It is also a good make-ahead dish. Just prepare the rhubarb and keep it on the fridge until you need it.
Rhubarb and orange smoothie (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
- 2–3 rhubarb stalks, about 175g, cut into 2cm lengths
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 3–4 tsp honey
- 3–4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the orange zest and juice, honey and 2 tbsp of water. Stir over a low heat until the honey dissolves.
Cover the pan and stew the rhubarb very gently for about 8 minutes, until it softens. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. Switch off the heat and leave to cool completely. (You can, of course, prepare the rhubarb a day ahead and keep it chilled overnight.)
Put the rhubarb mixture in a blender with the yoghurt and whiz until smooth. Taste and add a little more honey, if you like. Pour into 2 glasses and drink straight away.
To keep up with the British traditional foods motif, a mess. Whatever fruits you were using, it us all in all, a very summery dessert, perfect to serve to a crowd. If you buy the meringue, you will have it done in no time, without the need to get close to the stove, even.
Raspberry and strawberry Eton Mess (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
- 250g strawberries
- 35g caster sugar
- 350mL double cream lightly whipped
- 150g of meringue
Halve the strawberries, thickly slicing any whoppers. Put in a large bowl with the raspberries and sugar. Roughly crush and squeeze some of the berries with your hands so the juices start to run. Cover and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour or two.
To assemble the mess, break the meringues into rough pieces, then fold into the whipped cream. Now lightly fold in the chilled fruit, so everything is rippled together rather than thoroughly blended. Pile into glasses and serve. You can make it an hours or so in advance, but not more, or the meringue will go weepy in the cream.
It’s carrots, enough said. And if it wasn’t, it has orange. And cumin. The perfect side dish for your roast…
- 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
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
This #beetrootgate episode is long overdue… It has been almost a month I posted a beetroot dish, a spread turned into a creamy soup. Truth to be said, actually never managed to get the right consistency. After trying a couple of times, I ended up doing this beetroot and walnut hummus instead. Well, technically this isn’t exactly a hummus, as there are no chickpeas in this dish, but its colour and flavour compensate for this culinary liberty. It is a brilliant recipe, almost foolproof, with the earthy sweet flavour of the beetroot combining to perfection to the crunchy nuts and slightly tangy tahini. I had to hide it in the fridge before I ate it all, one spoon at a time.
- 50g walnuts
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 25g stale bread, crusts removed
- 200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toast the walnuts in a stove at 180 oC for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Leave to cool.
In a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and dry-fry them, shaking the pan almost constantly to avoid burning, until they start to sizzle. Crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.
Break the bread into small chunks, put in a food processor or blender with the walnuts and blitz until fine. Add the beetroot, tahini, most of the garlic, a good pinch of the cumin, half the lemon juice, a little salt and a good grind of pepper, then blend to a thick paste.
Adjust it by adding a little more cumin, garlic, lemon, salt and/or pepper, blending again until you are happy with it. Loosen with a dash of oil if you think it needs it.
Serve at room temperature
Probably the last asparagus of the season, as they are slowing disappearing from the supermarket shelves. So many recipes, so little time… Nevertheless, I wish I had tried this one dish before. As easy as it seems, it is a very sophisticated plate of salad. And, these days, nothing seems as satisfying as the flavour of grilled asparagus, with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled liberally with salt… Happy moments in an ever so stressing last stretch before the summer break.
Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)
- About 500g asparagus
- 4 little gem lettuces
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Around 100g of feta cheese
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Blanch for a minute or two, until al dente. Remove from the fire and then drain. Let cool aside and pat with a tea towel until dry.
Meanwhile, cut the lettuces in half down the middle, leaving them joined at the root end. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, season generously and toss to coat, working the oil and seasoning into the lettuces a little with your hands.
Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lettuce halves cut-side down, cook for two minutes until golden brown and wilted on the base, then turn over and cook for a minute or two more. Remove from the pan and put on a serving dish.
Now add the asparagus to the frying pan and cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and patched with brown. Put together with the lettuce.
Crumble the goat cheese and arrange over the grilled grennies. Sprinkle with a little more oil and serve at once. Serve while warm.
I know I am partial to all things carroty… I had to try this one, mobile calorie intake units or no mobile calorie intake units to entertain. While it might be a departure from the original carrot hummus recipe (no chickpeas in sight), it was certainly delicious. The kind of food I need to hide from myself to make sure I don’t eat it all in one go. Sweet and spicy, aromatic and smooth, shiny and happy…
Roasted carrot hummus with orange (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)
- 500g carrots, peeled and cut into 4-5cm chunks
- 4 large garlic cloves, bashed
- 2 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 1 small orange, juiced, zest finely grated
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 200 oC
Put the carrots, garlic and oil in a roasting tin, season and roast for 30-35 minutes, giving the carrots a good stir halfway through, until tender and starting to caramelise at the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
Tip the carrots into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and put these in, too, along with any oil from the tin. Add the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, tahini and some salt and pepper, and process to a coarse purée. Add more lemon juice and seasoning as necessary. Serve the hummus warm or at room temperature.
Perfect for a winter meal or a Sunday roast….
- 500g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 500g parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 100ml milk
- 50g butter
- bay leaf
- nutmeg to taste
- salt & pepper
Put the carrots and parsnips together in a pan with salted cold water and bring to boil. Cook until tender.
Put the potatoes in another pan with salted water, bring to boil and cook until tender.
Drain the vegetables leave to steam off for a couple of minutes.
Put the carrots and the parsnips on a food processor with half the butter and blend to a creamy purée. Alternatively, you can use a hand held mixer.
In the same pan you used to cook the potatoes, warm the milk and what is left of the butter. Then add the potatoes and mash until they are smooth.
Combine both mashed vegetables adding plenty of seasoning and the nutmerg. Mix until you have a creamy golden mash.
Blitz the carrots & parsnips in a food processor with a knob of butter and enough milk to give a smooth finish.
Warm the milk and remaining butter in a large saucepan and mash the potatoes using a mouli or potato ricer into the pan. Stir the potatoes into the milky butter and add the carrot and parsnip puree, season well with salt and pepper and mix well to incorporate.
In the aftermath of #beetrootgate, beetroot brownies… A slightly less guilty pleasure, with a rich and velvety texture. Truth to be said, I like this version better than the 100% chocolaty thing.
Chocolate and beetroot brownies (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ‘s River Cottage Everyday)
- 250g of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken into pieces
- 3 medium eggs
- 250g caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 150g whole meal flower
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder (or according to instructions in the package)
- 250g of beetroot, boiled until tender then peeled and grated.
Set the oven to 180oC
Grease a baking tray, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bain marie. If you don’t have a proper double boiler (I don’t), just fit a metal bowl over a small saucepan filed with a few centimeter of water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Let the water boil, while mixing the butter and the chocolate until the mixture is well combined and glossy.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar until well combined. Then beat in the chocolate and butter until smooth.
Combine the flour with salt and baking powder. Sift them over the chocolate mix. Gently fold in with a wooden spoon.
Finally, fold in the grated beetroot, and keep on folding gently. Be careful not to over mix – otherwise you will get though brownies
Put the mixture in a tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake for 20-25min, or until a knife insert into the center come out slightly moisten or with a few crumbs attached.
Let it cool until you cut the squares.
What else to eat on the first day of the year, but a fragrant lentil soup to bring you good luck? For best results, eat it while standing on you right foot on top of a stool and holding a piece of gold in your hand. Wearing a bright red piece of clothing is an absolute must. When you are done with the soup proceed immediately to eat 12 grapes or raisins. Superstitious, me? Absolutely not – it is just my brain doing its job.
Lentil soup with caraway and minted yoghurt (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ‘s River Cottage Everyday)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 350g red lentils
- 2 liters of water or vegetable stock
- 5 tablespoons of yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, until it is pipping hot. Then add the onions and carrots, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables sweat until they have soften, stirring occasionally
2. In the meanwhile, toast the coriander and caraway seed in a small frying pan. Grind them a fine powder using a mortar or a grinder (it is not strictly necessary to do this, but it will help to get a more fragrant soup).
3. Once the vegetables are soft, add the ground spices and the garlic and let them fry fir a couple of minutes.
4. Add the lentils and mix well, until the lentils are covered with olive oil.
5. Pour the stock in the lentils and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft (about 15–20 minutes).
6. With a hand held mixer, purée until smooth. Add more water or stock if too thick.
7. Put the pan back in the stove and season to taste with salt and pepper. If necessary add the remaining spices. Let it simmer gently for about 5 min more.
8. To finish, whisk yoghurt and the mint. Put a dollop on top of the soup in each serving bowl