This is from thekitchn. What caught my eye was that they could be made in advance, although I don’t see why they can’t be made on the day. I managed to get 3 large beets which cut up into nice rounds. I used the larger ends of the sweet potatoes and the rest went with the roast.
To assemble, start with a slice of beet, then goat’s cheese, sweet potato and top with beet greens. Repeat to make a stack. Reheat in the oven for about 15mins. I made a vinaigrette from orange juice, mustard, balsamic and EVOO to go with it. Very simple, and tasted great. The sweetness of the potato and the vinaigrette plus the beets and everything held together by the goat’s cheese. It was difficult to eat the stack, I ended up breaking them into 4 smaller half-stacks.
Visually, it’s pretty stunning. If only I were able to get better produce. The beets were okay, but i ended up with white sweet potatoes which, while tasting sweet and wonderful, have a tendency to go grey and woody. I probably should have soaked them in water when I was prepping them. Sigh. Imagine if I was able to make this dish with yellow beets and purple sweet potato, what a switch up, wow. And then serve with something a little crunchy: the recipe had toasted walnuts and fried onions, so obviously I omitted them. Could probably have done with a sprinkling of panko, or to be real fancy, some sort of tuile on top. You know, just to be chef-y.
Some recipes, you see it for the first time and you know you have to try it out. This was the case with this 101 cookbooks recipe for sparkling cranberries.
Time consuming, but extremely simple. Macerate fresh cranberries in simple syrup (same volume sugar and water as the cranberries) overnight, which for me turned into a few days in the fridge cos I didn’t have time. Drain the cranberries and toss in caster sugar, let dry on a baking sheet overnight, toss again in granulated sugar. Mine didn’t turn out as picture perfect as Heidi’s, but I’m happy. They are delicious, with the sharpness of the berries contrasting with the sweetness of the sugar. And very, very Christmasy.
Oxtail soup to chase away the blahs, it being so cold and gets dark so early. Been on a soup kick lately, but there is something about homemade soup. The oxtails were very lean, from the market only £5 for the whole tail. Browned it with garlic and red onion, added carrot, potato, celery, tomato, tomato paste and fresh thyme. Just water, no need even for stock. 3 hrs at a gentle simmer, then stand overnight to skim off the fat. It’s thick, it’s warm and it’s filling. Perfect.
I bought a couple of fresh seabass when I was at Brixton market yesterday. The fishmonger cleaned them, but left them whole. I debated whether to cook them whole or to filet them and decided that I really don’t like eating any fish that still has bones. I have a fish knife, and I know how to take the skin off, but I’d never really tried fileting before. It wasn’t too difficult, although there was more wastage than I would have liked. I even managed to get rid of the pin bones, luckily it’s a fish that doesn’t have bones that are too small or fiddly.
Pan frying took about 1 minute each side. I served it with the vegetarian caviar I got a while ago, sauteéd prawns, scampi, roasted baby potatoes and asparagus. It was a running day, so I had a cider with it too.
I’ve been wanting to try this kale with tahini recipe for ages. I’m not familiar with kale, but I have a good idea of how it could taste like. It’s very easy, just sautée garlic and kale until soft, then toss in a mixture of tahini, water, lemon juice (I used lime), sesame oil and salt. It’s really good. The kale never lost its vibrant green colour, and was cooked until just soft. I went running today, so I’m allowed lamb. Had a couple of chops with the kale and some grilled asparagus.
I wanted to try to make pea and broad bean bruschetta that I tried at Jamie’s Italian last week. Don’t really need a recipe, but this is one from bbc good food is a good reference.
Cooked the shelled fresh peas and double-podded broad beans in water until just done. Roughly crushed with a fork with freshly chopped mint (I bought a mint plant especially for this), s&p, a little olive oil and a tiny bit of parmesan. Toasted a whole mini-baguette and spread a generous portion of the pea mixture on top. Heh, this is one of those dishes that I can only eat on a running day without guilt. And yes, I did 20k before lunch.
700g (about 1.5lbs) peas, shelled — use frozen if fresh not available
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
30g (1/3 cup) parmesan
1 clove garlic
This is a great recipe from smitten kitchen that I’ve wanted to make for a few weeks. Just happened that fresh peas were on discount, so I got a big bag. I’d never bought fresh peas before, and even the shelling process was fun.
Cook peas in boiling water for about 3mins until just done, drain and cool. Meanwhile dry roast the pine nuts if not already roasted. Put peas, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and s&p in food processor and blitz until smooth. Slowly add olive oil. Blitz some more.
Cook pasta and drain, saving the cooking water. Return pasta to pan and add pesto, using pasta water to dilute to a loose paste consistency. Season and serve.
This is a very simple, healthy, no oil recipe from elise. It keeps the juices intact so the meat doesn’t get dry, and even people who don’t like chicken breasts should like it.
Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise, season with s&p, herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Wrap up tightly in cling film (American: plastic wrap), tie the ends in a double knot — using the type that is microwavable. Alternatively, wrap in parchment paper or foil then plastic for people who don’t like plastic touching their food.
Bring a pot of water to boil and turn the heat off. Place the wrapped chicken in the hot water, cover and allow to slowly cook for 20-30mins, depending on the thickness of the chicken. It’s just like sous-vide, only no need for expensive equipment. Remove and serve with a nice salad and sauce. I used an apple & chilli jam although pesto, gravy, even ketchup will be good.
Easy roast gressingham duck recipe. Cut off as much of the skin and fat, make sure the skin is dry, rub salt all over. Roast at 180-200°C for about 1 hr. The best part, roast potatoes with the duck so they are cooked in the fat. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I’m not allowing myself the potatoes unless I go running.
I came across yotam ottolenghi’s shakshuka recipe the other day. I’m not familiar with chef ottolenghi, although I gather he’s fairly well known in the UK. Shakshuka is a middle-eastern dish that has many variations.
The normal recipe calls for sweating onions in olive oil, but I skipped it and used 2 cloves of garlic instead. Then I added sliced peppers, one red and one orange. Cooked for about 5mins with fresh basil, thyme, paprika and cumin till soft. Added 1 can of tomato and cooked even more until the peppers were very soft and the mixture with a consistency of pasta sauce. Made 2 depressions and cracked in 2 eggs, covered the pan and cooked until the eggs were just done.
The best thing about this dish is that it’s so delicious that you just eat it straight from the pan. Scoop it out onto bread and that’s it. Heavenly.
This is from nyt.
medium tub small-curd cottage cheese (it’s a 2 cup tub, I’ll need to check weight next time)
50g shredded mozzarella
750g | 1.5lbs assorted courgettes and squash
1 small onion
parsley, garlic, s&p
- strain cottage cheese for at least 20mins to get rid of excess liquid
- sprinkle salt over diced courgettes and drain
- sweat onion with garlic until soft
- beat eggs, add cheeses, onion, garlic, courgettes, parsley, season
- bake at 180°C for about 1hr until golden brown
- rest for 5-10mins in pan before serving
Next time I’m going to skip the onion. I should have known better. They suggested serving with tomato sauce and I agree, eggs and tomato sauce go well together. It was a great dish to eat hot or cold; as main dish or side.
There are still some summer squash left at farmer’s markets. I got green and yellow pattypans and small yellow courgettes. This is from the kitchn.
- cook and drain pasta, keep a little of the cooking water
- fry up the bacon and cut into pieces, drain on kitchen towel
- pour out all but a little of the bacon fat, sweat garlic
- add courgettes and cook till done
- add pasta to pan, season
- add fresh basil
- turn heat off, crumble goat’s cheese over
- add a splash of pasta water to make a creamy sauce
My bacon was in bite sized pieces, unlike the recipe which used it as topping. I wanted to eat that bacon! I used rigatoni, I think a smaller and more delicate pasta would have made the dish prettier. But no complaints. It tasted wonderful. I made this on for carb loading before a 20 mile run. I had TWO helpings.
They were cooking elk on chopped, which reminded me that I had a delicious venison tenderloin. Car’s cousin gave it to me, her husband hunted and they had lots of venison in their freezer. All I did was pan fried it with some fresh thyme, and kept it very rare, almost undercooked. It wasn’t gamey at all, delicate and tasty. Served it with rocket and cherry tomatoes.
This is adapted from a new york times article that talked about savoury loaves, or cake salés, that are French families’ secrets. The idea of using a muffin base appealed to me very much, knowing how easy it is to make. The recipe itself is straightforward, though I didn’t have gruyère so I substituted grated cheddar. I also converted the American measurements to something I can work with.
300g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
80ml olive oil
175g diced ham
175g grated / diced cheese
Mix the eggs, milk and olive oil in a large bowl. Fold in sifted flour and bp. Do not overmix. Add ham and cheese, season with s&p.
Bake in a lined loaf tin at 180°C for about 45mins. Remove from tin and cool for about 30mins to firm up before slicing.
Alternately, make individual portions using muffin pans.
I read about summer lasagna recipes at the kitchn. I never make lasagna because it takes too long and it’s too stodgy for me, but take out the baking and the heavy sauce and it’s a great version of a traditional dish. They had a few recipes, this one at framed was the closest to how I wanted it, and had the best picture.
Normally lasagna is made with ricotta but I didn’t have it, and besides I’m not a huge fan. I substituted mozzarella instead.
- cook lasagna sheets in water until done — took longer than the packet said, then I realised the packet assume the sheets will be baked later; altogether around 15mins
- sauté courgettes in garlic until soft — the pic doesn’t show it well, I had both green and yellow courgettes
- once courgettes are almost done, toss cherry tomatoes into the pan to cook for a bit, then add red pesto
- start building — vegetables, pasta, cheese, vegetable, pasta, cheese, vegetable
- decorate with fresh basil, a drizzle of EVOO and fresh ground pepper
This is based on 101 cookbook’s ultimate vegetarian burger recipe, with modifications. This is for 12 burgers.
- blend 2 cans chickpeas with 4 eggs until smooth(ish)
- season with rosemary, thyme, s&p
- add half a tub alfafa sprouts and 2 chopped up portabello mushrooms
- mix in about 250g breadcrumbs and leave for 5mins
- shape into burgers and grill
A tad on the dry side, I’ll use less breadcrumbs next time. Other vegetables can be used, I like having mushroom. Heidi makes thicker burgers, split them in half and use as the bread equivalent. I might try that next time.
It doesn’t get more traditional than cauliflower cheese. And no, New York Times, it’s NOT cauliflower and cheese. No, no, no.
I used yellow cauliflower, so now I’ve had white, green and yellow. Next up, purple.
- trim off leaves, steam the whole head for about 15mins till tender
- cut into florets, arrange in a single layer in oven dish
- make a roux from 2oz butter, 3tbsp flour
- add about 3/4 pint milk (I used a mixture of cream and milk) slowly, stirring constantly until just bubbling
- add 4oz shredded cheese
- pour sauce over cauliflower, season
- bake at 200°C for 30-40mins until golden brown
A croquembouche is a showpiece dessert of French origin that is popular at big events such as weddings and anniversaries. It’s basically a tall tower of profiteroles. Lots of recipes and writeups about it.
I have a foolproof choux pastry recipe from the Sainsbury’s home baking book. I’ve been using this recipe for years and years and years.
- 4oz butter
- 300ml water
- 5oz plain flour
- 4 eggs
Heat the butter and water until boiling. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. I’d double sifted the flour beforehand. Beat with wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the saucepan. Add eggs a little at a time, combining well. Spoon onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 200°C for 25mins until golden. Make a slit at the side and cool. I used regular whipped cream sweetened with a little icing sugar for filling. This made 24 small profiteroles.
Carefully melt caster sugar in a heavy pan. When caramelised, dip profiteroles one by one and arrange. The caramel acts as glue to bind the puffs together. To make the sugar decoration, dip a whisk in the caramel and flick it across 2 sticks (I used planting sticks, although rulers might have worked better).
Normally croquembouches are very tall, hence their centrepiece nature. Mine was more like a mini version.
This is from simply recipes though to be honest it’s a standard braising recipe that I’ve used time and time again. The 2 new things are: short ribs, which I’ve never done before and reducing the sauce till it’s very thick.
- brown ribs (no oil needed, it’s already fat enough), remove from pan
- remove excess oil, sweat mirepoix until soft
- add 1 bottle wine, reduce to 1/3 original volume and almost syrupy
- return ribs to pan, add chicken stock until ribs are almost covered — recipe says veal or beef stock, neither of which I have
- braise at 180°C for 3hrs until meat is falling off bones
- leave overnight — normally it’d be in the fridge, I did one better and left it on my balcony with its 4” of snow
- remove fat layer (there’s a lot of it), reheat making sure ribs are well glazed
I discovered quinoa over the summer and has made it several times as a salad or as the starchy part of a meal. Little did I know, until I read more about it, that chocolate and quinoa go so well together.
This recipe is adapted from here. The author thoughtfully tried to convert American cup measurements to metric but failed in a spectacularly cute way — there is no way on earth that flour and sugar are measured in ml.
225g cooked quinoa
1 tsp bp
- whisk egg and sugar until pale and thick
- melt butter and chocolate over bain marie
- add chocolate mixture to egg mixture
- add quinoa
- sift in flour and bp
- bake at 180°C for 30-35mins
Okay, this is just…phenomenal. The quinoa gives it a chewy crunchy texture that is unique and the cake itself is moist and fluffy. I ate a slice, then half of one, then the bits that fell off when I moved it. I’ve never been so lacking in discipline, and I don’t usually like chocolate.
Come to think of it, making yule log is one of my family’s christmas traditions. This is a nigella like recipe made from a flourless cake mixture and chocolate butter icing.
6 eggs, separated
6oz / 150g sugar
2oz / 50g cocoa powder + 2tbsp for icing
3oz / 75g butter
8oz / 250g icing sugar
- whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, then add 50g sugar
- in a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, rest of sugar until pale and mousse-like, add cocoa powder
- fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture
- bake at 180°C for 20mins until cake springs back when pressed
- cool for 5mins, then turn out to greaseproof paper sprinkled with sugar on a wet tea towel
- make icing by whisking butter, icing sugar, 2tbsp cocoa, 2 tbsp milk
- spread icing on cake, then roll up like a swiss roll
- cut off a branch, stick to main branch using icing
- spread icing all over, sieve icing sugar and decorate
It was too sweet, next time I’ll use crème au buerre filling and ganache as icing.
about 2/3 loaf of sourdough bread, cut into cubes
half a punnet mushroom, roughly diced
about 12 stalks asparagus, cut to 1” lengths
500ml mixture of milk and vegetable (or chicken if non-vegetarian) stock, about 2:1 ratio
grease the bottom of an oven dish with butter, spread over the bread cubes
add the vegetables
mix the eggs, milk and stock together, pour over bread and vegetables, season
stand for 5-10mins for the liquid to be absorbed, pressing the bread with a spoon if necessary
bake at 200°C for 1 hr until golden brown
stand in dish for 10-15mins before seving
This is an old recipe revisited. I got this off an early Jamie Oliver series, may even have been the original Naked Chef. Now that’s memories.
It’s so easy to make, no cooking apart from the pasta. I used fettuccine rigate, which is like regular fettuccine except with ridges along the length of the noodle. Basically, cook the pasta, drain and add cubed brie and cherry tomatoes. I used a mixture of fresh and roasted tomatoes. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese. Season and drizzle with olive oil.
The first time I came across quince paste was in Australia, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had quince paste in my fridge for many years. I had to throw them away when I moved. Which was why I was so ecstatic to see fresh quinces at the store last week.
Quince the fruit looks like a pear, which was a surprise to me. I’d never googled it, for some reason in my little brain I thought it’d look like kumquats for no good reason other than the ‘q’ factor. Heehee.
This time I did google, and learned that in its raw state the fruit is inedible. Mostly it’s cooked and made into a paste or jelly. In Spain it’s called membrillo and is eaten with manchego, a hard cheese made from sheep’s millk — to the extent that it seems to be the national snack.
This quince paste recipe is straightforward but time consuming:
- peel, core and chop 6 quince fruits (about 4-5 pounds)
- cover with water and simmer for 1-1.5hrs until tender
- strain water away, blitz until smooth
- return to pan and cook for 2hrs until thick — took me longer than that
- dry in low oven (100°C is the lowest mine goes) for 12hrs — again, took me longer than that, and it never really solidified like the commercially bought ones I used to have
Oh, so worth it, so delicious. And I went especially to the new french market to get the manchego cheese. Then I spread the paste over like jam. The manchego is nice, it had a rosemary crust and a mild taste. I’m thinking I can substitute comté or gruyère to pair with the quince.
Adapted from simply recipes, my butternut squash was never as orange as Elise’s.
Chop half a butternut squash into 1” cubes, top with a granny smith apple, sliced. Sprinkle on a mixture of 2oz butter, brown sugar, 1 tbsp flour, salt and pepper. Top with cranberries — I had dried, which I reconstituted with some hot water. Bake at 180°C for 1 hour. I added a can of chickpeas towards the end.
This is one of my standbys, so easy to make. Came from one of Donna Hay’s books.
Make very thin omelettes. I’m lucky to have a small rectangular frying pan that is the perfect size for these.
Stuff the egg “pastry” with smoked salmon and salad greens. Rocket is the best, but any crunchy salad greens will do.
The idea is always the same: brown the protein, add vegetables, add liquid and cook slowly for 2-3hrs until the meat is tender. Serve over some sort of carb that can mop up the sauce.
I saw oxtail and I was so excited. It’s been a long time. I braised it with a bottle of guinness and several ice cubes of chicken stock. The vegetables were standard mirepoix plus canned tomato. I let the finished product sit in the fridge overnight so the extra fat can solidify to be scraped off.
This was served over potato and turnip mash.
8oz plain flour
1lb cooking apples
(above pic is double)
Rub butter and flour together until breadcrumb stage, add sugar. This can be made in advance.
Peel, core and cut apples into slices and arrange at the bottom of an oven dish, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Add crumble mixture on top of apple.
Bake at 180°C for 30mins until golden.
Serve with lots of custard or vanilla ice cream.
Alternatives to apple: add blackberries or blueberries in which case splash some balsamic vinegar for flavour.
Note for my American readers: sorry, I have no idea how weight translates to cups. Basically the ratio is 4:2:1 for flour vs butter vs sugar. 180°C is 350°F.
I’ve always thought risotto is difficult to make, at least perfect. I knew I’d have to try to make it one day, and with the mushrooms I bought at the farmer’s market early this week, it’s a good opportunity. This recipe is inspired by, no surprise, Elise, with modifications. And I didn’t measure.
- sauté mushrooms with butter, garlic and cream; set aside
- meanwhile, heat up a carton vegetable stock to simmering point
- melt butter in heavy pan, add arborio rice
- slowly, add stock one ladle at a time, stir until completely absorbed before adding next ladle
- when all liquid is absorbed and rice cooked, add mushroom mixture
- season, serve with shavings of pecorino (or parmesan)
The verdict — it was scrumptious!!! I can’t stop eating it. It’s like congee made with cream of mushroom soup. The cream and mushroom flavours really came through. And the rice wasn’t hard to make. All I needed to do was focus on what was going on in the pan and not multi-task. The actually cooking of the rice took about 20mins. Can’t wait till I make it again.