Tag Archives: comfort

Romanesco Rigatoni Cheese Bake with Crunchy Nut Topping

8 Jan

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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Rainy Day Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

11 Mar

I hasn’t stopped raining here for five days and it’s not supposed to be stopping any time soon. I am not going to complain though as I wake up this morning to the news about the earthquake and terrible Tsunami after effects in Japan and the Pacific. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and anyone with family or friends out there.

I’m definitely not going out in this weather which means cooking something with what I have in the fridge. I found this recipe on The Red Spoon. It may not sound very glamorous but it really is delicious, a perfect rainy day soup to warm you from the inside out.  And I had all the ingredients in my fridge, bonus!!

The cabbage gives a real background flavour punch to the soup and the fried cabbage topping gives it extra texture. The creme fraiche swirl is scented with lemon zest and lifts all the other flavours to a different level. It is home comfort happiness in a bowl.

Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup Recipe

serves 3 – 4, vegetarian/ vegan without the creme fraiche. Adapted from a The Red Spoon recipe

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed & chopped
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche, sour cream or greek yoghurt
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, just white & light green parts, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 big potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of parmesan rind (optional) I used Manchego rind with the black bit cut off
  • 1 & 1/4 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add the cabbage, a large pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper and cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the creme fraiche, lemon zest & juice together in a  small bowl, cover and put in the fridge.

When the cabbage is cooked, separate out 3 or 4 tablespoons into a bowl for garnish. Add the other tbsp butter to the pan with the cabbage, then add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes until the leeks have softened. Then stir in the potatoes, parmesan rind (if using) and the bay leaf. Add in the veg stock and season well with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaf & parmesan rind. Blend carefully with a stick blender until smooth. Add more stock if you want to thin out the consistency (I didn’t need to), taste for seasoning and reheat to serve.

Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls garnished with a spoonful of the reserved cabbage, a swirl of the lemon creme fraiche, some chopped parsley and an extra grinding of black pepper.

This is feel good food, to lift the spirits and make you forget about the rain. This one’s for you Mum, enjoy!!

I’ve got to take the dog out in this….!

Rainbows, Mushrooms and Pot Pies!

6 Dec

This Mushroom & Leek Pot Pie is comfort food at its best. Quick ,easy, warming and oh so satisfying. All you need is a sofa and a fork. It’s like a big hug in dish.

Today we walked about 15 km around the Barranco Blanco valley. This picture is the view to the hill retreat we visited yesterday, from the other side of the valley.

It rained on and off as we walked round which meant we were lucky enough to see this beautiful rainbow as we descended into the valley. We remebered to take a picnic this time…

At the bottom of the valley we came across a stream which led into an overgrown woodland area…

We saw these amazing mushrooms growing in the woodland but I have absolutely no idea if the are poisonous or not so decided it was best to leave them where they were..

Got me thinking about dinner though, after three and a half hours walking in the rain it had to be quick and comforting!

Individual Mushroom & Leek Pot Pies

makes 2 vegetarian

  • 1/2 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 15 gr butter
  • 1 clove garlic chopped finely
  • 1 pack mushrooms approx. 300 gr (I used small portobellos) quartered, you want chunky
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced into 1 cm half moons, chunky again
  • 2 or 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs of thyme leaves
  • some chopped parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 200 ml veg stock (you could use 1ooml white wine 100 ml veg stock)
  • 50 gr grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1 egg beaten mixed with a little water to brush on the tops

Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the leeks & garlic and soften gently for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile put the quartered mushrooms in a freezer bag and tip in the flour, herbs, spices, salt & pepper. Shake it around a bit to get the mushrooms coated in the seasoned flour.

Tip the mushrooms and the floury mix into the pan with the leeks and stir everything around. Cook this for a minute or two then add in the veg stock little by little until you get a thickened white sauce consistency. You may not need all the stock. Leave this to cook gently while you do the pastry.

If necessary, roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 2 or 3 mm thick. Preheat the oven to 21o degrees. Take a dish that you will be using for the pies and cut out two circles about 1 cm larger than the top.(you may need to re roll the pastry to get two). From the leftover pastry cut 1 cm thick strips to stick around the edge of the dishes.

 Stir the grated cheese into the mushroom mix and pour the whole lot into the two pie dishes. Wet you fingers and run them round the edges of the pie dishes then stick the strips of pastry round the top edge. Wet the strips and stick the circle of pastry on top of each dish. Squeeze the pastry together to seal the edges and crimp round the edges with a fork. (This doesn’t have to be perfect, messy is good!). Make 3 sets of holes in the top of each pie with a fork then brush the tops with the egg wash. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown & crispy.

Serve immediately and feel yourself coming back to life……..

Homity Pie – The Ultimate Comfort Food!

7 Nov

There used to be a vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden called Cranks. Cranks was my saviour when I was working in London. In my job as a visual merchandiser for Aceessorize/Monsoon I had to get to the shops really early in the morning, at about 6.30 – 7am, so we could merchandise the store before it opened. This meant getting up at 4.30am!  Anyone that knows me would understand how difficult that was. I am not a morning person. They used to call us “pit ponies” because we would arrive at the shop when it was still dark and then leave after the sun had gone down. We never saw the sunshine and it was usually freezing cold or raining.

Anyway, one of the saving graces about working in the Covent Garden store (one of the highest turnover stores in the company, but one of the oldest and smallest – always a nightmare!) was that it was practically next door to Cranks who served the best remedy for stress/ exhaustion known to man (well me anyway).

Homity Pie is a sort of vegetarian equivalent of Shepherd’s Pie I suppose but so much better. The main ingredient is mashed potato which is the number one comfort food, add to that a crispy cheddar cheese topping, peas, onions & tomatoes and you get the general idea. I have also added some wilted spinach which only makes it better. This is heaven… make it when you need cheering up, it’s raining outside and nobody understands you, I promise you will feel better…

Homity Pie Recipe

Serves 3-4 Vegetarian

  • 2 very large potatoes about 650 gr peeled
  • 30 gr butter for mash plus 15 gr for spinach
  • 2oo ml sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 100 grams frozen peas (petit pois)
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 bag fresh spinach about 300 gr
  • 3 medium tomatoes (2 chopped 1 sliced)
  • breadcrumbs
  • 75 gr mature cheddar cheese grated
  • freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper

Cut the peeled potatoes in equal sized chunks and place them in a pan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. In a large pan over a medium heat add the 15 gr butter and 2 of the crushed garlic cloves, when the butter has melted dump in the bag of spinach, stir, add the freshly grated nutmeg, salt & pepper and cover with a lid.Cook for a few minuites, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted, remove from the heat, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile bring a separate small pan of salted water to the boil, add the peas, cook for about 3 or 4 minutes drain and set aside. When the potatoes are soft, drain and add the butter, cream, oil, the rest of the garlic, salt & pepper and mash well with a potato masher. Add the peas and chopped onion to the mash and mix well.

Butter an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spread the wilted spinach in the bottom of the dish with a slotted spoon (you don’t want the green liquid that has come out of the spinach). Then put a layer of chopped tomato on top of the spinach, add a little salt and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.

Top with the mashed potato mixture then the sliced tomato, sprinkle over the grated cheese and some breadcrumbs to make the crispy topping. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

You can eat it as it is, straight out of the dish in front of the TV….

Or serve it with some rocket if you feel like it dressing it up. Whatever you decide, take a big forkful, feel the day disappearing and exhale……

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