Saturday, 26 May 2018

LEEK AND MUSHROOM FRITTATA



Simple, delicious, healthy.... What else do you want? Add a green salad on the side and you have your perfect lunch or dinner. Or, you can cut it into cubes and add some alfalfa sprouts on top and it can be as part of a platter to entertain your friends. Put the relish on a bowl to dip in the frittata.

INGREDIENTS

20g unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
400g button or mixed mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 eggs
150ml thickened cream
1/3 cup (40g) grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp (1/4 cup) torn basil leaves
tomato relish, to serve



Preheat oven to 180°C.
Lightly grease a 20cm square cake pan.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large frypan over a medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned.



Add the mushrooms and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and they have drank all the water released.



Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, cream and Parmesan in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.



Fill the prepared pan with the leek mixture, sprinkle with basil.  



Pour over the egg mixture.



Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until lightly browned and set.



Cool slightly, then turn out onto a board. Cut into squares and serve with the tomato relish and a green salad, if you wish.



Serves 4




Sunday, 20 May 2018

LITTLE HUMMUS AND HERB SALAD TARTS


These tarts are absolutely delicious and very easy to make if you use bought hummus. I actually cheated a bit with the pastry, because I had some homemade shortcrust pastry already made in the freezer. It was thin and crisp. I added a pinch of paprika to the hummus. Here is the link to the pastry I used if you prefer it. Basic shortcrust pastry.

INGREDIENTS

125g plain flour
1/2 tsp mild paprika
65g unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (40ml) lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (100g) mixed baby salad leaves
1 cup (260g) good-quality hummus

METHOD:
Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and the paprika.
Rubin the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add half the egg and mix first with a knife, then with your hands, until the mixture comes together to form a smooth ball.
Wrap in plastic for 30 minutes, then roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface.
Line six 9 cm-diameter loose-bottomed tart pans with the pastry, then refrigerate for a further 30 minutes (chilling helps prevent shrinkage).



Preheat oven to 180° C.
Line the pastry shells with baking paper and pastry weights or uncooked rice. 
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and weights or rice.
Brush the shells with the remaining egg. Bake for 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden.



When ready to serve, combine the oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. 



Toss the herbs and salad leaves in the lemon dressing.



Fill the shells with hummus and pile the salad on top.



Makes 6




PORK BELLY WITH CARAMEL DRESSING


This pork belly is very easy to do and it is amazingly good. The combination of the caramel sauce with the pork together with the herbs, it's just awesome!!

INGREDIENTS

1kg boneless pork belly, skin on
1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) red wine vinegar
2 star anise
juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup Thai basil leaves
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Score the pork belly skin at 1 cm intervals. Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan, skin-side up.
Rub 2 tablespoons salt into the skin, then pour in enough water to fill the pan to just under the rack.



Roast for 30 minutes or until the skin is crispy, then reduce the oven to 180°C and roast for a further 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender, topping up with water as necessary.



Meanwhile, place the brown sugar, vinegar and star anise in a pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 



Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer for 5-6 minutes until reduced by half.
Add the lime juice and continue to reduce for 3-4 minutes until syrupy.



Make a bed of herbs, spring onion and chilli in a serving platter.



Carve the pork into bite-sized cubes and arrange on the platter. 



Drizzle with the caramel dressing and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.



Serves 6


Sunday, 6 May 2018

HERBED AND PEANUT-DRESSED SPINACH SALAD



This is a lovely salad that goes well with many dishes. Very refreshing. From the cookbook 'Indian Food Made Easy'.

INGREDIENTS

3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tomato, sliced into thin wedges

Dressing
2 heaped Tbsp roasted peanuts
20g fresh coriander, leaves and stems
10g fresh mint leaves
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
2-3 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or groundnut oil



METHOD:
Blend together all the ingredients for the dressing until well mixed.
Lightly toss the spinach leaves, sliced onion and tomato in the dressing and serve.



Lovely with the Bengali style fish and eggplant. (See recipes in blog)


Serves 4

BENGALI-STYLE EGGPLANT COOKED IN YOGHURT


This eggplant recipe is just delightful. It works really well as a side dish for any Indian recipe. I could eat it almost every day. From the cookbook 'Indian Food Made Easy'. đŸ˜‹đŸ˜

INGREDIENTS

400g small eggplants, thinly sliced into rounds
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
250ml plain yoghurt
1 - 1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
large handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped



Put the turmeric, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. 



Add the eggplant and shake until well coated.



Fry in the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan until soft and the point of a knife goes through with no resistance. You may do this in two batches.
Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.



Beat 200ml of the yogurt with the sugar, salt to taste and the remaining red chilli powder and add to a small saucepan.



Heat, stirring, over a low heat until warm - this takes a good 5 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin seeds and the eggplant and coriander. 



Cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining yoghurt. 
Check the seasoning and serve. It goes really well with the Bengali fish and the Indian style salad. (See recipes in blog)



Serves 4-5

BENGALI STYLE BAKED FISH


This is the first time that I cooked this fish recipe. It is not hot at all and has a very nice fresh taste. Ideal for the people who do not like food too spicy. Cookbook 'Indian Food Made Easy'.

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 heaped Tbsp plain yoghurt
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 green chilli, chopped (deseed it if you don't like it too hot)
salt, to taste
good pinch of black pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
a good handful fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
2 pieces of white-fleshed fillets, such as haddock, sole, etc. (or more if they are very small)
vegetable oil
10g butter
lemon juice, to taste

Preheat oven to 190°C.
Make a paste of the poppy seeds, mustard seeds, yoghurt, ginger and chilli. Use a mortar and pestle or a blender. Stir in the salt, pepper, coriander powder and fresh coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning.



Put the fish fillets in a bowl and add the mixture. Coat the fish with the paste.



Place the fish on a well oiled baking dish. Dot with the butter.



Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until tender (depending on the type of fish and the thickness).



Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.
You can serve it with the Bengali style eggplant and the Indian style salad. (See recipes in blog)



Serves 2

FRESH PEAR TART WITH MASCARPONE


This Italian recipe from the cookbook 'The Food of Italy' is simple to cook and it is just gorgeous. We had friends for dinner and was able to make it the previous night. Just make sure you serve it at room temperature. You will make it over and over again. 

INGREDIENTS

Pastry
150g plain flour
60g caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
60g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk

Mascarpone cream
125g mascarpone
60g caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plain flour
2-3 Tbsp milk, as necessary

4 ripe pears (if possible I like to use the bosc pears, but couldn't find it this time!)
juice of 1/2 lemon
45g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 Tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp pear liqueur or other fruit flavoured liqueur (Cointreau)


METHOD:
To make the pastry, mix the flour, sugar, lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter, then add the egg yolk and 2-3 teaspoons cold water and mix until the dough gathers in a loose clump. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour if needed. Chill in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. (I forgot to take photos!)

Preheat the oven to 190 C and grease a 23 cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the pastry out until large enough to fit the tin. Line the tin neatly, trimming the pastry edges with a knife. Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice or beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes then allow to cool. Reduce the oven to 170 C.


To make the mascarpone cream, blend the mascarpone, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and flour together until smooth (you can also use a food processor). Add a little milk if necessary to make the cream spreadable. 


Spoon the mascarpone cream into the pastry shell and smooth the surface.
Peel, halve and core the pears, brushing the cut surfaces with lemon juice as you prepare each one. 


Arrange the pear halves like wheel spokes in the tart shell, with the wide base of each pear half to the outside. You may need to trim the last couple so they fit snugly. 


Place a round piece of pear in the centre. Scatter the hazelnuts over the pears, then sprinkle the sugar over the top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and set and the pears are soft.


Heat the apricot jam and liqueur in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Simmer, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until the jam has melted. 


Strain and brush over the pears. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.


Serves 6



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