monoprint

Alice is

cooking very painful sauce

August 31, 2015

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There are certain critical moments in life when hot sauce is desperately needed: Fried chicken moments…fried eggs and potato moments, breaded moments, barbecue moments. Moments when you need the gastronomical equivalent of a slap around the face. I love the buzz that really, really hot sauce radiates, so I’ve put 7 scotch bonnets in mine. The effect is like drinking strong whiskey, it makes your insides dance.

My flatmate had to leave the house when I made it because her eyes hurt. The heat builds to a steady pain which you can temper with fewer scotch bonnets. This batch is for my cousin Sam, who’s been harping on about making his own for several weeks, to no avail. He’s just been offered a new job in St. Andrews. I figure it should see him through the drop in temperature.

By charring the chillies, peppers and tomatoes you add a kiss of smoke to the sauce. There should be no fire without smoke.

You’ll need:

1 white onion, peeled and chopped

3 red peppers

7 scotch bonnet chillies

4 normal red chillies

8 medium tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

2 sprigs of thyme, de-leafed and chopped (optional)

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

270ml red wine vinegar

Make it:

  1. Char the chillies, tomatoes and peppers either over a gas hob or a hot grill until the skin has pretty much blackened all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, tie it and leave for about 15min. This steams them so their skins come off easily. Meanwhile cook the onion in olive oil and a pinch of salt for 10 mins. Cook them low so they don’t colour

  2. Take the peppers and co. out of the plastic bags and discard their skins and chop everything (keep the seeds in the chillies)

  3. Add them to the softened onion

  4. Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and thyme

  5. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30min

  6. Blitz in a food processor (you may need to add a touch of boiling water and a little more vinegar if the mixture is too thick)

  7. Pass through a fine sieve

  8. Leave to cool

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cooking Indian spiced whole roast cauliflower

April 06, 2015

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The cauliflower was a much maligned vegetable, and then it became all trendy. I’ve made the cauliflower rice and mash before. Not yet done the pizza thing. I probably won’t do that actually, because my slight issue with all these brassica ploys is that it’s disguise food isn’t it?

I’m re-claiming the cauli in this recipe. Let’s just celebrate it for what it is, yeah? Who’s with me?

Cauliflowers subtle milky cabbagey flavour needs elevating rather than masking. Its spongy surface area makes it an apt canvas for strong spices. You just paint on a mixture of garam masala and veg oil and roast it until it’s starting to char.

Then the exciting bit, you bring it to the table whole, sat apon a puddle of garlic yoghurt, ready to be carved like a giant curried brain.

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A great vegetarian starter or main with dal and chapatis. And the sort of thing that would be nice with lamb and salmon.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower (serves 4 as a starter)

1 whole cauli

a splash of milk

1 garlic clove

spices: 1 tsp tumeric/1 tsp cumin seeds/1 tsp chilli flakes/1 tsp garam masala

vegetable oil

a small tub of yoghurt

a handful of fresh coriander

a handful of flaked almonds, toasted

a handful of sultanas, soaked in boiling water for 5 mins

Make it:

Preheat the oven to its highest setting

Blanch the cauli in a deep pan with enough boiling water to cover. Add a massive pinch of salt, the whole garlic clove and a splash of milk (this stops it going grey). Cook for about 2 mins, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Keep the garlic for later.

Toast the spices in a dry pan for 30 seconds, then pestle and morter them with loads of black pepper and salt

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Add about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and paint the mixture all over the cauli. This bit’s quite fun

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Roast for about half an hour or until properly blackened

Grate the softened garlic into the yoghurt, season it and add a little olive oil if you like

Serve the cauli sat on top of the yoghurt, with the extras scattered over. Bask in cauli glory.

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cooking black rice porridge with coconut yoghurt

February 06, 2015

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I’m a thief - I stole this idea from Ottolenghi. I first had his version at his restaurant Nopi a few years ago, and remember it looking as stylish and dramatic as porridge can possibly be.

Cooking black rice down like this transforms it into a deep purple, almost vampy colour which is seductive af.

Black Rice Porridge (serves 2)

150g venere rice

500ml almond milk

a pinch of salt

to serve:

coconut yoghurt (I used COYO)

sliced mango

Make it:

Bring the almond milk, rice and salt to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 20 - 25 mins, stirring constantly. The rice won’t break down in the way that oats do, so expect a sweet risotto type consistency. It may angrily come to a boil, so keep an eye out.

If you haven’t been introduced to coconut yoghurt yet, well let me do the honours with the aid of this here link. Tesco and Waitrose sell it - it’s a great product whether you want to cut down on dairy or not.

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cooking forbidden rice

February 01, 2015

A recipe for Chinese New Year 2015, the year of the sheep.

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Chinese black rice is called ‘forbidden rice’ because it was only allowed to be eaten by the Emperor and his court back in the Qing dynasty. Strictly forbidden stuff tends to take my interest. So, while welcoming in the Chinese New Year, what better way to celebrate than with a big plate of black rebel?

‘Venere’ rice, which is now grown in Italy is what I’ve used here. It’s seen as medicine in China as it’s anti-ageing, increases libido and contains a sky high amount of anthocyanins which are what give it its ebony colour; blueberries have them, but not like the amount this stuff has. Cheers to Holland and Barrett who sell it, allowing us minions access.

It has a shiny slickness, a nutty taste and chewy texture. This rice plate has a few easy extras to go with, including a quick chilli jam that combines the essential Chinese flavour trio - chilli, garlic and ginger. A traditional Chinese ‘smacked’ cucumber salad, which is as enjoyable to prepare as it is to eat. You just bash up a cucumber with a rolling pin, which creates crevices and a roughed up texture that allows the salt to permeate the flesh better. And finally egg ribbons - probably more Vietnamese than Chinese, but no-ones bothered right? They are essentially very thin egg crepe cut into strips.

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Quantities serve about 2:

For the black rice

150g black rice

A few splashes of soy sauce

A few drizzles of toasted sesame oil

Make it:

Put the rice in a pan with 360ml of cold water

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat right down to as low as possible

Place a folded tea-towel over the pan and put a tight fitting lid on top of that

Leave it like this for about 20 mins, then remove the lid and leave to cool completely

You can then stir fry it with soy sauce, adding a little toasted sesame oil when it’s off the heat gives it a shine and seasoning

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For the chilli jam

4 red chillis - I used 2 scotch bonnets - I like pain :)

2 garlic cloves

a tiny nugget of ginger

1 tbsp fish sauce

1/3 tin of plum tomatoes

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

Make it:

Roughly chop the ginger, chillis and garlic

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Blitz them in a processor with the fish sauce

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…then add 1/3rd of a tin of chopped tomatoes and blitz again

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Cook it on low for about 20 mins, before adding the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 5, then leave to cool

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For the egg ribbons

Just whisk up 3 eggs as if you were making an omelette (use Burford Browns if you can)

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Add a small amount of beaten egg to a non-stick pan, just enough to make a very thin crepe. Swirl it around until you’re ready to flip. You don’t want any colour, so keep the heat low

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Carry on until you’ve used up all the mix and pile the crepes on top of each other

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Roll them up..

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And cut

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Separate them into ribbons

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For the smacked cucumber

1 cucumber

3 tbsp rice vinegar

a pinch of dried chilli

a really big pinch of salt

1 clove of garlic, finely grated

Whack the cucumber with a rolling pin or other suitable implement…

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Cut it up quite chunky…

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And add everything else - you can make this up to a day before, just drain the liquid off it before serving

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Serve the rice with all the extras. Pure health!

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cooking caramelised jerusalem artichokes with tarragon aioli

January 04, 2015

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The focus for the blog in 2015 will be mainly vegetarian, peppered with a few exclusively organic meaty and fishy numbers.

I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but I can’t bring myself to even so much as taste non-free range meat anymore and I’m tired of having to explain that I’m not a vegetarian, but I only eat free-range, mostly organic meat blah blah blah.

I decided there should be a name for it. I mean, it’s morally pretty much the same as being a vegetarian. My mate T and I were having this discussion the other day. There was much deliberation on the new name…‘organitarian?’..’occasionarian??’…‘sometimesIeatmeatbutonlywhenit’sorganic-tarian???…’

We settled on qualitarian, hoping that it would be confused for someone who exclusively eats quality street.

So hello (stands up) my name is Alice and I’m a qualitarian.

Jerusalem artichokes are a good vegetable. They’re at their best up until March - something to do with the dark, cold wet soil.

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When slow roasted they become sticky and sweet and magically caramelised. I leave them cut in half as they shrink a bit whilst cooking. Also I like their weird knobbly shapes, they look a bit like the ancient Venus of Willendorf (the worlds first ever statue) — and I can only see that as a positive.

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Tarragon aioli is sharp, citrussy and like grassy aniseed. It makes the best condiment for them. Like elevated chips and mayonnaise.

Caramelised Jerusalem Artichokes with Tarragon Aioli (makes a huge plates worth)

Ye need:

  • about a kilo of jerusalem artichokes, cut in half
  • a drizzle of sunflower or canola oil
  • a massive pinch of sea salt

for the tarragon aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of a whole lemon
  • a pinch of salt, sugar and black pepper
  • a bunch of tarragon, finely chopped
  • a handful of spinach for colour
  • 200ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 300ml olive oil

Make it:

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2

Rub the halved artichokes in oil and salt

Roast for about an hour and a half making sure there’s some space between them. Turn them halfway

To make the aioli, add the yolk, lemon juice, salt, sugar and black pepper to a processor. Whiz up and add the oil gradually in a steady stream. Add the tarragon and spinach and blitz until smooth

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cooking pickled pumpkin

November 09, 2014

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Pumpkin is too often mashed, puréed and pulsed into baby food. Mashed root vegetables (particularly the sweet ones) cause me fierce upset. And yes I’m looking at you parsnips and sweet potatoes.

I’ve said it before many a time — my idea of hell would be God sitting me down with endless bowls of parsnip risotto and making me do excel spreadsheets forever.

I like acidity, bite and punch. Hellooooo pickles!

This is a new way to enjoy pumpkin, one that will keep it’s structural integrity intact and transform it from sweet and dense, into sharp and bite-y.

But what does it go with you ask?

Well, it will pimp up your cheeseboard no end — think of it as a replacement for quince jelly. Also pretty fine with charcuterie and salty, fatty things like black pudding. Would also make an excellent addition to a salad — think goats’ cheese, kale, walnuts.

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Pickled Pumpkin: makes about 1 large kilner jars worth

  • 1 butternut squash or pumpkin
  • a handful of salt
  • 600ml white wine vinegar
  • 400ml water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Make it:

  • Peel and slice the pumpkin quite thinly
  • Mix it with salt in a large bowl, cover and set aside for 4 hours, then rinse off the salt
  • Bring all the other ingredients to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins
  • Pour the hot liquid over the pumpkin and store in sterilised jars or an airtight container in the fridge
  • Leave the pumpkin for about 3 days before eating. It keeps for ages

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cooking salted cucumbers

October 04, 2014

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Lord knows I love a pickle. I used to secretly swig white wine vinegar from the bottle when I was younger, like some kind of vine-holic.

So it’s with a great level of restraint, that I’m presenting gherkins, that aren’t vinegar. These aren’t pickled, they’re salted.

Why salt a cucumber?

Salting your cuc means that you extract some of the water that can ruin a sandwich, salad or relish or with over-wateriness.

A salted cucumber will have crunch, and can be kept in a jar for about a week, ready for tzatziki and cured salmon on soda bread or indeed just a simple cucumber salad. These are perfumed with garlic and dill, which makes them feel aromatic and Scandi. I’m becoming obsessed with dill. It’s just the best herb — it just is.

Try and find about 6 of those nice small cucumbers you can get at markets, or just chop a couple of big ones up.

Get a plastic bag, and cut your small cucumbers in half, lengthways. Sling the cucumber halves in the bag with a large handful of salt, a large bunch of roughly chopped dill and a handful of crushed garlic. Leave them in there for about 6 hours. The cucumber will have leaked out their water, but still remain crunchy, and they’ll have taken on the garlic and dill flavours lovely.

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cooking bircher muesli

September 27, 2014

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I like croissants for breakfast. Big flakey all-butter ones. I never eat muesli. Why would you? Miserable stuff.

Bircher muesli is an exception. I think of this as summery porridge. It’s cool, creamy and fruity and somehow feels quite indulgent despite actually being something Gwyneth Paltrow might approve of.

No recipe, because it’s too easy and straightforward, I’ll just talk you through.

You just put a handful of oats in some tupperware and pour over enough apple juice to just submerge them. Leave them in the fridge overnight and in the morning they will be all plumped up and pulpy like this

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Mix them with a dollop of nice thick yoghurt, I like Total or this French stuff is very good (Waitrose).

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Mix through some fruit. I like apple matchsticks and toasted almonds. Oh and dates, but didn’t have any in when I took the photos.

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cooking kale crisps with sesame yoghurt

September 25, 2014

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I’m aware that kale crisps have been done to death. But not with a cool sesame yoghurt dip they haven’t - oh no.

Not sure whether roasting kale kills its superpowers or not, but they do make excellent crisps. The curly leaves transform into something reminiscent of that deep fried seaweed you get in dodgy Chinese restaurants - but a good clean version.

To make ‘em you only need:

● A large bunch of kale. Washed and left to dry

● 1 tbsp olive oil

● 1 tsp salt

● 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

For the yoghurt dip you need:

● 100ml natural yoghurt

● 1 tsp ground cumin

● 1 tbsp runny honey

● 1 tbsp tahini paste

What to do:

  1. Cut the leaves up into manageable pieces. Put them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar and salt and go in with your hands

  2. Scatter them about on a baking tray and roast them for about 25mins, or until crispy

  3. For the dip, just mix everything together. Would make quite a nice side dish with the dip drizzled over

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cooking apple plate pie

September 22, 2014

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I have an ‘apple pie Mum’. Not that she’s ever stayed home and been domestic in any way. More in that she’ll…sometimes makes an apple pie :/

Her pies have gone through various alterations throughout the decades. They’ve been deep-filled with huge chucks of sour apple, shallow-filled with sweet apple mush, and often billowing with puff pastry. There’s nearly always been a great hulking piece of cinnamon lurking in there, shedding it’s bark.

I bought her a Japanese mandolin for last Christmas, and she now she makes this kind — a plate pie, which has layers of perfectly tart sliced apple inside and a sweet pastry crust.

It’s the best so far. It’s the kind of pie that you’d see in Tom and Jerry, resting on the windowsill. It also doesn’t require any additional sugar.

I didn’t take enough photos when making it, but basically you just layer up the apples until you’ve used them all. Think French apple torte. The recipe feeds about 6

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To Make it

6 granny smith apples

about 2 tbsp marmalade for daubing

1 block sweet pastry — my recipe is here, or just buy it — I like this one from Sains

zest of 1 lemon

cinnamon for dusting

1 egg (for the wash)

GO GO GO

  • Roll out half the pastry and layer it over a heatproof plate. Cut out a plate-sized circle of greaseproof and cover with baking beans
  • Bake for about 20mins, then remove the beans and paper, and cook blind for another 10. You may need to put some foil around the outer edges if they colour quicker than the middle
  • Brush the cooked pastry with egg white and leave to cool completely
  • Peel and slice the apples thinly with a mandolin
  • Layer up the slices over the pastry, dabbing marmelade here and there as you go, and dusting with cinnamon and lemon zest. It will seem like you have too much apple, but build it high - they cook down
  • Roll out the top layer and squidge the sides in. Don’t worry about it looking dead neat — this is a humble pie. Egg wash the edges to the base

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  • Egg wash the top and cut a cross. Bake for about half an hour or until it looks like the pie from Tom and Jerry

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These are the instructions I included with my mothers mandolin — she’s cut herself every time she’s used it, of course.

mandy

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cooking fried porridge (gf)

September 12, 2014

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Having just spent a week with the fam (literally) on a tiny Hebridean island called Tiree, I thought it fitting to play around with oatmeal. My family are extreeeemely particular about porridge. It’s the only thing my dad insists on taking charge of in the kitchen.

His puritanical view is that the oats have to be pinhead, uncut. He uses water, adds a hefty pinch of sea salt and has it with a splash of cream if there’s any in the fridge. I see it as punishment porridge.

I’m more baby bear — I like mine made with milk and honey.

This recipe is inspired by an old school Scottish tradition of pouring leftover porridge into a drawer and leaving it to cool. It’s then cut up and eaten it on-the-go as the original energy bar. If you’ve read Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) you’ll know what I’m on about.

Oatmeal was the basis of the Scottish crofters diet, makes sense — cheap and sturdy fuel for slow energy-release. I like to imagine a burly Scotsman knee deep in heather, pulling a slice from his sternum along with a hip flask of whiskey while he’s roaming the highlands.

I know this sounds kind of DISGUSTING but stay with me — I don’t use a drawer to cool the porridge. I used a baking dish, and I fry it in butter. The result is something between porridge, French toast and oaty polenta. It’s one of the most brilliant breakfast discoveries I’ve had, I’m mad for it. So much so that I’m going to list what would be excellent with it:

Raspberries and honey drizzle

Crispy bacon and maple syrup

Yoghurt and berries with a dusting of icing sugar

Caramelised apples and cinnamon

Spiced butter (cinnamon/nutmeg etc) and roasted pecans

MAKE IT!

Crispy Fried Porridge Slices (serves 4 for breakfast)

200g porridge oats

300ml whole milk (or soy if you’re that way inclined)

300ml water

pinch salt

pinch sugar

grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)

  • Method:

  • Mix the oats, water, milk, sugar and salt to a pan

  • Stir on a low heat constantly for about 15mins until thick and creamy. The more you stir, and the lower the heat, the creamier the porridge!

  • Pour the porridge into a medium sized tupperware container or an oven dish

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  • Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight

  • Turn the cooled porridge out carefully - you’ll end up with a beige solid slab of porridge. Slice it up into triangles or squares. Dusting the squares with a little flour prevents them sticking in the pan, if you don’t have a non stick one

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  • Pan fry in a little oil and butter (or can be fried without if you’re using a non-stick pan and don’t want the extra cals) for about 5 mins on each side, or until golden

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Serve with whatever you like. This one has maple syrup

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This one has been fried without oil — and has honey and cinnamon

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cooking babaganoosh with herbed yoghurt and walnuts

August 22, 2014

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This is a really nice way to enjoy babaganoosh. Rather than just using it for scooping up with bread, make it part of a kind of middle eastern salad of sorts.

My babaganoosh recipe is here

The rest is just decoration:

Macerated red onion. Finely slice a red onion, and pour red wine or white wine vinegar over, leave for about half an hour

Toast some walnuts

Mix yoghurt or labne with some chopped mint, parsley, or whatever soft herbs you have. Season and add a little olive oil.

Layer the babaganoosh, yoghurt and pickled red onion, then sprinkle the walnuts and mint over. Would be really nice with lamb.

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cooking quick aubergine parmigiana

August 17, 2014

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Most of the stuff I cook is like this — simple and vegetable based. Many dishes can be deconstructed (forgive the horrible word).

You just have to make sure they are properly seasoned and that the cheese is melted, not cooked, which turns mozzarella into rubber. For two, slice up one aub.

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Fry to colour

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Bake in a single layer with mozzarella and Parmesan

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You want to just melt the mozarella, so they only need about 15mins in the oven on 180

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Make a simple tomato sauce

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Toast some seasoned breadcrumbs in a little olive oil and grated garlic, just so they’re coloured. I got this ruddy great sack in Sicily, have a feeling it’s going to last years

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And layer up on the plate. Nice with salad, bread etc

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cooking pickled red cabbage

July 24, 2014

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Pickling vegetables improves your life.

Red cabbage is a good one to start with. It’s the humblest of vegetables - often sidelined to winter braising. That is until we introduce it to vinegar. It then transforms into the brightest, crunchiest purple pickle - it looks like fireworks on a plate that cuts through anything meaty or rich.

Think pulled pork, kebabs, sausages, burgers, anything barbecued. It’s goes great with smoked mackerel pate, oily fish and cured meats. You can throw it in coleslaw, have it in sandwiches or just on it’s own with feta and walnuts.

Also, it has healing properties. It prevents flu, it’s a gastro-regulator which means whether you’re blocked or loose, it’ll sort you right out. It’s good if you’re anaemic, if you have respiratory problems but perhaps most importantly - it works miracles on a raging hangover.

Convinced this stuff should be free on the NHS.

Find the recipe here

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cooking crispy mushroom 'calamari'

July 08, 2014

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I don’t normally buy mushrooms but I found this VERY exciting looking box of mixed wild mushrooms in a store in Peckham the other day and ran home with it, giggling.

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I made a really quite disgusting miso broth thing, and used some in that. Horrible it was. The mushrooms went all soggy and slimy. So to counteract this disastrous happening I wanted something quick and crunchy. Then a bag of matzo meal fell on my head from the cupboard, like a sign from God.

I’ve called them calamari because not only do they look like calamari, but they actually taste like calamari too - you’ve got that crispy tentacle thing going on. You could do this with normal mushrooms I guess, but the weirder enoki ones create the more surface area, and therefore more crunch. I assume we all like crunch? The seasoning is important, I sprinkled them with lots of sea salt, chilli flakes. Good result. Feel particularly proud that I haven’t made any ‘fun-guy’ refs. in this post.

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You will need:

  • A punnet of mixed wild mushrooms

  • milk

  • matzo meal or fine breadcrumbs

Dip the mushrooms into milk then matzo meal, making sure they are good and coated. Fry them in an inch of hot oil. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Serve with rice vinegar or lemon.

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cooking herb salad

July 03, 2014

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Herbs are often seen as an afterthought, or as—queue horrible word— ‘garnish’. Which, for me, always creates a vision of the Caesar dog and his square of chicken in jelly. A sprig of parsley somehow indicated freshness and ‘gourmet dining’ in the nineties.

Fresh herbs should be used in abundance by the armful. Buying them can seem like an unnecessary extravagance and they can easily be forgotten about. Once too often I find a mangy bag of old parsley stuck to the back of the fridge, going black. If you share my herby woes, listen up. Do a herb salad— it’s more summery and fragrant than a freshly mowed lawn.

Use any soft herbs - coriander, basil, dill, mint, parsley etc. Perhaps not tarragon, as it can be quite overpowering.

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Find the recipe for herb salad with orange and avocado here

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cooking mujaddara

June 30, 2014

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I feel like I don’t have any money, won’t ever have any money and can’t remember what money looks like at the moment.

Peasant food beckons in times of hardship. I found this really old Arab dish of mixed rice, lentils and onions on the web. It sounds bland but it’s surprisingly flavourful. That’s the caramelised onions doing their job. Caramelised onions are one of the best culinary secret weapons out there.

I like the name too - mujaddara, sounds tribal.

So this is a thrifty little tumble, I haven’t worked out how much a bowl costs, but I’m sure it’s WELL under a quid. Put a dollop of minty yoghurt and a handful of toasted walnuts over the top (if you’re feeling particularly opulent) and you have yourself a complete meal. I can’t think of anything it wouldn’t go with but know it would be particularly brilliant with chicken, halloumi or grilled aubergine.

The recipe below is if you’re making it from scratch, but it makes sense to make dishes like this when you have leftover rice or lentils.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking stuffed courgette flowers with salty ricotta and honey

June 09, 2014

So I made these in Sicily last week. Bit of shitty picture I know, but forgive me I was VERY chilled out at the time.

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Sicilians do ricotta and honey very well thanks to the Greeks and Arabs who settled there (like bare time ago). They use both a lot, particularly in desserts. They also grow amazing vegetables, especially where we were staying at the foot of mount Etna. The volcanic soil is rich in minerals so the vegetables taste incredible. I found a punnet of baby courgette flowers in a corner shop and had to have.

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I don’t think you should ever do anything else with courgette flowers, you just need this one recipe, that’s you sorted for courgette flowers, for LIFE.

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You just need:

  • some courgette flowers

  • some salted (brined) ricotta. Use goats cheese or feta as replacement

  • honey for drizzling

  • olive oil for frying and drizzling

make ‘em:

  1. stuff the flower parts with cheese.
  2. fry in olive oil
  3. drizzle with honey

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cooking a watermelon panzanella salad

June 09, 2014

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So panzanella - a lovely vibrant Tuscan bread salad, made with charred bread that absorbs the juices. I added watermelon to this one and a few other salty bits of bling.

This is not by any means a measly salad, it’s big, salty, sweet and hefty and refreshing. A meal in it’s own right, perfecto for hot weather — where you want to pick, go away, come back pick some more etc.

A few tips:

Use 3 day old bread, or really hard sourdough.

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If you put cucumber in it (not essential) don’t ribbon them as I did, they go too soggy, Cut them chunky.

cucumber

Let the red onion sit in some vinegar for 10mins before you use it, it gets rid of the acrid burn that raw onion has

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Use the nicest tomatoes you can

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toms

Don’t bother de-seeding the melon, too much faff

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For the dressing, put everything in an empty jar and shake up

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Let it sit for 30mins to an hour before eating, this is one of the only salads you can do this with, so it’s good for parties

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salid

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Find the recipe here

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cooking crispy plantain with scotch bonnet sauce

May 27, 2014

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I hadn’t ever really tried plantain except once at primary school. I knew that for me it would be highly convienient to like plantain, the bananas firmer, carbier cousin, because you get buy them EVERYWHERE in South London. 3 for a quid usually.

2 banana

Issue is - I’m not that into bananas. I don’t like the ripe ones. The association of an old banana skin left lying in a plastic bag on car journeys never hasn’t left me since childhood.

If I do eat a banana, I like it to be a little too firm, tinged with green, almost woody. Childhood screws you up.

I tried the green ones first because they were such a beautiful green. DON’T BUY THESE. I fried them up and they just tasted like old tough potato. Possible good for making crisps with though.

greenplaintain

Second attempt was better. My corner shop man told me it’s the old yellow/black ones you’ve got to go for. They’re like a cross between a potato and a banana. What I really like is that they are a suitable for savoury stuff, think curries, tacos and toasted sandwiches.

raw

Just shallow fried and scattered with sea salt is good but what really makes them SUPREME is serving them with a really hot smoky pepper sauce - and a little smattering of crumbled feta. It’s like hot - sweet - salty -creamy - cold - firey. And where you find plantain, you can expect to find scotch bonnet chillis - which are properly, ridiculously hot, so you only need one or two.

I don’t have a barbecue, so all my smokiness and charring comes from my gas rings - If you’re adopting this method just make sure you’ve got tongs. Definitely use tongs.

Just sit some peppers in the naked flame until they are blackened

peppers

Do the same with the scotch bonnets

scotchbonnet

Toast the spices in a dry pan then blitz with sugar, vinegar, oil etc.

spices

Heat an inch or so of oil and add the plantain - however you wish to cut it

frying

Fry

golden

Keep frying and the rest explains itself :)

fried

paper

plate

plateagain

birdseye

side

Find the recipe here

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cooking sweetcorn and halloumi fritters

May 20, 2014

fritters

I hadn’t heard of sweetcorn fritters until that wave of Australian breakfast joints hit the UK a few years ago, starting with Bill Granger. I didn’t realise how good Aussies did breakfast.

Sweetcorn fritters are fresh, colourful and lively with chilli. Perfectly brunchy, and really easy to make, just like pancakes. Once you’ve made the batter, have faith, it may seem a wee bit flimsy, but somehow it all sticks together and forms a golden fritter in the pan. The trick is not to fiddle once they’ve hit the pan. Just let it do it’s thing for a few minutes, then gently flip over.

I’ve added halloumi to mine - it counteracts the sweetness of the corn, so there’s no need for bacon.

Just cut the corn (fresh) -

sawing

Mix with the batter -

mix

And fry -

fritters

fin

Find the recipe here

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cooking spätzle with brown butter and peas

May 08, 2014

peas

Spätzle – Germanys answer to Macaroni. These pasta-like noodles are made by pushing fresh dough through a colander (unless you happen to own a spatzle maker) where it drops into boiling water, forming funny worm shaped dumplings, which are then fried in butter.

colendar

boiling

spat

The proper way to eat spätzle, I believe, is with fried onions and lots of melted cheese, which I’d even go so far as to say it better than mac and cheese, it’s kind of fresher and doughier. My affection for spätzle has deepened since finding out you only need 3 ingredients to make it. Clever old Germans.

You can have it with anything. Drop a handful into chicken soup or serve it with stews and meatballs. My way of serving it this time is with peas, cheese and browned butter. It’s a more summery version, because it’s too bloody hot for stew, and if I eat anymore mac and cheese this week I’ll develop scurvy. Anyway, this lemony, herby spätzle is delicious, like a warm pasta salad.

Find the recipe here

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cooking asparagus with roast garlic aioli and pangrattato

April 24, 2014

no

There was a Facebook group page a few years back that allowed you to take a test to see which vegetable represents your personality best. My friend Natasha proudly told me that she had been deemed ‘an asparagus’. I remember nodding in approval. Natasha is pretty a pretty classy lass, and there’s nowt classier than these ‘ol green fellas.

drawing

Asparagus doesn’t stick around for long, so you want to appreciate it, nice and simple. Buttery hollandaise is the obvious pairing, but I think this cheats roast garlic aioli is better because you are at no risk of anything splitting. The crispy breadcrumb element comes from the Italian garnish known as pangrattato, which translates as ‘poor mans parmesan’.The Italians like to sprinkle this seasoned breadcrumb mix over pasta for a bit of crunch, but you can use it in anything. It also looks like sand, so the asparagus look like they’ve just been dug up - something I find thrilling.

If your not mad about asparagus you could serve most vegetables this way, as well as raw crudités.

dip

dip2

sparagus

The recipe in the link is designed for people who don’t have a lot of time, hence the aioli is cheats (mayonnaise mixed with roast garlic). If you want to make your own, put the following in a food processor:

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 egg

  • a big pinch of sugar

  • a big pinch of salt

  • the juice of a whole lemon

  • 1 head of roasted garlic (squeezed out)

  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

  • 1 raw garlic clove, grated

Whiz it up, then gradually add:

  • about 200ml sunflower or veg oil very slowly, while it’s still blitzing

  • 200ml olive oil

  • a couple of tbsp of boiling water

Taste and see if it needs more lemon juice or seasoning, otherwise you’re done!

Find the recipe here

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cooking Melty baked Avocado

April 10, 2014

med

You can feel the love for avocados the world over. I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t at least like little green fellas. Megaphone announcement ‘Is there anyone out there??” The benefits to the hair, skin, eyes, nails and general all-round human needs are staggering.

But buying these ‘alligator pears’ can be problematic. Once too often I’ve found them to be either rock hard and neither ‘ripe nor ready’. When you want avocado and you WANT IT NOW– try baking ‘em. The idea of cooking one seems a bit odd at first, but it’s delicious, it’s I hear that it was popular in the seventies, and who doesn’t love a seventies revival. Hello prawn cocktail!

Works nicely with both hard and softer avos, can be baked naked or filled with whatever you like. I went for Italian pizza topping stuffs for the melt factor. If you want to add a bit of crunch, add breadcrumbs to the top.

pre-baked

melty

Find the recipe here

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cooking warm lentil salad with burrata, croutons and mint dressing

March 31, 2014

puy

I am something of a lentil champion-er. They’ve been good to me over the years: seeing me through my studenthood; through sickness; through health and through financial instability. I won’t hear a bad word said about them. They’ve had a bad rep for a while, but I think (as Bob Dylan puts it) ‘the times, they are a chaaaangin’. Lentils are proving their versatility and are popping up on menus everywhere. Puy lentils (or poor man’s caviar as they’re known in France) are the crème de la crème of the lentil world—they hold their shape and texture much better than standard lentils, as they are grown in the hot volcanic climate and mineral rich soil of Le Puy. This warm salad uses them as a bed partner with mozzarella and makes for a lovely, rustic, peasant-y plate.

Find the recipe here

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cooking Kale, Mushroom & Chestnut Open Lasagne (with walnut dukkah)

February 20, 2014

kale

side

There’s a real trend for everything to be open right now.

Open air theatres, open house weekends, open Facebook accounts, open toed shoes, open university, open relationships…

While a little openness goes a long way, too much can make you want to lie down in a dark room with your phone turned off.  I’ve got a recipe that embraces the good parts of being open. Unlock the padlock to the larder, cast off the shackles of time and embrace the open lasagne…

This recipe has a creamy mushroom, chestnut and kale filling. It’s topped with a walnut dukkah which is a lovely mix of toasted nuts, sesame seeds and spices. The dukkah changes the dish from very good to very good with glitter on top.

Since discovering dukkah, I throw it over everything; salads, eggs, soups, pasta. I’d probably throw some in the bath, it’s that good.

The main thing about this method of making lasagne is that it is just so quick and ridiculously easy. All the joy of lasagne, but without the hour and a half in the oven. It also looks real priddy and you can change up the fillings as you please. Hey, what can we say? I’m just really open like that…

FOR THE FULL RECIPE GO HERE sluttery

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cooking Spätzle Needs

January 28, 2014

Alt text

Spätzle (pronounced ‘spetch-lay’) is like a sort of small German noodle/dumpling, a bit like mac n cheese. You can make it within 15 minutes– the fresh dough just falls into boiling water and cooks in seconds. Good if your cupboards are bare and you can’t face walking to Sainsbury’s in the rain.

To make enough for 2 you need:

1 cup (about 250g) of 00’ pasta flour (I used this because it was what I had in the house, but I’m assured you can just use plain flour)

2 free range eggs

roughy a cup of milk (200ml)

So, start by seasoning your flour in a bowl with salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg if you have it.

Make a well in the centre of your flour, just as you would if you were making pancakes, and crack your eggs in.

eggs

Mix the eggs in with a wooden spoon until fully combined, then add enough milk until you get a thick-ish batter.

Put the batter in the fridge for five minutes (or you can leave it in there for up to two days).

When you’re ready to cook the batter - place a colander (preferably with large holes) over a large pot of salty boiling water. Push the batter through the colander so it squeezes through the holes and drops into the water – remove the colander and cook them for about a minute only.

holes

You should end up with little cooked batter worms – that’s your spätzle. Drain them and fry them in butter.

fry

Traditionally you’d have them with caramelised onions and lots of cheese only. I added spinach to mine in an attempt to get something green in there, and it was good.

spaz2

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cooking four salads

June 22, 2013

There’s a dead cool new shop opened in Peckham called General Store, it sells mackerel wrapped up in brown paper, special jam made in Hackney, Stoke Newington smoked salmon and proper eccles cakes. I love it there, I want to buy it all.

I think the thing with salads is they shouldn’t be over-complicated. They don’t require more than a few ingredients if they are the right ingredients.

This week I found these French radishes that… just look at them…

radishes

radish

I sautéed them with olive oil, salt, peas and mint. The peppery radish and sweet peas are a good combo.

radishes and peas

There is another shop in peckham, a Costcutter, less pretty than General Store, but they sell some damn fine fruit. So I thought it only fair to give them some credit and use their heritage tomatoes.

toms

Make a dressing from chopped shallots, sherry vinegar, sugar, salt and olive oil. Serve as they are.

tom salad

Or with goats curd.

toms w/curd

It’s that time of year when great slabs of watermelon are gracing the newsagents of South London. The best way with watermelon, I think, is feta and mint…

melon

watermelon

Finally, asparagus. Like green soldiers, they salute the summer. Serve also with feta and mint, and if you have bacon lying around, add that too.

sparagus

bacon

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cooking crazy beets

June 18, 2013

This beetroot dish is a bit over the top, but quite fun to put together. I’m using golden and candy stripe beetroot because they are the more unusual and they don’t leave your chopping board looking like a crime scene.

final

Strip away the earthy knobbly outer edge and inside you normally have a whole lotta physcadelic shit going on…

raw beets

Just look at that…

candy stripe

However, I open my candy stripe beetroot, that I brought home from a specialist greengrocers, tongue hanging out with anticipation and…

light

…oh the disappointment. You can barely make out the stripe, let alone a candy coloured one.

However… the show must go on.

To make my not-so-crazy beets — aka ‘Pickled Beetroot, Goats Curd, Hazelnuts’ — as a starter for 2 people you’ll need:

  • 50ml sherry vinegar (you could use rice vinegar or any other nice tasting)

  • 50ml good olive oil

  • smoked salt (Maldon have brought it out)

  • 3 different kinds of beetroot: candy stripe, golden and purple

  • a small tub of goats curd or soft rindless goats cheese

  • hazelnut butter (you can get it in wholefoods)

  • a handful of hazelnuts

  • basil

  • about 5 pink peppercorns

This dish is so easy to make and assemble but does require one key tool, the Japanese mandolin, in order to get the beetroot slices super thin.

I would strongly recommend buying one of these, it’s not your usual faddy gadget. A mandolin — without being too dramatic — will change your life.

mandolin

First, make your dressing that will pickle the beetroot. Essentially this is just a simple vinegarette.

dressing ingredients

Get an empty jam jar, add the vinegar with a tablespoon of caster sugar, the olive oil and about 1 tsp of salt. Give it a shake up and set aside.

Cut the rough outer skin from the beetroot and, using a mandolin, slice it as fine as possible. For the love of God though, watch those fingers.

mandolin pink mandolin

If your beetroot are massive like mine, trim them down, so that you have discs about 2 inches across.

Leave the discs to marinate for at least 3 hours. You can leave them to pickle in the vinegar for over a week. Make sure if using different coloured beetroot that you keep them in separate containers or the purple ones will stain the others.

containers

After an adequate time pickling, remove the discs, pat dry and plate.

dics

Now for the curd. I got mine fresh. It’s nice to have goat’s cheese that isn’t too strong, so I’d recommend curd, or flavoured ricotta.

curd

curd close

Make pebble size balls and sandwich them between the beetroot discs.

balls

hats

Use either pre-bought cooked beetroot, or roasted beetroots (mine are just cooked low ‘n slow for 3 hours with plenty of salt).

roast beets

Chop them up and add to the plate with some basil.

basil leaves

The hazelnut bit is a bit of a cheat, but you can get hazelnut butter in a jar these days, and it’s nice.

spread

adding

Toast your hazelnuts in a dry pan.

nuts

And add.

nuts

Lastly, sprinkle with smoked salt (thanks Maldon)

salt

…and toasted pink peppercorns (this brings out the flavour).

pink pepper

finished

Now beet it.

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cooking Firework Fritters

August 01, 2012

Alt text

These fritters are as humble as humble can be. A classic example of making something out of seemingly nothing, which is what I did when I realised I had little else in the fridge but carrots. Oh and frozen peas in the freezer. I don’t trust people that don’t have frozen peas in the freezer.

I guess you can put most vegetables into a pancake batter; courgettes, sweetcorn, beetroot - as long as it doesn’t have too high a water content.

I’m missing the point - THEY LOOK LIKE FIREWORKS! Queue Katy Perry.

Shred a single carrot into matchsticks on a mandolin.

Carrots

Combine a few tablespoons of flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and heavily season. Drop an egg into the centre and whisk to form a thick batter. Add a splash of milk if too dry.

Kilner

Mix your carrot sticks in along with a handful of frozen peas and fry in a little oil until golden on each side. Don’t be tempted to turn them more than once in the pan, you want them to hold their shape.

Fritters Fritters

Scatter with parsley and Parmesan. Banging.

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cooking Nut Risolles

April 20, 2012

Now then, I’m no vegetarian, but I do love a nut burger.

I feel quite thrilled with this recipe because it’s healthy, and versatile. You could have these little golden nuggets with a salad and a little cucumber and yoghurt dip. Or you could have them with a floury bap, gherkins, chips, ketchup, the lot.

They are good hot and cold, so you could take them on a picnic, or to work with you in pitta bread.

You could use a combination of different nuts, hey, go nuts! sorry

For the risolles you will need:

  • One large onion
  • 200g nuts (almonds/cashews/peanuts/pecans)
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 150g Bulgar Wheat
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • Peanut Butter
  • 1 egg
  • Chickpeas or brown rice
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Soy Sauce

Blend the nuts in the food processor, and then combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Form in to patties and coat with flour. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Shallow fry until golden on each side. Warm through in the oven for about 10 mins.

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cooking Almond and Rhubarb Cake

March 31, 2012

Now then, this little almond cake is not only moist and perfectly formed, but nestled in amoungst it’s crumb lives a pink fleshy piece of gingered rhubarb. Cupcakes, please go away, please. And make room for more cakes like this, understated, slick, and chilled out.

For the cake batter, have a look at my blog post for almond and pear pudding…here. It’s the same base, only this one uses semolina flour instead of the plain flour.

This is what your batter should look like. I store mine in the fridge, and even freeze it sometimes. This is one I have in the fridge.

For the fruity innards you’ll need;

  • A few sticks of rhubarb
  • A small piece of fresh ginger
  • One vanilla pod
  • 100ml Grenadine
  • Light brown caster sugar
  • 2 lemon zest

To cook your rhubarb, cut the stems in to 2cm lengths.

Place on a sheet of greeseproof paper and throw generous handfuls of sugar over them. Grate ginger over, along with the scraped vanilla bean, a glug of grenadine for colour and grated lemon zest.

Cover with another sheet of greeseproof and cover with foil so that the rhubarb is snuggled up inside a baking parchment and tin foil bed. Cosy. This is actually so the rhubarb poaches in it’s own juice, and no water escapes. Pop in the oven on 160. It’s crucial to keep checking on it, like a worried mother. I’d say every 5-10mins, as all ovens differ. The rhubarb is quick to go soft, and you want to take it out when it’s just on that turning point between firm and soft.

Grease and flour your cake tins. Spoon the chilled mix in to them. Bake at 180 for 10 mins.

Remove and add 2 pieces of rhubarb per cake. There should be a wobble in the centre, that’s where you put your rhubarb.

Bake for another 5 mins. Leave to cool, turn out.

A little dusting of icing sugar…

Now, this bit, this is sexy…

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cooking Spinach, Mushroom and Ricotta Pie

March 28, 2012

Pie = It doesn’t have to mean meat laden, heavy, winter stodge.

This spinach, mushroom and ricotta beauty, allows one to enjoy all the pleasures a pie can bring without the billious feeling afterwards. So you can enjoy pie all year round. It also looks rather magical with it’s bright green innards and is packed full of iron.

You will need:

Either shortcrust packet pastry (no one will judge, I use it all the time) or …..To make your homemade pastry:

  • 120g Soft Unsalted Butter
  • A tsp Sugar
  • Large Pinch Salt
  • 240g plain flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 2 bags of spinach (I know, I know, a lot right, but doesn’t half wilt down)
  • One small punnet of mushrooms (any variety, I used chestnut)
  • One small tub of ricotta.
  • One large onion, diced.
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped.
  • Fresh nutmeg

To make your pastry, it’s simple. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Bring together, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a hour.

Line your tart tin with your pastry, rolled out to the thickness of a two pence coin.

Line with baking parchment and coins (I’ve recently discovered these are way better than baking beans as they conduct the heat better), put it back in the fridge for half an hour so that your pastry doesn’t shrink when you bake it.

Bake until the pastry is cooked and egg wash to seal the pastry.

Meanwhile, to prepare the filling; Sweat your onion in a little olive oil, add the garlic and mushrooms and pop the lid on your pan so that the mushrooms cook through. Season.

When the mushrooms are cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. In a large pan heat a large knob of butter and add your washed spinach leaves, with a tablespoon of water and put a lid on the pan for a few minutes, this technique is called etuvee. When the spinach is cooked and cooled, squeeze out excess water with your hands.

In a bowl combine the squeezed spinach, with your garlic mushrooms. Add the ricotta and grated nutmeg. Season generously.

Fill your cooked pastry case with the mixture and roll out your pastry lid with the remaining dough. Attaching it to the sides with a little egg wash. Egg wash the top and I like to scatter a little oatmeal over the top for a rustic farmhouse look.

Give it about 20 mins, or until the pastry looks golden.

Ummmm hum, Thaamous.

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