I really think this is one of the prettiest and simplest desserts that you can have this time of year. Nothing but some old stale breadcrumbs, humble hardy grown rhubarb and some sweet tangy ginger. Cold golf balls of frozen candy floss to top a pointy slice of warm ginger spiced treacle tart after the slow roasted spring lamb shoulder we devoured for Easter lunch.
I’ve always grown my own rhubarb letting it ripen naturally around the summer time into gangly red and green fingers of sweet and sour goodness. But Portobello market is bursting with the ‘forced’ type at the moment and I couldn’t resist bagging some of the leggy, blushing pastel pink stems for this killer sorbet.
- 800g forced, pink rhubarb, chopped
- 175g caster sugar
- 100ml water
- 1 lime
- Mix the chopped rhubarb with the caster sugar and and place in a saucepan. Heat gently with the water until beginning to soften and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- When tender, remove from the heat, squeeze in the lime juice and leave to cool slightly.
- Puree until smooth, taste and adjust with sugar or lime (it should be a little sweeter than you like as the freezing with dampen this) and then churn in an ice cream maker for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, pour into a container and freeze, mixing every 30mins-1hr to break up the ice crystals until set.
Ginger Treacle Tart
- 125g chilled butter
- 250g flour
- Zest 1/2 orange
- Cold water
- 200g white breadcrumbs (the staler the better)
- 400g golden syrup
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Pinch ground ginger
- 2-3 balls of preserved stem ginger, chopped finely
- 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
- Start with the pastry. Mix the butter into the flour in a processor or with your hands until you form a breadcrumb like texture. Mix in the orange zest. Add a spoonful of cold water, a small bit at a time and mix into the flour and butter until you can form a smooth dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and leave to chill for about 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
- Grease and line a 20-22cm tart tin and preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to adjust to room temperature before rolling out on a floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin. Line the greased tin pressing the pastry into the case. Chill the casing for about 10 minutes if you can.
- Prick the base with a fork to stop it rising up when cooking and place a sheet of parchment on top followed by some heavy baking beans or dry raw rice. Push it right up to the edges to keep the parchment down.
- Bake blind for 20-25 minutes until the casing if lightly golden and cooked. Remove the beans and baking sheet for the final 5 minutes to brown and cook the base.
- Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 160°C.
- Now, warm the golden syrup in a saucepan until molten. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, lemon, breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Mix in the eggs making sure the mixture if not too hot first or these will scramble.
- Pour into the pre-baked tart tin and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and set.
- Serve warm with the rhubarb sorbet and some slow roasted vanilla speckled rhubarb on the side or a good quality vanilla ice cream.
Today the sun was shining contently so I took the opportunity to make the most of my lunch hour and wonder (as I now do familiarly and regularly) around the buzzing streets of Nottinghill and Portobello Road. I love this street and I have huge appreciation for it. Stalls boasting crumpled and soft leather bags, waterfalls of scarfs draped like the limbs of a weaping willow from shop fronts and humble freshly prepared street food. But my favourite sellers are by far the fruit and vegetable stalls. They’re packed and bursting with ripe delights that spill out onto the road as if they too are eager to escape and explore, some not so successfully as tomato seeds and orange pith splatter the tarmac and imprinted into someones car tread.The prices are cheap and the produce is infinitely better quality than the local supermarket. Hands down the biggest and best avocados in town can be found here.
However, on my lunch break today my greedy eyes caught sight of a proudly glowing basket of blood oranges with a cheeky ‘4 for £1’ written confidently in bold. I don’t know what it is about that sign but it undoubtedly screams ‘bargain’! Even if advertising old teeth it would still seems a steal am I wrong? With a brown paper bag of these juicy golf balls and some blushingly pink leggy rhubarb that I just couldn’t leave alone I returned to work and to a state of recipe planning turmoil in my mind….
With Easter Sunday approaching, guests to cook for and plans for a pre-lunch cocktail I decided on using them to accompany a chilled glass of gin, lime and ginger. I needed it too after a sticky commute home knocking out many poor souls with the ends of my lanky giant rhubarb. I made up this recipe adding what I felt it needed and ingredients I liked but feel free to experiment too and add more or less of anything you like to adjust to taste. I image this would also be devine with ginger beer thrown in there somewhere!
The Blood Orange ‘Gin’-ger
- 1oz good London Gin
- 2oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 1/2 small lime
- Small knob root ginger
- Squeeze the juice from your oranges and add to a tall chilled tumbler with the gin.
- Squeeze in as much lime juice to taste just to add a sharp sour hum and a pinch of sugar if it all tastes a little bitter.
- Now you can either mash the ginger and muddle in and then strain, infuse with a few slices or finely chop some ginger matchstick and add to the glass.
- Coat the rim of your glass with lime juice and dip in a VERY light coating of salt. Fill the glass with your cocktail and sip happily in the sunshine!
After a fresh run and my favourite Sunday morning yoga class in the sunshine I returned home fresh, focussed, alive and….hungry! I love taking the time over preparing lunch at the weekend so threw together a super food salad to boost back my energy. This salad is delicious and highly adaptable like many of my recipes. Served with flaked oily smoked mackerel, juicy pink prawns, lemony smoked trout, fried halloumi, molten poached eggs. As a main dish topped with fried fish, add a handful or crunchy quinoa or roasted shredded chicken and bacon for a 21st century Caeser salad! Add raw shaved fennel if you like or change the herbs. Swap in your favourite dressing or take an Asian theme with soy sauce and sesame. The options are truly endless….
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- Handful ripe plum/cherry tomatoes, halved
- Handful raw sugar snaps, sliced
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
- Handful mint, leaves chopped (or a herb of choice)
- 1 tsp Nigella seeds
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp mixed seeds
- Handful of ‘China rose radish sprouts’ (optional…mine were from Organic planet but they can be found here too)
- Lemon juice and olive oil
- Protein to serve e.g. fried halloumi, freshly cooked prawns, smoked mackerel, smoked trout, poached egg, roast chicken
- Combine the salad ingredients and mix gently together and season well.
- Drizzle over a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some olive oil and toss gently together with clean hands
- Serve alone or with one of the above suggestions.
This mushroom rice dish was thrown together whilst I was at uni when embracing the challenge of living on a second hand shoestring. It is one of those staple vegetarian meals I often make when I fancy an evening off meat. Mushrooms have such a deep and earthy flavour that you never miss the meat here and this really is just as satisfying. I like to top mine with a quenelle of cool, smooth cream cheese to off set the garlic hum but a molten poached egg with a cascading larva of golden egg yolk would also sit on top here as naturally as clotted cream on a pillowey toasted scone.
However, today I experimented with black garlic. Garlic is undoubtedly good for you. From warning off infections and fighting your bodies battles to pungently and helpfully keep away any unwanted attention from the opposite sex….! Double bonus. I don’t think anyone walks past their local pizza place or Indian with the waft of freshly baking garlic bread suctioning up their nostrils not to momentarily drift into garlicky cloud nice. I love nothing more than the delights and simple efforts of roasting a whole garlic head in the oven before squeezing the obliging sweet contents into a pestle and morta, mashing to a paste and stirring into risottos or sauces. There is nothing as effortless that imparts so much amazing flavour.
So surely black garlic is to be even better. Delicious I can conclude but on a totally different level. Sweet but amazingly deep in flavour these gooey and pastey gloves are like jelly cubes of balsamic vinegar, a ‘fruit pastel’ of balsamic if you will. It is only a matter of time before Heston makes this imported Korean fad into an ice cream (I will await this patiently….very patiently, no rush Heston.) I’m only at the tip of my black garlic experiments using it tamely sliced here. But mashed to a paste, stirred into stews, risottos and sauces I am sure I will be sharing these soon…..the ice cream however will have to wait for now. Black garlic pasta or gnocchi…however…!
- 250g mixed mushrooms, chestnut, oyster etc, chopped roughly in chunks
- 4oz wild rice (a mix of brown, Camargue, wild rice)
- 2 gloves of black garlic OR 2 gloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large knob of butter
- Handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp cream cheese/2 poached eggs to serve
- Begin by simmering the rice for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a generous knob of butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat until the butter foams.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and some generous salt and pepper and fry for about 10 minutes over a medium heat.The water will be released so continue to cook until this evaporates and the mushrooms are soft and golden. (Now Julia Child fans, remember- don’t crowd your mushrooms, they won’t brown! So cook in batches if necessary)
- If using normal garlic, chop finely and add now and fry for a few minutes turning the heat down if starting to catch.
- Now, tip in the rice and stir into the mushrooms with the sesame oil and fry for a few minutes.
- Add the chopped black garlic and the parsley and mix to combine and heat through.
- Serve in large warmed bowls with an extra scatter of parsley some slices of black garlic and a creamy quenelle of cream cheese. Alternatively add that molten poached egg and crack on with devouring.
With half a can of coconut milk left over in the fridge, some potatoes and not much else but a stocked pantry and an unwilling motivation to delve into my skinny looking purse I threw together a vegetarian (and equally as satisfying) version of my Keralan Fish Curry.
- 1 large onion
- 1 small red chilli, chopped finely
- 2cm piece of ginger, grated finely
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Bunch coriander, chopped
- 400ml coconut milk
- 200ml water
- 1 Kaffir lime leaf OR 1/2 juice of a lime
- Handful of desiccated coconut
- 2-3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- Large handful of cashew nuts
- Few large handful of sugar snaps/mange tout/green beans
- Par boil your sweet potatoes until just cooked but still a little firm. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan. Add the mustard, fenugreek and coriander seed and fry until beginning to pop and smell fragrant.
- Add the chopped onion and fry on a lowish heat for about 5 minutes until really soft.
- Once soft, add the chilli and cook for a few more minutes before adding the ginger and doing the same.
- Add the ground dry spices and cook out for 1 minute or so.
- Add the coconut milk, the stock and the lime leaf
- Simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes until thicker and creamy.
- Once nearly at the desired consistency, add a handful or two of dessicated coconut and a handful or chopped coriander, saving most for garnish. Add the tamarind paste for sweetness.
- Add the sweet potato, the cashew nuts and throw in your vegetables for a few minutes.
- (If not using a Kaffir lime leaf, squeeze in 1/2 the juice of your lime here)
- Serve with rice or naan bread. Garnish with extra chopped coriander, sliced spring onions if you like and an extra handful or two of cashew nuts.
This weekend I journeyed home for a village pig feast that has been vigorously and unheathily circled in the diary for a while! I’ll explain. My home village where I grew up and spent my life can be imaged as a hybrid of the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ (without the killings I stress!) A Wiltshire village with a stereotypical local pub, glorious fields and the strong signature smell of manure tainting the air like the smell of perfume at the duty free! For the past few years we’ve shared the caring, feeding and more importantly eating, of two village pigs who we take in turns to feed and water only to butcher respectfully 6 months down the line and divide up the takings. From piglets to healthy happy curly tailed porkers the sausages and juicy joints of pork that have filled our freezer for a long while have been some of the best I’ve had. We’ve had some teathing issues along the way but nothing can beat the taste of happy wholesome and local meat. So this weekend we saved a giant leg to roast and feast on with all the team! It was delicious and I have nothing else to add.
However, after a rich and fatty roast with shards of caramel cracking, sweet and sharp apple sauce and lashings of wine (perhaps too many lashings?) I craved the fresh flavours of fish and vegetables. This little dish is so simple to knock out but so tasty and pleasing in many ways.
- 2 seabass fillets, seasoned
- 4oz Puy lentils
- 100g chorizo
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- Bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 4-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Vegetables to serve
- Simmer the Puy lentils for about 15 minutes until soft and tender but with a slight bite (don’t let them get mushy). Drain and keep warm.
- Chop the chorizo into hearty chunks and fry in a medium hot pan until they begin to release their scarlet oils. Add in the garlic and fry for a few more minutes but don’t burn so keep an eye out.
- Turn up the heat a little and add the vinegar (and stick on the extractor fan as it will be pungent!). Simmer the vinegar until thickened and syrupy.
- Add this chorizo mix with the oily balsamic juices to the lentils. Grate in the zest of the lemon and add the herbs and season. Set aside and keep warm.
- Fry the seabass fillets, lightly seasoned, in a tsp of hot oil for a matter of 2-3 minutes on the skin side until crisp turning for the last 30 seconds to finish off.
- Serve the lentils topped with the seabass and some freshly steamed and buttery asparagus or green beans.
Experimenting with miso this week in this delicious dressing. This recipe is super punchy, packed with flavour and as healthy as a detoxing cucumber on a spa day. Aka. Super cleansing.
Crisp Vegetable Miso Salad
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- 2 tsps grated or minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2-3 tbsp flavourless oil e.g. sunflower/vegetable oil
Crisp Vegetable Salad
- 1 Chinese cabbage/white cabbage, shredded
- 2 large carrots
- 1 large courgette
- Handful radishes, thinly slices
- Bunch coriander, chopped
- Small handful of mint leaves, chopped
- 1/2 small red chilli, chopped finely
- Small knob ginger, chopped finely
- 1 lime, zest only
- Handful roasted peanuts
- Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Shred the cabbage and add to a large bowl. Use a julienne peeler if you have one to get thin spaghetti likes strips of carrot and courgette. If not, grate or chop finely how you like.
- Combine with the cabbage and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the dressing, a spoonful at a time (you may not need it all and don’t want to drown the salad) and mix until combined to your liking. Set aside.
- 2 salmon fillets
- 1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp soya sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, bashed
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the salmon. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with foil and spoon a little of the marinade over the surface to stop it sticking. Place the salmon on top and spoon over a little marinade to keep it moist. Cook the salmon for 7-8 minutes, less for a thinner fillet - you want a really moist piece of fish so remove from the oven when just cooked. It will carry on cooking as it rests.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately on top of the salad and garnish with extra coriander and peanuts.
I don’t know where the first week of March has gone but I can surely say that it officially feels like spring! The suns been out and daffodils are starting to infiltrate their way onto desks and kitchen tables. Time for spring clean of the same old lunch time menu (i.e. soup) and a refreshing recipe….
Serves 2 (for a good lunch)
- 1 mango, cut into 2cm cubes
- About 8 cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 red chilli, chopped finely
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped finely
- Bunch coriander, chopped
- Bunch mint, chopped
- Bunch basil, chopped
- 1/2 pomegranate, seeds
- 1 lime
- 6 slices halloumi
- Runny honey
- Handful sesame seeds
- Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and muddle together with the juice of the lime. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil
- Heat a frying pan until hot and add a small drizzle of oil. Fry the halloumi until golden on both sides. Turn the heat off and add a tsp of runny honey and the sesame seeds and coat the halloumi for about 30 seconds before removing from the heat.
- Serve the salsa topped with the warm halloumi slices.
The weather recently (with the odd exception) has been quite frankly horrendous that even the wine samples I bought home from work last week have resorted to their own wetsuits. (Some new Armit wine carriers which were enthusiastically handed out at work). If new to Armit Wines see here….we have a healthy collection of vino.
After a long week, some juicy samples were a welcome bounty to whisk home accompanied with the new sly advertising to an unshameful Friday evening in. Yes, I stayed in. It was bliss.
The wine. This Seresin Estate (Organic) Sauvignon Blanc is a definite crowd pleaser for those who love this NZ favourite. Flawlessly zesty with fresh, acidic and noteworthy mouthwatering and sharp gooseberry flavours. I immediately knew it would please my mum’s taste so off home I went the following day with sample and an extra shiny halo. Its a nice punchy wine but confirms my appreciation for more classic French wines which I’m growing to love more….
In addition to this white I also bought home a downright delicious and luxurious Marsala. My mind instantly went to my favourite wild mushroom, pancetta and marsala baked chicken recipe but I felt the harvest of my kitchen creations should be shared with the office so a baked creation was in order. Rich, moist and deep dark chocolate brownies with plump sweet prunes drunk and bloated on this boozy Marsala…
It is also ‘Fairtrade’ week so as a nod to the chaps at Green & Blacks and a toast to the founding of the Fairtrade Foundation I urge you to use their Fairtrade chocolate here or another equally good natured product. This basic brownie recipe (minus the prunes) is courtesy of Bill Granger and is one I’ve been meaning to attempt. Warming - they are very rich!
Marsala soaked Prune and Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Makes about 18-20 large ones
- 350g caster sugar
- 80g Green & Blacks Cocoa powder
- 60g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 200g unsalted butter, melted
- 200g Green & Blacks dark cooking chocolate, chopped
- 140g pitted prunes
- 4 tbsp marsala
- Begin by soaking the prunes in the marsala for about 6 hours of overnight - the longer you do this the more they will absorb the booze so the less you will have to waste!
- Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease and line a brownie tin (mine was)
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix with the sugar.
- Add the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and stir to combine.
- Chop the prunes into big chunks and add with the chopped chocolate and mix.
- Spoon into the lined brownie tin and bake for 40 minutes or less for an molten centre.
- Leave to cool in the tin before removing to a wire rack and slicing into decadent chunks.
You don’t have to use a Coquine squash here - butternut or any other meaty variety will do- but the animated colour was just so bright and vibrant to resist. The sun was finally glowing today to mark the 1st March (already! where has time gone?) so it seemed appropriate to reflect this.
This soup is like a bowl of spicy chilli flecked lava with wonderful flavours. Butternut squash is the king of soup ingredients I think as it creates such a wonderful silky texture. Feel free to use half stock and half coconut milk here for a deeper coconut flavour and an even creamier texture. I didn’t purely as I didn’t have enough to hand.
NOTE: For both garnish and if using in addition to stock, use a thick good quality coconut milk. The cheap varieties in the ethnic sections of many supermarkets are always better value and are thicker and creamier.
- 1 large squash
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli (medium hot or half a hot one…depends on taste), chopped
- 3-4cm piece ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf
- 700ml hot chicken stock
- 1 lime
- Bunch coriander
- Coconut milk (to garnish or use 350ml stock and 350ml coconut milk. and half coconut milk for a creamier soup)
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
- Heat a splash of oil in a saucepan and gently soften the onion for about 5 minutes.
- Once soft, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and mustard seeds and fry for a few more minutes until the flavours have combined.
- Meanwhile, peel and deseed the squash reserving the seeds. Chop into chunks and add to the pan and combine with the onion mix.
- Add the stock (if you like you can use half stock half coconut milk) and the lime leaf and some seasoning and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15minutes until the squash is soft.
- Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaf. Blend until fine and smooth with a hand blender. Add the juice from the lime and all but a handful of coriander and bend again.Taste to check the seasoning and keep warm.
- Heat a frying pan until hot. Remove any pith from the reserved seeds and fry in a tsp of oil for a few minutes. Add the desiccated coconut and fry until toasted. Remove from the heat.
- To serve, fill warm soup bowls with the soup, drizzle with some coconut milk and garnish with the toasted seeds and extra coriander.
I served mine with some warm charred flatbreads (see here) spiked with Nigella seeds and smothered in butter.
I’ve done it. I’ve finally narrowed down my favourite type of cuisine (well nearly). After a recent dinner time conversation with a friend it remained mutually concluded that choosing your death row dish is too ambitious a commitment. Top contenders include a creamy and decadent risotto or a homely fish pie but its still a hard call. However, cuisine and flavour I can conclude on. While I adore classic french food, on the opposite side is my love of Moroccan and middle Eastern style foods and ingredients. Think Ottelenghi. The use of spice adds so much flavour to satisfy any demanding taste buds. The dishes are filling and hearty but in a way that retains a light, fresh and (importantly for me) healthy style. Exciting spices and fresh ingredients keep my recipes quirky and the mix of hot and cold make it perfect for all seasons.
I still haven’t made it to Morocco however….yet…
Chilli and Coriander Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 1 giant or 2 normal sweet potatoes
- 1/2 hot red chilli (seeds retained if you dare)
- Bunch of coriander
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 top quality lamb leg steaks
- 1 tbsp spice mix (see here)
- Generous pinch smoked paprika
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Lime yoghurt (see here)
Green Nigella seed salad
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 bag rocket
- Handful of mangetout
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 lemon, juice
- 1 tbsp Nigella seeds
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. For the potatoes, par boil until just tender but don’t water log (about 3-4 minutes). Drain and leave to steam a little. Season and drizzle with a little light oil and sprinkle with the mustard seeds. Roast for about 30-35 minutes until crispy.
- Marinade the lamb in the spices and oil for as long as possible but remove from the fridge and leave a room temperature at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- For the salad, peel the cucumber in thin strips. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain in a colander for about 5-10 minutes. Then rinse lightly under cold water and leave to dry.
- Blanch the mange tout in boiling water and refresh in cold water and drain.
- Slice the avocado and sprinkle with a little lemon juice.
- To make the salad, combine the rocket, avocado, cucumber and mange tout. Sprinkle with the nigella seeds and only when ready to serve, squeeze over the lemon juice.
- To cook the steaks, heat a frying pan until hot. Add about 1 tsp olive oil (not extra virgin - the burning temperature is much lower and it will burn!). If a thick layer of fat on your steaks, cook this out with the steak on its side for a few minutes first before cooking the steaks to your liking. I usually do about 2-2 1/2 minutes per side for a 2cm thick steak. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes in foil to keep in the juices.
- Chop the chilli finely with the fresh coriander. When ready to serve, combine roasted potatoes, chilli, coriander. Serve with the dressed salad.
- Slice the steaks in thick finger like strips and pour over the resting juices. Serve alongside the salad and potatoes with some cooling lime yoghurt. Garnish with extra coriander if you like.
I completely understand that black pudding is not for everyone’s palate or psychological well being. However I loose my reluctant understanding for the folk that have never sampled this fine delicacy but screw up their faces with such sincere disapproval as if instead I had announced my chosen career path as a stripper! (Case #1, my sister. And we’ll soon know if she’s actually been reading my blog if I hear her wining tones at this comment). If you’ve never tried black pudding then who knows- you could have wasted years rejecting something delicious so this recipe is a fine way to start.
I usually default away from making cliche recipes in my desperate need to experiment at any occasion that calls for food but sometimes I must admit you can’t beat the satisfaction and comfort of a classic. And, lets face it, they exist for a reason and black pudding and pea really is a classic example of two deliciously matched soul partners of the food world. Peas are sweet and fresh which is the perfect harmony for the fatty and rich black pudding. What could be more unfussy and simple than a pile of minted pea puree with a crispy fried slice of black pudding resting lazily on top….
- A bowl of peas (a good handful per person)
- Small bunch of mint, leaves picked
- Knob of butter
- Black pudding slices (1-2 slices per person)
- 1 apple (serves 2 people)
- Lemon juice
- Boil the peas for a few minutes and then drain.
- Place in a food processor with some generous seasoning the knob of butter and the mint leaves and blend to a puree adding a little warm stock or boiling water to loosen to the desired consistency. Alternatively, without a processor you could eat this as a coarse pea mash which would be equally as delicious.
- Cut your apple into matchsticks with a sharp knife and set aside in a bowl with a little squeeze of lemon juice to prevent it turning brown and a little seasoning.
- Heat a frying pan until hot and add a tiny drop of oil if you wish. Fry the black pudding for a few minutes on each side until crispy and cooked through.
- Serve on top of your warm pea puree and top with a handful of the crunchy apple matchsticks.
- Drizzle with a little oil and a scattering of mint leaves and serve.
If you’ve been converted to black pudding then here are a few more of my favourite delicious ingredients that go well with it:
- Butternut squash
- Blue cheese
- Pear, apple
- Roast pork, belly is good
- Thyme, rosemary
- Eggs (especially little fried quails eggs)
- Chicken, rabbit, monkfish (stuffed with black pudding)
- Oh and of course, a fry up…..
Black pudding stuffed chicken in a mushroom and red wine sauce, wet polenta and garlic kale (Serves 4)
- 4 free range chicken thighs, skin on, bone removed
- 4 chicken drumsticks.
- 2-3 large thick slices of black pudding
- A few rosemary sticks, leaves picked and chopped
- Thyme, leave picked
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 large glass red wine
- Stock - beef for a rich sauce, chicken for a lighter one
- 1 handful of dried wild mushrooms
- 150g quick cook polenta
- 400ml milk
- Knob of butter
- 20g grated parmesan
- 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. To start, heat the milk and the same amount of water in a sauce pan and add a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. Just before it comes to the simmer remove from the heat and leave to infuse to use in the polenta later.
- Crumble the black pudding into a bowl and add the thyme. Mash until paste-like. Open up the chicken thighs and stuff a spoonful of the black pudding inside and roll up. You can secure these with the rosemary sticks if you wish. Season the skin well. Stuff this black pudding mix under the skin of the drumsticks too and season.
- Fry the red onion in a little oil until soft and then add the rosemary leaves. Add the red wine and simmer briefly before adding the mushrooms which will soften in the liquid and remove from the heat
- Place in a casserole dish and add the chicken pieces so they fit tightly. Add enough stock to come most of the way up the sides of the chicken so that the chicken can poach and roast gently as it cooks being careful not to pour it over the skin or you won’t get a crispy skin (we can’t have that!)
- Place in the oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken is golden, cooked through and the sauce is bubbling away nicely.
- Meanwhile, tip the kale into boiling water for a matter of 30 seconds to wilt but drain it quickly while still bright green, soft and full or nutrients. Leave to drain the excess moisture. Heat a little oil in your frying pan from before and gently fry your garlic over a very low heat being careful not to burn it. Add the kale and a knob of butter and stir to combine. Set aside to keep warm.
- I suggest leaving the polenta until last minute as it won’t wait so see to the kale first and then the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked remove from the sauce and leave to rest in a warm place. The sauces thickness with vary depending on how much stock you added but to thicken (which is what I needed to do) mix a tbsp of butter and flour in a mug until you have a paste. Whisk this paste into the red wine sauce until smooth and the sauce will begin to thicken without being lumpy. Set aside to keep warm.
- Before you cook the polenta, make sure you’re ready to go -plates warming, guests hungry, wine open and aerating!
- Drain the milk from earlier and bring to the simmer. Whisk the polenta in a steady stream into the milk and stir continuously as it will thicken immediately. Let it bubble for a minute until smooth and creamy. Stir in the butter and cheese and some generous seasoning (it will need salt) and taste.
- Spoon into bowls immediately and top with a chicken thigh and drumstick each and a generous spoonful of the mushroom sauce.
- Sit aside some warm garlicky kale and serve on a wild and windy evening with a bold punchy glass of red.
WINE RECOMMENDATION: This weekend I tried Waitrose’s Vina Valdivieso Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. It was bold and had lovely dark berry and fruit flavours and some menthol notes to it. Delicious with the rich black pudding.
I can’t actually decide if leftover risotto turned morphed in arancini is actually better than risotto…? See what you think
- Leftover pea and mint risotto, chilled (or any other risotto)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Plain flour
- Grated parmesan
- Good melting cheese e.g. mozzarella, tallegio etc
- Sunflower oil for frying
- 1 large ripe avocado
- Handful of chopped mint leaves
- 1 lemon
- Get 2 clean shallow bowls ready. Place the egg in one, the flour in another and the breadcrumbs, parmesan and some seasoning in the other.
- Roll your chilled risotto into balls (mine were about golf ball size) placing a small piece of your melting cheese in the middle if you like.
- Roll each in first the flour, then the egg and finally coat in the cheesy breadcrumbs. If you want a thicker coating repeat in the egg and breadcrumbs. If not, place aside on a plate and repeat with the rest before chilling (the arancini that is…feel free to chill too).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C for later. I fried my arancini in shallow oil but they are delicate (unless you made a very stodgy dry risotto to start with- to avoid this see tips here). If you have a deep fryer fry each arancini until golden. If not, fry in shallow oil until crisp. Place in a the oven to warm through to the middle while you make the puree.
- Scoop out the ripe flesh from your avocado and place in a food processor with some seasoning and a splash of lemon juice. Blend until thick, glossy and smooth - feel free to add flavours here you like. I added some mint leaves but lime, coriander, chilli all work well depending on what flavour your arancini are.
- Once ready, serve your crispy and melt in the middle arancini on top of your silky puree with a scattering of fresh mint.
I adore this Asian-flavoured dressing! Its originally from ‘Jamie At Home’ (with a little adaptation) to dress his winter roast squash and duck salad which I must admit is one of my foodie downfalls. I just cannot CANNOT resist seconds, thirds and usually fourths. Much of its moreish teasing comes from this powerful killer dressing. Here I used it to coat some warm and obligingly absorbant noodles, mixed with some crunchy peanuts for texture and topped with a hearty piece of moist fish and crispy ginger strips. Shamefully I devoured mine with a fork. However- after a recent outing for a sushi lunch, I must admit my chop stick skills are progressing. Slowly.
- 1-2 large limes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated/finely crushed
- Bunch coriander
- 2 spring onions
- Large knob of ginger
Fish and noodles
- 2 seabass fillets (or anything white fish e.g. seabream, cod, haddock)
- 2 dried noodles nests/ rice noodles
- 6 raw king prawns
- Handful of mange tout
- Handful roasted salted peanuts
- Knob ginger
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Start with the ginger so it has time to dry out as much as possible before frying. Finely slice the ginger into thin strips or matchsticks. Dry out between two sheets of kitchen roll and set aside.
- Make the dressing. Squeeze the lime juice and zest of 1 lime into a jam jar. Add just under the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add the sesame oil, soy, sugar, chilli and garlic. Grate in the ginger and finely chop the green tops of the spring onions and add these. Add a small handful of chopped coriander leaves and then place the lid on the jar and shake to mix. Adjust the taste to your liking, adding more soy for seasoning and more lime for that kick.
- Chop the remaining spring onions and coriander and set aside in a bowl with the peanuts to garnish later.
- For the crispy ginger, heat a shallow layer of sunflower oil in a pan. Shallow fry the ginger for about 30 seconds or so until golden brown. Spoon out onto kitchen to drain and season with salt. Leave aside to crisp.
- Bring a saucepan of light stock to the simmer and get a frying pan over a highish heat. Simmer and cook the noodles for about 5 minutes throwing in your mange tout towards the end.
- Meanwhile, cook your seasoned sea bass fillets, skin side down, for about 3 minutes until a crispy skin forms. Turn for the remaining minute to cook through and add the prawns and cook, for a matter of a minute, until pink.
- Once the noodle are cooked drain them quickly while retaining a little of the starchy cooking water and return to the pan. Add the dressing and mix until it is coated and absorbed.
- Add a handful of the coriander, peanut and spring onion mix, saving a handful for the top.
- Spoon the noodles into large bowls, top with the fish and prawns. Scatter with the remaining peanuts, coriander and spring onion garnish and top with the crispy ginger.
This was a last minute creation with the leftover lime curd and egg whites from my Mojito Cake. The lime curd was criminally moreish to waste and after smothering it liberally on warm toasted sourdough for breakfast I still had a healthy jar of this nectar to use up. With the leftover egg whites from the recipe and an orphaned sheet of buttery puff pastry mingling in the fridge, I thought I’d put a tweak on this usual culprit recipe that always seems to remind me of Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’. Pre-bake your puff pastry case, fill it with lime curd, whisk you egg whites and smother on top and….(naturally…in the voice of Sue Perkins) BAKE!
Makes 1 pie
- 1/2 quantity of lime curd (see here)
- 3 egg whites
- 170g caster sugar
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a greased tart tin with the sheet of puff pastry and press the pastry into the mould. Prick all over with a fork and line with greaseproof paper. Now fill with baking beans.
- Bake blind for 20 minutes then remove the beans and cook for a further 5 until lightly golden and the base is cooked.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large, very clean bowl until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, spoon by spoon, whisking in between until stiff, glossy and velvety peaks form.
- Fill the tart shell with the lime curd and spoon over the meringue. Spread out evening and then use a fork to create some height and textured peaks to the meringue which will crisp up on cooking.
- Bake at 180°C for about 15-20 minutes until set and browned.