Archive for ‘Pastry’

January 21, 2013

Recipe: Stevie Parle’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Fried Egg Brik and Cucumber Salad

Well, this recipe from the Observer Food Monthly magazine has ETP drooling somewhat. It’s a north African spiced chickpea dish that should be quite dry as there’s only one tomato used to add ‘sauce’ rather than a tin of them. But the novelty value, for us at least, is the filo and egg ‘brik’, which will add extra protein to the dish… as well as steering it well away from sounding healthy! Maybe that’s where the cucumber accompaniment comes in. Too late, cucumber, too late.

In any case, as chef Parle says, it’s a concoction of some favourite things thrown together and yep, we’ll be making it. The recipe is here.

Advertisements
April 17, 2012

Recipes for nettles

This is perhaps a point at which foraging for food becomes a prickly subject. All those features and TV cookery programmes that see chefs scouring wild landscapes for sea buckthorn or roaming the woods to find edible funghi… all that foraged food can seem ever so exotic, fit for a restaurant such as Noma in Copenhagen or one of its many followers. And yet, there’s a much more common ingredient, which grows in abundance, and which is probably due a revival, and which great so many kinds of recipes. It is, of course, the humble nettle. Why aren’t we all out there picking them?

Down the trail near our house nettles are shooting up all over the place at the moment: their fresh young leaves so green – not like the old deep green and tough-looking leaves found later in the year. But it’s not just about being in the countryside – I used to see nettles peeking through railings and rising up at the edges of the parks and canals of urban East London.

I’ve never picked any, though. Have you? Is it just me that’s been missing out? I had a lovely bowl of nettle soup once, at Petersham Nurseries. It was something of a revelation in its delicate greenness. And then it was forgotten again.

But when this damn rain stops I’m going to head out with some thick gloves and pick some nettles. And I’m going to make something with them. Watch this space.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas that might convince you to do the same.

For those of you who might want to make your own fresh pasta, try Blanche Vaughan’s nettle ravioli here. The Guardian feature is worth a read in any case, to put your mind at rest about how to treat nettles and their avoid their stings.

More recently in the Guardian is Hugh FW and his recipes for a nettle soup, a risotto and a nettle and feta filo pie. They’re here.

Happy foraging. Let us know how it goes!

December 31, 2011

2011 leftovers: blackberry and apple pie

Over the years I have been known to wax lyrical (which is surely another way of saying ‘bored people rigid’) about childhood autumns spent blackberry picking – the huge buckets of blackberries that our family would bring back and the freezer full of blackberry and apple pies and crumbles. It’s a story seen through purple-tinted shades.

We did go blackberry picking, sometimes as a family, often my dad on his own. And I did love those home-baked pies and crumbles – the taste of autumn. In fact I loved them so much that shop-bought blackberries and blackberry-based desserts seemed a heresy. Only recently have I bought blackberries from the supermarket. Huge fat ones, not the smallish, round, neat little berries of subtle joy that I remember.

But this autumn, freshly settled into our new abode in the (almost) wilds of north Essex, a-blackberry-picking we did go (see our blog from the beginning of November). Not long after, a blackberry and apple pie was made.

We used shop-bought pastry as I was feeling lazy that weekend, blind baking the pie bottom before adding some slices of bramley apple, the blackberries, sprinkling over some sugar, encasing with the pie top and baking for 20 minutes.

The result? Well it wasn’t quite the great pie of antiquity, but then nothing was ever going to match the sublime taste of my berry nostalgia. However, it disappeared very quickly one wintery Saturday evening. And yes, it still delivered that true taste of autumn. Can’t wait till next year!

September 8, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Cheese and onion flan with tomato salad

Monday 22 August

I don’t know anyone who remembers school dinners with much fondness. I certainly don’t. I stopped having them as soon as I could and took packed lunches instead, then dinner money to spend down ‘the street’ where there was a bakers that did a nice old-fashioned cheese sandwich.

One thing I did like at school though was the sizzling hot trays of cheese flan, or cheese and onion flan, or cheese and tomato flan (it was a long time ago). Even in sixth form some of us used to nick into the refectory for a slice. It was so savoury and delicious.

I say flan – and I think I mean it. It wasn’t at all elegant, so ‘tarte’ is definitely wrong. And it wasn’t a quiche. In my mind, a quiche is light, the egg ‘custard’ fluffy and pale. You might eat quiche cold.

But a flan… a flan is unpretentious. There’s no milk added to the egg mixture, it’s not overly whisked, it’s just a plain old simple open pie. That’s what I set out to make, stuffing the pastry case with (in this instance) onion, tomato, eggs and cheese to approximate that old school dinner.

I bought the pastry for this one, rolled it out and flopped it into a 10-inch flan tin. Blind bake the pastry for around 15-20 minutes at 190/200 degrees (ie, cover it and weigh it down so it doesn’t rise, and cook until the pastry is just golden and not raw/soggy anymore). Finely chop and fry an onion. Spread that across the cooked base of the pastry case. Halve four medium tomatoes, take out the pips and finely chop the remaining flesh. Scatter that into the flan base too. Then, beat five eggs in a bowl, add some pepper and grate a fair amount of strong cheddar cheese into the bowl. It should be a cheesy-looking egg mixture, rather than simply beaten eggs with a spoonful of cheese.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes on no more than 140 degrees – the lower temperature means the eggs will set without the pastry starting to burn (hopefully). When the egg/cheese mixture looks set, take the flan from the oven, grate some more cheese over the top and place a few thin slices of tomato across the top too. Put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

It’s nice to serve this with new potatoes and a green salad, but on this occasion we had a beautiful punnet of mixed tomatoes that came in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, as well as regular tomato and ‘pear’ shapes. Gorgeous. Halve the tomatoes, place in a bowl, season with a little salt and pepper, add a dash of sherry vinegar and a splash of olive oil, mix well and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Job done.