Potato, Fennel and Radicchio salad

This would be a constant favourite if not for the fact that our local waitrose doesn’t stock radicchio (shock! horror!) and it appears only sporadically on the North End road market stalls. The salad has wonderful flavours and texture, we usually add bacon to it as we find that very few things cannot be improved by addition of bacon. The secret to balancing the bitterness of radicchio and strong flavour of fennel is sweetness of orange juice in the dressing.

The recipe is straight from Tangerine Dream Cafe book of recipes. This is a casual eating place in one of my favourite summer hang outs – the Chelsea Physic Garden in Swan Walk.

Serves 4

500g salad new potatoes
1 fennel head
1 radicchio head
40g parsley
15 olives (optional)

Dressing
juice of 1 orange
60ml white wine vinegar
90ml olive oil

Boil the salad potatoes to just cooked – we use baby Jersey Royals in season, but Cornish Mids or Charlottes also work well. Drain and place in a bowl. Liberally sprinkle with olive oil and add salt.

Thinly slice the fennel and place on top. Halve the radicchio and de-core, tearing the remaining leaves into large uneven pieces. Scatter on top together with the olives and lightly toss the salad to just reveal the potatoes. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad and serve.

Grilled Halloumi Salad with Pomegranate, Grapes & Thyme

I’ve wanted to make something with pomegranate for some time now. Ever since the chicken with pomegranate and yoghurt worked out so well, it’s become one of my favourite dishes.

Halloumi is a favourite so when I came across this recipe, it was just a matter of time and pomegranate. I didn’t fry the cheese in clarified butter, instead grilled the slices and then chopped into required sized pieces.

The salad was absolutely delicious and I shall be making it very soon. And then again.

 

Ingredients

Serves: 2 as a main salad, 4-6 as a side salad

400 g mixed greens (approx. 8-10 cups)
Seeds from one pomegranate (½ cup or more)
1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
Small bunch fresh thyme, washed, dried and stems removed
225 g halloumi cheese

Dressing:

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons sugar (sugar actually necessary as the molasses is not too sweet)
Juice from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed (less is more in this case, garlic I had must have been extra potent, so will go easy on it next time)

Method

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with the fresh thyme, grapes and half the pomegranate seeds.

Blot the halloumi cheese with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Slice the cheese into slices just thick enough so they don’t disintegrate when on the grill. Grill for 7-10 mins each side. Turn and continue cooking until golden on both sides. Chop into bite-size pieces and toss the warm cheese into the salad.

Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss gently to coat. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Spiced Butternut Squash Salad

This is a combination of three recipes, which was going to be either absolutely fabulous or a complete overload of flavours and ingredients. It turned out to the first option and so I am recording it for future reference.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

800g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 medium bunch of spring onions, trimmed and halved
a few splashes of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic with skin on
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
100g rocket
cooking chorizo

Soy balsamic dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce, I used dark one
1 fresh red chilli seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp clear honey

Heath the over to 220C/fan 200C/gas 6. Place the squash, spring onions and garlic in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with seeds and season. Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the tray a couple of times to keep it from sticking.

Whilst roasting slice the chorizo and dry fry until crispy. Set aside.

Pop the garlic cloves from the skins, mash and stir into the dressing. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Put the rocket in a salad serving bowl and arrange the squash on top. Pour the dressing over, sprinkle with the crispy chorizo and serve.

Summer dinner

It started with the idea of a dinner on a terrace or garden in occasionally warm weather this spring and ended as a delicious dinner inside. The menu was positively spring-like:

Fresh cucumber, pea & mint soup, griddle herby lemon chicken with jersey royal potatoes with butter & parsley, and a side of stir-fried courgettes with ginger and chilli. Served with white wine, of course.

Fresh cucumber, pea & mint soup

Serves 4
Nutrition: 305kcal/25g carbohydrate/5.3g sugars/19.8g fat/12.8g saturated fat/2.5g salt per serving

1 fresh cucumber, medium to large, peeled and diced
25g butter
1 small onion, chopped
300g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
250g podded fresh peas or frozen peas
2 sprigs fresh mint, plus shredded mint for garnishing
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika

Wash the cucumber and cut off 5cm to reserve for the garnish. Cube the rest. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, cucumber and potato and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes stirring. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes until the potato is almost tender.

Add the peas and whole mint springs to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes until the peas are tender. Remove the mint sprigs and add 6-8 ice cubes to the pan and stir until melted. Blend or process until smooth, then chill. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche in each bowl and a scattering of shredded mint, diced cucumber and sprinkle of paprika.

Griddled herby lemon chicken

Serves 4
5 minutes preparation
1 hour marinating time
15 minutes cooking time

1 unwaxed lemon, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
100g natural yoghurt
15g pack fresh oregano (I used lovage from my garden)
20g pack fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
4 British free range skinless chicken breast fillets

Grate the lemon zest and squeeze the juice, then place both in a blender with the yoghurt, oregano, parsley, garlic, olive oil and seasoning. Whizz until smooth. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish and poor over the marinade. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, turning once.

Heat a ridged griddle or non-stick frying pan. I used a flat non-stick pan as was making a mess of it on the griddled one. Cook for 6-7 minutes each side, turning once until golden and cooked through with no pink meat (this is important). Serve with extra lemon wedges, new potatoes and a green salad or a lightly stir-fried greens.

With the last piece of chicken in the pan almost done, I added the marinade and cooked it well, served it as a top up sauce with the meal.

Jersey royal new potatoes with butter and chopped parsley

600g new potatoes
15g butter
15g parsley, chopped

Cover the potatoes with cold water in a pot, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Add butter and parsley, let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

Stir-fried courgettes with ginger and chilli

1 courgette per person
half-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, then chopped very finely
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced, then chopped
1 fresh red or green chilli, very thinly sliced
1 tsp groundnut oil
soy sauce
cut courgettes in about four portions, then cut each portion in half. Place each cut section face down on a cutting board and slice very thinly into fine little strips, about 2mm thick.

In a wok or frying pan, heat up groundnut oil. When it is hot (but not too hot), throw in the chopped garlic, and stir fry for about a minute. Before it takes colour, throw in the ginger, followed by the courgette-strips and the chilli. Stir fry until the courgettes begin to go translucent. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil, if you’ve got any, then serve.

Venison Sausages with Sweet Roasted Vegetables

Last weekend we got some lovely venison sausages at the Duke of York market from Wild about Game, together with the steaks for the previous recipe. I thought let’s do something more than just grill them and eat them with mash, venison deserves better. But, sadly, when the time came to put the sausages in the over, we discovered they were off, one day before the use-by-date. Not impressed. Fortunately, I had a back-up of Waitrose sausages, so all was not lost.

Ingredients

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 tbsp red wine
1 red pepper, deseeded and quartered
1 orange pepper, deseeded and quartered.
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and quartered
1 large green courgette, thickly sliced
1 large yellow courgette, thickly sliced.
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil.
1 1/2 teasp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 1/2 teasp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 Glenlyon Venison sausages
350g (12oz) cherry vine tomatoes, washed
A few fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas 6. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Put the redcurrant jelly in a small saucepan with the red wine and heat very gently, stirring occasionally, until melted together. Set aside.

2. Arrange all the vegetables evenly on the prepared baking tray. And drizzle with all but 1 tbsp oil, turning the vegetables to make sure they are well coated in the oil. Sprinkle with the seeds and plenty of seasoning.

3. Arrange the sausages on top of the vegetables, then brush the sausages with the redcurrant glaze. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the sausages and brush with more glaze. Arrange the tomatoes around the edges of the baking tray, brush with the remaining oil, and return to the oven. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until tender and cooked through. Serve straight from the baking tray, sprinkled with fresh basil and accompanied with a green salad and some crusty bread. (I made some parsnip puree, which was similar to the celeriac one and tasted amazing with the sausages.)

Venison steaks with cranberry sauce and celeriac puree

I love venison, especially in winter and this year I decided to try as many ways of preparing it as I can find. I think steaks are the best way, though I am partial to venison sausages with red wine (used to get them at the Kingsland Edwardian butchers in Portobello Road).

This recipe is a combined one. The venison steaks with the cranberry sauce are a Delia recipe, the celeriac puree is from BBC food site.


Venison steaks and cranberry sauce

For the steaks
2 venison steaks (about 14 oz/400 g total weight)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
2 level teaspoons crushed peppercorns
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
salt

For the sauce
2 rounded tablespoons cranberry sauce
zest and juice ½ orange
zest and juice ½ small lemon
1 rounded teaspoon freshly grated root ginger (about 1 inch/2.5 cm cube, after peeling)
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons port

If you want to, you can make the sauce way ahead of time (even several days). Take off the outer zest of half the orange and the lemon using a potato peeler, then with a sharp knife shred it into really fine strips, about ½ inch (1cm) long.

Then place the cranberry sauce, ginger and mustard in a saucepan, add the squeezed orange and lemon juice, and place over a medium heat. Now bring it up to simmering point, whisking well to combine everything together, then as soon as it begins to simmer turn the heat off, stir in the port and then pour it into a jug to keep till needed.

When you’re ready to cook the steaks, heat the oil in a medium-sized, thick-based frying pan. Dry the steaks thoroughly with kitchen paper, then press the crushed peppercorns firmly over both sides of the steaks. When the oil is smoking hot, drop the steaks into the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium (4 minutes for rare and 6 minutes for well done).

Halfway through, add the shallots and move them around the pan to cook and brown at the edges. Then 30 seconds before the end of the cooking time pour the sauce in – not over, but around the steaks. Let it bubble for about 20 seconds, season with salt, and then serve the steaks with the sauce poured over.

Celeriac puree

700g/9oz celeriac
70g/2oz unsalted butter
70ml/2fl oz double cream or 100ml milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the celeriac in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, if you want, add 2 medium sized potatoes. Drain well and blend all of the ingredients either in a food processor or a hand blender (I use the latter). Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend to a purée.

Hot chorizo salad with butternut squash & baby tomatoes

This is from a magazine I picked up at the airport and a recipe by MasterChef 2005 winner Thomasina Miers. It is also a bit fussier than I would normally put up with – it was the squash-cumin combination that got my attention. I am told that the effort was worth it, hence blogging it here for reference and others’ enjoyment.

Preparation time: 15 minutes (that’s optimistic, it’s more like 30 minutes what with peeling the squash).
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash de-seeded and cut into 5cm pieces
1 dried chilli, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
handful of oregano or marjoram
olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
punnet of baby tomatoes
small bunch coriander, chopped
4 large chorizo cooking sausages, bias cut into long rounds
150g cooked borlotti or pinto beans (I didn’t have any of these so left out, hardly noticed!)
baby spinach
100g Pecorino cheese

Step 1: Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put squash, chilli, cumin and oregano in a roasting dish, coat lightly with oil, season. Roast for 15 mins and add onion. Roast for 10 mins then add tomatoes. Roast for a final 10 mins.

Step 2: Pound the coriander leaves to a paste with a pestle and mortar, then add a pinch of salt. Cover with olive oil.

Step 3: Over a medium heat, fry chorizo 2 to 3 mins. Drain.

Step 4: Mix the veg and beans with coriander oil, spinach and chorizo. Add shaved Pecorino and oil.

The result is very tasty indeed.

Aubergine Parmigano

I plan to grow my own aubergines in the garden (so far, so slow), and tomatoes to make my own passata and I alreaday grow basil successfully. And although I don’t intend to keep buffalos to make my own mozzarella, this dish as close as I get to using ingredients that are mostly mine.

The recipe is easy to make, layering the aubergines, mozzarella, tomato and parmesan and cook it until it all melts. It’s also great for dinner parties and easy weekend lunches.

Serves 4
Total cooking time: 1 hr 30 mins
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr

Ingredients:

* 3 Aubergines
* 2 tbsps Salt, plus one pinch.
* 400g Mozzarella, ripped into pieces.
* 1 jar Tomato passata
* 1 Pinch Fresh ground black pepper
* 1 Bunch Fresh basil
* 80g Parmesan, flaked.
* 2 tbsps Olive oil, for cooking

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 180c / gas mark 5. Cut the aubergines into slices approximately 1.5cm thick, sprinkle them with salt, lay them on a plate and put another plate on top of them with a weight on the top to squeeze the aubergines together. This will draw out any bitterness in the aubergines. You don’t get many bitter aubergines and you may be lucky, but one day you will and it will ruin your dish unless you’ve salted them first so it’s just not worth the risk.

Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse the salt off and dry the aubergine slices.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the aubergine in batches until golden, drain on lots of kitchen roll.

Once all the aubergine has been fried, take a big, deep casserole and layer starting with aubergine, then mozarella, passata, salt and pepper, basil and finally parmesan flakes. Continue until all the aubergine has been used. You should have 2-3 layers depending on how deep and wide your casserole is.

Put the lid on and bake for 1 hour – the top layer of parmesan should be golden brown and the mozzarella should be melted. Aga: roasting oven, shelf on oven floor for 30 minutes then transfer to the simmering oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and green salad.

Crushed new potatoes with mint & feta

This is one of the best things for summer side dish – the lemon zest and juice in the dressing turns potatoes into light and zesty treat. Mint and feta take it to yet another level.

I got this recipe from Ocado website – it has many decent ones that have served me well. Unlike Waitrose recipes, they are simple to prepare but certainly don’t taste simple.

Ingredients

Serves 4
Cooking time 20 mins

* 3 tbsp Fresh Mint
* 200g Feta Cheese
* 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 Lemon, unwaxed
* 1 Red Onion
* 1 pinch Black Pepper
* 500g New Potatoes
* 1 tbsp Honey

Cook the new potatoes in a large pan of boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on size. Drain thoroughly and set to one side.

Pour the oil into a small bowl add the finely grated zest and juice of the lemon and the honey. Whisk. Using the end of a rolling pin or a large wooden spoon, roughly crush the potatoes, not so they are completely broken up but just enough so their skins split and the flesh is exposed so it soaks up some of the dressing.

Finely chop the red onion and sprinkle over the potatoes. Chop the mint and crumble the feta and add to the potatoes, drizzle over the dressing and toss to mix, season well with black pepper and salt if desired, not forgetting the feta can be a bit salty. Serve with salad leaves.

Roast beef with roast potatoes, parsnips & carrots

Last night I had a couple of friends over and at the last minute realised that the chicken I planned to make was two small for 4 people. So roast beef it was. I had all the ingredients so it was just a question of timing.

IMG_7745 by alecmuffett IMG_7746 by alecmuffett IMG_7748 by alecmuffett IMG_7749 by alecmuffett IMG_7751 by alecmuffett

Ingredients (serves 4):

1.2kg roasting beef
2 large parsnips
4 medium carrots
1-1/2 medium sized potatoes, quartered
rosemary
goose fat
salt and pepper
2 red onions
200ml red wine

First oil and season the beef and brown it in a heavy bottomed pan to seal it. I spiked it with bits of garlic afterwards but not essential. Put it on a rack and pour about 200ml of red wine in the pan, as it adds a bit of flavour to the meat as it evaporates. Cook it for 20 mins on high setting around 240C, then 30-35 minutes on 180C (10 minutes per pound rare times 1.2 per weight). After the first 20 minutes I added an onion sliced into 6 wedges, as onion is the secret ingredient for good and easy gravy.

The beef ended up very pink in the middle, with juices running clear. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, it should be more but everything else was ready and we were starving.

To make roast potatoes I followed this recipe. Parboiled parsnips for a few minutes (5-10 depending on size. I added them to the potatoes for the last 5 mins of parboiling). Roast them in olive oil (or duck or goose fat) for 30-40 minutes on 180C, with the red onion cut into 12 wedges, sprinkled with dried rosemary (fresh better if you have it). Carrots are quick and easy – cut into long chunks, season, put in a pyrex bowl, add a knob of butter, cover with cling film. Put in a microwave for 4-5 minutes, depending on how many there are. They should still be crunchy, with the butter and carrot juices at the bottom of the bowl.

Serve the juices from the meat, the onions are crunchy by now, in a separate bowl as gravy. I usually have hot creamed horseradish with the beef.