Friday, 21 September 2012

I'll be here...

.. when I am gone. 

Be good, spoil yourself, eat well and please come back at the beginning of October.


I will have limited (if any) Internet access so your comments may appear with a delay and I will respond to them when I come back.

I am off to Cornwall. Take care of yourself!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Apricots, Earl Grey & mascarpone

It is time for a dessert from my new cookbook. Simplicity of many dishes really took me over but quite unexpectedly the desserts really won my heart too. And as I mentioned few times - I am not a really dessert person. I like to eat them, but not a big fan of making sweets. I have few recipes that I stick to and don't experiment a lot. This time it was completely different and I can tell you now this is not the last dessert from "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)" on this blog. I am absolutely in love with this one and cannot wait to try some more fruity puddings soon.

Serves 6

250g organic dried apricots
500ml hot Earl Grey  tea
200g mascarpone 
20g icing sugar (or to taste)
splash of double cream (optional)

Place the apricots in a container and cover with hot tea. Leave it to cool down, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight. 

Next drain the liquid into a pan and boil until reduced by half and syrupy. When still warm pour over the apricots, leave it to cool down, cover and place in the fridge for another few hours, or up to two days. (each time I left apricots in the fridge for about 16-18 hours).

Beat the mascarpone with the sugar using hand miser or balloon whisk and if it gets too stiff add splash of cream or some Earl Grey syrup to loose it up.

Serve apricots with syrup and a dollop of mascarpone.

Swaps? Extras? Use dried figs, sultanas or prunes instead or as a mix.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Beetroot, smoked mackerel & horseradish pizza

This is probably the most bizarre pizza I came across (well, not mentioning some of American inventions I guess..). I am a big fan of minimalistic pizza with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella, so I don't call myself a pizza toppings expert. I hate when pizza is overloaded with ingredients, especially cheese. 

This is also one of the best pizzas I ever made and ate. I mean the topping as well as the base. 

Recipe comes from "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)" and to be honest it was on my mind constantly for last two weeks. First I though: "What a bizarre mix of ingredients in general and especially on a pizza" , but then second thought:

" What's not to like? Beets? Good! Mackerel? Good! Horseradish? Good!” 
(do you remember this scene from "Friends", in which Rachel prepared a dessert with beef?)

Anyway this combination is perfect. Beets &horseradish – delicious. Smoked mackerel & horseradish - delicious. These three work brilliantly in one dish.

What is the most bizarre pizza you have ever eaten?

3 medium pizzas


250g plain flour
250g white strong bread flour
1 level tsp of salt  
1 tsp instant yeast 
1 tbsp olive oil 
about 300ml water (or how much flour will take – different types of flour take different amount of water)


1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish 
3 tbsp plain yoghurt  
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper 

2 medium beetroots, unpeeled
2 fillets of smoked mackerel
2 shallots (I used French, if you go for English ones double the amount, as they are much smaller)
a splash of olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Firstly prepare the dough. Mix both flours together and add the salt, yeast and olive oil. Next little by little add the water and mix either with your hands or with a mixer. You need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, it could be sticky at first but it will become more elastic during the kneading. Then place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it until doubled in size.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Mix horseradish, yoghurt, lemon juice and mix and then season with some salt and pepper. Set aside and prepare the topping.

Heat the oven to 180 C, place beets in oven proof dish, drizzle with little olive oil and roast until soft. Knife should go in easily when they're ready. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool down. Then peel and slice.

Remove the skin from the mackerel and fake it with your fingers to bite size pieces.

Peel and slice the shallots (not too thinly, I cut them too thinly and some of them were burnt, still tasty though!). Place in a bowl, drizzle with little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss it, until covered with oil.

Heat the oven to 250 C (or at least 220 C) with a pizza stone or a baking tray.

When dough is ready remove it from the bowl onto a floured worktop and gently press with yours hands. Divide into three parts and again press each to flatten them a bit. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. Then place one piece onto a tray or pizza shovel and roll thinly.

Place one third of the sliced beets onto prepared base, as well as mackerel and top with shallot rings. Drizzle with little more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide the pizza onto a hot tray or stone and bake until crisp and golden. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping.

Divide into portions and serve with the horseradish sauce.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Peas, broad bean & leek soup with spicy croutons

Ages ago (well, in 2008) I have found very interesting recipe for peas and leek soup by British chef, author of several cook books and boss of the cookery school, well know from BBC programs Lesley Waters  (a former Head Master in Leith's Cookery School). Since then I have been making this soup on a regular basis, it became one of my favourite soups, however over the years I have modified the recipe slightly. Also this time I used bread beans, as I have a surplus from my garden and I know it seems a bit late for fresh peas and broad beans  but believe me or not last Wednesday I picked probably the last peas this year and quite a lot of broad beans are still remaining in my garden... However this soup is also delicious when made with frozen peas, and frozen broad beans are available in UK all year round (anyway these are only optional for this soup; most of the time I make it with peas and leek only). By the way, frozen peas is one of few frozen vegetables that taste as good as fresh. I always have a bag in my freezer. If you use frozen peas make sure it goes to the pan not last minute, but at the end of frying the leeks, just before adding hot stock.

Serves 2-4

4 tbsp olive oil 
2 small leeks, white and light green part, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped 
about 250ml fresh peas, podded
about 200ml fresh broad beans, podded
about 1 l vegetable stock, hot 
2-4 slices of stale bread, cubed
chilli powder or cayenne pepper  
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C. Place cubed bread on a baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with chilli or cayenne. Place in the oven and bake until crispy and golden. 

Heat the remaining oil in a pan, add leeks and fry until slightly browned, then add garlic and fry for one minute or so. Add hot stock, bring to the boil, low down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the peas and broad beans. If you prefer to skin broad beans then you have to blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, peel and put the peeled broad beans to the soup just for last 3 minutes.

Before serving season with salt and pepper (that depends on your stock flavours) and serve with spicy croutons.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

My subjective guide to culinary books, part 4

I think it is right time for me to share with you my views on my new cook book. I showed you few recipes and to be honest I was planning to publish another two this week, but unfortunately it looks like I manage to cook them this weekend at the earliest, so I thought I publish the review first. Perhaps some of you who have seen some of the recipes from this book posted on my blog already decided to buy this book. For some of you this review could be helpful.


This is the most recent book by one of my favourite foodies Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Three good things on a plate – does this sound trivially? Don't take this as three ingredient cookbook, this is slightly different. Hugh simply used a formula of putting three things in one dish, things that have different flavours, consistency, texture and created over 175 easy to follow recipes. You don't need some fancy ingredients, make sure they are at their best, also no need of spending much time preparing the dishes or any special techniques. Recipes most of the time use quite humble ingredients. Hugh has experimented for years so he knows what works together and what not necessarily should not be mixed on one plate. Take advantage of his knowledge!

There is so much more in this book than some of the classic combinations that may sound very obvious, everybody knows fish, chips and mushy peas, sharp fruit, crumble and vanilla sauce, crusty bread with melted cheese and salty ham or chocolate cake with salted caramel. Sweet, salty, crunchy. Sharp, rich, crumbly. Number three seems to be mystical also in cooking.

Book is divided into several sections: salads, starters & soups, snacks & sides, vegetable trios, fish & two friends, meat & veg, pasta, rice & company, fruity threesomes, triple treats. Hugh gives you not only the exact easy to follow short recipes in which three ingredients are the key and work incredibly well together, but also he suggests swaps or extra ingredients to build up the recipe. For somebody who likes a bit of experimenting this is ideal!

Hugh also says that this is cooking and there is a room for experimenting, adding a light touch and a sense of fun. He suggest that readers if they wish so should experiment and swap i.e. one crunchy veg for other but this principles may not always work. Here is a room for reader's improvisation.

If you are unsure how to improvise there are still exact, great recipes for you and perhaps this book will be next big step for you and soon you will be challenging yourself to become more experimental?

Apart from the above this book is very pleasant to look at, as most of the Bloomsbury's books I remember. Food photos are quite simple, not over styled, rustic I would say, Simon Wheeler who worked with Hugh before (also with Heston Blumenthal) did fantastic job. Also there are stunning illustrations by Mariko Jesse, whose work you may remember from Hugh's "River Cottage Everyday"

If you haven't seen dishes from this book I had pleasure to cook and even more pleasure to eat, please have a look:

If you still need some more examples of recipes you can find in this book, perhaps you should come back here in few days and check out a recipe for dessert and the most bizarre pizza I have ever seen.

"Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)"

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (August 2012)

Harcover, 416 pages

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Soup. Roast tomatoes, onion & pearl barley

I still go through my new cook book and even I had different culinary plans for this month for the last two weeks I have been writing my shopping lists with this book in my other hand. And to be honest - I don't mind this at all!

I already showed you some salads, breakfasts and now I think there is a good time for something warm and hearty, for example a soup. With minimum ingredients, little effort but maximum flavour and satisfaction.

Hugh recommends good chicken or beef stock, I had homemade vegetable stock and I would not swap it for meaty stock, but this is my personal choice. You can also use ready made passata (fresh tomato puree) but in my opinion passata made with roasted tomatoes it absolutely the best and it is well worth making an effort of preparing it. I made mine night before as well as the stock, so next day preparing this soup took me about 30 minutes.

Swaps? Use spelt or short grain rice instead of pearl barley. However for me the barley is what makes this soup special. 

Plus one? Add some Parmesan shaving on the top just before serving. 

Dinneeeeeeeeer's reaaaady!

Serves 4

2kg ripe tomatoes, halved
5-6 tbsp olive oil 
few springs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
750ml vegetable stock, hot
150g pearl barley, rinsed
1 large onion, peeled and diced 
freshly ground black pepper
some extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (optionally)

Heat the oven to 180C.

Place halved tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with chopped garlic, add bay leaves, thyme springs and drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for about an hour. Tomatoes should be soft, little wrinkly and start to caramelise on the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Them place in the sieve and using a ladle press all the juices. There should be only skins and peeps left on the sieve and you should get around 500-700ml of passata. 

In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil and fry the onion for about 10 minutes, over a low heat until softened. Next add the barley and mix until covered in fat. Add hot stock, passata and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked. 

Divide between serving plates/bowls and before serving drizzle with some extra olive oil. Serve with a piece of good bread.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Breakfast. Eggs, tomatoes, bread.

Good morning!

Eggs are such a classic thing for breakfast, aren't they? Bread first thing in the morning isn't something unusual too. Still this dish left me speechless. Yes, another recipe from my new cook book. Enjoy this lovely breakfast.

Serves 2

250g ripe tomatoes (cherry or regular ones)
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 slices of your favourite bread 
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C. 

Line a baking tray with some baking paper. 

If you are using large tomatoes, cut them into wedges. I cut mine into halves and then each half into 3 pieces. If using cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half. Place onto a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until they soften and start to caramelised on the edges.

Meanwhile tear or cut the bread into bite size pieces, place in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Set aside.

After about 20 minutes remove the tomatoes from the oven and add the bread chunks. Return to the oven for about 7 minutes, until the bread starts to turn golden and crisp.

Then remove the dish from the oven and using a spatula or spoon form 2 hollows in amongst the tomatoes and bread. Break an egg into each hollow and return to the oven for max. 5 minutes. Whites should be set, but yolks still runny.

Remove from the oven, grind some salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Plus one? Add roughly torn chunks of mozzarella at the same time as eggs, letting them melt into the bread.

Enjoy it and have a lovely day!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Beetroot, apple, pecans

I look at this plate and see Autumn. It looks like somebody just painted this plate with these lovely colours. I love the way this dish looks and how it tastes. I ate all of this, even this was enough to feed two for a starter or a snack. Even I am not allowed to have mustard, vinegar and really shouldn't eat too much raw apples. But you know what? It was bloody worth it and tomorrow (ups!) I am going to do it again.

This is another recipe from a book I was talking a lot recently and review is still to come.

Raw beetroot has an earthy taste and smell, almost peat like. Fresh apple perfectly cuts this earthiness and on the top there are crunchy nuts. Add a splash of good dressing and you have the perfect trio.

Hugh's tips:

Extra one? Add some Cheddar cheese.
Extra two? Serve it on a bed of crispy lettuce (or other leaves).
Swaps? Use firm pear instead of apple and/or walnuts instead of pecans. This would go lovely with blue cheeses instead of Cheddar.

My tip: walnut oil will make lovely dressing too!

How would I possibly not love this book?

Serves 2-4

2 firm, sweet apples
2 medium beetroots
100g pecan nuts
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Again it would be helpful if you have a mandoline. 

Quarter the apples and get rid of the cores. Then slice into thin slices and place in a bowl.

Peel and quarter beetroots and slice into thin slices. Place in the bowl with the apples.

Dry roast pecans in the hot pan until slightly browned, but not burnt.

Mix mustard, olive oil and vinegar with a pinch of salt and some pepper. Pour over the vegetables, mix gently and divide between serving plates.

Sprinkle with some pecans and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cauliflower, tomatoes, capers

This is the second dish I tried from my new book "Hugh's Three Good Things" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Think: crunchy cauliflower, sweet tomatoes and sour sharp capers. Optionally some parsley. In my humble opinion one thing must go with this salad: crusty bread to wipe off those delicious juices. Another quick one before I publish book review. 

I didn't follow the exact quantities and also following Hugh's general guidelines from this book (about extras, swaps etc) I would recommend  you swapping blanched cauliflower for raw one and decide which one you like better. I equally like both.

Serves 2

1 small cauliflower, trimmed into florets 
3 medium ripe tomatoes 
40g salted capers, rinsed 
olive oil 
half lemon juice 
freshly ground black pepper 
some chopped parsley (optionally)
good quality bread for serving 

I prefer to skin tomatoes, but I can skip this stage. Place tomatoes in a bowl and cover with hot water. After about 5 minutes drain and remove the skin. Quarter, remove the flesh with the seeds and hard ends then chop to your liking. 

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for about 2 minutes, then immediately drain and put into a bowl with icy water - this will stop them from cooking. Leave to cool down completely and drain. Place in a bowl. 

Add tomatoes and capers to the cauliflower, add a good splash of olive oil, lemon juice, little salt and some pepper. Toss and leave to macerate in cold room temperature, for at least 1 hour, preferably for 3 hours. 

Serve sprinkled with some parsley and with some toasted bread. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sourdough bread, olive oil, honey

I have a feeling not many of you have tried this combination, even I am sure most of you have all the ingredients at home all the time.

On Tuesday I have received bran new book called "Hugh's Three Good Things" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I am going to write a review shortly, but first let me show you few recipes from this book that I have already tried. 

This was my Saturday's breakfast. Crunchy, sweet, salty and little bit sour.

few slices of good quality bread (preferably sourdough, I used wheat sourdough with a hint of rosemary)
good quality extra virgin olive oil (I used olive oil from Ginestra, with low acidity and scent of artichokes)
coarse sea salt or flaked salt

Toast or grill bread to your liking.

Drizzle fairly generously with olive oil and leave for a minute to soak in.

Sprinkle with some salt.

Drizzle with some honey.

That's it. So little and so much. I died and found myself in heaven.

Hope you'll enjoy it, have a lovely Sunday!