Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Traditionally made with whipped cream, honey, toasted oats and fresh raspberries, it is a car crash of a recipe, a bit like an Eton Mess which is neither here nor there but utterly delicious.
This is a healthier version which uses seasonal rhubarb stewed in a little honey and omits the whisky, meaning it can be eaten for breakfast. If you want to use it as a dessert, add a drop of decent single malt whisky if desired.
Toast the oats in advance, combine a pro-biotic yoghurt with Greek yoghurt, flavour with a little vanilla extract or if you are feeling posh, a whole vanilla pod and sweeten with honey. It's a great way to start the day even if you are going to upset the traditionalists.
Breakfast Rhubarb Cranachan
Feeds 2-3 people
150g rolled Scottish oats
6 sticks of rhubarb, cut into pieces and stewed in a little honey until soft, cooled
250g pro-biotic yoghurt
250g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla pod
1 - Put the oats into a dry frying pan. Heat up and cook until beginning to toast. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2 - In a mixing bowl, combine the yoghurts, honey and vanilla. Mix in a couple of handfuls of rolled oats and stewed rhubarb.
3 - Place a tablespoon of stewed rhubarb into each of your serving glasses. Top with the yoghurt mixture then top with a little more rhubarb, toasted oats and honey.
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Ratatouille with Mussels and Lemon Balm
1 aubergine, cut into small chunks
2 courgettes, halved and sliced into chunks
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tins of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
6 handfuls of live mussels, cleaned
A handful of lemon balm or basil leaves, finely sliced
1 - Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the aubergine and cook, tossing regularly, until beginning to turn golden. Remove and set aside.
2 - Heat up the remaining tbsp olive oil and add the peppers and courgette. Cook, tossing regularly until beginning to soften and turn golden. Remove and set aside.
3 - Heat up the olive oil in a separate pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes then tip in the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, stir in the vinegar and cook for 10 minutes until beginning to reduce and deepen in colour.
4 - Tap any open mussels onto a hard surface. If they do not close, throw away. Put the mussels into the tomato sauce, put on the lid and cook for 5 minutes. If the mussels have not opened properly, throw away.
5 - Stir in the vegetables and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle on the lemon balm and serve with rice or crusty bread.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Roast Pumpkin, Chick Pea and Garlic Soup with Golden Salt and Pepper Pumpkin Seeds
1 small to medium pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into large chunks with seeds removed and kept aside
1 whole onion, peeled
1 bulb of garlic, broken and cloves left whole
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tin of chick peas
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
750ml vegetable stock
1 - Pre-heat your oven to GM6/200 degrees C.
2 - Place all of the vegetables on a baking tray. Scatter with the mixed spice, a little salt and pepper and olive oil and mix thoroughly. Roast on a high shelf for 30-40 minutes until golden.
3 - In the meantime, scatter the seeds onto another baking tray with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss together then place on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook until golden.
4 - When the vegetables have cooked, cut the pumpkin skin off and place the flesh into a blender along with the onion and the garlic cloves, squeezed straight out of their skins. Pour in the stock and chick peas then blitz to a fine purée. Taste for seasoning.
5 - Pour into bowls and serve with a scattering of delicious nutty golden pumpkin seeds.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Nettles are packed full of iron and minerals and treat carefully, they are a welcome replacement for spinach in a curry or to be made into a soup.
My favourite way with nettles is to make Indian pakoras, all spicy, crispy, mysterious and green. They are a doddle to make and amazing to eat, even my 6 year old loves them. So next time you are tutting at the nettles in your garden, just don the gloves and pick off all of the tops of the nettles and use them in your recipes. Delicious.
Wild Nettle Pakora
1 large colander full of young nettle leaves
300g chickpea flour (I sometimes used rice flour, it's a little more dense)
1 tsp garam masala
Half tsp ground tumeric
Half tsp ground chilli powder
Salt and pepper
Vegetable or sunflower oil
1 - With gloves on, carefully pick through the nettles discarding any tough or bruised leaves. Wash thoroughly in a sink full of water.
2 - Pick the leaves up and put them straight into a deep pan. Turn up the heat and cook until wilted. Allow to cool, squeeze out excess water then roughly chop.
3 - In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, spices and seasoning. Add the wilted chopped nettles. Stir in enough water to make a thick batter.
4 - Heat up the oil in a deep pan. Test by dropping in a little batter. Add teaspoons of the batter mixture and cook in batches until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
5 - Serve either as a snack with mango chutney or as an accompaniment to a curry.
Saturday, 26 July 2014
The ridges of the BBQ give it a caramelised edge and the heat makes this beautiful fruit even more fresh and juicy. I've served mine with a syllabub, an ancient English dessert of cream and alcohol, with rum, coconut and lime added to give it that Caribbean twist.
Make it in advance, put it in little glasses in the fridge, whack the slices of pineapple on the BBQ and it makes for a very impressive and stress-free dessert. Equally, the pineapple can be cooked on a non-stick griddle pan.
Griddled Pineapple with Coconut, Lime and Rum Syllabub
1 whole pineapple, skinned
2 tbsp sugar
1 sprig of fresh mint
For the syllabub
300ml double cream
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp grated coconut and the milk (if you are using fresh)
1 - To make the syllabub, mix the sugar, lime and rum in a bowl and set aside.
2 - In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Pour in the sugar, lime, rum, coconut and milk and quickly whisk in. Tip into small glasses and put into the fridge.
3 - Heat up a griddle pan or BBQ. Slice the flesh from the pineapple away from the core and then cut these into small segments. Place onto the griddle or BBQ and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until slightly charred.
4 - Whilst the pineapple is cooking, grind the mint up with the sugar in a pestle and mortar.
5 - To serve, place the glasses onto plates and grate on dark chocolate. Stack the pineapple up alongside, sprinkle on some mint sugar and serve.
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
This recipe ticks all of the Thai food boxes that make their food so appealing to me; fresh and sour from the grapefruit, salty from the Nam Pla, hot from the chilli and English Mustard. Thai/English fusion food - maybe I've started something?
Hot and Sour Sirloin Steak, Pink Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
2 inch thick quality aged sirloin steaks
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 red birds eye chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp English mustard
Salt and pepper
For the salad
1 pink grapefruit, skinned and segmented
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
A handful of fresh coriander leaves
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 banana shallots, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
For the dressing
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp Nam Pla, fish sauce
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp Mirin rice wine
1 - Mix together the garlic, chilli, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Rub onto the steaks.
2 - Heat a thick frying pan and add a little vegetable oil. Ensure it is searing hot. Add the steaks and cook to your liking; rare, 3 minutes each side; medium, 5 minutes each side; well done, 7 minutes each side. Leave to rest for 5 minutes and assemble the salad.
3 - Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl.
4 - Toss the salad ingredients together a dress with a little of the dressing.
5 - Pile onto plates. Slice your steaks into strips and arrange on top of the salad. Finally drizzle over some of the dressing and serve with more lime wedges.
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Cod, Caper and Olive Potato Cakes
Makes 6 large cakes
Fillets of 1 large cod
2 bay leaves
4 large floury potatoes
1 handful of capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 handful of black olives, preferably those salty Greek olives, stoned and finely chopped
4 small gherkins, finely chopped
A handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 - Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then cook until they are cooked through. Leave to cool slightly, then peel and either mash into a bowl or use a potato ricer adding the butter.
2 - Place the cod fillets into a large shallow pan. Cover with roughly half milk, half water, a slice of lemon, a slice of onion, the bay leaves and some seasoning. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Gently break the cod fillets into the potato, ensuring all bones and skin are removed.
3 - Stir in the capers, olives, gherkins, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Be gentle on the salt as the olives have plenty.
4 - Put the beaten eggs in a bowl, some seasoned plain flour on one plate and the breadcrumbs on another. Add enough olive oil to a non-stick pan to allow shallow frying and heat up.
5 - Shape the mixture into 'cakes' using floured hands. Dip them first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs and fry gently for approximately 7 minutes each side until golden and crisp. Place onto kitchen towel to absorb some oil, then serve with a simple green salad, tartare sauce or simply fresh lemon wedges.
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
These little dumplings are so easy to make and a real treat on a hot summer's day as an alternative to pasta.
This is the kind of food that makes Italy great; simple ingredients combined to perfection, no frills and no pretention.
We served ours with a quick tomato sauce. Heat up a little olive oil in a pan, add a clove of sliced garlic and a pinch of dried chilli. Tip in a tin of tomatoes and a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes and taste for seasoning.
Feeds 3 as a light lunch
200g Ricotta cheese
3 egg yolks
A grating of nutmeg
30g Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
200g plain flour
1 - In a bowl, mash together the Ricotta cheese and egg yolks then stir in the nutmeg, Parmesan and seasoning.
2 - Pour in the flour then form to a dough using your hands.
3 - On a floured bench, roll out into a sausage shape (you may need to do it in portions). Cut off 1 inch dumplings and set aside.
4 - Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the dumplings. Once they float to the surface, they are ready to drain and eat with the sauce.
Thursday, 8 May 2014
This soup is a true joy to eat, and any good strong cheese will suffice. I used a slab of Berwick Edge cheese from the amazing Doddington Dairy in Wooler (http://www.doddingtondairy.co.uk) as it is one of our tremendous local cheeses that sings like the best cheddar yet has a silky soft texture.
A simple purée with some peppery watercress, a few frozen peas and a little yoghurt makes this a sophisticated starter for any occasion.
Cauliflower and Cheese Soup with Watercress and Pea Purée
1 Cauliflower, trimmed and chopped roughly
2 shallots or 1 onion, sliced
150g Berwick Edge Cheese (or any good strong cheddar), grated
50g plain flour
Salt and Pepper
For the purée
2 handfuls of frozen or fresh peas, softened in boiling water for 2 minutes
2 handfuls of watercress
1 - Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the shallot and cauliflower. Cook for 5-10 minutes stirring regularly, until softened but not coloured.
2 - Add the water, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes until softened completely. Blitz until smooth in a food processor or using a hand processor. Push through a sieve for a smoother consistency but I prefer the texture.
3 - Make a roux by melting the butter and adding the flour, stirring for 1 minute. Add the milk gradually until you have a thick sauce, the consistency of double cream.
4 - Stir in the cheese and thoroughly combine. Then stir into the soup. Taste for seasoning.
5 - Make a simple purée by blitzing the peas and watercress then stirring into the yoghurt.
6 - Serve the soup in bowls with a good spoonful of purée and a few shavings of cheese.
Saturday, 26 April 2014
Indian Spiced Lamb 'Burgers'
Makes 6 large burgers
500g quality minced lamb
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
A handful each of fresh mint and coriander
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of stale breadcrumbs
For the raita
Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Fresh mint, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 - Put the mustard seeds into a dry frying pan and toast until fragrant. Remove.
2 - Put all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl them combine thoroughly with your hands.
3 - Form into your preferred burger size then grill or BBQ to your desired rareness. Or form around BBQ sticks and call them a shish kebab.
4 - To make the raita, simply combine the ingredients and taste for seasoning.
5 - Serve with toasted sesame seed buns, fresh salad and raita.