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Warm Roasted Red Onion Salad with Spicy Walnut Pickle Dressing

14 Jun

As most of you will already know, I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. Obsessed would be an appropriate word for it. His Mediterrasian recipes (a mix of Middle Eastern & Mediterranean) combine all of my favourite ingredients and flavours in a way that is impossible to resist. This is one of said recipes. It came up on my Twitter feed from The Guardian food section a few Sundays ago and I knew that I wanted to make it straight away.

Don’t you love it when that happens? You are pondering what to make for lunch with the (sometimes) minimal contents of your fridge. You stumble across a recipe that you are desperate to make and you actually have all the ingredients in the house. Food Serendipity I like to call it, and it makes me smile.

Warm Roasted Red Onion Salad with Spicy Walnut Pickle Dressing

Serves 2, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi at The Guardian

  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  •  rocket/watercress or mixed leaves
  • a handful of coriander/parsley leaves
  • some crumbled Greek feta or goat’s cheese (optional)

For the Walnut Pickle Dressing:

  • 30g walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 0r 1 red chilli (depending how hot) deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Peel the onions and cut off the tops and bottoms. Cut each onion widthways into two or three slices about 2cm thick (see pic. above) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes, until cooked and golden-brown on top. If they haven’t browned much you can pop them under the grill for a few minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

While the onions are cooking, put all the ingredients for the walnut pickle in a small bowl, season with salt & black pepper, stir and set aside. It gets better the longer you leave it.

To serve, put the salad leaves and most of the coriander/parsley in bowl, tip over about half of the walnut pickle and toss to coat evenly. Divide this between your serving plates, arrange the onion slices on top, tip over some more walnut pickle, crumble over the feta and finish with some more coriander/parsley leaves.

This spicy, robust salad is perfect as a lunch dish on its own but would also be a fantastic accompaniment to a spring/summer Sunday roast (especially beef), if you can’t be bothered with all those potatoes and vegetables. It’s a lighter and easier option for this time of year and is equally good served warm or  at room temperature. The onions could even be done on the barbecue and served as a side dish alfresco if the weather is being kind to you…..

Back By Popular Demand…..

Things That Made Me Smile Today 

Rufus enjoying our favourite hill walk, a treat for all his fans out there epsecially you Greg.

While we enjoyed the wild flowers too…..

Have a great weekend!

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Rumbullion at The Roundhouse

15 Feb

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A gourmet picnic hamper filled with your choice of goodies enjoyed while taking in the breathtaking views over Camps Bay.

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Order a bottle of your favourite wine and unwind while the chickens wander around on the lawn and under your feet.

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Your picnic basket arrives with cutlery, plates and napkins and you will be handed a checklist with all the available food. Just tick the boxes next to the items and return it to the waiter.
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My dad ordered the Caesar Salad with a soft poached egg, how could he resist with all those chickens running around, you don’t get much fresher than that.
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We chose a loaf of fresh ciabatta to go with the three dips that we ordered. Jalapeño hummus, feta and herb dip and caramelised onion pâté.

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We also decided on some Fairview goat’s cheese that was accompanied by a delicious watermelon chutney. There is a good selection of charcuterie items and salads as well.

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There are hot dishes too like enormous burgers and their extremely popular pizzas. The Gorgonzola, caramelised onion, fig, rocket and walnut was very tempting. Matt the manager was also very proud of the roasted bone marrow with oxtail marmalade, so much so that he insisted that The Washer Up and my dad tried it.

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They loved it, I enjoyed the salad that came with it!

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This is a relaxed and informal lunch experience, definitely book, it gets busy, especially at weekends. Apparently they do a picnic breakfast at the weekends too. I’ll be back for that, no doubt about it.

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Battered Halloumi with Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce and Spicy Lemon Pickle

6 Mar

 This recipe came from a new book The Washer Up bought for me called Terre A Terre. Terre A Terre is a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton and the book has some amazingly creative, unusual recipes for dishes that you will have never seen anywhere else. Their aim is to challenge the image of vegetarian food and push the boundaries of conventional perceptions by creating gourmet vegetarian cuisine.

This recipe caught my eye mainly because of the Halloumi cheese. In case you didn’t know I love Halloumi. Halloumi is a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese that is special because it cooks rather than melts. Because of this you can grill it or fry it and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. I usually cook my Halloumi slices in a dry pan and then marinade them in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs & spices. You can see the full recipe here.

This recipe is a vegetarian play on the traditional English Friday night take-away dish: Battered Fish with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce you would get from the local fish & chip shop.  They had me at battered Halloumi, but the addition of minty mushy peas really sealed it for me. The tartare sauce recipe is mine. I don’t like capers or gherkins (cornichons) so I substituted them for pickled onions, which I love, and it worked! I also added some coriander as well as parsley. The result is better than any tartare sauce you’ve ever tried, I promise. The addition of the nori seaweed is from the book and is, I have to say, genius. Nori seaweed is what you use make sushi rolls and the flavour of the sea it gives to the sauce is so spot on, once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

The “mashy peas” came about by happy accident. I halved the recipe for the minty pea puree from the book which was for 6 people but forgot to halve the butter. This resulted in a very buttery puree (above). To resolve this (I didn’t have any more peas to add) I decided to add some mashed potato to the puree. I had seen Jamie Oliver do something similar with broccoli and peas in mash. Any excuse to include mash really.

The spicy lemon pickle (they call it “Yemeni Lemony Pickle” which is such a cool name) is just the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour and is a fabulous alternate dip for the Halloumi with the creamy tartare sauce. You could always just serve this with a wedge of lemon instead if you’re not up for making the pickle as well. I made it because I had a large fruit bowl full of lemons and was making some preserved lemons as well. I will post the recipe for the preserved lemons when they are ready.

The original dish in the book also serves pickled quail’s eggs and vodka grape tomatoes with this. As fantastic as they sound it would be a lot of work if you were to make everything. I was really happy with it as it was but am intrigued about the pickled quail’s eggs!  This book makes you appreciate and understand how much work goes into each component part of each dish at this restaurant and definitely makes me want to go the next time I am in Brighton.

Each recipe has 4 or 5 different elements to it but you can pick and choose as to how many you do, like I did. It is really inspiring and aspirational.

The Halloumi is soaked in buttermilk for several hours or overnight so do this in the morning or the night before.

Battered Halloumi with Minty Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce & Yemeni Lemony Pickle Recipe

Serves 2 -3, vegetarian.  Adapted from Terre A Terre by Amanda Powley & Phillip Naylor

For the Halloumi

  • 1 pack 250 gr Halloumi cheese
  • 250 ml buttermilk or 125 ml yoghurt mixed with 125 ml milk
  • plain flour for coating
  • sunflower oil to deep fry

For the Batter

  • 75 gr plain flour
  •  35 gr self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml cold water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt & black pepper

Cut the Halloumi in to thin slices (less than 1/2 cm) then cut them into triangles (See photo above). Cut the triangles with the natural break of the Halloumi. Put the buttermilk or yoghurt/milk mixture in to a dish (I used an empty1 litre ice cream tub) and submerge the Halloumi in the liquid to soak, overnight or, for several hours in the fridge.

To make the batter whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of double cream. Adjust water/flour if necessary. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook the Halloumi.

Just before serving heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to hot (180 C).  Put some plain flour in a shallow dish and remove the Halloumi & batter from the fridge. Lift the Halloumi pieces, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and let it drip off slightly. Put it in the flour and flip it to coat, then put it in the batter. Open a window unless you want your whole house to smell of deep-frying. When the oil has reached temperature, lift the Halloumi out of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry two triangles at a time. It should puff up and start to turn golden straight away. If not your oil is not hot enough. Turn the halloumi with a slotted spoon to cook on both sides. This should only take a minute or two to be crisp & golden on both sides. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

For the Mashy Peas

  • 200 gr frozen peas
  • a big handful of mint, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • a big handful of parsley, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • 50 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and put in a pan of cold salted water
  • salt & black pepper

Bring the pan of salted water with the peeled quartered potatoes to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Meanwhile, in a small pan of boiling, salted water, cook the peas with the herb stalks until tender (about 3 minutes).  Drain the cooked peas and throw away the stalks. Blend the peas with the butter and chopped herbs, season with salt & pepper and taste.

Drain the potatoes and mash them well in the pan. Heat up the pea puree and add this to the mashed potatoes, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add more salt & pepper & taste again. Just heat through in a pan when ready to serve.

For the Tartare Sauce

  • 1 nori seaweed sheet
  • a handful of coriander & parsley, chopped
  • about 4 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
  •  1 or 2 pickled onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice about 2 tbsp
  • salt & black pepper

Put the nori sheet under the grill for a few seconds on each side to crisp up. Keep an eye on it, it burns! Crumble or chop the nori into the processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season with a little salt (the seaweed is salty) and pepper stir in and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or pickled onion. It’s up to your taste buds. Store in the fridge.

For the Yemeni Chilli Paste (for the lemon pickle)

makes 1 small jar

  • 4 red chillis, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, leaves & stalks
  • salt
  • olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together, drizzling in olive oil until a paste consistency is reached. Pour into a clean jar and cover the top with olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

For the Lemon Pickle (makes 1 jar)

  • 4 lemons, segmented
  • 100 ml fresh lemon juice
  • peel from 3 preserved lemons (I didn’t have any but I have made some now)!
  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 3 or 4 tsp yemen paste, recipe above, or more if you dare
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Segment the lemons by cutting off the peel & white pith, from top to bottom all the way around (See photo above). Then cut out the lemon segments in between each membrane. Put the lemon segments from 3 of the lemons into a blender and reserve the segments of the fourth for later. Add the lemon juice, peel from preserved lemons if using, to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Put this in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly for two minutes then stir in your Yemeni chilli paste. Put in the fridge to cool. When cool stir in the reserved lemon segments and chopped mint. This is now ready to serve. Store in the fridge. This would be a great sauce or baste for grilled fish or chicken as well.

 To serve, warm your plates and put your lemon pickle (or lemon wedge if you are going for the easier option) and tartare sauce in their dishes on the plate ready. Heat the frying oil. Heat the mashy peas over a low heat with a little veg stock to loosen if necessary. Keep an eye on it while you fry off the Halloumi. Drain the halloumi on kitchen paper and pile them on the plates with a big spoon (or quinelle) of the mashy peas.

This may sound like a lot of work  but it’s so worth it. Soaking the Halloumi really brings out the flavour and softens the texture. The mashy peas are to die for and the lemony pickle is perfect if you can be bothered. The Washer Up said the Halloumi was better than battered fish! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from this book in the future and would recommend it to any creative, confident cooks out there who are looking for something different, delicious, challenging and inspiring. I’m going to have a go at the pickled quail’s eggs next time, I promise!!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Crumble with caramelised onions, cream cheese and oaty cheddar topping

9 Feb

Bit of a long title, I know, but I couldn’t leave anything out. All the ingredients are really important and it got you interested didn’t it? Want to see inside? …….OK…..

You need to know how delicious this is. The butternut squash is roasted with rosemary & a little chilli to bring out the sweetness and intensify the flavour. The chickpeas give a textural surprise layer and contrast to the squash. The onions are caramelised with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. The cream cheese layer gives a creamy sour edge on top of the sweet onions. And the topping, well, it’s a crunchy, cheddar, oatmeal, breadcrumb and olive oil crumble seasoned with a touch of rosemary to echo the squash.

 This is a hybrid of two recipes I had been thinking about making over the last week. The first was an Aubergine Crumble from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal and the second was a recipe for Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Cassoulet I found on Cooking Pretty. She bakes the cassoulet with a gruyere topping which really appealed to me so I just put the cheesey crumble mix on top of the cassoulet and changed a few other ingredients. I made four individual crumbles but you could easily make one big one to serve at the table. The result is pure comfort food, warming and delicious…

Butternut Squash & Caramelised Onion Crumble

serves 3 -4 vegetarian

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 750 gr) washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • about 2oo gr (1/2 tin/jar) cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp thyme/rosemary, finely chopped
  • about 100 gr cream cheese
  • 50 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • about 100 gr grated cheddar (or other cheese)
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 210 C. Put the squash chunks on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary & chilli flakes and roast for 35 – 40 minutes or until your squash is soft.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions, thyme/rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until caramelised. Make the crumble topping by mixing the oats, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, rosemary salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over about 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with a fork or your fingers until it resembles a crumble.

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and turn the oven down to 190 C. Tip the squash into a large bowl and blitz with stick blender until it is a chunky puree.  Taste and season if necessary. Pour this into the base of your dish/dishes and spread it out evenly. Season your rinsed chickpeas and scatter them over the squash. Tip the caramelised onions over the chickpeas and spread them about evenly. Spread a thin-ish layer of cream cheese over the onions (it doesn’t matter if it’s messy) and then top with the crumble mixture. Pat it gently and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some green beans & new potatoes as a more substantial meal. You could also put some pumpkin/squash seeds in the topping if you hadn’t burnt them instead of toasting them like I did! It was still delicious though, as you can see……

This is a really cute dinner party dish as well. You can prepare them beforehand and just heat them up when your guests arrive. Simple…..

Festive Season Spanakopita with chestnut and cranberry

18 Nov

Spanakopita is a Greek spinach & feta cheese filo pie sometimes with pine nuts & raisins added. I wanted to give it a Christmas twist so it could be a stunning vegetarian Christmas dinner option. The chestnuts and dried cranberries (craisins) were calling me and made perfect seasonal replacements for the pine nuts & raisins.

The chestnuts were a gift from our friends Andrew & Rafa who invited us to dinner on Sunday evening. They have a beautiful country house just outside a small village called Guaro which is about 20 minutes from where we live. Andrew has been following my blog and wanted to try cooking one of my recipes while I was there to supervise him (He is not a confident cook!)

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This is pool area and the views are 360 degrees- stunning ..

The house has a really cosy feel to it and there was roaring fire burning in the fireplace when we arrived to take away the chill of that fresh mountain air.

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They made us feel so welcome and the place was so comfortable that I really did not want to move from the sofa to the kitchen, but I did, occasionally!!

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Andrew chose to cook my recipe for Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin which turned out really well, it’s a bit nerve-wracking watching someone else cook from your recipe, too much responsibility!!

We had some puff pastry left over so we made some Parmesan Cheese Straws as well which were a great aperitivo with  a glass of cava. They are really easy to make you just cut the puff pastry into thin strips, sprinkle with grated parmesan, hold both ends of a strip and twist one end towards you and the other end away from you. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan  and bake for about 10 -15 minutes at 200 degrees.

We had a wonderful evening and this was where we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace with that amazing view….

This stunning country cottage is available for holiday rentals and I would thoroughly recommend it, the attention to detail is second to none. For more information see Andrew’s blog at www.andaluciadiary.com which is an insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond with really great information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.

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Anyway, back to the Christmas Spanakopita. The inspiration came from the chestnuts Andrew & Rafa gave us as we were leaving.

I have been thinking about a vegetarian christmas option for a while but nothing has excited me until this. It has all of my favourite things, feta, spinach, fresh herbs and the addition of the chestnuts & cranberries makes it  really special. The good thing about this dish is that you can make a big baking dish size pie and even if there is only one vegetarian to serve it is even more delicious cold which means you can serve it for an evening buffet or as part of your  Boxing Day lunch.

Chestnut & Cranberry Spanakopita Recipe

  • 1 packet of filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  •  a bag of fresh spinach (about 350 gr)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 75 gr peeled chestnuts chopped
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • about 75 ml cream
  •  120 gr feta cheese crumbled
  • 120 gr grated cheese (parmesan, manchego or cheddar or a mixture)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the spinach. Stir and cover with a lid, leave to wilt for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. When the spinach has wilted tip away any water then add the herbs and spices salt & pepper, stir to combine and leave to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the beaten eggs, cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Then add the  wilted spinach (minus any liquid), cranberries and chopped chestnuts and stir well until combined.

Line a rectangular baking tin/dish about the same size as the filo pastry sheets with some baking paper. Then layer 3 or 4 sheets of filo in the baking dish, brushing each sheet with a little oil. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread it out evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo (5 or 6) tucking it down the sides if necessary and brushing each sheet with olive oil.

Brush the top sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with a little water and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until browned.

Serve, cut into squares or wedges, with all the Christmas trimmings or just with some boiled new potatoes in minted butter. (Remember to remove the baking paper from the bottom!)

Leave the rest to cool and serve slices as part of a buffet. This is one of those vegetarian dishes that everyone is going to wish they had, so it is always good to have some left over…..

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