Ricotta and Chive Cakes

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableI have a friend who I think of as the Imelda Marcos of lunch boxes. She has the most incredible selection – ones for breakfast, ones with separate compartments for salads and dressing, ones that can go in the microwave, spill proof soup mugs, ones that have their own placemat, ones that have their own cutlery – you name it – she’s most probably got it! She takes the most delicious things to work and obviously saves a fortune in the process.

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableHave you ever totted up what you spend on food during the working week? I’m not talking about going out for restaurant  lunches but the stuff you get from the thousands of takeaway sandwich bars and cafe’s that line our streets. Starting with your morning latte and yoghurt pot/muffin/croissant to a mid morning snack, lunch of sandwiches/salads/noodles/sushi, coffee or tea, juice etc…it really adds up. At let’s say £5 – £10 a day, that’s £25 – £50 a week which works out to £1,250 – £2,500 a year! With a little fore thought and organisation, you could so easily be taking in your own food which will be delicious, not full of salt, sugar, preservatives and additives and saving you a fortune at the same time. Those Manolos might be yours sooner than you think…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableAnyway, I popped round her house recently and she gave me a ricotta cake to try – she had mentioned them a few times in the past and said how wonderful they were and how perfect in one of her “salady” lunch boxes and I could immediately see why. It was so savoury; light but filling and extremely low carb, so, no mid afternoon carb coma. She did tell me what was in them, but all I could remember was the ricotta and parmesan. Possibly basil.

The other day, I bought some ricotta to make ravioli and had some left over so thought I would give the cakes a go. I did a little googling to get the proportions right and came up with these…They are so easy. Just whisk up a couple of eggs with salt and pepper, snip in the chives and stir in the cheeses. Spoon into very well greased tins, top with a little more parmesan and bake. So, so delicious!

These are really quite small – you would probably want 2 or 3 – maybe more, per serving, depending on your appetite. I also think that these would be lovely with a little grated lemon zest in them and maybe a sliver of sundried tomato on top. Thyme or oregano would work well here too. So many possibilities…

P.S. if you click on the link to the Manolo Blahnik website, there is THE most fabulous short film about how, as a child growing up in the Canary Islands, Manolo Blahnik made shoes from sweetie wrappers for lizards. I used to make Christmas decorations out of sweetie wrappers – think I may have missed my calling…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes

  • Servings: makes about 22 small cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs, free range or organic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of chives about 25g
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • 60g finely grated parmesan cheese, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F. Thoroughly grease and flour a couple of 12 hole patty tins (the shallow kind used for mince pies or Yorkshire puds).
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the salt and pepper and snip in the chives – scissors are much better than a knife for chives.
  3. Add the ricotta and half the parmesan and whisk until all the ingredients are well mixed together.
  4. Pop a tablespoon of the mixture into each hole and lightly smooth over the tops.
  5. Evenly sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from pans to either finish cooling on a wire rack or eat warm with a salad.
  7. Store in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za’atar

Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za'atar | Selma's TableOne of the few benefits of globalisation is the exposure and the availability we now have to a huge variety of fruits and vegetables. In England, garlic, which was once regarded as foreign muck is now as ubiquitous as the humble spud. Blood oranges, native to Italy are now cultivated and eagerly anticipated worldwide. When we moved to Canada in the mid ’70’s coriander leaves were scarce and an exotic luxury – my mother would use them parsimoniously out of necessity. Today, sheaves of them can be bought in the grocery stores. It is easier than ever to eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables which has so many knock on benefits.

Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za'atar | Selma's TableI can’t remember when I first saw my first romanesco broccoli (aka romanesque cauliflower) but it was a stunningly beautiful if strange, otherworldly looking vegetable that once brought home, I could not bear to destroy by cooking! Cultivated in Italy since the 15th/16th century, this is another vegetable that is now easily available to us. It has a the nutty, buttery flavour of the more familiar broccoli and cauliflower but without the bitter edge that cauliflower can sometimes have and is much preferred by children for that very reason.  I love the florets in a cauliflower cheese, or pureed to go with a roast or roasted themselves, but these cute little cakes another way to have them that doesn’t take long and can also be assembled ahead of time if necessary. The feta gives them a salty creamy kick and the za’atar picks out the lemony flavours. A hint of earthy, aromatic rosemary pulls it all together.

After steaming the florets, just mix the ingredients together, shape into little patties and bake – what could be easier?

Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za'atar | Selma's TableI am sharing these with those die-hard party goers at Fiesta Friday, hosted by the talented Angie of The Novice Gardener. This week we have  Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @birgerbird to thank, as our co-hosts. Both are fantastic cooks and have a wealth of recipes on their sites – do go over and take a look.

If you blog, please do join in, reading the the guidelines first to get you going.

R e a d e r   G i v e a w a y!

Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart | Selma's TableWin a copy of FIVE by Rachel de Thample!

Ever since my son, Jake, began weaning, I have instinctively incorporated more fruits and vegetables into our diet. I always make sure to include at least three fruits/vegetables at meals – usually more if I can. For instance yesterday we had a stir fry of shredded white cabbage, cavalo nero, ruby chard, kale tops, leeks and red onion with some salmon. This is why Rachel de Thample latest recipe book called FIVE which I reviewed last week, appeals so much to me. it shows you how easy it is to eat well and deliciously.  It is full of varied, accessible and delicious recipes that will have you packing away fruits and vegetables without any effort at all. There is a very useful double page spread listing fruits and vegetables and their portion sizes and the recipes clearly state how many portions are in each recipe. And the recipes! There isn’t a single one which I wouldn’t make – from creative breakfast truffles and clever muffins to galettes, latkes, stunning salads, hearty soups, curries, pastries, cakes, puddings, sorbets – and I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader!

All you have to do is follow this blog via email (if you don’t already) and leave a comment below telling me what one of your favourite vegetable dishes is – one of my favourites is  griddled courgette/zuchinni slices, tossed with basil or mint, lemon zest, olive oil, parmesan and toasted almond slivers – so delicious!

Now on to the recipe –

Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za'atar

  • Servings: makes about 9 small cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small romanesco cauliflower ( approx. 175 g prepared weight) or substitute broccoli or cauliflower
  • 75 g feta cheese
  • 20 g panko or bread crumbs
  • zest of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
  • ½ tsp vegetable bouillon powder or a good pinch of salt (remembering that the feta is salty)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp za’atar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp fine semolina

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
  2. Break up the romanesco into fairly small florets and steam for about 8 minutes. A knife should be able to pierce them easily but they should not disintegrate. Allow to cool a little.
  3. In the meantime, crumble or chop the feta in small cubes,
  4. When the romanesco is cool enough to handle, mix in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Taking walnut sized pieces of the mix, squeeze and shape into balls. Wetting your hands makes them easier to shape.
  6. Lightly oil a baking tray and place the balls on the tray, Flatten them slightly and then drizzle over a little oil. Dust with semolina, Turn over and repeat.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until tinged with gold.
  8. Serve warm with a dollop of lemony creme fraiche or greek yoghurt.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableIt’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since Angie dreamt up Fiesta Friday. I remember how she said that she wanted us all to mix and mingle with each other because it was a party. I must admit that I was sceptical – I had tried various linky parties which made me feel like a virtual wallflower – hardly anyone visited, and the few that did, never commented or liked what I shared. So, when Fiesta Friday started, I stood on the sidelines for a few weeks, popping by to see what was going on and couldn’t believe how fabulous Angie’s bash was. People were submitting gorgeous recipes and they were all mingling like mad! The comments were so supportive, encouraging  and some were very funny too. It quickly became apparent that some people were super bubbly and had to be kept away from the sweets – and I am not naming any names here! So, I really pushed the boat out and made a batch of Nutella Espresso Sticky Buns. Well, the WordPress app on my phone didn’t stop pinging all weekend – people were commenting, following my blog and generally doing exactly what should be happening at linky parties. I felt like the fabled swan when Angie featured my post the following week! So Angie, congratulations on such a successful event and a huge thank you for hosting a brilliant party and gathering these lovely bloggers to your fold.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThese Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts are something that I have been wanting to make for some time. I watched one of the contestants on Masterchef making something similar with roasted tomatoes and basil oil and the idea of an individual savoury cheesecake really made an impression on me. Also, I bought half a dozen cute little fluted tart tins from the dollar store in Winnipeg when I was there last and keep looking for an excuse to use them. I thought that walnuts would be a much better flavour match for blue cheese so dressed my tarts with the candied walnuts and the walnut dressing.

Making a “crust” with buttery bread crumbs couldn’t be easier and the cheesecake filling comes together so easily with a little whizz in the food processor.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThis recipe is worth it just for the candied walnuts alone – you will not be able to stop eating them so I suggest you make twice as many. Just sayin’.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThe tarts are gorgeous – the rich cheese filling with the crispy, crumbly breadcrumb crust, the peppery rocket leaves and the sharp nutty dressing topped off with the sweet and slightly spicy crunchy walnuts – perfect dinner party fodder if you ask me!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 1 which this special week is being co-hosted by my two of my favourite Canadian bloggers,  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board – the original two co-hosts for the first few Fiesta Fridays.

If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration! Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 1 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the Fiesta Friday guidelines and invitation post for helpful hints.

It’s been my great pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday several times and I am so honoured that Angie has asked me to co-host  the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 with  Nancy @ Feasting With Friends next week. The theme is mains and puddings/sweets next week, so best wear loose clothing! Jhuls, I will bring lots of camomile tea with me! I look forward to seeing what you lovely people bring this week and next. Happy Anniversary Fiesta Friday!

Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Inspired by MasterChef

INGREDIENTS

For the Candied Walnuts

  • 150 g of walnut halves or pieces
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 15 g butter
  • a few shakes of cayenne pepper

For the Walnut Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp/15 ml white wine/apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp French mustard
  • 2 Tbsp/30 ml walnut oil
  • 1 Tbsp/15 mi extra virgin olive oil

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  • 100 g white bread (trimmed of the crusts)
  • 50 g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g full fat cream cheese
  • 75 g blue cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp double cream/creme fraiche

To serve

  • Rocket leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Candied Walnuts

  1. Place all the ingredients into a nonstick pan and stir over a medium heat.
  2. Keep stirring until the sugar turns to caramel and starts to coat the nuts. This takes between 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t let the caramel burn – just keep stirring it.
  3. Once the caramel is a toffee brown, pour the mixture onto a silicone sheet or parchment paper – be careful as the caramel is very hot – and using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, separate the nuts making sure that there is caramel on each one.
  4. Let cool, then store, out of sight, in a lidded jar to avoid eating the whole lot.

For the Walnut Dressing

  1. Place the vinegar and sea salt in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt.
  2. Whisk in the mustard then slowly whisk in the oils. You can also just put the lot in a lidded container and shake hard but I like the rounded airy fullness that whisking gives to a dressing.
  3. Set aside.

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Butter/spray the bases and sides of 4 x 8cm/3in fluted, loose bottomed flan tins.
  2. Whizz the bread in a food processor to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and tip in the crumbs, stirring to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Divide into 4 then press the mixture on the base and up the sides of the prepared tins. Use the back of a teaspoon to even out the base.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10- 12 minutes or until the bases are golden but keep an eye on them as they can catch quite quickly.
  5. Beat the rest of the ingredients together and divide between the tins. I did this in the mini processor in which I whizzed the bread crumbs.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the tops are golden and just set – a little wobble in the middle is desired.
  7. Cool for a few minutes then remove carefully from the tins.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature on a few rocket leaves, drizzling the dressing around the plate and garnishing with the candied walnuts.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sweet Potato, Courgette and Paneer Baked Fritters

sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-fritters The lovely people over at Savera Paneer sent me some of their paneer to play with. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you will have seen the bloggers pack I came home to last week. Inside the large saffron hued box were a bag of cumin seeds, a bag of turmeric powder, a branded water bottle and a really cute yellow and blue lunch box containing an ice pack and two packs of paneer made from skim milk thus containing only 8% fat. There were also a couple of delicious sounding recipe cards  which had been developed by the talented  food writer, Deena Kakaya who is probably familiar to many of you as she visits so many of our blogs, commenting and encouraging.sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-fritters Well, the lunch box came in really handy as Jake started work experience at a law firm this week, which he has really enjoyed. He’s been to court nearly every day and also written official letters to clients detailing progress on their cases. Not bad for someone who has to be reminded 3 times to take the rubbish out!

I had not cooked with paneer before this so I had a little research to do before I started experimenting. Paneer, an Indian cheese,  is traditionally made at home from the curds formed when lemon juice is mixed with hot milk. It’s a fresh, bland, unsalted cheese which can be substituted with Queso Blanco or Fresco. It is quite crumbly, an excellent source of protein and absorbs flavours beautifully. It really is a cheese to cook with rather than eat as is and is most often found cubed, sautéed and added to spicy vegetable based sauces and gravies.

There are hundreds and hundreds of Indian recipes which use paneer so, I really wanted to use it in a different way. And as Savera had gone to the trouble of developing a low fat cheese, I wanted to make something fairly healthy. No frying or rich sauces but lots of  vegetables and flavourings. At the green grocers, a bag of sweet potatoes caught my eye and which made me think about latkes and so idea for these Sweet Potato, Courgette and Paneer Baked Fritters was born. sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-fritters Keeping in mind the tips I had gleaned on how to use it, I grated and seasoned the paneer and set it aside to absorb the flavours. Honestly, I was a bit hesitant when I saw how crumbly the paneer looked but it grated easily and absorbed the flavours of the spices absolutely perfectly. sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-fritters I also grated the sweet potato and courgette and left them to drain separately. When it came time to assemble the fritters, I mixed them all together with a light hand then added a little flour and some raw couscous and stirred in a beaten egg. Set on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and brushed with a little more oil, the fritters baked up beautifully. sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-frittersThe Sweet Potato, Courgette and Paneer Baked Fritters were light and crunchy with a lovely smoky flavour from the paprika and cumin. I had wanted to add fresh mint to the mixture but realised that I didn’t have any when I started cooking – I think it would be a lovely addition. Serve with a wedge of lemon and a little tzatziki and some salad leaves and you have a delicious light lunch or first course. sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-fritters   sweet-potato-courgette-and-paneer-baked-frittersA big thank you to Savera Paneer for introducing me to this lovely product! I have a few more recipes to make and post in the coming days.

As it is Friday, I am taking these over to that fabulous party over at Angie’s – Fiesta Friday. Crowd control aka co-hosts this week are Elaine @ foodbod and Prudy @ Butter Basil and Buttercrumbs.

Courgettes are in season so I am also entering them into the Simple and In Season hosted by Ren @ Renben and guest-hosted this month by Sally @ My Custard Pie.

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Please do take a look at their fabulous blogs – you will come away chock full of great ideas for recipes to take you through the summer and beyond! And, don’t be shy – visit as many of the blogs as you can, follow the ones that are new to you, leave comments and tuck in!!

Sweet Potato, Courgette and Paneer Baked Fritters

  • Servings: makes 12 fritters
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato/kumara – about 200g
  • 1 medium sized courgette/zucchini – about 200g
  • 125 g grated Saveera Paneer
  • 1 clove of garlic grated or crushed
  • ½ tsp smoked paprkia
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • juice of ¼ of lemon
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • 50 g flour
  • 1 Tbsp raw couscous
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel the sweet potato and grate – try and get long strands. Place in a colander sprinkle with a little salt, mix and leave to drain for at least half an hour.
  2. Grate the courgette – try and get long strands. Place in a separate colander sprinkle with a little salt, mix and leave to drain for at least half an hour.
  3. Grate the paneer. Sprinkle over the garlic, smoky paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder and squeeze over the lemon. Using a fork, toss to mix and leave to marinate for at least half an hour.
  4. When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment and spray with an olive oil cooking spray or smear with a little olive oil.
  6. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from both the sweet potato and the courgette and place in a mixing bowl.
  7. Add the chopped parsley and the paneer and using a fork, toss to mix well but lightly. Have a taste of the mixture at this point to see if it needs any salt. I found that the salt I used during draining was enough.
  8. Sprinkle in the flour and couscous and again, using a fork, toss to mix.
  9. Stir in the lightly beaten egg and mix.
  10. Mound about 1 ½ Tbsp of the mixture on the prepared tray and press down with a fork to flatten and make a rustic looking fritter. You should get about 12 portions from the mixture. I baked six at a time in two batches.
  11. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown and crispy
  12. Serve hot, with a wedge of lemon and a dollop of Greek yoghurt mixed with a little mint.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintYou all know how much I enjoy my veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm. I just love the quality of the produce and also that it is a not-for-profit organisation which encourages schools, businesses and anyone else to visit the farm, learn all about their organic farming methods and get stuck in too. Well, a couple of weeks ago they hosted their very first Pop-Up VegBox Dinner as part of the fabulous Streatham Food Festival, in the charming new Community Space at The White Lion. With Hix Soho Chef, Joe Fox at the helm, I was really lucky to snaffle a reservation as the event quickly sold out.

It was a lovely warm summer’s evening as we gathered and mingled in the courtyard sipping delicious elderflower champagne which Joris, Head Grower at the farm had brewed in anticipation of his wedding; decorated with freshly foraged elderflowers buds and served in the most adorable 1930’s style champagne coupes, these slipped down effortlessly.  The team were working outside so we  got a sneaky peek at the cooking, prepping and plating up too. Inside, long tables had been set with hessian runners and studded with tomato plant centerpieces, terracotta pots crammed with crudités of baby carrots, radishes and asparagus sprue and served with a fresh wobbly mayo, herb and garlic dip with bread donated by local baker and farm supplier Gaye Whitwham of Sticky Mitts.

The Menu

The Menu

The starter of freshly made ricotta, broad beans which included the shoots and flowers, pickled cucumber, cucumber flowers, salad leaves and croutons, dressed with an organic rapeseed oil was simply stunning. The main course of chargrilled asparagus, served on a bed of crushed Charlotte potatoes and topped with a romano pepper stew was gorgeous – perfectly balanced and seasoned. Pudding was a glorious Mess of farm foraged elderflower and gooseberry compote, meringue, cream and shavings of white chocolate. We also got a brown paper and string tied gift to take home  – inside which was one of their printed cloth shopping bags which now lives in my handbag ready for any purchases I make.

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Starter – Broad Bean, Cucumber, Ricotta & Salad Burnet

An evocative video of the evening has been put together by Asa of Triple A Films which captures the night beautifully. It was a truly wonderful, inspirational and magical evening.

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintSo, in homage to that wonderful starter and to use up the broad beans in my veg box I made these delicious crostini. When it’s too hot to turn on the oven or spend too long at the stove, this sort of thing is just ideal on a warm evening with a large glass of something crisp and cold!

I am taking them with me to Angie’s popular weekly virtual party – Fiesta Friday #21, so that everyone can feel a little of the magic of that night! This week Angie has also eschewed turning on the oven and has made THE most beautiful salad. So it is only right that the party is co-hosted by Elaine@Foodbod and Julianna@Foodie On Board, both of whom make the most fabulous salads! Thank you ladies!

And since broad beans and the recipe are both Simple and in Season, I’m taking them over to the blog event of the same name graciously hosted by Ren Behan.

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of podded broad beans
  • 1 cup of peas (frozen is fine)
  • Zest of a lemon and some juice
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced fresh mint
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 1 large clove of garlic halved
  • 6-8 Tbsp ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil then add the broad beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the peas and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Drain immediately and run under a cold tap or plunge into an ice bath to cool and set the gorgeous green colours.
  4. Skin the broad beans – give those fleshy skins a little pinch and squeeze the beans out.
  5. Place the broad beans and the peas in a bowl with most of the mint; grate over some lemon zest, squeeze over a little lemon juice and a little olive oil;  season, stir and set aside.
  6. Toast the sourdough and while the slices are still hot, rub one side with the  cut side of garlic cloves. The garlic will disappear into the toast.
  7. Spread the toast thickly with ricotta cheese and season lightly.
  8. Top generously with the broad bean mixture, sprinkle with a little more mint and drizzle over a fruity olive oil.
  9. Serve as part of an antipasti or as a first course.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

Mushroom_and-Onion_Marmalade_TartsThese Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts are something I made when I catered cocktail parties. Those parties were a lot of work but also a lot of fun – lengthy discussions on menus, researching and brain storming recipes, finalising menus, compiling shopping and prep lists, food ordering and shopping, scouring charity shops and department stores for serving props, prepping, cooking, serving and enjoying the party later! I used to do this around my son’s nursery  and bedtime schedules and had to be so incredibly organised – lists were my best friends! Always requested as the first canapé to every party were the Bloody Mary Cherry Tomatoes – vodka and worcestershire sauce infused cherry tomatoes served with a rosemary dipping salt – it was a real ice-breaker and got everyone mingling. I would blithely churn out things like seafood stuffed rice paper rolls with a dipping sauce, hot and sour lamb with peanuts on cucumber, lettuce cups with Thai inspired beef salad, saffron mussels on garlic bread, pear and blue cheese galettes, garlic  mushrooms with lemon risotto, mini Christmas puds, lemon curd tartlets  – all made impossibly tiny, dainty and beautifully presented. A friend recently requested this recipe (from a party that took place 12 years ago!) and I was so pleased that I still had some gorgeous mushrooms left in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm to make them with.

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Mushrooms cooked with garlic and thyme with a squeeze of lemon is one of my favourite ways to eat them which I do so rarely because my son is really not a fan of the fungi. This recipe is a riff on that together with some gooey caramelised onions with a topping of melted gruyere cheese ensconced in a crisp, buttery bread case.

They are quite easy to put together and can be made ahead earlier in the day to pop in the oven just as your guests arrive. The Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts also re-heat successfully as I found out when I took this batch round to a friend’s house last night. If you are making huge quantities of them for a party, then use a food processor to chop the onions and mushrooms (separately) to speed things up. Don’t be alarmed at the mountain of chopped mushrooms – these will swiftly cook down. You need that squigdy white sandwich bread for the bases – because that type of bread is so soft, it crisps up beautifully in the oven. You should get 2 bases out of each slice – going over the bread a couple of times with a rolling pin helps to stretch out the slices if they are just a little too small. These tarts are best made in mince pie tins as these are shallow and wide.

First the onion are caramelised, then the mushrooms are added and cooked down. While this is going on, the bread bases get stamped out and buttered and placed in the tin. Once the mixture is ready, the cases are filled, topped with cheese and baked for 10-15 minutes. They are very tasty indeed!

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Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

  • Servings: makes 12 tartlets
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from a recipe by Celia Brooks Brown for the Independent Magazine

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced fairly thinly into half moons
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 175g mushrooms chopped quite finely
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 6 slices of large white sandwich bread
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 75 – 100g gruyere cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed frying pan over medium low flame and fry the onions gently until they start to colour.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the tablespoon of butter and then the mushrooms and thyme. Fry gently until mushrooms are soft and have released their moisture. They will reduce down quite a fair amount.
  5. Stir in the parsley and garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Stamp out two 3 inch circles from each slice of bread. If the slices aren’t big enough, go over them a couple of times with a rolling pin.
  8. Brush one side with melted butter and place buttered side down in a mince pie tin.
  9. Press into the pan – I use the end of a rolling pin to do this but anything small and flat will work like the bottom of a small jar or glass, for instance.
  10. Divide the mixture evenly between the bases- approximately 1 ½  – 2 tsp per tart.
  11. Top with the grated gruyere cheese  (they can be made ahead to this point) and bake for 10-15 mins until golden and bubbly.
  12. Remove from the tin and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess butter. The buttered bottoms lend themselves to slipping out very easily from the tins.
  13. Serve warm as a canapé or as part of a tapas style first course.

 

 

 

 

A Green Tapenade

IMG_4199I was a serious bookaholic from a very young age. On Saturdays, my mum would make the rounds of the butchers, the green grocers and the bakery in Westlands Shopping Centre leaving my little brother and me to squabble as we waited  fractiously in the car. We were always careful not to carry  on in front of her as she to and froed followed by shop assistants laden with bags for the boot because our reward for waiting patiently (hah!) was a visit to Lavington Green Shopping Centre. Mum would take my brother off to the sweet shop probably via the fishmongers as I browsed the wonderful books in the bookshop trying to decide which ones I should spend all my pocket money on. As I came to read more challenging books, I would usually have a dictionary by my side to look up words that I didn’t know and couldn’t make sense of. One day I realised that these definitions included a little note on the origin of the word – many hours were spent trawling through the dictionary and marvelling at where our words came from.

I have always been fascinated by provenance. What is the history behind things/people/ideas/languages/recipes? On a recent Bank Holiday Monday, I found myself sitting up at the bar in Polpo at lunch time in what can only be described as “continuing” birthday celebrations for my dear friend C which had started on the Thursday prior. Polpo model themselves on a Venetian “bàcaro” which literally translates as House of Bacchus – Bacchus being the Roman God of wine . A bàcaro is a small Venetian bar which serves local wines and little plates of cicchetti – tidbits of delicious food – predating the more well known Spanish custom of tapas by a few centuries. Polpo had run out of a couple of items on the menu (annoying) but had whipped up some replacements (laudable) one of which was an utterly delicious green olive tapenade crostini. As C and I discussed the ingredients in a tapenade, I found myself curious as to why something so intrinsically Provencal was being served somewhere which prides itself on its (utterly delicious) Venetian roots. Turns out that olive tapenades with anchovies can be found in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back to thousands of years before the appearance of the French word tapenade, or indeed the French language itself. The earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella’s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD… So much lovely provenance in this story!

IMG_4196There are many recipes for tapenade but they all have the same basic ingredients – olives (usually black), capers, garlic, anchovies, lemon/vinegar and olive oil – in varying amounts. This is my take on it inspired by our visit to Polpo.

A Green Tapenade

  • Servings: just fills a 250g jar
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 200g green olives (pitted weight) or thereabouts
  • 3 cloves of skinned garlic confit or 1 fat clove of raw garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 to 2 anchovies
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp sundried tomato paste or red pesto
  • Olive oil
  • A squeeze or two of lemon

PREPARATION

  1. You can either finely chop the first five ingredients for a more rustic texture or blitz them in a food processor for a minute or two. Either way, then stir in the sun-dried tomato paste and drizzle in some olive oil.
  2. Taste.
  3. Give the mixture a squeeze of lemon and taste it again. Adjust the flavours to your liking bearing in mind that they mellow as time goes on. Salt shouldn’t be necessary as there is plenty in the olives, capers and anchovies.
  4. Store it in an scrupulously  clean jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. It should keep for at least a week in the fridge.

USES

  • Spread on grilled or toasted slices of ciabatta or baguette and enjoy with a glass of something suitable
  • Spread a couple of tablespoons under the skin of a chicken before roasting
  • Make a slit in the side of a thick fillet of cod/haddock and spread a little of the tapenade inside before cooking
  • Top a thinner fillet of fish with a smear of tapenade before cooking
  • Mix a couple of tablespoons into an oil and vinegar dressing and spoon over just boiled new potatoes

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