forage in the pantry.

recipes, reviews, photography and delights

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Cool as a Wardlaw…

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If you’ve ever been on an activity watersports holiday you’ll know that you usually return home needing a rest with an aching body equivalent to a bed bound OAP. A week in sunny Greece wakeboarding by day and re-hydrating on cocktails by night with bowlfuls of Greek salads and hog roasts set me up for some inspiration on my return home. Sadly the limes don’t grow fresh from the trees in London so Waitrose will have to do.

After and intense day on the water followed by an ‘Ab attack’ class this refreshing, healthy and downright delicious drink was the perfect way to cool our angry abs. Post workout it started as this innocent cucumber, mint and crushed ice drink….

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But once showered and the clock hit 6pm it even more deliciously turned into this….a gin laced version we got the barman to ‘knock up’. I like to call it the ‘Cool as a Wardlaw’.

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Serves 2 (ish)

  • 1 small cucumber
  • Large bunch mint
  • 2 shots (Innocent) apple juice
  • 1-2 shots fresh lime juice
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional - 2 shots gin and cucumber to garnish
  1. Mix in a blender until combined. Add more ice or any other ingredient to taste and balance. I only watched in awe from behind the bar as this was made so measurements were by eye and were to taste. It tasted different each time, more savoury post-workout, sweeter and punchy with lime as an evening tipple. Experiment!

Use Innocent apple juice. Not only as my loving sister happens to work for Innocent but it is delicious and conveniently on tap for me. Plus, the halo seems to reassure you that gin is a good addition, yes a good addition……?!

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Filed under lime cucumber mint apple cocktail

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Almond Blackcurrant Tarts with Salted Lime

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I spent a gorgeously sunny few days at home in Wiltshire this weekend and had to make a batch of my favourite sweet treat. The recipe is from one of my previous blog posts but adapted slightly with some lime salt which I thought was a quirky experiment. I love salt with sweetness and the sharp lime and blackcurrant in this recipe make sure you’ll never forget the taste. Served with coconut ice cream it would happily top off my last meal…

Recipe

  1. Make the basic tartlets as per the recipe link above adding the zest of 1 lime to the frangipane mixture.
  2. For the icing, mix about 2 tbsp of icing sugar with a tiny amount of lime juice and mix until thick. Add more icing sugar if its too runny. Spoon into a plastic piping bag and snip off the end.
  3. Once cool, ice a neat pattern or random design on top.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 75°C. Place the zest of 1- 1/2 a lime on a piece of parchment on a baking tray and dry in the low oven for about 20 minutes to intensify the flavours. Alternatively you can leave it to dry overnight. Mix the dried zest with a tiny pinch of salt.
  5. Scatter sparingly on top of the tarts and top with a few dainty leaves of mint.

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Filed under lime mint salt almond blackcurrant tart dessert pastry

0 notes &

Lime Curd Bounty Bites

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A little experiment from another Greek treat my sister and I recently collapsed over in owe and love on our recent holiday.  ‘Calm down’ you may say, its basically a bounty stuck on a biscuit? Agreed. But a good one and after a 5th evening of baklava, this was most welcome.

On returning home I’ve adapted my own version. I usually use recipes, books and blogs just for inspiration more than a guide and I’m not one to steal recipes like for like without my own twist. But the filling needed a starting point so I’ve used the solid recipe from a fellow blogger (see here….but please return!) and spiked mine with lime curd. Like I say, it was an experiment and apparently lime curd doesn’t freeze? (see recipe for more detail on this) But these still turned out pretty awesome.

PS. No I didn’t stick mine to a biscuit but a ginger snap wouldn’t go a-miss here. Or anywhere for that matter?

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Makes about 15

  • 140g unsweetened desiccated coconut (and some for decoration)
  • 40ml coconut oil, melted
  • 30ml maple syrup
  • Lime curd - optional (enough for 1tsp/bite)
  • Zest 1 lime
  • 100g Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate (Also good here would be their lemon flavour bar)
  1. Begin by combining the coconut, 35ml of the coconut oil, syrup and a pinch of salt in a food processor until well combined.
  2. Use a ice cube tray or mini cupcake mould and line with cling film. If using the lime curd, drop a small tsp into each.
  3. Fill each hole with a tsp or so of the coconut and push down until compressed well on top of the curd (if using)
  4. Freeze until set for about 2 hours.
  5. After this, melt the chocolate over simmering water and set aside.
  6. Remove the coconut from the freezer and take each from their wells and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. The lime curd will probably be a bit sticky but go with it if you can.image
  7. Dip each piece using two forks into the bowl of melted chocolate until covered fully and place flat side down on the baking parchment.image
  8. Repeat with the remaining pieces and top with a sprinkle of coconut and lime zest while the chocolate is still not fully set.
  9. Place in the fridge until set and then store in an air tight container so they don’t pick up any nasty fridge odours…!

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Filed under coconut bounty chocolate lime

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Spiced Lamb, Charred Carrots, Green Coucous, Saffron Yoghurt

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I strongly recommend and encourage you to use Organic carrots here but if they’re homegrown, all the better. You can usually tell by their wispy piggy-tail-like ends - these bits always seem to taste the sweetest and nicest. Being simply boiled and charred in a griddle with lemon, the flavour has to good otherwise you’ll just end up chewing on a tasteless carrot stick….

The green couscous recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi and the remainder is a combination of flavours and textures I love and craved last weekend of August that raced by in the blink of my (luckily sun glass clad) eyes!

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Serves 2

Green Couscous

  • 100g cous cous
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • Ground cumin
  • 25g pistachios, chopped roughly
  • 1 small green chilli, chopped
  • Large bunch herbs: Parsley, basil, mint, coriander, dill
  • Good olive oil
  1. Place the couscous in a shallow bowl and season well. Add a very small knob of butter if you wish and then pour over the boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  2. Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and gently and slowly fry the onion until soft and beginning to colour. Add a big pinch of cumin and fry for a few minutes before taking off the heat.
  3. While the onion is cooking, make the herb paste. Blend the herbs in a food processor, adding a slow stream of oil until blended nicely into a paste (The amount of oil you add here is up to you. The more you add the more moist the couscous will be).
  4. When the couscous has absorbed all the water, use a fork to fluff up the grains and add to the pan with the cumin onions. Add the green chilli and pistachios and finely stir through your herb paste.
  5. Taste and add a touch or lemon juice or seasoning or more olive oil to loosen.

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Carrots

  • 6-8 Organic/home grown carrots, cleaned
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  1. Leave the carrots whole and cook in simmering water for about 4 minutes or so but just until tender when pierced with a knife but still with lots of bite and a bit of crunch. Drain and leave to cool and dry a little.
  2. Heat a griddle pan until hot and add the oil.
  3. Griddle the carrots until beginning to char on the outside for a few minutes
  4. Serve warm with the couscous, with the grated lemon zest scattered over the top.

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Lamb Steaks and Yoghurt

  • 2 lamb leg steaks (You can also use lamb cutlets if you wish)
  • Ras el Hanout, Smoked paprika, spice mix (see here)
  • Olive oil
  • 150g plain yoghurt
  • Pinch saffron threads
  1. Sprinkle a good pinch of the dry spices and spice mix over your lamb steaks. Drizzle with olive oil and massage the spices into the meat. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Put the saffron in a small cup and add 1 tbsp of hot water. Leave to infuse.
  3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan or griddle pan until hot.
  4. Fry the steaks for 2 minutes per side (for a piece the thickness of mine, about 2cm, for medium) and then wrap tightly in foil and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes while you assemble the dish.
  5. Take the saffron water (which should be a vibrate yellow) Pour into the yoghurt with some generous seasoning and stir to combine.
  6. When ready to serve, carve your rested lamb and serve on top of your couscous and carrots with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Drizzle with the resting lamb juices!

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Wine suggestion: Sijnn White 2012 (Chenin-Viogner)

I devoured this with a glass (or two) of Sijnn White 2012. South African, 84% Chenin Blanc, 16% Viogner. Stony fruits, peach, mineral and nutty flavour went deliciously with the spices in this dish.

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Filed under lamb spices carrots cous cous herbs basil mint coriander parsley lemon saffron yoghurt

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Apple Pie ‘Duffins’ and a 2nd Birthday

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This weekend called for a belated blog birthday celebration and naturally a cake! Celebrating not only the last day of August which was blissfully sunny and spent wakeboarding on a glass-like lake in Wiltshire with some friends, but also the 2nd birthday of ‘forage in the pantry’ or FITP as its been recently named. Since my first ever blogged recipe and still one of my absolute favourites (see here) it has been two years of new experiments, flavours, combinations, styles, and ingredients which have flown by deliciously. A LOT has happened and changed in these past 2 years but the blog has been ticking over loyally and creatively in the background. Maintaining my sanity and satiety.

It pains me to say it but as Autumn approaches on the horizon in the form of darker nights and colder mornings, the apples are abundant and I felt it only natural to choose them as the star in my birthday cake. Taking inspiration from the controversial Starbucks ‘Duffin’ (muffin filled with jam) I have concocted a cinnamon cake filled wickedly with a slow roasted spiced apple puree and a tangy ginger lemon frosting. I refrained from rolling in sugar. Delicious served fresh on the day bitten into with no prior warning of the jammy filling.

Apple Puree - see here

Apple Crisps

  • 1 apple
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 35ml water
  • cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 130° C and line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Slice the apple on the horizontal using a mandolin to very fine slithers.
  3. Heat the water and sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves and it bubbles into a lovely clear syrup.
  4. Lay the slices on the tray and brush with the glaze. Dust with a little cinnamon and sugar if you like and bake in a low oven for about 30 minutes until dry and crisp. Leave to cool.

Cinnamon Muffins - I actually found these too big and dense. I think they’d work much better as cupcake with a lighted spongy texture so I have included a recipe below but feel free to make them GIANT and muffin like as titled.

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 35g chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C and line a cupcake tin with cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together very well until pale a fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla a bit at a time.
  4. Now sieve in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold in gently until just incorporated.
  5. Fold in the nuts and loosen with a dash of milk if needed.
  6. Fill your cupcake cases and bake for about 15 minutes until golden and set in the middle. Leave to cool.

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Ginger Lemon Buttercream

  • 125g softened unsalted butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger. You can also add some chopped stem ginger if you like)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  1. Combine all (in a food processor) until well mixed. Fill a piping bag and use to decorate the duffins.

Assembling….

  • Take your cooled cupcake/muffin and slice the top off (usually easier if they have risen with a dome!)
  • Cut out the middle to create a small whole keeping the removed cake.
  • Fill with about 2tsp of apple puree.
  • Top with a little bit of the filling to hide the puree, eat the excess.
  • Pipe the buttercream over the top in any pattern you like
  • Top with a wafer
  • The best bit….serve to a greedy worthy friend.

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Filed under cinnamon apple hazelnut muffin cake dessert birthday

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Sticky Soy Chicken with Baby Chilli Courgettes

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A sticky ‘packs-a-punch’ glaze for some succulent chicken pieces courtesy of Bill Granger. I’ve managed to make it through my growing culinary life without (shamefully) having had Bill’s influence on any of my dishes? It could be his Australian roots that have kept his foodie inspiration at bay or perhaps (more likely) the Jamie Oliver shaped blinkers strapped to my head that had maintained my tunnel vision since discovering cooking? Who knows? However, with ‘Granger’s & Co’ round the corner from work and a growing love for Asian/Fusion cooking I have been sampling some of his culinary delights from Bills Asian Cookbook which is where this chicken marinade comes in. Baby courgettes courtesy of Portobello Market but normal ones work fine too!

Serves 2

Roasted Courgettes

  • 6 baby courgettes
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • Bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • Juice 1/2 lime

Chicken

  • 4 chicken thighs/chicken pieces
  • 30ml dark soy sauce
  • 25ml Fish sauce
  • 55g brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Light Olive oil

To Serve: Coconut rice (I made mine with red Camargue rice here)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Heat a frying pan until hot with a little oil and brown the chicken all over until golden. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes until cooked through.
  2. At the same time, roast the courgettes. Slice in half if using baby courgettes or into chunks if using large ones. Drizzle with oil and place in a roasting tray. Roast with the chicken for about 20 minutes. This can keep roasting until tender while you finish the chicken on the hob. (The courgettes also work amazingly grilled or charred on a griddle pan or BBQ)
  3. To finish the chicken, heat a little oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic lightly. Add the cooked chicken and the soy sauce and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 6-7 minutes making sure the pan doesn’t cook dry.
  4. Turn up the heat and add the sugar and fish sauce and stir to dissolve and combine. Heat for just a few minutes until the sauce goes syrupy and glazes the chicken.image
  5. Remove the courgettes from the oven and toss with the chopped coriander and red chilli. Squeeze over a little lime juice.
  6. Serve the chicken on creamy coconut rice with the chilli courgettes and coated liberally in any excess glaze.

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Filed under coconut chicken sticky soy sauce chilli lime courgettes

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Lime Salmon, Sesame Courgette Noodles

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Here is a delicious new salmon recipe I’ve been meaning to attempt! Inspired and adapted from 'Moorish; cook book. Drying the lime zest here really intensifies the flavour and baking in a parchment parcel guarantees a beautifully moist salmon fillet. Serving suggestions are endless but I’m obsessed with my julienne peeler so not even my countlessly grated fingers (they are very sharp!) has stopped my experiments. Use here for a courgette ‘noodle’ salad. I literally think I’d choose these oven pasta in a blind tasting. Healthier and more delicious. Sorry Italy.

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Serves 2

Lime Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly roasted and crushed
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper/Chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Courgette Noodle Salad

  • 1 large courgette
  • 1/2 small cucumber
  • Bunch mint, finely chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Small green chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1/2 lime
  • Handful roasted salted peanuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 75°C. Place the lime zest on a piece of parchment on a baking tray and dry in the low oven for about 20 minutes to intensify the flavours. Alternatively you can leave it to dry overnight.
  2. Mix the dried zest with the fennel seed, chilli and cayenne.
  3. image Turn the oven up to 190°C. Rub the salmon in olive oil and coat with the spice mix. Place each fillet on an oiled piece of parchment and wrap into a parcel. If you fillets are the same thickness as mine, roast for 10minutes which will give you a lovely slightly pink centre.
  4. Meanwhile, using a julienne peeler (recommended purchase for any health food/raw food junkie. They are so quick to use) julienne the courgette and the cucumber into a bowl. Add the chopped herbs and chilli and scatter with the nuts. Mix with the sesame oil and the lime juice and toss all together,
  5. When the salmon is cooked, remove from the parchment and serve on top of the courgette noodles and rice if you like!

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Filed under lime salmon courgette peanuts mint fennel

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Balsamic Beets, Lentil and Hazelnut Salad

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This can only be described as a super hearty salad. A man salad if you will. Bits and pieces foraged from both the allotment, the pantry and the dark saddened depths of the vegetable fridge draw. Not sure if its just me but does anyone else suffer from the wilting and unappetising reduced packet of dill sitting shyly in the bottom draw of the fridge? Often usually buried beneath the more popular and beautiful fresh non-reduced delights…

Put to good use here however:

Serves 2

  • 4oz Puy lentils
  • 2 raw beetroot, washed
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful dill, chopped,
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful chives, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Handful hazelnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the beetroot into wedges and place in a roasting tray. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 20-30 minutes until tender and beginning to crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, simmer the lentils in water for about 18 minutes until tender but with a slight bite.
  3. Roast the whole hazelnuts in the hot oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and if skinned, wrap in a tea towel and rub them until the skins peal away easily then leave to cool before roughly chopping.
  4. After the beetroot is tender enough turn the oven down to 180°C. Add the garlic and coat the beetroot in the balsamic vinegar. Continue to roast for 5-10 minutes until the balsamic begins to glaze the beetroot slightly. Remove from the oven and set aside to keep warm.
  5. Drain the lentils when ready. Season well (it will need it) and add the roasted garlicy beetroot and any balsamic juices. Add the chopped herbs and the chopped hazelnuts.
  6. Combine all well and serve. I served mine topped with some lovely pan fried sea bream and a raw shaved fennel and pea salad! Delicious…

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Filed under lentils beetroot dill hazelnuts salad

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Pearl Barley with Walnut, Mint and Basil Pesto

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Pesto is such a great addition to bland food - pearl barley, pasta, tossed on boiled vege of ripped through your favourite pizza dough base (personal favourite!) I’m not a regular to the jar of shop bought but sometimes a tablespoon of the punchy stuff is needed, homemade or not. Pesto is all about the basic ingredients (Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, nuts, lemon and oil) mixed until you get the right balance. Basil and pine nuts if you’re a traditionalist but its also delicious with other nuts or herbs. As usual, my lazy self can’t be bothered to weigh so the ‘handful’ measurement has come in again here….I have averaged-small sized hands so do as you please…

Serves 2

Pearl Barley with Walnut, Mint and Basil Pesto

  • 120g pearl barely
  • Handful walnuts
  • Handful grated parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Large bunch basil and mint, leaves picked
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x salmon fillets
  • Slow roasted balsamic onions (see here)
  1. Toast the walnuts in a hot dry frying pan until fragrant or roast in a hot oven for about 6 minutes until warm and smelling delicious!
  2. Transfer to a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs with texture.
  3. Add the herbs, garlic and cheese and blend. Season and thin out with the lemon juice and enough oil to get the right consistency for your liking.
  4. Taste and adjust with more of the above.
  5. Cook your pearl barely until tender in a pan of simmering water. When ready, drain and toss liberally with the pesto. Stir through a few whole walnuts and chopped herbs too if you like. Set aside at room temperature
  6. Roast the salmon in a 200°C preheated oven or pan fry, skin side down until crisp and cooked.
  7. Serve the barely topped with salmon, a spoonful of roasted balsamic onions if you like (see here). Drizzle with a good oil and scatter with mint. Serve with greens beans or similar…

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Filed under pesto salmon walnuts basil mint pearl barely red onion

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Sunshine and Roasted strawberries for breakfast……

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Summer has been here all week. I love it.

Roasted strawberries…..the fruity equivalent to a toasted marshmallow. Sturdy and non suspicious looking from the outside but deliciously sweet, gooey and almost molten in the middle. Roasting strawberries is such a great way to concentrate their summer flavours. Roast low and slow and serve with anything from yoghurt and granola for breakfast, scattered with cinnamon sugar with pancakes or decadently resting at the bottom of a flute of bubbly with some of their juicy sugary roasting syrup.

  1. Heat the oven to 120°C
  2. Hull the tops from your strawberries but leave whole.
  3. Line them up cut side down in a greased baking dish and scatter with a few teaspoons of sugar (cinnamon/vanilla sugar optional)
  4. Roast for about 1 hour or until tender and soft.

Serving suggestions; yoghurt and granola; mint; pancakes;cinnamon sugar;to top porridge/rice pudding;folded into cake batter (once cooled); crushed on toast; delicious Eton mess…….options are endless.

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Filed under strawberries

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Crusted Cod, Balsamic Lentils, Chorizo, Pea, Mint

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This recipe was thrown together after I caved as I frequently do to the delights of Portobello market at lunchtime yesterday. Sometimes I leave my purse in the office just to prevent myself buying anything I don’t need. What with that and an ‘All Saints’ up the road I could be in serious trouble. I saw some fresh peas crying out (literally…how could I leave them) to be stripped and podded from their padded overheated jackets now the sun is out and with some oily and spicy chorizo in the fridge at home they were immediately planned for supper.

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Serves 2 (as with many of my recipes, this is done with the ‘handful’ measurement so scale up as appropriate. I usually allow 1 handful per person for things like peas etc)

  • 2 cod fillets
  • 2 Large handfuls of breadcrumbs (About 30-50g)
  • Bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1-2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 oz Puy Lentils
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • About 500g fresh peas in their pods, 250g shelled (of two large handfuls of frozen peas)
  • 50g chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • Handful chopped mint
  • Green beans to serve
  1. Begin by simmering the lentils for about 18-20 minutes until tender
  2. Meanwhile, whiz up the bread crumbs in a processor until fine and then add the parsley and some seasoning and blend until all chopped together. Add enough oil to bind the mixture together so it isn’t too dry.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking try with foil. Place the cod fillets  skin side down on top and pat a large handful of the breadcrumb coating onto the top. (add more oil to the mixture if it looks a bit dry and won’t hold together).
  4. When the lentils are cooked, drain and set aside. Fry the crushed garlic in a little oil to soften on a low heat. Once soft, turn up the heat and add the balsamic and let it simmer for a few seconds before tipping in the lentils and seasoning to taste. Keep warm while you cook the fish.
  5. Bake the cod for about 6 minutes until just cooked and flaky and the breadcrumbs have started to brown and crisp on top.
  6. Lastly while the cod is cooking fry the diced chorizo in a hot pan until the oils begin to release. Add the peas (which you can par- boil first if you like but I love them raw and green) and coat in the lovely orange oil.
  7. When ready to serve, place the cod on top of the warm lentils and spoon the pea and chorizo around the edge. Drizzle with any remaining oil from the pan and scatter with mint.
  8. Serve with buttered and minty green beans if you like!

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Filed under cod parsley peas chorizo mint bread crust

2 notes &

Dukka Spiced Mackerel, Parsley Lentils, Roasted Hazelnuts

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Mackerel isn’t everyone’s first choice when choosing fish from the supermarket counter. A brownish muddy coloured complexion doesn’t exactly win any beauty competitions and ball your over with a sense of freshness and health. Although popular these days as being cheap people often give it grief for being a ‘dirty fish’. However…its full of excellent healthy oils, is reasonably priced and can importantly handle bold flavours such as Thai marinades, soya sauce and curried spices. Crusted in dukka and served on some nutty lentils here made a satisfactory Friday night supper.

Serves 2

  • 2 mackerel fillets, scored on the skin side
  • 1 tbsp dukka (see here, leave out the mint)
  • 4 oz Puy lentils
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • Very large bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 25g hazelnuts
  • Mint leaves for garnish
  • Coconut/light olive oil
  1. If large, cut your fillets in half and season in a shallow bowl. Scatter over the dukka and add a slash of olive oil and massage the spices over the fish. Set aside until ready to cook.
  2. Simmer the lentils for about 18-20 minutes until tender but still with a bite/texture and the drain.
  3. Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts in a very hot oven for about 8 minutes until toasted and the skins are beginning to peel off. When cool enough to handle rub off the skins and chop roughly into halves and set aside.
  4. Saute the crushed garlic in a little oil in the pan you cooked the lentils in until soft. Return the lentils to the pan and season generously. Add the parsley and lemon juice and mix to combine the flavours. Cover the pan to keep warm and set aside while you cook the fish.
  5. Heat a frying pan with a little coconut or olive oil until hot. Fry the fillets scored (to prevent them curling up) skin side for about 3 minutes until crisp. Turn for the final minute or so to finish the cooking and add the chopped hazelnuts to the pan at this stage also. (The mackerel will take a matter of minutes so don’t overcook of they will dry out)
  6. Serve the lentils topped with the mackerel fillets and scattered with the toasted hazelnuts and a few sprigs of mint. Could do with a dollop of lemony homemade mayo and some wilted greens.

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Filed under mackerel dukka hazelnuts puy lentils lentils parsley mint spices

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Creamy Dijon Lentil Gratin

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Like many of my dishes this one came about from a fridge of leftovers and a willing pantry. With a craving for a side dish with a little extra added effort I knocked out this gratin. In an almost ‘mystery box’ Masterchef challenge, some simply simmered lentils, a dousing of deep creamy Dijon dressing, speckles of parsley liberally blanketed in some cheesy breadcrumbs and butter and baked could only taste delicious.

Serves 2

  • 4oz Puy Lentils
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche
  • Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 large handfuls breadcrumbs
  • 1 large handful grated parmesan
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Simmer the lentils in boiling water for about 20 minutes or until soft but with a slight bite and not mushy
  3. Drain and return to the pan. Stir in the parsley, creme fraiche, mustard and plenty of cracked black pepper and salt.
  4. Spoon into an oven proof dish.
  5. Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl and season. Scatter over the lentils and top with a few knobs of butter.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden and crispy on top.

Filed under lentils dijon mustard parsley parmesan

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Banana and Cardamon Loaf

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This is my go-to banana loaf recipe for when those bruising and sweetly turning bananas are slowing deteriorating in the fruit bowl, unaware of their potential. This loaf is easy to knock out and can be kept for a while in the cake tin. Here I’ve added the beautifully pungent ground cardamon but this can be left out or substituted.

I love banana loaf as its one of those ‘cakes’ that is less restricted by Paul and Mary’s dreaded ‘science’ of baking. This recipe for example only has one egg in the entire mixture but still manages to set with a lovely rich texture. The recipe is therefore hugely open to adaptation and I change mine practically every time. Try these little additions which I’ve done in the past:

  • Ground cardamon, cinnamon or ginger
  • Replace hazelnuts for your classic walnut
  • Add chunks of chocolate chips
  • Add a handful or desiccated coconut
  • Add a decadent molten layer of peanut butter/salted caramel/Nutella inside
  • Top the mixture with a crumble mixture before baking
  • Soak the bananas in rum for a bit…

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Makes 1 loaf (Taken from Delia Smith’s ‘All in one Banana Loaf’ with a few adaptations)

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  •  225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon (or other spice of choice)
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 70g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughly.
  • Handful demerara sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with parchment.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and egg in a food processor and combine (or use an electric hand whisk)
  3. Sieve over the flour, spices and baking powder and combine (don’t worry if it looks dry!)
  4. Add the bananas to the processor and combine until you have a smooth and creamy batter.
  5. Stir through the nuts (or any chocolate chips, coconuts additions etc)
  6. Pour into the loaf tin and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar (or crumble) to create a nice crunchy topping. (If adding a layer of peanut butter/caramel etc, add half the batter to the tin, dot with the chosen filling and then spoon on the remaining batter to cover before baking)
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until cooked.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin before removing and slicing

Gorgeous sliced, toasted and layered with cinnamon butter

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Filed under banana coconut chocolate loaf cardamon

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Glazed Salmon, Asian Greens, Sesame Cucumber

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I can’t believe my birthday has come and gone yet again. With another year under my ageing belt it only seemed natural to add another cookbook to my ‘library’. It really is expanding at such a rate that I may have to develop some sort of filing system soon. I currently have them stored in a few tame and humble 6 bottle old wooden wine cases but with each eager book spilling out over the edge, oozing its glossy (some more oil splattered) pictures in front of me it may be time to move out to a magnum case…?

To cut a long story short, my birthday granted me with Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian cookbook. I love this quick and flavourful cooking  but with more of a traditional palate I needed a helping hand and a point in the right direction or orientation should I say. East. And to help me along the way not only did I get this vibrant drool-worthy book that I literally want to cook every recipe of (rare I assure you) I also received a few of Bill’s Asian ‘Pantry staples’ to add to my other collection (again, yet to have its own filing system) and some beautiful serving bowls. After all presentation can be half the battle!

NOTE: for those into this style of food I really recommend Bill’s book. There may be some alien ingredients but nothing a quick trip down the ethnic aisle of Tesco can’t solve. A simply written, helpful book. And you really will want to cook everything…there just aren’t enough mealtimes in the day or days in the week unless I start replacing my morning tea with miso soup? Unlikely.

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Glazed Salmon

Serves 4

  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 4tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown soft sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 salmon fillets
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl with the salmon fillets and pop in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Preheat your grill or BBQ. Grill for about 7minutes or so until charred on the outside but still pink and very most in the middle. Don’t be tempted to cook too long. The residual heat will carry on cooking it once removed from the grill and it is better served a little pink in the middle.
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Sesame Cucumber

  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp ride vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cucumber
  1. Use a mandolin/speed peeler to peel thin strips of cucumber into a bowl.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the cucumber

Broccoli

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 red chilli, sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced finely
  1. Boil your broccoli for a matter of minutes until still al dente and bright green. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan until hot. Flash fry your chilli and shallots until crispy. Add the garlic slices at the end as they will burn easily and fry until golden and crispy. Scoop out from the oil and drain and allow to crisp.
  3. Serve the broccoli, warm and scattered with the crispy garnish and a little drizzle of the infused oil

imageBeautiful serving dish courtesy of my sister and the Portobello markets

Filed under salmon mirin Asian sesame cucumber chilli garlic soy sauce

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