Pumpkin and tahini spread

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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 


Thomas Keller’s creamy polenta

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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

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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


Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino cheese

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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.


Fennel orange salad with harissa dressing

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Every now and again, I find a dish that I like so much I do it over and over and over again. Like, for example, the Russian egg salad. Or, this cauliflower soup. And, let’s not even mention the whole #beetrootgate affair. This is one of those dishes, which has become one of the staples of last Winter (and Spring…  and even Summer). It is just divine with smoked trout, baked salmon, cold cuts… And all this for less than 250 calories for a reasonable sized portion. Really, what not to like this salad?

Fennel orange salad with harissa dressing  (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 2 medium size fennel bulbs, trimmed,  woody central core part removed and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 oranges peeled (white parts out) and cut into 5cm chunks.
  • 1/2 radicchio washed and thinly sliced (escarole or endive also will also works well)
  • About 20 roasted salted almost slightly crushed with a mortar
  • Handfull of raisins or sultanas (or a mix of both).

For the harissa dressing

  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place the sliced fennel in a salad bowl. Carefully remove the white bitter parts of the orange and slice the oranges to divide flesh sections. Add to the bowl Crush the roasted salted almonds with a mortar and tip in the bowl. Add the sliced radicchio In a small bowl whisk well the harissa, honey, coriander and white wine vinegar. Pour in the olive oil in a very thin stream (spoon by spoon),  beating all the while. The sauce is ready when it you obtain a glossy, slightly thick mixture. Drizzle the harissa dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.


Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese

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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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.


Roasted new potatoes and asparagus with baked eggs

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Summer is apparently today, with a whooping 23 oC expected… And, oh praise the Lord!, it is a not a weekday! Before rushing to the lake, my favourite recipe for this season… Have already done it several times this “spring”-   not minor thing, considering I have a childhood trauma related to asparagus (swallowed hairpin, please ask my mother for details).

Roast new potatoes and asparagus with baked eggs (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients 

  • 600-700g new potatoes, cleaned and cut into small chunks
  • 5-6 whole garlic cloves, bashed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 400g asparagus
  • 4 eggs

Method

Heat the oven to 190 oC. Put the potatoes into a roasting dish with the garlic. Sprinkle over the oil, add plenty of salt and pepper, toss and roast for 30 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the spears into 3-4cm lengths. When the potatoes are tender, add the spears, toss and roast for 15 minutes more, until the asparagus is tender.

Now create four little spaces among the veg for the eggs, arranging the potatoes and asparagus pieces into holes more or less stable. Working quickly, so everything stays hot, break an egg into each space, then return the dish to the oven for about four minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks still runny.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the eggs, serve.


Roasted carrot hummus with orange

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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…

PS – Lingue di suocera [mother in law’s tongue] courtesy of Coop Fine Food 

Roasted carrot hummus with orange (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients 

  • 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

Method

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.