Juicy Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Marinated Cherry TomatoesI saw some lovely looking cherry tomatoes in the greengrocers the other day and remembered that I had seen a recipe on Pinterest which I wanted to try out. I have hundreds of recipes that I want to try out so it was quite amazing that I remembered this one! I am embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I began to appreciate raw tomatoes. Until then I turned my nose up and refused to eat them. I know I drove my mum crazy as I picked them out of salads and made a fuss when I could see lumps of them in gravy. It wasn’t until I tried someone’s Insalata Tricolore in a really good Italian trattoria that the penny dropped and I realised what I had been missing. Now I can’t get enough of them and look forward to the summer’s crop of heirlooms, beef steaks, plums, cherries and canaries.

Marinated Cherry TomatoesThis is a lovely recipe which really brings out the best in sweet cherry tomatoes. The marinade takes on the flavours of the tomatoes, rosemary, chilli, garlic and lemon and is wonderful drizzled over fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. They can marinate for as little as 20 minutes but I think that both the tomatoes and the marinade taste so much nicer a few days later. Serve as part of a mezze type meal, use to top open faced sandwiches and tartines, include in lunchbox salads – the possibilities are endless. Make sure to eat at room temperature and with lots of napkins to hand!

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

I know that peeling tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at that, is a chore and one that I skip if I can get away with it but in this case, it is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t take long and the flavour pay off is worth it. These juicy marinated cherry tomatoes are really easy to make:

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

First, get the kettle on to boil and fill a mixing bowl with ice cubes and water. Then using a very sharp knife, lightly score the tops the tomatoes – this helps get the skins off. Fill a pan with the kettle hot water and turn up the heat to keep it at a boil. Then, using a large slotted spoon, lower the tomatoes into the water and set a timer for 30 seconds. You should see the skins lifting away where they have been scored, almost immediately. Using the slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and plunge into the ice bath to stop them from cooking. Pop the rosemary in to blanch and after 30 seconds, remove and put in the ice bath. Drain and pinch the skins off which will come away very easily.  Layer the tomatoes with the garlic, bay leaves and rosemary in a sterilised/extremely well cleaned Le Parfait/Kilner/Mason/pickle or jam jar. Mix up the marinade ingredients in a measuring jug and pour over the tomatoes. If there isn’t enough to cover them, top up with more olive oil.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Juicy Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

  • Servings: 1 x 500 ml jar
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Marinated Cherry Tomatoes by Alida Ryder for Simply Delicious
INGREDIENTS

  • 30 cherry tomatoes (or fill your jar with tomatoes to see how many will fit comfortably)
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves, broken up

For the marinade

  • 50 ml lemon juice (for me this was about the juice of a lemon and a half)
  • 100 ml extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt

You will also need 

  • sterilised 500 ml Le Parfait/Kilner/Mason/pickle or jam jar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the kettle on to boil and fill a bowl with ice and water. When the kettle boils pour the water into a saucepan and keep it boiling.
  2. Lightly score the tops of the tomatoes.
  3. Lower the tomatoes in for 30 secs then remove with a slotted spoon and place in the iced water. Drain and pinch off the skins which should slip off very easily.
  4. Blanch the rosemary while the tomatoes are cooling and plunge the stalks into the iced water as well.
  5. Layer the tomatoes in the sterilised jar with the rosemary, garlic and bay leaves.
  6. Measure the lemon juice and olive oil into a measuring jug then stir in the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and salt.
  7. Pour this over the cherry tomatoes. It should cover them, if not top up with some more olive oil.
  8. Leave at room temp for at least half an hour if you want to eat it later, otherwise place in the fridge. Let come to room temp before serving – the oil will solidify so give it a shake from time to time, when you remember.

Should keep for at least a week or two as long as your jar is clean and herbs blanched.

We had it on toasted pain de campagne with buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves, sliced avocado and a good drizzle of the flavoured oil.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

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Cook the Books – Gratin au Poisson Fumé (Smoky Fish Bake)

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

I was very pleased to receive Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen as a gift a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen any of the TV programmes on which this book is based but I have very much enjoyed reading the recipes, exclaiming over how pretty she is and coveting her vintage yet chic vibe. It’s probably a good thing that I haven’t seen her in action as I would probably be totally besotted. Her cooking is French classic with a modern twist; simple yet flavourful and I have bookmarked quite a few of her recipes to try.

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeThis recipe for a Gratin au Poisson Fumé or Smoky Fish Bake came highly recommended by my friend C who gave me the book and rightly so. Rachel Khoo’s method of making béchamel is genius – taking the roux off the heat before adding the milk has resulted in a lump-free sauce every single time.

My only protest would be at the meagre quantity of fish – it is my opinion that 200g to feed up to 6 people is so stingy as to border on the penurious. At the weekend, we were 4 for lunch and I used 320g of smoked haddock fillets and 240g of lightly smoked salmon plus about 18og of raw prawns/shrimps (but these are full of water and cook down to nothing really) and there was perhaps a small serving spoonful left in the dish at the end of the meal. Normally, I buy a 320g Fish Pie Mix from Sainsbury’s  (my Local didn’t have any so I had to improvise with the fillets), but even then I tend to add an extra couple of salmon fillets and a packet of prawns to the mix. The thought of under-catering makes me feel quite anxious!

This is a lovely dish, comforting but not heavy in the way a fish pie can be and full of those deeply savoury, smoky fish flavours which marry so well with creamy sauces. A spoonful of grain mustard is also nice stirred into the béchamel while it cools as is a little chopped tarragon. You can also prepare it ahead so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven when your guests arrive. We had the gratin with roasted beetroot and a green salad using the delicious produce from my Sutton Community Farm veg box. Rachel suggests that leftover vegetables from a roast dinner can be added to the béchamel too, but I like to keep it simple with the fish and potatoes and usually serve it with a bowl of peas and a green salad.

I have to apologise for my rather uninspiring photo of the finished dish. I had two ravenous teenagers  as well as my friend J round and I don’t think any of them would have been able to contain themselves while I got arty with food styling.  I managed to get a quick shot of it when it came out of the oven and that’s it. There wasn’t even enough leftover for me to style a plate but rather than not post it at all, I had to share as this is such a delicious recipe!

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Put the potatoes on to boil

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeMake the bechamel

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeMix the fish, parsley and potatoes into the béchamel, then pour into an oven safe baking dish, scatter over the cheese and tomatoes and bake. Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Gratin au Poisson Fumé (Smoky Fish Bake)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 750g (8-10 medium ones) potatoes, peeled and already cooked – you can use left over roast potatoes (if such a thing exists!)
  • 200g smoked haddock, skin removed (I used 320g smoked haddock; 240g lightly smoked  salmon fillets; 180g raw prawns/shrimps) or use a pack of 320g fish pie mix and a couple of salmon fillets
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • a handful of grated cheese – use up odds and ends of cheeses like Mature Cheddar, Comté, Gruyere or Parmesan
  • a small handful of halved cherry tomatoes – my addition to the recipe

Béchamel 

  • 30 g butter
  • 30g flour
  • 500 ml milk (lukewarm – 2 mins in the microwave worked for me)
  • bay leaf
  • ½ an onion (I used a shallot)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 clove (didn’t use)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. If you don’t have any cooked potatoes, peel the appropriate amount and cut into thirds. Place in a saucepan of cold, salted water with a couple of bay leaves. Cover and set on the hob. Turn on the heat and set a timer for 20 minutes. They should be cooked enough by then – enough to get a knife through but not falling apart. They will continue to cook in the oven. When the pan comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and set the lid askew. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, you can start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a large saucepan (because you are going to add the fish and potatoes to the béchamel before turning it all out into a dish) over medium heat. Add the flour and beat well until you have a smooth paste. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly. Place the pan back on a medium heat and add the onion, clove and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes whisking frequently. If sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a little more milk. Finish sauce by removing the onion, clove and bay leaf; stir in the nutmeg and season with a little salt and some white pepper (or black if you are not bothered by the dark specks) Leave to cool slightly.  (If you are making this ahead, let the béchamel cool completely)
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/ 350 F, unless you are making this ahead.
  5. While the béchamel is cooking and cooling, I skin and slice up the fish fillets into 1 inch cubes; slice the potatoes into 1 cm rounds; grate the cheese; halve the cherry tomatoes and chop the parsley.
  6. Add the chunks of fish and the prawns to the béchamel and mix gently. Add the potatoes and most of the parsley (reserve a little to sprinkle on at the end) and mix again.
  7. Pour into an oven safe baking dish, scatter over the cherry tomatoes and the grated cheese. At this point, as long as the béchamel is cool/cold, you can loosely cover the dish with cling film and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
  8. This mix does bubble up as it cooks so if your dish is very full, place it on a baking tray to save having to clean the oven later.
  9. Cook for 25 minutes (35 minutes if fridge cold) or until the top is golden and sauce is bubbling.
  10. Scatter over the reserved parsley and serve after the dish has had 10 minutes or so to settle.
  11. Great with a bowl of peas and a green salad.

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonAfter all the feasting and merriment comes the overwhelming urge to eat lightly and healthfully. I picked up a bag of kale and thought to make some sort of virtuous salad from it. But outside, it’s blowing a gale and a salad just doesn’t cut it – I wanted something warm and filling. Just not rich. A quick inspection of my cupboards revealed a tin of chickpeas and a soup was born. Warm, filling, with a slight bite and a sharp edge.  I don’t like using too many ingredients in a pureed vegetable soup as it sort of muddies the flavour. I suppose you could swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche or a little double cream but I don’t think it needs it. The blitzed chickpeas makes it quite creamy in any case. This Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon is perfect to take to work in a flask or spill proof container to heat up in the microwave for lunch. Delicious, virtuous and thrifty!

Thrilled to stay that his recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52!     http://food52.com/recipes/25867-kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

 

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonYou could substitute other beans like butter beans or cannellini beans too. You could also use thyme leaves instead of the rosemary and omit the chilli flakes and use freshly ground pepper instead. This is one of those recipes that you can use as a base – use half the stock to make it more of a thick puree than a soup and serve with a nice thick slice of oven roasted (responsibly sourced) cod or halibut atop for instance…

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Prep time 15 minutes. Cook time 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots (or one onion)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 410g tin of chickpeas drained and throughly rinsed
  • 200g bag of chopped kale
  • 800ml hot stock (a cube or powder is fine – I used a combination of Marigold powder and vegetable stock)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste

To Serve:

  • Paper thin lemon slices
  • Grated parmesan cheese (omit if vegan)
  • Toasted crusty bread (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the olive oil.
  2. Finely dice the shallots and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the oil.
  3. Make 4 or 5 long horizontal slices in the celery stalk and dice. Add this to the pan and stir.
  4. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and stir into the pan together with the bay leaf and the chilli flakes.
  5. Peel the garlic clove and using the flat of your knife and the heel of your hand, crush so that it is still whole and add to pan.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the kale and stir. Pour in the hot stock, let it come to a boil and turn down the heat.
  7. Let it simmer for 20 minutes until the kale is tender. Squeeze in  the juice of half a lemon. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. You might want more lemon or salt – it all depends on what you have used for the stock.
  8. Working in batches or in the pan itself if you have a stick blender, blitz until you have the texture you like. I like mine to still have a few chickpeas and pieces of kale through it so I set aside a couple of ladlefuls and used a stick blender to blitz the rest.
  9. Serve hot, floating a couple of slices of lemon on top of each serving and pass round the parmesan cheese for everyone to help themselves. Lovely with toasted crusty bread.

© 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.

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Once I accept that the cold weather is here to stay I can then begin to appreciate the beauty of autumn. The golden colours and swirling leaves against the green of the grass or the red brick houses are breathtaking.

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Row of Plane trees proudly resplendent with their golden crowns

I had another view coming home late one evening in the rain – the streetlights emphasising  the golden colours and the shining pavements. It was quite beautiful.

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Golden leaves and wet shining pavements glowing in the street light

This recipe is perfect to come home to on these crisp cold autumn evenings. The sweetness of the squash is perfectly complemented by the spicy, salty, citrusy sauce. It comes together fairly quickly, the sauce cooking while the squash roasts. Leave out the aubergine if it is a step too much – though I really like the smoky flavour it lends to the ensemble. I first made this 7 years ago based on a recipe that Nigel Slater had written for the Observer and it was so good that I wrote out my version in one of my notebooks. I do hope you will give it a try.

I am entering today’s recipe in the lovely Deena’s FFF (Fabulous Fusion Food) Challenge. Do go over and have a rummage round her blog – her recipes are amazing, full of flavour and so original. Over on http://www.deenakakaya.com she cooks vegetarian recipes with an Indian influence. She ran a competition recently on her blog and I am the lucky recipient of tickets to the BBC Good Food Show on Saturday, where she will be on stage. I am so looking forward to meeting her at long last!

A note on the ingredients:

  • Both soy and tamari sauces are made with fermented soy beans but tamari contains no (or little) wheat so is ideal for vegans and coeliacs – check the label before buying as some brands may have wheat in them.
  • Depending on how much heat you like, removing the chilli seeds and the membrane they cling to will lessen the fire. Wash your hands straight after handling the chilies.
  • I chose to use a coconut milk powder by Maggi which allows me to control the amount of liquid and the depth of flavour. I normally use tins of coconut but didn’t want a runny sauce so I used the powder instead. I bought it from the fantastic Indian supermarket around the corner from me but it is also available at Tesco and on Amazon.  It tastes really delicious and would be great in a milkshake or ice-cream…
  • Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

    Maggi Coconut Milk Powder

  • A heavy butternut squash indicates a good ‘un! A lighter one will have more seeds and less flesh. I don’t peel them unless I absolutely have to as they are so tough. It is much easier to roast them in their skins which then slide off really easily. This is also how I cook them for soups before blending with stock.
    Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

    Butternut Squash quartered and seasoned

     

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Griddled Aubergine

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Roasted butternut squash

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Spicy paste

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Adapted from Nigel Slater Steamed Pumpkin, Red Curry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 small aubergine/eggplant
  • 2 long red chilies, halved and deseeded if you wish to cut down on the heat (I did)
  • 2 inch chunk of ginger peeled and sliced roughly
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 4 bulbs from the stalks of lemon grass,
  • 3 banana shallots or use 6 normal sized ones, peeled and halved
  • 4 tsp of lime juice and 8 tsp of tamari sauce (this is a substitute for fish sauce so if you are not vegan or vegetarian, use 4 Tbsp of fish sauce)
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp of coconut milk powder in 1 cup of warm water. Or use half a tin of coconut milk
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Steamed Jasmine rice and lime wedges to serve

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put a griddle pan on the hob on a moderate setting, to heat up.
  2. Use a large sharp, heavy knife to cut the butternut squash into half and then half again so that you have 4 wedges. Put it in a roasting tin, skin, seeds and all, and drizzle over a little oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is knife tender. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon – so easy once it is cooked!
  3. Slice the aubergine lengthways into ½ cm slices. Griddle them (without any oil) for about 3 minutes on each side or until tender. Remove to a plate and drizzle with a tiny amount of oil.
  4. Blitz together the chilies, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and shallots until they are pretty finely chopped. With the motor running add the tamari sauce and lime juice (or fish sauce). You may need to add one or two tablespoons of water to make the paste come together.
  5. Scrape the paste into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Let it cook off for 3 or 4 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and ½ a can of water and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring from time to time.
  7. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
  8. To serve, place a couple of slices of griddled aubergine on a plate and place a butternut squash wedge on the top of it. Add a serving spoon of rice and then spoon over some of the sauce. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and serve with a lime wedge on the side.

Left over sauce is amazing with fish or seafood and noodles – just saying’…

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Smoked Mackerel Gratin

Smoked Mackerel Gratin

I see from my notes that I have been making this Smoked Mackerel Gratin for nearly 10 years now. I first made it because I wanted to introduce more of those Omega-3 fatty acids into our diet and it was such a hit with J who would have been 6 years old at that time, that I have been making it regularly ever since. Smoked fish and cream is a food marriage made in heaven. With the addition of potatoes, mustard and herbs this dish becomes a quick, intensely savoury, mid-week meal which only needs a sharply dressed green salad, cutting through the richness, to round it off.

It is an inexpensive dish to boot and very easy to make;

Flake the fish into an oven dish

Flake the fish into an oven proof dish

Cover with cooked potatoes

Cover with cooked potatoes

Make the creamy, mustardy, herb flecked sauce

Make the creamy, mustardy, herb flecked sauce

Pour sauce over fish and potatoes

Pour sauce over fish and potatoes
Strew with grated cheddar and bake for 20/25 minutes

Strew with grated cheddar and bake for 20/25 minutes

Intensely savoury, smoky, and creamy deliciousness.

Intensely savoury, smoky, and creamy deliciousness.

You could add a scattering of  halved cherry tomatoes before covering it with cheese and you could also add a layer of fresh spinach leaves (which you have run under a tap to make wet) under the fish in which case you should increase the milk by about a 1/4 cup.

The smoked mackerel is quite salty as is the cheese so you shouldn’t need any additional salt.

Smoked Mackerel Gratin

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by Nigel Slater

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 smoked mackerel fillets
  • 8 small potatoes halved
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 heaped tsp grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese
  • A little butter or oil to grease the oven proof dish.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and lightly grease the oven proof dish.
  2. Place potatoes and garlic in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. The potatoes should give way to a knife but not be falling apart. Drain and remove the garlic.
  3. Peel off the skin and flake the mackerel into the dish, carefully pulling out any bones which have been left behind. Leave the fish in quite large chunks if you can.
  4. Whisk the creme fraiche then stir in the mustard and whisk again. Mash in the soft garlic and slowly whisk in the milk and stir in the herbs.
  5. Cover the fish with the hot potatoes, then pour over the crème fraîche mixture and top with the grated cheese and a grinding of pepper.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes

Serve with a mustardy dressed green salad and some crusty bread to soak up the delicious juices.