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.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Mascarpone Cream and Mixed Berry Compote

Mascarpone isn't something I normally have in the house unless I'm planning to make a tiramisu. When my other half brought a tub from the shops I wondered what else I could do with it and decided to make the tiramisu topping but serve it with a mixed berry compote. I substituted the rum that's normally used in tiramisu with homemade raspberry infused vodka.

(serves 4-6)

Berry compote:
3 handfuls of fresh or frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp unrefined soft brown sugar
Heat over a lowish heat until the fruit has soften and the sugar has desolved. Set aside to cool.

Mascarpone cream:
250 g mascarpone
2 large or 3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp unrefined soft brown sugar (or more, to taste)
1 pinch salt
30 ml (homemade) raspberry infused vodka (or rum), optional

1. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt into firm peaks. Set aside.

2.Beat the sugar and egg yolks until creamy. Add the mascarpone, vanilla paste and vodka (if used) and beat till combined. Check the sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.

3. Carefully fold in the the egg whites and place in the fridge to chill for a few hours.

4. Layer the berry compote and mascarpone cream in individual glasses.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Giant Stuffed Potato Cake

When a fellow foodie translator posted a link to this video last week I knew I had to try my own version of a giant pan fried potato cake because the filling wasn't my cup of tea. No veg for starters ;) The video is in Italian but easy to follow (and I've translated the ingredients).

Here's my version with mince and sautéd veggies. Originally, I was going to make a vegetarian dish but I'd just bought fresh mince so I incorporated that.

I made the potato cake as per recipe but didn't add salt as I'd boiled the potatoes in sufficiently salted water. Also, there's salt in the parmesan and I also seasoned all the fillings.

(serves 4-6)

400 g boiled potatoes, mashed
150 g flour
50 g parmesan, freshly grated
1 egg
250 g beef mince
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 red chili
1 small aubergine
2 small, thin, pointed green peppers
1 large flat mushroom or button mushrooms
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

1. First make the dough by mixing the potatoes, flour, parmesan and egg by hand until you can shape it into a dough as shown in the video. Set aside.

2. Finely chop the onion, garlic and chili. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté for a few minutes until soft. Add the mince, season with salt and pepper and fry until the mince is cooked. Transfer into a bowl and set aside.

3. Wipe out the pan with paper towel. Thinly slice the aubergine. Heat some oil in the pan and fry the aubergines until they are completely soft turning and adding more oil as necessary. Place on paper towel and season with pepper and salt.

4. Slice the pepper and mushrooms. Add a little more oil to the pan and sauté the sliced veg until lightly browned. Set aside.
5. Divide the potato dough into two pieces. Lightly brush a small (20 cm) frying pan with oil and spread out one half of the dough, forming a rim.

Place the aubergine slices on top, followed by the mince and the pepper and mushroom mix.

Flatten out the second half of the dough and place on top ensuring pressing the edges of the top and bottom layer of dough firmly together.

6. Fry over a low to medium heat for 15 minutes on each side until golden.

Serve hot with a light leafy salad.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Orange and Coconut Drizzle Muffins

I added some coconut to the drizzle and using a couple of teaspoons spread a little on top. Probably won't do that again.
After eating a delicious orange and coconut muffin in London last week I wanted to try to make them myself. I googled and found this cake recipe, which I liked because it uses the whole orange in the batter. Since I'm not particularly fond of very sweet icing sugar icing I decided to make orange and coconut drizzle muffins converting the measurements to metric and adapting the recipe as detailed below. As I only had blood oranges at hand I used those.

(makes 12 muffins)

3 small blood oranges or 2 medium oranges
200 g butter, chopped, at room temperature
3 eggs
150 g unrefined soft brown sugar (110 g + 40 g)
180 g flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
40 g desiccated coconut

1. Thoroughly wash the oranges removing any wax with a brush. Chop up 1 1/2 blood oranges removing any pips and process to a pulp in a food processor. Meanwhile zest the other oranges. Add to the pulp and set aside.

2. Using a hand blender mix the butter and 110 g of sugar until creamy. Mix in the eggs, then the orange pulp and desiccated coconut.

3. Mix the flour and baking powder and add in batches until you have a smooth batter.

4. Line a muffin tin with paper cases and spoon in the cake mixture.

5. Bake at 200 °C/gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes. Check with a skewer if they're done.

6. Leave to cool in the muffin tray for 10 minutes.

7. In the meantime, squeeze out the remaining oranges, strain and mix with 40 g sugar.

8. Drizzle with the orange and sugar solution then carefully remove from the tin and place on a rack too cool completely.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Spring Day Salad

I nearly didn't remember that yesterday was the first day of spring even though I enjoyed a very late breakfast in the garden for the very first time this year. After the indulgences of our trip to London last week what we really wanted was a large but filling salad. As usual, I had a rough idea of what I might put into it, e. g. buffalo mozzarella, but in the end it turned out entirely differently. And it took me a while to come up with a title for this raw and cooked salad with fruit and veg topped with tahini and roasted chickpeas.

Please note that you need to roast the chickpeas at least one hour ahead.

(serves 4)

lettuce leaves of your choice
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe pear
steamed sugar snaps
2 hard boiled eggs (optional)
3-4 cooked beetroot (no vinegar)

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 part elderflower infused sherry vinegar
2-3 parts elderflower infused extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp agave nectar or runny honey (local if possible)
fresh dill (as an alternative to the flavour of elderflower infused oil and vinegar)

topping 1:
2 tbsp of Greek or Turkish style yoghurt
2 tbsp unsalted tahini
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
touch of lime juice

topping 2:
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1-2 tsp of sweet paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
drizzle of garlic infused extra virgin olive oil

1. First, get your oven on to roast the chickpeas. Place the chickpea into a sandwich tin or similar, season with pepper, salt and paprika, drizzle with olive oil and mix well. Bake in the upper part of the oven (doesn't matter where in a fan assisted oven) at full whack for 10-15 minutes, then turn so the soft side is up. Repeat this until the chickpeas are crunchy. Set aside and leave to cool.

2. Steam the sugar snaps for 3-5 minutes then plunge into ice cold water to stop them from cooking further. Drain and set aside.

3. Prepare your yoghurt dressing next by mixing all the ingredient. Keep refridgerated until neede.

4. Make the salad dressing. If you don't have elderflower infused oil or vinegar use finely chopped dill.

5. Use any lettuce you like, though I'd suggest something a little sturdier and more flavourful than round lettuce, and place into a large serving bowl. Julienne the cooked beetroot, core the pear and cut into chunky slices, spoon out chunks of the avocado with a teaspoon, chop up the boiled eggs (if used) and add to the bowl.

6. Dress the salad, top with a little tahini dip and a tablespoon of roasted chickpeas and serve the remaining tahini dip and chickpeas on the side for everyone to help themselves. Alternatively, serve on individual plates as in the photo at the top.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Rocket, Orange and Avocado Salad

Last week, there weren't any blood oranges at my favourite discounter and I thought that's the season over. Yesterday, however, they were back so I grabbed another bundle. Last night, we had a vegetarian carbonara, which I was going to acccompany with a rocket salad. That's when I discovered two very ripe avocados and decided to try something a bit different. Ordinary oranges will work well with this recipe.

1 bag unwashed wild rocket (approx. 100 g)
1 ripe avocado
2 (blood) oranges
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
1 tsp orange marmalade, optional

1. Make the dressing. Squeeze one of the oranges. Add salt, pepper, balsamic, EVO, orange juice and marmalade, if used, to a bowl and whisk together.

2. Wash and spin the rocket. Place into a salad bowl.

3. Peel the second orange and chop into the segments. Add to the rocket.

4. Cut the avocado in half, twist and separate the two halves. Gently squeeze the half that contains the stone so it drops out. With a teaspon, scoop out the flesh in chunks straight into the salad bowl.

5. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Baked Avocado with Feta and Lime

I've not had baked avocado in more than 20 years and have to admit that I'm not that fond of it. Yesterday, a post in my foodie group reminded me of baked avocados and since we had guests for dinner I decided to experiment and make this for the only pescatarian among us. Having been a vegetarian for more than two decades and only eating meat again for a few years I do not like for the non meat eaters to have "an empty space" on their plate. It turned out really well and since my friend let me taste it I think I may even make it for us in future.

As I always found baked avocado too rich I decided to use a salty feta cheese and lime juice to make it feel less greasy. Even before baking this looks absolutely delicious and I'm sure it would also be great uncooked.

When baking avocados it's really important that the fruit is very ripe. Otherwise, the baked result may be slightly rubbery in texture and may also taste bitter.

(serves 2)

1 ripe avocado
60 g feta cheese
1/2 spring onion
freshly chopped red chili to taste, optional
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly squeezed lime juice to taste.

Half the avocado and remove the stone. Using a tea spoon, scoop the flesh out in small chunks. Drizzle with a little lime juice. Set the empty skins aside. Crumble the feta and add to the avocado. Thinly slice the spring onion and chili, if used. Season with pepper and salt and carefully mix. Check the seasoning adding more lime juice if required. Spoon the mixture into the avocado skins and bake at 220 °C/gas mark 7 for 15-20 minutes.

This is what it looks like before baking. Scrumptious, don't you think?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Carrot and Carrot Top Pesto

While I've used a small amount of feathery green carrot leaves when making stock I've often wondered if I could use them in larger quantities in other ways, such as pesto and salads. Last week, I bought some bunched carrots with the intention of making either one of these carrot pesto recipes. The tops were so fresh, I had to explore how they could be used and my fellow foodies in a Facebook group confirmed that it is indeed a very tasty herb and came up with all sorts of suggestions. While intending to still go ahead with my original pesto idea and intending to turn the leaves into a thick herb oil I changed my mind halfway through the preparation. The result is stunning. As I didn't loosen the pesto too much it's thick and creamy and will make a great sandwich spread. Next time, I buy bunched carrots I'll make carrot top pesto.

500 g bunched carrots, including the carrot tops/leaves
50 g fresh Parmesan
1 handful of hazelnuts
3 garlic cloves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive,  as required

Cut the leaves off the carrots and trim off the stems from below the bottommost feathery leaf. Top and tail, then peel the carrots and slice them into 5 mm thick slices. Bring a pan with about an inch of water to the boil. Steam the carrots for 10-12 minutes until they are just tender.

Coarsely chop the carrot tops and place into a food processor along with all the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Add a generous amount of olive oil and process to a paste adding more olive oil until the desired consistency has been reached. Check the seasoning, then put in the fridge until ready to use. If you're not eating all the carrot pesto over the next day or two, transfer into a sterilised screw top jar and top with olive oil to seal. This wy, it should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Blood Orange Marmalade with Cointreau

This year, I made marmalade for the first time and it turned out really well. Blood oranges are also currently in season and I bought 3 kg last weekend intending to eat and/or squeeze them. Well, we didn't eat as many as I'd hoped so I decided to turn them into marmalade as well. I researched recipes until my head was spinning then decided to use the same method I'd used for the Seville oranges but reducing the sugar. I was flying by the seats of my pants but the result is very, very tasty even though the marmalade is a little on the runny side and has the consistency of runny honey. Still, it's bursting with flavour though it's not as red as I'd hope because most of the oranges were more orange than red.

1.5 kg blood oranges + the juice of 3 blood oranges
1.5 kg granulated sugar
2 limes
4-5 l of water
75 ml Cointreau (optional)

1. Place a couple of saucers in the freezer. Then, scrub the oranges and limes to remove the wax. Place into a heavy saucepan and simmer for approx. 3 hours until the fruit is really soft. Leave to cool over night.
2. Do not discard the cooking liquor. Half the oranges and limes and scoop out the flesh into a large heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an our.
4. Discard the lime skins. Cut the oranges skins in half and with a metal spoon scrape out the pith, the skin should have a polka dot pattern on the inside. Discard the pith and finely slice the skin. Set aside.
5. Next, line a sieve with a muslin cloth and pour the cooked fruit pulp into it. Drain. Use a potato masher squeeze out to ensure none of the juices are lost.
6. Squeeze out the additional 3 oranges. Measure the fresh juice, juice from the cooked oranges and the cooking water. You need about 2.5-2.75 litres. Make up the difference with cold water. Place in a large heavy based pan. This should only be about half full. Add the sugar and orange peel. Heat up until the sugar has been dissolved.
7. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and put a spoonful onto one of the saucers. Leave for 5 minutes. If it's set it'll wrinkle when touch. If not bring to a rolling boil again and boil for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process until the marmalade sets. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then add the cointreau if used. Stir.
8. Ladle directly into hot sterilised jars and screw the tops on immediately. I like to ladle/pour jams and marmalades into to ahalf litre pyrex jug and pour it into the jars. I also turn the upside down to ensure they seal.
9. Leave to cool and label the next day.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Sautéd Leek with Maple Syrup

Sautéd leek with garlic mash and grilled broccoli and blood orange salad
(the salad is a modified recipe from an Ottolenghi cookbook)
I really like leek but don't make it that often as a side veg and if I do I tend to oven roast or barbecue it. The other day, however, I decided to sauté it. I'd planned to add mushrooms and a touch of soured cream and serve it with pasta but my other half wasn't keen so I kept it simple. Turned out it was delicious and we'll certainly make it again this way.

3-4 leeks
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
maple syrup

Finely slice the leek, wash and shake out the excess water.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the leek over a high heat until the water has evaporated. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Keep cooking until the leek starts to brown. Turn down the heat and cook until soft. Drizzle with maple syrup and turn up the heat for a minute or two. Serve.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Carrot and Mango Soup

When my mum mentioned a few weeks ago that my cousin had made a carrot and mango soup for Christmas I knew this was something I'd like to try out. I bought a couple of mangoes but never got around to ask him for his recipe. With the mangoes overripe and threatening to go off I made up my own recipe. The soup is quite fruity with a lovely hum from the chili. If you prefer it less sweet use just one mango.

1 kg carrots
1-2 ripe mangoes
1 smallish red onion (ordinary's fine)
2-3 garlic cloves
1 red chili
1 inch fresh ginger
1 l vegetable stock
1 400 ml tin coconut milk
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh coriander or parsley for serving, optional
toasted seeds for serving, optional

1. Peel and slice the carrots and set aside. Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh off the stone. Place into a bowl. If the mangoes are very soft squeeze out as much juice as possible from the remaining flesh into the bowl.

2. Use the chili with or without seeds depending on how hot you like your food. Peel the onion, garlic and ginger and chop finely. Heat some oil in a large saucepan and soften the veg over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile boil the kettle and make the stock or heat homemade stock.

4. Add the carrots to the saucepan and mix until coated. Add the mango. Season with pepper and add the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes until the carrots are just cooked. Add the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and simmer at a low heat for 5 minutes.

5. Blend the soup. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with fresh herbs or toasted seeds.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Pork and Apple Stroganoff with Spätzle

Last weekend, I was in Germany and brought back a packet of fresh spätzle. The freezer held some outdoor reared pork cut into strips. As I was making it, the dish evolved. The apple wasn't planned. Leave out the meat and make it a mushroom and apple stroganoff.

(Serves 4, though somehow we managed to eat it between two of us. Oops!)

400 g fresh spätzle (dry spätzle, fresh/dry tagliatelle or orechiette)

500 g pork, cut into strips
350 g mushrooms
1 apple
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
2 tbsp chopped fresh celery leaves (optional)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
150 ml whipping cream
1 tsp flour
100 ml milk or cold water
extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice or quarter the mushrooms. Chop the onion, garlic, celery and celery leaves. Wash, quarter and cube the apple.

2. Heat oil in two pans. Add the meat and apple to one pan and the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms to the other.
3. Sauté the veg and brown the pork and apple. Mix the milk/water with the flour. (If using dried pasta cook it now as per packet instructions.)

4. When cooked combine in one pan, add the cream and bring to the boil. Add the flour milk/water mix. Now add the fresh/cooked spätzle or other pasta.

5. Heat through. The served in warmed plates accompanied by a leafy salad.