Orange and Coconut French Toast with Fruit

orange_coconut_french_toastEaster holidays are in full swing, which this year means LOTS of revision for GCSEs which start shortly after the beginning of next term. I made French Toast aka Pain Perdu aka Eggy Bread aka Gypsy Toast over the weekend and thought that you might appreciate a little reminder that it makes a really lovely and seasonal breakfast.

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Years ago, when I lived in Weybridge, my brother came over from Canada to visit. He was probably about 19 or 20 and had a HUGE appetite in those days – I remember being astounded at how much food he could get through. He loves pointing out all the cultural differences between England and Canada – just recently commenting on how the English love living in tiny properties…I digress. We had a friend who owned a Novelle Cuisine restaurant in Hersham and she invited us to have a meal with her there. If this food fad passed you by, please click on the link for a visual. We started with a selection of tiny but beautiful amuse bouche with our aperitifs. Eventually our first course arrived –  a stunning looking plate of 3 slender asparagus spears, one quail’s egg with a 5 drops/dots/daubs of  hollandaise sauce. I deliberately avoided eye contact with my brother at this point. Our main course was served – my brother had chosen the steak – 3 tiny tournedos of filet mignon looking stylish and very, very  small indeed on the large white plate…I choked back a giggle and didn’t dare look at him for fear of disgracing myself – I mean it was such a lovely gesture for our friend to host us at her restaurant, right? He  leaned over to me and said, “What’s this? A snack?!” Yes, I was both mortified and hysterical with laughter. We ended up getting some pizzas on the way back that evening…

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I remember making a version of this French Toast for him which I think had rum or brandy in it; whichI baked in the oven – I  really was a novice in the kitchen back then and didn’t feel confident enough to fry them. It had a great flavour but not such a nice mouth feel.  I now always add something to the eggy mix and it is usually orange zest and cinnamon. This time I thought that coconut might be nice and it was. I also knocked up a quick fruit topping which was absolutely delicious.

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So this is what you do…

orange_coconut_french_toastFirst, get the fruit ready – it really elevates this fairly simple dish into something weekend-worthy…Put a pan on to heat and slice up one banana per person. Put a pat of butter in and let it sizzle over med low heat. Add the banana slices and let their natural sugars caramelise (not on too high a heat or they will just burn) on one side – start segmenting an orange in the meantime – I had a blood orange left so used that. Then flip the banana slices over and carry on segmenting the orange. If the butter browns a little that is great – just keep an eye on the heat so that nothing burns. Once the banana slices are done, turn off the heat and toss in the orange segments, squeeze over any juice left in the membrane and in the bowl and toss in a few blueberries. The residual heat will warm everything up and make it absolutely delicious! (Please click the link to watch a short demo on segmenting citrus fruit, if you are unfamiliar with the technique.)

orange_coconut_french_toastThen get on with the egg mixture. Beat some eggs and a splash of milk in a dish; sprinkle over some cinnamon, grate in the zest of an orange

orange_coconut_french_toastand stir in some coconut.

orange_coconut_french_toastPut a large frypan on medium low flame to heat up and  dunk the bread in the eggy mix. (And yes, that is Hovis, Best of Both – my concession to Jake’s inevitable request for – what I call – white plastic bread, in the holidays.)

orange_coconut_french_toastPut some butter in the pan to heat up and flip the slices of bread over to soak on the other side. This type of bread soaks up an amazing amount of liquid…

orange_coconut_french_toastOnce the butter is sizzling, place the bread in the pan and cook gently for 2 or 3 minutes. I don’t add sugar to the egg mix because I find that then the  bread burns on the outside and is raw in the middle – I serve maple syrup on the side instead. Check the state of play by lifting a corner of the bread slices to see how they are coming along. Once they have browned nicely on one side, flip them over and  do the same – they won’t need as long on the second side.

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Serve with maple syrup, honey, icing sugar, fruit – whatever takes your fancy.

 

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Orange and Coconut French Toast with Fruit

  • Servings: 1-2 depending on the bread
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

For the fruit

  • 1 medium banana per person cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 small orange per person, segmented – save the any juice including what is left in the membrane
  • ¼ cup of blueberries per person
  • 1 tsp of butter per person

For the french toast

  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup of milk (approx 3 tablespoons)
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 Tbsp coconut – desiccated
  • 2 slices of large sandwich bread or 4 slices of something smaller and not as absorbent!
  • 1 tsp of butter – please – just eyeball it!
  • ½ tsp icing sugar

To serve

  • Maple syrup, golden syrup, honey, agave nectar…
  • creme fraiche or yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit if you prefer – strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, mango etc.
  • Fruit compote

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put a small frying pan on a medium flame to heat up. Add butter when the pan is hot and once the butter is sizzling a little, add the banana slices in one layer , turning down the heat if necessary and allow to caramelise on one side.  Check after 1 or 2 minutes and when ready, flip over and do the same with the other side.  Once the slices are done, turn the heat off, scatter over the orange segments, juice and blueberries, shaking the pan gently to mix.
  2. Crack eggs into a container which will comfortably fit at least one slice of bread – one large enough for two or more slices would be better. Add the milk, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until there are no traces of yolk or white remaining. Zest the orange directly over the egg mix and sprinkle in the coconut – mix well.
  3. Put a frying pan on a medium flame to heat up.
  4. Lay the bread in the egg mix and allow to soak for about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on what type of bread you are using. 2 slices of sandwich bread soaked up all the eggy mix but if you use smaller, less absorbent bread you should be able to double the amount you can make.
  5. Put the butter in the hot pan to melt and turn the heat down a little.
  6. Flip the slices of bread over and let them soak up the remaining eggy mix.
  7. Swirl the butter round the bottom of the pan to coat it well then transfer the soaked slices of bread into the pan.
  8. Let this cook for about 3 minutes or so but do check from time to time, that it is not burning – the idea is to cook the egg through to the centre of the bread whilst the bottom turns golden brown and crispy. It is better to lower the heat and cook for a little longer rather than have the heat too high and char the bread, obviously.
  9. Flip the bread over and cook the second side for 2 minutes or so.
  10. Remove to plates and serve with the warm fruit, a dollop of creme fraiche and the syrup of your choice

 

 

Cook the Books – Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

 

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladThis recipe caught my eye the other day and I have been desperate to try it – there are still lots of gleaming white cauliflowers around as well as large glossy, ruby pomegranates too so I determined to pick both up, sooner rather than later.  I was intrigued by the ‘spicing’. It’s almost Christmasy, warm, with maple syrup, allspice and cinnamon but with the fresh flavours of sweet, slightly tart pomegranate arils (seeds), crunchy celery and  grassy parsley, perfectly complemented by the roasted hazelnuts. I made it for an impromptu lunch yesterday and  two teenagers gave it a huge thumbs up. It’s a lovely way to eat cauliflower and would be a stunning addition to the Easter table.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladThis really is a fabulous recipe book, full of gorgeous flavours and so much history too. Yotam Ottolenghi also writes for the Guardian at the weekend so you can catch up with his cooking there and be amazed at some of the vitriol in the comments section – I hope he doesn’t read them – from people who are sitting on their backsides contributing nothing at all to society…

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladPomegranates are an ancient fruit most likely originating from Persia – modern day Iran. Also mentioned in Babylonian texts, The Book of Exodus, The Q’ran and the Homeric Hymns, their history is quite amazing – do click on the link which will take you to the Wikipedia page, if you want to know more. Incredible that one was found in the tomb of the butler to Queen Hatsheput – makes one feel quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things!

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladNotoriously fiddly to extract, the arils can range from sweet to sour so do taste yours to see if you need to adjust the dressing. The best way to extract the arils is to cut a fruit in half then in half again. Bend backwards slightly, to loosen then, place skin side up in a high sided bowl and paddle (whack) the leathery skin with the back of a wooden spoon. The juice does get everywhere so don’t wear white like I did! Their pith is really bitter so do pick out any stray bits that may jettison with the arils.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladStrip the leaves off the cauliflower, saving the best ones for the veggie-soup-making bag in your freezer – I know you have one! Insert the point of a sturdy knife into the edge of the core at the bottom and carefully tunnel out as much of the core as you can. The florets are easy to break off then. Cut any really large ones in half and spread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and tumble them around to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about half an hour ’til golden and crispy in places – I turned them halfway through.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladMake the dressing while the florets are roasting – I added a little pomegranate syrup for a sharper flavour. Extract the pomegranate seeds and chop the celery and parsley. If you soak the chopped celery in a little bowl of cold water they will become super crispy – a trick I learned from my mum! When the florets are done, turn the heat down and pop the nuts in to roast. Once the nuts are done and cool enough to handle, chop coarsely then assemble and dress the salad.

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I am taking this delicious, healthy salad over to the Savouring Saturdays Linky Party – hosted by

Raia from Raia’s Recipesfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Eva from Whole Food Mom On A Budgetfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Danielle from It’s A Love/Love Thingfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Trish from Keep the Beetfacebook twitter pinterest rss youtube

Take a look to see the fabulous recipes on offer!

Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of cauliflower broken up into small florets about 660g (mine was about 800g)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (separated)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 sticks of celery cut on an an into ½ cm slices about 70g
  • 30g hazelnuts with skins (I also used a few walnuts)
  • 10g small flat-leaf parsley – leaves only
  • 50g pomegranate seeds (about half a medium pomegranate)

Dressing

  • ⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ tsp allspice
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of pomegranate syrup)
  • 1 ½ tsp maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F
  2. Slice any really large florets in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle over 3 Tbsp of oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Toss them about to coat in the oil, then spread out in an even layer and roast for 25 – 35 minutes, until the cauliflower is crisp and golden brown. I turned them over after 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl or plate to cool down.
  3. While the florets are roasting, make the dressing by mixing the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
  4. Chop the celery on the diagonal and very coarsely chop the parsley.
  5. Turn the heat down to 170C/325F . Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and roast for about 10 to 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, rub off any loose skins and chop coarsely.
  6. In a large bowl, gently mix together the cauliflower, celery,  parsley and nuts. Turn onto a serving plate, drizzle with the dressing and scatter over the pomegranate seeds.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

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
  • 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.

 

 

 

 

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot SaladI knew that with carrots as fresh as the ones in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm, a scheme I waxed lyrical about in my last post, I would have to make some sort of salad with them to make the most of their sweet, just picked flavour. I grated the carrots, nestled them reverentially on a handful of rocket leaves and then made up a dressing which was citrus sweet’n’sour, rich with cumin and humming with a little cayenne pepper. It was delicious!

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 carrots, scrubbed. Only peel then if they are not organic or if they are old as the skins can be bitter
  • handful of rocket leaves (or use other salad leaves if you have them)
  • 5 or 6 toasted walnuts halves
  • 1 tsp Za”atar spice mix

For the dressing

  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • juice of half an small orange
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Grate the carrots and place in a salad bowl on top of a handful of rocket leaves.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing – it will be a loose affair rather than an emulsified one. Don’t add all the lemon juice at once though – taste as you go along and adjust the flavours/seasoning to your palate.
  3. Pour the dressing over the grated carrots and rocket leaves and toss.
  4. Top with crumbled toasted walnuts and the za’atar and toss again.
  5. Serve immediately.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintI’ve always coveted having an organic-oh-so-good-for-you-and-the-enviroment veg box delivery. For years, I’ve looked longingly at the flyers that land on my doormat then stalked their websites, imagining what size box I would need; sighing over the fabulous fresh, muddy vegetables available, all the time acutely aware, that in my bit of London, a safe  delivery spot, if I am not in, is non-existent. If not filched by human hand then the cats, foxes, squirrels or mice would inflict their damage. I was, therefore, thrilled to discover Sutton Community Farm. They not only deliver to homes but also to local pick-up points so that one may collect said muddy vegetables, on the way home from work. Within seconds of finding this out, I had followed them on Twitter, liked them on Facebook and registered on their website. I did not want to miss out…

Sutton Community Farm describe themselves thus; “We are London’s largest community farm, a not-for-profit social enterprise growing fresh vegetables using organic principles, as well as providing a shared space for the local community to cultivate skills.” And they make deliveries in a van powered by London’s waste cooking oil. How utterly wonderful – please do take a look at their website to see if they cover your area I cannot recommend this scheme highly enough…  http://suttoncommunityfarm.org.uk

Just look at what I got in my small veg box…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Purple sprouting broccoli, onions,  carrots, muddy(!) golden and red beets, crisp, firm mushrooms, gorgeous salad leaves plus they stock my favourite eggs. I am so thrilled to have found SCF and plan to order fortnightly.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

How lovely that these delicious salad leaves were grown happily, without chemicals! We enjoyed them for lunch at the weekend.

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And these are my favourite eggs – they taste like the eggs of my childhood and I wrote about them in my first ever recipe post     https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/courgette-feta-and-thyme-bake/ ‎Alas, the farmers market from where I used to get the eggs,  is no-more so I am really pleased to have found them at SCF. We had the eggs for brunch on Sunday, poached with some steamed purple sprouting broccoli and a little hollandaise sauce.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintThe beets –  beautiful and glowing jewel-like once scrubbed.  If you follow Selma’s Table on Facebook, you will have seen me enthusiastically posting some of these photos.

Beetroot can be boiled, steamed and even thinly sliced and eaten raw. They are also wonderful juiced raw, with a couple of apples and  carrots, a nugget of ginger and half a lemon. I find that roasting them intensifies the natural sweetness and transforms them to soft silky slivers that are wonderful in salads.  Once cooked, they keep for days in the fridge (so you may as well prepare quite a few)  which makes lunch boxes and salads so much more exciting. I like to start them off in a sealed foil packet and then, towards the end of the cooking time, open them out to the direct heat of the oven to caramelise.

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Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintIf your beets are really fresh, they should have quite a thin skin. The red beets from the SCF were so fresh, that we did not need to peel the skins at all once they were cooked.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

And just a reminder that red beets will stain everything porous…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Waterlogue’d

My recipe for Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint is a great balance of flavours; warm beets with melting cubes of goats cheese and a sweet and sour dressing topped with mint.

Mixed Beets with Goat's Cheese and Mint

  • Servings: 4 - 6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small to medium sized Golden Beets
  • 4 small to medium sized Red Beets
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • leaves from 3 or 4 Thyme sprigs
  • 80 g firm  Goat’s Cheese/Chevre, cubed
  • A small handful of  chopped mint leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • ¼ – ½ of a Lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F
  2. Scrub the beets well – I use one of those green plastic scouring pads to get all the mud off.
  3. Peel the golden beets but leave the skins on the red ones to avoid staining everything
  4. Halve the beets then slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges depending on how large they are. Keep the two beets separate to preserve the colour of the golden ones.
  5. Tear off 2 sections of foil, large enough to wrap each pile of the beet wedges in.
  6. Pop the wedges on the foil, drizzle over a little honey and olive oil, scatter over a little thyme and sea salt, then wrap the foil to make a couple of packets.
  7. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes; depending on their size, they may need longer.
  8. Once soft, open out the foil, spoon over the juices to baste the wedges and pop back into the oven to caramelise for about 10 minutes.
  9. If the skins are tough on the red beets, remove them – they should slip off easily once they are cooked.
  10. Arrange on a serving plate, top with the goat’s cheese, squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with honey and EVOO then strew with chopped mint leaves.

Cook the Books – Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt and Buttered Pine Nuts

Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts If you have read my profile  you may recall that I learned to bake in Canada by reading magazines and that I learned to cook in England by reading books. I started cooking with Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book and Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook. Both taught me to shop and eat in season and I haven’t looked back. I now have a rather large collection of cookbooks which I have amassed over the years, some from joining a book club (a mistake) many from scouring second hand bookshops and others that I have received as gifts. I have many tried, tested and loved recipes from these books which I make over and over again. I also have some newer books from which I haven’t had the chance to make anything. I thought that it would be rather nice to start a regular post to  feature recipes which I have cooked from my embarrassingly extensive collection, noting any changes or suggestions along the way and this is the first of the Cook the Books series.

If you have a favourite cookbook or recipe from one, please do drop me a line in the comments box below. It’s always a pleasure to discover new recipes.

The other day, I noticed beautiful bunches of leafy dark green Swiss Chard at my local greengrocers which looked as though they belonged in a vase. Without knowing what I was going to do with them, I snatched up a bunch to bring home.  On my way back, I remembered that Ottolenghi had a few recipes for Swiss Chard in his book, Jerusalem and I was pleased to find that I had most of the ingredients in for this particular dish.

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Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts

I have made this recipe for Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt and Buttered Pine Nuts three times now and it is absolutely delicious. The balance of sharp from the wine, green from the leaves, creamy, garlicky umami from the tahini  with the juicy stems and crunchy pine nuts is  simply divine. The last time I made it, I served the chard as a side to roasted salmon fillets which I had doused in a mixture of harissa, cumin seeds and lemon juice. It was the perfect girlie supper for me and my friend who gave me this book at Christmas!

Swiss chard is nature’s own two-for-one bargain. There are the dark green, deeply veined  leaves and the crisp, juicy white (or brightly coloured) stalks both of which need slightly different cooking times. They are easy to prepare – you start by filling the sink with water so that they can be easily cleaned of the grit and dirt that may have accumulated on them. Then, trim a little off the ends of the stalks and cut them out to separate them from the leaves. Swish both about in the water and then leave them in the sink for any grit or dirt to settle on the bottom. Then they are ready to be scooped out, sliced and used as needed with the stalks needing a couple of minutes more cooking time. The leaves can also be blanched and stuffed just like cabbage leaves and of course they are excellent in quiches and pies.

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Tahini, yoghurt and garlic sauce

Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts

Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts

Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt and Buttered Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.3 kg Swiss Chard
  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil plus extra to serve
  • 40 g pine nuts
  • 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 60ml dry white wine (I used stock the first time but it is much better with the wine reduction)
  • sweet paprika to garnish (I forgot this!)
  • salt and black pepper

Tahini and Yoghurt Sauce

  • 50g light tahini paste
  • 50g greek yoghurt (I used 0% fat)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic glove, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trim 1 cm off the bottom of the stalks and discard. Fill the sink with cold water. Cut out the thick wide central stalks and place these and the green leaves in sink to remove any traces of grit.
  2. Fill the kettle and put it on to boil.
  3. Make up the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until the sauce is smooth and semi stiff. Set aside.
  4. When the water boils, fill  deep saucepan with it, cover and set on the hob to come to a boil again.
  5. Remove the stalks from the sink and slice into 2 cm pieces.  Do the same with the green leaves. Keep them in separate piles.
  6. Place the stems in the boiling water and set the timer for two minutes. Then add the leaves, which you may have to force under the water, for one minute. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Drain and use your hands to squeeze the chard until it is quite dry.
  7. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and half the butter in a large frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toss in the pan until golden which should take about 2 minutes. They burn quickly so keep an eye on them. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  8. Now add the garlic to the pan and cook for about a minute until golden.
  9. Carefully pour in the wine – it will spit! Leave it to reduce to about ⅓ which should take a minute or so.
  10. Add the chard and the rest of the butter and toss to heat through and get coated in the the buttery, garlicky juices for  a two or three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Place in a serving bowl, top with a little sauce,  the pine nuts and a sprinkle of paprika. Drizzle with a little EVOO and serve with  additional sauce  in a separate bowl.

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-SauceI came across this recipe which originates from Puglia, in the early 90’s, in a copy of Elle Decoration – a magazine I adored. The issue is long gone but I have never forgotten how wonderful this sauce tasted.  I can remember feeling genuinely surprised that something so simple and uncooked could have such depth of flavour. Well, that will be the anchovies – when blended like this, there is no fishy odour or taste – just a deep, satisfying undertone to a bright and summery sauce.

Now, I haven’t tried this but I am pretty sure that you can substitute tamari sauce for the anchovies – this would make it vegan/vegetarian and keep it wheat free too. Tamari and Soya sauces are both made with fermented soybeans but soy sauce includes wheat and is saltier.

The recipe does require a lot of herbs but these can be bought so easily nowadays – in the supermarkets, in the green grocers and in the ethnic food shops too and they add so much flavour and colour to other dishes that you won’t regret it. Trim the stalks and keep them in a vase/tumbler of water and they will last quite a while.

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

As daffodils and cherry blossom are coming into bloom, this bright, zingy sauce seems just the thing to herald the much anticipated Spring season. This Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce would also be delicious slathered on fish or lamb.

29 May 2014 – I am really thrilled to say that this recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52 and that California Walnuts have asked to use it on their website!

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Pasta Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 6 anchovies preserved in oil (or substitute Tamari sauce starting with 1 Tbsp and adjusting the flavour to your palate)
  • 100 g flat leaf parsley including the stems
  • 40 g basil leaves
  • 40 g mint leaves
  • 20 g tarragon leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c water
  • lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whiz the toasted nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the anchovies, herbs, garlic, shallot, water and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree.
  3. Then add the olive oil and whiz until combined.
  4. Stir in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavour, stirring in additional lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the sauce sing.

Uses

  1. Toss into hot pasta, thinning with a little of the pasta water and finishing with a drizzle of good EVOO.
  2. Slash a whole fish and slather in the cavity and in the slashes; roast in the oven or cook on the barbecue.
  3. Top fish fillets or steaks with a spoonful of sauce and a dribble of wine; bake in parchment (thanks Tish!)
  4. Serve on the side with roast lamb or fish steaks.
  5. Spread baguette slices with a creamy goats cheese and top with a slice of roasted red pepper and little of the sauce; finish a drizzle of EVOO.

Baked Fruit and Oatmeal

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealOatmeal is not something I enjoyed as a child. My memories of porridge is that it was quite thin and watery and not very tasty at all – which is quite at odds with the delicious food I grew up with. When I began baking in my teens, I found that oatmeal was brilliant to make chewy chocolate chip cookies with.  I also discovered those packets of flavoured instant oats which bolstered me up during what felt like endless sessions of binge revision. As a mother of a school age child, I knew how nutritious and sustaining porridge is for those dark, cold, wintery school mornings and set about making it delicious as well. I don’t know if this is how you make it but I put a cup of oats in a pan and toast them slightly, I then add 2 cups of milk and one of water and stir over a medium low heat until thick and creamy. I ladle a portion into a shallow rimmed bowl, shake over some cinnamon and sprinkle it with 1 dessert spoonful of Demerara  sugar which goes syrupy. I peel a tangerine or a clementine and arrange the segments around the lip of the bowl like chubby rays of sunshine. Sometimes, I add some frozen blueberries to the bottom of bowl before ladling in the porridge. By the time my son gets to the table, dressed for school, the porridge has cooled down sufficiently to not delay him and I am quietly smug in the knowledge that he’s not going to be experiencing that mid morning sugar crash AND that I’ve managed to get 1 or 2 portions of fruit in him already. At the weekends, breakfasts are a more leisurely affair; eggs and sausages or french toast or pancakes but oatmeal doesn’t figure.

Until now, that is. I saw a photo for Oatmeal Casserole (which sounds a little grim, don’t you think?) on Pinterest and then surfed through several recipes for Baked Oatmeal, many of which included chocolate. This is my version which is full of healthy ingredients and tastes absolutely delicious. It’s warm, fruity, nutty and chewy. It takes about 15 minutes to put together and needs half an hour in the oven, filling the kitchen with gorgeous aromas as it bakes. It is ideal for a weekend breakfast. Left overs can be taken into to work or frozen in portions and warmed up in the microwave. You can chop and change the fruit and nuts to suit your palate or take into account what is in your cupboards. This is also something that you could bake in the evening during the week, to effortlessly have ready for the following morning.

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealPlace the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, dried fruit and half the blueberries in a large bowl.

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealGrate in the orange zest and mix thoroughly.

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealSlice one banana and arrange on the bottom of the oven safe dish. Cover with the dried mixed ingredients (which I forgot to photograph!)

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealJuice the orange.

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealWhisk the wet ingredients together in the same mixing bowl you used for the dry ingredients. (If you want to substitute honey or agave syrup for the sugar, add it now, to the wet ingredients.) I find that it is best to “temper” melted butter by slowly whisking in a little cold milk into it and then adding it to everything else. Otherwise, the melted butter just solidifies into fat globules that float on top.

IMG_6150Slowly and gently, pour the wet mixture over the oatmeal mix.

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealScatter over the remaining blueberries and the coconut flakes. (If you wish to use desiccated coconut instead, mix it in with the dry ingredients.) Slice the second banana and arrange over the top and bake for half an hour. (A scattering of pumpkin or sunflower seeds would be nice too.)

Baked-fruit-and-oatmeal

Baked-fruit-and-oatmealServe warm with a dollop of yoghurt.

I have included some vegan options for the dairy and egg but these are untested by me. Thanks to Susan Edelman of watchhatchfly for the information!

Baked Fruit and Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups oats (anything but instant or quick cook)
  • 1/4 cup muscavodo (or brown) sugar plus enough for a sprinkle later
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup walnut pieces – broken up to make them smaller
  • ½ cup dried mixed fruit like cranberries and cherries or apricots and raisins or dates
  • 1 cup of blueberries divided into two portions
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 3tbsp/45g  melted butter (or vegan soy spread/coconut oil)
  • 2 cups milk ( or soy milk/almond milk/rice milk)
  • 1 large egg ( or applesauce/mashed banana/vegan egg replacer/ground chia and flax seeds)
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flakes
  • yoghurt to serve (or coconut milk or soy milk yoghurt)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F.
  2. Butter or oil an oven safe dish (mine is 28 x 20cm/11″x 8″).
  3. Thoroughly mix the first 9 ingredients (using only half the blueberries)  in a large bowl to distribute everything evenly.
  4. Slice one banana and arrange on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Cover with the dry mixed ingredients.
  6. In the same bowl that you used for the dry ingredients, lightly whisk the egg.
  7. Slowly whisk a a cup of milk into the cooled butter to amalgamate it and pour it and the second cup of milk onto the whisked egg together with the vanilla and the orange juice and whisk again.
  8. Slowly and evenly pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients.
  9. Scatter over the remaining portion of blueberries and the coconut flakes (some seeds would be nice too).
  10. Top with the slices from the second banana.
  11. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
  12. Sprinkle a little more brown sugar over the top and leave to cool a little.
  13. Serve warm with yoghurt.

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

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika DressingRoasting broccoli is a revelation – it intensifies the sweetness and gives it a little more earthiness. It is really delicious and my new favourite way to cook this superfood! From what I can make out, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) brought this method to the attention of the general public with this lovely recipe for Parmesan Roasted Broccoli . The recipe that I have made has a more tapas feel about it, thanks to the tangy, smoky paprika dressing and some crunchy golden toasted almond flakes. My version cuts back on the oil to boost the flavour of both the broccoli and the dressing.

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Dressing – heat the oil in a small pan; add garlic and smoked paprika and take off heat to infuse

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Cut the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces.

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted broccoli and toasted almond flakes

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Whisk the infused oil into the vinegar, leaving behind much of the solids

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Pile roasted broccoli in a serving dish

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

 

I am entering this recipe in the Spice Trail Challenge, hosted by Bangers and Mash.  for January as it features Paprika – there are some wonderful recipes on there so do go and take a look at the entries.

spice-trail-badge-square

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Slightly adapted from a recipe on Food52

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • A little olive oil to drizzle
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbsp flaked almonds

Dressing:

  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (sherry for authenticity but cider or wine vinegars will be fine as well)
  • Good pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  2. Get the dressing started as the longer it steeps the more flavourful it will be;  heat the oil in a small pan for about 2 or 3 minutes. When the oil is warm (but not smoking as that will burn the garlic) add the crushed garlic and stir in the smoked paprika and take it off the heat. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes or as long as you can leave it.
  3. In the meantime, divide broccoli into bite sized florets, toss in a little olive oil and place on an oven tray. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender and with a few browned bits. Keep checking after 15 minutes to make sure that the florets are not burning to a crisp. Scatter over  the almond flakes for the last 3 or 4 minutes to toast.
  4. When you are ready to serve, place the vinegar and salt in a small bowl and whisk in the flavoured oil, trying to leave behind as much of the solids as possible.
  5. Pile the florets and almond flakes into a serving dish and drizzle over the dressing. You will not need all of it. I used approximately 1Tbsp to dress one medium head of broccoli.

Left over dressing is a great marinade for chicken or fish and can also be used to perk up potatoes.

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing

Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree

Roasted Fennel and Cannellini Bean PureeI have been wanting to make this Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree for some time now and last night, which was as cold and gusty as an angry witch’s furious gasps, seemed the perfect time to make it. Moreso as a friend was coming round for a catch-up and a glass of wine…

Marcella Hazan introduced me to the many delights of white beans when I first started cooking in the mid eighties. She has a recipe for “Zuppa di cannellini con aglio e prezzemolo” (Bean soup with parsley and garlic)  in her Classic Italian Cookbook that is simply superb. Sadly this brilliant book is out of print now but can still be bought second hand though I am shocked that anyone would ever part with it!

There are many recipes for white bean purees and this particular recipe has been inspired by a post in Food52 that I saw recently. The dish will not win any beauty contests but it tastes absolutely amazing and is perfect with a roast or a simply cooked piece of fish which is what we had it with last night.

The depth and complexity of flavours depends on cooking the ingredients fully and carefully before pureeing so don’t skimp on turning the fennel pieces over 3 or 4 times and watch the frying garlic as it goes from perfectly golden to burnt in a few seconds especially as it continues to cook in the hot oil when you take it off the heat. I have to say that the roasted fennel is absolutely delicious on it own too so feel free to make more that is needed for the puree if you want to have it as a vegetable side.

Roasted Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree

Fennel, quartered and seasoned in roasting dish with the unpeeled garlic cloves

Caramelised fennel and garlic

Caramelised fennel and garlic

Gently frying the chopped garlic and rosemary

Gently fry the chopped garlic and rosemary in olive oil

Adding the beans to the garlic and rosemary and heating through

Add the beans to the garlic and rosemary and heat through

Mixing in the roasted fennel and garlic cloves before blitzing with a stick blender

Mix in the roasted fennel and garlic cloves before blitzing with a stick blender

Scrape out mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with chilli flakes and fennel seeds before sprinkling on the remaining parmesan cheese.

Scrape out mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with chilli flakes and fennel seeds before sprinkling on the remaining parmesan cheese.

Delicious and ready to eat if not winning any beauty contests!

Delicious and ready to eat if not winning any beauty contests!

Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by a post on Food52 for Roast Fennel and White Bean Dip 

INGREDIENTS

Roast Fennel:

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into quarters. They will fall apart but that is okay.
  • 1-2  Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper

Cannellini Beans:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tin of cannellini or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • branch of vine cherry tomatoes as long as they are tasty!

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F
  2. Closely trim the bottom of the fennel and trim the ends off the tops as well. Halve and then quarter the pieces, bearing in mind that they will fall apart. Place in a roasting tin with the unpeeled cloves of garlic and dribble over the oil. Using your hands, gently toss the fennel in the oil so that it is all coated. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven, for 30-40 minutes, checking every ten minutes to turn the pieces over. I find a that a timer helps here. Stop when the pieces are soft and  golden. Cooking it this way drives out a lot of the moisture, concentrating that aniseed flavour and you will find that they shrink down quite a lot.
  3. In the meantime start the cannellini beans; pour the oil into a saucepan and heat gently. Add the chopped garlic and cook until nicely coloured. Watch it like a hawk as you get near the end as it will catch really easily, burning and turning bitter. Add the rosemary and then stir in the cannellini beans and the lemon juice and let it heat through. Take off the heat and set aside until the fennel is ready.
  4. Once the fennel is cooked turn the oven up to 220c/425F and stir fennel and peeled garlic cloves into the bean mixture along with the lemon juice and most of the parmesan cheese – reserve 2 or 3 Tbsp of cheese for the topping.  I used a stick  blender to puree the mixture but you could also use a food processor. Taste the puree and adjust the seasoning  to your taste. If it is too thick, add a little water to loosen it up remembering that the texture should be like mashed potatoes.
  5. Scrape it into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the chilli flakes, fennel seeds and remaining parmesan cheese. Place the vine tomatoes on top if using. Dribble a little oil around the edges too. Cook for 15 minutes and serve immediatley.

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

These Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers are a lovely side to make for a roast or as light lunch with a salad as the recipe can be pre-prepared until the final blast in the oven while the roast is resting. The smoked paprika gives the couscous a very savoury flavour so do try and get some if you can. Amazon has some here.  I made these to go with the Braised Stuffed Rolled Shoulder of  Springbok or Venison the other day,  in Cape Town.

Halved and cored peppers

Halved and cored peppers

Couscous filling

Couscous filling

Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers ready for the oven

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large, sturdy red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup couscous (I used a chilli and coriander flavoured one because it was there but you could use a plain one and add chilli flakes and more herbs if you wish)
  • 1/2 chicken/veg stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of hot water or use 1 cup of  homemade stock if you have it.
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g of feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half vertically (or just take the tops off if you would prefer to serve one whole pepper per person) and remove the seeds and white membrane. Lay snugly in a roasting tin (you may want to smear the tin with some oil first but I didn’t and they did not stick) and pop in the oven for 15 – 25 minutes or until softened. The time will depend on how fresh and thick the peppers are.  They will go back in to finish off cooking, once stuffed so don’t leave them in there so long that they become totally floppy. Remove them from the oven and set aside while you carry on with the stuffing.
  3. While the peppers are in the oven, place the couscous in a heat resistant bowl (I use a pyrex measuring jug) pour over the hot stock, stir and cover with a plate or piece of cling film. Let that stand and absorb the liquid.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the onion and garlic then gently sauté the onions until golden, giving them a little sprinkle (a pinch really) of salt to help them release their moisture and caramelise more quickly. Stir in the garlic and the chickpeas for a minute or two then add the smoked paprika and stir to mix well. Tip in the couscous and stir again. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cherry tomatoes, the parsley and the feta cheese. Taste to check for salt. Remember that the feta and the stock cube are salty so you shouldn’t need any more.
  5. Stuff the peppers with as much of the couscous mixture as you can (using the same tin that you cooked them in) but don’t compact the mix – heaping it works much better. Any left over stuffing can be used for lunch the next day. These can now be set aside covered, until you are ready to cook them or you can carry on and cook them in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
© 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

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto This recipe for Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto, comes by way of my dear friend C who has a largely vegetarian diet and like everything that she makes, is really full of flavour and utterly delicious. The peppers get slightly charred in the oven, the tomatoes become juicy and intensify their flavour through roasting face down in the pesto and the feta adds a salty, lemony and creamy note. Whenever I need to cut back on the calories, I make these peppers (with a little less cheese) to layer in my lunchbox with lots of salad leaves and also some green lentils which I cook in stock with some chilli flakes and thyme. The juices from the lentils and the peppers means that a dressing is not needed. It is so full of flavour and releases energy slowly so that I don’t feel hungry or unsatisfied.  The peppers are also gorgeous warm with some roast salmon or chicken or as a side to a stew. These are really quick and effortless to make also scaling up easily to make more servings… Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto Prepare the peppersSweet Red Peppers with Feta and PestoSmear with pestoSweet Red Peppers with Feta and PestoFill with halved cherry tomatoes Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto Top with feta cheese, trickle over some EVOO and place in the oven.Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 long sweet red peppers (they are sometimes called ‘pointed’)
  • 4 generous tsp pesto
  • 8-10 cherry or mini plum tomatoes
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F.
  2. Before slicing the peppers in half, take a look at them to determine the most sensible side to do this from – they need to sit flat on the tray. Pointed peppers tend to be sort of flat and wide – they have a narrower side which is where they are best sliced from. I find that if I lay one down so that it lies flat and then give it a quarter turn, that is the best place to slice them in half – it gives me two fairly stable and wide halves. After you have sliced them in half, remove the seeds and the white membrane but try and leave the stems on as they look rather pretty. If there are any rogue seeds, hold the pepper half over the sink, cut side facing down and give it a little tap or two with the flat of the knife and the seeds should fly out. Nestle the prepared peppers in a baking dish which will hold them snugly. The tin that I use is 7″ x 10″ (which is 26cm x 17cm) and comfortably holds 4 halves.
  3. Smear 1 generous teaspoon of pesto into each half. Slice the tomatoes in half and nestle, cut side down into the pesto – put in as many as you can squeeze in. When I can find them I also use a few yellow cherry tomatoes.
  4. Slice the feta into cubes and divide this evenly over the tomatoes.
  5. Trickle over a little EVOO and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm as a side with a roast or stew or cold in a lunch box with a salad. This is delicious with a lentil salad and also on toasted slices of baguette…

SUBSTITUTIONS
I have made these with green pointed peppers which went down well despite my not liking the flavour of green peppers in general. They can be topped with grated parmesan cheese instead of the feta. Adding a few slices of anchovy filets, red onion and black olives would be rather lovely.

© 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

Quick summer pickle – Sweet and Sour Courgettes

Sweet & Sour Courgettes

Sweet & Sour Courgettes

As the halcyon days of summer slowly but inevitably draw to a close, it is with mixed emotion that I look towards the autumn days which are fast approaching. J will be back at school and studying hard, I hope, for his GCSEs (formerly known as “O” levels) while I try my best not to worry that he is not doing enough. On the other hand there are birthday celebrations to plan, trips to look forward to and game and autumn harvests to anticipate. It has been a wonderful summer of glorious weather, new beginnings, re-connecting with family and old friends and making some lovely new ones along the way. I never look forward to the cold weather but will try to appreciate more the events that it heralds.

Now is the time to preserve what you can of summer’s bounty. We are very lucky to have wonderful neighbours who have planted a vegetable patch from which they have been kind enough share their courgettes. Which I love! I came across a recipe for a quick summer pickle in an in-store magazine and straight away had to make it, tinkering with the flavourings of course.

Chilli flakes, fennel seeds and turmeric. (Missing from the photo are the coriander seeds)

Chilli flakes, fennel seeds and turmeric. (Missing from the photo are the coriander seeds) The gorgeous little spice bottles are from Ikea.

The turmeric gives the courgettes a glowing golden hue and the fennel and the coriander seeds contribute a warm herbal note.

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

The sweet and sour pickle juice is delicious too – use in salad dressings and marinades; douse hot potatoes with it and then add a little mayo and chopped up pickles for a delicious salad. And the sweet and sour pickle juice fantastic in a Bloody Mary! There is a wonderful article on Food52 about the uses of pickle juice. Pickleback shot anyone?

Cheese, Crackers and Sweet & Sour Courgettes

Cheese, Crackers and Sweet & Sour Courgettes

The courgettes retain their crunch whilst the onions mellow in the brine

I am entering this recipe in the Shop Local Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. Do go over and take a look at her blog – there are some wonderful recipes there.

Shop Local

Shop Local hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

  • Servings: Makes 1 x 500ml or 2 x 250ml jars
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 500g courgettes (or thereabouts)
  • 1 red onion
  • 2Tbsp flaky sea salt like Maldon (substitute  about 1Tbsp regular table salt if you don’t have the flaky sea salt). Kosher or pickling salt is the best but I don’t think it is easily found here in the UK – or maybe I just haven’t noticed it!

Sweet Brine:

  • 400ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 200g sugar (use white sugar as golden muddies the colour of the brine syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (you can increase this to 1 tsp if you like a little more heat)
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp *dry roasted coriander seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trim the ends then slice the courgettes into 1/2cm coins.
  2. Peel and slice the red onion into thin rings
  3. Layer in a bowl and sprinkling with salt as you go
  4. Cover and place in the fridge for about an hour or cover with ice for the same time. Keeping them cold helps to keep the courgettes firm.
  5. In the meantime, place all the sweet brine ingredients into a (non-reactive) saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let the brine cool to room temperature. You might want to open all your windows and turn on all extractor fans when you make the brine – the smell of boiling vinegar is quite pungent to say the least.
  6. Layer the courgettes and onions (do not rinse off the salt) into a sterilised jar, pour over the sweet brine, cover and refrigerate. Ready after a 24 hour steep and still tastes delicious 6 weeks later.

*To dry roast seeds like cumin and coriander, pop them into a non-stick pan on medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan from time to time to ensure that all sides are being roasted. You can smell them as they begin to toast – but do keep as eye on them as they can burn easily. I usually do a small jar full at a time as they keep for a long time. Dry roasting really intensifies the flavour and adds more depth to the finished dish.

USES

  • Cheese plate
  • Roast beef or tuna or cheese sandwiches
  • Chopped up in a potato salad also using the brine to douse the hot potatoes before adding  mayonnaise
  • In an egg salad
  • With cold cuts
  • In burgers
  • Serve as a condiment at a barbecue
© 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.

Cheese plate

Cheese plate