I don’t usually make Halloween dishes.

But I had a crate full of home-grown butternut squash in my kitchen when a friend of mine gave me a block of his home-made black garlic cheese. The handover, in a central London coffee shop, probably looked like an illicit drug tryst – the cheese resembled a very large block of resin – but cheese is my drug of choice these days!

Immediately, the orange and black colours of Halloween popped into my mind and I decided to adapt the recipe for ever popular Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake into a Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake. (I added blue cheese to the black garlic cheese to give a more salty kick).

Of course, few of us make cheese from scratch at home but there are many recipes on the web that show you how to make American processed cheese slices from a combination of regular cheese, dry milk powder, milk and gelatin. I can’t give away my friend’s confidential recipe for his black garlic cheese, but you could experiment with the addition of black garlic to one of these recipes.

Because I liked the idea of the orange and black appearance, we layered the blue cheese below and the butternut squash and black garlic cheese on top, but if you use regular cheeses, you can mix all the ingredients together in the dish.

Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-fulltext-8651

 

Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash
100 grams black garlic cheese
200 grams strong blue cheese (we used Stilton)

Method

Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8628 Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8630

  • Peel the butternut squash, halve and scrape out the seeds and pulp from the centre. Cube the flesh and add to a pan.

Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8634

  • Parboil the squash by bringing the water to the boil and let the squash cook for a further five minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Chop the blue cheese into small pieces and scatter along the bottom of two individual baking dishes (or one larger dish).

Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8636 Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8639

  • Spread the squash over the top.
  • Cube the black garlic cheese, and scatter over the squash.

Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8640 Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8643
Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8644 Butternut-BlackGarlic-Cheese-Bake-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-8648

  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese on top has melted.
  • Serve hot.

Of course, if you don’t have black garlic cheese (and don’t fancy making your own) you can enjoy the delicious combination of sweet butternut squash and salty cheese with any combination of cheeses you like.

Other winter squash / pumpkin ideas:

I’m also entering this post into the following blog challenges: Shaheen’s Vegetable Palette, Ren’s Simple and in Season, Hannah’s Credit Crunch Munch by Helen and Camilla), Emily’s Extra Veg (founded by Helen and Michelle), Nayna’s Let’s Cook for Halloween, Vohn’s No Waste Food Challenge (founded by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary) and Sarah and Katie’s Speedy Suppers (though I’m bending the rules a touch on cooking time, the prep is so quick and easy, I hope they won’t mind).

vegetable palette800 ssbadge300 Credit-Crunch-Munch
Extra-Veg-Badge-003 Lets cook for halloween logo no-waste-food-badge speedy-suppers

 

As a late comer to making frittata my enthusiasm for this simple dish is as yet unabated. Its versatility is particularly welcome in this hot and muggy weather – it can serve as breakfast, lunch, dinner or an anytime-snack and is just as good hot or cold. And of course, the variations are endless, making it easy to use different seasonal combinations throughout the year.

Facing the annual courgette glut (a bounty I wholeheartedly welcome), a frittata leapt immediately to mind when thinking of how best to enjoy our harvest.

I love the combination of courgette and mint, and knew a tangy creamy goat’s cheese would balance the sweetness of courgette.

text-CourgetteFrittata1_20140719_201417

Courgette, Goat’s Cheese & Mint Frittata

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking
500 grams courgette, washed and diced into approximately 1 cm cubes
Salt and pepper
Handful mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
6 large eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
150 grams of soft goat’s cheese, chopped into small pieces

Method

  • Heat the vegetable oil in large frying pan or sauté pan that is suitable for use on stovetop and under the grill.
  • Add courgettes, seasoning with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and the mint leaves.
  • Cook for several minutes until the courgette is cooked all the way through.
  • Switch on your grill to preheat, on a high setting.
  • Pour the beaten egg into the pan and about a third of the goat’s cheese, mix gently and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Use a spatula to pull the egg in a little from the edges of the pan and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • To check whether the base has set, shake the pan to check whether the frittata is starting to come loose; if it hasn’t, give it another minute or two on the hob.
  • Spread the remaining goat’s cheese across the top of the egg and courgette mix.
  • Transfer the pan to the grill and cook for a few minutes, until the egg has set and the goat’s cheese has taken on some colour.
  • Remove from the grill and give the pan another shake. The frittata should now be loose on the bottom of the pan; if it’s not quite loose, use a spatula to help free it.
  • Place a large plate over the pan and flip to turn the frittata out. I like the goat’s cheese to show on top, so use a second plate to turn it the right way up again.
  • The frittata can be enjoyed piping hot, warm or cold from the fridge. Slice into wedges to serve.

CourgetteFrittata1_20140719_201147 CourgetteFrittata1_20140719_201319

Here are more great frittata ideas:

What are your favourite ingredients to add into a frittata?

 

When eating out with vegetarian or pescetarian friends, it can be tricky to find a restaurant where their dietary needs are properly catered for… not just with the obligatory one or two clichéd dishes but with lots of appealing choices that are every bit as inventive as they could wish for.

Luckily, my vegetarian friend Sejal had heard about a place that might fit the bill, and better still, its location in Temple Fortune was virtually equidistant between us.

Cafe Also is attached to neighbouring business, Joseph’s Bookstore owned by Michael Joseph. I like to imagine a conversation where Joseph first expressed an interest “to open a cafe, also…

The cafe-restaurant sits on the corner of the block, with floor-to-ceiling windows along both fronts and a large door at the corner. Bookshop and cafe are connected by glass-panelled double doors and visitors to one are invited to check out the other.

CafeAlsoGoogleStreetView
Exterior, Google Street View

Inside, boxes of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables front the counter area, though sadly they’re not for sale; rather, they’re part of the cook’s larder, on display to customers. Second hand books line the shelves, including quite a few cookery book titles, if you’re so inclined.

Although the cafe opened back in 2001, owner Michael Joseph met current head chef Ali Al-Sersy just a couple of years ago. Egyptian-born Al-Sersy trained at Le Gavroche under the Roux brothers, and worked for the Qatari royal family, before opening his own restaurant Mims, first in New Barnet and then in Chelsea. At Cafe Also, he shares his unusual menu with a loyal local clientele. He goes to market several times a week to source fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, which inspire his appealing menu.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-185936

On my first visit, we asked for guidance, as the menu isn’t divided simply into starters, mains and desserts. First, the breakfast items are listed, followed by a section of dishes that we assume (from their price point) are starters or lighter meal options, and then main dishes; after these, a selection of mezze salads and lastly, sweet things. Some of our questions to staff about the small dishes suggested they may be too generous to enjoy as a starter, so we adjusted our order accordingly, with my friend choosing a plate from the mezze salad section to start her meal.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-191435 Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-191452

To begin, I chose roasted beetroot with homemade fromage blanc, pomegranate and orange essence (£6). I was completely bowled over by the beautifully presented plate that arrived and just as impressed with the perfect balance of flavours and textures – I would not have thought to combine these four key ingredients but as soon as I tasted them together, it made perfect sense.

My friend’s torched aubergine & tomato with barbequed oil and coriander (£2.50) was very generous for the price, and equally delicious. The aubergine was silky, smoky and beautifully complimented by the flavoured oil and coriander.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-194044

Her main dish of crisped adzuki beans with broccoli poached in celeriac and peach tea, & broccoli cornmeal (£12.50) was deemed both an unusual and delicious choice, quite unlike the usual cheese or tomato pasta dishes that are so commonly the vegetarian’s lot. The soft “loaf” was moist and full of flavour, a world-away from the dry nutloafs of old.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-194119 Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-194100

My hake with coconut, like, ginger, Chinese leaves & fondant potatoes (£13.50) was, as we’d now come to expect, a beautifully presented dish. I particularly loved that it was not swimming in a thick, gloopy sauce but that a light, fragrant sauce had been sparingly applied. It gave flavour but allowed the ingredients to shine in their own right. I had worried that fondant potatoes might be an odd match for the Asian flavour influences in the dish, but actually, they worked very well.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-203416 Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-203438

Both desserts, banana ice cream (£3.50) and pear and vanilla cake (£3.50), came decorated with what I know as pashmak (Persian candy floss).

My banana ice cream turned out to be an altogether more substantial dish than I’d imagined – a whole caramelised banana (served warm) and a serving of ice cream frozen into the same shape and served, whimsically, within a banana skin. Both were wonderful, though far larger a portion than I could manage.

The cake and ice cream were delicious too, simple and well made with pleasing texture and taste.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-114821 Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-120856

I returned just a week later for lunch with my mum; she’s pescetarian and seldom gets so much choice when eating out.

The menu was broadly the same, with a few small changes.

Fresh bread, made in house, was super; I’d guess egg-enriched.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-121555 Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-121651

Mum chose the vegetarian burger with cheese, smoked mushroom relish, tomato, mayo, leaves and chips (£8.50). She really liked both, the burger had a wonderful flavour. The only issue here was that it was so soft and sloppy that it almost immediately fell apart, making it difficult to eat a sandwich. She persevered with knife and fork. The chips were excellent.

Cafe-Also-Restaurant-London-121616

After being so impressed with my hake, I couldn’t resist ordering the grilled herbed wild black bream with broccoli sprouts and roasted new potatoes (£13.50) and it was every bit as tasty as I expected. I’m not sure why the potatoes were presented on sticks, since nothing else about the dish was finger-food format, but those quickly removed, it was another fine dish; fabulously fresh fish, perfectly cooked and paired with simply accompaniments and dressing.

This is the kind of fish dish I want to eat much, much more of.

Both visits impressed me greatly. I’d recommend Cafe Also as a superb choice, not only for pescetarians and vegetarians, but for omnivores like me who are looking for something a little different.

Temple Fortune may not be the first neighbourhood you think of for top dining in London, but Cafe Also is definitely worth the visit. Breakfast and lunch are served six days a week (except Monday) and dinner five days a week (Tuesday through to Saturday).

Cafe Also on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

 

It was a bit of a Ready Steady Cook challenge. My ingredients consisted of a large sweet potato, a white onion and a bag of baby spinach plus tinned tomatoes and a can of coconut milk from my store cupboard and a wide selection of spices on the shelf. I also wanted to try the tubes of chilli, ginger and garlic I was sent by Just Add.

SweetPotatoCurry-0935

A sweet potato and spinach curry seemed to be the answer but as you can see from the photo below, I completely forgot to stir in the spinach! I only remembered when I saw the bag of spinach sitting forlornly on the worktop after dinner. Oops!

 

Sweet Potato (& Spinach) Curry

Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium sweet potatoes (or 2 large, 4 small)
250 grams tinned chopped tomatoes
400 ml coconut milk
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated (or
3 cloves garlic (or 1 tablespoon fresh garlic puree)
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (or teaspoon chilli puree)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/5 teaspoons good quality garam masala
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper, to season
Optional: large bunch of spinach (baby leaves or larger, chopped)

Note: Cheaper brands of garam masala tend to bulk out more expensive spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon with cheaper ones such as cumin and coriander. It’s easy to make your own garam masala – here’s my mum’s recipe.

Method

  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan and fry onion until soft.
  • Add ginger, garlic, chilli and spices and cook for another minute, stirring continuously so spices don’t catch.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk and mix well.
  • Once thoroughly combined, add the diced sweet potato and cook on a medium heat until the potato is cooked through; test with a skewer or fork after about 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from the heat, add the spinach and stir in until wilted.
  • Serve over basmati rice.

SweetPotatoCurry-0937

The curry was tasty – I really enjoyed the combination of sweet potatoes and Indian spices.

Because the Just Add purees only last 21 days, they’re not a product I’d buy as I don’t use ginger, garlic or chilli often enough to get through a tube before it spoils. That said, the quality and convenience were good.

 

Kavey Eats was sent sample products from Just Add.

 

Fellow blogger and food writer Rejina is a friend of mine, and one I’ve long thought deserved a cookery book deal, so I was delighted to be sent a review copy of her first title, Gastrogeek (What to eat when you’re in a hurry, hungry or hard up). Her blog of the same name has been a source of great ideas for the last four years – indeed she launched her blog just weeks before I started mine.

GastrogeekMacCheese-0125

Having talked to Rejina, I can understand why her innovative pitch instantly caught her publisher’s attention – she proposed (and showcased) a photographic comic-book style approach based on her memory of teenage magazines from her childhood. Just as the illustrated stories in those magazines did for teenage love dramas, her aim with this book was to provide solutions to common kitchen dilemmas such as creating restorative meals after shitty days at work, conjuring up meals from the store cupboard when cash is tight, cooking up a storm to impress guests and feeding a hangover in the best possible way.

gastrogeek

There are some disappointments about the book, and I know Rejina will forgive me for being honest about them. In my opinion, the publishers haven’t done a great job on the book design. Too focused on Rejina’s clever theme, they seem to have fallen under the impression that the audience for the book must be the same teenagers those magazines were aimed at and the design feels a bit childish as a result. And whoever thought teal green was the right colour for the cover of a cookery book or that a font suspiciously similar to Comic Sans was right for the text inside ought to be ashamed of themselves. I also found many of the photographs far too dark, especially the black and white ones – I’ve no idea whether the fault lies in the image processing or the printing but it makes the pages look far drabber than they should.

The good news, however, is that the quality of Rejina’s content shines through regardless and is why I recommend you purchase this book even if the appearance puts you off at first glance.

In a few of the dishes, Rejina’s British-Bengali background comes through – she shares her Dahl of Dreams, Curried Roast Bone Marrow (which reminds me of my own bone marrow curry) and Duck Egg, Spinach and Coconut Curry, amongst others. But the majority of the recipes are a wide-ranging and eclectic mix with influences from all around the world – just the way many of us cook these days. Rejina lived in Japan for a while, and her love of umami (and a few key Japanese ingredients) comes through too. I’ve bookmarked Miso Butter Roasted Chicken, Mini Chicken & Mushroom Pies, BBQ Ribs in Dr Pepper and Teriyaki Rice Burgers to name just a few.

Recently Pete and I made her Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese and to say we liked it is an understatement. Not only did the textures and flavours of the dish come together to create a whole that was far more impressive than its simple ingredients suggested, the instructions were also spot on and very straightforward to follow. That last bit should be a given, shouldn’t it, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself adjusting cooking times and amounts to achieve the consistency and results described by the author. In this case, the recipe worked like clockwork.

What made this macaroni cheese shine were the smokey flavours from the smoked paprika, aubergine and smoked cheddar.

 

Gastrogeek’s Amazing Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese

Serves 4 (or 2 very greedy people)

Ingredients
1 aubergine
300 grams dried macaroni
35 grams butter
25 grams plain flour
300 ml whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to season
0.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
90 grams smoked Cheddar cheese, grated plus some for sprinkling
100 ml double cream
1 garlic clove, crushed

Method

  • Roast the aubergine in a hot oven (220 C) for 20-25 minutes. Carefully peel and mash the creamy innards.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  • Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions. Drain and transfer to a 25 x 20 cm greased baking dish, reserving a little of the cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan and stir in the flour. Cook the roux over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly and then gradually add the milk, still stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, paprika, salt, pepper and cheese and stir until melted.
  • Stir in the aubergine flesh, cream and garlic, along with a little reserved pasta cooking water (to adjust the consistency if required).
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well. Sprinkle generously with extra grated cheese.
  • Bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

GastrogeekMacCheese-0120 GastrogeekMacCheese-0121GastrogeekMacCheese-0122 GastrogeekMacCheese-0123GastrogeekMacCheese-0126

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that we will be making this again, and soon. I recommend that you do too!

 

Gastrogeek by Rejina Sabur-Cross is currently available on Amazon UK for £10.23 (RRP £15.99).

 

Bravo! Ouais! Le Vacherin Mont d’Or est arrivé!

BakedVacherin-0274

In France, there’s quite a celebration when the season of availability for this fabulous cheese rolls around once again.

Officially known in France as Vacherin du Haut-Doubs this soft, unpasteurised cheese with a pale yellow salt-washed rind originated in the Jura mountains that cross France and Switzerland. French Vacherin, produced in the Franche-Comté region, has AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status – similar to PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) – ensuring that anything sold under this name is made in a specific geographical area according to strictly governed traditional methods.

Vacherin Mont d’Or was born in the 1700s. In the warm spring and summer months, when the cows produced high yields, farmers created a system of collective dairies, allowing them to pool their milk and produce very large wheels of cheese indeed; the enormous Comté and Emmental. However, not only did the cows produce less milk during the winter months, bad weather often closed the perilous mountain routes to the dairies, forcing farmers to make much smaller cheeses at home to use their milk.

The French AOC stipulates unpasteurised milk from Montbeliard cows bred and grazed at an altitude of at least 700 meters above sea level and fed on a diet of grass and hay. It also lays down much of the manufacturing and maturing process including the use of spruce bark to encircle the cheese, which imparts an additional flavour.

(Incidentally, the Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or, which has a separate AOC, is not the same; one difference being that it’s made only with pasteurised milk.)

It’s probably no surprise to you that I adore this creamy, slightly nutty-tasting, pine-scented cheese!

I’ve bought many, many a Vacherin from my local Waitrose over the last few years (as well as from London cheese mongers), so was happy to accept their offer to send one over when the first of 2011 came into stock. Waitrose source their Vacherin from the Fromagerie Badoz, a family business in the French mountain town of Pontarlier.

Of course, this delicious cheese can absolutely be enjoyed as it is, but it is also very well suited to baking in a hot oven. On this occasion, we followed Henry Harris’ very simple recipe.

BakedVacherin-0272

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Leave the cheese in it’s wooden box. Remove the lid, cut a flap in the top of the cheese and pour in a tablespoon of dry white wine. Place the box into an oven dish in case the box collapses. Bake for 15 minutes.

BakedVacherin-0275 BakedVacherin-0277

We served ours with nothing but fresh white baguette which we dunked in again and again and again…

Other recipes call for using a dessert wine instead of dry or adding a clove of garlic or a sprig of rosemary before baking.

How do you like yours?

 

As I posted last month, I’m one of the bloggers on the judging panel for the Tesco Real Food Challenge, looking for the nation’s best real food cooks. I’ve been partnered with Jamie Theakston on the Talk & Fork category, for which we’re looking for casual and easy meals that can be eaten with just a fork, relaxing on the sofa with friends or family or in front of the TV.

Click here to read my recent interview with Jamie.

Tesco invited me to cook Jamie’s dish myself and share it with my readers, but I had booked far too much into my diary and knew I’d not have a night at home for quite a while. I turned to twitter and asked if any fellow bloggers could help me out by trialling the dish for me and writing a guest post all about it for Kavey Eats.

Fellow blogger Craig McKnight kindly volunteered. Craig started his own blog, We Grow Our Own, to record and share the trials and tribulations of his allotment, but when he won a competition last year, and was crowned Wahaca’s Chilli Guru, it gave it an extra dimension.

Passionate about growing good food and eating good food, here’s Craig’s post on Jamie’s risotto.


When Kavey asked on twitter for a volunteer to cook and blog a Tesco Real Food Challenge recipe for her, I jumped at the chance, particularly when she told me that she wanted me to cook Jamie’s recipe – ‘Mushroom and Herb Risotto’ – as risottos are one of my favourite dishes.

The idea behind the ‘Talk & Fork’ category is that these are casual, easy meals that can be eaten with just a fork while relaxing with friends and family or in front of the TV. Any risotto definitely fits into this category, because as Nigel Slater once put it, risotto is “as instantly soothing as sucking your thumb”.

It’s also ideal because although you will need to stir the risotto off and on over a twenty minute period, you can still be nattering to your friends while doing this, and you also have your other hand free to enjoy the rest of the wine from the bottle!

Right, onto the recipe. Here’s the ingredients that Jamie suggests …

pic1

Ingredients
50g (2oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
225g (8oz) Arborio rice
1 glass white wine (optional)
900ml (1.2 litres) vegetable stock
450g (1lb) chestnut mushrooms, diced
1 bunch spring onions (use green parts also)
3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
25g (1oz) fresh parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Normally I don’t have my ingredients set out like this, but I thought I’d come over all ‘Delia’ for this guest post. :)

Something else I noticed from Jamie’s recipe is that he says that you should use 1lb of mushrooms and 8oz of rice, but according to his recipe, this serves one person! Hmmm, I think I need to speak to Jamie about his exercise regime ….

You may also have noticed two measuring jugs in the photo. One of them contains some wild mushrooms that I soaked and added to the recipe. I also added the soaking liquor to the stock once it had been strained to give a deeper mushroom flavour to the risotto.

There are also two glasses of wine. One is for the recipe and one is for the chef …. I’ll leave you to work out which one is which!

Method

pic2

  • First, melt the butter & little oil in a roomy pan, add the onion and garlic and soften. There is a school of thought that it needs to be a shallow pan. I don’t agree. All it needs to be is one that isn’t thin and dented … unless you like the taste of burned rice.
  • Once the garlic & onion has softened, turn up the heat and stir in the rice, coating the rice in the butter and oil.

pic3

  • Pour in the glass of wine, turn the heat down, and stir the rice until the wine has almost evaporated.
  • It is a good idea to have the stock in another pan, simmering away. You can make it with cold stock if you want to, but using hot stock will certainly shorten the time that it takes to get from the start to your stomach.

pic4

  • Gradually begin to add the hot stock a ladle at a time. Wait until the stock has been absorbed by the rice before adding more. Turn the heat down so that it just bubbles gently, and stir from time to time. You’ll notice the grains of rice gradually getting plumper and plumper.
  • It will take about 20 minutes cooking time for the rice to be cooked, but still slightly al dente.

pic5

  • Stir in the mushrooms and spring onions, followed by the herbs.
  • I’ve tweaked Jamie’s recipe again at this point, as I’d recommend stirring in nearly all of the parmesan and a little more butter. Put a lid on the pan for 3/4 minutes, and when you take it off, you’ll notice the rice has become rich and creamy.

pic6

  • Serve with some grated or shaved parmesan, and a sprig or two of flat leaf parsley.

Now, if there is a recipe that is as easy to cook and enjoyable to eat after a hard day at work, I’ve yet to find it! Enjoy!

 

Incorporating home grown produce into your meals needn’t be complicated. This recent lunch used romaine lettuce picked fresh from the garden and served as it was, without any dressing.

This is a very quick and simple lunch using just four ingredients.

 

Honey Goats’ Cheese Toasts On Little Gem Leaves

Ingredients

Bread – your choice, ours was home-made soft white; a recipe from Tom Herbert, that I’ll blog soon
Goats’ cheese – your choice, this time we used Montrachet from Burgundy via La Cave à Fromage
Lettuce – your choice, ours was Romaine picked fresh from the garden
Honey – your choice, we used a London one from The London Honey Company

PeteBreadTomHerbertBurgerBapRecipe-7599 HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7602 HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7605 HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7604

Method

  • Pick and wash the lettuce, tear by hand into small pieces.
  • Slice bread and toast one side under the grill.

HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7603

  • Slice the goats’ cheese – approximately half a centimetre thickness.

HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7608

  • Turn over the bread and lay the goats’ cheese slices on the untoasted sides.
  • Spoon a little honey over the cheese.

HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7610 HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7611

  • Grill until the honey has melted and the surface of the cheese shows a little browning.

HoneyGoatsCheeseToasts-7613

  • Serve the toasts over the lettuce.

You could make a simple dressing for the salad if you wish. If so, I’d keep it simple again; just a little of the same honey, some decent oil and vinegar, ratios to your own taste, shake in a jam jar to combine and then toss with the lettuce before plating.

 

A few months back, sitting on Mathilde‘s comfy sofa and chatting vegetables to Carla, I bemoaned my lack of adventurousness, inventiveness and originality when it comes to cooking vegetables at home. Carla had some tasty ideas (and recommended Yotam Ottolenghi‘s books, which I really ought to get my hands on). Mathilde rushed out of the room and returned with a gift for me, The Farm Shop Cookbook by Christine McFadden.

RomanescoCauliCheese-4047

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when (almost 6 months late and only then because I chased and chased and chased) I finally received a box of Riverford vegetables and their book; this was the gift offered with a subscription to Food & Travel magazine.

In the box was a beautiful Romanesco cauliflower (also known as Romanesco broccoli) with it’s vivid lime green hue and compelling naturally fractal spiral heads.

What to do with it?

I know I could have checked in the Riverford book but went instead to Mathilde’s gift.

The Farm Shop Cookbook revealed a recipe for Green Cauliflower Cheese with Blue Vinny and Tomatoes. We decided to subsitute Stilton for the Blue Vinny and omitted the tomatoes and breadcrumbs.

Green Romanesco Cauliflower Cheese with Stilton and Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 Romanesco cauliflower (ours was approximately 500 grams)
30 grams butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
300 ml milk
1/4 teaspoon English mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 100 grams Stilton (might have been more, we didn’t measure)
“Some” grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

  • Cut the Romanesco into pieces, discarding the tough stalks.

RomanescoCauliCheese-4049 RomanescoCauliCheese-4052

  • Microwave (or steam, as per the original instructions) until only just tender and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter over low heat.
  • Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until very smooth.
  • Heat the milk in a separate pan until it starts to bubble, then gradually whisk it into the flour mixture.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard, seasoning and Stilton.

RomanescoCauliCheese-4050

  • Stir until the cheese has melted completely into the sauce.
  • Pour / mix the sauce with the Romanesco.

RomanescoCauliCheese-4053

  • Grate parmesan over the top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.

RomanescoCauliCheese-4055 RomanescoCauliCheese-4057

We had this with a lovely roast rib of beef and some roast potatoes (also from the box).

Absolutely delicious and we’ll definitely be making green cauliflower cheese again!

 

Why are we eating parsnips in the summer?

Well… we grow our own vegetables and, last year, we planted parsnips for the first time.

Early January was rainy and miserable and we left much of our winter crop in the ground for longer than we should have. So we urgently harvested a bumper crop of giant parsnips in January, just before leaving for a month in the Falklands. We froze several boxes, prepped and chopped into batons, and promptly forgot about them until a recent push to work through our freezer stock.

A couple of months ago, I was sent a review copy of Hix Oyster & Chop House. Things were a bit busy at the time and I browsed through the book, bookmarked a handful of recipes that appealed and put it to one side.

And there it stayed, on my mental list of things to get around to, until we were suddenly looking for parsnip recipes at the height of summer!

As fans of gratin dauphinois – thinly sliced and layered potatoes and cream baked in the oven, sometimes with the addition of milk, cream and garlic – it’s not hard to understand the appeal of parsnips baked with cream and cheese!

BakedParsnips-3533

Baked Parsnips with Lancashire Cheese

You can see the original ingredients, quantities and instructions here:

BakedParsnips-3529

Our adjusted quantities (serves 4)
500 grams parsnips
150 ml double cream
200 ml milk
a pinch of grated nutmeg
2 garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100-150 grams Lancashire cheese

Note: we omitted the fresh white breadcrumbs

Our adjusted method

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
  • Cut the parsnips into rough 2-3 cm chunks.

BakedParsnips-3528

  • Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan, add the nutmeg and garlic, and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • Put the parsnips into a shallow ovenproof (gratin-type) dish and mix with the cheese.
  • Pour the cream mixture over the top.

BakedParsnips-3531
I love that this photo includes Pete’s foot!

  • Cook in the oven for an hour until the parsnips are cooked through.

BakedParsnips-3532

The tang of the cheese against the sweetness of the parsnips is magical and the cream and milk make it wonderfully rich. This is definitely one of those dishes that’s more than the sum of its parts, though its parts are all very good already.

For this one recipe alone, I’m hugely grateful to Mark Hix and his book and have gone back to the book to search out other gems I may have looked over in my initial bookmarking.

The book is Hix’ first restaurant book, though his previous titles about fish and British food have been well received. Named after his first restaurant, Hix Oyster & Chop House, in London’s Smithfield market, the book features recipes that appear on the menu throughout the year.

As the name of the book suggests, the two main foci are oysters and meat, although, as my chosen recipe indicates, there are also recipes for starters, sides, desserts and even cocktails.

Oyster fans will likely appreciate the chapter introducing 8 types of Oysters (all from the UK and Ireland, both native and cultivated types) along with and instructions on how to shuck them.

The Meat chapter covers beef, veal, lamb and venison, providing information (and great photographs) on different cuts and how best to cook them. Of course, it’s not nearly as comprehensive as the information in Leith’s Meat Bible, that I reviewed recently, but then I wouldn’t expect it to be.

Oddly enough, although I’d happily order many of the mains if I were visiting the restaurant, there are not that many that appeal to cook at home. But there are some recipes I want to try in the other chapters, including cobb egg (like scotch eggs but with a fish mixture around the eggs, rather than pork), Heaven and Earth (based on the German himmel und erder), several of the salad dressings, coley with sea spinach and brown shrimps, chop house butter, shipwreck tart (which I tasted when we visited Hix Oyster and Fish House), white port and strawberry trifle, and hix oyster ale cake.

It’s an attractive book, I can’t help but like the simple brown paper cover and clean design. If the other recipes we try are as successful as the parnsip bake, it’ll earn a place on our permanent book shelf!

 

With thanks to Quadrille for the review copy.


Hix Oyster & Chop House is (currently) available at Amazon for £15.75.

© 2006 - 2014 Kavita Favelle Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha