Maybe not the real soda bread, but still a very good version it. Actually, perfect to eat with a bowl of soup or with some salad.
Buckwheat cheddar soda bread (adapted from Dan Lepard’s column in the Guardian).
- Makes one large loaf
- 300g buckwheat flour
- 50g potato flour (potato starch; i used potato mash flakes)
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 3 tsp mustard powder or curry powder
- 125g strong cheddar, coarsely grated
- 2 medium eggs
- 50g low-fat yoghurt
- 200ml cold milk
Put the buckwheat and potato flours into a bowl and then rub in the butter. Add the baking powder, mustard powder and cheddar and toss through well.
Beat the eggs, yoghurt and milk together , then pour the mix on the dry ingredients and stir well to a soft dough. Line a baking tray with nonstick paper and spoon the mixture on as one big lump in the middle. Dust the top with buckwheat flour then pat it into a rectangle about 3cm high.
Cover the top with more grated cheese and poppy seeds, cut with a knife into 8-12 pieces, then bake at 220C/200C fan/425F/gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes until the cheese on top begins to brown. Remove from the tray and paper and leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.
The last thing I was expecting was seeing bacon muffins offered as a “healthy option packed with protein”. Specially, when I classified them as totally unhealthy, but worthwhile the risk about 3 years ago. Well, it is gluten free, after all… In any case, an excellent make ahead dish for brunch, lunch or keep the
beasts lovely colleagues happy, motivated or blissfully unaware of the sky falling down their heads challenges.
Bacon eggs and cheese muffins (adapted from Our Nourishing Groots)
- 12 eggs
- 350g of bacon, chopped and cooked
- 180g of Gruyere (or other sharp) cheese, shredded
- A pinch of dried basil and oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 80g 0f Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 175oC
2. Heat a large flat frying pan until is piping hot. Lay out the chopped bacon strips so that they are not overlapping but generally fill the pan. Cook the bacon on its own grease. When they are translucent, remove them from the heat and reserve.
3. In the meanwhile, stir together the 12 eggs whole eggs. Add the cooked bacon and the grated Gruyere cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oregano and shredded basil.
4. Line the muffin tray with paper liners. Ladle the muffin mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until puffy and slightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Loosen the paper cups with a butter knife and lift out of the muffin pan.
6.Serve immediately while still warm, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
“Oh” said the mobile calorie intake unit my friend. “You made tortilla for brunch?”. “No, I haven’t”, I answered. “This is a frittata”. “Like an omelette?” asked a confused mobile calorie intake unit friend. “No, no….” was the only possible answer “It is a frittata… just eat it, will you?”. Thankfully, he did. Otherwise I would have to start a lenghty on the specifics of omelettes, tortillas and frittatas. A tortilla can never be baked and it is always done in a two step process (indeed a process, until you learn how to turn it around without a mess of epic proportions). An omelette is normally made with 2 or 3 eggs and folded. A frittata is baked – or fried and baked… And, let’s not forget tortillas are Spanish, omelettes are French and frittatas are Italian. But, all of them, a perfect dish for a festive brunch.
Pea, goat cheese and bacon frittata ( adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)
- Olive oil to fry
- 8 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 medium leeks
- 150g peas, thawed
- a few basil leaves, roughly sliced
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese grated and enough to sprinkle all over the frittata
- 150g soft goat’s cheese, thickly sliced
- sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180oC oven and the grill on its highest setting.
Heat oil in a non stick ovenproof large frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the bacon for 2-3min.
Add the red pepper. Continue to cook for another few minutes until the bacon is golden brown and crisp. Add the leeks, and let it sweat until everything is tender.
Toss in the peas and cook for another minute or two, then add the basil roughly missing.
Cut the goat’s cheese in chunks and scatter half of it over the top.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat them. Add the parmesan cheese. Season with lots of black pepper.
Poor the beaten eggs over the vegetables and gently shake over medium heat. As the omelette begins to set at the bottom, grate the remaining goat’s cheese on top and season with pepper.
Place the plan under the hot grill in the oven for a few minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.
Perfect brunch dish… can be made in advance, is delicious and has the exact amount of richness for a semi-festive meal. It has nothing but very simple and humble ingredients, which work well together, for a very versatile dish. Leeks are in season, even…
Leek, gruyère and thyme pie (as seen in The Guardian)
- 1 large baking potato, cut into slices
- 3 medium leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
- A knob of butter
- Salt and black pepper
- 20ml cream
- 150g grated gruyère cheese
- 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
- 500g all-butter puff pastry, rolled
- 1 egg, for washing
Heat an oven to 180C. Cook the baking potato in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and set aside.
Cook the leeks over a medium heat in the butter until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the potato flesh with the leeks, cream, gruyère and thyme leaves and season well.
Place one circle of puff pastry on top of a 25cm nonstick pie dish and press into the base – there will be an overhang, which can be trimmed off.
Spoon the leek mixture into the prepared dish and place the other pastry disk on top. Crimp around the sides to seal, then brush the top with egg and make an incision in the middle of the lid to let the steam escape while it’s in the oven.
Cook the pie for 30‑40 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and crisp. Rest for a few minutes before serving.
It was a totally random purchase, in an airport bookstore. I had a couple of minutes to grab a book to read in the plane and this one just got my attention. It looked like yet another expat experience with yet more live changing experiences inducing snooze fest. For extra cynicism, I only found broken hearts in the city of love… But it were the recipes that caught my attention. A love story with recipes? Never mind it is even in Paris – that is totally worthwhile reading. And it was… It is a quick, funny and light read. For a quick sum up of traditional home style french dishes, it is also excellent. I feel I will come back to this book over and over again.
- 120g of all purpose flour (about 1 and 1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 200g sliced bacon or pancetta
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 120 mL olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
- 120 mL full fat milk (about 1/2 cup)
- 8 soft dried figs
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
- 100g of grated Gruyere cheese
Pre-heat the stove to 160oC
Sift the flour with the baking powder to a bawl.
Butter and flour a baking dish (or use a non stick baking spray). Cover the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.
In a small frying pan, fry the bacon strips until all fat is gone. Take them out of the pan and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
In a medium size bawl, beat the eggs with the salt. When they are mixed, add the milk and olive oil. Carry on beating until you obtain a light fluffy structure.
Fold the flower into the mix until is incorporated (be careful not to over mix – a couple of time will do).
Add the remaining ingridients (fried bacon, parsley and grafted cheese) gently mix then in.
Put the batter in the baking dish and transfer to the oven. Let it bake for about 1hour. Test with a knife before taking it out – it should came out dry.
Take it out from the dish while still hot, and let it cool down before serving.
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)
- 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
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.
The good thing is that this is a delicious pumpkin dish. The bad one, that Autumn is here. I somehow feel I didn’t had enough of Summer. From here to Christmas is only a small leap. Thank God for the produce of the season to help me cross this bridge…
Roasted pumpkin wedges with sour cream (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
- For the wedges
- 1 pumpkin (about 700g), desseeded pumpkin, and cut 1 about 2cm slices, skin on
- 50g grated Parmesan
- 3 table spoons of finely chopped thyme
- 6 table spoons of parsley
- the grated zest of 2 lemons
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- Enough olive oil to brush the pumpkin wedges
For the dill sour cream
- 12o mL of sour cream
- 1 tablespoon of chopped dill
- salt and withe pepper
Pre heat the oven to 190 oC.
Slice the pumpkin, keeping the skin. The wedges should be about 2 cm thick .
Lay the pumpkin wedges on a tray lined with baking parchment and brush them with olive oil
For the crust, by mix in a small bowl the Parmesan, the chopped parsley and thyme, the lemon zest, the garlic and some pepper (check for salt. Normally you won’t need to add it as the Parmesan is salty enough).
Sprinkle generously the wedges, with the crust mix.They should all be covered with a few millimeter layer of crust. If the
Put in the oven and roast for 30min or until the wedges are soft and tender. If the topping starts to get too dark, cover the tray with foil
In the meanwhile, start the dill sour cream. Mix all the ingredients (sour cream dill, salt and pepper).
You can serve it warm or cold (better warm…)
Once I got the empanada de atun [savoury tuna parcels] properly tested and under control, I decided to expand to other combinations. Not knowing where to start, I turned to Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, whom seemed to favor spinach, cream cheese and spinach. If it is good enough for Patrick and Carlos, it is also good enough for me…. I am actually quite fond of spinach, which helped a bit my decision. Of course, living in Switzerland, the Cheddar in the original recipe had to be replaced by Emmentaler. No one noticed seemed to complain – if anything it conformed better to the taste of hardened expats living in Switzerland for longer than they want to admit. All in all, a great dish to serve when the occasion requires food easy to eat or informal gatherings. For bonus, it is vegetarian and all the greenies make it look a bit more healthy than its tuna fish counterpart. Eat warm or cold, with a beer or a glass of red wine.
Spinach and cheese parcels (empanada de espinacas y queso, adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
- 2 packets ready of read-rolled puff pastry (one for the bottom, the other to cover it)
- 800g of fresh spinach, washed
- 100g of full fat creamy cheese, like Philadelphia
- 100g of grated Emmentaler cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 slightly beaten egg
1. Coat the bottom of a heavy bottom non sticky pan with olive oil and put it on high heat, until the olive oil is smoking hot.
2. Drop the the spinach leaves inside, season whit salt and turn the leaves until they start to wilt.
3. Transfer the leaves to sieve lined with kitchen paper, so it absorbs the bitter liquids.
4. Allow to cool, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add both cheeses to the spinach and mix everything together until it is homogenous.
6. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
7. Heat the oven to 200 oC
8. Line the bottom and walls of the rectangular baking tray previously buttered. Pinch it with a fork and fold in the e spinach and cheese mixture.
9. Put the second sheet of puff pastry on top, and close the edges trimming the excess pastry. Seal with the beaten egg. You can brush the whole surface to look shiny.
10. Leave in the stove for about 20m (or according to the instructions), until the pastry is done.
Nowadays, you can get decent (and indecent, for that matter) Manchego cheese in almost every supermarket. But, Idiazábal cheese is only to be found in high end delicatessen shops, at the price of an arm, a leg, and your children corneas. I only remember having it once in the 9 years I have been living in Switzerland, and truth to be said, it was a Spanish acquaintance who smuggled it in gruyère -land.
In case you are wondering, Idiazábal is a Denominación de Origen [Protected designation of origin] hard sheep cheese from the Basque and Navarre regions, which has a rich smoky flavor. Apparently, the Basque shepherds used to store the cheese in their huts over Winter. The smoke coming out of their fireplaces eventually permeated their dairies, giving it a new flavor that the shepherds preferred. All I can say is that the flavor (and aroma) is strong. Very strong…
In fact, so strong I thought my
suffering testers dinner guests wouldn’t appreciate it to its full splendor. I resorted to Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas for help, and as it turned out, it was actually a very good idea to serve this tapa rather than the pure thing. The sweetness of the onion and honey complement to perfection the slightly less smokey and hot-ish flavor the cheese, for complete delight of guests and cook.
Idiazábal cheese and caramelised onion tapa (adapted from Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas)
- 200g Idiazábal cheese, rind removed and sliced
- 1 cup (=250mL) milk
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, slightly crushed
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 6 slices of French baguette
- 1 teaspoon honey
1. Put the cheese in a bowl, add the milk and the crushed peppercorns. Let it sit for about 30min (until it is a bit softer)
2.In the meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-adherent frying pan until it shimmers. Drop in the onion, and let it caramelise, stirring every now and gain.It should take about 15min.
3. Fish the cheese out of the bowl and pat dry with kitchen paper.
4.Place each slice of cheese on top of the bread and drop about 1 teaspoon of the caramelised onions over it. Finish the tapa by drizzling a little honey over it.
…and this is the polenta I did to go with with the pork loin with roasted peppers and garlic & parsley olive oil. Also a Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal dish, it is über-delicious and creamy. Probably the best polenta I ever had. For sure, I will do it again. M. even suggest it might go well with Portuguese style codfish.
Polenta and parmesan gratin
Ingredients (for 6)
- 900ml water
- 150g polenta (quick cook variety, which will take about 5-10min to get ready)
- 300ml whipping cream
- 2 teaspoon butter
- 120g Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 4 tablespoon Parmesan for the gratin
Pre-heat the grill to high (top shelf of stove, about 180oC)
Poor the water into a saucepan and bring to boil. Sprinkle in the polenta a little at the time, whisking continuously.
When all the polenta has been added, cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, whisking continuously.
Pour in the cream and cook for another 2 minutes.
Gradually add the first quantity of Parmesan cheese and add the butter.
Keep whisking until the polenta has thickened. Season with salt.
Poor the polenta into a large backing tray or heatproof dish. The polenta should be about 1 cm deep.
Leave the polenta to stand 5 minutes and then sprinkle with the second quantity of grated Parmesan.
Put in the stove and grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling.