Thursday, 19 June 2008

Nettle, Wild Garlic and Egg Tart

In celebration of our delicious and common wild herb, I've made a little tart that would certainly make a good discussion point at any dinner party. They look pretty and taste delicious. If you are lucky whilst out picking nettles, you will find lots of wild garlic or ‘ramsons’ in woodland at this time of the year, distinctive by their white flowers and mild garlic smell. Experiment with the cheese. Try and get hold of a Cornish Yarg, a cheese which has been matured wrapped in nettle leaves. And if you still can't get your head around the fact you are eating something that might sting you if not prepared properly, use spinach instead.

Nettle, Wild Garlic and Egg Tart
Makes 4 individual tarts or one large tart

For the pastry
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
100g butter or margarine
Pinch of salt

250g nettles
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 handful of wild garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
100g cheddar cheese
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
Half tsp mace
Salt and pepper
4 eggs

1 – In a large bowl or food processor, combine the pastry ingredients with a little water until you achieve a stiff dough. Wrap in cling-film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 – With rubber gloves on, wash the nettles thoroughly, picking over the leaves and ensuring that any tough stalks are removed. Place into a saucepan on a medium heat and allow to wilt for 2-3 minutes, stirring now and again.
3 – Drain the nettles in a colander or sieve, allow to cool then squeeze out the water, roughly chop then set aside.
4 – Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the shallot and garlic. Soften without colouring, and then stir in the chopped nettles, cheese, yoghurt, mace and seasoning. Take off the heat and combine to a loose paste.
5 – Roll out the pastry and line your tart cases, pricking a few holes with a fork. Trim off any excess then allow to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes, before lining with baking parchment and filling with baking beans. Blind bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.
6 – Fill the cooked tart cases with the nettle mixture making a dent in the middle with a spoon for the egg to sit. Break the eggs individually into a cup then gently pour into the tart. Sprinkle with a little finely grated cheese and a grinding of black pepper.
7 – Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve whilst still hot with a simple salad.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Fish, Samphire and Mango Curry

Fish, Samphire and Mango Curry
Feeds 2

1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
A thumb size of ginger, grated
1 large red chilli or 2 birds eye chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp cumin, coriander and turmeric
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
2 fillets of firm fish, cubed (I used salmon but the usual suspects, cod and haddock, would do)
A couple of handfuls of prepared prawns
A couple of handfuls of samphire
1 mango, skinned and flesh pureed
1 tbsp nam pla fish sauce or soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh coriander

1 - Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, ginger and chillies. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
2 - Add the spices and mustard seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the seeds begin to pop and the spices become fragrant.
3 - Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
4 - Blanch the samphire for 2 minutes then drain and cool.
5 - Add the fish and prawns and simmer for 5 minutes. Finally stir in the mango, samphire, fish sauce and lime juice. Heat through and taste for seasoning. You may want to add more fish sauce, soy and lime juice. You want it sweet, sour and salty.
6 - Serve with fresh coriander and your rice of choice.

Christmas Pavlova

I’ve invented a twist on a traditional Pavlova, a meringue, cream and fruit-based dessert. Made to resemble a Festive wreath, it not only lo...