Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Beetroot, carrot & feta salad


Garlic, walnuts, olive oil, 1 carrot, 1 beetroot, 150g feta, poppy seeds, 1 clementine
Preparation: 15 minutes

This stunning salad, using my walnut & garlic paste, is a complex mix of flavours and textures but the juicy carrot and beetroot, the tangy rich feta and the savoury garlic marry together beautifully. A wonderful quick lunch for one or a great side dish to share.

1) Peel and grate the beetroot and carrot, zest the clementine and squeeze in a little of the juice. Stir through and set aside.

2) Cut the feta into cubes and roll in a dish of poppy seeds.

3) Stir a tablespoon of walnut paste into the carrot and beetroot mix, then serve with the feta.

Roast garlic & walnut paste


3 bulbs garlic, 200g walnuts, olive oil.
Preparation: 30 minutes

The ability to produce different flavours from one ingredient merely by cooking it a different way is one of the great joys of cooking for me. Garlic when roasted produces a creamy, almost sweet puree and it is that which forms the basis of this luscious paste which I'm going to feature in a number of recipes in the coming weeks.

1) Roast the garlic in the oven for 20 minutes, then squeeze out the jelly-like cloves from the skin. Crush through a garlic press to release the pureed garlic.

2) Finely chop the walnuts or pulse in a blender and add to the garlic. Stir through a good glug of olive oil, season and set aside. I like to keep it in a kilner jar in the fridge.

Roast beetroot & carrot curry


1 can coconut milk, 1 can chickpeas, olive oil, 1 white onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 beetroot, 2 carrots, 1 tbs cumin, 1 tbs turmeric, 1 tbs coriander, chilli powder to taste.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 1 hour

Autumn to me means a glut of roasted vegetables and beetroot with its luscious silky purple juices is never far from my mind. Using roasted vegetables in curry is somewhat unusual, I know, but that magical alchemy gives a better flavour and texture and they look so beautiful without all the colour leaching away. I like to roast a job lot at the beginning of the week to put in the fridge for salads, pasties, and to make stews and soups. They're incredibly cost-effective and this curry is utterly delicious.

1) Peel the carrots and beetroot, drizzle with a little oil and roast in a covered dish for 40 minutes

2) Peel and dice the onion and sautee in the oil until soft. Add the garlic, spices and chickpeas and stir through.

3) Spoon the thick cream which will have risen to the top of your can of coconut milk (discarding the water below) into the pan and stir through. Allow to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes (or until the chickpeas are soft) then add the carrot and beetroot and garnish with coriander. Serve with rice or naan.

Kohlrabi & carrot stew


4 carrots, 1 kohlrabi, 1 white turnip, 500g mixture of pearl barley, haricot beans, split peas, red split lentils, marrowfat peas, 1 pint vegetable stock, 2 white onions, olive oil
Serves: 6 Preparation: 2 hours (plus overnight for soaking)

As Autumn sets in, my time in the kitchen is often spent soaking beans and roasting roots for rich, hearty stews to comfort me in the cold damp months ahead. Reluctant as I am to put the freshness of summer behind me though, this clean, simple stew is the perfect way to link the seasons together.

1) Rinse the dried pulses thoroughly in cold water, then soak overnight until they have rehydrated. Drain away the excess water.

2) Peel the carrots, turnip and kohlrabi and slice into half inch sized chunks. Drizzle with a little oil and roast in a covered dish for an hour.

3) Peel and dice the onion and sautee in a little oil until soft, then add the carrots, turnip and kohlrabi along with any roasting juices.

4) Add the pulses and vegetable stock and stir through. Simmer for an hour, season well and then either serve or save! Personally I always prefer stew the day after it's made, but if you can resist dunking some fresh bread into your stock pot then you're made of stronger stuff than I!

Italian roast potatoes


New potatoes, olive oil.
Preparation: 1 hour

This recipe is absurdly simple, and yet the best potato recipes often are. The flavour of a good potato really needs no further enhancement and following on from my previous suggestions for perfectly baked and perfectly chipped potatoes - these luscious wee beasties are gorgeous just as they are, but are also incredibly versatile as the basis for a cold salad dressed with pesto, spiced yoghurt or herb-rich mayonnaise. Mmmmm

1) Toss the potatoes, skins and all in olive oil to ensure an even coating. Add to a roasting dish and roast for 1 hour at 220 degrees until the skins begin to blister and turn golden brown.

2) Serve!

Cauliflower and celeriac soup with pistou


1 white onion, butter, 1 cauliflower, 1 celeriac, 1 pint vegetable stock, basil leaves, basil oil, almond slivers.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This soup has a velvety smooth texture and a wonderful earthy flavour which is beautifully contrasted by the swirl of pistou (a French equivalent of pesto made of almonds, which are the cauliflower's perfect flavour partner).

1) Peel the celeriac with a sharp knife by cutting about a centimetre off both ends and sides, leaving a squareish core. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and slicing the stem to the base. Slice around the stem to release the florets. Dice both and set aside

Peel and dice the onion and sautee in a little butter until soft. Stir in the cauliflower and celeriac, then add the vegetable stock and simmer on the hob for 20 minutes.

To make the pistou, add a good handful of fresh basil leaves to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. Lightly toast the almond slivers, shaking and turning the pan until they just turn golden brown, before adding to the mortar bowl with a glug of basil oil and grinding thoroughly.

Separate the vegetables from the liquid using a colander and puree thoroughly in a blender.

Pass the pureed cauliflower, celeriac and onion through a sieve and back into the stock, then stir through until the soup has been incorporated. Serve with the pistou.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Spinach with puy lentil & pistachios


400g spinach, 100g puy lentils (I love Merchant Gourmet's ready to eat pouches), 50g pistachios, 1 tbsp olive oil, nutmeg.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes

Spinach, ah spinach. I never tire of coming up with ever more delicious ways to shovel this wonderfood into my mouth. Soft spinach, juicy bursting lentils and the salty crunch of the pistachios - salad perfection! This would make a scrumptious and beautiful side dish and also works well stuffed into pitta with a little crumbled feta for food on the go.

1) Dry toast the pistachios in the pan for 2-3 minutes before adding the oil, a little freshly grated nutmeg and the spinach.

2) Stir on the hob until the spinach has wilted, then season (adding more nutmeg if necessary) and stir through the lentils before serving.

Super-protein chicken salad


Roast chicken, 1 pint chicken stock, 1/2 cup spelt, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup wild rice.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 1 hour

My beloved yet insane husband is doing Tough Mudder this week (please sponsor him!), and it is up to me to pump him full of protein, lest his muscles fail him and he die.
No pressure then! This salad, using leftover roast chicken and some of the stock made from the carcass has had him salivating at lunch time and is perfect picnic fodder too!

1) Spelt takes the longest to cook at 50 minutes. Soak it in cold water for 5 minutes, drain, then add it to the pan of chicken stock, stir through and leave to simmer.

2) Wild rice takes 30 minutes, so after 20 minutes add to the spelt and stir through.

3) Quinoa takes just 15 minutes, so add to the pan 15 minutes after the wild rice, stir through and leave to cook.

4) If you'd like to serve this hot, drain away any excess stock (though after the best part of an hour it should all have been absorbed or evaporated!), stir through the leftover chicken, season and serve. Otherwise allow the grains to cool before adding the chicken.

Ale & mustard potatoes


1 King Edward potato, 50 ml Hobgoblin ale, 1 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp grainy mustard.
Serves: 2 Preparation: X

Coming as I do from the right side of the Pennines, I must of course deny all knowledge of what a Lancashire hotpot is *narrows eyes* but allowing potatoes to cook in delicious liquid and then crisp up doesn't half make a cracking dish. I invented this quick, simple side as part of my vegetarian alternative to the potatoes I had cooked in the juices of a roasting chicken and it's returned time and time again to my table.

1) Finely slice your potato (I don't bother to peel it - half the flavour's in the skin!) with a mandolin, food processor attachment or a good knife and add to a pan with enough ale to just submerge the potatoes. Parboil for 5 minutes, allowing the ale to reduce and soak into the potato a little, then drain away the excess ale.

2) Add the butter and mustard to the potatoes and stir through, then layer in a baking dish.

3) Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the skin just begins to turn golden, season and serve.

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