Chipolatas with Caramelised Onions and Cranberries

Following Nigel Slater TV advice, with a few improvisations, I’ve been using up all remains of  Christmas (and the freezer). It takes very little effort to prepare, but tastes very festive and special.

CHIPOLATAS WITH CARAMELISED ONION AND CRANBERRIES

(Adapted from N. Slater recipe)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 red onions, thinly sliced

1 pack of your preferred chipolatas

150g fresh cranberries

2 tablespoons cranberry jam

splash of red wine (optional)

pinch of cinnamon

handful of fresh spinach

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions, stir to coat the onion in the oil. Cover the pan and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning.
  2. Add the chipolatas, increase the heat a little and continue to cook about 15 minutes or until the meat is almost cooked.
  3. Add the fresh cranberries, pinch of cinnamon, cranberry jam and splash of wine, if using. Mix well to coat everything evenly, cover with lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. At the end of the cooking mix in some fresh spinach, give another minute or two, taste for seasoning, serve with some hearty bread or with puy lentils.

 

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Apple & Cheese Cobbler

Hello October! It’s getting noticeably cooler outside, it’s time for us to dust off the pie dishes and casseroles. Personally, I can think of nothing better what represent this time of year like apples, and this is one of my absolute favourite autumnal puddings.

This recipe was adapted from Simon Rimmer, via BBC Food.

Apple and Cheese Cobbler

APPLE & CHEESE COBBLER

Ingredients:

4-5 apples, depends on the size (Bramley or Cox work best),  cut into thick wedges

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

100g butter

For the topping:

225g plain flour

100g sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

100g butter, cold, cut in cubes

175ml soured cream

150g Cheshire cheese, crumbled

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Peel and chop the apples, place them in a pan with sugar, butter and cinnamon, and cook gently until just tender and caramelised. Transfer the apples into the prepared pie dish.
  3. For the topping, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a food processor or rub it with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the soured cream and pulse (or mix with the spoon) until the mixture comes together as a thick dough.
  5. Spoon the cobbler dough on top of the apples, then crumble the cheese on top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown.

 

 

 

Carrot, Courgette and Halloumi salad with ginger and sesame dressing

This salad combines all my favourite ingredients. It is perfect for this time of year, as the courgettes are at its best at the moment. You can also leave the vegetables to marinate for a couple of hours before serving, but always fry halloumi at the last minute, as it is best served warm.

Courgette, Carrot and Halloumi Salad

CARROT, COURGETTE AND HALLOUMI SALAD

(adapted from Waitrose magazine)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 courgette

2 large carrots

50g cashew nuts

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

250g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices

Method:

  1. To make a dressing whisk the oils, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger together in a large bowl.  Using a vegetable peeler or a spiraliser, peel ribbons of the courgettes and carrots into the bowl with the dressing, toss it all together, set aside to marinade while you prepare everything else.
  2. In a large non-stick frying pan toast the cashew nuts for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until golden, set aside. Next toast the sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, set aside with the nuts.
  3. Fry halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
  4. Lift the vegetables from the dressing and put on a plate. Top with the halloumi and scatter over the nuts and seeds. Serve immediately while the cheese is still warm, spooning over a little extra dressing, if you like.

Sweet potatoes, Black beans, Crispy onions and Feta cheese

Here is another one of my adaptations of a Nigel Slater recipe, from his book Eat. In this recipe, his is more like a carrot soup with toppings, which is lovely, but by making it a few times I decided to convert this recipe into the main dish.

The original recipe calls for boiled carrots, but I opted for sweet potatoes instead and to roast them first to intensify their sweet flavour.

Roasted sweet potatoes are pureed and studded with spiced black beans before being crowned with a generous scoop of fried onions.

Sweet potato, black beans, crispy onion and coriander

Mix

SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEANS AND CORIANDER

Ingredients:

600g sweet potatoes
60g butter
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 x 400g can of canned black beans
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
olive oil for roasting
salt and pepper to season
fresh coriander leaves (optional)

feta cheese and fresh chilli to serve (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Cut the sweet potato into cubes, place them on baking tray with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until it’s done.
3. Meanwhile melt 30g butter in a pan, add 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds and toast for a minute or two. Drain two cans of black beans and add them to the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes until it’s warmed through. Leave aside.
4. On another pan melt 30g butter, add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Scatter in a large pinch of dried chilli flakes and further teaspoon of mustard seeds. Sizzle briefly. Leave aside.
5. Puree or just roughly mash the cooked sweet potatoes, season to your taste.
6. Divide the pureed sweet potatoes between two large bowls or four smaller bowls and stir in black beans, top bowls with fried onions and garnish with Feta cheese and coriander leaves.
Pureed sweet potato, black beans, feta cheese, crispy onion and coriander

Aubergine and Chickpeas

I always say, if I had to choose to have just one cookery book, it would definitely be  Eat by Nigel Slater. I just love his approach to food and cooking, his frugal, seasonal, simple no-fuss, but innovative and always delicious food. So, this book is never far away from me and I constantly refer to it either for recipes or just for inspiration.

One of my absolute favourite recipe from it is  an Aubergine and Chickpea dish. It’s embarrassingly easy to make, but it always gets a ‘wow’ reaction from everyone who tries it. The main thing is to season the dish well, as both of the main ingredients (chickpeas and aubergines are rather bland by nature). You can eat it as a main or make it as a starter on its own or on a slice of good toasted bread.

Aubergine and Chickpeas

AUBERGINE AND CHICKPEAS

(Recipe is taken from Eat book by Nigel Slater)

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine

1 400g can of chickpeas

sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped

2 garlic cloves

black pepper and salt to taste

Method:

  1. Slice an aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side.
  2. Drain a can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some bread.

From a long experience cooking this dish, I can say that sometime, I found the grilled aubergines can be a bit dry, so I prefer to bake them in the oven instead. It takes a bit longer then grilling, but the end result is much better. Also, the puree can also come out a bit dry, in this case, just simply add more olive oil/splash of water. You can play around with adding some spices or herbs you like. Serve any green veg or chunky potato chips on the side.

Indonesian-Style Greens and Coconut Curry

This is a simple, gentle (although, you can add as much chilli as you wish) vegetable curry that works either as a side dish or as a main course with rice.

According to Saveur magazine, in order to get this dish as close to the authentic flavour as possible, it is essential to let the paste of chillies, turmeric, ginger, and garlic gently sweat before stewing the collard greens in coconut milk.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have fresh lemongrass on hand, adding a dry one instead.

Indonesian-style Green and Coconut Curry

INDONESIAN – STYLE GREEN AND COCONUT CURRY

(Original recipe comes from Saveur)

Ingredients:

12 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 big onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 red or green Thai chillies, minced
1 (3″) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dry lemongrass (or 2 large fresh stalks)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
400g collard greens, stemmed and cut crosswise into wide strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Method:
1. Combine turmeric, onion, garlic, chillies, and ginger in a small food processor and purée, adding up to 4 tbsp. water, to form a smooth paste; set aside.
2. If you are using fresh lemongrass, trim tip and root ends of lemongrass stalks and remove tough outer layer. Using a meat mallet, smash lemongrass to flatten and tie into a knot.
 3. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom or cast iron pot over medium-low heat; add reserved paste and lemongrass (dry or fresh); cook, stirring often, until very fragrant, 10–12 minutes.
4. Add sugar, salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
5. Add collards; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 40 minutes.
6. Remove lemongrass; season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

It’s a really hearty, earthy, yet fruity light dish. I can’t say it’s the most presentable creation as the red cabbage lends a distinctive monotone colouring to the whole thing. However, if not made for dinner party, it will impress just as well as a mid week supper. This dish is a winner and a budget friendly one too. I served it with a yoghurt and tahini lemon drizzle to top, but it’s just as good on it’s own.

Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew

MOROCCAN LENTIL AND LAMB STEW

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

pinch ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon za’tar (optional)

350 g dried green lentil, rinsed

1.5 litre chicken stock

1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded

400 g lamb leg steaks, diced

50 g dried apricots, chopped

50 g dried currants, chopped (optional)

1 lemon, for squeezing

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large casserole heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the diced lamb and brown over a high heat until it just cooked. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the casserole and gently cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the lentil and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until the lentil are tender.
  4. Stir in the apricots, currants and lamb for the final 10 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Check seasoning, squeeze some lemon juice, serve on its own or drizzle with Yoghurt & Tahini dressing.

Yoghurt & Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Mix by hand or blend in a food processor everything up and drizzle on top.
  • The tahini sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew