Sunday, 15 November 2009

Brussel sprouts with pomegranate

I'm one of those many, perhaps tiresome people who don't like brussel sprouts. There's something about them that is just too much, rather stinky, like strong blue cheese must be to those people who don't like strong blue cheese. I've often thought it a shame-one less winter vegetable to eat, and I love their appearance, like a doll's house cabbage. And James adores them so, selflessly, I decided to try this recipe!

I must say that if ever one were to be converted to the sprout cause, this would be a good recipe to do it with. It's pretty appearance entices one, and the dressing is lovely. It disguises much of the taste I don't like about sprouts whilst leaving a pleasant texture. We ate them with the Pometgranate and honey-glazed lamb noisettes I posted yestereday and they complemented the dish admirably. But I'm afraid next time I will still be using this lovely recipe with a different sort of green. But sprout lovers, you will be in heaven.


Adapted from Ottolenghi in the Guardian Christmas food special 2008

1. Cut the brussel sprouts into two lengthways.

2. Fry using olive oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until al dente with a golden brown outside. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

3. Fry 4-5 chopped spring onions for 2-3 minutes. Add to the sprouts.

4. Mix together 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the grated zest of one lemon and the seeds of half a pomegranate. Add this mixture to the warm vegetables and toss well. Can be served warm or cold.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Pomegranate and honey glazed lamb noisettes

Diana Henry is one of my culinary heroes and in Cook Simple she has done the near impossible; really quick cooking that is still interesting and tasty, full of recipes you don't already have scattered across other books. This recipe is one of her best.

This sort of recipe is all about the meat and Savin Hill are one of my favourite producers of lamb, mutton and pork. They didn't disappoint. This part of my meal was ready in less than ten minutes actual work (and an extra couple of hours for the marinade).

1. Mix together 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, 1 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, two finely chopped cloves of garlic and 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper. Coat the lamb well and leave for 0-24 hours; whatever is most convenient.

2. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the lamb for about 3 minutes on each side on a moderate heat (thus avoiding burning the marinade).

3. Serve-I did them with potato wedges and a brussel sprout and pomegranate salad.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Apple sauce and a polenta cake

I wondered what to post since I hadn't eaten in the house even once today, so I thought I'd just do a quick one showing what else I've done with the apples that I didn't think warranted a full post (NaBloWriMo makes you think on your feet).

I made four jars of apple sauce and used a water bath to sterilise them for the first time (thanks to my brand new stock pot from Lakeland!). I intend to make, amongst other things, David Lebowitz's granola, Tartelette's apple and vanilla souffle and Orangette's apple bundt cake.

I also made a Bolegnese apple and polenta cake from Jamie's Italy. I love this book, but I wasn't convinced by this particular cake. Jamie described it in clafoutis terms but mine turned out with a rather rubbery texture-I may have cooked it too long but in that case I blame his cooking temperature/times! In any case, what attracted my to recipe was the use of polenta, having previously made an amazing orange and polenta cake, but I couldn't really taste its use in this recipe. I still have plenty of apples so may try to make my own apple and polenta cake that is more to my taste.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Chicory and apple salad

I don't get around to making salads nearly as often as I ought to-every time I do I am reminded of how refreshing they are, especially when eaten as I prefer, immediately after the main part of the meal. I was thinking early that chicory had effortless cool to it, like a french actress, then I realised that I may be being subconsciously swayed by the word "chic" being it's first syllable..! I think this challenge is addling my brain...

But anyway, for some reason I prefer autumn and winter salads to their seemingly more natural summer counterparts-chicory in particular excites me in a way mere lettuce doesn't. And as long as there's also a hot component to the evening meal on cold winter evenings like this, why leave salads to the summer months?

1. Toast a handful of walnuts in a dry frying pan, or in a low-medium oven until you can smell them. Allow to cool slightly (or thoroughly, if you have the time).

2. Fry half a red onion (chopped) in olive oil until thoroughly soft. Add a good 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow to cool slightly.

3. Thinly slice 2 eating apples and toss them in the juice of half a (small) lemon for taste and to prevent discolouration.

4. Roughly break up 2 handfuls of chicory leaves.

5. Mix the chicory and apple slices together thoroughly.

6. Arrange the mixture on your plate, followed by the red onion, walnuts and about 100g of small feta chunks. Drizzle olive oil liberally over the salad. You can also sprinkle over some finely chopped parsley if you have any.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Moroccan-style fish stew

I've been cooking this for a long time, since I first moved away from home and before any real interest in cooking developed (as opposed to eating, I was always interested in that!). It's one of the few meals that have survived in my reportoire from that time, the rest having been discarded either because they were boring, or because they were things that my mother taught me at home that I've since decided make more sense being cooked for a family rather than for one or two. It shows an initial interest in the sort of cooking I love to do now, but can be simplified for the simplest of stock cupboards. If you prefer, you can leave out the chickpeas, possibly double the amount of fish used, and serve with rice. I'm pretty sure I initially saw this recipe on a tv programme, but anything more detailed than that has been lost to the mists of time-do tell if you recognise it!

Serves 2


1 white skinned fish fillet (~250g) or a handful of prawns
200g canned chickpeas (or 100g dried, already soaked and fully cooked)
400g tin of tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger (or 1tsp ground)
1tsp cumin
1tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp ground)
1tsp honey
pinch of dried chilli/paprika
flaked almonds (optional)
fresh parsley/coriander (optional)


1. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic. Fry until softened.

2. Add all the spices and cook for a minute or two, stirring.

3. Add the tin of tomatoes and cook for ten minutes.

4. Add the fish fillet, cut into chunks, and cook for 5 minutes until tender. If using prawns cook for less.

5. Add the chickpeas and the honey and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

6. Optional: garnish with fresh coriander and flaked almonds (toasted for a few minutes in a dry frying pan until golden brown).

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Pain perdu with buttery apples

Another busy day, with a craving for something sweet at the end of it... when this happens in my house, pain perdu is usually made. Provided you have the ingredients to hand (and you're likely to), it's a fast, fuss-free pudding that makes me groan with greed. And of course, this month, it was served with apples slices fried in butter.

Serves 2.


1. Whisk one egg with 75ml double cream and 1 tablespoon sugar. If you want you can add a dash of alcohol (brandy, rum, whisky...) to the mixture.

2. Dunk four slices of bread into the eggy mixture and leave for 5 minutes. Any white bread can be used for this dish as long as you can readily imagine it in a sweet situation! Brioche is commonly used but I love it with a plain country bread or my raisin-studded breakfast loaf. If you're using a crusty bread then you may need to cut the crusts off first. Softer crusts can be left on and will add to the texture of the dish.

3. If you want to have fried apple slices too, then melt a knob of butter in the frying pan and cook as many peeled slices as you want. Turn them onto the other side once slightly golden, them place them in the oven on lowest heat to keep them warm whilst you fry the bread.

4. Add another knob of butter to the frying pan and cook the bread slices until golden on each side. You may need to add more butter as you go.

5. These are perfect on their own, or with sugar/icing sugar sifted over the top and a dollop of clotted cream or sweeted mascarpone on the side.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Crusty pumpkin and mushroom

Day Nine of NaBloWriMo and I nearly didn't make it today-a job interview some miles away took up most of the day and then I returned to practically the whole weekend's washing up. But this little blue squash has been patiently waiting to be cooked and I knew just the recipe-and it tasted so good I decided to post it despite the dire photo of the end result. I used to think I didn't like pumpkin or squash, and I'm only remedying that this autumn. I can find them rather too sweet, which in the right recipe (like a middle eastern pilaf with dried fruit) can be lovely but I wanted a rather savoury approach tonight.

This Ottolenghi recipe caught my eye for pairing squash with savoury mushroom, rather than tomatoes or the other sweet vegetables it is so often combined with. I also found this blue squash had to my mind a superior flavour to the orange varieties-less sweet and denser so it held up well to roasting and was a perfect match to the mushroom, although most varieties of squash will work well here and the original recipe does call for pumpkin. I am falling in love with the use of breadcrumbs in cooking (and have been putting pangrattato on top of practically all my pasta and risotto meals); as well as adding texture to a meal they carry fresher flavours such as lemon zest, chili and even anchovy so well.

Adapted from The Guardian's The New Vegetarian column, October 2006


1 small flavoursome squash (about 500g), peeled deseeded and skinned
1 red onion
200g mushrooms, preferably large, robust and open-cap, quartered
200g purple sprouting broccoli (or romanesco cauliflower, etc), separated into florets
1tbsp lemon juice
70g breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Grana padano (or parmesan)
3 tbsp pinenuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 garlic clove
1 red chili, deseeded and chopped
the zest of 1/2 of a lemon
1 bunch of parsley
2 tsp rosemary


1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C/400F.

2. Cut the squash and the red onion into wedges about 2cm wide. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season and place in a large baking tray.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, herbs, nuts, seeds, chili and lemon zest. Add enough olive oil for it to bind together loosely (I used about 2 tablespoons).

4. Toss half of the breadcrumb mixture with the squash and put in the oven for about 8-15 minutes, checking that you don't overcook the squash (it could end up soggy, especially if you use a larger pumpkin variety) and that the breadcrumb mixture doesn't burn. You want the mixture to brown nicely, but if it looks as if it might go too far before the squash is tender then cover the dish with tin foil. My squash cooked incredibly quickly without needing the foil.

5. Leave the mushrooms in large chunks, and fry in olive oil and salt for a few minutes. Then add the second half of the breadcrumb mixture and let that fry for another minute. Remove from the heat.

6. Boil enough water in a large saucepan for the purple sprouting broccoli and cook until al dente, which should take about 4 minutes.

7. Pile all the vegetables together in the baking tray and mix gently, then serve.