Posts tagged ‘Last’

November 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Baked mushrooms with parsnip mash and onion jam

The title of this recipe almost does the job of explaining the recipe – it’s that simple.

Onion jam, or onion marmalade, or onion sauce, as you prefer – cook some thinly sliced red onions for longer than normal, say 20 minutes, with some red wine vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of caster sugar. They need to be soft, sweet, caramelised.

The parsnip mash is actually a mix of mashed potato and parsnip (ie, a slightly more interesting mash. Make it as you’d make normal mashed potato. One tip though, cut the core from the parsnips before boiling – they can be a bit stringy. No one wants stringy mash.

And the mushrooms? Make a little herb butter by mixing some chopped thyme leaves into some softish butter. Oregano or marjoram will also work. Spread the butter over the underside of some field mushrooms. Bake the mushrooms, butter side up, in the oven at 190 degrees for around 10 minutes.

Told you it was easy. Great plate of comfort food though.

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August 8, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Roast tomato and pepper broth with potato, butter beans and greens

(Our last home-cooked meal in London)

Believe it or not this hearty yet summery supper came about as a way of emptying our fridge and store cupboard before our impending move from the city. It’s typical that we would have a couple of peppers, some tomatoes, a few old spuds and half a cabbage (or similar) lying around. It’s also typical that this is the kind of thing we’d end up making with those ingredients.

The first job was to roast a red and a yellow pepper, just coated with a little olive oil, along with a couple of chillis and three cloves of garlic, still in their skins. Also into the oven went a small tray of halved tomatoes, skin side down, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. They both need to roast at around 190 degrees for 25 minutes or maybe a little longer. The tomatoes should be starting to collapse and the peppers’ skins almost blackened in parts.

When done, drop the peppers into a plastic bag, tie it and leave to cool/steam for a few minutes – this will help loosen the skins a little. Leave the tomatoes to cool a little, in their roasting tray.

After 5 minutes or so, take the peppers from the bag, slice them open, deseed them and peel as much skins from them as you can (but don’t worry too much if some skin remains). Slip the garlic cloves from their skins and chop the stalks off the chillis. Tip all the roasted veg into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Next, pour the roast veg sauce into a large saucepan/stockpot and add 400ml of water or vegetable stock. Heat until it comes to a boil and then leave on a slow simmer. It should look like a rustic tomato soup.

Now, take your potatoes and boil them until just tender and steam whatever greens you have (dark green cabbage, kale or cavolo nero), stalks removed, for around four minutes or, again, until just tender.

Tip the potatoes and greens into the soup along with a tin of butter bins (other white beans would be fine here but the size of the butter beans is good with this) and simmer for five minutes.

Serve, if you like, with crusty bread.

Depending on the exact amount of ingredients this will turn out more like a stew or more like a soup. I don’t think it really matters. What counts most of all is the deep, rich flavour and aroma of that roast tomato and pepper broth.

One final thing: we’ve described this as summery. Why? Well, because ripe summer tomatoes and the ‘new’ potatoes we used seem to shout of that season. But this is a dish that translates to autumn or winter too. I’d try to make it more ‘stewy’, less ‘brothy’ for those darker months.

May 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Puy and Portobello

Monday 9 May

Here at ETP Towers we have a standard lentil dish that we serve with feta cheese. I wanted to do something slightly different this time, however, and found a lentils with mushrooms recipe in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Supercook from which this is adapted.

I started by getting the Puy lentils onto the hob to cook. While they were simmering away I fried a chopped onion in olive oil in our big, quite deep, frying pan. After 5 minutes I added three cloves of garlic, the Portobello mushrooms (three per person) and a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes. Add the lentils when they’re cooked (about 25 minutes?) and a glass of red wine. Cover, lower the heat and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Lastly, thin two teaspoons of Dijon mustard with a little water and stir into the stew. Serve with mashed potato or, as we did, some steamed kale.

The lentils would actually make a great base for a Shepherdess Pie.

May 11, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Spring vegetable paella

Friday 6 May

I think a lot of British people associate paella with being a seafoody dish, probably because of summer holidays on the Spanish coast. In fact it’s originally a regional dish from Valencia and, over time, has been made with almost anything that you can throw into a pot – snails, rats, pork, chicken and, yes, seafood, as well as a whole host of vegetables. Peppers, butter beans, artichokes and cauliflower are all popular additions to a paella. Ours tends to change with the seasons. In winter, a paella with cauliflower, peppers and butter beans is a fantastic thing. This spring, I threw the some of the contents of our seasonal veg box at it, plus a few other bits and pieces from the fridge. Not exactly traditional, perhaps, but then dishes like this can be varied ad infinitum.

A paella differs from a risotto in that, as the rice is cooking in its broth, you don’t stir it. There’s no sauciness to a paella, it’s a much drier dish than a risotto and so more closely resembles a biriani. Indeed, an authentic paella – especially one cooked outdoors over charcoal, will develop an almost crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan. Oh, and you need to use either calasparra or bomba varieties of rice or it won’t work.

Our version this week? Sautee a finely sliced onion in olive oil in a wide, shallow pan until it is golden and soft. Add a thinly sliced bell pepper to the pan (seeds removed of course) plus a clove of garlic and cook for a further five minutes or so. Add the bomba or calasparra rice and coat in the olive oil. Add a generous glug of sherry or white wine, or a splash of sherry vinegar of white wine vinegar. Cook for three minutes. Now add a good pinch of saffron strands, a large teaspoon of paprika, a small teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a teaspoon of turmeric. Oh and a bay leaf. Stir in the spices to coat the grains of rice. Add hot water until it comes up a centimetre or so above the rice. Turn down the heat slightly and leave (really, don’t touch it!) until the broth has been absorbed. When it’s done the rice grains should have a pleasing sheen to them and be individual, separate, glistening grains and, while cooked, not puddingy. It will take about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, lightly steam a few asparagus spears, refresh under cold water and set aside. Then blanche and shell some broad beans. As the rice nears the end of its cooking add the beans and some (tinned – they’ll be fine) artichoke hearts. Be careful not to move the rice around to much as you add the veg. They just need to be warmed through, that’s all.

When the rice is cooked add some quartered cherry tomatoes, wedges of lemon (squeeze them slightly into the dish) and place the asparagus spears on the top. Serve.

We always make too much of this and are quite happy to eat the remainder the following day. It works really well.

As for quantities, I’m going to talk about recipes and quantities soon, honest.

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.

March 24, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Quinoa, Halloumi and Rocket Salad

Wednesday 23 March

It was such a lovely sunny, spring day that a light evening meal was in order. I also had the taste for some griled halloumi cheese. The answer: a salad with peppery leaves with a mustardy dressing, salty halloumi and quinoa tossed in a little olive oil. Really tasty and surprisingly filling, it made me wonder why the pack of quinoa had been sat in the cupboard for so long.

March 24, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Puy lentils with aubergine and yoghurt

Tuesday 22 March

We often make a dish of lentils that we crumble feta cheese over. I think we invented the recipe ourselves and it’s a warming, hearty dish for an autumn or winter evening meal. This is a variation. Puy lentils love some onion and pepper running through them – ooh, and a carrot too. Here we cooked the lentils with a finely chopped onion and chopped carrot, then added some roasted pepper and tomato. For the aubergine – essentially a rough baba ghanoush or Lebanese/Egyptian moutabel – we roasted the aubergine, scooped out the soft flesh, added olive oil, crushed garlic and seasoning, and mashed. To serve, we added a splash of red wine vinegar to the lentils, some chopped parsley and dill, topped with the aubergine and a dollop of Greek yoghurt. Lovely.

March 22, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Seasonal Greens with Crushed Peppercorns

Monday 21 March

I know, that’s a mortar and pestle above, not a picture of last night’s dinner. However, there’s a good pic of the food, along with the recipe, here.

Our seasonal greens were some purple sprouting broccoli and a savoy cabbage, served on crushed baby potatoes. It was a little like a posh bubble and squeak and the peppercorns added depth of flavour – a fruitiness – rather than a real kick. Little did I know when I bought my Sichuan peppercorns that I be using them in this. But I will do again…

March 21, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Chickpea and vegetable curry

Sunday 20 March

Sometimes we make creamy curries with coconut milk or yoghurt, sometimes tomatoey ones with a hint of sweet and sour, and sometimes this type, which uses a spicing mix that, if it were a wine, I’d describe as ‘dry’. There’s lots of chilli, then ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, yellow mustard seed, grated fresh ginger, cardomom and rather a lot of fennel seeds. You’ll notice I don’t like to give accurate measurements for spices very often. Why? Well, I think it’s a question of taste. However, I never trust those recipes that state that 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon of a spice is enough. In my experience, it really isn’t. As a starting point I’d suggest about a good teaspoon for each of the above, then experiment.

The spices get fried off with an onion and then I blend that with a little sunflower oil and a drizzle of water to get the curry sauce base. In the meantime, start to cook some red lentils in another pan. When they’re soft and saucy, add the spice mixture.

You can add whatever veg you like really. I chose a tin of chickpeas, some boiled new potatoes, plus a lightly fried courgette. Carrots, cauliflower and green beans are also good. I tend to avoid aubergine with this recipe as its smoky creaminess somehow doesn’t suit. Anyway, when the veg is cooked, tip in into the pot and mix. Finally chop two cloves of garlic, place them into the bowl of a metal ladle, pour a little oil over the top and then heat the bottom of the ladle over a flame until the oil bubbles and the garlic starts to turn light gold in colour. Add to the pan, mix and serve.

N.B. This is a curry that invariably tastes better a day later, so make enough to leave some over.

March 20, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Friday and Saturday 18/19 March

A busy weekend but it didn’t stop us from cooking. We had family round on Friday and Ella suggested our Tofu with Black Bean Sauce.

I find the Cauldron tofu firmer than the Blue Dragon variety in our local supermarket – it doesn’t fall apart as soon as you touch it and stays together in the pan. To fry it I literally coat the pieces in a dusting of cornflour – then straight to the pan. When golden I set it aside while I’m making the black bean sauce. Tins of black/turtle beans are fine for this and I add a splash of rice wine vinegar, some tamarind paste, a teaspoon tomato puree, sichuan peppercorns, garlic and, of course, chilli. Add a little water to the pan and then simmer for ten minutes. Add the tofu and mix in just before serving.

On Saturday I was inspired by a recipe and quick as a flash made a variation on Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute cauliflower macaroni and chicory salad. (The variation? We didn’t use macaroni or breadcrumbs with the cauliflower as we’re reducing our wheat/gluten intake). I was worried the cheese sauce might not work out but, you know, it was okay. As a quick cheat on making a proper cheese sauce it wasn’t half bad. Oh and the sharp dressing (‘insane’ as chef Oliver has it) was darn good.