Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Some stuff...

My Dad and Stepmom are out here visiting, and although I've been cooking, I haven't found the time to do any typing in the last few days, so these are not really whole posts, but here's some stuff I've been making...

This was a Steak and Guiness Pie...Yum!

This is a gorgeous cake that is chocolate and malted milk flavor. I have much to say about this cake.

This was a Spanish style chicken empanada with pine nuts and raisins and almonds and all kinds of extra yummy goodness.

I will try to get my typing done in the next couple of days, and I'll post the recipes and some more information about this stuff.

Sorry I'm being a slacker.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Boston Baked Beans


So glad you’re back! I totally want to try some of those recipes when you post them, the pictures looked great.

This recipe here is the first one I’ve made from The Marmite Cookbook . I used to hate Marmite with a passion, till you told me about the Guiness marmite. Now I’m a total convert, I’ve been eating it on everything. It’s really good on egg salad sandwiches (egg mayo sandwiches if your British).

1kg dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
100ml molasses or black treacle
2tbsp brown sugar
2tsp dry mustard powder
2tsp marmite
1tsp ground black pepper
1 medium onion, peeled
500g belly of pork with rind

Cover the soaked beans with fresh water and bring to the boil, skinning off any foam. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans till their skins begin to burst. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Combine the molasses, brown sugar, mustard powder, marmite and pepper with the cooking liquid.

Heat the oven to 100c/200f. Place the onion in the bottom of a 2 liter ovenproof casserole and pour the beans on top. Score the rind of the pork and push it down into the beans rind side up. Pour the seasoned liquid on top adding enough boiling water to cover the beans. Cover the casserole and bake for nine hours.
Every hour add boiling water, if necessary, to keep the beans covered. Remove the cover for the last hour of baking so that the pork browns. Serve the pork on top of the beans.

Just to recap, that’s nine hours of cooking after you’re done cooking the beans. I started at 7am.

They were ok. If you know that you are going to be home all day, it’s not terribly labor intensive, and there’s something kind of funny about being mostly done making dinner by 8am.

They are actually pretty good if you put ketchup on them, and they are better the next day. The first night I put them on baked potatoes (very British), the second night they were a side dish with barbequed ribs. I actually have a collection of rib recipes that I have to post. I’ve been making loads of different ones trying to find the best. I think I have, so I’ll post them all soon.

By the way, I had never used Molassas before. It's not at all what I expected. Very strong smell. That was fun.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Stuff from the past couple of months

I broke my camera again (the 3rd in the past year), so I didn't take pictures for a while, but here are some of the best things I made over the past couple of months that I took picutres of.

Koren Style Grilled Pork with Cilanto Red Pepper Flake dressing

I'll post the recipe for this shortly.

Japanese Raspberry Soy Tartlette. Sort of like cheese cake without the dairy.

grilled pizza

Our friends Shanon and David introduced us to the wonders of the grilled pizza. I'd read about it an a blog or two, but never tried it. Shanon and David use this aluminium foil that is like tephlon and stuff doesn't stick to. I recommend this stuff. I'm going to blong in more detail about this later.

vermouth marinited figs from a Pongo Cafe Cookbook roast recipe

I made my first beef roast. I killed it, and not in good way. When I finally cut into the roast there wasn't even the slightest hint of pink even in the deepest center. Bummer. But now I know better, and the flavor was FANTASTIC. Basically it was a nice peice of round eye roast covered in figs that had been soaking in vermouth, preserved lemons, garlic (tons), chopped up fennel and some thyme (fresh). Damn tasty.

hijiki sea cakes with tarter sauce from the Down to Earth Cookbook

recipes coming soon

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm Back

Lola's birthday and some damn fine vegan cupcakes with chocolate ganache or lemon frosting

I'm back. I was away for a while doing nothing in particular other than hatching sinister plans on how to take over the LA catering world. Luckily for all you caterers in the SoCal area, I'm a little to lazy to get really into it right now. . .

So, I'll start blogging again instead.

Right now it is all about vegan food. I've been cooking pretty much nothing but since February. I've had a few stints with meat (usually for guests, or for a really special occasion) but for the most part I'm not even touching cheese.

My daughters Birthday was last weekend and I prepared party/lunch/kids food for 35 that was entirely (with the exception of a plate of grilled cheese) vegan. I didn't tell anybody this, and I hoped no one would notice. I think that the mark of a great vegan meal is 1) non-vegans not noticing the lack of meat and dairy 2) everyone enjoying the meal 3) People requesting recipes. I got all of the above.

I think that this whole vegan thing is going to have to take a break. In about 5 days we are going to drive across country again and camp most of the way. I've been to the middle of this country and there are long stretches of highway where your options are l most exclusively meat, 'cheese' and wheat in some form.

Pizza Balls

Named because my older son was all excited that it was pizza, and my younger son was all excited that it was a ball.

Sadly, the inspiration for these was a pizza hut ad on tv (they have pizza hut out here, but no taco bell… how wrong is that?). Since I have no intention of going out of my way to find a pizza hut, I figured I’d take a stab at it myself.

I used this American pizza dough (very different from British pizza dough, more similar to bread dough really) from The Joy of Cooking.

Pizza Dough
Combine in a large bowl, and let stand till the yeast is dissolved
1 package (2&1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1&1/3 cups warm water
3&1/2 – 3&3/4 cups all purpose flour
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp salt
1tbsp sugar (optional)

You are going to want to preheat your oven as high as it goes. It will probably take a long time for it to heat up (maybe 45 min)

Mix to combine all the ingredients, then knead for 10 min. Transfer to a bowl lightly coated with oil, and turn it over once to coat it. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled (1-1.5 hours).
Punch down the dough, divide it in half and roll each half into a ball. Let rest, covered loosely with cling film for 10-15 min. Roll out your dough and let it rest another 10 min. You can brush the top of the dough with olive oil to prevent the toppings from making the crust soggy

I cut up some mozzarella into cubes (about 3/4 inch). When the dough was ready (before the final 10 min rest) I used half, and divided it up into 16 pieces. Then I took a cube of cheese and mashed it into the ball of dough and then smooshed it about till it was all sealed up. Repeated with the rest and let them sit on a baking tray. I let them rest for the final 10 min, brushed them with copious amounts of butter and garlic, and baked for about 7-10 min.

Serve with some sauce for dipping (whatever tomato sauce you like).

I used the other half of the dough to make 2 calzones. You can make them out of whatever you have lying about. I made one with broccoli and cheddar, and one with spinach and ricotta. I had to get some green veg in there somewhere.

What can you say about a ball of dough with melted cheese in the middle dipped in sauce? Is there any way they could be anything but tasty fun? I think not!

If I was doing it again, I would use even more butter and garlic.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Roasted Halibut with Mediterranean Green Sauce

I used Cod instead, because that’s what the fish guy said was extra good today.

1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup chopped scallions, including white and 3 inches of green
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup celery leaves (optional)
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 anchovy fillets, or 2 tsp anchovy paste
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Fresh grated black pepper
4 skinless halibut fillets
12 very thin seeded lemon slices, from 2 lemons
1/2 cup dry white wine

place olive oil and garlic in a food processor, and pulse till the garlic is coarsely chopped. Add the scallions parsley, celery leaves (if using), capers and anchovies and pulse till finely minced. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and add the lemon zest and juice and stir to combine. Season the green sauce with pepper to taste.
Rub the fillets with some of the green sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining green sauce on the bottom of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the fillets in one layer. Place the fillets on top of the sauce and arrange three overlapping lemon slices on top of each fillet. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for an hour.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 500f
Remove the pan from the fridge, discard the plastic wrap. Pour the wine over the fish. Bake until they are just opaque and can be flaked with a fork, 8-15 min, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Serve warm with the pan juices drizzled over them.

This was from Food to Live By, and it was another winner for this book. The sauce that this makes is so good! The saltiness of the anchovy and caper work so well with the lemon, and then the parsley makes it feel light and fresh. Also, wine never hurts. I made couscous to go with it so I wouldn’t miss any of the sauce. It’s also really good poured over some wilted spinach. The fish was really tender and moist and lovely too.

My older son required some convincing, but once we got him to taste a bite, he decided that it was actually pretty good after all. We won!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Matthew's Bread

This is Matthew's bread...

This is Matthew...

So here’s a funny story. I was making a loaf of bread today, and my three year old decided he wanted to make a bread too. We’ve done this before, I give him some flour, he has fun making a mess and then eventually wanders away. Today however, I gave him a bowl of flour, and I added some water to it, and I showed him what I was doing with the bread dough, and he totally got the hang of it. He adjusted the amount of flour (by grabbing some out of the pile that I had set aside while kneading) till it all came together, and he did something very similar to kneading.
I still figured that any minute he was going to get tired of it, but he didn’t. He actually kneaded (sort of) his little ball of dough for the full 10 minutes while I did mine.
Afterwards he was so excited that he had made a bread, and I felt so guilty because I knew it was just flour and water. He kept checking to see if it had risen, and telling his brother all about it. In the end I figured, hey, why not cook it. The dough for making Chinese dumplings is usually just flour and water, so I gave it a try. We rolled it out flat together. I melted some butter, and I let him use a pastry brush to coat the whole thing (hoping to give it some kind of flavor). I also grated a bit of parmesan over the top.
I wound up baking it for about 15 minutes at 200c (that’s what my bread was baking at). And it actually came out. It was a bit of a workout to eat, but Matthew LOVED it!! Nathaniel did too, and even had a second helping. It tasted like a hard/chewy/buttery cracker.
Anyway, next time I hear someone tell me that bread is too hard to make, I can honestly tell them that my three year old son can do it, and without the aid of a recipe even!

Ziti with ratatouille

1/2 cup olive oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
8 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow and 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 pound dried ziti
3 medium zucchini cut into 1/2 inch thick, quarter moon pieces
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped or two cans (28oz each) diced tomatoes, drained.
3/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 wedge parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently till soft, about 10 min. Add the garlic and cook until the onion is golden and the garlic is fragrant, about 3 min. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl being careful to remove all the garlic.
Add 4 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. When hot, add the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Cook till just soft, about 10 min.
Using a slotted spoon transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the onions. Add 1 more tbsp of oil to the pan and when hot add the yellow and red bell peppers. Season them with salt. Cook stirring frequently, until they are soft, about 8 min. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers to the bowl with the onions and eggplant.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the skillet and when hot, add the zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 5-7 min. Using a slotted spoon transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the other vegetables.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, and some salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium high and cook till hot, 4 min.
Add the vegetables and any liquid in the bowl to the tomato mixture and cook until warmed through, about 2 min. There should be quite a bit of liquid in the skillet.
Drain the pasta setting aside 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Mix the pasta with the vegetables. If it is too thick, thiun with the cooking liquid.
Serve with parmesan

This was really good, but I have to say, it’s time consuming to make. Each of the vegetables is cooked separately, which they explain in the book as being a way to make sure each individual vegetable is cooked for just the right amount of time, and they are not too over crowded in the pan. Fair enough. It works and it’s tasty, I just thought I should warn you.

Also it says in the book that it feeds 4-6. Now I have some really big eaters in my house, but there is no way we were going to eat all of that. Maybe they meant feeds 4-6 twice. That’s fine because it says that the leftovers are good cold too.

This was really good and also very summer-y and it was from the book Food to Live By.

Pan roasted Chicken with pomegranates and spinach

1kg chicken, guinea fowl, or pheasant
100g/3&3/4oz ricotta cheese
small handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
sea salt and ground black pepper
olive oil
knob of butter
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 wineglass of white wine
seeds of 1 pomegranate, skin and yellow pith removed
2 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed

Remove the drumsticks, thighs, and breasts from the bird or ask your butcher to do it for you.
In a small bowl, beat together the ricotta and the finely chopped thyme. Season lightly. Using two fingers, delicately part the skin from the chicken. With a tsp insert the ricotta mix into these gaps, then pull the skin down to cover the gaps.
Preheat to 220c/425f. Season the chicken, then drizzle an ovenproof pan with oiland fry the drumsticks and thighs for 5 min until crisp and golden. Add the breasts skin side up, with a large knob of butter, your garlic, and your wine. Place at the top of the preheated oven and cook for 25 min. Add the pomegranate seeds then cook for a further 5 min, by which time the meat should be cooked all the way through. Take the pan out of the oven and put it back on the hob. Add the spinach and let it wilt. Serve with the sauce.

This recipe was significant for me for two reasons. One is that I have never cooked with pomegranate, the other is that I’ve never cut up my own chicken. I know that sounds silly, but it just seemed intimidating. Whenever a recipe called for a whole chicken cut into parts, I just bought parts.

Turns out it’s no big deal to cut up a chicken. You don’t need a meat cleaver (which is what I had suspected for quite some time). Do make sure to look at a set of directions in a book or on line, but then it’s simple.

Good thing too, because for this recipe there were lots of extra bits which I baked with some white wine and garlic and a bit of butter, to use for lunches (chicken salad and such).

As for the recipe, it was great. It was really easy to make, and the sauce that it made was very tasty. Sadly, the pomegranate seeds lost some of their fabulous color in the cooking, but they still added a great flavor. The spinach cooked right in the pot was a nice touch too.

It made me realize that a lot of recipes that look really fancy, are just as easy as baking a chicken, they just have an extra twist to them. Also, they give you the added bonus of feeling like a fancy cook… Thank you Jamie Oliver.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Easiest cupcakes in the whole world

These are from Nigella Lawson. They are so easy you really can just make them spur of the moment.
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp milk

Preheat to 200c
Put everything but the milk into the food processor, blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide it into the twelve cups of the muffin tin (use paper liners or if you have a non stick, you could just grease the pan). They wont be filled up very high, but that’s ok. Bake for 15-20 min till they are cooked and golden on the top. Take them out as soon as you can bear to touch them, and let them cool on a rack. Then use whatever frosting you want.

I used this one from The Joy of Cooking, cuz it was quick, and I thought the lemon would be nice:
Beat together:
2 cups powdered sugar
4tbsp butter, or 3 tbsp heated heavy cream
Add and beat till smooth:
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
correct consistency with either more sugar or more liquid if needed.

These were great. Cupcakes are always great. You really can’t go wrong with a cupcake. These were actually for my younger son’s second birthday. He blew out candles and everything. We were going to buy a small cake, but we didn’t make it out to the store, so this was kind of last minute. He was pretty sure they were the best thing ever.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Not fancy I know, but a good comfort food nonetheless.

I kind of made this up as I went along. First make your pasta (about 1lb), I had some whole wheat fusili. I think any of the shape pastas would be fine. I used a béchamel sauce similar to the one in the Roasted Vegetable and Brown Rice Gratin. Once the flour milk and butter had thickened, I added a ton of grated cheese, I used cheddar and a bit of leftover parmesan. Stirred until the cheese melted. I seasoned it with tobasco, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Sounds weird I know, but the sauce can take on a lot of flavor. It was really just a bit tangy which was nice.

Drain the pasta, put back in the pot and mix with the sauce, and some tuna (I used two cans), and whatever else you have in the house that might be good, or might be about to go bad. I used a tomato, some green olives, and some frozen (thawed) corn. Put it all in a casserole dish, top with some more cheese and pop in the oven 180c/350f for about 15 min, till the cheese is all melted and it looks good.

This was total comfort. It had been a long day and everyone was hungry. This only takes 15min more then making pasta, so it’s super quick, super easy, and it all got eaten up. I like it because it’s quick and easy and still has a protein and some vegetable in it. Not diet friendly, but healthy all the same.

I’d do this again.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Here are some hilarious mistakes…

The lesson learned here is that you really should pay attention to the specified size of the cooking tin. This cake expands while cooking, then sinks back down as it cools, so if you make it in a pan that just fits the batter, it will all expand right out the top, then sink down so that you just have a very thin layer of chocolate goo left in the pan, and lots of chocolate stalagmites all around the tin.

On the up side, the stalagmites were really really tasty!

This was supposed to be for a bake sale at my son's playgroup school. Luckily, I had made some other things too (I'll post them soon).

This was my attempt to make marmite popcorn. I used to hate marmite with a passion, but then I tried the limited edition Guiness marmite (thanks cookbad!), and I became totally addicted. Now I want to figure out how to put it in everything. I actually got a marmite cookbook (some recipes coming soon). This was not from the book. I wanted some popcorn, and I wanted it to taste like marmite, so I tried to cook them together. Turns out Marmite becomes something akin to molten lava when cooked this way. There was so much smoke I had to put the pot outside in the backyard where it continued to make sizzling noises in the rain for about 5 or 10 min.

I managed to save the pot.

If anyone out there can tell me how to get marmite onto my popcorn, I would love to know.

This last one is not exactly a mistake, it’s just gross. I like to let my three year old take an active part in food choice and preparation. It’s great because it makes him more excited about food, but this was probably going a bit far. This is Peanut butter and jelly couscous. Here’s how it came up… “mommy, I love Peanut butter, and I love the red jelly and I love couscous. I want to make peanut butter and jelly and couscous on my plate please”. Actually he ate the whole bowl, so I guess you could call it a success, except for how it was gross.

Grilled Chicken wings with Lemon and Garlic

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
16 chicken wings
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Mix the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic, and place the chicken wings in this marinade. Leave for 1 hour, covered with cling film, in the refrigerator.
Place the wings on a piece of foil on a baking tray, and pour the marinade over, and cook under a pre-heated grill for 7 min, turning them over once, or barbeque them over glowing embers for the same time. Serve with chopped parsley

Super easy, and chicken wings are the cheapest, so right away this one has a lot going for it.

Here’s a tip though, don’t use a baking tray, because the juice will run right off of it and produce an alarming amount of smoke. Also, it took about 20 minutes in my grill, not 7. Still really quick though, and very tasty. Sort of subtle really. If I were to do them again, I would leave them in the marinade longer, and make them on a barbeque… or maybe make them exactly the same way because they were quite tasty.

They were from a book called Arabesque.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ginger Lime Salmon

Not a great picture, but a great recipe!

Grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1tbsp finely minced shallots
1tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
41/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
2tbsp canola oil
2tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro (optional)
4 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each) with or without skin, pin bones removed

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500f.
Combine all ingredients except cilantro and fillets in a shallow baking dish just big enough to hold all the fish in one layer. Add 2tbsp of the cilantro. Add the fillets and turn to coat them all over, then arrange them skin side down (if any).
Bake without turning until just firm to the touch, and the interior is nearly opaque, but still moist 6-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
Transfer fillets to a plate drizzle some of the sauce from the pan over them and garnish with the remaining 2 tbsp cilantro.

This was from a book called Food to Live By. Anyone reading this should think about getting this book. Seriously. I have tried a bunch of recipes from it and they are all good. Some are over the top out of this world incredible, and the worst of them have been really good.

This one… so easy… so good. It’s everything you want your salmon to be, and I didn’t even have the cilantro, I’m sure it would have been even better. I didn’t have the shallots around, so I used a tiny bit of red onion, which was nice because it added a bit of color.

The sauce was so good, you have to have something with it to soak up the rest of the sauce, otherwise, you might be tempted to drink it. The boys liked it too. It feels good to see them eating fish.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Warm Pear and Walnut salad with Roquefort Dressing and Croutons

2 hard dessert pears
1.5oz/40g walnut pieces
1tbsp walnut oil
1/2oz/10g butter
2 rounded tbsp crème fraiche
5oz/150g Roquefort, Shropshire Blue, or Cashel Blue cheese
1 large egg yolk
4oz/110g herb salad or equivalent
2oz/50g bread cut into small cubes
1 dessertspoon olive oil

Preheat to 350f/180c
Begin by making the croutons
Place 1/2oz/10g of the cheese in a bowl anf using a fork, blend it with the olive oil. Now add the cubes of bread and toss them thoroughly till coated, then spread them out on the baking sheet, and pop them into the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are evenly brown. These can be made well in advance.
For the salad:
Cut the pears into quarters, remove cores, but lave the skin on, then cut each quarter into 4 slices. Next heat the walnut oil in a large frying pan, and lightly saute the walnuts, tossing them around for about a minute, then transfer with a draining spoon to a plate.
Add the butter to the pan, add the pears and sauté fro 2-3 min on each side until they are nicely brown. Drain on a paper towel, arrange on a plate and keep warm.
Make the sauce:
Place crème fraiche in a small saucepan with the rest of the cheese, crumbling as you add it. Now whisk the two together over a gentle heat till the cheese begins to melt and form a sauce. Drop in the egg yolk and continue to whisk till the sauce thickens. Don’t let it reach boiling point, it should be almost there, but not quite. Remove from heat.
Divide the salad leaves between the plates, arrange the pears around the leaves, scatter over the walnuts, and pour over the dressing. Serve immediately.

This is from a collection of vegetarian recipes from Delia Smith.
It’s basically many different parts that need to be made and then it gets assembled at the last minute. It sounds like it might be difficult or stressful, but each of the parts is so easy, it’s really no big deal.

I had never made my own croutons before. I know it’s not like rocket science or anything, but it’s still something new to me. It always seemed like it would be a pain to bother with, but it was really nothing, and the flavor from the cheese/oil coating was nice. I’ve also never made a hot salad dressing before. I was worried that it would be weird, and that it would make the salad leaves all wilt-y, but it wasn’t like that at all. The warmth of the dressing just hi-lighted the warmth of the pears and walnuts, but the leaves stayed crispy.
This was a really nice combination of flavors. Very satisfying salad!

Also, if you can’t get Roquefort, anything in the blue or stilton families will do.

Note about Green Peppercorns

I was wondering what I would do with the left over green peppercorns (in brine) from the green thai curry. I liked them a lot, but wasn’t really sure what they would go with. Thanks to my husband, we have found out that they are really good in tuna salad sandwiches (tuna mayo if you are British).

Thanks sweetie!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chicken in milk

I forgot to take the picture till after I took one of the legs off.

1.5kg/3.5lb organic chicken
salt and pepper
115g/4oz butter
olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
Zest of 2 lemons
10 cloves of garlic, skin left on
565ml/1 pint milk

preheat to 190/375
find a snug fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over and fry it in the butter and a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, till golden.
Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil and butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pot which will give you a lovely caramelly flavor later on.
Put the chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1.5 hours. Baste with the cooking juices when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce that is absolutely fantastic. Serve with the juice and curds from the pot, with some greens and mashed potatoes

This was another Jamie Oliver. I just got one of his older cookbooks, so there might be a few more of his coming your way too.

This one was exciting for me because for a long time there I roasted a lot of chickens. They are cheap, and healthy, they go with just about any vegetable, and they always have leftovers. I was always on the look out for a new way to roast a chicken, and this is a very new way for me. I like the idea of roasting it in milk because it keeps it so tender, and I love the way the lemon zest turns the juices into a curd-y sauce. It’s a fairly light gravy, and the zest makes it taste even lighter.

It’s way easy to do too, as easy as just roasting one. Neither of the boys left a single scrap of chicken last night, or today when we had leftovers. I will definitely make this again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hamilton Squash

1 small handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1 butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
Olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, pounded
a pinch or two of dried chilli to taste
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
5 sundried tomatoes, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g/3.5oz basmati rice, uncooked
1/2 handful pine nuts, lightly toasted

First soak your porcini mushrooms for 5 min in 140ml/1/4 pint boiling water
Preheat to 230c/450f.
Using a tsp score and scoop out some extra flesh from the whole length of the squash. Finely chop the flesh with the seeds and add to a frying pan with 4 lugs of oil, the onion, garlic, coriander seeds, chili, rosemary and sun dried tomatoes. Fry for 4 min til softened. Add the porcini and half their soaking liquid. Cook for a further 2 min then season. Stir in the rice and pine nuts. Pack the mixture tightly into the 2 halves of the squash, and then press them together. Rub the skin of the squash with a little olive oil, wrap in tin foil and bake for about 1&1/4 hours.

I got a new Jamie Oliver book recently. Actually, it’s not a new book, it’s one of his older ones, but it’s new to me. When I saw this recipe I had to try it right away. Butternut squash is my younger son’s absolute favorite and it just looked so cool.

This was so easy to make. I’d say the hardest part is cutting the squash in half without mangling it, once you get that, the rest is cake. You don’t have to precook the rice, which is nice. It just cooks in the natural liquid of the squash, and it cooks wrapped in foil, so there’s no real clean up either.

This was really good. The rice was aldente, so if you don’t like that, I would cook it just a tiny bit longer (just a tiny bit though). The flavor combination was great, especially the coriander seed. Their taste surprises me every time, even though I use them a lot. It made the dish taste kind of exotic or something. The boys both loved it, and so did we.

This isn’t a fast dish, but it is easy and tasty and I think it could be used as a main dish (that’s what we did) or a side dish to something else.

Good stuff.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Whole Wheat Penne w/ Edamame, Portobellos and Slow-roasted Tomatoes

About 1 cup shelled fresh or frozen (unthawed) edamame (soy beans)
2 cups/8oz dried whole wheat penne
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2tbsp dry white wine or water
2/3 cup sliced slow roasted or sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup Edamame Pesto (see below)
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
Basil sprigs optional for garnish.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over a high heat. Add the edamame and cook till tender 4-5 min. Drain in a strainer transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Let the water return to a boil, add the penne and cook according to the packet directions.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 min. Add the garlic and wine, and stir to combine. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low and cook till the mushrooms are tender, about 5 min.
Add the edamame tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and cook till warmed through, about 3 min.
Drain the penne setting aside a cup of the cooking water. Return the penne to the pot add 1/2 cup of the edamame pesto and stir to combine. If the pasta is too dry add 1/3 cup or more of the reserved cooking liquid.
Add the mushroom mixture to the pot with the pasta and stir to combine.Taste for seasoning adding more edamame pesto, salt, pepper, or cooking liquid if needed.
Sprinkle with parmesan to serve.

Edamame Pesto
3/4 cup shelled, fresh or frozen (unthawed) edamame (soy beans)
1 clove garlic
3tbsp pine nuts
1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the edamame and cook til tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool completely.
Place in a food processor with garlic, pine nuts and parsley, process till coarsely pureed, stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl once or twice.
Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Process to combine about 30 seconds. This can be refrigerated, covered for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

I haven’t ever used fresh (frozen) soy beans before, so I thought I’d give this a try. I found it in the book Food to Live By .

Turns out I like soy beans, a lot! They’re really tasty, kind of like peas, but with more of a bean solidity. I think they would be nice in most salads, or vegetable soups and stews. They are also much easier to find these days, my local store has them in the frozen veg section.

They didn’t have any portobellos this week, so I just used regular large mushrooms. I was afraid that it would leave this a little lacking in flavor, but it really wasn’t a problem at all. The edamame pesto was really good, and actually tasted just like regular pesto.

I picked this mostly because it sounded so healthy and diet conscious, but actually it was just really good. I used sun dried tomatoes instead of slow roasted. The tomatoes and the extra soy beans along with the fresh basil made this very summer-y feeling. Very Very Tasty, I was impressed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Warm salad of crispy smoked bacon and Jerusalem artichokes

2 handfuls of Large Jerusalem artichokes or New potatoes
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 radicchio or Treviso, outer leaves discarded
3 little gem lettuces, leaves washed, dried and stalks removed
a small handful of flat leaf parsley or chervil, leaves picked and finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil
8 rashers thickly sliced smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
3tbsp balsamic vinagar

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes and boil them in salted water until tender. Once cool, cut them in half and set aside. Meanwhile, carefully remove the core of the radicchio or treviso, then halve, break apart and finely slice. Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Put the gem lettuce leaves in a large bowl with the radicchio or traviso, and the parsley or chervil.
Cut your bacon up into 1/2 inch slices, pour a small amount of oil into a non-stick pan and fry the bacon. When it’s lightly golden add the sliced onion, and your cooked, drained Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes. Fry on a medium heat till the bacon is golden and crisp, the onion is sticky and soft and the Jerusalem artichokes have sucked up all the flavors and turned crispy. The important thing is that you need enough color, but not so much that you are on the edge of burning everything.
Divide the contents of the pan onto the plates, then add 5 tbsp of oil and the balsamic vinegar to the pan, with a little pinch of salt and pepper. Mix everything together so the flavors improve then pour over the salad leaves. Toss to coat all the leaves then add some to each of the plates that already have the warm ingredients. If you want to you could shave a little parmesan over the top.

Well, this was a total exercise in substitution. It was a Jamie Oliver recipe, but I wound up changing just about everything. I couldn’t find the salad greens it calls for, so I just used some that looked good, and also strong (since it was a hot salad, with the strong bacon flavor. I was supposed to use streaky bacon, which is more like the kind we have in the states, but I cheaped out and used “value cooking bacon”. Also, the supermarket is no longer carrying Jerusalem artichokes, which is a real shame because they are one of my all time favorites. If you haven’t ever had them, try them, they rock. I found some things called Eddoes. They are from China according to the label, and the description looked similar to a Jerusalem artichoke. It really was too, only ever so slightly slimy like Okra. Weird. I would use them again.

Anyway, it was still a good salad, and I learned all about a new vegetable, so it’s all good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cake - sugar free/artificial sweetner free

Eat this!

1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cut dates and prunes into small pieces. Boil dates, prunes, raisins, and water for 5 minutes. Add margarine. Mix and set aside to cool.
2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
3 Mix the eggs, vanilla and nuts. Add to the fruit mixture. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the fruit mixture. (If you want a spicy bar add 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg to the flour.)
4 Spread in 7 x 11 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Oh my god, try this cake! It is sweetened only by the dried fruit, and it tastes like cake. I used the optional nutmeg and cinnamon, and I recommend it. We all loved it, and it's actually pretty healthy too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thai Green Vegetable Curry

6oz/175g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
5oz/150g small broccoli florets
5oz/150g fine green beans, halved
4oz/110g asparagus tips
2x14oz/400ml tins coconut milk
1tsp palm or soft brown sugar
3 dessertspoons fresh green peppercorns, or green peppercorns in brine, drained
4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1/2oz/10g each basil and coriander leaves
1/2 mild red chili, deseeded and cut into hair like threads

For the Green curry paste:
6-8 whole birds eye chillies, de-stalked
1 lemon grass stalk, trimmed, sliced thinly and soaked for 30 min in
2 tbsp lime juice
1 rounded tsp thinly shredded lime peel (kaffir lime if possible)
1 inch/2.5cm piece of fresh galangal, or other fresh ginger, sliced
1 heaped tsp fresh coriander stalks, chopped
1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds, dry roasted in a small frying pan till toasted, then ground in a pestle and mortar
3 garlic cloves, peeled
5 thai shallots (or other shallots), peeled
You will also need a wok or a flame proof casserole

Put the paste ingredients into a food processor and whiz to a paste, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides down.
To make the curry, place the tins of coconut milk upside down on the counter, open them and you will see that it will have separated into a thick cream below, and a watery milk on top. Divide these by pouring the milk into one bowl and the cream into another.
Place the wok or casserole over a high heat without any oil in it. When it is very hot, add three quarters of the coconut cream. You are going to fry this until it separates, stirring the whole time so it doesn’t catch. As it starts to separate, the oil will begin to seep out and it will reduce. Ignore the curdled look, this is normal.
Next add the curry paste and three quarters of the coconut milk, which should be added a little at a time, keeping the heat high and letting it reduce down slightly. Stay with it and keep stirring to prevent it from sticking. Add the sugar and the peppercorns. Stir again and gently simmer everything, uncovered, for 5 min. Now add the remaining coconut milk and some salt along with the vegetables. Gently stir them in, then bring the liquid back to the boil before simmering for 5 min, or till the vegetables are just tender.
Just before serving place the lime leaves on top of each other (if using), roll them up tightly and slice them into very fine shreds. Stir the basil and coriander into the curry, and scatter the lime leaves and red chili over the top.

This one is from Delia Smith and it’s really good. My husband loves Green Thai Curry, so I figured I’d give it a go. It was so much easier then I thought it would be, it hardly took any time at all. I used slightly less chili peppers in the sauce, but still enough to give it a good kick. The green peppercorns in brine were an entirely new experience for me. They’re really good, and strange, and I like them a lot.

One thing to note… My coconut milk cream never did separate in that first stage of coking. I think that it hadn’t separated from the milk properly because the cans were on their sides in the cupboard, so there wasn’t really a way to turn them upside down. Anyway, it was fine, I reduced it down, and eventually it did start to look a bit curdled, so I figured I was probably still on the right track.

Too spicy for the boys, but my husband and I loved it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sugar Free Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

They could be better, they could be worse.

2 sm. (or 1 lg.) ripe banana
2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. currants or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Combine bananas, applesauce, butter, eggs and vanilla. In large bowl, mix together oatmeal, flours, baking soda, salt, spices and currants or raisins. Add fruit mixture to dry ingredients until blended. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 40 cookies. From Cook.com.

I only made half a batch because I just wanted to try them. Also, I have to assume they meant melted butter, because otherwise, it doesn't make much sense.

They were ok, much more muffin-ish then cookie-ish. Far bigger on subtle flavor then sweetness.

Don't bother with these, I have a much better one for tomorrow.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Turkey Bacon sandwich w/ Walnut Rocket Pesto

or Sandwiches a la Anthony!

PS Rocket is British for Arugula

“For a quick tip , take some arugula , a few pine nuts , or almonds , or even walnuts (they work best) with some garlic , maybe 1 clove to 2 cups of arugula , and 1/4 cup walnuts. and put it all in a food processor , and blend away while adding a good olive or canola oil in a steady stream. It makes an awesome pesto. Put it on a turkey sandwich with some bacon , and OH MY GOD...So Good!!”

I got this suggestion from my brother-in-law, and let me tell you, he’s not wrong. So Good! The spicy-ness of the rocket and the substantial flavor of the walnuts go perfectly with the always wonderful combo of bacon and turkey.

We added cheese to our sandwiches because my older son demands cheese whenever there are sandwiches (even peanut butter and jelly, though in that case I tend to put it on the side). I think this would have been good with a big crusty type of bread, but we just used what we had in the house and it was still fabulous.

As always, Anthony rocks!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mallorcan Braised Grouper

Though actually, this is monkfish...

5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the fish
1 medium sized onion, quartered and thinly sliced
5 medium sized garlic cloves, sliced
2tsp sweet (not smoked) paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 roasted red bell peppers (see below), cut into strips
2 roasted Yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
2 large vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2.5 cups Swiss chard, leaves only, chopped
1 medium sized bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup currants (I used raisins instead)
4 thick Grouper steaks about 2 lbs total (See Note)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting the fish
4 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 2lbs total), boiled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup pine nuts

Note: If you can’t get Grouper you can substitute another firm salt water fish like Monkfish, mahimahi, or halibut. If you want to use fillets, they need to be thick, and reduce the baking time by about 15 min. I used Monkfish and baked for 35 min and it was perfect

To roast the peppers:
Preheat the oven to 425f. Line a baking sheet with kitchen foil and brush it with olive oil. Core, cut in half and deseed the peppers. Place them on the sheet skin side up and push down on them gently to flatten. Brush with olive oil and bake for about 35 min. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 min, then peel.

Heat 4 tbsp oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-low heat. Cook onion and garlic for about 7 min. Add paprika and red pepper flakes, and stir for a few seconds. Add the roasted red and yellow peppers and the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium, and cook till they begin to release their juices, about 5 min. Stir in the chard and parsley and cook stirring till they just wilt. Add the bay leaf, wine and currents and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are softened and the flavors are blended, 5-7 min. This can be prepared ahead, and refrigerated, covered for 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 300f
Rub the fish steaks generously with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Dust the fish lightly with flour, add it to the skillet and sear for about 30 seconds on each side, then transfer to a plate.
Take an earthenware casserole or a deep glass baking dish in which the fish would fit snugly all in one layer. Arrange the potato slices on the bottom all in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle salt on the potatoes and arrange the fish on top. Remove the bay leaf from the veg mixture, season with salt to taste, and spoon it evenly over the fish, along with it’s pan juices. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake till the fish is very tender, 45-50 min depending on thickness (see note above). Let cool for 10 min.

This recipe is from The New Spanish Table

This dish was so good! It took a bit of prep work because of roasting the peppers, but that can be done way before if you want to save time during the actual cooking. Actually, the whole veg mixture can be made up to a day in advance. Which ever way you do it, it is totally worth it.
The mix of flavors was really interesting. My husband pointed out that it has a bit of an African taste to it. That makes sense as it is from Mallorca, which I believe is not so far from there. It has a good balance of sweet and spicy, and also, since it has greens and potatoes and veg and fish all in it, it can really stand alone as a dinner. No need for side dishes if you don’t feel like it.

I used Monkfish, on the advice of my wonderful and knowledgeable fish guy. I’ve never cooked it before. It is a really good fish, very firm and meaty, and it stayed perfectly moist even though it cooked for a long time (I don’t know if that’s down to the fish or the recipe, but it sure is a good thing). It seemed fairly easy to bone too, which is a big deal for me since I feed it to the boys. They loved it by the way. My picky eater was suckered in by the raisins, he can’t resist raisins, and he discovered that he liked the fish too. I loved it, and also, I was not intimidated by cooking it. Looks like I might just get used to cooking fish after all.

Slow cooked Root Vegetable Soup

8oz/225g Each: carrots, celeriac, leeks, and swede, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small onion peeled and roughly chopped
2.5pints/1.5litres hot stock
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Greek yogurt to garnish
Put everything (except yogurt) into the pot, bring to a gentle simmer and put into the oven at 275f/140c for 3 hours.
Remove the bay leaves and process till smooth. Serve with yogurt swirled in.

Mostly I made this soup because I had most of these vegetables left over from the Roasted Vegetable and Brown Rice Gratin I have to say that cooking the soup in the oven really does increase the depth of flavor in a pretty amazing way. This was a very good soup, but I have to admit that I am getting a bit tired of the British pureed soups. They seem to like to puree all of their soups, soups with chunks are few and far between.
Still, this Delia Smithsoup was really tasty, and if you have these vegetables laying around, it’s a great thing to do with them.

Quick-braised Celery

1 head celery, trimmed, destringed, and cut into 3 inch pieces
1oz/25g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3oz/75g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
8oz/225ml hot stock
1tbsp fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper

melt the butter and cook the onions for 3-4 min. Add the carrots and cook 2 more minutes. Add the celery and fry for 5 more minutes, then season with salt and pepper and add the stock, place a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and cook for 20 min. Take the lid off and simmer till the liquid has reduced and become slightly syrupy, about 5 min.

Well, if you have some celery that’s just going to go bad if you don’t use it up, then I would make this, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. It’s pretty tasty, the carrots and onions especially, but I think I like celery as an ingredient better then I like it as a side dish.

I got this one from Delia Smith.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Steamed Thai-style sea bass and rice

Actually, this is sea bream, not bass

For the thai paste
2 large bunches fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks reserved
2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, halved and deseeded
2 tsp sesame oil
6tbsp soy sauce
Juice and zest of two limes
1x400ml tin of coconut milk

400g/14oz basmati rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4x170g/6oz sea bass fillets, pinboned and skin scored
A handful of sugar snap peas or mangetouts
A bunch of spring onions, outer leaves discarded, trimmed and finely sliced
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 lime, quartered
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f
In a food processor, whiz up the coriander stalks, half the coriander leaves, the ginger, garlic, halved chillies, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and zest, and the coconut milk. This makes a lovely, fragrant Thai-style paste.
Cook your rice in salted boiling water till it’s just undercooked, then drain it in a colander. Scoop in into a high sided roasting tray. Pour the thai paste over the rice and mix it in well, then shake it out flat. Lay the sea bass fillets on top, scatter over the snap peas or mangetouts, then cover the dish tightly with foil, and put it in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle over the spring onions, the sliced chili, and the other half of the coriander leaves. Divide between your plates with a wedge of lime.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe.

I don’t cook fish. That’s always been my stance anyway. For one thing, it’s just far too expensive, but the real problem is that I am afraid to cook it. I can’t say exactly why, but I always have been. Maybe it’s stories about people getting sick from shellfish, or just that I would hate to ruin anything so pricey. What ever the reason, it’s time to get over it.

I went to talk to my local fish guy. Turns out he’s the best fish guy ever. He’s a mobile market guy, so if anyone reading this happens to live in the East of England, check your local market for his stall… F.E. Tucker & Sons. I imagine he must be one of the sons, cuz they’ve been around since 1956.

Anyway, the recipe calls for Sea Bass, but I was shocked at how much that costs. The guy said that it’s that expensive because it’s like the Champaign of fish. He sold me some Sea Bream instead, which costs half as much, and has a wonderful flavor and texture. He described it as tasting very similar to shellfish, and after trying it, my husband and I agreed with him. They are also pretty and red, which is fun.

As for the recipe…
When you make the paste, you should be warned, it’s ugly. It mixes to a strange consistency, I actually thought I must have gotten it wrong, but then I tasted it, and it’s REALLY good. Once you mix it with the rice, you can’t tell that it was ever ugly. I used brown rice because I noticed at the last minute that I had run really low on Basmati. The flavor of the sauce is totally powerful enough to handle brown rice.
The cooking was a bit of trouble, just because of my fear and inability when it comes to fish cooking. I guess the deal with fish is that any cooking time is really just an estimate as it depends so much on the thickness of the fillet. Mine took twice as long to cook as it was supposed to which made me panic a bit, but the end result was great. The sauce and the toppings make this dish really special. Everybody loved it, the boys too!

I’m going to try to do a fish dish every week (I’d do more, but it’s still too expensive to be more regular then that). I WILL learn to make good fish, and not be intimidated.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Roasted vegetable and brown rice gratin

For the rice:
10oz/275ml brown basmati rice
1tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1pint/570ml hot stock
1 tsp salt

For the vegetables:
10oz/275g butternut squash (peeled weight)
5oz/150g each of the following: celeriac, swede, carrots, parsnips (peeled weight)
2 medium red onions, peeled
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley thyme tarragon)
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the cheese sauce:
1pint/570ml milk
1.5oz/40g plain flour
1.5oz/40g butter
a little cayenne pepper
2oz/50g mature cheddar, grated
1oz/25g parmesan, finely grated
a little freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and black pepper

Preheat to 230c/450f
For the veg:
Cut the Squash, celeriac, swede, carrots, and parsnips, into 1 inch cubes. Place them and the red onions, each cut into 6 pieces through the root, into a bowl along with the herbs, garlic, a good seasoning of salt and pepper and the olive oil, then toss them around so they get a good coating of oil, and herbs. Arrange them evenly all over a baking tray, then place it on the highest shelf for about 30 minutes, or till they are nicely brown at the edges. As soon as they are ready, take them out and reduce the temp to 400f/200c.
For the rice, warm the frying pan over a medium heat, then add the oil and the onions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly tinged brown. Next stir in the rice and turn the grains in the pan till they become lightly coated and glistening with oil.

Add the boiling stock along with the salt, stir once only then cover with the lid. Turn the heat to the very lowest setting and cook for 40-45 minutes. Do not remove the lid and do not stir.
Meanwhile make the cheese sauce by placing the milk, flour, butter and a pinch of cayenne into a medium sized saucepan, then whisk it all together over a gentle heat till you have a smooth glossy sauce. Let it cook on the lowest heat for 5 minutes, and after that add half the cheeses. Whisk again and allow them to melt into it, then season with salt pepper and nutmeg.
Once the parts are cooked, arrange the rice in an ovenproof dish, put the vegetables on top of that, followed by the sauce, pouring it over and around the veg as evenly as possible. Scatter over the remaining cheeses and a sprinkling of cayenne then return the dish to the oven and give it about 20 minutes till the sauce is browned and bubbling.

This manages to be both total comfort food, and also good healthy fairly diet friendly (there is very little cheese in the cheese sauce) food at the same time. Excellent! I realized after I started making it that it’s kind of a cheat to put it on here as it is actually quite similar to another Delia Smith recipe that I made before. It’s sort of a winter vegetable, and rice version of the Gratin of Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables. Still, it was different enough that I figured it would be ok.

I have to say, it really was great. It’s such a simple way of preparing the vegetables, but it yields such a great flavor and texture, and the sauce is way easy to make, and so tasty. This one is all good. Even my older son (3 yrs), who is going through his picky eater phase, ate everything on his plate. That’s really saying a lot.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gennaro’s Salad

400g/14oz new, or small waxy paotaoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs
2 heaped tbsp salted capers
2 lemons
1x 220g tin of really good tuna in oil, drained, or 300g/11oz fresh tuna
For fresh tuna: a good pinch of oregano, and half a red chilli, chopped
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
A large handful of rocket
A large handful of mixed salad leaves, torn
1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 salted anchovies, rinsed boned and filleted

Give the potatoes a little scrub, bring a pan of water to a boil and add the potatoes to it, then season the water with salt. Put the lid on and boil fast, till the potatoes are tender, and you can put a knife through them. At the same time, boil your eggs for 7-8 min so that they are firm, but soft boiled. Refresh them in cold water, shell them and put to the side.
While the potatoes and eggs are cooking, wash the capers under the tap, then drain them and put them in a bowl with the juice of one of the lemons, to draw out any excess salt.
If you are using fresh tuna, cook it in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil, oregano, and some chilli, salt, and pepper. Either sear it so it remains pink in the center, or fry for a few minutes on each side till cooked through, but do not overcook.
Wash the salad leaves and spin them dry.
By now the potatoes will be done, so dress them while they are still really hot. Drain them really well in a colander, then halve or chop them inot a bowl. Add the capers and lemon juice, 5 tbsp of the oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the finely sliced onion, and toss together really well. Taste a potato to make sure the seasoning is just right – you may want a little more oil or lemon juice. When they get down to room temperature, flake in the tune, add the salad leaves and the halved or quartered eggs, drizzle a little oil over, mix carefully, divide onto four plates, and lay over the anchovies.

Ok, this is a lot of text, so you might think that this salad is a lot of work, but actually it’s super easy… Boil some potatoes and eggs, add dressing and some stuff and toss together.

This one is from Jamie Oliver, who never lets me down.

It was a really great salad. It has the potatoes, the eggs and the tuna which makes it really substantial and good for dinner, and the flavors are some of my favorites. It’s got the caper and lemon dressing (how good an idea is that?), and some anchovies thrown in too. Also, I loved the consistency of the soft/hard boiled eggs.

I thought this was a great summer meal!