A really quick recipe, but I don’t know how I’ve managed without a it all my life. I like pizza, my favourites are from pizza express, but buying ones to cook at home are a bit hit and miss, and I’ve always shied away from making my own… Until now!
Like the swallows returning and the leaves turning brown there are events in my kitchen that Mark the changing turning of the seasons… The first stew, first quiche, and the first salad. This week I made the first salad of the year. In London spring has sprung.
Normally when I attempt a recipe I halve it so I have a sane amount of food for me and him. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it this time… This week, I have mainly eaten moussaka.
I’ve always been firmly of the opinion that the secret to good pastry is lard. I know it’s an unfashionable thing to think these days, but it’s true. This recipe has been staring at me from the good granny cookbook every time I make toad in the hole, I’m not sure why it’s taken me over a year to give it a try.
First you need to make the pastry, which is nothing to be scared of. You will need 225g plain flour, 55g butter and 55g lard. Roughly cut the butter and lard into cubes and rub it in to the flour with your finger tips. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir it with a knife after each spoonful. When it clumps together squash it into a bowl, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.
To make the filling you will need: 30g butter, 650g leeks (thinly sliced across), 85g smoked bacon, 90g Gruyere cheese (grated), 4 egg yolks 280ml single cream and salt & pepper to season.
When end the pastry has stiffened up take it out the fridge, roll it out and line your trusty 9″ tart tin; make sure you prick the bottom with a fork. Turn the oven on to 190c and heat the butter in a frying pan. Once it’s melted gently cook the leeks for about 5 minutes until they’re soft but not brown. Spread them over the pastry case.
Cut the bacon into strips and fry for 5 minutes, grate the Gruyere while you wait. I bought quite thick bacon for this, but I wish I’d bought much thicker bacon or gammon – next time!
Spread the bacon over the leeks and sprinkle the cheese on top. In a jug whisk together the cream and egg yolks, season with salt and pepper and pour over the tart mix. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set.
I had this hot and cold, and it was delicious both times; but I think cold from the fridge was my favourite – ideal for a quick dinner after work! As I said I’d probably use thicker bacon/gammon next time but I’d definitely have it again with the normal bacon if that’s all I had in. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good quiche, but this was somehow better.
Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)
Ole! Nothing warms a December teatime more than eating something foreign. And simple food always tastes better, right? I had made myself the Gammon and Peas from Nigella’s Express book, and was flicking through the rest and liked the picture.
I do like a good omelette, with this one containing potatoes I didn’t have to do oven chips to go with it. Another bonus is that because you’re meant to eat it cold it’ll do 2 days – I’m not sure if I’m supposed to make it last 2 days, but we didn’t die…
To make this for 4 (or 8 if you’re doing a load more Tapas to go with it) you will need: 225g baby new potatoes, 4 eggs, 75g flame-roasted jarred peppers, 3 spring onions, 75g manchego/cheddar cheese, butter, oil, salt & pepper. You’ll need to finely chop the onions, roughly chop the peppers, and halve the potatoes.
Also, you’ll need a small-ish heavy bottomed frying pan that can go in the oven/under the grill – non of your plastic handles here!
I always think these look like tongues…
Depending on your grill you’ll need to turn it on so its hot enough to finish off the omelette. My grill needs about a weeks notice before doing a round of toast so I have to turn it on really early – but you might be able turn your on when you start frying the omelette. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, then drain them. While they’re boiling grate the cheese, then whisk the eggs together in a bowl/a big jug. Throw in the peppers, onions, cheese and free potatoes, then season to taste.
Heat 1 tsp of oil and a splash of oil in the frying pan, when it’s hot (but not crazily hot) pour the omelette mix in. Now apparently you don’t need to stir this, so didn’t. When my lover makes omelettes there’s grunting and pushing and alsorts – I quite like this sedate form of omelettry.
After the omelette has cooked for 5 minutes move the pan under the grill to finish off. This is instead of turning it over, which I guess would stop it being Spanish Omelette shaped. Leave it under the grill for a few minutes until it’s pretty much set, then take it from under the grill and turn it upside-down onto a plate. If you can do it without burning yourself that would be great.
Nigella says that the omelette will keep cooking as it cools down so you don’t need to worry if it’s a bit wobbly in the middle – I can’t comment on this as mine came out a little charred, so there’s no way that bad boy was uncooked when I turned it out. Leave it to cool down the. Cut it into wedges.
I even remembered to buy some salad! I’d definitely make this again, nice and simple and really tasty – and I’ll have a crack at some other Spanish-y bits.
Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)
Or as they say in France: Galette aux pommes de terre et poires avec Roquefort. Oo la la.
So right up until the moment I came to serve this I thought the worst thing to happen was that I completely forgot to buy any form of salad. How wrong could I be? This months Cheese, Please! is recipes for cheese and fruit; and after a fruitless search through the books for a hearty warming Stilton-y Pear thing I found this recipe in the Rachel Khoo book.
I didn’t read too closely at the start so didn’t notice that the Galettes are meant to be starters. To make these for four you will need 4 waxy potatoes (like Charlottes or Maris Peer), a firm pear, and 100g of Roquefort.
I’ve not been able to find normal potato sized waxy potatoes round here, they all seem to be salad sized, so for this you might need 8 -10 smaller ones, which will be a pain to peel. They were definitely a pain to peel.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c, peel the potatoes and cut into 2mm thick slices and peel the pear and cut it into small cubes. Lay the slices out onto a paper-lined tray to make rectangles with the layers overlapping… If that makes sense? Sprinkle the pear cubes over the rectangles and then crumble the Roquefort over the top. Bake for 20 minutes.
I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong. I am pretty bad at getting grease proof paper the right way up (like every single time) and I might have also turned the oven down a bit too far (stupid fan oven, who’s bright idea was that?), but the end result was that I served them stuck to the paper… Just like in all the best houses in France.
So to sum up; ignore the paper, imagine some salad, and I’m not sure what the foam is. Et Voila!
Bear in mind when I started making this my lover was very philosophical and said ‘oh well rubbish crisps are the worst that could happen’ which changed to ‘hurry up I could eat a scabby horse’ when he saw it… I’m not entirely sure I’d make it again – it’d probably be much nicer if I’d got it a bit crispier. The flavours were good though.
I thought this would be much more hearty and autumnal, but it was tasty, and it’s quite easy to make on a work night – if you remember to buy salad!
Septembers Cheese, Please! http://thegardendeli.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/cheese-please-a-challenge-for-september/ http://fromagehomage.co.uk/2014/09/03/cheese-please-a-challenge-for-september/
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The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)
This week I was really busy at work so I asked my lover to have a look through the books to find something quick for dinner… And he chose these: quesadillas!
This recipe from Lorraine Pascale’s Fast Fresh and Easy Food makes four quesadillas, which can be cut into 16 triangles to serve as finger food – ideal for a party! Like a Fiesta Friday kinda party!
To make four quesadillas you will need: 4 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, fresh coriander, 4 tortillas (corn or wheat) 250g goats cheese and 4 teaspoons runny honey. It’s a complicated recipe in that you need to put the oven on and use two frying pans to make sure everything cooks properly and stays warm. If you’ve got one of those hotplate things I’d imagine you could use that, and if you’re cooking these as canapes I would skip the second pan and just make them one at a time. I had chips in the oven so I used two pans.
Turn the oven on to 100c (gas 1/4) and then put two medium frying pans on medium with a drizzle of sunflower oil in each pan. While these are heating up break the hazel nuts with a pestle and mortar, but don’t grind them too small. Chop the coriander leaves (I used dried ones that were in the cupboard)
Lob a tortilla into each pan and toast them for a minute, then crumble some of the cheese (roughly 60g) onto each tortilla, then scatter some hazelnuts, coriander, and a tsp of honey over the cheese.
Now listen up, don’t do what I did and spread it out all pretty like in the picture; pile it in the middle or it’ll all fall out the sides after you’ve folded the tortilla over on itself – then press it down slightly. Reduce the heat down low, cook for a minute and then flip them over to cook for another 5 minutes.
So if you’re making 4 at once this is where you want to slide them onto an oven tray and put them in the oven to keep them warm while you turn the pans back to medium and make the second pair of quesadillas. I just scraped mine off the pans and cut them in to 4 and served them up with oven chips and rocket for our tea.
I think that these were slightly stickier than they should have been after all the filling poured out, and I should have bought some new nuts rather than the ones from the back of the cupboard; but I’d definitely give these another try – and maybe even serve them as canapes.!
Fast Fresh and Easy Food by Lorraine Pascale (Harper Collins 2012 ISBN: 978-0-00-793482-9)
A Summery Cheese based recipe you say? Sounds like a job for yours truly to add something summery to his culinary repertoire while also making his first recipe from another bookshelf veteran.
I got Matt Tebbutt’s Cooks Country a while back, from either a Jubilee party or my Mum’s village fete. I’ve flicked through it every month and liked the look of something and then not be able to find the ingredients in London (having said that its hard enough finding a beef tomato in Hammersmith, nevermind a grouse).
July’s Cheese, Please! is for summery recipes involving cheese, and I think this definitely fits the bill. To make it for two you will need: 25g salted butter, 2 beef tomatoes, 4 anchovy fillets, 120g creme fresh, 2 balls buffalo mozzarella drained and torn up (see above), some basil (I didn’t) and 2 slices of brioche.
Heat 25g of salted butter in a heavy bottomed frying, and while you’re waiting for the butted to start foaming cut the tomatoes in half, lengthways. Season them with salt and pepper and then put them in the pan cut side down.
After 5 minutes turn them and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the anchovy fillets and mash them up so they dissolve. Put the brioche under the grill.
Stir in the creme fresh and bring it to the boil and let it thicken. This step is very important because otherwise it can go quite watery.
Tip in the mozzarella, stir round and serve on the warm brioche.
I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this, what with not being the world’s biggest fan of tomatoes, but I did! Definitely a summer dish – its small and quick enough to eat without passing out of heat exhaustion, and filling enough to keep you satisfied. If only there was a single beef tomato to be had in the whole of W6. YUM.
Summery cheese based delicious recipe, with cocktail umbrella… check, check and check.
Matt Tebbutt Cooks Country, by Matt Tebbutt (Mitchell Beazley 2008, ISBN 978-1-84533-371-3)
I always said that if you hung on in there, I’d show you my Clafoutis.
Actually, it’s not mine, it’s Rachel Khoo’s from her Little Paris Kitchen book. A Clafoutis is traditionally a French Dessert, but recent the French have started to cut out the sugar and swap the fruit for savoury treats like cheese.
And that’s just what I’ve done (like the recipe told me to) To make a 2 man Clafoutis you will need: 2 eggs, salt, 25g ground almonds, 1 tbs plain flour, 50g creme fraiche, 50ml milk, 50h mature cheese (I used Comte, but you can use Gruyere, Cheddar or Goat’s Cheese), 50g cherry tomatoes and 25g of black olives.
To start, butter and flour your Clafoutis-ing tin, and turn the oven up to 180c. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt until they are pale and thick. Sift in the flour and almonds and then fold them in with the creme fraiche and the milk.
Scatter the cheese, tomatoes and olives in the prepared Clafoutis-ing tin and pour the batter over it and sling it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Now here’s where I got slightly confused, I genuinely thought that a Clafoutis would be more like a toad-in-the-hole than a fritatta… and it wasn’t even that much like a fritatta:
Behold! My Clafoutis! (As the actress said to the bishop) it was kinda like an omlette-y foccacia. My lover told me that it was pretty bland and I shouldn’t make it again, but I liked it. Clafoutis for one I think!
The Clafoutis recipe is in the summer picnics section of the book, and it can be eaten hot or cold. I was tempted to go and eat it on the front step for the Lazy London Picnic experience but chose plates around the coffee table instead. Unlike the quiche I didn’t get to try it cold.
I’ve got the recipe for a sweet version, so I might inflict that on him over the summer. As punishment.
The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)
I know its a bit of a cop out, but my brain dribbled out of my ear as I chewed on the ears of my seventeenth Lindt bunny, so I chose this recipe purely because it was green.
Green just like the spring haha. I have never cooked with Pesto before, or said the words “Ooo its got pesto in, I’ll have that”, so I thought it would be good to try something new. And it meant I got to use the machine again…
As I read the ingredients list, I thought about getting garlic bread so I could pack all the carbs into one dish, but decided that the pasta and potatoes would be enough on their own.
To make this for 4 you will need: 500g floury potatoes (like King Edwards, cut up into half inch chunks), 500g linguine, 200g fine beans, 100g basil leaves, 100g grated Parmesan, 1 garlic clove, 100ml olive oil, and 100ml extra virgin olive oil.
You will need a large pan, filled with enough salted water to boil the potatoes and the pasta. Put the potato chunks in and bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes.
Add the pasta and boil for the length of time recommended on the packet and four minutes before the end, then throw in the beans. Note: if you are using fresh pasta, boil the potatoes for 28-30 minutes and then put the beans in, put the pasta in so it will be cooked when everything else is done… use dried pasta.
Nigella says that for this dish you need to make the pesto yourself, in a blender! Vroom! While the pan is on with the potato and pasta put the basil leaves, Parmesan, garlic and oil into the mixer and blitz it until it looks like pesto… which is really hard to photograph.
Take half a cup full of the cooking water from the pan and then drain the potatoes, pasta and beans. Off the heat return them to the pan and stir in the pesto and the cooking water and serve immediately.
I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong; it just didn’t really taste of anything. My friend suggested that I’d not salted the water enough (I had) and I thought maybe my Parmesan wasn’t flavour-full enough. While it smelled amazing and looked devine it was pretty bland so I don’t know if I’ll make it again.
And I still don’t totally see what all the fuss is about with pesto!
Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)