Friday, 29 July 2011

Celery, orange & mackerel salad

Today another Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe. I like to watch this Eton College graduate, who talks perfect English. I find his recipes easy to follow and I am always very pleased with the result. It was the same this time when I tried this unusual salad. He made it in "River Cottage" TV series for somebody who hates celery sticks, to convince fussy eater that celery can be quite pleasant. I do not have any problems with this veg, but I found this recipe quite unusual and intriguing. It is very easy and quick to make although very good looking and tasty.

I highly recommend it and say good bye for few weeks. We are off for holiday, this year my dream about seeing Rome and Lazio region will finally come true. Lot of history, ancient monuments, beautiful nature and without any doubt - marvellous food are waiting for my partner and I.

So enjoy the salad, take care and I talk to you in few weeks!

Serves 2

2 smoked mackerel fillets, skinned and boned, torn into chunks
2 oranges, peeled and segmented, juice saved for the dressing
4-6 celery sticks, chopped into bite size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
celery salt

For the dressing mix the orange juice with pepper and salt, ser aside. Arrange celery, oranges and mackerel together in a serving dish and drizzle with the dressing. Serve immediately. You can also serve it warm with freshly fried mackerel fillets on the top instead of smoked one.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Spiced plum chutney

I trusted Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his recipe published in The Guardian , but I forgot to buy the apples. I hope you can trust me and mine slightly changed recipe for spiced plum chutney. It tasted good when still hot, but I like quite sour, vinegar taste. It will fully develop it's flavour after 2-3 months maturing.

Due to the lack of apples that contain a lot of pectin, I used liquid pectin (Certo) and changed some quantities.   I am not sure which variety of plums I used, as there was not information on the market and I forgot to ask. I am going to make some more of this chutney later on this summer, with August ad September varieties, such as damsons or similar. 

Makes 6 jars, about 200ml each 

1.1 kg plums, quartered and stoned
300g onions, peeled and diced
180g stoned prunes, roughly chopped
fresh root ginger thumb size, peeled and finely chopped
400g soft dark brown sugar
400ml vinegar (I used some malt and some red wine vinegar)
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed
about 70g of liquid pectin

Place all the above except the pectin in heave based pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, especially be careful with last 30 minutes, when chutney gets sticky and tends to burn. Then remove from the heat and stir in the pectin.

Place hot chutney in the sterilised jars, seal and turn up side down and leave them to cool down. You can pasteurise it of you wish to keep it for longer than 6-9 months. Our chutney will disappear before end of this year. Allow to mature for about 2-3 months.  

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Chorizo & peas tortilla

Spain vs. Italy or tortilla vs. frittata. I used to wonder what the difference between those two is. I think I have figured that out – tortilla is always made with potatoes, and frittata can contain various ingredients and/or potatoes. Also tortilla seems to be thicker than frittata and made using olive oil, whether the frittata can be made with butter. I am pretty sure that some well skilled chefs would point out much more differences however there is one thing common for those two: that contain eggs and are kind of omelets. I love them both, because they are easy and quick to make, nice hot or cold, so are suitable for the picnics and you can use any leftovers to make them. 

Serves 2-4

4 eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 new potatoes, cooked in skins, peeled and sliced, or any leftover potatoes, sliced or diced
red onion, peeled and sliced
few slices of chorizo sausage
about 200ml of fresh peas, or frozen one, slowly defrosted
3 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
some rocket to garnish (optionally)

Heat the oven to 200C (fan)

Use the frying pan that you can place in the hot oven (no plastic elements, I used 25cm) and heat on the hob. Add olive oil and onion and fry until onion is softened. Next add one layer of potatoes, place the chorizo onto the potatoes, then sprinkle with peas and cover with the remaining potatoes.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes. Fry for about 3 minutes and place in the hot oven. Bake until the top is golden and firm. Remove from the oven, cover with chopping board and turn upside down. The tortilla should easily come out of the pan.

Divide into portions, serve hot or cold garnished with some fresh herbs or rocket. It goes well with some light salad on the side.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Raw courgette & olive salad

As a bloger and person who was quite active on culinary forums I have made few new friendships and weather they stayed purely virtual or became friendships in real life, we tend to exchange some goods. Sometimes I send some British specialities abroad, and in exchange I get some nice things: handmade jewellery, real Italian olive oil, even some people that do not know me personally would (and in a fact they had!) have me for a dinner.

Today a recipe from a book that I was given by one of those lovely people who I mentioned above. The original one have fresh oregano, I swapped it for fresh mint.

Serves 2

2 small firm courgettes, sliced into thin strips
handful of black, pitted olives, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Mix the olive oil with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Marinate courgette strips in this dressing for about 10 minutes, the longer you marinate the courgettes the more tender they get. Mix with the olives and mint and serve garnished with some more fresh mint.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sweet & sour bread salad

Anchovies and bread. Not too much, huh? Yes it may seem a little, but it was enough to take an ordinary vegetable salad to new, exciting level. Perhaps I should start form the beginning…

When I first saw “Two Greedy Italians” series and then I read the book I paid a special attention to  he dishes coming from la cucina povera, created by the poverty. They are simple, seasonal, using locally sourced ingredients, quite often using bread (stale, so it did not go to waste), as it was relatively cheap and widely available. It also feels up easily. One of the classic dishes of la cucina povera is panzanella - a salad made from stale bread, tomatoes, oil and vinegar. Sometimes people add some basil and onion, however less is more in this case.

In the book I have found a recipe for a salad inspired by classic panzanella. Contaldo used more vegetables and made this sweet and sour twist on this classic dish. I have fallen in love when I saw this on TV, but the outcome was even better that I would have ever expected. Lets be honest – with this number of ingredients it is not longer la cucina povera, but you have to admit the influence is quite strong.

The original recipe used double baked bread called frasella (or freselle, frisedde, fresedde, frise). If you do not have it you can use decent country style, sourdough bread, that you have to bake or toast.


Serves 2

1 small carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks (julienne)
2 pieces of  celery, as above
50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 anchovy fillets
1 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
½ red pepper, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks (julienne)
½ yellow pepper, as above
½ aubergine,as above
1 small courgette, as above
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only ( I used lemon thyme)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
piece of country bread, toasted
handful basil leaves

Blanch the carrot and celery strips in a pan of boiling salted water for three minutes. Drain, place in cool water for few minutes, to prevent further cooking, drain again and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large lidded frying pan and stir in the anchovies. Cook until they have almost dissolved into the oil. Add the shallot and garlic and fry until softened.

Add the peppers, aubergine and courgette strips and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then stir in the thyme leaves, sugar and vinegar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Carefully add the blanched carrot and celery to the pan and cook for five minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Break the country bread slices into bite-sized pieces and arrange half of the bread on a plate. Top with the vegetables, scatter over the basil leaves, the remaning bread and drizzle with a little oil. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Gooseberry chutney

I always show you recipes for dishes that I cooked myself and tasted so I can without shadow of a doubt recommend to you. Today it will be different, I am taking a bit of risk. I have made this chutney based on ingredients of Waitrose gooseberry chutney and various recipes I have found on-line, but I have improvised little bit.

I liked this chutney even when hot, even with this strong vinegar taste, which I am sure will disappear and develop into something else within a time. However I cannot be sure of the final outcome because it was the first time I have made gooseberry chutney. I did not want to wait until next year, so today here it is! Perhaps you will trust my senses and decide to make this or similar chutney this season. I hope it will be worth waiting, I cannot wait to have it with chunk o cheese.

Makes 2½ jars, 190ml each

400g gooseberry, topped and tailed
1 large onion, peeled and diced
handful of sultanas
150g soft brown sugar
180ml malt vinegar
tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
tsp mustard seeds

Place all of the above in heavy based pan and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 1.5 hrs. Occasionally stir, gently so you do not break up gooseberries too much. Keep an eye on it on last 15 minutes, stirring more often, so it prevents the chutney to catch and burn.

Place hot chutney in sterilised jars, seal and turn up side down. Leave it to cool down and store in cool, dark place. Allow to mature for about 2 months.

Tasting about September time. Keep you fingers crossed!

EDIT: It tastes great! I definitely will prepare more next year.