Thursday, 5 December 2013
I think it was Shirley Conran who claimed life was too short to stuff a mushroom, how sad. Personally I think mushrooms make the perfect vessels for stuffing with all sorts of delicious things; in this case butternut squash. I have been revamping my spice cupboard and decided it would be good to use the fragrant bite of pink peppercorns in some way. The other spice that was calling out was the caraway with it's hints of dill and cumin. What follows is a really delicious version of a stuffed mushroom, but as I often say, you can, as I do, read this recipe and drive off in your own direction. Recipes should inspire adaptation and variation, but before you do that do try this recipe out as written, I promise you it will deliver. I would propose life is too precious not to make time to stuff a few mushrooms, poor Shirley.
For this recipe you will need;
4 large portobello mushrooms
1 medium sized onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
500g of butternut squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
1 scant teaspoon of caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Salt or Marigold bouillon powder
1 tablespoon of Noilly Prat vermouth
20g of parmesan cheese
1 thick slice of bread
Begin by preparing all the vegetables. Dice the onion and 450g of the squash. Using a peeler take 50g of the squash off in thin parings before dicing the remainder. Chop the garlic. Grind the pink peppercorns and caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar. Grate the parmesan and the bread to form crumbs.
In a heavy bottomed pan with a lid, gently fry the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of oil and the butter on a low heat. Putting the lid on will help the mushrooms wilt and loose their resilience. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Place the second tablespoon of oil in the pan and gently fry the spices for 2 minutes, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the diced squash and the vermouth and cook gently for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When the squash is tender add the salt or bouillon powder if using and the creme fraiche and replace the lid. After a few minutes stir the mixture through and adjust the seasoning with a little more salt or bouillon powder to taste.
Share the mix between the 4 mushrooms and top with the parmesan breadcrumb mixture. Bake in a hot oven. 200C for 15 minutes. While the mushrooms are baking, deep fry the thin parings of squash to make crisps. Drain the crisps on absorbent kitchen paper. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and pile the crisps on top of the baked mushroom. Serve with a salad or small boiled potatoes if like me you're feeling hungry. Plan on one mushroom per person.
If you allow the mix to cook long enough to just stick slightly to the bottom of the pan before switching off the heat and adding the creme fraiche, after replacing the lid and leaving for a few minutes, the moisture will have loosened the mix and incorporated the extra flavour that the caramelized vegetables will have created. You just need to be careful to not let the vegetables caramelize in this way for too long, no amount of creme fraiche will mask a burnt taste.
Posted by Tôbi at 14:01
Saturday, 23 November 2013
If you enjoy the zing of orange peel, you will enjoy this soup. For those of you less keen, simply remove the peel before blending and you will still have a delicious soup but without that citrus peel bite.
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|Macau brings the number up to 118, welcome!|
|Afghanistan very welcome bringing the number up to 119!|
For this soup you will need;
500g of celeriac peeled and cubed
3 cloves of garlic chopped
The peel of 1 large orange, thinly pared
The juice of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon of corainder seeds
Large pinch white pepper
1500ml of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
50g of unsalted butter.
Begin by sweating the cubed celeriac and chopped garlic gently in the oil along with the corainder seeds, over a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the orange peel, juice and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the celeriac is completely softened. Blend the soup adding the butter and white pepper, for a silky texture, always be careful when blending hot liquids in a jug blender. Strain and serve.
Personally I like the added boost of orange, leaving the peel in produces when blending, but you can easily take the peel out if you prefer a more subtle orange flavour.
I served this soup with a stuffed paratha. Parathas have become a favourite unyeasted bread in my house and I shall publish my recipe soon.
Posted by Tôbi at 11:11
My dear sister in law, Sally told me she had searched my blog for my Christmas pudding recipe and failed to find it, having meant to put it up last year I had forgotten and so here it is. You will find many people don't like Christmas pudding and having tasted some of the dense, dark and bitter offerings even sold in up market shops, I can well understand why. Christmas pudding should and can be a rich pudding, delicately flavoured with spice and bursting with dried fruit. The fruit, rendered moist and plump from the hours of soaking and cooking in a mix containing liqueur of some sort, mine contains stout and amaretto liqueur but you can use whatever takes your fancy.
Tomorrow is fondly referred to as Stir up Sunday, it is traditionally the day when this pudding is made but I believe it's probably the last Sunday in the year when Christmas puddings should be made since the puddings benefit from a few weeks resting before the second steaming on Christmas day. I once heard Stir up Sunday being pronounced Stirrup Sunday, clearly an altogether different activity.
To make 2, one litre puddings you will need;
250g of white breadcrumbs
100g of Self Raising flour
200g of unsalted butter
450g of muscovado sugar
400g of golden sultanas
300g of lexia raisins
300g of raisins
100g of almonds roughly chopped
100g of candied peel chopped.
1 large apple, grated
The grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
4 tablespoons of Disaronno liqueur
300ml of dark ale or stout
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Begin by making the breadcrumbs, use a sturdy bread rather than a soft white loaf. I use my white sourdough (2 or even 3 days old), but a bread that has a little wholewheat flour in is also ideal. Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Melt the butter and pour onto the breadcrumbs. Traditionally of course grated suet would be used but since I don't eat meat I use butter, I find melting it, is altogether the easiest way to ensure even distribution and makes mixing easy. Whisk the eggs with the stout, liqueur spices and salt and add to the bowl along with all the other ingredients.
Leave the bowl covered overnight so that the fruit can fully rehydrate before steaming the puddings.
Prepare 2 large pudding basins or a number of smaller ones if your prefer, by greasing the inside with softened butter. Divide the mix between the basins, having given the mix a final stir and making a wish. Wrap the basins with several layers of cling film and steam the puddings for 6 hours. Make sure you keep an eye on the puddings so that you can top up with boiling water whenever the pan looks as though it may boil dry. I usually pop an upturned saucer under the basin in each saucepan in order to avoid the bottom of the basin coming in contact with direct heat. Pierce the cling film once the steaming is complete in order to avoid the cling film shrinking back onto the puddings. Wrap with a final layer of cling film once the puddings have cooled.
The puddings can then be kept in a cool place for several months, I have certainly kept a pudding to use the following year. Steam the pudding for 3 hours prior to the festive meal in order to ensure a light textured deliciously rich pudding. Serve with double cream, but if your family prefer, rum or brandy butter.
When it comes to flaming the pudding, heat 100ml of brandy in a soup ladle immediately after turning the pudding out onto a plate ready to serve, when the brandy begins to simmer, pour it onto the pudding and light it, walk proudly into the dining room (lights dimmed) and hold your offering up high.
You can buy a product which is described as chopped candied peel, it is responsible for putting off many people and should be banned, do try to find whole peel that has been candied and chop it yourself, you will be rewarded.
Sharp eyed readers will spot fig seeds in the photos of the puddings. I have had to use last year's photos in order to publish this recipe and having included figs (100g) in my puddings last year for the first time, I have decided not to use them again.
Posted by Tôbi at 10:53
Monday, 4 November 2013
This is not so much a recipe, but an encouragement to take your favourite quiche recipe and make a deep version that has less of the custard filling. Quiches are fine of course, as long as they have a generous amount of filling and good crisp pastry, but I think there is a lot to be said for this form of tart which uses eggs and a dairy product, in this case cream cheese, to act just as the glue that holds the vegetables together and not as a main component. The result is more robust and cuts well when served at room temperature. It makes an ideal picnic food, not that on November the 4th I'm planning a picnic any time soon.
|Benin, welcome! you bring the number up to 116|
Roughly 1750g of vegetables, I used cauliflower, butternut squash, onions and aubergine.
350g of shortcrust pastry
200g of cream cheese
100g of mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Begin by cutting up the vegetables into chunks, tossing in the olive oil, a teaspoon of sea salt flakes and a teaspoon of ground black pepper and roasting in a shallow ovenproof dish for 40 minutes at 200C. Take the dish out every 10 minutes and move the vegetables around so that the chunks that appear cooked and to be taking on colour, are moved to the bottom to allow other chunks to cook. Allow the vegetables to cool.
Switch the oven on to 180C
Line a 20cm by 6cm cake tin with the pastry and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you complete the filling.
Taste the roasted vegetables and adjust the seasoning, I find it best to season the vegetables well rather than season the egg mix. In a bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and the cream cheese, stir in the grated cheddar and finally the roasted vegetables. Fill the pastry lined cake tin with the vegetable mix and bake for 1 hour. The top should be nicely browned and it should feel reasonably firm when pressed. Cool and serve at room temperature.
I like to add a little heat so I add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne to the vegetables before roasting.
This deep tart can be made with a variety of vegetables, simply prepare them in whatever way makes sense, for instance asparagus, peppers and Jerusalem artichokes are best roasted as above, whereas peas, runner beans and broad beans would be best steamed and mushrooms best fried in olive oil thoroughly until they have taken on good colour and most of the moisture has been driven off. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper before proceeding with the recipe.
Posted by Tôbi at 09:08
Thursday, 31 October 2013
I will have vampires and other ghoulish characters turning up at my door this week, so I thought it best to create a recipe that uses a great deal of garlic. Halloween is one excuse, a really good deal at Al Amin, which led to my buying a lot of garlic is another. The soup is creamy and flavoursome and at this time of year with the days becoming dramatically shorter, a great comfort.
2 heads of garlic
2 medium size or 1 large potato, diced (roughly 300g)
100g of mature cheddar
25g of unsalted butter
1 litre of vegetable stock
5oo ml of milk
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
Begin by peeling the garlic and sweating the cloves gently in the olive oil over a low heat for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the cloves, they should take on only a little colour. Add the potatoes, stock, seasoning and thyme and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the garlic and potato are tender. Allow to cool a little then place the contents of the pan along with the cheddar cheese and butter in a blender and blend until smooth. Always be careful when blending hot liquids, don't overfill the blender jug and make sure the lid is secure. Add the milk and blend briefly to fully incorporate. Serve hot with crouton.
Since there is cheese in the soup, you will need to be careful when bringing it back up to the right heat to serve; don't allow the soup to overheat or the velvet texture will be lost.
If anyone asks you to feed four people and gives you no more than 1 potato, 2 heads of garlic, some sprigs of thyme and enough cheddar cheese to make a decent sandwich, this is the recipe to make!
Posted by Tôbi at 13:52