Archive for April, 2011

April 17, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Rainbow salad

Saturday 16 April

Ella’s rainbow salad is a big bowl of nutrition. It looks nutritious, tastes nutritious. It’s a robust thing too – and something of a pick-me-up. And it looks so lovely with the purples and oranges peeking through the green.

The main part of the preparation is in roasting some beetroot and squash. We peel and chop a couple of beetroot into 2cm chunks, then do the same with half (or so) a butternut squash. Place the chunks in separate roasting trays. Sprinkle a little sea salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of ground cumin over each tray of veg, drizzle some olive oil over it and then use your hands to coat the veg with the seasoning and spice. To each tray, add a couple of cloves of garlic with their skins left on. Roast at 190 degrees or so until soft and slightly caramelised. When done, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

As the veg is finishing cooking, steam some florets of broccoli for around 5 minutes until just about al dente but not soft. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

Put the broccoli, beetroot and squash in a large salad bowl and add a small bag of rocket. Crumble over some creamy goats cheese. We then make a simple dressing using olive oil, a squeeze of lemon imbued for a few minutes with the roasted garlic cloves (slipped out of their skins). Mix it all together.

Some toasted seeds – sesame, sunflower etc – are also a nice finishing touch and the salad should be served at room temperature or ever so slightly warm, certainly not cold.

April 16, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Roast fennel, tomato, black olive and quinoa

Friday 15 April

We really fancied the roast fennel recipe I posted a link to on April 12, but it didn’t seem quite substantial enough for a Friday night dinner. What to add to roast vegetables to make meal of it? Cous cous or quinoa, of course. We opted for quinoa, which, as I’ve commented previously, is starting to gain a loyal following at ETP Towers. It is also, of course, a high-quality protein, making it a more nutritious choice than a simple carb such as cous cous. We do need our proteins. So, yes, we followed the recipe as mentioned, and added cooked quinoa. For me the highlight was the slow cooked tomatoes and olives, which added a tanginess to contrast with the sweet roast fennel.

April 15, 2011

Recipe: Nigel Slater’s artichoke and rosemary tortilla

Does anyone else think that Nigel Slater’s TV programmes are a bit creepy? That huge, empty kitchen? The carefully tended but lonesome garden? The meals that always seem to be just for his own solitary soul? Where are Nigel’s friends and family? Surely food is about sharing, after all? Did I say creepy? Let me change that to sad.

I’m not usually a big fan of his food either. It seems caught between wanting to go all out for Nigella indulgence and yet is also as restrained as a Delia curry – not knowing whether it wants to be salt-of-the-Earth, make-do-and-mend 1950s, or sumptuous millennial decadence. Nigel, come out with it, please – tell us who you really are, tell us what you want from life. Show us your friends, we’re not going to snigger. And if you miss your mum, that’s okay too. Can we drop the pretence? You don’t seem very happy.

Having said all that, his artichoke and rosemary tortilla seems like a very good idea indeed. The recipe is here.

April 12, 2011

Fennely enough…

…we have two glorious fennel bulbs in the ETP kitchen at the moment, so how timely that these recipes should appear in one of the weekend’s papers:

Fennel, radish, pea and mozzarella salad

Roasted fennel and tomatoes with black olives

Puréed fennel

April 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Spring risotto

Monday 4 April

I was inspired by a feature at rufusguide.wordpress.com to make a risotto and, what with it being Spring, some light, fresh greens seemed the thing to add. I love a risotto with in-season British asparagus and peas – all just al dente so you get a little crunch among the nutty grains of rice and oozing, savoury sauciness. I added some baby spinach leaves to this risotto, too. Rufus gives a pretty good assessment of how to make a good risotto here. I’ll just add that no one wants a risotto the texture of rice pudding, so don’t overcook it. Neither should it be claggy – please don’t bake your risotto as Delia Smith does. The grains should be loose but still have, I think, the tiniest bit of bite to them and, while creamy, it shouldn’t be sweet – think savoury and season accordingly but carefully. A rich flavour needs develop in the liquor that thickly surrounds the grains – this will usually be a combination of olive oil, butter and parmesan, added as the rice settles after cooking. And lastly, in most cases, don’t add all your vegetables (whether asparagus or mushrooms or tomatoes, among many) as the rice starts to cook. Greens can be added near the end; mushrooms – for a mushroom risotto – can be pan fried first and scattered on top to serve, as long as you cook the rice in a stock made with dried mushrooms; tomatoes too can be run through the rice at a late stage – so roast them perhaps, with thyme or rosemary, or make a small tomato sauce to stir in. The options are endless. And lastly, for the love of food, please use proper risotto rice. Long grain rices and paella rices are all very wonderful, but no use whatsoever for risotto.

April 7, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Butter beans with feta, herbs and sumac

Sunday 3 April

A Sunday supper supreme. This really has become a favourite of ours over the last year. It’s based on an old Ottolenghi recipe you can read here. I think there’s a version of it in his book Plenty, too. Basically, it’s butter beans fried in a little olive oil and/or butter, with spring onions (sliced length-ways and added to the beans for a couple of minutes towards the end of their cooking). The beans are then left to cool, a heap of chopped herbs are added (sorrel, dill, flat leaf parsley, basil?) Then crumble some feta in, sprinkle some sumac and add a chopped chilli if you like, We like. C’est ca.

April 4, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Muttar paneer

Tuesday 29 March

Well, I say. The last time we made muttar paneer (yep, that really does kind of mean ‘cheesy peas’, doesn’t it?) I was utterly disappointed. I think they had changed the recipe for the shop-bought paneer and I felt that one of my favourite Indian dishes was ruined.

I shouldn’t have worried. This dish really is so simple it’s ridiculous and it can be so substantial too. After my previous failure, I lightly fried the cubes of chopped paneer before adding to the sauce this time. Not too sure whether that’s normal, but one recipe website said it was okay. In any case, if you can do it for tofu…

For the sauce I just sautee a sliced onion until softened, add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for a little more, then add some chopped chillis, or maybe a few whole chillis, or maybe a little chilli powder. Whatever… then add a tin of tomatoes plus an inch of grated fresh ginger, 2 good tsp of ground cumin, 1 heaped tsp of ground coriander, 1 tsp of turmeric, and… hmm, that’s about it. I think. I then tend to add 500ml of water and let it simmer down. As it thickens you can add the paneer (although if you’ve fried the paneer like me, add it last, a couple of minutes before serving, so the crisp edges don’t go too soggy). When the sauce looks done, add a small bag of frozen garden peas or petit pois, stir through and heat for four minutes. Job done.

April 2, 2011

Jerusalem Artichokes, Cavolo Nero and Robiola

We got some Jerusalem artichokes in our veg box this week and I came across this recipe from Sky Gyngell which pairs them with cavolo nero and the mozarella-like cheese robiola. Now, even our central London Waitrose doesn’t stock robiola, so I guess that if you don’t want to hunt it out at a specialist supplier then you’re going to substitute it – as the recipe suggests. It’s quite a wintery recipe, but still okay for April, I reckon. As for Skye Gyngell, her restaurant, Petersham Nurseries Cafe (right in the middle of the garden centre), is expensive but really rather good.

Anyway, here’s the recipe: Jerusalem Artichokes, Cavolo Nero and Robiola.