Broad Bean Burgers

10 07 2014

For those of you who grow your own you’ll be aware broad bean season is once again upon us. Broad beans are one of the easiest things to grow, just watch out for blackfly and pinch out the tender tops as the plants grow to prevent the blackfly from spreading.

This recipe really does benefit from the extra time spent shelling the beans. Even young broad beans will work best if you remove the tough husks. I think I used about 30-40 pods when making this. I got 4 decent sized burgers out of it. You can shape the mixture into burgers and freeze for use later if you have too much to eat in one sitting.

Broad beans
2 large potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chili
2-3 slices of bread
Large pinch of turmeric
Large handful of parsley and coriander
1 egg
salt

Remove the beans from their pods, place in boiling water and boil rapidly for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins and place the shiny green beans in a large bowl.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Drain and add to the beans. Mash roughly.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chili and fry gently in olive oil until tender. Add to the mashed beans and potatoes. Add the turmeric, egg, chopped herbs and season with salt. Mix well then blitz the bread into crumbs and add those too.

Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Take a handful of the burger mixture and shape into a round burger. Fry gently on both sides until browned.

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Deep-fried Ricotta

6 07 2014

Deep frying anything always make it taste better, especially cheese. Inspired by a recent lunch at Luna Rossa in Notting Hill.

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Makes 8-12 balls

250g ricotta cheese
70g parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent)
1-2 eggs
breadcrumbs (panko work best here)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sunflower oil for deep frying

Drain the ricotta and put in a bowl. Finely grate the parmesan into the same bowl. Mix well and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Take 2 bowls

In bowl 1 crack one of the eggs and beat well
In bowl 2 tip out some of the breadcrumbs, mix in the oregano

Take the cheese mixture from the fridge and shape into small balls – smaller than a golf ball.
Dip the cheese ball in the egg, then the breadcrumbs. For extra crispy coating, repeat again. Place the breaded balls on a plate
Repeat using the second egg and more breadcrumbs as you need them until all the cheese has been used up then return them to the fridge.

Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, fry a few balls at a time. They need about 2-3 minutes – just until the breadcrumbs brown.

Serve immediately with a tomato and garlic sauce (like the one used here) or chili jam





Spinach Pie (Greek Style)

25 06 2014

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I’m not quite ready to surrender to the fact my holiday for this year is over. Having spent a week in Kefalonia (or Cephalonia, or is it Keffalinia) I am continuing with the Greek themed food. Kefalonia is a beautiful island: Stunning scenery, crystal clear water, hot sunshine and some great food. Somewhat surprisingly none of the bakers sold flat, pitta style bread and none of the restaurants had hummus on the menu. They did however have spinach pie and cheese pie (made from “yellow cheese” they told me).

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This made a pie big enough to feed 6-8 people
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions – finely sliced into quarter rings
about 650g spinach (raw weight)
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 egg
1 block (200g) halloumi cheese – grated
8-10 sheets filo pastry
lots of butter
a sprinkling of sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a large pan then add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes stirring occasionally until starting to brown. While this is cooking, wash the spinach then place in a large pan, lid on and heat until wilted. Drain in a sieve then squeeze as much liquid as you can from the spinach. Chop well.

Ass the garlic to the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes before adding the spinach. Turn the heat up and stir fry the onion, garlic and spinach until quite dry. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once cool add the egg, za’atar and grated halloumi. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.

Take a large round dish then melt the butter and brush it over the base and sides of the dish. Take 4-5 sheets of filo pastry and brush with more melted butter, then layer over the base and up the sides of the dish. Spoon in the spinach filling, fold in the overhanging filo, then butter the remaining filo sheets and cover the base. Turn the whole thing out onto a baking sheet, dusted with semolina or polenta.

Heat the oven to 200C. Before placeing the pie in the oven, cut into 8 slices. If you don’t do this now, slicing it will be tricky once the pastry has crisped. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and crispy, allow to cool a little before serving.

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Fried Courgettes with Tomato and Fennel Seed Sauce

9 01 2014

I wasn’t sure how this would work out but being an Ottolenghi-based dish from Waitrose Kitchen magazine I knew it would probably be a safe bet.

Delicious!!!

The original recipe uses marrow which I find tends to be a little too watery and the skin can sometimes be very tough. I used large courgettes which are more reasdily available and have a little more taste and texture.

2 large courgettes – about 800g
5 cloves garlic
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
400g finely chopped fresh tomatoes
pinch caster sugar
1 tablespoon tomato puree
a few basil leaves

Cut the courgettes into 1.5cm thick slices. Crush 2 cloves of garlic in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a little salt and black pepper. Add the courgettes slices, mix well and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Put the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Thinly slice the remainder of the garlic and add to the pan followeed by the fennel seeds. After about 2 minutes add the tomatoes, sugar and a little salt. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until thickened then remove from the heat and give it a quick blitx with a stick blender. The sauce doesn’t have to be completely smooth, but if you prefer it that way then keep on blitzing…

You can cook the courgettes in a frying pan or griddle or I find it easiest in a pannini grill. Heat the pan, griddle or grill and fry/griddle the marinaded courgette slices in batches until slightly charred on both sides. Spread the cooked courgette slices out in an oven proof dish then pour over the tomato sauce.

You can serve this at room temperature. I prefer it hot which also improves the texture of the courgettes, in which case place in the oven at 180oC for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle chopped, torn of slices basil leaves over the top before serving. Works well with roasted new potatoes, steamed rice or flat breads

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Crispy Cavalo Nero

30 12 2013

The allotment is a little bare during the winter months. Only Brussels Sprouts and Cavalo Nero remain. Bored of bubble & squeak, and soups I thought I’d try the Cavalo Nero deep fried which concentrates the flavour whilst retaining the beautiful dark green colour. Cavalo Nero is packed full of vitamins A, C, E and K. These essential vitamins are retained through such quick cooking so this is arguably one of the healthiest deep fried foods you can eat.

Cavalo Nero can be difficult to find in the shops. If you can’t find it, use curly kale instead.

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Take 5-8 leaves and remove the tough, woody stalks. Then slice thinly across the leaves.

Take a saucepan and fill a third to half full with sunflower oil. Heat slowly. Test the heat by dropping one shred of Cavalo Nero into the hot oil. if it sizzles, you can add the rest though stand well back as the water in the leaves tend to make to oil bubble up for a few seconds. Fry until the sizzling noise stops, then drain and sprinkle with a little salt and caster sugar. Mix gently before serving.

Serve as an accompaniment to Chinese dishes or like this, piled high on top of a slice of pumpernickel, smothered with creamy, tangy blue cheese.

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Christmas Lunch

19 12 2013

Meat free Christmases….. I’ve done a lot of them now, and each year try to think of something new to make. The trouble is, having to serve a centrepiece with all the trimmings, etc restricts us somewhat as it just isn’t natural to make meat free food in the same way as meat. That is, to have the meat as the centrepiece and a bunch of accompaniments around the edge of the plate. Anyway, to please the other meat free guests at the table, and having exhausted my variations of nut roasts over the years, I decided on something involving puff pastry. I usually try to avoid pastry as it is so rich and so high in fat, but hey, it’s Christmas. I can go running more regularly in the New Year.

I settled on a giant mushroom, filled with garlicky spinach and pine nuts and a slice of roasted butternut squash. Then encased the whole thing in a big sheet of puff pastry and bake until crisp and golden.

1 butternut squash
6 large flattish mushrooms
1 pack boursin garlic and herb cheese
100g or so pine nuts
2 big bunches of spinach
3 packs of ready rolled puff pastry

Start by roasting the butternut. Take the thin end (without the seeds), peel and cut into six slices about 1cm thick. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season then roast in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, wash the spinach then wilt in a large pan. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then chop roughly.

Take a small frying pan and place over a medium to high heat. Add the pine nuts and toss them gently until toasted. remove from the heat and add to the spinach. Now stir in the pack of Boursin, season with salt and black pepper. Leave to cool.

Peel the mushrooms and remove the stems. Divide the spinach mixture evenly between the six mushrooms then top each with a slice of butternut.

Now take the puff pastry. If using ready rolled, cut each sheet in half then place the filled mushroom, mushroom side down, in the middle of half a sheet. Now carefully fold in each corner in the middle ensuring there are no gaps. Turn the filled ball over and place on a foil or parchment lined baking tray.

When all the mushrooms are wrapped, brush the pastry with a little milk, cut a small steam slit in each then bake for about 25 minutes at 200C until browned.

I served this with a platter of mixed roasted vegetables (beetroot, turnip, parsnip, carrot), roast potatoes, peas, sprouts, brocolli and a gravy made from caramelised onions, vegetable stock, marmite and cornflour.





Beetroot and Celeriac Slaw (and a Baba Ganoush recipe)

31 10 2013

It’s been quite a while since I posted an update here. With this post you get two for one. Two recipes in one post, but perhaps not for dishes that work together. The main reason for writing up both recipes in the same post is that I only have the one photo, with both dishes in it!

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The first is for a beetroot and celeriac slaw/salad. Whilst this dish uses beetroot and celeriac you can substitute any similar root vegetable (swede, turnip, fennel, or , though not strictly a root, kohl rabi), just shred them finely and use them raw. Beetroot does work well though both for colour and that earthy sweetness that compliments the creamy yogurt-based dressing

1 medium beetroot
½ head of celeriac
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and black pepper

Peel the beetroot and celeriac then grate by hand or in a food processor. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the grated vegetables and mix well until all the vegetables are coated in the creamy dressing.

The second recipe is for a baba ganoush, sometimes referred to as moutabal. I beautifully creamy, subtly smokey aubergine sauce or dip which can be served as part of a mezze. The smell of burnt aubergine skin is not particularly pleasant and can linger a little in your kitchen but you need to make sure the skin is blackened to get that smokey flavour.

1 large aubergine
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove – crushed
salt
olive oil
sumac

Prick the skin of the aubergine with a skewer or knife then place directly over a gas burner on your cooker. If you don’t have gas, place the aubergine under the grill. Make sure you do prick it in several places else it will explode.

Turn the aubergine occasionally until the skin is well charred and the aubergine is soft and collapses when you try to pick it up. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, scrape out the flesh and discard the burnt skin. Finely chop the flesh then add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic and enough olive oil to make a smooth paste (about 2-3 tablespoons). Season with salt, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of ground sumac.








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