Roasted carrots with butter, cumin and orange

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s carrots, enough said. And if it wasn’t, it has orange. And cumin. The perfect side dish for your roast…

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 750g carrots, peeled and cut into thick batons
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus some juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 175oC

Put the oil and butter into a large baking dish and leave in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the butter melts. Remove from the oven and add the carrots, cumin, and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss together, cover with foil, and return to the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Remove from the oven, take off the foil, and give everything a good stir. Then return to the oven, uncovered, for about 20 to 30 minutes, so the carrots start to caramelise.

When you take the dish from the oven, stir in the orange zest and a good squeeze or two of the juice. Serve at once


Broccoli slaw

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I would have never thought raw broccoli could taste this good…  Please don’t even mention it is often considered a super-food (whatever that means), that raw broccoli has more anti-oxidants than cooked one and how much finer it has. It supposed to be a side dish for a dinner party,  not a statement piece or declaration of intentions, OK?

Broccoli slaw (adapted from MailOnline’s Food special part one: Gordon Ramsay’s ultimate home cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g  whole blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

For the dressing

  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 1–11⁄2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Cut off and discard the broccoli stalks. Chop the head into small pieces. Place in a salad bowl and add the almonds and currants. Set aside.

Put the yoghurt for the dressing into a bowl and stir in the vinegar, starting with 1 tablespoon, and adding more later if needed. Add the sugar, mix well and season. Taste and add the remaining vinegar or a little extra sugar if necessary.

Pour the dressing over the broccoli, toss well and serve. In case you want to prepare it advance, you can kept in the fridge overnight.


Pumpkin and tahini spread

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Smooth, creamy and  with a warm spices note – Autumn doesn’t get any better than this. It was supposed to be eaten in small portions with savoury cookies, but soon spoons made an appearance. TEoU and I ended up having it as pumpkin purée for lunch…

Pumpkin and tahini spread (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70g tahini paste
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Method

Heat the oven to 180C. Spread the pumpkin out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil and roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Transfer the cooled pumpkin of the bowl of a food processor, along with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste

To serve, spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and a drizzle of syrup.

PS – Cookies (Taralli Caserecci Pugliesi) courtesy of Coop Fine Food 


Poached pears with ginger, chilli pepper and star anise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I saw it on TV, I did it and I ate it… well, with a bit of help from the mobile calorie intake units. It is just the perfect dessert – it is glamorous, delicious and can be made in advance. There is not much technique to it, except, maybe, peeling the pears. And, it might be the healthiest part of dinner, even…

Poached pears with ginger, red chilli pepper and star anise (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) 

Ingredients

  •  8-10 ripe conference pears, peeled but with the stem intact
  • 200g of sugar
  • 3 thumbs of ginger, cut into thick slices (about 20cm)
  • 4 star anise, crushed to fine powder with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 peperoncino (or red chillies peppers, to taste)
  • Enough cold water to cover the pears.

Method

Peel the pears with a potato peeler, taking care to leave the stems intact.

Put the water, the sugar and the ginger in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the pears and peperoncino and poach for about half hour until their are soft and cooked through.

Set aside and leave the pears to cool in the syrup.

When you are ready to serve, just put the pears in the plate and sprinkle them with the star anise dust.

If you want, you can bubble the syrup for a a few more minutes to thicken a bit and serve with the pears. Or, you can prepare a chocolate sauce (just melt the chocolate in bain marie, with a bit of butter, being careful not to boil it. Add some cream and mix well). Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra quick.


Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt, take 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was one of the first posts of this blog,  long long time ago. Since then, an awful lot has happened: people have walked in and out of my life, some doors have shut and others have opened and Summer might have taken its time to arrive, but it alway did…  Yet, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to it, specially in the first days of Winter. Confort food doesn’t get much better than this… Seriously, it is quite easy to do. It requires minimum attention and preparation – just the odd bit of mixing suff here and there. Most of the ingredients are spices and the most sophisticated ones are actually optional.

Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • half teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • half teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt

For the cucumber yogurt

  • 150g Greek yogurt (I used regular lactose free yogurt)
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • half tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • lime juice

 Method

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and sunflower oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.


Thomas Keller’s creamy polenta

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was not my intention to make this a polenta cook-off between two of the best chefs in the world…  Adrià’s polenta is a very popular dish in this blog, and I get to cook it often. However, this polenta looked so creamy and fluffy, I had to give it a go…  The mobile calorie intake units  My guests got a bit worried about the extra calories, but ate it all without too much complaining. The general consensus was that it was indeed creamy – a bit too much even.

Creamy polenta (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 L (=6 cups) of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • about 500g of coarse polenta
  • 600 mL (=2.5  cups) of heavy cream
  • 170 grams ( =12 tablespoons ) of unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Combine the stock, garlic and sprinkle with salt in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Pour in the polenta in stream and cook over low heat, stirring often, stirring often, for about 20min, until the polenta is quite dry and coats the bottom of the pan. The moisture must evaporate, because it will be replaced with fat.

In the meanwhile, warm the cream in a small pan

Increase the cream under the polenta to medium and stir in the butter. Add a cream, about half a cup at the time, and let the polenta absorb it all before adding more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Beetroot, apple and walnuts salad with yoghurt and cumin seeds dressing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beetroots again! It has been while – but here they are again… #Beetrootgate proceeds with a lovely salad of contrasting flavours and different textures. Add a bit of feta cheese for a full meal, perfect for a lunch box.

Beetroot, apple and walnuts salad with yoghurt and cumin seeds dressing  (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cooked beetroots (not pickled), cut into small cubes
  • 20g blanched hazelnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 chicory heads, trimmed.
  • 2 red apples, like gala 
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

Dressing

  • 150g of low fat yoghurt
  • the juice and the zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon of runny honey

Method

Slip the beetroots out of their skins. Cut them into wedges and then into cubes

Roughly chop the hazelnuts on a board. Tip them into a colander and give it a good shake until get rid of all the small powdery bits. Reserve the big chunky ones.

Scatter the nuts into a non-stick frying pan and toast over a medium-high heat for about 5min or until lightly browned, turning them as they cook. Add the cumin seeds and toast together for about 1-2min. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl.

Cut each head of chicory lengthways into 6 thin wedges and put them in a salad bowl; alternatively you can separate the some leaves. Cut the apple into quarters, remove the core and the slice the apple quarters fairly thinly. Peel and finely slice the onion. Roughly chop the mint and parsley leaves.

Lightly toss the chicory, apple, onion, hazelnuts, cumin seeds and herbs together. Scatter the beetroot on top of the salad and mix gently. Scatter around the dressing to taste


Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs in a reduction of balsamic

roasted sweetpotatos with figues and a reduction of balsamic

Apparently, it is one of the most popular Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes – and rightly so…. A few tweaks to the recipe, though. Onions were replaced by leeks as one of the mobile calorie intake units guests is allergic to it. Fresh figs were replaced my dried ones, due to sourcing and budgetary constraints. Probably not the dish Yotam envisioned, but still… it is a pretty good way to start your Autumn.

Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs in a reduction of balsamic (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi‘Jerusalem)

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 3 leeks  halved lengthways and cut into thin slices
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 250g of dried figs, sliced
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 240oC/220oC Fan/Gas Mark 9.

Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into three long wedges. Mix with three tablespoons of the olive oil, two teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.

To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.

Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature.


Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino cheese

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From an off-season salad  to a totally in season one, courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi. It seems an odd combination of flavours, but they really go well together: the anise flavor of the fennel, sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the cheese, the freshness of the lemon, the bitterness of the rucola…. It could well be one of the dishes of this Autumn (minus pecorino cheese, for a sensible calorie count).

Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half lengthways, then each half cut  sideways into 2mm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 10g picked dill
  • 75g rocket
  • 3 medium ripe conference pears, peeled, quartered lengthways, cored and cut into 0.5cm wedges
  • 60g pecorino, thinly shaved

 Method

Mix the lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the fennel and leave to soften for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Put the oil, caraway, maple syrup, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some black pepper into a small bowl, strain in the lemon and vinegar from the fennel bowl and stir well.

Add the dill, rocket, pear and pecorino to the fennel bowl, pour on the dressing, toss lightly and serve.


Melon, cucumber and courgette salad with olives

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Melons are now totally off season, but it is still worthwhile to post this  super light, super healthy and super refreshing  little salad. It was the best Summer dish * ever *…  Too bad I couldn’t do it more ofter.

Melon, cucumber and courgette salad with olives onion (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • ½ large cucumber (about 200g, deseeded  and cut in half moon slices about 2mm thick)
  • 1 medium courgette (about 200g, cut into 2mm thick slices)
  • ¼ small charentais or galia melon (about 200gm sliced as above)
  • 50g pitted black olives, chopped as above
  • Juice of ½ small lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Method

Quarter the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and slice into thin quarter-moons about 2mm thick. Put the slices in a large bowl.

Top and tail the courgette, quarter it lengthways and cut into pieces the same thickness as the cucumber. Add to the bowl.

Scoop the seeds out of the melon. Carefully slice the melon off its skin, then cut it first lengthways into two to three slender wedges, then crosswise, as with the cucumber and courgette. Add to the bowl.

Roughly chop the olives and add to the salad.

Squeeze over the lemon juice, trickle over the oil, give it a good seasoning and stir together gently. Taste, add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed, and serve straight away