Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce


Do I really have to write anything or perhaps this time I will let photos and recipe speak for themselves?

If you are not sure about salt in chocolate desserts, let me just point out that salt brings out its chocolatiness.

It is sticky, dark, decadent dessert. For the chocolateholics.

Recipe adapted from "Je veux du chocolat" by Trish Deseine.

For round spring tin 20-22cm (serves 6-8)

For the salted caramel sauce:

100g sugar
2 tbsp water
50g salted butter
7 tbsp crème fraîche
two twists of rock salt grinder – on a setting that salt still should be coarse

Place sugar and water in a pan and bring to boil, do not stir! The sugar will dissolve. Boil until golden, sticky and bubbling; again do not be tempted to stir. Remove from the heat and mix the cube butter in together with a salt. Next add the crème fraîche and mix thoroughly again. Leave it to cool down.

For the fondant:

200g good quality dark chocolate, min. 70% cocoa solids
200g butter
5 eggs
1 tbsp flour
50-60g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Melt chocolate with butter in bain-marie (also known as a water bath), next add sugar, mix well and leave it to cool down.

Slowly mixing add one by one egg, making sure the egg is completely mixed in before adding next one. The mixture should be shiny and smooth.
Next add 150g salted caramel sauce and mix again, before adding the flour.

Transfer the mixture to baking tin (I lined mine with baking paper) and bake for about 15-18 minutes (depends on the tin size and oven type). The fondant should be baked on the edges but still wobbly in the middle.

Remove from the oven immediately and leave it to cool down. Serve with some salted caramel sauce on the top. It tastes better next day, I bake it day ahead.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Smoked rainbow trout, peas & mint puree

This is not a dip but you can make it more smooth. My initial intention was to make it quite smooth, but after few pulses of food processor I decided I prefer it as a rough puree. However next time I will try to make it smooth and serve on oatcakes or on rye bread as canapés.

Some time ago I really fancied a smoked fish and when I found lovely smoked rainbow trout on my local market I thought I will make pate in the same way I have made this smoked mackerel one. However I had a light bulb moment and decided to make it differently.

I was trying to find some fish combinations in my memory and I remembered this baked rainbow trout with mint and almonds. When I thought about a mint naturally peas came to my mind - this is one of my favourite snacks and flavour combinations. I started to have a rough idea of this puree, even if I thought it is going to b smooth. Especially that fish and peas is one of the popular risotto combinations, not even mentioning mushy peas with fish & chips in UK.

I used frozen peas, but next time I will wait for this lovely summer, sweet peas. Under any circumstances do not use tinned peas. It is something completely different story. (inedible for me)

2 smoked rainbow trout fillets, roughly chopped, skin off
400ml peas, defrosted slowly in a sieve
half lemon juice
handful of fresh mint (optionally few extra leaves for garnishing)
tsp fresh thyme, leaves picked (I used lemon thyme)
few tbsp mild olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Place all the above in a food processor and whiz until smooth or up to your taste. I served it with toasted wheat - rye bread slices and garnished with some fresh leaves.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Red lentil hummus

One, two, three. Two... Hummus today! A different one and some of my memories of classic hummus.

When I was still on a university together with a group of my friends we planned our holiday, on Polish seaside. Two of us tried to get fitted and get rid of some excess of fat so we were biking every night, sweating and burning calories. After one of my sessions I asked my friend if he would like to eat anything. He look puzzled: eating after we managed to burn some calories? I have explained to him that I have an excellent rye wholemeal bread and some hummus, so we will be nice and healthy mealafter our workout. I have been making hummus for many years so at that time I didn't realise that somebody can actually not recognize this dip. He didn't and looked at me like I was trying to poison him. I explained to him that it is a dip made with chickpea. The laughed his head off! He simply though the word chickpea is very funny. Anyway... He had some and enjoyed it, I have to ask him if he still thinks that chickpea is funny word. For sure he is not a hummus virgin anymore.

This hummus is made with red lentils and is as delicious as a chickpea one. Perfect for using some cooked leftovers of lentils.

200g red lentils
juice of two limes
tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chilli
1/4 tsp turmeric
tbsp tahini paste (I used dark one)
3 tbsp groundnut oil

Cook the lentils accordingly to producer's instructions, drain and leave it to cool down.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth.

Store in a fridge in an airtight container. It is better to chill it before serving and it can be quite runny just after whizzing and it has nicer consistency after chilling.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Tuna & sundried tomato pâté

I love pátés and dips. I think my favourite one is hummus that I showed you already, also because I can incorporate different extra ingredients to the basic recipe and develop so many different flavours.

In the last few weeks I had some dips and pátés that I like very much and make them quite often, sometimes I change herbs and spices and discover new versions of old favourites.

One, two, three. Today the first one.

185g tinned sustainable tuna (preferably steaks)
2-3 tbsp olive oil (optional, no need of oil if you use tuna in oil)
handful of fresh parsley
6-8 sundried tomato halves (dry or in oil)
level tsp of tomato pure
tsp of lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground chilli
some freshly ground black pepper

I used dried tomatoes so I soaked them in hot water until softened. They are quite salty so I didn't need extra salt.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

THANK YOU! Five or less ingredients #5

First of all I would like to thank you all who voted for my recipe in Best Cabbage Recipe competition. My cabbage & mushrooms pasties won and I have £200 to spend in any UK restaurant of my choice. I decided to dine at The Kitchin, awarded one Michelin star in 2007. Currently I am awaiting a confirmation as the when I can book a table. I do not know if I have to say how happy I am; again I would love to thank you all - you have gave me a perfect gift for my upcoming birthday. Obviously I will write about the whole experience on my blog.


Previously in this series:

#1 Series rules and pork stir fry in caramel sauce

#2 Salmon baked with fennel and black olives

#3 Tagliatelle with courgettes & sun blushed tomatoes

#4 Avocado & blue cheese bites

Today we are back to Five or less ingredients series. Accordingly to series rules (that you can find in the first post of this series) I have excluded salt and pepper from the list of ingredients. I have seen similar recipe in one of the recent Good Food magazine, however I did not have all of the ingredients and I realised that tart that I have made actually fits in this series. You can fit 4 eggs in, I made it with 2 and served 2, for lunch.

Spinach and egg tart

serves 2-4

400g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 tsp olive oil (I used garlic infused)
some freshly grated nutmeg
375 rolled puff pastry
2-4 eggs
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C (fan).

Place the rolled puff pastry on a baking tray lined with baking paper and fold it's edges onto itself making a kind of overlap, about 1.5cm wide. Cover the edges with pieces of kitchen foil and pierce middle of the pastry with fork few times. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

Fry the spinach in the oil until wilted. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove the pastry from the oven, uncover the edges and beat the middle with a wooden spoon if it puffed too much. Transfer the spinach onto the pastry leaving some space for eggs. Crack one egg in each space, season with salt, pepper and bake for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, divide into portions and serve immediately.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Coffee & brandy crème brûlée

Do you remember “Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain”? When I saw this film I felt incredibly happy that there is actually someone who likes to put the whole hands in a bag full of pulses, but also the crème brûlée scene put a big smile on my face.

I adore this dessert, mainly because of its crunchy topping. If I could only give you an example of the sound it makes when I pierce it with a spoon! I love the smell of burned sugar and it makes my mouth water but also this lovely creamy centre that melts in my mouth and makes a good contrast to this sweet – bitter topping. For me it is perfection!

So far I was very careful with experimenting with this classic dessert and I only made lemon or lime version, but now I decided to go little bit further and try something new.

The result was very good, especially for coffee lovers, for me – I think the classic vanilla one is still the best one; however I found it very tasty. Next time I will swap instant coffee for a strong espresso and use Demerara sugar.

I have adapted a recipe from "Crème brûlée" by Lou Seibert Pappas – used more brandy, less coffee and golden caster sugar.

Serves 6

3 tsp instant coffee
2 tbsp hot water
500ml double cream
6 large egg yolks
about 150ml golden caster sugar + some more to sprinkle on top
4 tbsp brandy

Heat the oven to 140 C.

Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and mix with brandy and then with cream.

In a separate bowl whisk the sugar with egg yolks until pale and fluffy.

Add the cream with coffee and brandy to the egg yolks and sugar and mix well.

Pour the mixture in 6 ramekins and place them in an ovenproof dish. Fill the dish with hot water, so the ramekins are halfway in water. Bake for about 35 minutes, they should still be bit wobbly in the middle.

Remove from the oven, leave it to cool down and then cool in a fridge for at least 2 hours, up to 2 days.

Before serving sprinkle with little sugar and burn it using a blowtorch.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ground turkey curry

Or don't judge a book by its cover...

Basically food is like the men. It can be good looking, but after a while you discover there is nothing exciting underneath this beauty cover. Food wise you can get those lovely looking, modern dishes finished with champagne foam and liquid nitrogen but the taste is not there.

On the other hand with not very handsome man you can get a whole bunch of virtues that were not so obvious from a first sight. Again with food, some dishes not particularly good looking can be extremely tasty.

The reason I am writing this is that I want to prepare you for a not good looking dish. However if you give it a chance you will not regret.

I have found many recipes for Murgh Keema (ground chicken curry) and adapted them to my taste. Also I used ground turkey instead.

Serves 2-3

500g ground turkey
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2-3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, peeled
1 fresh green chilli (deseeded for less heat, or with seeds for little bit more spice)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
tsp of turmeric
half tsp ground coriander
150ml thick natural yoghurt (I used TOTAL and I think it is the best one)
200ml chopped tinned tomatoes
approx. 250ml frozen peas
big handful of fresh coriander (leaver to top up the dish, stalks for more flavour)
about 100ml of water

Heat the oil in a big pan. Meanwhile I chopped chilli, garlic, ginger, onion and coriander stalks in mini chopper - I had coarse paste. Stir-fry it in the hot oil over a high heat for about one minute. Next add turmeric and coriander and fry another 30 seconds.

Next add the meat and fry, dividing big lumps with a wooden spoon, until slightly browned. Next add potatoes, about 100ml water, generous shake of salt, mix well, cover, turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes. Next add peas, tomatoes and yoghurt mixed with little salt. Mix well, cover and simmer for further 5 minutes. Yoghurt may curdle a little bit - it really depends on the brand.

Serve in the bowls, garnished with some fresh coriander. You can chop some coriander and generously sprinkle the dish.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cod curry & Fish Fight

Beginning of this year there was a series on Channel 4 called the Big Fish Fight. Channel 4's top chefs: Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Arthur Potts Dawson joined the forces in the Big Fish Fight championing sustainable seafood and celebrating lesser known delicacies of the deep.

Hugh, the actual founder of this campaign (supported by many people and organisations such as Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund) spent quite a lot time travelling around the UK and meeting fishermen marine conservationists, politicians, supermarkets bosses, and of course fish-eating members of the public and it really changed the way he thinks about fish now.

This campaign changed my way of thinking about fish. I simply did not realise that around 40-60% of the fish caught by fishermen in the North Sea are unnecessarily thrown back into the ocean dead. Many different fish live together, fishermen cannot control the species that they catch and all those dead fish dramatically change the natural balance in the sea. Many of these are very tasty, but unfortunately unfashionable. Those chefs shown how to cook delicious fish dishes using less popular types of fish. This is how we, consumers can help to prevent their discard - by rediscovering our taste for them and diversifying our fish eating habits.

Today I will show you fish curry using yes! quite popular cod, however this campaign made me pay more attention to the fish that I buy. I read the labels carefully or ask fishmonger if fish I buy comes from sustainable source. Trying to choose fish from a certified sustainable fishery is another way to support Fish Fight - so check out label for a certificate of the Marine Stewardship Council. This guarantees that the fish you are eating was caught or farmed to a high standard.

This recipe was improvised by me based upon a knowledge about other curries that I cooked in the past. Most of my Indian recipes come from "The food of India. A journey for food lovers". I have made it in the past with salmon and monkfish, however any meaty fish should be fine. I will definitely try it with less popular fish recommended on Hugh's website.

Serves 2-3

about 400-500g cod, fillet, skin off, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
tsp ground coriander
tsp ground cumin
tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm), peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
about 200ml chopped tinned tomatoes
about 400ml coconut milk

To serve:

rice (basmati or jasmine)
fresh chopped coriander or spring onion
quartered lime (optional)

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, but not browned. Add all the spices, mix well and fry another minute. Next add chilli, ginger and garlic and fry for another minute or so, stirring.

Next add tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan, stir well and bring it to boil. Turn heat down to simmer, add fish chunks sprinkled with little salt, cover and simmer for about 7 minutes. Stir gently half way through.

Serve with rice sprinkled with chopped spring onion (or coriander) and lime wedges.