In My Kitchen – May 2014

Another month has flown by with lots of lovely produce making an appearance at the greengrocers which is always such a pleasure to see! swiss-chard-and-herb-tartIn my kitchen I have Rainbow Swiss Chard – I’ve recently discovered this vegetable and now cannot get enough of it. These beautiful leaves arrived in my vegetable box which was bursting at the seams with all sorts of goodies. I made a delicious Swiss Chard and Herb Tart which went down a storm. Click on the link to see the recipe if you missed it last week. in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have rambutans. These prehistoric looking tropical fruits are in season now and are native to Indonesia and Malaysia. I got them from a a young man who sets up trestle tables outside a shop on the high street. His produce isn’t always in the best shape but he sells bowls full of all sorts of fruit and vegetable for a £1 and I do like to support him – he is out there every day of the week no matter what the weather. Rambutans have a thick but soft shell which splits easily to reveal a large opalescent fruit with a large woody seed in the middle. The fruit looks similar to the more familiar lychee but is not quite as juicy and tastes more like a grape. These are lovely in fruit salads. in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have another exotic fruit – loquats,  bought from the same vendor. I buy these more for their nostalgic value than anything else as both my grandfather and great uncle had trees in their Nairobi gardens. I have fond memories of sitting outside in my great uncle’s front garden; there would be a great many aunties and cousins milling around, enjoying a gossip and a catch-up. Trays of samosas, chutney, tea, home made cakes and biscuits would appear from the kitchen, passed round as the afternoon wore on. And these loquats which my cousin brother would have climbed up the tree to shake down for us, amidst much shouting to be careful and to watch our heads! My great uncle also had some enormous ferns growing in pots and invariably, older school boys would stop at the gate and ask if they could have a couple of seed filled fronds for their classwork…they always left clutching a samosa too! These fruit are at their sweetest when very soft. Othewise they are quite tart (hello salsa!) and with their high pectin levels, are brilliant in chutneys and jams. In Japan, the dried leaves are used to brew an anti-inflammatory tea which combats eczema and asthma… in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have the most adorable bottle of Limoncino, a lemon zest liqueur, given to me by friend who just got back from Italy. He travels a lot for work and pleasure and I am tasked with keeping an occasional eye on his business premises. For this hardly onerous task, he rewards me with wonderful food gifts from where ever he has been. The flavour of Limoncino or as it is more commonly known, Limoncello, really depends on the quality of the fruit. This is a really good article which illustrates brilliantly the passion Italians have when it comes to their produce – http://www.capri.net/caprireview/article.php?cod=49&lang=it&tr=1

“ the lemon makes the difference … Femminiello from Massa Lubrense (oval in shape, smooth skin, very juicy) and Sfusato from Amalfi (tapered shape, large with a thick, yellow peel and almost no seeds) are … characterized by the intense aroma of essential oils that it inherits from the environment. The unique nature of these fruits depends on the microclimate, the proximity of the sea and protection from the cold winds thanks to the use of traditional pagliarelle (straw matting) covering the groves and held up with chestnut poles”  The flavour also depends on when the lemons are picked. The first blossoming lemons, picked at dawn have the most concentrated flavours. Limoncino is best sipped, near frozen, in shot glasses.

in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have not one but two books which I won separately! Roast is a busy restaurant in London’s Borough Market and the book is full of the most mouthwatering photos and recipes. I won this by joining a competition on FaceBook. The Creamery Kitchen has brilliant recipes on converting milk into dairy products and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes out. I won this one through a Twitter campaign! Social media does have it’s good points!!

in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have a delicious Japanese Green Tea with Brown Rice. As much as I adore coffee, I find that if I have one after 3 pm in the afternoon, I am unable to get to sleep until the wee hours – and I mean the wee hours – 2 or 3 in the morning! In fact, I was out for dinner the other night and asked for a decaf expresso to round off the meal. It tasted so good that I just knew it wasn’t decaf, then promptly forgot about it until I was in bed wondering why I wasn’t tired! I was introduced to this tea at a wonderful local cafe – I asked for a pot of green tea (it was 3pm!) and was asked if I would like to try the brown rice version. It tastes like popcorn, has a mild green tea flavour and is very moreish indeed. Now, my son, is a Japanophile and has been since he was 8, loves going off to Soho to buy proper Japanese Sencha tea from a little shop on Brewer Street called Arigato. Arigato is an Aladdin’s Cave of Japanese foodstuffs – fresh, packaged and prepared. They have even carved out a little space where you can sit and eat their sushi, salads, gyoza and kare-age. I happened to be passing by and was pleased to find this tea, which Jake informs me has always been there!

Well that is it from my kitchen this month.What have you been up to? Let me know via the comments box below.

In My Kitchen is is hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to that month. Many thanks to Celia for hosting this series. Pour yourself a cuppa, click on the link and take a look at what others have been up to in their kitchens!

This week, I am so thrilled to be co-hosting Angie’s Friday Fiesta with Jhuls  of The Not So Creative Cook –  we would love to see you – it’s a fantastic way to read new blogs, make new friends and gain followers too! All you have to do is write a post for specifically for the party and  link up to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #15 post (you can post up until the following Wednesday) to join the party . The post can be about anything you like – food, travel, musings, photography – do join us – it is going to be so much fun! The guidelines are here… http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/ …

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Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

swiss-chard-and-herb-tartMy veg box this week included some beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard and to celebrate the gorgeous spring weather we have been having, I decided that I wanted to use them in a tart. A quick internet search brought me to a recipe by Ottolenghi which I knew I could adapt without  too much trouble. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartIsn’t rainbow chard beautiful? I read that the coloured shard stalks can bleed into paler colours when cooking but I didn’t find this to be a problem. Chard does need to have a good soak and swish in a sink full of cold water to dislodge any mud that may be clinging in the leaf crevices. The stems have to cook for a little longer than the leaves so do separate them and use them! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart The tart was really very delicious – the flaky pastry combined with the greens and cheese reminded me of of that wonderful Greek dish of Spanakoptika. And the textures work really well – slightly crunchy celery and chard stems,  buttery flaky pastry, soft greens and creamy cheese – we had this for a mezze type dinner and Jake, who invariably feels shortchanged if there is no meat, didn’t seem to notice and, unprompted, ate the left overs when he got home from school the next day. A printable recipe follows the photos below so you can scroll straight to that if you prefer not to read my ramblings but for those of you that can bear it, this is how I made the Swiss Chard and Herb Tart. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartFirst, fill the sink with water and swish the chard leaves about. Leave the in the sink for any grit to settle on the bottom and in the meantime slice the onion into half moons and start sautéing them. Slice the celery and add them to the onions. Scoop out the chard leaves and cut out the stems. Slice the chard stems and add to the pan. With lots of water clinging to the chard, slice the chard leaves and chop the herbs and garlic. When the celery has softened a little and become  translucent, stir in the  chard leaves, the herbs and the garlic. Let this cook down, stirring from time to time,  on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. In the meantime toast the pine nuts (these burn quickly and I find it easier to do in the microwave for a couple of minutes – they don’t brown but get nice and crunchy), crumble the feta, grate the parmesan and zest the lemon. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartTurn the heat off under the pan and stir in the cheeses, zest and nuts. Season with lots of freshly ground pepper. Leave to cool. In the meantime, turn on the oven and beat the eggs. Unfurl the pastry onto a baking sheet and score a 2 cm border around the edge, using the back of a knife. Spread the cooled filling within the borders and crimp the edges of the pastry to form a lip. Brush the edges with the beaten eggs. Season what is left over of the eggs and pour slowly and evenly over the filling. Dot the top with teaspoons full of ricotta and slices of goats cheese. I also added some halved marinated cherry tomatoes and used some of the marinade to drizzle over the tart. This can of course, be substituted with fresh cherry tomatoes and olive oil. swiss-chard-and-herb-tart   Bake for half an hour and serve warm or at room temperature! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart 

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

  • Servings: 4 as a main, 6 as part of a mezze
  • Print

adapted from Swiss Chard and Herb Tart by Ottolenghi for Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium red onion, sliced (about 85 g)
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 220 g)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard; stalk and leaves separated; both roughly chopped (about 250g)
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g feta cheese crumbled
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • 15 g pine nuts toasted
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 x 320 g sheet of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
  • 8 tsp ricotta cheese
  • 50 g (7 or 8 thin slices) of goat’s cheese
  • 5 cherry tomatoes halved (I used the marinated ones from this recipe of mine)
  • 2 beaten eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium low flame and add the sliced onions.
  2. While they cook, slice the celery and stir into the pan.
  3. Remove the stalks from the chard, chop these up and stir into the pan.
  4. Ribbon (chiffonade)  the chard leaves, slice the garlic and chop the herbs.
  5. Once the celery has softened a little, which should take about 5 minutes, stir in the chard, herbs and garlic. Let this cook down for about 10 minutes and take if off the heat.
  6. Stir in the feta, parmesan, lemon zest and pine nuts and season with a little salt  if necessary (the feta and parmesan are very salty) and a good grinding of pepper. Leave to cool.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  8. Unfurl the pastry and score a 2 cm border around the perimeter.
  9. Place the cooled chard mixture within the border and crimp or pinch the edge of the pastry to form a lip.
  10. Dot the top of the chard mixture with the ricotta, goats cheese and cherry tomatoes.
  11. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten egg and then gently drizzle the remainder over the tart.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool a little before serving

Eat warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a light main course with a salad and some cold cuts for the determined carnivores. Or slice into 12 and serve  as mezze for 6.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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.

Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts

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.

Swiss_Chard_with_Tahini,_Yoghurt_and_Buttered_Pine_Nuts

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.