“So, Burntsugar…”, said B. “How do you make this soup?”. “Well, it is not too difficult.”, I answered. “You pick a spread recipe from last Ottolenghi’s book, then decide to use boiled beetroot instead of roasted and finally get a watery yoghurt instead of a drained one.” B. looked a bit worried, but proceeded to eat its portion and lick the bowl as this had been a perfectly executed dish. Truth to be said, what could have been a really bad day in the kitchen, ended up with a delicate and colourful dish much to the delight of my
mobile calorie intake units guests. On the next episode of beetrootgate…
- 500g cooked beetroot (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small red chilli
- 250g yoghurt
- 1 1/2 maple sirup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- salt to taste
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced
- 15g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
- 60g of soft goats cheese, crumbled
Peel the beetroot and cut it in chunks
Place the beetroot, garlic, chill and yoghurt in a food processor. Blend it until you obtain a smooth paste.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in in the maple sirup, olive oil and za’atar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Transfer into small serving bowls (or glasses) and scatter the spring onion, hazelnut and cheese.
Serve at room temperature.
After The Spicery and The Laughing Lemmon, now is the turn of the Hairy Dieters. Again, the same basic ingredients: lamb, spices and fruits. But, it also had chickpeas and tinned tomatoes. And it was sweet. Very sweet… probably one spoon of honey too much for my taste buds. All in all, it was delicious and filling. In fact, a lot more heavy than the other version even though it had much less fat. Don’t take me wrong – it was delicious. It is the comparison with the Laughing Lemnon’s which it makes it sound like a bit pedestrian.
Lamb tajine (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 750gm lamb shoulder
- 2tsp ground cumin
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 medium onions halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 400gm can chopped tomatoes
- 400mls cold water
- 3tbsp runny honey
- 400g tin of chick peas drained and rinsed
- 1 lamb stock cube
- 75gm no soak apricots,halved
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the lamb of any hard fat and cut into rough 3cm chunks, season all over with salt and pepper.
Mix the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chilli in a bowl.
Heat oil in the tajine until is piping hot. Add the lamb, onions and garlic and stir fry over a high heat for 1 minute until lightly coloured.
Sprinkle with the spices and cook for 1-2 mins more, tossing constantly until you have a fragrant aroma. Tip the tomatoes into the casserole dish, together with the cold water, honey and chickpeas. Add the stock cube over the top and stir well.
Bring to a simmer, stirring couple of times. Cover with the lid and let cook with low heat for 60min. Open the lid and drop in the dried fruits and still well. Put back the lid and let it cook for another hour, or until the lamb is tender.
You may remember from a few posts ago a mention to Laughing Lemon’s Moroccan Feast, a tajine and The Spicery’s lamb with apricots and almonds. It was not my intention by then to start a cook off, but as I tried different recipes comparisons become inevitable.
This one is the Laughing Lemon’s take on it, probably as close as it can get from his Mother’s recipe. The ingredients are almost the same ones that The Spicery’s: lamb, honey, almonds, apricots, prunes. However, there are no tomatoes on this dish. As it turned out, it was a such sweeter and its flavours, more delicate and balanced. Probably, this take has much less spin to the original dish.
PS Please don’t say Jack I made the couscous following the instructions on the pack (plus pomegranate, mint and lemon juice).
… And we are back to a quasi-Winter weather. While it was meant to brighten any Winter table, it ended up being yet another post of protest against this atrocious Spring.
In any case, after Christmas #beetrootgate , I actually didn’t gave up on cooking them… It sort of become an unavoidable ingredient. It is colourful and sweet and packed with earthy flavours… how could you not want to cook it? Specially when you bump into its 10 best recipes, one of them by the latest foodie TV stars, The Fabulous Baker Brothers? It was worthwhile taking the risk of tarte tatin – the dish was delicious.
Beetroot tarte tatin with goat cheese (adapted from a Fabulous Baker Brother’s recipes found in The Guardian’s The 10 best beetroot recipes)
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 40g butter
- A splash of sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 7 thyme sprigs
- 4 fresh beetroot, cooked
- 250g puff pastry
- 4 slices of goat’s cheese
- Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Place a smallish, heavy, oven-safe frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sugar to the pan and stir until it dissolves, then add a big pinch of salt, all the butter and a splash of sherry vinegar. Keep stirring until it has turned mahogany brown. It’s a good idea to use oven gloves to protect your hands. Take care not to let the sugar burn.
Add 1 tbsp honey to the pan. Pick the thyme leaves from 6 stalks and add them too. Remove from the heat and stir. Place a long sprig of thyme on top of the caramel for decoration.
Cut the cooked beetroot into nice fat slices and carefully (so you don’t burn your fingers) arrange all the slices on top of the caramel, working from the edge to the centre in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry so it’s big enough to cover the beetroot, then place it on top, tucking the edges down into the pan. Put the whole lot into the oven for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Wearing oven gloves, place an upturned plate over the frying pan (it should be bigger than the pan) and, holding the two together, flip the lot over. Leave it for 30 seconds to let the caramel mostly fall from the pan on to the plate, then slowly lift the pan.
Serve by the wedge while still warm, with a disk of goat’s cheese on top and, if you fancy, a drizzle of honey.
iPhone Samsung Galaxy Note, whom never lies, tells me today is going to be a nice sunny day. The tepid 24oC it promised, seems as good as an excuse as any other to together this lovely salad. It almost feels a bit too summery for the end of April, even. But when the sun is out you have to enjoy it while it is there. If it goes again, God only knows when it will be back. And, apparently, grapefruits are in season…
Pink grapefruit and sumac salad (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- 5 pink or red grapefruits for the salad
- 300mL of grapefruit juice (a big one is suffice).
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 small dried red chilli
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ½ red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 2-3 small red chicory, separated, and large leaves cut in half on an angle
- 80g lamb’s lettuce (Valerianella locusta)
Top and tail five grapefruits so they’ll stand on a board. Cut down the side of each grapefruit, following its natural lines, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a bowl to catch the juices, cut in between the membranes to separate the individual segments. Dry the segments on kitchen paper and squeeze any juice from the skin and membranes into a saucepan.
Squeeze enough juice from the last grapefruit to make the juice in the pan up to 300ml. Add the sugar and chilli, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and you have about five tablespoons-worth of juice left – this could take up to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool down, then whisk in the oil, lemon juice, sumac and a quarter-teaspoon of salt.
In a large bowl, put the grapefruit segments, onion, chicory, watercress and basil. Pour over three-quarters of the dressing and toss gently. (If it seems dry, add all the dressing; otherwise, save it in the fridge for another leafy salad.) Serve at once.
For a couple of days, I start to believe it was possible, after all, to feel the Spring. I even looked for my sun glasses and rush to the basement to a light coat… Well, much for my dismay, it seemed that Summer was last Tuesday, right on the very day I had a TC I could not reschedule. Wednesday was a bit iffy, Thursday, autumnal. Saturday, we all woke up to snowfall.
Not a single comment on Facebook or Twitter, but…. Fish stew it is. It could have been my mother’s caldeirada - it tastes as good as - but her recipe has a completely different method and a much briefer list of ingredients. In any case, it was delicious and warming. Comfort food doesn’t get much better than this…
Fish stew (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 celery sticks, very finely diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
- • 250g potatoes floury potatoes
- 1 yellow pepper
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- Good pinch of saffron threads
- 2 bay leaves
- 150ml white wine
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
- 600ml cold water
- ½ fish stock cube
- 2 tsp superfine sugar
- ½ tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 400g thick white fish fillet
- 200g cooked and peeled king prawns, thawed
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or wide, heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion and celery for 8 minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Don’t let the garlic burn or it will give your stew a bitter flavour. If the onion starts to stick, add a splash of cold water to the pan. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 2cm chunks. Deseed the pepper and cut that into chunks too.
Stir the ground coriander, saffron and bay leaves into the casserole and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over the wine and let it all bubble for a few seconds before adding the yellow pepper, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, water, stock cube and sugar. Season with the ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of ground black pepper.
Bring the stew to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are softened but not breaking apart. Trim the green beans, cut them in half and add them to the pan, then return to a simmer. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the skin from the fish fillets and cut the fish into rough 2.5cm chunks. Drop the fish pieces on top of the bubbling liquid and cover the pan with a lid. Poach the fish over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until it is almost cooked. Remove the lid and very gently stir in the prawns, trying not to break up the fish too much. Cover again and simmer for 2 minutes more or until the fish i opaque and the prawns are hot. Don’t let the prawns overcook.
I could be writing about lovely Spring dishes, with plenty of asparagus, rhubarb and green stuff all around. But not – cottage pie it is. No Spring, no Spring food. Anyway, it is either this or start a monumental rant about the weather on Facebook… The pie itself, is delicious, warming and comforting.
Cottage pie (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 400g of lean minced beef
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon of tomato purée
- 500mL beefstock, made with 1 beef stock cube
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leeky potato topping
- 750g of floury potatoes
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 slender leeks, timed and cut into 1cm slices
- 150mL of low fat milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non stick sauce pan or casserole dish over a medium heat. No need to add olive oil – it is a non stick pan, after all. Put in the minced meat and cook it together with the onions, celery and carrots for about 10min, until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks
Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the beef stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the mixed herbs. Season with a generous pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover loosely and simmer gently for about 40min, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.
You can start preparing the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then down the heat slightly and simmer for 18-20min or until the potatoes are very tender. Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5min until softened but not coloured, stirring often. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan, season to taste and mash with the milk (and a little butter) until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220oC. When the beef has been simmering for 40min, mix the cornflour with the cold flour to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 1-2min or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.
Poor the beef mixture into a 2-liter shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mash potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff it up with a fork.
Bake for 30min until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.