to the ricotta mix for a bit of bite.

(serves 2)

1 small butternut squash
fresh sage leaves, approx. 1 tbsp when chopped
200 g ricotta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of some liquid, e. g. vegetable stock, buttermilk, yoghurt or similar
chilli flakes, to taste
2 - 3 tomatoes
freshly grated parmesam
slow roasted tomato sauce as needed

1. First, make the tomato sauce and simmer it while you prepare the remainder of the dish. 

2. Chop the sage leaves and set aside.

3. Cut the tomatoes into slices and cover the bottom of an oven proof dish. Season with a little pepper and salt. Then place three lasagne sheets on top.

4. Cut the top and bottom of the butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and remove the seeds using a spoon. Slice into 4-5 mm thick slices. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the butternut squash for about 10 minutes over a medium heat turning them once or twice until some slices are browned. Remove from the pan, place onto kitchen paper and pat the oil off.

5. In the same pan, heat about a 1tsp of olive oil and fry the chopped sage for about 10 seconds, then return it to its dish to cool.

6. Spoon the ricotta into a food processor, season with black pepper, a touch of salt and chilli flakes. Add a bit more than half butternut squash, the sage and whatever liquid you're using and blitz. Check the seasoning.

7. Spread the ricotta mix onto the lasagne sheets, then place the remaining butternut squash slices on top before adding the next layer of lasagne sheets.

8. Finish off with plenty of tomato sauce. Then bake in the oven (covered with tin foil or uncovered depending on your oven) at 200 °C/gas mark 6 for 30 minutes.

9. Cover generously with freshly grated parmesan and bake at 220 °C/gas mark 7 for another 10-15 minutes or until golden.