Monday, December 08, 2008
From Summer Cooking
Out of season and a bit odd, I know, but this soup is quite interesting. We pulled up the last of our beetroots only a week or so ago - they'd grown huge and intimidating. I barely scrubbed them, just put them in a big pot with water and boiled until tender, then lifted them from the dirty water and peeled thickly.
What to do with them? I have put some aside to make beetroot falafel, but used the rest to make this Hebrew Soup from Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking.
The instructions are simple and characteristically vague. Chop cooked beetroot (250g) and put into a pan with 1.5 pints water and a splash of vinegar (abour 1tbsp) and some salt. Boil until the beets are tender, then pour over a beaten egg and press the concoction through a sieve (I blended before sieving, to help it along a bit). Chill thoroughly.
Elizabeth David says the soup is to be served cold, but I just couldn't do it (and after I'd followed her recipe so faithfully too!). So I reheated it ever so gently, having steamed a handful of new potatoes (from the plot, in November!) and added a bit of butter to their pan. Then put a ladleful in each soup bowl and spooned over a few potatoes. (ED says, serve each guest a bowl of soup and a saucer of hot potatoes, probably so the potatoes don't all go cold at once because they were added to the soup.)
It was really good - strange but filling and unique. (ED describes it as "ambrosial".) I wouldn't go that far, but... hmm, this beetroot is growing on me.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
2tbsp brown sugar
2tsp Maldon salt
1tsp Chipotle chilli flakes
2tsp pink peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp black pepper)
Monday, October 20, 2008
1 cup fresh borlotti or other haricot-type beans
1tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon
2 cobs of sweetcorn, kernels removed
1tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
1tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2-3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
Plenty of salt and pepper
Large handful cheddar cheese, grated
OPTIONAL: also good would be mushrooms, sweet potato, red pepper, spinach.
After what feels like six years, you will be looking at a small heap of the nuts that are now your least favourite nut in the entire world. Your back will ache. Your knife will be dull. And all appetite for these lovely little scamps will be lost. But that's okay. Because you saved a couple of pounds and a trip to the grocer. Now don't you feel good about the world?
Okay. So it will take you some time to feel good about the world. Until then, put these peeled monsters into the fridge or freezer, and try to forget about them. Or throw them immediately into a Mushroom & Chestnut Stroganoff, and destroy the evidence by mouth. Yum!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
PS. Our cottage was built pre-1800, and the Planning officers "prefer us to fix, not replace" the windows. So yes, you are looking at draughty, peeling, rotting, cracked old windows, but at least their history is intact. Be glad you don't get our heating bills.
Welcome to my kitchen. Charlie rules the roost in this house, and she likes to remind us. She especially likes to climb anywhere that she can look down on us. She is doubtless planning a surprise attack of some sort. See how she is sharpening her claws on the ancient wooden beams?
Indulge me. This is my cooker. I often stand in the doorway and gaze lovingly at it. I saved up for this darling and it makes my cooking better in every way. (I am not crying. yet.) And can you say that about a race bike that lives in the shed for 300 days of the year? No. You cannot. Do you think those tins are real antiques? I don't know either. I don't mind, anyway. In case my husband reads this, especially the bike part, I should also point out his lovely white silicone around the worktops and tiles. Beautiful work, yes?
You may be getting the sense that this is a slightly censored kitchen tour. That perhaps I chose a good moment to take pictures... to prove otherwise, here is the sink, complete with dirty dishwater and undried plates.
This dresser was especially sawn up, I mean adapted, for my kitchen. It is loaded with jars and things I have no other place for. But that's what it's for, yes? Charming mess.
Just in case you didn't get a good look at the card in front of the tea caddy: yes, it really does say that. There is no low to which the woman will not stoop to secure her first grandchild. I plan to make her wait a LOT longer, or at least that's my story.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
And why not have soup for dinner? Especially if you polish off an entire French stick alongside it. This lovely soup makes the most of some seasonal ingredients, and bay leaves and rosemary from the garden. I'm sure it must count as a couple of our five-a-day. It's particularly cheap if your husband has been pilfering sweetcorn "windfalls" from a nearby field. But if you're not this way inclined, sweetcorn is available widely and (comparatively) cheaply at the moment.
2 slender leeks, finely diced
2tsp chopped rosemary
1 sweet potato, in 1cm dice
1 cob of sweetcorn, kernels stripped into a bowl
1 cup stock made with Marigold Bouillon (1tsp)
Salt and pepper
1tbsp milk mixed with 1tsp cornflour
Soften the leeks in the butter, then add the rosemary and potato and stir gently for another couple of minutes. Tip in the stock. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer very gently for 6 minutes, then add the corn, simmer for another 2 minutes and switch off the heat. Stir in the cornflour paste, and leave until you are ready to eat. Now taste and season generously, add the extra splash of milk and very, very gently raise the heat until the soup is steaming but not boiling. Check it's hot enough and serve.
Monday, October 06, 2008
We have just returned from a trip to Canada - where we ate so much good food! Tofino, Vancouver and Victoria in particular are great places for foodies. All of my holiday shopping was food-related, and included 'smoky southwest' seasonings, chocolate for cooking, a madeleine tray, cookery books and new table napkins for autumn. When oh When will Williams-Sonoma open a store in the UK? Preferably in Exeter...
This recipe is based on a southwestern ratatouille that I ate at Coyote's Grill in Banff (PICTURED ABOVE). It was served with polenta, which was cooked a bit more softly than I've decided I like. I also took inspiration from the recipe for Lima Bean and Corn Succotash in Bon Appetit, which I read and then lost at Calgary airport (and am now subscribed to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit - there are so many wonderful food magazines in Canada!). The bean, corn and squash combination is the '3 Sisters' from the allotment and this dish makes the most of all three, which are now - of course - in season. (I loved the roadside pumpkin patches on Vancouver Island!) Anyway - less talk, more eating.
1 cup polenta (Merchant Gourmet)
4 cups warm water
Pinch vegetable bouillon
1tsp salt and pepper
Cover a small baking tray with cling film and set close by. Bring water + bouillon to a rolling boil and tip in the polenta, stirring. Now protect your hands as the thickening polenta bubbles madly! Ouch! Stir frequently (but not constantly) over medium heat for five minutes. Stir in the butter, seasoning and feta, crumbled, and smooth the mixture into a slab on the baking tray. Cool for about an hour. This makes enough for 4 people. To finish, cut into 8 triangles (toast-sized slices) and put onto a hot griddle that has been brushed with oil. Griddle for about 20 minutes until golden and crunchy on both sides - surprisingly good!
1/2 butternut or other sweet squash, diced 1cm
2 small corn cobs, corn removed
1 cup borlotti, broad or soya beans
2 tomatoes, chopped
1tsp tomato puree
Pinch sugar, salt and pepper
1 jalapeno, diced
1tbsp each basil and coriander, sliced
Squeeze lemon juice
Simmer the borlotti for about 20 mins in light stock, adding the corn 5 mins before the end. Warm some olive oil and cook the squash gently for 30 minutes, adding the tomatoes, puree, seasonings and half a cup of water 5 mins from the end (for quite a dry result). Stir in the beans and lemon juice, turn heat to high and warm through; add herbs and serve.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Oh. my. word. The first broad beans - the size of my smallest fingernail - are out. This is somewhat premature. I know. But the many books that are piled up beside my bed are always saying how wonderful it is if you grow your own beans, as you can pick them young and tiny, rather than huge and leathery.
Of course, the disadvantage of picking them young is that you get less podded weight (if you see what I mean) - a couple more weeks would allow them to fill out more. I mean, will allow them to fill out more. Because we do intend to let them grow properly now for a bit, before attacking them again.
But we couldn't resist a bagful on Saturday. Softened in butter with pine nuts and chopped sage, then stirred through spaghetti with crumbled feta, they were absolutely wonderful. Some wilted rocket would be a good addition to this.
2 handfuls broad beans - podded
2tbsp chopped sage
2tbsp pine nuts
100g crumbled feta
Spaghetti for 2 scant portions - cooked
Soften butter, throw in sage and pine nuts, then broad beans (pod alongside the pan). When the beans begin to change colour, immediately add the cooked spaghetti and stir to heat. Finally crumble in the feta - it will melt and vanish - and serve at once on hot plates.
Small they may be, but (if you make the effort to pick out a single bean while eating) each one tastes like Essence of Broad Bean. All the flavour's here: it just hasn't spread out into a larger surface area yet. Yum, yum, yum.
And this isn't intended to become a blog about growing, but I must also tell you about Oriental Saladini. We have tried growing lettuces before - Cos, Lollo Rossa, Arctic King, and numerous others - with no success whatsoever. But this Saladini mixture has come up trumps. It's Cut and Come Again, so you only need a strip of soil - sow thinly, and wait about 6 weeks before the first cut (possibly less time, now it's warmer). (If growing in the garden, try to choose a spot without nearby rocks or nooks where slugs gather. And surround each row, diligently, with used coffee grounds - this really works!) It's a lovely mixture of leaves, some soft and buttery, some peppery, some lime-green, some red. Alongside, if any more space is available to you, I'd recommend Swiss Chard - one of the coloured varieties - beautiful with its sunny stems. Then Rocket, any type, which is a truly trustworthy choice that never fails.
Okay. that's it. No more gardening stuff, at least until my pictures are downloaded!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I see it's not there in entirety, but there are rather a lot of pages from her Vegetable book available for viewing on Google. How would one go about finding her other works in the same place? And, how come, when I searched Google Books for food, I didn't find this one? Are some of the other classics on there? Eek, am I missing hundreds of wonderful cookery books on Google? Why did I not already know about this? Must hurry back.
Plus, now I can direct you to the source of Fasoulia*, the blissful bean dish that has come the closest I've found to Odyssea's heavenly Gigantes. We ate this alongside husband's roast shoulder of lamb (rubbed with olive oil and seasoned; seared in a hot roasting tray; scattered with rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves, and baked in the oven at 170 for 3 hours). Steamed potatoes and broccoli on a platter beside, and the table was groaning. Cooking the beans in a frightening cupful of olive oil before adding the tomatoes and water makes all the difference. Isn't it clever?
*cited by Jane Grigson, originally committed to paper by Elizabeth David.
Ahh, there's nothing like a 5pm Mojito to get the creative sparks flying. It's refreshing, it's mintily Cubalicious, it's escapism in a cocktail glass.
This is the main reason I grow mint in our garden. Apart from the occasional raita, it's called into service for mojitos only, and I love the fact that my favourite cocktail calls for a quick stroll into the sun. I am a keen mixologist, although I usually never have the right ingredients in the house, so it's more often an eccentric blend of whatever-we-have. A splash of Venetian Limoncello; a sploosh of pomegranate syrup; milk and caramel syrup. I do, though, keep a continuous stash of limes in the fridge. Lime, mint, and rum= a taste of heaven. Made just a little bit more wondrous with a sploosh of Monin's Apple Syrup. Somebody stop me!
3parts white rum
1part apple syrup
1part fresh lime juice
3-4 sprigs fresh mint
Best made ahead: steep the rum, lime, and mint in a shaker in the fridge. Using a spoon, press the mint against the inside of the shaker to bruise and release its oils. (This mix will keep for a whole weekend, if you can keep from it.) Add the syrup, tasting, when you're ready to serve. Pour into ice - half-filling a cocktail glass (this is heady stuff) - and top up with lemonade, mint sprigs, and optional extra lime. You'll soon have it just the way you like it.
For a classic mojito, just leave out the apple syrup.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It's our first year growing our own, and among the very earliest crops are the Broad Beans. They're getting tantalisingly close to readiness now; we've split and shared a few pods already. The beans cushioned inside are about quarter of the size of my thumbnail - teeny weeny little greens with an amazingly intense broad-bean flavour, and soft as if they'd been cooked. I wouldn't compare them with peas because it's a more savoury sweetness, a bit like parmesan somehow.
they're surprisingly high-yielding, too (at least I think they will be) - we've planted two rows of 12ft (30cm apart); each small, dry bean has produced two or three sturdy stems which flourished in the early spring and are preparing to provide us with two dozen pods each, I should think. And so, if you have a little space in your garden, this is one of the first crops I'd recommend. Broad beans, being one of the earliest producers, have all the excitement that surrounds our first summer veg (asparagus and new potatoes being similar). And - I'm ahead of myself - but they're already delicious.
So yes: please find a space for some next year. Sown in autumn, they are spectacularly low-maintenance - they'd grown big enough to keep the weeds from growing underfoot in spring - and promise much.
I'm flipping through books for recipes, now, and have bookmarked Broad Bean Pilaf from 'Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East'. Think that Nigel Slater has a bean puree with flatbreads in The Kitchen Diaries, too. And Moro East will surely have something exciting for me to try. But I think these wonderful beans are best scantily adorned: maybe mashed with olive oil and wet garlic to spread on focaccia. Or, for this first harvest, perhaps we'll have a salad of just-steamed-and-shelled beans with freshly-cut Oriental Saladini and rocket. And guess what? We could even pull up some miniature potatoes, if we were feeling naughty. We accidentally discovered that they're already forming - even if they are pea-sized - and I am soooo tempted to sample them.
Photos coming very soon, really. I'm borrowing a cable this weekend, so prepare to be swamped with photographs of very clever little peas and gooseberry plants. They are my baby substitutes, but better, because I can alternate between having favourites.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Online food shopping seems, to me, a difficult area to investigate. I was searching for Hungarian Paprika the week before last (thanks for the obsession, Diana Henry) and I was quite surprised to find that the results were mainly for small, amateur-looking spice sites and there wasn't one of the big-bucks, well-designed, user-friendly ecommerce sites that you'd usually get for every other kind of shopping. Perhaps online food shopping isn't such big business yet?
Of course, just so's you don't think I am an eco monster, I buy into the whole farm-shop-local-economy-food-miles-carbon-footprint-yada-yada message. I get it. I buy in. I'm tired of all the trendies talking about it. I'm just saying.
But you can't get Hungarian paprika at my local barn shop. (You can get ostrich feather dusters, but that's a whole nother story.) And I can't get special schnapps or coffee syrups or gold dust for fairy cakes. Or jam jars, baking tins or retriever-shaped cookie cutters. (I live in a village with two shops, you know.) Hence the occasional online forays.
The Spice Shop
This is one of those sites that came up in my search for Paprika. I dismissed it at first: poor design, no pictures, no supporting copy, and (later) nonexistent customer communications. However. This website is the online presence for The Spice Shop in Notting Hill, where renowned spicy lady Birgit blends and dispenses hundreds of interesting spices and mixtures for posh foofdies like Nigella and Jamie. Once I heard this, I had to give it a go. 15 days later, I'm still waiting for my parcel, but I'll keep you updated.
The Drink Shop
This is a more slick site with lovely moreish Monin syrups and a frighteningly enormous range of whisky (close eyes amd point at screen, best method). Delivery charges are a bit hefty (because they charge you what it costs, instead of a nice friendly flat rate) but service is personal and I've had a good experience with these guys. And I'm back for more Monin soon - our Toffee Nut has run out!
Very poor navigability on this site and small pictures, but once you get past the user issues, it's got an overwhelming stock of sugarcraft supplies. Actually though, since I only wanted the gold lustre, I wound up researching at Jane Asher and then ordering from eBay - kinder delivery rates for just the one little tube.
Think I'll bookmark this post and add to it in the future. If anyone has used any other food sites, and can recommend them, I'd really love to hear from you.
Having roasted a whole shoulder of lamb for three people on the weekend, my dear better half left the remains in the kitchen for me to deal with*. I hate wasting food. So I searched online to find out what other people do with leftover cooked bits of meat. Husband won't eat the same thing twice and he turns up his nose at cold meat sandwiches. I found lots of ideas: moussaka, lamb crumble, shredded lamb with spices and flatbreads, and rissoles. I decided that rissoles seemed the easiest way to use up the lamb as an addition to a vegetable stew that I was planning. So this concoction was born.
The vegetable stew I'd planned was a variation on Deborah Madison's squash and spinach stew, which she flavours with a base of almonds (say 12 for two people), dried chillies (3), a tsp of cumin and a few sesame seeds. She toasts and grinds these to add to softened onions and form an aromatic base for the stew.
It doesn't sound like much but it's a deliciously original combination of flavours, and it really lifts an ordinary tomato-and-vegetable stew. So I have started using the almond-chilli-cumin base as the starting point for almost any combination of vegetables and lentils. Yesterday's had a few coriander seeds added (and rosewater would have been good, if I'd thought of it). Softened onions, ground spices, then chunks of squash and cooked (leftover) courgette slices, a couple of scoops of (no-soak) red lentils, a tin of tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes. Ta da! Simple, low fat, and highly flavoured. It's sort of like chilli, I suppose, but the almonds give it a more unique taste.
On top of his, husband had these delicious-smelling meatballs:
In mini chopper or food processor, mince:
2 packed cupfuls cooked lamb
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 fat clove garlic
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1tbsp finely chopped mint
1tbsp finely chopped coriander stalks
Season, then add a beaten egg. Chill for as long as poss. Flour your hands and squeeze firmly to make smallish meatballs, and fry in very little olive oil until brown and crusty on both sides. Top with yoghurt/lemon juice/mint if liked.
* I am a vegetarian, of course, but not one of the unbearably squeamish or preachy sort. No crying over bones for me.
Monday, April 14, 2008
I am reading such a great book at the moment: 'Vegetable Heaven' by Catherine Mason. There's plenty of inspiration - vegetables with new partners and flavours - without anything too complex or demanding. Probably one reason why the recipes all sound so great is that a lot of them revolve around cream and cheese - an important source of protein when your diet is mainly veg, but not exactly heart-healthy. She describes a tart made with feta, cream and squash, and when I was looking in the fridge last night for something fast, I decided that feta and squash probably was a happy partnering.
I just pared down the fat a little and served it with some steamed potatoes. This isn't low-fat all the same, but for a weekend indulgence that's quick and easy, it's perfect.
1/2 medium squash, roasted with 1tbsp chopped sage
2 slender leeks, sliced
5 eggs, beaten with 2tbsp low-fat creme fraiche
75g feta cheese, crumbled
Saute the leeks in a frying pan, just until they soften - not brown - maintaining the bright green colour. Throw in the squash and turn it for a moment to warm up. Now make sure the veg are evenly distributed, then tip in the egg and creme fraiche mixture. Preheat the grill to high. Swirl the pan to make sure there are no gaps and scatter the feta evenly over the top. Keep over a med-high heat for a couple of minutes, until browned underneath (peep using a spatula). Slide the pan under the grill until it's set on top and serve in wedges.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
with sweet potato mash
2 cups just-cooked Aduki beans
1 onion, finely diced
1tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1tsp plain flour
1tbsp sundried tomato puree
1tbsp soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 pint made-up Marigold vegetable bouillon
Good splash Tabasco
Potatoes - sweet and ordinary, half and half, peeled and chopped into chunks.
2oz cheddar, grated
Soften the onion in the olive oil over a very low heat; add the carrots and cover, then leave to soften for another 10 minutes. Scatter in the flour and stir for a minute. Dissolve the tomato puree and soy sauce in the stock, and pour over the vegetables; add the bay leaves and Tabasco, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the cooked beans and stir to incorporate; pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, removing the bay leaves.
Boil the potatoes together until tender, then drain and mash with half the cheddar. Season to taste; then spread over the bean mixture. Start from the edges and work the potato into the centre, to avoid the filling escaping at the sides. Finish with the remaining cheddar, then put straight into a preheated oven at 160 dg C for 20-30 minutes (until golden on top and steaming right through).
Eat with mixed salad or crusty bread.
Monday, February 04, 2008
2oz caster sugar
4oz self-raising flour
2oz white chocolate
Friday, February 01, 2008
Top of my list right now is Bill Granger's peanut butter cookies (soft in the middle, with less-than-overpowering peanuttiness). Mind you, everything looks great in his kitchen - the kind of sunny, open space that you could spend a whole lifetime.
Speaking of kitchens, I took some photographs of mine. We had it ripped out and replaced last year - goodbye 1960s electric oven that chooses its own temperature, hello brassy range oven and shiny tiles. Goodbye dirty white walls and red-painted concrete floor (huh?), hello swamp-monster green and flagstone tiles. And it is now officially the best place in the house, so I decided to photograph it. As soon as I get me a PC-camera lead, you can take a look.
One final thing before I go - and it's an English-style Sausage and Bean Hotpot. I know they make sophisticated versions of this in Tuscany, but our Heinz Bean and Frankfurter version is still my favourite. I made it more complicated for myself, by boiling Haricot beans from dry and adding treacle and mustard to get... a taste that is suspiciously like Heinz. Anyway, I don't care, because I know exactly what went into those babies.
The sausage and bean stew would be great on its own, with bread or mash, but I topped with a Lancashire Hotpot crust. This is not for guests. It is, though, perfect for weeknight scoffing with a fork and some ready-sliced bread.
SAUSAGE AND BEAN HOTPOT
2 cups Haricot Beans, soaked and boiled for about 30 minutes
1 cup Marigold Vegetable Bouillon (made up)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1tsp wholegrain mustard
0.5tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Good pinch salt
2 small leeks, shredded
3-4 medium carrots, diced
4 Frankfurter Sausages (the vegetarian kind, which tastes smokey and authentic as well as being low fat!)
Handful peeled potatoes
Boil the frankfurters for 2 minutes and drain.
Smear a large casserole with olive oil and begin to saute the leeks and carrots, gently, without browning. In a blender, whiz the tomatoes, stock, treacle, mustard, vinegar and salt. When the vegetables are soft add the sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Tip in the beans and cover, then simmer for another 20-30 minutes (until the beans are only JUST cooked). Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into £1-thick pieces, tip into boiling water, and set a timer for 9 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Chop roughly, then stir the sausages into the stew along with a good grinding of black pepper. Drain the potato slices and arrange them on the top. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and shove into the oven. Leave for around 20-30 minutes for the potatoes to brown on top.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Hurray hurray hurray! I have been asked to start adding to the content on www.chocolatexpert.co.uk - and help build it into a baking, eating, drinking resource all about chocolate. Can you think of anything better? Okay, I am often to be found writing for a website - one day about finding work in Newcastle, the next about selling scrap gold online - but rarely are they as close to my heart! I can think of no better way to spend a Friday.
And while I'm here, and we are talking about chocolate, would you like a recipe for the Starbucks winter special? Well, not the official recipe, but an extraordinarily close approximation. Here's what happened: I walked past a Starbucks. The "Toffee Hot Chocolate" advertisement called to me. I stopped. It carried on yelling, with all its creamy, toffee-coloured might. "I'll come right back," I promised. And I did.
And seriously, could I get addicted to those things. Fortunately, as I wrapped my hands around the warm brown cardboard and sipped, I remembered that I had recently bought some Caramel Sale (Toffee Nut) Syrup from an online drinks store. It was, in fact, sitting in a dusty corner of the kitchen (with its friends Green Apple and Gingerbread) as I drank. So the next day, I whipped up a couple of Toffee Nut Chocolates for us, at home. Whipped cream optional...
Per person, you'll need:
3tbsp real drinking chocolate (I used 'Liquid' by Hotel Chocolat)
1mug-full of milk (measure in the cup and then tip into saucepan or jug)
2tbsp Toffee Nut (Caramel Sale) Monin Syrup
Having measured and emptied your milk into a saucepan or jug (depending how you plan to heat it), put the drinking chocolate and syrup into the bottom of your mug, add a splash of the cold milk from the pan, and stir it to a paste. In a saucepan over the hob, or in a microwave (go slow), heat the milk to just below boiling. Pour it over the mixture in the mug, and stir well. Using a handheld frother or the steam spout on a coffee maker, froth up the top of the milk, and sprinkle with cocoa to serve.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Fannie Cradock (TV chef)
I've been spending a happy half-hour (of work time, naturally) with The Greens Cookbook. How come nobody told me about this before? It's practically the Vegetarian's Bible. I keep spotting recipes that I've seen other veggie books or restaurants plagiarise. Like Rose Eliot (who gave birth to the Nut Roast), Deborah Madison was a forerunner of today's vegetarian cookery. She really knows her flavours, combining surprising ingredients that I suspect would work every time. I'm a cookbook pro, and I've seen a million recipes for chestnut bourgignonne and mushroom stroganoff. So I am DEEPLY shocked to be surprised by a recipe. In a really good way. Buying this yet? If you aren't clicking through to the online shop right now, then maybe you WANT to only eat cauliflower korma and penne arrabiatta for the rest of your life? (Hm, should do another post on great veggie books - wouldn't that be fun? For me, at least.)
ANYway, this Vegetarian Bible contains probably hundreds of recipes, and each one manages to be innovative. I have already tried some of its ideas - stolen from other chefs who stole them from Madison - and so I can tell you that Rosemary Linguine with Caramelised Onions and Walnuts is an incredible combination of flavours. Or that Red Onion and Goat's Cheese Pizza really, really does work. (Thanks for tempting me, Pizza Express.)
Which leads me on to the recipe. It's hardly even a recipe: just a suggested combination of ingredients for a quick dinner. Deborah Madison includes snipped sundried tomatoes, green olives and shredded mozzarella on top of hers. But we ate it fast and simple, with a green salad. And I didn't even cook it. Anything that gets my husband in and out of the kitchen this quick is definitely worth a try! Here's our rustic version of Deborah Madison's 21st-century classic.
RED ONION & GOAT'S CHEESE PIZZA
1 pizza base (buy, or make your own)
2-3 red onions
1-2tsp red wine vinegar
1 log mild goat's cheese
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Stretch out the pizza base as thinly as you can on a large baking sheet, and preheat the oven to about 180 C. Set the base aside, and slice the onions very thinly. Soften them on the lowest possible heat with a slug of oil and red vinegar, for at least 15 minutes. Taste to adjust the balance of flavours - adding salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar according to your liking. (The onions should be quite sharp and sticky to work with the mild cheese.) Spread them all over the pizza base, top with crumbled goat's cheese (and optional mozzarella), and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve with green salad.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Okay, much as I love mashed potato and celeriac, I have now officially Had Enough of winter. The worst part is, it's only getting started - soon we will be cowering beneath stormy January skies and skating on icy February paths.
I have retreated to my seed catalogues, to choose all the new produce for next year - including some climbing beans especially for drying and storing (such as the purple-flowered bean above), and plenty of green things. Although salad is scarce right now, salad is just exactly what we feel like after the heavy Christmas eating. So, I am trying to grow Arctic King (for early spring lettuce) and planning red chard and perpetual spinach for next year. (Both can be cut and eaten young, and will keep on producing.)
Here is one of my favourite ways to use up the leeks that arrive, every week, in our vegetable box. This is good with a green salad, or maybe with a fresh coleslaw - shredded carrot and cabbage dressed with vinaigrette - and some bread if you like; it's a good source of protein. It looks pretty boring, but it tastes fantastic.
LEEK AND BUTTER BEAN GRATIN
2 cups dried butter beans
1 large leek
1 cup creme fraiche OR 1 cup double cream with a squeeze of lemon in it
2tsp grain mustard
1tsp sea salt
Soak the butter beans in boiling water, in a heavy casserole with a lid, for as long as you can (at least one hour). Drain the water and fill with fresh water, then bring to the boil and simmer the beans for about 30 minutes (but keep an eye on them - don't let them turn squidgy - aim for beans with bite). Drain the beans immediately into a colander and run some cold water over them. Now pull off the skins. It's a boring job but worthwhile. If the skins are soft and not hanging off you don't need to take them all off. Put the skinned beans into an ovenproof dish. Now finely shred the leek and mix it with the beans, adding the rest of the ingredients too. Cover with foil and bake at 160 degrees for twenty minutes, removing the foil for the final five.