Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Butternut squash and tomato risotto

A cup of risotto rice
A cup of beef stock leavened with two of vegetable
A sprig of thyme
A pinch of saffron
A couple of handfuls of squash, diced quite finely
Six to eight baby tomatoes
A small red onion
A clove of garlic minced
1 tsp houmous
1 tbsp creme fraîche
Juice of ¼ lemon
A dash of balsamic vinegar
A small glass of white wine
A good handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and butter

Preheat the oven to 200.

Finely slice half the red onion, then mince and reserve the rest. Put the sliced onion, diced squash and whole tomatoes in a dish, season with a little salt and pepper and toss in olive oil to coat. Transfer to a roasting tin, sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar and roast for 15-20 minutes, till beginning to char.

Warm the stock in a saucepan, infusing it with the thyme and saffron.

Heat a thin slice of butter and a glug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the minced onion and garlic for a minute or two, then add the rice and stir to coat. 

Turn up the heat, add the wine and bubble vigorously for thirty seconds. Add a ladle of stock and proceed to cook as a normal risotto.

When nearly cooked, stir in the houmous and creme fraîche, then the roasted vegetables and most of the parsley. When the vegetables are heated, stir in the lemon juice, check the seasoning and serve.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Beetroot and tomato salsa

3 medium beetroots, cooked and roughly diced
6-9 spring onions, sliced
2-3 large tomatoes, deseeded
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp white wine vinegar infused with garlic & thyme
½ tsp Dijon mustard
A handful of chopped coriander
Salt & pepper

Fry the spring onion in a tablespoon of olive oil till softened. Add the beetroot and tomato and a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes until warmed through. Cover and stand for five minutes.

Whisk the white wine vinegar and mustard into the remaining olive oil and season to taste. Dress the salsa and mix in the chopped coriander.

Goes nicely with pan-fried oily fish, like mackerel.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Niçoise Marron

No chestnuts in this one (best not ask). It's a salade niçoise  with a bit of spice, basically. You know by now that this blog doesn't do original - just adaptations - so what are you staring at? Away and make something tasty!

Serves 2
A handful of fine green beans
Eight smallish salad potatoes
A handful of green olives
Half a red onion, thinly sliced
A red chilli, deseeded and cut into slivers
A couple of handfuls of mixed sorrel, green frisée and lamb's lettuce, torn up
Four cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
Two eggs
A lemon
Extra virgin rapeseed oil - one tablespoon
Olive oil - two tablespoons
Dijon mustard - half a teaspoon, maybe a little more
White wine vinegar, preferably infused with thyme and garlic - a tablespoon or slightly less, depending on how sharp you like your dressing, how sharp your vinegar is, whether it's got stuff floating in it (herbs and garlic 'soften' the vinegar a bit, earwigs make it more tart), etc, etc.
Garam masala - half a teaspoon should be plenty
A pinch or two of paprika
Fresh parsley, a handful, chopped
Salt and pepper

Put the onion and chilli into a small bowl and mix with the juice of half the lemon and the garam masala, then leave to marinate while you get on with the rest.
Cook the potatoes in salted water till just tender, and drain. Boil the eggs to somewhere between soft and hard (cold water, bring to the boil, then 5½ - 6 minutes at a simmer), and cool immediately. S
team the trimmed beans for three or four minutes then refresh in cold water.Wash and drain the leaves, pat the beans dry and cut into thirds, chop the parsley. Halve the eggs and cut each half into three. De-stone the olives if not already done, and quarter.
Make the dressing: into the two types of oil whisk the dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, the juice of the other lemon half, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.
Place the potatoes, halved if necessary, into a large bowl. Drain the onion and chilli and add them, together with the leaves, the parsley, the beans and the tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and toss well. Transfer everything to a salad bowl, lay the eggs on top, sprinkle paprika.
Serve with the grilled/fried/seared fish of your choice, or just some crusty bread.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sorrel risotto

This was originally the stuffing for and accompaniment to some lemon sole paupiettes, but it was proclaimed good enough to stand alone. Very, very easy.

Serves 2
1 cup of risotto rice
Half a litre of good chicken stock
A small shallot, minced
A stick or two of celery, finely chopped
A handful of garden sorrel, finely shredded
Half a glass of dry white wine
A big tablespoon of creme fraiche
Three or four fennel seeds
A strand or two of saffron
A thick slice of butter plus a little olive oil
Parsley to garnish, bread to serve

Infuse the stock with saffron as it heats. Melt the butter in the oil and sweat the shallot and celery for five minutes or so. Add the rice and stir till coated. Pour in the wine and bubble furiously for a minute. Pour in a third of the stock, add the fennel seeds and cook till most of the liquid's gone. Repeat with the second third of the stock, and as much of the third as is needed, seasoning to taste. Stir in the shredded sorrel and the creme fraiche. Rest off the heat for a couple of minutes. Serve with chopped parsley and some crusty buttered bread.

A roasted chicken breast, skin on, would work nicely, I think.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Fish and not chips

This is baked salmon with steamed greens, soy, lemon, garlic, chilli and ginger. No carbs, I hear you say? No, this is 5:2, chaps, and should come in around the 450 calorie mark. It is also bloody delicious. If you're not watching the calories, of course, bring on the spuds/noodles/rice.

Serves one
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes

One smallish salmon fillet, skin on
200g young broccoli and asparagus
Half a red chilli
A small piece of ginger
A clove of garlic
A sprig of thyme
Lemon juice
Hot water
Olive oil and possibly butter

Heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Wash and dry the salmon fillet. Brush the skin with a very little olive oil and rub with salt (this will help to crisp the skin - if you're not going to eat the skin, ignore the oil and salt and go straight to the oven).

Heat a frying pan over a high flame then add the salmon, skin side down and allow to sizzle, turning the heat down to medium, moving a little if it starts to catch, for about five minutes until the skin is crisp and golden.

Transfer the salmon to a lined roasting tray, skin side up, add a good dash of tamari (or soy sauce) and place in the oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

With an eye on the timings, deseed and slice the chilli, and peel and mince the ginger and garlic. Melt a very small piece of butter - a blob the size of your fingernail is all we're after here - in a very little olive oil (say, quarter of a teaspoon) and then fry the garlic, chilli and ginger for a minute or two. Now pour in the hot water - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a very thin layer (possibly even a bit less); the pan will hiss and the fat and water will form an emulsion (merci, Raymond Blanc!). Toss the vegetables to coat. Throw in the thyme sprig, bring to the boil and cover the pan, reducing the heat to medium/low - you want to hear a bubbling but not a fierce hissing. Steam the veg for five to seven minutes until tender. Remove the lid, add a dash of tamari and a squeeze of lemon juice and allow to reduce a little if there's still a lot of water in the pan.

Serve the salmon and the vegetables drizzled with pan juices.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Venison sausage casserole

On the way home after a trip south sometime last year, we stopped at the House of Bruar for what was, for me, the first time. I'd always avoided it like the plague - the whiff of mingled tweed plus-fours, Barbour oilskins, hereditary chin-loss and incontinence was readily discernible from the A9, and every instinct screamed at me to hit the accelerator till Kingussie hove into view.

I wish I could tell you that I'd been mistaken all those years but, as we pulled into the car park, that smell only grew stronger. What became apparent, however, was that it had been masking something altogether more appetising. It took me all of ninety seconds to home in on the butchery and charcuterie department at the rear of the complex where, save for a happy blunder through the kitchenware section, I spent most of the next hour. A list of the delights on offer would leave me smiling in a puddle and missing the latest episode of 'Ripper Street', so I'll limit myself to saying that that first visit saw me leave with a small packet of the best snack salami I've ever tasted and a pleasingly hefty parcel of venison sausages, which found their way into a casserole dish the same evening. It's fair to say that I've now overcome my Bruaversion and am a relatively frequent visitor.

Serves 2

Four venison sausages
A small red onion, roughly chopped
A small white onion or shallot, likewise
Pancetta, a handful, cubed
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Half a bottle of white wine
Half a litre of chicken stock
A big handful of green lentils
Three or four chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
A tablespoon of tomato purée
A dash of balsamic vinegar
A few drops of Worcestershire Sauce
Fresh thyme
Mixed herbs, a teaspoon
A bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Brown the sausages in a little oil in a frying pan then set aside. Heat oil in a casserole and fry the pancetta and onions gently for five minutes or so, until softened and beginning to brown. Add the mixed herbs and the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the wine, throw in the thyme and bay leaf and simmer for three or four minutes to evaporate the alcohol, then stir in the tomato purée and stock and return to the boil. Add the sausages, cover and place in the oven for half an hour.
Meanwhile wash and thoroughly pick over the lentils, and clean and slice the mushrooms.
Turn the oven down to 160C. Add the lentils and mushrooms to the pot, together with the Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Stir, check the seasoning, re-cover and return to the oven for about three quarters of an hour.

Serve with creamy mash, inverted snobbery and no tweed.