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Fresh To Go! Courgette Flower and Leek Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta and Parsley

30 Jun Courgette Flower Quiche

Courgette Flower Quiche

“Where the **** have you been?” I hear you ask in my guilt ridden dreams just before morning.

So I promise myself over and over again that today will be the day that I actually blog some of the recipes that I have been developing, cooking and selling (Yes actually selling) over the past few months. But then life takes over again and I run out of time.

Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been seven weeks since my last blog. Seven weeks! It feels terrible just typing it.

Courgettes & Flowers

My explanation is as follows:

We have set up a small catering company called “Fresh To Go” supplying naturally delicious & healthy prepared foods, in our local area. It is for people who really want to eat healthily but don’t have the time, skills or inclination to cook for themselves every day.

We send out a newsletter every Friday detailing the dishes (with photographs obviously) on the following week’s menu. It is just an extension of this blog really. I go to the farmer’s market in Coin on Sunday and look at which natural fruit and vegetables are in season and looking gorgeous and create recipes using them. The only difference being is that now we make food for other people too. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

And it is, sort of. The thing is that it doesn’t leave much time for blogging, so I apologise for neglecting you and hope that this beautiful little quiche, made with the best of this season’s produce, will go someway towards making it up to you.

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Courgette Flower Quiche

Courgette, Leek & Courgette Flower Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta & Parsley

Makes 1 large or 3-4 small quiches, vegetarian

For the pastry crust:

  • 150 g wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 50 g walnuts, blended to a course powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 80-100 ml cold water
  • 1 egg white for glazing (save yolk for filling)

Mix together the flour, oats, walnuts, salt, pepper & thyme in a large bowl with a fork. Then add the olive oil and, using the fork, mix it into the dry ingredients, mashing it together so it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble.

Then slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need all of it) mixing it with the fork until it starts coming together. Using your hands bring it together into a ball and knead gently just until it holds, don’t overwork it. It will be slightly crumbly.

Preheat oven to 200C. Oil and flour a 9 or 10 inch tart tin/dish or 3 or 4, 4-5  inch tart cases and line the base with a circle of baking paper.Flour you work surface  and rolling-pin and roll out your pastry to a flat disc about 3-4 mm thick and big enough to line your tart case(s).

Using your fingertips and heel of your hand press it into and up the sides of the tin. A flat-bottomed mug can be quite useful too. When you have the base reasonably even, trim off any bits hanging over the edge and use them to fill any holes. Put in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up.

Place a sheet of  baking paper in the tin, fill with baking beans and bake for 8-10 mins. Remove from the oven, brush the base with the egg white and put back in for two minutes – this should stop it getting a soggy base. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 courgette, thinly sliced on the slight diagonal
  • 1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 1 green spring garlic (or clove), trimmed and sliced
  • 4 courgette flowers (stamens snipped out) if baby courgettes still attached slice them too
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 egg yolk (saved from above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or Greek yoghurt
  • rice milk (or your choice of milk)
  • about 100 gr goat’s ricotta (or Greek Feta) 
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 190 C. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan and saute the leeks, courgettes (and baby courgettes if you have them) & spring garlic with a good pinch of salt, black pepper, thyme, chilli flakes. Stir occasionally until the courgettes are well softened. Taste for seasoning and drain for a few minutes on kitchen paper to get rid of any liquid.

Cover the pastry base with an even layer of the courgette & leeks then crumble over the ricotta/feta. In a measuring jug whisk together the egg yolk, eggs and yoghurt. Add in enough milk to take it up to about 400 ml (more if your tin is deep), season well with salt & black pepper, throw in the chopped parsley and whisk again.

Place the quiche on the middle shelf of the oven then whisk and quickly pour in the liquid up to a few mm below the edge. Slide in the tray carefully to avoid spillage and shut the oven door.

Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, check how it is cooking and add the flowers to the top when it is nearly cooked. Put back in for another 5 or so minutes until the flowers have wilted slightly and the quiche is browned and set in the middle.

Courgette Flower Quiche


My apologies again for the extended absence but cross your fingers for us that  this is a success!

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Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goat’s Ricotta and Spring Onion

11 May Broad Bean Bruschetta

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta

I have been running past these broad beans with the dog and I kept meaning to go back with my camera to take some photos. I eventually remembered and got stung by a bee on my little finger when I did. I had forgotten how much that hurts. The things I do for you…

Broad Beans

I also photographed some spring onions (Spanish ones are massive in case you were wondering) and some young leeks. These three things are cheap and plentiful at the market right now as well as spring garlic shoots.

Broad Beans, Spring Onions & Leeks

So this is less of a recipe and more of a, placing of ingredients on some toasted bread, really. You can do that even if you have guests, which we did. The good thing about that is that you can get them to help with the podding. (Thanks Lindsey)

Broad Bean Bruschetta

I bought a kilo of broad beans so sharing the job was a good idea. Podding the beans is the first part then you blanche them for a few minutes in boiling water, cool them down under cold running water, then you squeeze the bright green, sweet beans out of their pale jade cases.

This may sound like a faff too far but it is hardly taxing (while sipping a cool drink under an umbrella) and it really makes all the difference to the freshness of the dish. Look at the colour of them, aren’t they pretty?

Broad Bean Bruschettas

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta & Spring Onion Recipe

Serves (who knows depends how hungry you are) 4-6? Vegetarian

  • 1 kilo broad beans still in their pods
  • a handful of finely sliced spring onions
  • a handful of rinsed, finely sliced baby leeks (or small leek)
  • a handful of finely sliced spring garlic/green garlic
  • dried (or fresh) thyme leaves
  • lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped (plus leaves for garnish)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • goats ricotta (or soft goats cheese/feta)
  • a nice baguette/ciabatta (or 2) sliced on the diagonal

Pod the beans then cook in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking or run under the cold tap until cold. Then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale green cases.

Toast the baguette slices on both sides under the grill and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the sliced spring onions, leeks and green garlic. Season with salt, pepper and a little thyme. Cook for a minute or so until starting to soften, then add the broad beans, stirring to coat. Cook for a few minutes more, add a squeeze of lemon juice, the chopped parsley and check for seasoning.

Spread or crumble a layer of goats ricotta/cheese on each baguette slice, top with a spoonful of the broad beans and put on your serving plate. Continue with the rest.

To serve, top with some fresh parsley leaves, a sprinkling of sea salt and a few drops of olive oil.

Broad Bean Bruschetta with Goats RicottaI’m thinking a long, cool white wine spritzer to go with this. You may prefer a Mojito though.

I know I said I would let you know about our new business venture in this post. Well I lied. You’re gonna have to wait.

Have a lovely weekend!!

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Roasted Beetroot Tart with Goat’s Cheese, Walnuts, Oatmeal Crust

3 May Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart

Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart

Sorry I’ve been neglecting you recently. It’s not that I don’t love you any more it’s just that I’ve been really busy with life and people and working on an exciting new business venture that I am desperate to tell you all about.

But not just yet…

Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart

First a recipe, because that is why you are here after all. You’re obsessed with food probably, like I am.

I buy beetroots from the market, then I roast them and then I decide what I am going to do with them. Roasted beetroot is a great thing to have in your fridge. You can just add it to a salad with some goat’s cheese & walnuts (classic flavour combinations) if you can’t be bothered with the whole “making the tart” thing or are pushed for time. You can puree it with some chickpeas to make this brilliantly bright magenta coloured Beetroot Hummus, or blend it with some stock into this stunning  Spiced Beetroot Soup.

Roasting Beetroot

I had pinned this recipe for a Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart on to my Food I Want To Make My Own board and remembered a recipe for a tomato tart with a walnut oatmeal crust that I had cut out of a magazine. You know when you want to find something and you find everything but that one thing?

Anyway, I did eventually find it in  a pile of papers in a draw. This crust is a bit like a cheesecake base if you know what I mean, the oats, wholemeal spelt flour and finely chopped walnuts are mixed with olive oil to make a base that you press into the tart case with your hands and push it up the sides.

It’s worth the hassle. You get a slightly thicker than normal, rustic, nutty, crumbly biscuity base that is perfect with the goats cheese & beetroot. And it makes a nice change.

Walnut Oatmeal Crust

Roasted Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart with a Walnut Oatmeal Crust

Serves 4-6 vegetarian. Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Roasting beetroots:

  • 3 or 4 tennis ball (or smaller) size beets (you may not need it all for this recipe)
  • olive oil salt & pepper, dried or fresh thyme

Preheat oven 200C. Trim the beets, leaving the root and about 2 inches of stalk still attached, if possible, then wash them gently to get rid of any mud. Dry them and put them on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast for 45-50 minutes (depending on size) until tender all the way through.

Leave until cool enough to handle and, using gloves, cut off the roots and stalks then rub off the skins with a small knife. They should come off easily. Remember, beetroot stains, so be careful.

For the pastry crust:

  • 135 g wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour
  • 65 g oats
  • 50 g walnuts, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • up to 120 ml cold water

Mix together the flour, oats, walnuts, salt, pepper & thyme in a large bowl with a fork. Then add the olive oil and, using a fork, mix it into the dry ingredients, mashing it together so it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble.

Then slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need all of it) mixing it with the fork until it starts coming together. Using your hands bring it together into a ball and knead gently just until it holds, don’t overwork it. It will be crumbly. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, caramelise the onions…

For the filling:

  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • thyme
  • balsamic vinegar (or balsamic syrup)
  • honey
  • a splosh of red wine or sherry
  •  a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped (40 g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goats (or greek yoghurt)
  • rice milk/oat milk/goat milk (or you choice of milk)
  • 75 – 100 g goats cheese, crumbled
  • fresh dill or parsley to serve

Cook the sliced onions in a frying pan in a few tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat with the salt, pepper, thyme, a drizzle of balsamic & a squidge of honey, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, caramelise and stick to the pan, about 8 minutes. Add a splosh of wine or sherry to deglaze the pan and scrape any sticky caramelised bits off the bottom. Cook for a couple of minutes more to cook off the alcohol and reduce any liquid. Leave to cool while you prepare the pastry.

Preheat oven to 200C. Oil and flour a 9 or 10 inch tart tin/dish. Flour you work surface  and rolling-pin and roll out your pastry to a flat disc as thin as you can go. This is quite tricky because of the walnuts. I gave up and started to press the disc into the tart tin with my hands. Using your fingertips and heel of your hand press it out and up the sides of the tin any way you can! A flat-bottomed mug can be quite useful too. When you have the base reasonably even, trim off any bits hanging over the edge and use them to fill any holes.

Prick all over the base with a fork and bake the pastry case for 10-12 minutes, remove from the oven and lower the heat to 180C.

Spread the caramelised onions evenly over the base then chop 2 or 3 beets into chunky cubes. Scatter these evenly over the base too. You may not need it all. Tumble over your walnuts.

In a measuring jug whisk together the eggs, yoghurt, salt & pepper. then add enough milk to take it up to about 400 ml and whisk together again.

Have you crumbled goats cheese ready, open the oven door and slide out the tray, place the tart on the tray then pour the milk mixture evenly over the filling, top with the crumbled goats cheese and carefully push the tray back in the oven. This should stop any spillage.

Cook for 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before serving sprinkled with fresh dill or parsley and a green salad on the side. It is also lovely served at room temperature for a picnic.

Beetroot Goats Cheese Walnut Tart

All it needs is a nice glass of wine to go with it. Any suggestions?

I will tell you all about our new business venture in my next post…..

Enjoy the long weekend!

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint and Feta

22 Apr Orzo Primavera

Primavera Orzo Salad

Spring has definitely sprung. The wild flowers are wafting their sweet fragrance in the mornings where I run with the dog so my thoughts turn away from steaming hot soups and comforting stews towards lighter flavours and all things fresh and green.

Spring Flowers

I bought some fresh peas in their pods from the farmers’ market on Sunday. There is nothing more spring-like than peas, except for maybe asparagus. This recipe has both. In fact it has all my favourite spring flavours in one dish. There’s also fresh mint, dill, lemon, spring onions, spring garlic and feta. Is it singing to you yet?

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Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a rice shaped pasta. If you can’t find it (I got mine in Eroski, believe it or not, in the Moroccan section) you could use any small-ish pasta shapes or even cooked rice. The good thing about orzo is that it doesn’t go all flabby and stick together when it is cooked so it is perfect for salads.

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You toss all the ingredients and the dressing over the cooked orzo while it is still hot so all the flavours get absorbed and start to mingle. Leave it to cool to room temperature then you can store it in the fridge. The feta and fresh herbs are best stirred through just before serving. This is an ideal lunch that would be easy to take to work or for a weekend picnic.

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint & Feta Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian.

  • 300 g uncooked orzo (or other pasta shapes)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 baby leek (or more spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 spring garlic/green garlic/ajete, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 100 gr shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
  • a handful of fresh chopped dill
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 100 g Greek feta
  • toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the orzo in lots of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the spring onions, baby leek and spring garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt some black pepper, the thyme, oregano and chilli flakes until softened. Mix this with the drained cooked pasta in large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & black pepper. Leave to cool.

Trim or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Shell the peas. Cook the peas & asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes then drain and add to the orzo, Stir everything together well.

Leave to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge from this point. When ready to serve stir through the crumbled or cubed feta and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve topped with some tiny mint leaves, dill fronds and toasted pine nuts, if using. I forgot to put mine on for the photos, duh…

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Say hello to spring even if it is raining where you are!

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Have a lovely week whatever the weather.

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

22 Jan Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

This is my type of comfort food. Spice roasted sweet potatoes cooked down and mashed with tomatoes then mixed with black beans, fresh coriander and lime juice. That’s the filling, you could just eat that on its own with spoon if you like.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Filling & Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

But rolled up in soft flour tortillas and covered in the quick and easy Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce from my Mexican Tortilla Lasagne recipe it is divine. Not forgetting the handful of mature Manchego cheese that is grated over the top before going in the oven.

Step by Step Enchiladas

The final step of whacking it under a hot grill for 5 minutes at the end is what makes this special though. You need to give it that caramelised at the edges crispy cheese topping that is irresistible. To me anyway. You have to keep your eye on it, there’s a fine line between brilliance and burnt beyond repair.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce Recipe

Serves 4, vegetarian. Adapted from Call Me Fudge

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 300 g each)
  • olive oil salt & black pepper
  • oregano, allspice, ground cumin
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 Tbsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 1 tin (400ml) chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tin (400 g) black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 10 x 8 inch tortilla wraps
  • a big handful of grated manchego cheese
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus garnish
  • lime/lemon juice
  • sour cream, or goat’s yoghurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and cut into 1-2 cm dice. Put them on the baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and allspice if you have it. Toss it all together with you hands to evenly coat then spread it all out in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the red onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add in the cooked sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chipotle sauce and water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to cook the tomatoes. Mash the sweet potatoes in the pan then add the black beans, stir them through and add the chopped coriander. Season with salt & black pepper and a squeeze of lime/lemon juice. Taste and adjust as required. (Try not to eat it all).

For the red pepper sauce:

  • 1 jar/tin, roasted red peppers (about 200-250 gr), rinsed drained
  • about 100 ml tomate frito /puree tomato/tomato passata
  • 4 or 5 tsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • the other 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  1/2 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)

Blend the drained, rinsed peppers, tomato puree, chipotle sauce, sugar, cumin & Worcestershire sauce in a food processor until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the processor with the red pepper sauce and blend again. Season with salt & black pepper and taste. Adjust as required.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 190 C. You will need either one large or 4 individual ovenproof dishes. Or I used the dish in the pictures twice, this amount fed us both for two nights. The amount of tortillas depends on your dishes so just fill as many as you need.

Spread a layer of the red pepper sauce on the base of your dish(es). Take a few heaped tablespoons of the filling and lay it at one end of the tortilla (as in pictures above), roll up the tortilla and place it in the dish seam side down. Continue with the rest until your dish is full (you may have to trim some).

Tip the rest of the red pepper sauce all over the top of the wraps spreading it out evenly. Top with the grated cheese and bake for about 15 minutes. Then turn the grill/broiler on high and leave it under there for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, don’t ruin it!

Leave it for 5 minutes before serving with a dollop of sour cream/goats yoghurt, fresh coriander and a wedge of lime/lemon to squeeze over. A nice green salad would be good if you need something to accompany it. And a bottle of Coronita, of course.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Buen Provecho!

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Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake with Crunchy Nut Topping

8 Jan Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake

Romanesco Rigatoni & Cheese Bake

Romanesco is a fabulously freaky looking thing that tastes like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. If broccoli florets look like little oak trees then romanesco florets are definitely mini Christmas trees.

Romanesco

This is basically a fusion of two iconic dishes. Macaroni Cheese (Mac & Cheese) and Cauliflower Cheese, which is cauliflower coated in a cheesy white sauce if you didn’t already know. Sometimes gratinated sometimes not. I think it’s a British thing. It’s good to get some extra vegetables in with all that cheeesy carbness so I added some spinach too. Good for the guilt I find.

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake

This dish is great for using up all the little bits of different cheeses that you might have leftover especially at this time of year. I used some feta, goat’s cheese and grated Manchego. Clear out the fridge food is always satisfying.

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake

The topping is actually the Hazelnut & Chestnut Dukkah that I made to go on my Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Soup. The spicy Egyptian nutty crumble give this an extra kick of flavour but you could use breadcrumbs mixed with grated cheese and some spices if you like. The nuts give a nice crunch though. Worth the extra effort definitely.

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake with Dukkah Topping

Serves 3-4, vegetarian

You can substitute the cheeses for whatever bits you have around; Stilton, Gruyère, gorgonzola, mozzarella….

  • 1/2 large romanesco (or cauliflower/broccoli), chopped into small florets
  • 300 g wholemeal rigatoni
  • 2 Tbsp flour (I used wholemeal spelt)
  • 2 Tbsp dairy free spread or butter
  • about 300 ml oat milk (or other milk)
  • a good handful of grated manchego (or cheddar/parmesan..)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a big handful of fresh spinach leaves, chopped (about 100 g)
  • 75 – 100 g Greek feta
  • 75 – 100 g goats cheese
  • about 50 g hazelnut dukkah (recipe here) or use breadcrumbs and grated cheese
  • olive oil and breadcrumbs/flour

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet in a large pan with lots of boiling salted water. About 4 or 5 minutes before it is cooked throw in the florets too. Cauliflower takes longer to cook than broccoli and romanesco so adjust accordingly. When the pasta is cooked and romanesco tender, drain the whole lot in a colander.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter/spread in a small pan over a medium heat. When it has melted add the flour, all in one go, and stir for a minute or so. It will form a thick paste, you need to cook the rawness out of the flour.

Add in the milk, stirring continuously, until incorporated, then continue stirring until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes depending. When thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese, rosemary, nutmeg, chilli flakes and season well with salt & black pepper. Set aside.

Pour the drained pasta and florets back into the large pan over a gentle heat and pour over the cheese sauce, stirring to combine.  Add in the chopped spinach, stirring to wilt in the warm pasta then crumble (or grate) in the rest of the cheeses (I saved some feta for the top). Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Preheat oven to 200C.

Prepare one large or 3-4 individual ovenproof gratin dishes by rubbing the insides with oil and then dusting with flour or breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture into the dish(es), top with the reserved feta, a generous sprinkling of the dukkah (or grated cheese & breadcrumbs), drizzle with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake

You can serve this on its own or with a bitter leaf salad to cut through the richness of the cheese. A mix of raddichio and rocket is nice with some olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy!!

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“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

2 Dec French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Crouton

It has turned really cold here now so soup is what I want for lunch every day and this is one of our favourites. I have actually managed to get the “caramelising onions” time down from the usual 90 minutes in most recipes to a much more realistic 30 minutes. I am always too hungry to wait that long and this way works perfectly for me.

OnionsPeeling and chopping onions is not the nicest of jobs but I have found that cutting off the root end of an onion and putting it on your head like a little hat stops you from crying so much. It looks really stupid and the top of your head smells of onion but much less mascara wastage I find. This tip was given to me by The Washer Up’s nephew Callum and it actually works. I think he spent a day of child slave labour in a Spanish kitchen peeling onions and that is what he learnt.

French Onion Soup

I should really call this Spanish Onion Soup as the only thing that is French about it is the Gruyère cheese on the crouton. That can easily be replaced by a nice mature Manchego which is what we normally do to be honest. The onions are local, organic, Spanish onions, the olive oil is local too and the sherry I use to deglaze the pan is as Spanish as you can get.

Gruyere Crouton“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons Recipe

Serves 4-6 Vegetarian/Vegan without the cheese

  • 1 1/2 k onions, peeled & finely sliced into half moons
  • 2 0r 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp sweet sherry
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1500 ml veg stock &/or water (I use 1 litre stock 1/2 litre water)
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
  • baguette sliced
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  • grated Gruyère (or manchego) cheese
  • thyme

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, salt, sugar & bay leaves, stir to coat the onions in the oil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits until the onions are a deep dark golden brown colour.

Then add the flour, sherry and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan again to remove all the caramelised sweet bits and cook the sherry for a few minutes. Add the stock and water, season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt, more sugar or even more Worcestershire sauce?

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil, season with a little salt & pepper and toast under a hot grill until lightly browned. Top with a generous handful of grated cheese, a little thyme and put back under the grill to melt and brown slightly. If you have ovenproof soup dishes you could put the croutons topped with grated cheese directly in the soup, add another handful of cheese and put the whole lot back under the grill.

The Washer Up would not be impressed with that though, it makes a right mess of the bowls so we go for the safer option…

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with the melted cheesey croutons on top.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

Enjoy and Stay Warm!

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Spiced Beetroot Soup with Herb Spiked Feta on Rye Crostini

7 Nov Spiced Beetroot Soup with Feta

Beetroot is one of those vegetables that I used to hate. It’s because of that nasty pickled stuff in the jars that leaks pink juice over everything else on your plate, contaminating it with cerise vinegaryness. Or is that just me?

It turns out that unpickled freshly cooked beetroot is sweet, earthy and delicious when roasted or made into purees or soups. It is also an amazingly deep, dark burgundy colour that turns a fabulous shade of fuchsia when mixed with anything white. Like white cheese, yoghurt or sour cream. Or clean white tablecloths.

It’s close relationship with white cheese isn’t only about colour mixing, it’s about flavour mixing too. You could just swirl a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt on top of this soup and still be treated to the sweet-sour, spicy-cool, hot-cold taste sensations that you get from every mouthful of this simple soup.

But adding the extra crunch that you get from a toasted slice of rye bread topped with creamy feta mixed with fresh herbs, green chilli and spring onions that you then put under a hot grill to melt, bubble and brown slightly, takes this humble soup to a whole new level.

You could also use pre-cooked beetroot to save time. It comes shrink wrapped in plastic. Don’t buy the pickled stuff in jars for this. That would be a disaster.

Spiced Beetroot Soup Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 whole medium-sized beetroot (apple sized ish), peeled, cut into small dice (wear gloves)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • 200 g tomato passata/tomate frito/tomato puree (not paste)

Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened then add the garlic, thyme, cumin & chilli flakes and cook for another minute or two.

Add the diced beetroot and the stock and season with salt & black pepper. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your dice) until the beetroot is cooked and tender. Add the tomate frito and heat through.

Blend carefully with a stick blender (cover the pot with an old tea towel if you don’t want pink soup everywhere) or puree in a blender or processor until very smooth. Add more stock or water if you need to, to get the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Feta & Herb Crostini

Makes 2, vegetarian

  • 2 thick slices rye bread (I used a rye bread roll cut in half)
  • olive oil
  • about 75 g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano/parsley leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • black pepper

Preheat the grill to hot and brush both sides of the rye bread with a little olive oil. Mix the feta and a drizzle of olive oil with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, mashing it together with a fork.

Toast the bread slices under the grill, on one side then lightly on the other. Pile most of the herby feta on each lightly toasted side, (leaving a little to top the soups) pushing out evenly with a fork then put back under the grill until golden and bubbling.

Reheat the soup and serve in warmed bowls topped with a little of the herby feta and the toasted rye crostini on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

Sweet Potato and Feta Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

31 Oct Sweet Potato Cigars Filling

 Just because it’s Halloween I am purposefully not posting a pumpkin recipe. I’m not of fan of Halloween and this is my pathetic attempt at rebellion.

This year I actually purchased hideous Halloween sweets from Mercadona for the lovely children next door who knocked incessantly on my front door last year.  I studiously ignored them because I didn’t have any sugary, chemically, teeth-rotting unhealthy products to give them. They repayed my kindness by chucking eggs at our front door, so The Washer Up went mad and chucked them back at the neighbours front door. So this year I bought sweets. I hope they’re happy.

So anyway, this is  my kind of treat, filo pastry cigars filled with roasted sweet potato, feta cheese, spring onion, fresh coriander, parsley and red chilli. Unsurprisingly Middle Eastern in origin and unashamedly Ottolenghi of course, who else? He has a new TV programme starting in November on More4, needless to say we are very excited.

The tahini yoghurt sauce is one of my favourite things, it is totally delicious. You can serve it just as a dip with flatbreads or raw veggies, or I have served it with these Cauliflower Fritters, these Baked Falafel Cakes and these Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut) Cigars too.

Sweet Potato & Feta Cigars Recipe

Makes 6 cigars, serves 3-4, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi for The Guardian

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 400 g), scrubbed clean
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 75 g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (defrosted if frozen)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a knife and place directly on a rack in the oven. Roast for 45-50 minutes until soft and cooked all the way through. Cut in half lengthways and leave until cool enough to handle.

Scrape out all of the sweet potato flesh into a bowl and mix with feta, spring onions, herbs, chilli, salt & pepper mashing with a fork. Taste for seasoning and leave to cool completely.

When ready, preheat the oven to 200C, line a baking tray with parchment and brush with a little oil. Unroll the filo pastry sheets and cover them with a clean tea towel to stop them drying out. Remove two sheets together and place them on top of each other on your work surface with the short end facing you, so you have a double layer sheet. Cover the rest back up with the tea towel.

Cut the two sheets in half lengthways this will make two cigars. On the left hand double layer strip, put a few heaped tablespoons of the filling in a sausage shape about 2 inches from the end of the pastry nearest you, leaving a centimetre free at each side end. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and start to roll up your cigar around the filling, fold in the two side ends at about half way through and brush with a little more oil every now and then while you finish rolling up the cigar. Brush the top with some oil and place on the lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling, you should get six cigars. You can refreeze (or refrigerate) the unused pastry.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the tops of the cigars and bake for 25 -30 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

Tahini Yoghurt Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped Tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • cumin or sumac to serve

Mix all the ingredients together well making sure the tahini is mixed in and taste. Adjust lemon, salt or tahini to suit. Serve in bowl sprinkled with a little cumin or sumac and a few fresh herb leaves.

These are the perfect sweet treat for an evening huddled on the sofa with all the lights turned off pretending you’re not in…

Happy Halloween!!

Warm Roasted Beetroot, Carrot, Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad with Dill Hazelnut Pesto

25 Oct sm-91

This salad started with these beautiful organic beetroot & carrots from the market.

It’s the colours that I love, and their rusticness or is that rusticity? I couldn’t resist them anyway and wanted them both to star in something lovely. Something where they were roasted to bring out their natural sweetness.

The warm mellow sweetness of beetroot is always perfectly enhanced by the cool sharpness of a mature goat’s cheese. Enter an extremely mature goats cheese that a friend of mine Jeanne bought when we went to the Luna Mora festival in Guaro this September.

She very kindly gave me a huge wedge of it to try a few days later. I think she just wanted to get it out of her fridge to be honest, it is very stinky, but very good.

Luna Mora is held every September in the small Andalucian village of Guaro.

The festival of Luna Mora which translates as The Festival of the Moorish Moon is a celebration of Andalucia’s Muslim, Christian and Jewish history. There are colourful performance artists and hundreds of stalls line the narrow streets giving it a souk vibe. Tourists and locals flock to enjoy the spectacle and ambience.

The festival is held over two weekends and when night falls, the streets are illuminated by over 20,00 candles and lantern. It really is an unforgettable sight that creates an extremely special atmosphere and explains why nearly 50,000 people visit this festival every year.

For more information on The Festival of Luna Mora, and other things to do and places to visit in the spectacular province of Andalucia have a look at The Andalucia Diary. Andrew knows all there is to know about what to do and where to stay as well as having a beautiful holiday cottage to rent in the village of Guaro itself with breathtaking views of the Sierra de las Nieves.

So back to the food and the smelly goats cheese. This is actually two recipes merged together. Warm Roasted Vegetable & Lentil Salad from Alli at Pease Pudding and Puy Lentil Salad with Goats Cheese, Beetroot & Dill Vinaigrette from My Little Paris Kitchen.

Dill and beetroot are another classic combination that works so well. Even if you think you don’t like dill you have to try this. Dill is now my new favourite herb. I used to loathe it. But since working over the summer with an Iranian family I learnt a lot of new Persian dishes that I will be sharing shortly. And they put dill in everything, I love it.

I changed the dill vinaigrette to a pesto to make it a bit more robust and less of a salad really. It’s beautiful with hazelnuts, quite sweet but you could use walnuts or almonds, whatever you like.

Warm Roasted Beetroot & Lentil Salad with Goats Cheese & Dill Hazelnut Pesto

Serves 2-3, vegetarian, gluten-free.

  • 200 g beetroot, peeled & cut into small wedges
  • 200 g carrots, peeled & cut into batons/wedges
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the prepared vegetables on two lined baking sheets (keep the carrots separate from the beetroot or they will turn pink too) drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & thyme leaves, toss to coat and roast for about 25 minutes or until soft to the point of a knife. Depending on the size, the carrots may be cooked before the beetroot.

  • 250 g dried Puy lentils (they hold their shape when cooked and taste delicious)
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  1 sprig of thyme
  • 500 ml veg stock
  • salt & black pepper

Wash the lentils under cold water then put them in a sauce pan with the stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt & black pepper.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, partially covered, or until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then drain and discard the bay leaf & thyme. Meanwhile make the dill pesto.

  • a handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • a small handful of toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • a squeeze of honey (1 /2 tsp to start with)
  •  a squeeze of lemon
  • salt & black pepper
  • olive oil
  • about 150 g goats cheese

Blend the  dill, vinegar, hazelnuts, lemon juice, honey, salt & pepper with a good glug of olive oil until you get a chunky pesto consistency. Taste and add more salt, honey, lemon juice as required. I like it quite sweet , it works nicely with the dill.

Pile some warm lentils on a plate and top with the warm roasted vegetables, pieces of goats cheese and drizzle over the dill pesto. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Buen Provecho!!

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