Archive | January, 2011

Local Goat’s Cheese and Pear Salad with toasted almonds and rosemary honey dressing

31 Jan

 

Today while walking the dog I walked past lettuces, Romaine, Lollo Rosso and Cos …

Almond trees with their beautiful barely pink blossom….

A bee on wild rosemary flowers…..

Some unexpected pears amongst the ever present mandarins……..

And some goats which reminded of my visit to the local Goat’s Cheese producer “El Pastor del Valle”….

 This just shows how my mind works and proves that I am thinking about food all the time. While I am walking the inspiration and ideas come from all around me and somehow work themselves out into a finished dish….

This salad can be served for lunch or as a starter. It would also work as a dessert/cheese course after a meal or with drinks. Just arrange the pears, cheese, almonds and honey on a board with some biscuits and let everyone help themselves. The flavour combination of sour sharp goat’s cheese, sweet honey, juicy pears and crunchy almonds is a lovely alternative to the Stilton, Pear & Walnut classic….

Goat’s Cheese & Pear Salad with Toasted Almonds and Rosemary Honey Dressing

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
  • about 150gr goat’s cheese (I used a hard goat’ cheese but you can use a soft rind) sliced
  • a handful of toasted almonds, plus extra for garnish
  • some mixed lettuce leaves (a big handful each)
  •  about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 tbsp sherry (Jerez) vinegar (or balsamic)
  • 2 tbsp rosemary honey (just use normal honey and add about 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary if you don’t have any)
  • salt & pepper
  • rosemary flowers to garnish (if you can find some) but not too many they are very strong

Wash & pick your salad leaves and put them in a large bowl with the sliced pears, cheese and toasted almonds. Pour the olive oil, vinegar and rosemary honey into a small bowl and whisk together well. Season with salt & pepper and taste, you can add more oil/vinegar/honey to your taste. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss together with your hands. Pile onto your serving plate(s), add a few rosemary flowers onto the cheese & pears and top with some more toasted almonds…

 It really is that simple, enjoy!!

    

Thai Squash Wonton Soup and Spring Rolls with green curry noodles

29 Jan

I had to make something with my first homemade veg stock, something worthy that would appreciate it’s clean, delicate flavour. Wonton soup is that dish.

The wontons are generally filled with seasoned pork and prawns. I decided to go for the Butternut squash that was in danger of going soft in my fridge. I roasted it and mixed the scooped out flesh with some Thai flavours, lemongrass, ginger & chilli and used that as my filling. Roasting half a squash (as I did) makes a lot of the filling  so I used it to make some spring rolls too which I served with some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. You could also use the rest of the squash mix to make a delicious soup, just add some coconut milk and veg stock and blend..

I would definitely recommend making these on the day you want to cook them. The spring rolls especially did not keep very well in the fridge overnight as the filling is quite moist and it soaks into the wrappers. You can make the filling the day before but do your wontons and spring rolls on the same day you want to eat them for the best results.

Thai Squash Wontons and Spring Rolls

 vegetarian (makes lots of the filling)

  • 1/2 butternut squash (keep seeds if you want to roast them too)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • a large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed, ends removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli (I only used 1/2 because my chillis are really hot you can use more)
  • a handful of coriander, stalks chopped separately
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • some breadcrumbs if the mixture is very wet (panko are best)
  • wonton wrappers (defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • spring roll wrappers(defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • 1 egg, beaten for brushing

Preheat the oven to 200C, cut the squash half in half, put on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 30 – 45 minutes depending on your squash. It needs to be tender. You can roast the seeds at the same time, just wash and dry them, spread them out on a sheet of  foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on them they should brown slightly not burn). Leave the squash until cool enough to handle and scoop out the soft flesh into a large bowl.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add in the onions, celery, coriander stalks, lemongrass and chilli with a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add in the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Tip this into the squash with the chopped coriander leaves and mix everything together well. Add in the cornflour and breadcrumbs if it seems very wet.  Season with salt & pepper and taste.

When they have come to room temperature place one wonton wrapper on a board or work surface so it is a diamond shape. With your finger moisten the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg. Take a small teaspoon of the filling and put it in the top triangle of the diamond away from the edges.

Fold the bottom half over the filling and seal the edges with your fingers. Push down around the filling to get rid of any air. Make sure the edges are sealed and there is no filling escaping. Moisten the two bottom corners with egg and close them together and seal to create the dumpling shape. Sit it up on it’s base.

Continue until you have made enough wontons. I think three per person in a little bowl of soup is enough for a starter. You could also serve more of them as  a main course (like a ravioli or tortellini dish) with some of the Thai Green Curry sauce (see recipe below).

With the spring roll wrappers, lay it out on a board in a diamond shape again. Brush all the edges with beaten egg. Place teaspoons of the filling in a sausage shape about a quarter of the way up, not touching the edges, as in the photo above.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and tightly roll away from you until you reach the last quarter. Then brush the two ends with beaten egg and fold them in tightly.

Then continue rolling it up until you get something like this…

Store the wontons and spring rolls in the fridge separated with baking paper so they don’t stick together but use them on the same day, they don’t keep well overnight. To cook the spring rolls deep fry in hot vegetable oil in a wok, frying pan or deep fat fryer until golden on both sides (about 2 – 3 minutes on each side). Drain on kitchen paper and serve with your favourite dipping sauce….

Spring Roll Dipping Sauce

  • soy sauce
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • sesame oil
  • oyster sauce
  • minced ginger
  • lime juice
  • brown sugar/palm sugar
  • chopped spring onions or garlic shoots
  • chopped red chilli
  • fresh coriander
  •  

    These are the ingredients for my dipping sauce. I have no idea of amounts just start with the soy and keep adding and tasting until you get what you like…

Wonton Soup Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian

  • 5 small bowls of vegetable stock (use the bowl you are serving in to get the correct amount plus 1 extra for luck)
  • about 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • about 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  1/2 red chilli, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
  • some shredded cabbage, a handful
  • 1 garlic chive or spring onion, finely sliced, plus extra for garnish
  •  1 tbsp chopped coriander plus leaves to garnish
  • roasted pumpkin seeds (see above) optional
  • 12 wontons (3 per person) see recipe above

Heat the veg stock to just under boiling and add in the miso, spring onions/garlic shoots, chilli, cabbage, ginger, rice wine and soy sauce. Stir until the miso dissolves and simmer for a few minutes to soften the cabbage. Add a few drops of sesame oil and drop in the wontons. They will sink, give them a stir occasionally and cook in gently bubbling water for 3 or 4 minutes. They should float to the top then give them another minute or so. Scoop out the wontons with a slotted spoon and place them in the serving bowls.

Stir in the chopped coriander and ladle the hot soup over the wontons. Garnish with extra spring onion, pumpkin seeds, sliced chilli and coriander leaves and serve immediately.

 This is such a brilliant starter to an Asian meal. It’s light, aromatic , healthy and full of flavour. The Washer Up said it was the best soup I’ve ever made and I think I agree. It’s one of those dishes you never want to end.  You could definitely serve it as a main course in a bigger bowl with more of everything but maybe it’s better to leave people wanting more, I don’t know, you decide…….

Alongside the Spring  Rolls and dipping sauce I served some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. I got the recipe for the Thai Green Curry Paste from Tes at Home. Tes is Thai and lives in India and I think the recipe comes from her mother. It was really very good, well-balanced and flavourful even though I couldn’t get any Thai basil and I substituted ginger for galangal…

Thai Green Curry Noodles

serves 4, vegan

  • about 400 gr fat rice noodles (I used XL)
  • 3 heaped tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk
  • soy sauce and  brown sugar/palm sugar to taste
  • fresh coriander chopped
  • chopped spring onions/garlic shoots
  • coriander leaves/spring onions/sliced chilli for garnish
  • veg stock if necessary

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain, rinse under cold water and set aside. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Cook the curry paste and spring onions for 2 or 3 minutes until the spices are aromatic then add in the coconut milk. Stir everything and cook to thicken the sauce slightly. Taste and add some soy sauce & sugar if you think it needs it. Place the noodles in the sauce a handful at a time, string to coat the noodles then add the chopped coriander. When the noodles have warmed through and are coated in the sauce tip into your warmed serving dishes (If it seems a bit dry you can add a bit of veg stock).

Garnish with coriander leaves, spring onion and fresh chilli……………

And serve with the Spring Rolls and dipping sauce……… delicious!!!

This recipe is featured in January’s YBR round up hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. To see a fantastic selection of delicious recipes & beautiful photos click on the Your Best Recipe Badge above and have a look around…

Making Your Own Veg Stock

27 Jan

 I use veg stock a lot in my cooking so I thought it was about time I started making my own. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before, it’s just a case of being organised, which I am not, so that is why it has taken so long for me to get around to it.

I made my Minestrone soup last night so I put all the trimmings from the leeks and onions, the cabbage core and outside leaves, carrot ends & peelings, some celery stalks & leaves, the top of the red pepper, some bashed garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary & thyme, parsley stalks, some halved cherry tomatoes, a few chopped mushrooms, 8 whole peppercorns and a big teaspoon of salt in a big pot and filled it with water. You bring it to the boil then simmer with a lid on for at least 30 minutes. I tasted mine after 30 minutes added some more salt and left it to simmer for another 30 minutes to get a more intense flavour.  Strain it, leave it to cool, store some of it in the fridge for up to 3 days and freeze the rest.

Then you have lots of beautiful, golden, natural veg stock with no artificial nastiness to use for making soups, stews, risottos, sauces, curries…..

I must have about made about four litres I think. Which is probably enough to last me a week. If I get into the habit of keeping my trimmings and making it every Monday I’ll never have to buy veg stock again. It’s delicious, free and chemical free.  You can use whatever vegetable trimmings you have but I would definitely include onions, garlic and carrots for sweetness. You could add fresh ginger and some star anise if you wanted an Oriental base or cumin seeds, fennel seeds and turmeric root for an Indian flavour. Just make sure you wash the vegetables before you start and buy organic wherever possible.

I am going to be using this stock tonight to make a Thai Squash Wonton Soup……”See” You Tomorrow!

The Holy Trinity Pie – Potato, Cheese and Onion

25 Jan

 

Potato, cheese and onion are, for me, the Holy Trinity of flavours. Think Cheese and Onion Crisps (Walkers obviously), they are the best flavour by a mile. Sour Cream & Chives Pringles.  Jacket potato with cheese, sour cream and chives (a la Spud -U-Like)  the classic, original & best topping. And, of course, the Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie.

Trying to replicate the flavour of that perfect pie with crumbly pastry and that soft, mellow, almost sweet and comforting filling, was a challenge I was very happy to take on. With so few ingredients they all have to be exactly right or you might as well not bother.

  • The Potato: something floury for making good mash with no lumps, you don’t want waxy here. There is a  fantastic list of which potatoes to use for which dish at Love Potatoes. Apparently Maris Piper and King Edward are good all rounders but they recommend Nadine, Rooster, Saxon or Wilja for mash.
  • The Cheese: a personal thing obviously but I recommend using a creamy, white, crumbly cheese like an unmatured Lancashire (The Washer Up’s favourite). Other cheeses to use are a crumbly Caerphilly or, if you want to go more “European”, an Italian Fontina or French Tomme de Cantal.
  • The Onion: the classic yellow onion is the onion of choice for me but you could use spring onions for a fresher, green flavour and look. Softened leeks would be lovely especially if you’re going for the Caerphilly option and flying the Welsh flag. Or even chives if you want the full sour cream and chives Pringle effect.

I have opted (controversially,I know) to make a wholemeal shortcrust pastry. I thought the contrast between the soft fluffy centre and a nutty, flaky crust would be nice and I was trying to “healthy” it up a bit I suppose. Potato and cheese guilt taking over maybe. It works really well but feel free to stick to plain flour if you are a traditionalist. My pastry recipe comes from a book called The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis which is where I also discovered the recipe for L’Aligot Tart.

 L’aligot is a country dish from south-western France made with mashed potatoes, garlic, cheese (tomme de Cantal) and cream. Sounds amazing doesn’t it. So I decided to add some garlic to my onions (controversially again) and I swapped the cream for sour cream to stay on my Spud-U-Like theme….

Potato, Cheese & Onion Pie Recipe

makes 3 individual pies, double the amounts to make 1 big pie for 4-6 people, vegetarian

  • 180 gr wholemeal flour (or plain or a mixture)
  • 90 gr cold butter, diced and refrigerated
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • iced water (2 or 3 tbsp)
  • 2 potatoes, about 500 gr peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • about 150 gr Lancashire cheese (see above for other cheeses) crumbled into chunks
  • about 75 ml sour cream/creme fraiche/cream
  • 30 gr butter
  • 1 egg white, for brushing

Sieve the flour and a pinch of sea salt into a bowl or food processor(throw in the wholemeal bits left in the sieve as well). Put the cold diced butter on top and process (or rub the butter and flour through the tips of your fingers) until the butter is the size of peas. Then drizzle the ice-cold water in, a tablespoon at a time, (with the processor running) until it coheres into a single ball. Don’t add too much water or it will shrink when baking. If you can still see the butter that is good, that’s what makes the pastry flaky. As soon as it forms a ball wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour to chill.

Meanwhile put your potatoes in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil, lower the heat slightly and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Saute the onions in a tablespoon of oil or butter with a big pinch of salt, over a medium heat until they are softened, not browned about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook gently for another couple of minutes.

When the potatoes are soft drain them, put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Heat up the sour cream and butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted pour this onto your mashed potatoes and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the onions and garlic and the cubed/crumbled cheese. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg, mix everything together and set aside while you roll out your pastry.

Preheat oven to 190C. Butter and flour your pie dishes/baking dish, Flour your work surface and cut your ball of dough into three (if you are making individual pies). Keep one piece out to work with and put the other two back in the fridge. Roll the pastry out to about 3 mm thick, cut a third off and keep it for the top of the pie, in the fridge. Push your pastry into your pie dish/ramekins (don’t stretch it) and leave some overhanging the edge. You can cut bits off and stick it in any gaps. Put it in the fridge while you do the other two. Blind bake the pastry shells by lining the bottoms with baking paper and weighing it down with some baking beans (uncooked beans or chickpeas). Bake for 5 -6 minutes, then remove the baking paper & beans, prick the base with a fork and brush the bottom with the egg white. Return to the oven for another 4 minutes to firm up the base. Trim off any rough edges.

Roll out 3 circles from the reserved pastry a little bit larger than the top of your pies. Fill the blind baked pastry shells with the mashed potato mixture, pushing it down so you don’t get any gaps. Top with the uncooked pastry circle and seal the edges with a fork. (I forgot to do this). Make a few holes in the centre of the top and brush with egg white.

Bake for about 15 -20 minutes until the top is browned and the pie warmed through…..

Serve hot out of the oven in the pie dish or leave to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto the plate. I think peas are perfect accompaniment to this pie but broccoli or wilted spinach would work too. Maybe even with a salad for lunch….

Once you’ve tried this you will never go back to buying them again. The ultimate in vegetarian comfort food perfect for rainy days like these….

Poor Rufus……Wet dog!!

Granola Flapjacks

22 Jan

 

I don’t know what the difference is between a granola bar and a flapjack but this is a mixture of the two. It has the oaty base of a flapjack, the nuts, seeds & dried fruit of a granola bar and it’s square like a flapjack. You can put whatever you like in them – I used almonds, hazelnuts, coconut and some mince-pie filling I had left over from Christmas. You could use any nuts, seeds and dried fruit you have around like dried cranberries, macadamia nuts, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, sultanas or even chocolate chips….

Granola Flapjacks Recipe

makes 16, vegetarian adapted from a Nigella recipe I got from Wilde in the Kitchen

For this recipe I have used cup measurements because that is the amount you need and the weight depends on the nut/fruit you are using. If you don’t have cup measures just use a teacup and use the same one for everything.

  • 2 & 1/2 cups rolled porridge oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries/sultanas/ chopped apricots or a mix
  • 1 cup hazelnuts or seeds
  • 1 can condensed milk about 45o gr

Preheat the oven to 130C. In a big bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. In a small saucepan heat up the condensed milk until it is a more pourable liquid. Pour it over the dry ingredients and combine everything together well with a wooden spoon. Line a 9 x13 inch, or similar, baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Tip the mixture into the baking dish, pressing it down gently until evenly distributed. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely, on a wire rack, before cutting into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container with baking parchment between the layers.

These are so easy to make and there is no flour, butter, golden syrup or added sugar to worry about –  just the condensed milk (it’s calcium)!! Great for kids and adults for breakfast, snacks or afternoon tea…..

Tea anyone?….

    

“Goatherd’s” Pie – A lentil bake topped with local goat’s cheese mash

21 Jan

This is my vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie. For those of you who don’t know, Shepherd’s Pie is a British dish made with minced lamb (hence the shepherd) and vegetables topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven. It is classic, British, cold weather comfort food.  I have replaced the minced lamb with lentils and put some goat’s cheese through the mash. The idea came from seeing these goats and sheep grazing together while I was walking the dog…..

They like to eat trees….

I remembered that there is a local goat’s & sheep’s cheese producer in Alhaurin, where we live, that I have been meaning to check out for a while.

“The Shepherd of the Valley Cheeses”

I was greeted by this dog as I got out of the car. If by greeting  you mean, barking constantly, following me and trying to bite me as I left. But don’t let that put you off. They have great selection of goat’s and sheep’s cheeses, just ring on the bell…

I bought this hard goat’s cheese (it looks like Manchego) which is delicious. Every goat’s cheese I’ve bought before has been the soft rind kind that is sold in supermarkets. This is quite different and a nice change. It is quite crumbly and the flavour is sharper than a sheep’s or cow’s milk Manchego.

They also have a goat’s Requeson which is a type of ricotta that I am looking forward to trying next time I go. I will try to take some more pictures then and I would like to have a proper tour of the factory when I’m not being chased by a big dog……

“Goatherd’s” Pie Recipe

serves 4-5, vegetarian

  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled & quartered
  • about 75ml goat’s milk
  • 75-100 gr goat’s cheese, grated or crumbled plus extra for topping
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 big, red (or not) onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks & leaves, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a large sweet potato (or 2 carrots) diced
  • 5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • about 175 gr (1 cup) uncooked brown lentils
  • 400 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • 200 ml (1 cup) water
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh/dried thyme leaves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp or more of tomato passata (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp english mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • breadcrumbs (I used toasted garlic breadcrumbs)
  • grated/crumbled goat’s cheese
  • olive oil

Put the potatoes in cold salted water, bring up to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Heat up the goat’s milk and pour it onto the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher until smooth, stir in the goats cheese and season well with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning/add more cheese. Set aside.

Rinse the lentils in a sieve and pick out any stones. Put them in a small pan with the veg stock and water, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a deep pan, over a medium heat and throw in the onions, celery, sweet potato/ carrots and season well with salt & black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and sweet potato have softened then add the garlic, herbs & spices. Stir everything together until well combined. If it dries out at any stage add a splash of wine or veg stock.  Preheat the oven to 200C. Add the mushroom, peas, tomato passata/frito, Worcestershire sauce & mustard to the vegetables.  Lower the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring, adding more tomato passata if it’s looking dry. When the lentils are cooked tip them into the veg saucepan, combine everything well, check for seasoning and pour into a baking dish.

Top with the mashed potato, spread it out evenly, sprinkle/crumble over the goat’s cheese, then the breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 35 minutes until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling around the edge..

Serve with a green salad for lunch or for something more substantial steam some broccoli and serve it with some veggie gravy on the side…

Maybe I should take some for that dog next time….

Buen Provecho!

Rustic Bean Cassoulet with confit garlic and roasted aubergine

19 Jan

The idea for this recipe came from Lindsay at The Kitchen Operas. We have very similar taste in food so when she said that garlic confit was even better than roasted garlic I knew I had to try it out. She wasn’t wrong. The mellow, soft, sweetness of the garlic is a revelation and you also have a gorgeous garlic & herb infused olive oil to use for drizzling over salads, pasta dishes and bread. The possibilities are endless…..

Confit is a method of preserving and flavouring foods by submerging them in a substance, in this case olive oil…..

Garlic Confit Recipe

Recipe from The Kitchen Operas

  • 20 garlic cloves, peeled
  • enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the garlic cloves about 60 ml
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 whole peppercorns
  • 1 sprig rosemary/thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 160C. Put all the ingredients in an ovenproof ramekin making sure all the garlic is submerged. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour until the garlic is tender. Leave to cool and store in a glass jar topping up with more olive oil, to cover, if necessary, then refrigerate.

Now you have deliciously soft, sweet cloves of garlic to do with what you will. I wanted to use mine straight away because they smelled so amazing. So I decided to go with Lindsay and attempt a Cassoulet. A cassoulet is a bean stew from the South of France generally made with pork sausage or bacon and duck confit. Having already replaced the duck confit with garlic confit (very clever Lindsay), I was wondering how you could replace the bacon/sausage. Aubergine takes on a smoky flavour when roasted and has that dense meaty texture required in this dish so that’s what I went with.  I roasted an aubergine & a red onion at the same time as confiting the garlic. I also saw a recipe for Shitake Bacon where you roast slices of Shitake mushrooms in olive oil, salt & pepper for about 45 minutes and they take on that salty, smoky flavour and crispy texture of the bacon. That would be a fantastic alternative and next time I get some Shitakes I’m definitely trying it.

Rustic Bean Cassoulet with confit garlic & roasted aubergine

Adapted from a Kitchen Operas recipe. Serves 3, vegetarian

  • 1 aubergine, cut into  1 or 2 cm dice
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into eighths, wedges
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 leeks, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced (I used 1/2 a large sweet potato because I had no carrots)
  • 2 stalks celery & leaves finely chopped
  •  6 confit garlic cloves (see recipe above)
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a splash of white/rose wine (optional)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 1/2 jar/tin 200 gr cooked red beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 jar/tin 400 gr cooked white beans, rinsed & drained (I only had 1/2 jar)
  • 450 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • salt & black pepper

Put the cubed aubergine & red onion wedges on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & chilli flakes and toss together with your hands to coat evenly. Roast in the oven with the confit garlic or roast at 200C for about 25- 3o minutes until lightly browned.

In a large pot, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat and add in the leeks, celery, carrots/sweet potato, whole confit garlic cloves, herbs and season well with salt & black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until softened and slightly golden. Add a splash of wine to deglaze the pan then add in the beans, tomatoes, roasted aubergine & red onion and the veg stock. Season again with salt, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered for about 20 – 25 minutes. Until the carrots/sweet potatoes are tender and the stew has thickened.

Serve in warmed bowls topped with garlic & rosemary toasted breadcrumbs and/or a slice of confit garlic bread….

Garlic & Rosemary Toasted Breadcrumbs

  • about 110 gr fresh breadcrumbs (the more rustic the better) I only had packet breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a drizzle of the garlic infused oil from the confit garlic
  •  1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • sea salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Toss the breadcrumbs with the rest of the ingredients until evenly combined and spread out on a piece of foil. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden & aromatic.Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top of  your cassoulet just before serving.

Confit Garlic Bread

  • some slices of rustic bread or baguette
  • 1 or 2 confit garlic cloves per slice (see recipe above)
  • some garlic infused olive oil from the confit garlic
  • some grated cheese (I used Manchego) not very French!

Preheat the grill to hot. Smash/smush 1 or 2 cloves of the confit garlic all over the bread, drizzle with a little of the oil and top with grated cheese. Put under the hot grill for a minute or so until the cheese is bubbling and the bread is golden.

Bon Appetit!

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Chica Andaluza

Sometimes Up a Mountain in Andalucia and sometimes Down by the Sea on the English South Coast

Tony Ward on everything

The gospel according to me!

Agrigirl's Blog

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The Kitchen Operas℠

Vegetarian Whole Food Deliciousness

for the love of yum

A girl who loves to cook fresh, fun, and global cuisine.

The Path To Authenticity

Mind, Body & Spiritual Growth

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