Friday, 25 January 2013

Roasted Tomatoes – The Ultimate Allrounder

I just loooooove tomatoes in any shape or form. But my favourite are roast tomatoes, whether cherry tomatoes or big vine tomatoes. Prepared properly they are a joy to eat and you'll be able to make different meals with them.

2-3 kg vine tomatoes
freshly grated black pepper
sea salt
1-2 tsp demerara sugar
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions
1 whole bulb garlic
2 tsp dried oregano or basil or a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Cut the tomatoes in half, season with pepper and salt and sprinkle with the sugar and herbs. Coarsely great the garlic and sprinkle over the top also. Half the onions and cut into segments. Tuck this in and around all the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and plenty of olive oil. Roast at gas mark 7/200-220 °C for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.

1. Purée some of tomatoes and serve with pasta.
2. Eat a couple of tomato halves per person cold with whatever you fancy.
3. Reheat a couple of tomato halves per person and serve with lamp steaks or similar.
4. Add some of the tomatoes to vegetable stock, thicken with bread crumbs and enjoy a very flavourful soup.
5. Purée or finely slice tomatoes and onions and use to spread on pizza.
6. Put them into a sterilised screw-lid jars, top up with extra virgin olive oil, place the jars into boiling water for about 15 minutes. Leave to cool in the water. Remove and store in a dark, dry place.

Bread with Red Pepper Pesto

Even after more than 20 years in the UK, I still miss German bread so in 2003 I acquired a bread maker. I didn't like the look or the cost of the machines available here so my cousin brought over from Germany. When I needed to bake a fresh bread yesterday, I consulted the leaflet that came with that very first bread maker. However, nothing was quite what I had in mind so I improvised a bit with some left over red pepper pesto and the result is very tasty. I can actually taste the sweetness of the roasted peppers as well as the fennel seeds.

400 ml luke warm water
1.5 tsp brown sugar
2.5 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp red pepper pesto
590 g strong white bread flour
200 g wholemeal wheat flour
11 g dried yeast.

Add all the ingredients in the above order into he breadmaker and bake as regula bread (menu 1 on my machine).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pesto of Sweet Red Peppers

We went to Ikea today and apart from buying loads of candles, we also bought some huge white – of course – pasta / salad / serving / whatever use plates, which I absolutely HAVE to use tonight. For spaghetti. I was going to make a rocket pesto but when I looked into the fridge, there were these gorgeous, shiny sweet red peppers and I just couldn't resist (I can't stand bell peppers because I think they taste of plastic, not sure why but they do).
You can make this recipe with less garlic but the whole bulb garlic just lends itself to being used in abundance.

4 sweet red peppers
1 whole bulb garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
approx. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

1. Half the peppers lengthways and deseed. Season cut side up with pepper and salt. Peel and coarsely grate the garlic.

2. Scatter the garlic and fennel seeds in a roasting tray, place the peppers on top cut side down, season with more black peppers and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.

3. Cook at 200-220 °C/gas mark 7 for 20-30 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then zap in a food processor or with a hand blender adding another tablespoon of olive oil.

If you don't use all of the pesto store in a sterilised screw top jar covered with oil for up to four weeks in the fridge.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Persimmon and Pomegranate Chutney

Lately, sharon fruit (kaki, persimmon) have been really cheap and I bought lots of them because we like them. At one point, there were about a dozen of them at various stages of ripeness and I knew something had to be done to prevent the ripest ones from going off. I've only once made chutney before so needed to consult the internet for recipes. I thought that if I couldn't find a good recipe for sharon fruit chutney, I could use a mango chutney recipe. Luckily, there were quite a few recipes out there and I ended up concocting my own mix. There were also two pomegranates and a mango that needed using up so I added them. Though next time, I think I'll add the pomegrante seeds towards the end so they don't disintegrate. We've already eaten some of the chutney because there wasn't enough left for a full jar and even before its 8-week marinating period it tasted pretty nice. I can't wait to see what it's like at the end of February.

10 sharon fruit
1 fibreless mango (optional)
2 pomegranates
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
12 cardamom pods
1 large red chilli
4 red onions
10 limes
1 grapefruit
sherry vinegar
700 g demerara sugar

1. Chop the fruit into cubes and remove the seeds from the pomegranates. Finely chop the onions.

2. Juice the limes and the grapefruit and add enough sherry vinegar to make 600 ml of liquid.

3. Dry fry the spices in a pan and mince in a mortar.

4. Pour the lime/grapefruit/vinegar mix into a saucepan, add the sugar and spices and heat until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Add the fruit and onions and bring to the boil. Then simmer covered for 2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour until the chutney has a nice thick consistency.

6. Pour into sterilised screw top jars. Put on the lids, place into a saucepan with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes. Leave to rest in a cool dark place for 8 weeks.

Chicken Soup

When my other half came down with a cold that seemed twice, if not three times as bad as the one I've just left behind, I decided to bring on the heavy armoury – real chicken soup. After consulting the internet for recipes and phoning my mum, I knew just what to do. Even though we're not Jewish, I love this expression, so here comes the Jewish penicillin! Don't be a "Suppen-Kaspar" but eat up and stay healthy. ;)

Since there are just two of us and there never is any room in the freezer, I used only half a roasting chicken. Otherwise, we'd be eating chicken soup for a month. You can also use a broiling chicken but free range or organic broiling chickens are not easy to get hold of here, hence the free range roasting chicken. The other half, I seasoned with pepper, salt and sweet Hungarian paprika and roasted in the oven at gas mark 5/200 °C for 50 minutes.

1/2 free range or organic roasting chicken (approx. 750 g)
2.5 l cold water
1 whole onion
1 celery stick
1 leek
2 large carrots
2 parsnips
1/2 - 1 chicken stock cube
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 whole cloves

boiled vermicelli or boiled rice

1. Place the chicken in a large saucepan and add the cold water. Cover and slowly bring to the boil, Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Skim any scum off the water surface. (There wasn't any on mine.)

2. Meanwhile peel the vegetables and cut them into 1 cm cubes. Stud the top of the onion with the cloves.

3. Once the broth is clear, add all the vegetables and season with pepper and plenty of salt. (I learned the hard way that a meat soup needs lots more salt than a veggie soup, but you can always add more at the end.)

4. Cover again and simmer for about two hours. Check the taste and add either half or the whole stock cube. Simmer for a further hour. Check the taste and adjust if necessary. Remove the onion and discard.

5. Take out the chicken, discard the skin and remove the meat from the bones. It should just fall off the bones. Tear the meat into irregular chunks and return these to the soup.

6. To serve, add some boiled vermicelli pasta or rice to a bowl and top up with the soup, meat and vegetables.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Spicy Rosemary Nuts

Our next-door neighbour makes the most fantastic chilli nuts but won't reveal his recipe. ;) I've experimented but haven't really managed to come up with a good alternative  - until now! On a German (partly bilingual) blog by Die Raumfee, I saw a recipe that I've adapted and that's worked out really, really well. Thank you Katja!

600-800 g mixed nuts (e. g. almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macademia nuts, pecan nuts, walnuts)
1 egg white
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chilli flakes, ground
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the nuts in a roasting tray and roast at full whack for 5- 10 minutes until they are golden. The time depends on your oven. (Our gas oven is really slow.)

2. Beat the egg white until stiff and mix in all the seasoning. Mix in the nuts, then return the mixture to the roasting tray. Bake for 30 minutes at gas mark 2/120 °C.  To prevent the nuts from sticking to the tray mix them up after about 10 minutes.

3. After they're fully cooled, store them in airtight jars. They won't last long!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin in Mustard Sauce

As many of you probably know, Germans exchange presents on Christmas eve and in my family we also always had a special meal. I wanted to do something tasty but different now that I'm eating meat again and after much soul searching decided on a pork tenderloin (also known as pork fillet).

(serves 3 - 4)

1 large or 2 small pork tenderloins (approx. 450-500 g in total)
1 bunch fresh thyme
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
150 ml soured cream
1-2 tsp German mustard or Dijon

1. Season the meat with pepper and salt on both sides. Score with a sharp knife.  Place into a roasting tray folding the thin end under so the meat cooks evenly.

2. Place the thyme (no need to pluck off the leaves) and garlic into a mortar and smash up. Add oil. Keep stirring and grinding with the pestle until the ingredients are well mixed. Pour over the meat and massage into it until the meat is well covered.

3. Roast in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4/175 °C for approx. 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place the meat on a warmed plate while you make the sauce.

4. If there is a lot of oil pour some out until you have approx. 1-2 tbsp left. Add the soured cream and the mustard to the roasting tray and bring to the boil. Check the seasoning.

5. Cut the fillet into thick slices and serve with the sauce, an apple risotto and a rocket salad.

Ah, yes, we had snails as a starter. :)

Apple Risotto

While researching recipes for the guinea fowl I was planning for Christmas day, I found a recipe from the Hairy Bikers. Though I decided not to make their guinea fowl recipe, I was intrigued by the apple risotto they served with it. And since pork and apple go so well together I decided to try it out or rather my own version of an apple risotto.

(serves 2-3 as a side dish)

150 g arborio rice
150 ml white wine
0.75 l vegetable stock
30 g freshly grated parmesan
a little butter, optional
1 - 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 apple
butter for frying the apple slices

1. Quarter and core the apples and cut them into approx. 16 slices. Heat a little butter in a frying pan and fry the apples until golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the rice. Cook over a low heat until the rice becomes translucent. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Over a low to medium heat, start adding the stock one ladle at the time, stirring continuously. Check after about 15 minutes if the rice is cooked. Once it's cooked, season with salt (if required) and pepper. Add the parmesan and a little extra virgin olive oil or butter and mix carefully. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Stir in the apple slices and serve immediately.

Tastes wonderful with roasted pork tenderloin or serve with a huge leafy salad.