Monday, 29 October 2012

Pork & roast pepper risotto


400g sausage meat, bell peppers, ham stock, cayenne pepper, butter, 1 cup risotto rice, paprika, lime, oregano, 1 glass white wine, 1 white onion. 
Serves: 2 Preparation: X

All risottos (no matter what the ingredients) can be made in 3 simple stages. The first is called tostatura - coating the rice in fat, the second involves cooking off some alcohol and the third involves releasing the starch from the rice one ladle of stock at a time. For this dish, I took my inspiration from Cajun flavours to create the perfect comfort food.

1) To make the meatballs, put a tsp paprika, a tsp oregano, a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper in a blender along with the pork mince, and pulse until combined. Form small meatballs by rolling in your hands and seal them in a hot pan with a little butter. Set aside.

2) Remove the core and seeds from your bell peppers and slice between the membranes. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees and set aside.

3) Dice the white onion and sautee in a little butter until soft. Add the risotto rice and stir until the rice becomes transparent, revealing a white dot in the centre and pour in the white wine.

4) Once the wine cooks off, add the first ladle of stock and stir through.

5) Continue adding the stock to the risotto, one ladle at a time, adding the meatballs and roast pepper with the second to last ladle of stock.

6) Serve, seasoned with paprika.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Stuffed Pumpkin: Saffron & orange cous-cous


Pinch saffron, zest & juice of 1 orange, paprika, chilli powder, giant/Israeli cous-cous 

Preparation: 45 minutes

Halloween is a comin' and I'm filled with festive ideas for serving food. These TEENY PUMPKINS are adorable but there's not a lot of good eating in them, so they're merely a receptacle for this exotic mixture of meltingly soft giant cous-cous and tangy spices.

1) Slice the top from your munchkin pumpkin and carve out the flesh and seeds.

2) Roast in the oven for 25 minutes and set aside.

3) To make the filling - Pour the cous-cous into a pan of boiling water with a pinch of saffron and stir through for 6-8 minutes before straining in a sieve. Stir in the orange zest, iuice paprika and chilli powder.

4) Spoon the filling into the munchkin pumpkin and bake for a further 15 minutes before serving.

Stuffed pumpkin: Beef & chorizo mole


Chorizo, beef, white onion, dark chocolate, tomato puree, mixed beans, red wine, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, olive oil 

Preparation: 45 minutes

Halloween is a comin' and I'm filled with festive ideas for serving food. These TEENY PUMPKINS are adorable but there's not a lot of good eating in them, so they're merely a receptacle for this amazingly rich, beef and chorizo Mexican Mole. If you're a vegetarian - here's how to make my Quorn mole.

1) Slice the top from your munchkin pumpkin and carve out the flesh and seeds.

2) Roast in the oven for 25 minutes and set aside.

3) To make the filling - melt 4 squares of dark chocolate in a pan and add 1 finely chopped white onion and a glug of olive oil. When the onions have just begin to soften add the beef and chopped chorizo and stir thoroughly until the chocolate has coated the onions and meat. Add in 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of chopped coriander. Stir thoroughly and add in a glug of red wine with the mixed beans - red kidney beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans and haricot beans (Tesco sell "taco beans" for convenience) and stir well.

4) Spoon the filling into the munchkin pumpkin and bake for a further 15 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Pumpkin: Leek & cheddar


1 leek, cheddar, munchkin pumpkin, breadcrumbs, butter

Preparation: 45 minutes

Halloween is a comin' and I'm filled with festive ideas for serving food. These TEENY PUMPKINS are adorable but there's not a lot of good eating in them, so they're merely a receptacle for the savoury, sweet ooze of brioche, cheese and leek. Mmmmm.

1) Slice the top from your munchkin pumpkin and carve out the flesh and seeds.

2) Roast in the oven for 25 minutes and set aside.

3) Slice your leek and sautee in butter until completely soft. Grate some cheddar and combine until the cheese is incorporated.

4) Spoon into the munchkin pumpkin, layered with breadcrumbs (I used brioche because I love the contrast of sweet and savoury), then replace the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Potato & halloumi salad


Exquisa potatoes, halloumi, 
 Rachel's Organic Greek Yoghurt  cucumber, mint, spinach, rocket,
Serves: 2 preparation: 30 minutes

Since doing a pregnant, I have had to stop making my own mayonnaise and buy some Hellman's instead and for the most part, I just can't bear the thought of it. As a result, this mint & cucumber yoghurt dressing was born! It's perfect with the salty tang of halloumi and some crisp salad greens.

1) Boil the potatoes in hot salted water for 20 minutes, run under the cold tap for a minute, then slice in half and set aside to cool.

2) As the potatoes are cooking, slice your halloumi and grill for a couple of minutes until one side turns golden and the other remains gorgeously gooey.

3) Peel about an inch and a half of a cucumber and slice the flesh from the juicy seeds in the centre. Discard the seeds and pop the flesh into a blender along with 3 or 4 mint leaves and 3 tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt. Pulse until combined, then stir in the potatoes and halloumi and serve.

Macaroni Peas


1 1/2 cups macaroni, 2 cups garden peas, 150ml milk, cheddar cheese
Serves: 4 preparation: 30 minutes

I can't believe that after almost 500 recipes, I have never shared this with you. Macaroni Cheese is one of those comforting childhood dishes that almost everyone loves (unless of course you've only ever had it out of a packet. Poor thing). Rather than the traditional roux-based sauce (flour + flour? Nonsense poopypants!) I prefer to make mine out of just milk and cheese so that there's less butter involved, though you could use cream if you're feeling super indulgent. The addition of wonderful, sweet, fresh garden peas to this pasta makes it feel far less naughty.

1) Cook the macaroni for 10 - 12 minutes in hot salted water, adding the peas during the last minute (frozen) or the last 4 minutes (freshly podded).

2) As the pasta is cooking, add the milk in a milk pan along with at least 150g grated cheddar (if you prefer your sauce thicker or stronger flavoured, add more) and stir through as the milk warms. Do not allow the milk to boil, but keep it at an even temperature.

3) Strain the pasta and peas, then stir into the cheese sauce. Decant into a casserole dish and top with another layer of grated cheese (I like to add a little parmigiana to).

4) Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 5 minutes, until the cheese is golden bubbly.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Chocolate macarons


100g double cream, 100g dark chocolate, 2g butter, 25g chocolate powder, 2 egg whites, 65g ground almonds, 60g caster sugar, 85g icing sugar, salt 
Serves: 10 Preparation: 1 hour

This recipe is dedicated to the lovely Shanda! See I promised I would make something conventional instead of a crazy lavender concoction... though I promise my lavender macaron recipe is coming... it's too good not to share!

I'm not going to lie to you, macarons are hard to get right and I've heard a million and one different ways to make them - French style, Italian style, even adding powdered eggs of all things but I think macarons are quite quick to make once you get the knack, don't be put off!

1) Whisk the egg whites along with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, then add in the caster sugar, continuing to whisk until stiff peaks are formed.

2) Sift the icing sugar, chocolate powder and ground almonds together, fold it into the egg whites and then beat the holy crap out of it until it's a good piping texture.

3) Line a baking tray with baking parchment, then pipe the mixture into blobs. This next stage sounds weird, but trust me it's necessary - drop the baking tray a couple of times onto your worktop to flatten the blobs. Leave to rest for half an hour to allow the mixture to dry.

4) Bake for 5 minutes at 180 degrees, then open the door for a few seconds to let out some steam. Bake for a further 5 minutes before opening the door again, then a further 5-7 minutes.

5) The macarons should slide straight off the baking parchment if they're ready - if they stick then give them another minute for good measure.

6) To make the filling, melt your chocolate into your cream and set it aside to cool. Beat in your butter until a stiff ganache has formed, then pipe it onto half of your macarons and sandwich together with the other shells.

Personally I think fresh macarons are underrated - make them a day in advance so that the ganache makes the centre soft and the outside dries a little.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tinkerbell poppers


Tinkerbell peppers, cream cheese, jalepenos, cheddar.

Preparation: 30 minutes

When I was a teenager, my father worked for a gourmet food company which provided ultra posh frozen foods - people used to buy catering packs of beef wellington when having a dinner party. Their jalepeno poppers were my first experience of this Americanised version of the Mexican classic chile relleno. Any time I have had them since, my lingering impression has been greasy breadcrumbs, cheap cream cheese and jalepenos that have lost all their heat. Very sad. When I saw these adorable little Tinkerbell peppers, I knew that they'd be the perfect ingredient for me to reinvent the popper. Cool, creamy oozing cheese with a fiery bite contrasts wonderfully with these sweet, juicy peppers. Cheeky Tinkerbell would be very proud to be associated with these saucy minxes.

1) Slice the tops from the peppers (but do not discard) and remove the seeds.

2) Dice jalepenos, grate cheddar and stir into cream cheese at a ratio of two parts cheese and jalepeno to two parts cream cheese.

3) Pack tightly into the peppers and replace the lids. The cream cheese works as a sort of mortar and will seal the lid if you smooth a little around the join. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes on a medium heat, then serve hot. Magnificent.

Beetroot, apple & feta tart


2 Beetroots, 100g feta, 1 apple,
1 leek, 3 eggs, 50ml double cream, 
4oz plain flour, 2oz butter.

Serves: 6 Preparation: 1 hour

To describe this tart, oh where do I begin!? Is it the salty, creamy tang of feta and leek, the earthy beetroot or the sweetness of the apple that makes it so utterly delicious? Chances are it's all of them! Just trust me when I say that the combination of crisp, buttery pastry and the silky tang of the filling makes this one fabulous autumn treat.

1) To make the shortcrust pastry measure 4oz of plain flour and 2oz of cold butter. Cut the butter into small cubes and drop along with the flour into a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Drip in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water until the mixture quickly forms a ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15 minutes. Once chilled, roll out and press firmly into a pastry case. Bake blind for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.

2) To prepare the beetroot, wash it and slice off the stalks and leaves. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Carefully peel the beetroot with the nick of a knife and set aside to cool.

3) Slice the leeks and peel, core and dice the apple. Sautee in a little butter for 5 minutes until soft, then spoon onto the pastry case and spread evenly.

4) Slice the beetroot and feta into even chunks and arrange over the leeks and apples.

5) Whisk the eggs and cream and pour over the other ingredients, then bake for 12 minutes on a medium heat. Serve hot and cold.

Spicy polenta chips


1 cup polenta, vegetable stock, jalepenos, chilli flakes, coriander, butter, cheddar
Serves: 4 preparation: 1 hour 30

Polenta is a marvellous alternative to potato, for those who cannot eat them - or just fancy a change! I have posted a recipe previously for polenta French fries, which I think are absolutely heavenly - but these chunky, spicy chips are  equally gorgeous. Polenta doesn't fluff up exactly like a potato, but it does remain soft in the centre and crispy on the outside which is all one can ask for!

1) Measure out the polenta into a milk pan, and slowly add the vegetable stock until you achieve a porridge like consistency.

2) Finely dice the jalapeƱos and add to the polenta. Grate in a little cheddar, then add chilli flakes and finely chopped coriander. Make it as spicy as you like - personally if my mouth isn't smoking, it's not hot enough for me but you should cook according to your own taste.

3) Spoon the polenta mixture onto a baking tray or into a square baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

4) Turn out the solid polenta block and slice into sections to make your chips.

5) Shallow fry in a tablespoon of butter, turning regularly until a golden crust is formed, then serve hot.

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