Tuesday, 30 March 2021

GLUTEN FREE & VEGAN FRIENDLY FUDGY CHICKPEA BLONDIES


O M G these blondies, made from a chickpea, ground almond, maple syrup and peanut butter dough, are the most fudgy amazing little things that are completely gluten and dairy free! 

Who knew blended chickpeas would indeed form such a good base to a sweet baked treat and though I am not a vegan I was totally won over and surprised by this alternative to your standard blondie. 

A revelation to those with dietary restrictions and requirements but also bloody delicious for those without!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can canned chickpea of 400 g (14 oz), drained, towel dried
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 1/3 cup ground almond
  • 1/3 cup chopped up vegan friendly chocolate (I always use Dr Oetker's cooking chocolate)

METHOD
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Line a 9-inch x 9-inch baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Open the can of chickpea, rinse, drain and dry/rub the chickpeas in a clean towel to remove ALL the water or moisture. This is VERY important, or the blondies will be fragile and too moist
  • Place the chickpea in the bowl of a food processor, add peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Blend on high speed until smooth, and no big lumps are left.
  • Add in ground almonds and process again at high speed for 15-30 seconds to blend evenly.
  • Remove the food processor blade, stir in chocolate chunks. 
  • I recommend you keep 3 tablespoons on the side and sprinkle later on top of the blondie. 
  • This also prevents adding too much chocolate chips in the batter that will melt and turn your blondie into a brownie.
  • Spread the blondie batter evenly onto the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the chocolate chips you set aside on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crusty on top. 
  • CAREFUL, if your pan is wider, it will cook way faster. On the other hand, if your pan is smaller the blondies are thicker, and it may take more than 30 minutes to set. 
  • Always insert a pick in the center of the blondie to check baking. 
  • If it comes out clean with little crumbs, it is ready.
  • Cool 10 minutes in the tray to firm up the blondies. 
  • Don't skip this or they will break. 
  • Then gently loosen the sides with a knife and lift the pieces of parchment paper to easily release the blondie from the pan and transfer it onto a cooling rack. Careful the blondie will still be soft and fragile. 
  • If you feel it is too soft or moist wait 10 more minutes before transferring it onto the cooling rack. 
  • This prevents the blondie from breaking.
  • Cool for at least an hour before slicing or they can be fragile.
  •  After 1 hour, you can pop the blondie in the fridge, this will add an extra fudgy texture and make it easier to slice.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

CREAMY CURRIED PRAWN & GREEN BEAN PIE


Another dish where fusion really works a treat! Here the classic English fish pie gets an Indian twist with a curry infused cream sauce and THE most amazing turmeric and nigella seed spiced mash. 

A seriously delightful comfort food dish that will feed a crowd!

Serves 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion , finely sliced
  • 40g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp medium curry paste (I used this Korma paste from Waitrose)
  • 600ml milk
  • 150g green beans , cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1.2kg Maris Piper potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 heaped tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 300g cooked king prawns
  • ½ small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche


METHOD

  • Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a medium saucepan. 
  • Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry over a medium heat for 8 mins, or until the onions turn golden and sticky. 
  • Stir the flour and curry paste into the onions and cook for 2 mins. 
  • Remove from the heat and quickly whisk through the milk in several additions to make a thick sauce.
  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the beans and cook for 1 min, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside. 
  • Add the potatoes to the water and cook for 5-6 mins or until you can easily insert a cutlery knife into them. 
  • Drain and mash. 
  • Stir through the remaining oil, turmeric and nigella seeds, then season to taste.
  • Add the prawns and green beans to the sauce. 
  • Bring to a simmer and quickly remove from the heat. 
  • Stir through the coriander and crème fra?che and season to taste.
  • Heat the grill to its highest setting. 
  • Spoon the mixture into a medium heatproof dish. 
  • Spread over the mashed potato and grill for 4-5 mins or until golden and bubbling AND ENJOY!

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

CONFIT SALMON PAPPARDELLE WITH CARDAMON & LIME


365 days of lockdown. Who would have thought ey? I have cooked, pickled and fried, I have made my own noodles, pasta, several kinds of gnocchi and have just about covered every popular cuisine out there.

Keeping it creative in the kitchen has played a fundamental role in keeping me sane during this year -researching recipes, planning shopping trips to my much beloved Barbican Waitrose and picking nice wines to go with dinners that became the highlights of my weekends. 

Well, it looks like we are not quite of the woods yet and a return to normality may still be some time off which is why I will endeavour to keep the fun, tasty and unusual recipes coming, for me AND for you guys.

In that vain it was about time for me to take my first stab at confit cooking via this wonderful confit salmon pasta dish by the great Yotam Ottolenghi. 

It was actually surprisingly easy to do and the end result was the most wonderful juicy, fragrant salmon that worked an absolute treat with a herby and surprisingly light dressing. 

A dish that screams spring and a dish that will be a much needed dinner treat to celebrate an anniversary we all really did not need nor want.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
  • 35g coriander leaves (from about 1 small bunch)
  • 35g basil leaves
  • 1 large salmon fillet, about 450g, skinned
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 200g sweet red cherry tomatoes, such as datterini
  • 2 red chillies, chopped widthways into 2½cm-thick rounds
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed with the flat of a knife
  • 3 banana shallots, peeled and cut into 2½cm-thick rounds
  • 10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 300ml olive oil
  • 75ml lime juice
  • 500g dried pappardelle

METHOD

  • Combine the herb leaves in a medium bowl. 
  • Dry the salmon well with kitchen towel, then season all over with two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt.
  • Heat a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a high heat.
  • Once very hot, add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic and shallots, keeping them all spaced apart, and cook for eight minutes, turning everything once halfway, until it’s all nicely charred. 
  • Add the cardamom and two tablespoons (or 10g) of the fresh herb mix and char for another two minutes.
  • Turn the heat as low as it will go, add the oil, two tablespoons of lime juice, two teaspoons of salt and a very generous grind of pepper, then gently lay the salmon in the pan. 
  • Spoon the oil and aromatics over the fish, leave it on the heat for two minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave the salmon to confit in the residual heat for 30 minutes, carefully turning the fillet once halfway. 
  • Transfer the fish to a plate and use two forks gently to flake it apart into large chunks.
  • Strain the remaining oil into a large bowl, pick out and discard the cardamom and herbs, and keep the remaining aromatics and oil separately. 
  • Don’t wash out the pan, because you’ll use it again later.
  • For the salsa, put 40g of the fresh herb mix in the small bowl of a food processor with 75ml reserved confit oil and two tablespoons of lime juice, and blitz to a smooth paste.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain, and reserve two tablespoons of the cooking water. 
  • Return the sauté pan to a medium-high heat, add the drained pasta, reserved cooking water, strained aromatics and a tablespoon each of the confit oil and lime juice.
  • Toss, gently heat for two to three minutes, then stir through the remaining herbs.
  • Transfer the pasta to a large platter, top with the flaked salmon and spoon over the salsa. 
  • Finish with plenty of black pepper and serve.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

CRISPY PAPRIKA SPICED CAULIFLOWER WITH COCONUT PESTO PASTA


Turns out a fresh herb pesto with a touch of coconut milk is a TOTAL game changer. 

Once you've made this light pasta dish, bursting with fresh flavours, you won't be going back to your boring old pesto, trust me!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 500g pasta (whatever shape you fancy)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cups rocket
  • 1 jalape?o (I used this jared version from El Paso)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200C. 
  • On a baking sheet, combine the cauliflower, 1/4 cup olive oil, paprika, chili flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. 
  • Toss well to evenly coat. 
  • Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. 
  • Add the 2 cloves garlic and the lemon zest. Roast another 10 minutes, until charred.
  • Meanwhile, make the pesto. 
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, arugula/spinach, the jalape?o, 1-2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, nuts, parmesan, and 1/4 cup olive oil. 
  • Season with salt. 
  • Pulse until a sauce forms, adding 1-2 tablespoons water if needed to thin.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  • Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. 
  • Just before draining, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. 
  • Drain and add the pasta right back into the hot pot.
  • To the pasta, add the pesto and coconut milk, tossing to combine. 
  • Divide the pasta among bowls, then serve each bowl with a side of cauliflower and enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

KING PRAWN MASALA CURRY WITH HOMEMADE NAAN


I had a severe Indian food trauma until this gorgeous king prawn masala curry with the most incredible fluffy, homemade naan bread repaired my faith in this cuisine! 

Why? Well, let's just say the last time I had Indian food it ended up with a pretty nasty case of food poisoning, projectile vomiting up salmon tikka masala and feeling like utter, utter death, which of course meant that even the thought of any kind of Indian food resulted in a cold shower down my back, let alone me actively seeking out a recipe and making it at home. 

However time and lockdown boredom heels all wounds and traumas and I began to think it was silly for me to disregard all Indian food for life because of ONE nasty experience. 

Also I couldn't help but think that this tomato based masala prawn curry looked all kinds of amazing and not too dissimilar to many Thai curries I absolutely adore which is why it was time to work (or rather eat) my way towards enjoying Indian food once again! 

I was also very intrigued by the idea of making my own naan bread, I am no big rice fan and the fluffy bread served with Indian curries looked right up my street, plus I had managed making a super tricky roti at home, a naan would be a walk in the park! 

And luckily it pretty much was -  super easy to make, SO delicious fresh out of the pan and perfect for dipping into the curry. Light and fluffy, all kinds of wow and something I'd definitely make again! 

I think I am ready to explore Indian food more once again - trauma dealt with, in quite the delicious manner!

KING PRAWN MASALA CURRY

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced,
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large thumb of ginger, finely minced
  • 10 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml water
  • salt to taste
  • 100ml coconut cream
  • 150-200g raw king prawns
  • 150g frozen green peas 

METHOD
  • Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions until they are brown.
  • Add in the garlic, ginger and cardamom pods and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Mix in the spices, allowing them to cook for a few minutes before stirring in the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, salt and water.
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the sauce occasionally to prevent any burning at the bottom.
  • Pour in the coconut cream, king prawns, peas and sugar. Mix thoroughly and cook for a further 5 minutes until the prawns cook through. Add more salt to taste if necessary.


HOMEMADE NAAN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup hot water (but not boiling just hot tap water)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
1 cup plain greek yogurt
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted butter, for brushing may use olive oil

METHOD
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. 
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth and rise.
  • When the yeast is foamy and smells like bread, add the milk, yogurt, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix the with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. 
  • As soon as it comes together, stop kneading. 
  • It should be sticky, but should form a ball and be soft. 
  • Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place 1 hour or if not using right away overnight in the fridge.
  • When ready to cook divide the dough into 8 equal balls and using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval shape. 
  • Warm a non stick frying pan over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). 
  • Brush both sides of the naan with melted butter and if desired sprinkle on any spices you like such as cumin and garlic. 
  • Place the naan on the hot frying pan, cover with a lid and bake for 1 minute, until you see bubbles starting to form. 
  • Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. 
  • Repeat with the rest of the naans and serve. 

Monday, 15 March 2021

AHI TUNA TACOS + CRAB & PRAWN ENCHILADAS!

Two easy peasy yet impressive recipes for a Mexican seafood feast. 

Best served with some frozen mango or strawberry margaritas to make you feel a world away from your boring living room on a Friday night!

AHI TUNA TACOS WITH SRIRACHA MAYO

Makes 4 small tacos, perfect as a starter for 2

INGREDIENTS

  • Tuna Steak
  • 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso's)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 flour small flour tortillas (if you can't find small ones do as I did and use a small plate or bowl and cut out a smaller circle)
  • 1 cup white shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup radishes about 2-3, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander

Sriracha Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice


METHOD
  • Heat oil in a frying pan. 
  • Meanwhile pat the tuna dry with paper towels. 
  • Sprinkle the seasoning on all sides of the tuna.
  • Once the pan is hot add tuna and sear on all sides until golden brown. 
  • Remove from the pan and allow the tuna to rest before slicing into thin slices.
  • To assemble tacos place a sprinkle of cabbage onto each taco and place some radishes on top.
  • Top with pieces of tuna and a sprinkle of coriander on top, if desired.
  • Serve immediately with a drizzle of sriracha mayo.

Sriracha Mayo
  • Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. 
  • Set aside until you are ready to eat your tacos.


PRAWN & CRAB ENCHILADAS WITH GREEN SALSA CHEESE SAUCE

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Can of black beans, rinsed
  2. 2 tins white crab meat (I got mine from Waitrose)
  3. 200g cooked king prawns
  4. 1/2 cup green salsa (get a green salsa like this one from Waitrose, it makes a HUGE difference to your standard red tomato one and is made with Tomatillo green tomatoes)
  5. 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  6. 1/2 cup sour cream
  7. 2 tbsp butter
  8. 2 tbsp flour
  9. 1/2 tsp chilli powder 
  10. 1/4 tsp cumin
  11. pinch salt
  12. 1 cup vegetable broth
  13. 1/4 cup single cream
  14. 4 tortillas
METHOD
  • Preheat oven to 220C.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together beans, crab, shrimp, ¼ c. salsa, ½ c. cheese, and sour cream. 
  • Spoon about ⅓ c. of this filling down the center of each tortilla, fold sides to the middle to cover filling, and place rolled enchiladas seam side down in oven proof baking dish. 
  • Enchiladas should fit tightly together in the pan.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Whisk in flour until combined. 
  • Slowly add vegetable broth about ¼ c. at a time, whisking constantly to keep mixture smooth. 
  • When all broth is added, bring to a simmer.
  • Stir in chilli powder, cumin, salt, ½ c. cheese, ¼ c. salsa, and cream.
  • When cheese is melted, turn off heat and pour sauce evenly over prepared enchiladas.
  • Cover dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Remove foil, and sprinkle remaining ½ c. cheese over the top. 
  • Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

GLUTEN, DAIRY & EGG FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


I would have NEVER thought a decent chocolate chip cookie was possible without gluten, dairy AND eggs but I like a challenge and when I was baking for a friend of mine that deserved a treat and who can no longer eat dairy or gluten I knew it was time to prove myself wrong!

After a lot of research uI stumbled across a recipe that didn't rely on super expensive or niche ingredients and looked like it wouldn't taste like an utter fail so thought why not give it a go even if they end up tasting slightly odd! 

This is why I was the more surprised when these cookies turned out a total dream!! In fact they were some of the best home made cookies I have ever made, with great texture and taste and in no way revealing the fact they were lacking the ingredients that usually make a cookie so good! 

Fresh out of the oven, properly set, or even straight out of the bowl in the form of cookie dough, these cookies were a total game changer especially for people that miss a good chocolate chip cookie but do have special dietary requirements or allergies and even those that don't will ADORE these cookies! 

Trust me on this one.

INGREDIENTS 


METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 200C. 
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Cream the buttery spread and sugars in a large bowl. 
  • Add the mashed banana, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until combined.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Mix until combined.
  • Stir in the dairy free chocolate chunks.
  • Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough on the cookie sheet. 
  • Bake at 200C degrees for 10 minutes. 
  • They will look a little bit underdone, but will cook a little bit more as they cool on the cookie sheet.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough and enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

THE BEST MEAT FREE MEATBALL SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO SAUCE!


I think the last time I ate red meat I was around 12 years old and I have really not missed it much ever since. 

I really can't get my head around the idea of eating another beings flesh and the texture of things like steak and bacon makes me feel squeezy just thinking about it.

Which means I am one of those non-meat eaters (though I am big seafood lover and with that long term pescatarian who would struggle to be a full veggie ) that really has not craved or missed meat products.

 Indeed I have always been a little dubious about "fake" meat products like quorn or foturkey. I mean, of course I can see the appeal, especially for vegetarians that have chosen to give up meat out of mainly ethical reasons and miss having a bacon sarnie, but I always wonder why emulate something that is a bit wrong to start with when you can do so many amazing and tasty things with veg and pulses and grains. 

I for one cook about 85% of the time vegetarian, without substitute products, and was more than intrigued to see what kind of meat free balls I could create in a veggie adaptation of those iconic Italian meat ball spaghetti with tomato sauce and after a bit of research I stumbled across a rather outstanding little recipe that makes for some delicious and surprisingly "meaty" balls! 

The secret to their deliciousness? A super fragrant mix of blended black beans and oats which are then mixed with miso paste, sautéed onions, breadcrumbs and, the real start of the show here, finely chopped dried porcini mushroom, hydrated back to full goodness. 

It may sound like a little bit of an odd mix of flavours but once they are formed into balls, fried in the pan to gain a crispy shell and then tossed with a super fresh homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti, they taste pretty damn amazing! 

Like the sort of amazing that would even impress a committed meat eater and made me all kinds of happy, converting a former childhood favourite dish of mine into something that works in my meatless diet! Plus if you leave the parmesan out as final topping the dish is also fully vegan! 

This is one to add to the recipe repertoire, easy to make and a real joy to eat! 

SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms (I got mine at Waitrose)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 x 400g can black beans , drained and rinsed
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp brown miso
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 500g spaghetti

METHOD
  • Tip the dried porcini into a bowl and cover with boiling water. 
  • Leave to soak for 20 mins. 
  • Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of olive oil a frying pan. 
  • Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10 mins or until softened and translucent. 
  • Add the garlic and paprika and cook for 1 min.
  • Tip the black beans and oats into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky, textured mixture. 
  • Tip the beans into a mixing bowl and using your hands mix through the miso, breadcrumbs and cooked onion mix. 
  • Strain and finely chop the porcini mushrooms and add those.
  • Season and roll into balls and chill in the fridge while you make the sauce.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan
  • Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10 mins or until softened and translucent. 
  • Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 min. 
  • Stir through the tomatoes and sugar and season to taste. 
  • Simmer uncovered for 20 mins. 
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil for the meatballs in a large frying pan over a medium heat. 
  • Add the balls and fry until evenly brown. 
  • Add the cooked meatballs and spaghetti to the pan of sauce and toss everything to coat, then scatter with the basil. 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

MUSHROOM, LENTIL & POMEGRANATE FILO PIE


Who knew pomegranates and mushrooms go SO well together? Well this super easy to rustle up pie proves just that and combines lots of slow roast mushrooms with pomegranate molasses (a favourite ingredient of mine lately), fresh pomegranate seeds and lentils, all topped with crispy filo pastry sheets.

A mushroom lovers dream dinner, meat eater or not, and full of flavour without the heaviness you can get from creamy pies! 

I served mine with a fresh salad and a big dollop of creme fraiche on the side! 

A veggie main that wows with punchy flavours.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if large
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 large banana shallots, peeled and fairly finely chopped
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt, plus extra to scatter over the pastry
  • 100ml pomegranate molasses
  • 5 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 250g cooked vacuum-packed puy lentils
  • 7 sheets filo pastry (suitable for vegans)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • To serve creme fraiche 

METHOD
  • Heat the oven to 150C. 
  • Tip the mushrooms, shallots, oil, garlic and sea salt into a large, lidded casserole dish or roasting tin, and gently stir to mix (you may need to use your hands.) 
  • Cover with the lid (or tightly with foil) and put in the oven to cook for one hour.
  • Take the dish out of the oven, remove the lid or foil, and increase the heat to 200C.
  • Stir the pomegranate molasses, the pomegranate seeds and the lentils through the mushrooms.
  • Lay one of the seven sheets of filo over the mushrooms, then scrunch up the remaining six pieces and arrange them evenly over the top. 
  • Use a pastry brush to brush the oil all over the filo peaks and troughs, scatter generously with sea salt flakes, then return to the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. 
  • Serve hot. 

Monday, 1 March 2021

SMOKED MOZZARELLA ARANCINI


O.M.G. These deep fried risotto rice balls, filled with smoked mozzarella or as the Italians would call it Scamorza, are absolutely amazing, indulgently gooey and probably one of the best things I have made in my lockdown cooking career.

I will say, they do take a while to make, more of a weekend cooking project rather than something to tackle after another day in the WFH office, and there are quite a few prep steps involved if you dont happen to have a lot of leftover risotto knocking around (and I mean who has? If I make risotto I usually finish it LOL) but IT IS SO WORTH THE EFFORT! 

Plus I found the whole process rather fun as well - making the risotto, shaping the balls, getting the crispy coating on and finally frying them until golden brown, with oozing melted cheese inside.

Normal mozzarella will work fine as well but the smokiness of the Scarmoza adds a very special finishing touch. 

Serve them as starter own their own or with a spicy tomato sauce which can totally be store bought, I went for one here, especially when you've already cooked your ass off with these wonderful Arancini balls!

I have been dreaming of these ever since I had my first bite and for sure will make them again even when lockdown comes to an end!

MAKES ABOUT 10

INGREDIENTS

  • 3½ cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1cup carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup double cream
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 150g Scamorza (or normal mozzarella), cut into small squares
  • 1 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs, I get mine at Waitrose)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying (about 750ml)

METHOD
  • Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat, then keep warm over low.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium. 
  • Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 4–5 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, about 1 more minute.
  • Stir in rice; season with 1½ tsp. salt. 
  • Cook, stirring often, until some of the grains turn translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add wine and cook, stirring often, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes. 
  • Ladle in 1 cup warm stock, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. 
  • Ladle in another 1 cup stock and continue to cook, stirring yet again, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 5–7 minutes. 
  • Add remaining 1½ cups stock and cook, stirring often, until rice is cooked through but toothsome and liquid is mostly absorbed, 9–11 minutes longer. 
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Stir in Parmesan, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. 
  • Season risotto with salt.
  • Spread risotto in an even layer on a baking paper lined baking tray. 
  • Chill at least 1 hour or up to 4 (cover risotto with plastic wrap after 1 hour so it doesn’t develop a skin).
  • Line another baking tray with paper. 
  • Scoop about ¼ cup risotto into your hands and form into a patty about 2½" in diameter (it doesn’t need to be perfect!). 
  • Place Scamorza piece in the centre of patty. 
  • Carefully pinch and shape risotto so it completely encases the cheese, then roll into a ball. 
  • Your hands might get messy, and the balls may be slightly misshapen (they’ll firm up later). 
  • Place on prepared baking sheet. 
  • Repeat with remaining risotto and mozzarella. 
  • Freeze balls 10 minutes(DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP).
  • Meanwhile, pulse panko in a food processor or place in a ziptop plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until finer crumbs form. 
  • Transfer to a shallow bowl. 
  • Place flour in another shallow bowl. 
  • Lightly beat eggs in a third shallow bowl to blend; season all bowls with salt and pepper. 
  • Working one at a time, dredge balls in flour, shaking off excess. 
  • Transfer to bowl with egg and turn to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl. 
  • Coat with panko, pressing gently to adhere. 
  • Transfer to another lined baking tray. 
  • Chill balls while you heat oil.
  • Pour oil into a medium saucepan. 
  • Heat for a few minutes, then drop a few panko crumbs into the hot fat to see if it is hot enough, you will know when it is as they will start to fizz up when dropped in. 
  • Carefully lower half of rice balls into oil with a slotted spoon or spider and fry until deeply golden brown, 6–8 minutes. 
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt. 
  • Repeat with remaining rice balls. 
  • Serve warm with a tomato sauce alongside for dipping!

Thursday, 25 February 2021

CREMLOR - WHERE THE CROISSANTS MEETS THE SEMLOR BUN!



As everyone knows by now I am a big fan of anything Sweden related and particular fond of their baked goods as well. 

My favourite cake of all time has to be princess cake (which I will dully request for every single of my birthdays going forward), I am a cinnamon and cardamon bun connoisseur and I even adore the very old fashioned dammsugare, a cake bar more favoured by old Swedish ladies than Stockholm's hipsters

It was no surprise then that I totally fell for the seasonal semlor bun when I went on a wonderful birthday trip pre-Corona to Stockholm last year.

Semlor buns, or Lent buns, are traditionally eaten in the lead-up to and during Lent, from the beginning of January up to Shrove Tuesday "to fatten one up" before Lent. 

Essentially they are cream buns, flavoured with cardamon, which have a marzipan type filling, and come topped with fresh whipped cream and icing sugar. 

They are rather heavenly and I managed to grab a few from my favourite Swedish bakeries in London, Bageriet and Scandinavian Kitchen, while they were "in season" but I did always find them rather doughy and heavy, I guess that's where the fattening up comes in, which is why I was so intrigued by a new foodie trend sweeping across Stockholm's cool bakeries: the cremla!

Yes, you heard it right! Following on from the now legendary cronut, a croissant + donut hybrid, the cremlar combines the much lighter and flakier texture of a croissant with the wonderful and unique fillings of a semlor bun! Even better no baking is involved and it tastes in my opinion superior to the the classic semlor!

Make sure you get a top notch fresh croissant as cremlar foundation, don't go for that gross packaged up supermarket stuff, and then it is a matter of a bit of cream whipping, almond mixture making and assembly before you've got yourself a rather stunning and incredibly yummy cremlor that you'd definitely queue for at a Hipster Scandi bakery for!

I bought the almond paste used in the recipe ready made from Scandinavian Kitchen but you can find pretty straight forward recipes like this one to make your own if you dont have a specialised shop near you.

This was a serious game changer and equally good as indulgent weekend breakfast as it was as dessert.

Mark my words, the cremlar will make global waves soon so get on it (and eating it) before everyone else, you won't regret it!

MAKES 10

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 large croissants (if you live in London get them from the Dusty Knuckle Bakery, seriously best croissants in town)

ALMOND FILLING
  • 150 g almond paste (bought or made from scratch)
  • 50 g almonds, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp cardamom pods, crushed

CREAM
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp toasted almond flakes

FOR SERVING
  • Powdered sugar

METHOD
  • Cut the croissants across the middle.
  • Cut the ends of the croissants and reserve for later. 
  • Scoop out a little bit of the croissant middle to create space for your fillings
  • Spoon in some of the almond filling, pipe or spoon whipped cream on top.
  • Place the end bit of the croissant on top of the cream. 
  • Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar and repeat with the rest of your croissants!

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

PERSIAN INSPIRED GREENS, BEANS & NOODLE SOUP





Hear me out on this one! Agreed, a Persian inspired noodle soup may not have been the first thing to spring to ones mind when it comes to cooking yet another elaborate weekend dinner, killing time till all this crap is over (I am having somewhat of a lockdown wobble right now so excuse my slight pessimism), but this super fragrant, herby and totally taste tantalising soup was incredible and quite unlike anything I had ever rustled up in the kitchen before.

What makes the soup so memorable? Well the soup base is the most amazing mix of fresh herbs (dill, parsley, coriander, mint and chives to be precise), turmeric, spinach, garlic and slowly sautéed unions, cooked down with water with a mix of chickpeas, lentils and cannellini beans until you achieve a thick, chilli like, stew consistency.

Then broken up linguine get added to the soup, cooked straight in the wonderful marriage of all the above ingredients, before a splash of sour cream get stirred in for a final hit of zingy-ness.

Slowly caramelised and slightly crisped up onions get served on top of the final noodle soup or stew with noodles, whichever way you prefer to put it, for an extra bit of texture and the final dish is quite the flavour bomb.

I won't pretend my version is super authentic, the original version uses Kashk, a form of drained yogurt or whey, and you are meant to use dried chickpeas which was a bit too much effort for me, but wow this fabulous final dish introduced me to flavour combos totally unfamiliar to me and was just real sunshine, yet comforting food that makes you feel good whilst eating it.

Yes, prep takes a bit of time but if you love a bit of chopping like I do you will be total convert to this dish even if it's not love at first recipe sight!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
  • ¼ cup tinned chickpeas 
  • ¼ cup tinned cannellini 
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 250g spinach 
  • 3 large bunches coriander
  • 3 large bunches parsley 
  • 2 large bunches dill 
  • 1 large bunch chives 
  • About 20 large fresh mint leaves 
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large yellow onions, 1 finely chopped and 1 thinly sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup dried green lentils 
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1.5l water 
  • 200g sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint


METHOD

  • Just before cooking, prepare the herbs and greens: Wash spinach, coriander and parsley, then use a salad spinner to dry very well. 
  • Run a knife through the spinach to cut leaves into large pieces. 
  • Trim the woody ends from coriander parsley and dill so that only leaves and tender stems remain. 
  • Roughly chop coriander, parsley, dill, chives and mint leaves into pieces no larger than a quarter. 
  • To cook, set a large saucepan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons oil. 
  • When the oil shimmers, add the chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. 
  • Cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is tender and golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Add the beans to onion along with the lentils, turmeric and 1 teaspoon pepper. 
  • Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the beans with oil and spices. Add the chopped spinach and herbs, along with stock or water, and stir to combine. 
  • Partly cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for 1 hour, stirring regularly to prevent the greens from sticking and burning. If the soup remains very thick even after the greens have wilted, add another 1 to 2 cups water, as needed to thin it.
  • Add a ladle or two of the sour cream to the hot soup and whisk to dissolve.
  •  Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then break the noodles in half and add to the pot. 
  • Stir gently to mix in the noodles and keep them from sticking together, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are soft and chewy and the beans are completely tender, about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the garnishes: Set a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  • When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil shimmers, add sliced onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until golden brown and caramelised, 16 to 18 minutes. 
  • Spread cooked onion onto a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil; let cool. 
  • Wipe out pan and return to medium heat. 
  • Add remaining 1/3 cup oil and warm gently over low heat, then stir in dried mint and remove from heat. Set mint oil aside and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
  • The soup should be as thick as a hearty chili.
  • If it’s any thicker, thin it with water, 1/2 cup at a time. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed.
  • To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Drizzle with reserved sour and mint oil, then top with a sprinkling of golden onions.
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