Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lime & Soy Salmon Bowls

This was really very lovely indeed - and if I hadn’t used brown rice, and particularly if I hadn’t used the rice cooker, it would have come together very quickly indeed - probably 30 minutes max.

Keep an eye on the salmon, you really don’t want to overcook it. Take it out if necessary and cover with some foil while you get on with everything else - you’ll be rewarded with really succulent and extremely tasty salmon. Also you don’t need to toast the sesame seeds (and while I’m at it if you don’t have black ones just use the usual kind) but doing so will give a really nutty flavour that contrasts beautifully with the rich sweet sour umami sauce and tender fish.

Adapted from an Epicurious recipe.

Lime & Soy Salmon Bowls
serves 2

125g brown, basmati or jasmine rice
10g unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
½ tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (failing either, honey)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp cornflour
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
½ tsp sesame oil
150g baby spinach
1 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Cook rice as directed (I liberated my rice cooker and cooked it in that - yay!).

In a small frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes for about a minute until the garlic is lightly golden.

Add the agave or maple syrup, lime juice and soy sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile mix the cornflour with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl and then stir that into the sauce. Continue to cook until it has slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Arrange the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet and spread 1 tsp of the sauce over each fillet.

Roast in the oven until just cooked through which will take around 12 minutes.

While the salmon is cooking warm the sesame oil in a frying or sauté pan over medium heat and then add the spinach. Sauté until just wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Divide the cooked rice between 2 bowls and top each with half of the spinach and a salmon fillet, broken into large pieces.

Drizzle with remaining sauce and sprinkle over the sesame seeds.

Read More »

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Quick Chicken Tortilla Soup

Loving soups and loving Mexican food it is pretty much a no-brainer that this is something that I would want to cook and eat. I ate a lot of tortilla soups when I visited the Yucatan peninsula a few years ago with my friend Naomi (soup and lots of super tasty thin Mexican steaks) and I have fond memories of those bowls of nutritious yumminess.

I think one of the things that I love is the mix of textures: crispy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, silky tomato and the tang of the cheese. They all come together as one delicious whole.

I’ve used feta cheese here and although clearly not Mexican it does have similar qualities to a queso fresco and makes a fair substitute. The crunchy tortilla strips can be made under the grill or in a hot oven - brush a couple of flour tortillas with oil, slice into strips, and place on greaseproof paper on a baking sheet. Grill or bake until crisp, turning as they start to go golden.

You’ll notice that in the ingredients pic the chicken is shredded as I did that step of the recipe ahead of taking the photo. Another disclaimer is that unfortunately we ended up not having avocado with ours as when I cut it open it was all manky inside: instead I chopped up some spring onion,

Chicken Tortilla Soup
serves 2

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ tbsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
½ dried ancho chili, rehydrated, seeded and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
1-2 tsp chopped chipotle chili in adobo (to taste)
½ tin (or 1 small tin) chopped tomatoes
200ml passata
500ml chicken stock
85g tinned sweetcorn
2 whole corn tortillas, sliced into 2-3in long strips, baked
40g feta cheese, crumbled
½ avocado, diced
coriander leaves, chopped, for serving
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 190C.

Mix cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle the olive oil onto the chicken breast and then sprinkle a small amount of the spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place the the chicken breast on a foil lined baking sheet (purely to save on washing up) and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is just done. When cooled, use two forks to shred chicken and set aside.

Heat a further 2 tsp of oil in a saucepan over a medium-high and when hot add the onion, garlic and ancho chili and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.

Add the rest of the spice mix, oregano, chipotle chili and mix until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.

Add the tomatoes, passata, shredded chicken, corn and broth and cook at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Carefully check the seasoning: particularly for salt as you don’t want it under seasoned. Add some more Chipotle chili if it needs more spice.

Ladle into two bowls and top with the tortilla strips, crumbled cheese, diced avocado, coriander and serve with lime wedges.

Read More »

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Pasta con Asparagi

I’d not heard of Craig Claiborne (with whom this recipe originates) but apparently he was one of the three best-known food writers in America during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s when he wrote for the New York Times (if you are interested the other two were Julia Child and James Beard). He also, in 1961 published the ‘New York Times Cookbook’ which sold over three million copies and was eventually translated into seventeen languages.

I actually saw this recipe on Food 52, which is a brilliant online food community - excellent for sourcing great recipes from professionals and amateurs alike. As they say themselves on site this is “a mashup of all the best pasta sauces -- tomato, asparagus, and carbonara -- with surprisingly harmonious results”.

The carbonara angle comes from the fact that the vaguely sweet-sour tomato sauce is mellowed just before serving with the last-minute addition of beaten eggs. The egg pulls the sauce together to give you something glossy and silky rather than heavier as cream is wont to do.

I’ve used the beaten egg trick in a few pasta recipes now and it is a definite winner.

Pasta con Asparagi
Serves 2

150g fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 2 inch lengths, tips intact
10g butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced quite thickly
small (227g) tin chopped plum tomatoes, pushed through a sieve
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
150g tortiglioni, penne or rigatoni
1 egg, plus one yolk, beaten well with a fork (you won’t need all of this)
15g grated parmesan

Bring a large pan of salted water to boil ready for the pasta.

Heat the butter in a large, frying or sauté pan and add the asparagus pieces plus a little salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, or until just tender and lightly browned and then transfer to a plate and put to one aside.

In the same pan, add the oil and garlic. Cook until the garlic is lightly browned and then discard it.

Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the water and when it returns to a boil, cook for about 8-9 minutes or until tender. Do not overcook.

Just before the pasta is done, turn off the heat under the tomatoes and add about half of the beaten eggs, stirring vigorously so that they blend without curdling.

Add the asparagus to the tomato sauce and stir carefully.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water.

Add to the tomato asparagus sauce and stir in half the cheese. Add a tablespoon or 2 of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a bit.

Serve with the remaining cheese sprinkled over.

Read More »

Monday, 13 October 2014

Tomato Baked Sausages with Rocket

I saw the recipe for this on Not Quite Nigella who in turn had apparently clipped it from a Fergus Henderson recipe feature in a newspaper. The original called for polenta but we’d run out and the local supermarkets were similarly unstocked.

In all honestly, as it turned out I think mash was a good call. More important here than whether to serve with mash or polenta is the you use good sausages. Really good sausages would be best but in a pinch good will do.

To make a mustard vinaigrette I simply started off with about ½ a tbsp of balsamic and mixed that with about ½ a tsp of dijon mustard before adding about 1 ½ tbsp olive oil. I whisked that together and then added more mustard and (this time white wine) vinegar to taste: probably about another ½ tsp mustard and a tsp or 2 of vinegar.

The mustard-slicked rocket goes excellently with the succulent juicy sausages and rich tomato sauce. An inspired pairing indeed.

Tomato Baked Sausages with Rocket
serves 2

4 or 6 good quality sausages
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves smoked garlic (or normal), sliced
pinch of red pepper or chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
425g tin chopped tomatoes
115ml red wine
50g wild rocket
mustard vinaigrette (see note above)
mashed potato

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a cast iron casserole heat the oil over a medium heat and brown the sausages all over. Set aside.

Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until softened.

Add the tomatoes and wine, bring to the boil then reduce and add the sausages back in.

Remove from the heat, put the lid on and pop in the oven. Bake for 1 hour.

About 20-30 minutes from the end of cooking time you can get going on the mash and mustard vinaigrette.

When the mash and sausages are ready, scoop the mash between two plates and arrange the sausages on top with the tomato sauce.

Arrange the rocket on top of the tomato sauce around the sausages and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Read More »

Friday, 10 October 2014

Khao Tom Gai

In Thai, Khao Tom (ข้าวต้ม) means rice soup and Gai is chicken (in this instance I used turkey but same, same..) so with this Thai-inspired soup, rice is cooked in a broth that is generously seasoned with lemongrass, shallots, and garlic and then minced turkey or chicken are later added along with fish sauce and lime juice to finish.

It is basically a thinner Thai-style congee and as such often eaten for breakfast as well as lunch or dinner. Whatever time of day it is eaten however it is simple comfort food, packed with flavour and extremely satisfying.

Khao Tom Gai
serves 2

750ml chicken stock
1 shallot, finely diced
1 lemongrass, trimmed & halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp minced ginger
85g short-grain rice
150g turkey mince
2 tsp fish sauce, plus more to taste
sea salt
½ lime, juiced
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
15g sliced spring onions
½ red chilli, finely chopped
60g firm tofu (I used marinated)
fried shallots to serve (optional)

Into a large saucepan add the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, stock, a tiny pinch of salt and the rice and bring to a simmer.

Cook until the soup is thickened and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.. Reduce heat to very low. Remove the lemongrass and discard.

Add the turkey mince, fish sauce and the lime juice. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.

Stir in half the coriander, half the green onions, half the chili and the tofu.

Heat gently for a couple of minutes or so until the tofu is warmed through. Check the seasoning carefully and add more fish sauce and / or salt to taste as necessary.

Divide the soup between bowls, then top with remaining coriander, spring onions, chillies and fried shallots and serve immediately.

Read More »

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Gammon with Parsley & Sauté Potatoes

A fabulously easy, and fabulously tasty recipe from Nigella. I don’t know what it is about gammon steaks but I have always loved them - they’re one of those things that if I see them on a pub menu I always have to consider them. Along with ham, egg & chips (although gammon will always win if they’re both present) and steak & kidney pudding.

Sauté potatoes and a mound of peas are, to my mind, the perfect accompaniment to go with gammon steaks, no matter how cooked. I parboil some potatoes, skin-on, slice them up then sauté until bronzed in my big sauté pan with a sprinkle of salt (I’m convinced it helps them crisp up). No more than a small sprinkle though - the gammon will probably be salty enough.

This, I believe, is taken from Nigella Express but that is a book I don’t have so I must have got it from the website.

Gammon with Parsley & Sauté Potatoes
serves 2

2 tsp garlic infused olive oil
2 gammon steaks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp water
freshly-ground black pepper
2 tsp honey
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and, when hot, add the gammon steaks.

Take the pan off the heat. Whisk the vinegar with the water, pepper and honey and quickly throw into the (still hot) pan along with most of the parsley, scraping up any bits and swirling around.

Pour over the gammon steaks and serve with the saute potatoes and peas and the rest of the parsley sprinkled over.

Read More »

Monday, 6 October 2014

"Spring" Orecchiette with Buratta

I found this recipe on a blog called Feasting at Home - the photos on the blog are lovely and this just looked so very, very fresh and pretty. Plus of course at the time of cooking and eating it was Spring so was a great time for lovely spring vegetables and herbs.

As it turned out I was ill and curled up feeling sorry for myself on the sofa so the bf was chef for the night - as such I have more or less written the recipe here (apart from the conversion of US to metric measures and also scaling down the amounts) as I’m not really sure what adaptations, if any, he made.

A couple of points that I will make however is that in my experience orecchiette pasta always need slightly longer cooking than the package will state (it is way too chewy otherwise in my opinion) and also that it is wise to assemble your ingredients in such a way that it allows you to cook this quickly as it seemed to cool down extremely quickly otherwise.

Burrata, that gorgeously creamy adulterated mozzarella is great here but I know that it isn’t the easiest of cheeses to get your hands on so sub with normal mozzarella if necessary.

Spring Orecchiette Pasta with Burrata
serves 2

200g 16 oz Orecchiette pasta
125g peas
100g sugar snap peas
125g asparagus tips
1 onion, finely chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
1½ tsp olive oil
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
1 egg
25g Parmesan, freshly grated
½ ball burrata cheese
lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh mint, chiffonaded

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the orecchiette according to the package instructions (see note above).

In a large frying or sauté pan heat half the oil over a medium heat and sauté the onion until softened but not coloured. Add the mushrooms, turning the heat down a little and sautéing until golden and softened. Set aside.

Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set that aside also.

When the pasta is nearly cooked, reserve some of the cooking water and set to one side then add the peas, sugar snaps and asparagus tips to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain the pasta and vegetables and remove them to the pot with the heat off.

With a fork, stir in 1½ tablespoons of hot pasta water, half a tablespoon at a time, gradually, to the eggs, to temper them. Stir well.

Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and with a wooden spoon, gently stir to coat the pasta. Stir in about 15g of Parmesan, some black pepper and a pinch of salt. You may also need a little more pasta water to loosen.

Divide between 2 plates or bowls and scatter each with the mint, lemon zest and remaining Parmesan. Finish each plate with a dollop each of burrata and serve.

Read More »