Tag Archives: cheese

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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Moroccan Spiced Squash and Feta Empanadas with Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Feb Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Squash & Feta Empanadas

Empanadas are little Spanish or Portuguese pasties depending who you speak to. Around here they are most commonly filled with a tuna, tomato and onion mixture. Legend has it that they were bought to Medieval Spain by the Moorish invaders. This is my way of interpreting that and bringing back some of the Moorish flavours.

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Here the pastry is traditionally made with Manteca which is a kind of pig fat or lard. Not really my cup of tea but tasty I’m sure.

I used the same spelt flour olive oil pastry that I used for this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche and this Italian Courgette & Basil Crostata .  It’s so good and much healthier and easier than using butter or lard. The Washer Up has, as you may have read in a previous post, become intolerant to wheat quite recently so will not be taking sandwiches to work as often as he did.

Spelt Squash & Feta Empanadas

Thankfully he has no reaction to spelt flour so these empanadas are the perfect replacement. You can change the filling to whatever you have or whatever is in season to keep it interesting but this is a lovely mix of sweet, spicy Moroccan flavours with some nice texture from the toasted pine nuts and juicy moscatel raisins. I cook them the day before and they are just as good at room temperature as they are hot. This makes them ideal for packed lunches or picnics.

Makling Empanadas

Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas Recipe

For the pastry:

Makes about 8 empanadas depending on the size. Vegan, Wheat-free

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • up to 120 ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and use a fork to mash it into the flour so it is evenly distributed.

Slowly add the water bit by bit (you may not need it all) and use the fork to combine it with the flour. When it starts coming together use your hands to bring it together into a ball and knead gently for a few seconds only. If it is too dry add a bit of water, too wet add a bit of flour. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling:

Makes a lot of filling. Vegetarian

  • 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin unpeeled, cut into chunky wedges
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander

Preheat the oven to 200C and put the squash wedges on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle over the ground spices. Toss the wedges in the oil & spices and roast until the squash is very tender. This could take 25 -50 minutes depending on the size of you squash pieces.

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • the zest of half an orange and the juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
  • a handful of Moscatel raisins or sultanas
  • a handful of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan until browned)
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • about 100 g Greek feta
  • olive oil

Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in some olive oil over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. add in the turmeric, orange zest, orange juice, raisins and pine nuts and cook the liquid out.

Scrape the squash flesh out of its skin (or peel off the skin) and mash it into the pan with the onions etc. Cook this together until there is very little moisture, add the chopped fresh coriander.

Leave to cool then stir through the crumbled feta until evenly combined. Taste and season with salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble:

Roll the pastry out with a floured rolling-pin on a floured surface, turning it quarters turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a thickness of about 2-3 mm. I used a saucer to cut out most circles but I also used cutters to make smaller ones too. You will need to reroll the off cuts a few times to get the most circles out of the pastry.

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray. Take a good heaped tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the bottom half of one of the pastry circles leaving about a centimetre border clear. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges together with your fingers. Then use a fork to seal it again. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the rest of the circles. You may have some filling leftover, I did.

Make a few little slits in the top of each then brush the tops all over with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes depending on the size.

Spelt Squash Empanadas

Serve warm or at room temperature. The original Cornish pasties were apparently taken hot out of the oven and put into coat pockets to keep the hands warm on the chilly walk to work or school. Sounds like some people could probably do with that at the moment in some areas. It’s not that bad here and he has heating in the car….

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Have a lovely weekend!

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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!!

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed and Pistachio Sambousek Pastries

29 Oct Sweet Sambouseks

I made these little pastries using the Persian Quince Jam from last post but you could use any jam you like. I have used this lovely fig & honey compote before too which is great if you don’t like using sugary jams.

Sambouseks are little samosa-like pastries that are normally savoury and filled with meat or cheese. I made these savoury Fig & Feta Sambouseks before, so this is just a little step in a sweeter direction. The picture below is of the savoury sambouseks and demonstrates the folding technique.

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed & Pistachio Sambousek Pastries Recipe

Makes 16-20 pastries. Vegetarian/Vegan.

  • 225 g (1 1/2 cups) white spelt flour (or normal)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • jam/compote/carne de membrillo
  • feta cheese or ricotta or queso fresco (optional)
  • honey or agave syrup
  • a handful of pistachios, very finely chopped

Sieve the flour sugar and salt into a large bowl then stir in the fennel seeds. Add the olive oil, mixing it in with a fork then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the warm water. With your hand, fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until you get a sticky dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, 1 or 2 minutes. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment brushed with a little oil.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll the dough out until it is about 2mm thick. Cut out small circles about 3 inches in diameter (use a floured cutter or a glass). Lift the excess pastry away from the circles  and re-roll it and cut out more circles. Keep doing this until you have used most of the dough. You should get 16-20 in total depending on the thickness of your dough.

Put the circles on the lined baking tray and, using a teaspoon place a small amount of jam in the centre of the circle and top with a little cheese (if using). Lift up the two opposite edges and seal them above the filling. Seal the two other ends by pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek. (See picture above). They can be refrigerated at this point if necessary.

Brush the tops of the sambouseks with a little olive oil and bake for 15 -25 minutes until golden and cooked. Leave to cool slightly then brush the tops with honey or agave syrup and dip them in the finely chopped pistachios.

Serve the sweet sambouseks warm or at room temperature with a glass of fresh mint tea or Turkish coffee.

Enjoy!!

Grape and Fennel Seed Spelt Focaccia with Sea Salt and Basil

9 Sep Grape Focaccia

I see these grapes every day while running with the dog. They are hanging over a fence saying “steal me”. But I don’t. Even though the farmer on the other side of the fence is letting most of them turn to raisins on the vine. It’s all inspiration though because I have now started thinking about raisin recipes.

Grapes are kind of underused in cooking I think. There’s the Veronique thing with sole and they go very nicely on a cheese board of course. About the same time last year I made a White Grape & Manchego Cheese Tartlet that I sprinkled with fennel seeds and served with an elderflower syrup.

The combination of flavours work really well together. The herb should really be tarragon though, not basil,  to follow on with the anise fennel theme but our plant is on its way out so basil was my next choice. It’s an Ottolenghi recipe that I’ve adapted using spelt flour instead of normal and I added the sea salt and herbs. I like the scattering of sea salt on top to contrast with the sweetness of the sugar and fennel seed topping.

Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia Recipe

Makes a 20 x 30cm focaccia, vegan, wheat-free.

Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

For the starter:

  • 15g fresh yeast ( or 1 sachet dried)
  • 210ml bottled lukewarm water
  • 165g spelt flour (I used wholemeal)

Put the yeast and water in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, stirring until you get a porridgy consistency. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours to double in size.

For the dough:

  • 165g spelt flour (wholemeal or white)
  • 1+1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • 1 +1/2 tsp sea salt plus extra to sprinkle

Mix the doubled in size starter (above) with the flour, sugar & olive oil in a bowl. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes then add the salt and knead it into the bread for about 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Brush the inside of a bowl with some olive oil put the dough in it and brush the surface with more oil. Cover with a damp cloth again and leave in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and gently stretch it with your fingers into a rectangle. Fold one of the short edges of the rectangle into the middle, then fold the other short end over that so you get 3 layers. Brush the inside of a 20 x 30cm baking tin with oil and put the folded dough in it with the seam underneath. flatten it out with your fingers until it nearly fills the tin, cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour. Go back 3 or 4 times in the hour to press it out with your fingers to reach the edges. By the end it should fill the tin, have lots of finger bumps and be about 2cm thick.

For the topping:

  • 150g seedless grapes (I used a mix of red & white)
  • about a tbsp raw/brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • flaky sea salt
  • fresh tarragon leaves (or basil)

Preheat oven to 220C.  Halve the grapes lengthways and stud them all over the dough.  Mix the sugar and fennel seeds together and sprinkle this all over the top too.

Bake  for 10 minutes then lower the heat to 190C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until slightly browned & cooked through. Remove from the oven and brush with olive oil while still hot and then sprinkle over some sea salt. When ready to serve strew or tear over some fresh tarragon or basil leaves.

This is lovely as a snack, supper or picnic with some mature cheese (like a Manchego or Parmesan) and a glass of wine. Or serve as part of a continental breakfast or brunch instead of croissants and pastries.

Enjoy!

Sweet, Spicy Watermelon Pickle

11 Jul Pickled Watermelon Rinds

This is what I made with the watermelon rinds I had leftover from making the Watermelon Agua Fresca in my last post.

It’s a sweet spicy pickle perfect to serve as a relish on burgers, at barbeques or as part of a picnic lunch. It’s great with mature sharp cheeses like goat’s cheese, Manchego, Cheddar or Feta or with salty cured hams like Serrano and Parma, you could even serve it with a whole roast ham or gammon steak. It would also be a very welcome addition to any Indian meal.

It’s really simple to make but you do it over three days. Don’t let that put you off, you’re not working on it for three whole days or anything silly. You leave it covered in its syrup overnight in the fridge then take it out in the morning, drain it into a saucepan, bring the syrup to a boil and then pour it back over the watermelon. Then put it back in the fridge until the next morning and repeat the process once more.

The original recipe didn’t have any chilli in it but my chilli pepper plant has just started to produce some little green babies so I added a few whole ones to the pot with the whole spices. You’ve got to have a little heat in a pickle or what’s the point?

Watermelon Pickle Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2kg (4 pound) watermelon, quartered & sliced into 1 inch thick wedges/triangles
  • 1.75 litres (8 cups) water
  • 2 tbsp sea salt plus 2 tsp
  • 450 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 275 ml (1+1/4 cups) apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 3 whole green (or red) chillies

Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind leaving a thin layer of pink on the rind. Use the flesh to make agua fresca or watermelon feta & mint salad.  Cut off the dark green part of the rind and discard it. Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.

Bring the water and 2 tbsp salt to a boil in a large saucepan then add the rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer them to a metal bowl with the whole chillies.

Add the 2 tsp salt, sugar and the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Pour this over the watermelon rinds and chillies in the bowl then place a plate on top to keep the rinds under the syrup. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day strain the syrup from the rinds into a saucepan, bring the syrup to the boil and pour it back over the rinds in the bowl. Cover with the plate again and the cling film and leave again overnight.

Repeat straining, boiling and pouring over rinds one more time and leave again, covered in fridge overnight. Then spoon the rinds and spices into a sterilised jar, pour over the syrup so it covers the top of the rinds and seal. Store in the fridge.

I really enjoyed making something so delicious out of something that would normally just get thrown away. Means more money to spend on shoes…..!

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