Monday, 24 December 2012

Season's Greetings

With very best wishes for festive season and 

the New Year to my dearest readers. 

With love,


I can't promise new posts before January 2013, because I really feel like not doing anything but reading some books in the front of my fireplace during this short break, but what I can promise is that you will have more reasons to come back to this blog in new year - I am planning on improving the look of this blog and hope to cook even better dishes!

All the best! :)

Friday, 21 December 2012

Candied orange peel in dark chocolate - Christmas gifts vol. 9

makes about 4-5 sets 

4 large oranges
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
about 300-400g dark chocolate

Wash the oranges and using small knife divide the peel into four quarters then remove the peel gently. Place on the chopping board and flatten each one with your hand. Remove the white part using sharp knife in the same way as filleting and skinning a fish. Discard the white part - it is quite bitter and cut the orange peel into the stripes about 1 cm wide.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the orange peel. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then drain and leave it to dry little bit.

Add 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar and ginger to the pan and bring to the boil, then add the orange peel and lower the heat then simmer until most of the fluid is almost gone and peel is nearly translucent. It took me about 75 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool down a bit then remove the orange peel from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool down completely. I left it overnight.

Next gently melt the chocolate in bain marie - in a bowl placed in a pan over simmering water. With a help of two forks dip each strip of orange peel in the chocolate and place onto a baking paper to set. It took only 5 minutes in my cold kitchen. Next divide bags or tins. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Brussels sprouts puree

Have to say I am still in love with "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)". I have a feeling this is probably my first cookery book from which I will use every single recipe. It will take some time but I will eventually. This is a recipe for brussels sprouts puree that goes really nicely with black pudding and bacon - I tried the exact recipe from the book and it is fantastic. I have also tried it with some roast pork and potatoes and this is a lovely take on a side veg. If you are brussels sprouts lover you will also enjoy it on a toasted bread or straight from a food processor - like I do.

I have good news for those who are not fans of the bitterness typical for this vegetable - this puree is quite sweet, I recon due to the onions and cream and tastes almost like a pea puree.      

Serves 2-3 

250g brussels sprouts
25g butter
1 medium onion or 2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
50ml double cream
freshly ground black pepper

Trim the sprouts and crisscross on the bottom - this will help to cook them more evenly and quicker.

Heat the butter in the pan and fry the onions for about 10 minutes over a low heat - until soft but not browned. Add the garlic for the last 2 minutes of frying. Then place in a food processor.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add some salt and boil the sprouts until tender then drain and place into the food processor.

Add the cream, little salt, some freshly ground black pepper and puree. I like it quite coarse, but you can make it smooth.

It is suitable for reheating in a non stick pan, but unfortunately it looses its colour.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Marinated beetroot carpaccio with rocket & horseradish mackerel

Beets & horseradish.

Horseradish & mackerel.

Beetroot, horseradish & mackerel.

I know perfectly well this lovely combination and have to say this is one of my favourite ever, so this time I am presenting an elegant starter using this well known combination of flavours. I served it recently for a supper to our friend who really enjoyed this combination and mentioned that probably most of the local farmers would be very unhappy if I served them raw beets. These in a fact are marinated, crunchy and zingy as ever. By marinating they loose some of their earthiness, that some people find unattractive.


serves 4

4-5 medium beetroots, peeled and sliced into very thin slices
4 tbsp of red wine vinegar
8 tbsp olive oil
2 level tbsp sugar
200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed, flaked into chunks
3 tbsp of freshly grated horseradish
juice of one small lemon
freshly ground black pepper
4 small handfuls of rocket
little poppy seeds

Place the vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, sugar and little slat in an airtight container. Add the sliced beetroots, cover and leave it in a cool place for minimum 12 hours, preferably 24 hours. Shake the box every few hours so the beets are getting marinated evenly. 

In a second box mix the remaining olive oil, horseradish, lemon juice, some salt and pepper and mix well. Next add mackerel pieces, mix gently so you don't break up fish too much and cover. Leave it in a cool place for minimum 12 hours, preferably 24 hours.

Before serving remove bring it to the room temperature - I kept them in warm kitchen for about 1 hours before serving.

Drain the beets from the marinate and place on the plates in one layer, overlapping. Place small handful of the rocket and some mackerel in the middle. Drizzle with horseradish olive oil left from marinating the fish. If there is not enough left add some extra lemon juice and olive oil into the box and mix well.

Sprinkle with some poppy seeds and serve with good bread.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Shredded brussels sprouts with pancetta & wholegrain mustard

I love, love, love brusells sprouts. And I know many people hates them. Perhaps serving them in a shape that is not similar to their natural one could help some people to overcome their fear of sprouts? This however is very classic combination with a little twist added by me and sprouts flavour is still there. So if you just hate it - sorry I can't help you!

serves 2 

about 250g brussels sprouts
about 60g pancetta, diced 
1 tbsp of sunflower oil (optionally)
¼ level tsp of turmeric
pinch of chilli powder
1 level tsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp of wholegrain mustard
freshly ground black pepper
few drops of lemon juice
5 tbsp of water

Trim the hard ends and shred the sprouts finely using chopping blade in your food processor, or mandoline or just sharp knife.

Place pancetta cubes in a pan and fry until slightly browned. Remove from the pan using slotted spoon and set aside.

If your pancetta was quite lean then you better use little more oil - put 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in the same pan and add the turmeric and chilli - stir fry for about 30 seconds to infuse the oil with aromatic flavours. Next add shredded sprouts, muscovado sugar, water, lemon juice and little salt and pepper. Stir well and keep over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next add the mustard and stir and at the same point you can add pancetta cubes and stir or just sprinkle them on the top of the sprouts in a serving dish.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Roast aubergine & walnut pâté (no garlic!)

I love, love, love aubergine dips and pâtés. Unfortunately all of the recipes I have been through contain garlic and as much as I love garlic I am unable to eat it during the day - I don't want to stink in the office - as simple as that. So this is my take on aubergine pâté without the garlic but still very aromatic and rich. Hope these who don't like garlic or like me can't eat it all day long will find this recipe interesting.   

 makes about 250ml

2 medium - smallish aubergines, halved and sliced into 1cm slices
1 shallot, peeled, halved and sliced
handful of walnuts
handful of fresh parsley
juice of whole lime
1 tsp of tahini paste (I used dark one)
pinch of chilli powder
¼ tsp of turmeric
½ tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of ground coriander
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Place sliced aubergines in a bowl and drizzle with little olive oil, add some salt and pepper. Mix well so the vegetables are covered in oil. Place onto a baking tray or in ovenproof dish and then place in the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, then turn the oven off, open it's door slightly and leave the aubergines to cool down.

Heat the frying pan without any oil and dry roast the walnuts until slightly browned and fragrant. Place in a food processor.

Using the same pan fry the shallots in little olive oil over a low heat until soft, then place in a food processor. 

Now to the food processor add aubergines, shallots, turmeric, parsley, tahini, chilli, coriander, cumin, lime juice and some salt and pepper. Mix and at the same time add little by little olive oil. I like it bit chunky with some aubergine skins still visible and also with pieces of walnuts, but you can make it extra smooth - just mix little but longer and using a spatula scrap down the dip from the food processor as you go.

Season with salt and pepper accordingly to you taste, place in airtight container and place in the fridge, preferably leave it there overnight, or at least couple of hours. This will allow the flavours to mingle.

Serve in room temperature, garnished with some chopped parsley.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Apple & Old Peculier ale winter chutney - Christmas gifts vol. 8

Yes, it is this time of the year already. If you are keen on making your own Xmas gifts for foodies please fell free to see all my posts from my culinary gifts section, as there are some more chutneys (unfortunately seasonal) and different types of shortbread etc.

This year I made my first chutney using one of my favourite ales from local brewery. You can use different ale, preferably strong, dark and with fruity notes like the Old Peculier.

This is an ideal gift for cheese lovers, I can't wait to try it when it will be matured but even hot and straight from a pan it wasn't too vinegary in flavour.

Please have a piece of gauze and string ready - this is needed if you want to infuse the chutney with spices and remove them before putting in the jars - eating whole peppercorns could be rather unpleasant, so please prevent it if you can. 

makes 5 jars, each about 200ml 

1½ kg apples
3 medium white onions
100g  currants
50g sultanas
1 pint of Old Peculier Ale
1½ cup of dark, soft sugar
1 cup of cider vinegar
1 tsp of whole coriander seeds
½ tsp of whole black peppercorns
½ tsp of ground cinnamon 
half star anise
¼ tsp chilli flakes

Place sultanas and currants in a bowl and cover with ale. Leave it to soak for at least 1 hour.

Place coriander seeds, peppercorns in a mortar and crush them slightly. They don't want to be very fine. Place onto a piece of gauze and add chilli flakes, star anise and tie with a piece of string. Set aside.

Peel the core the apples and then dice into about 0.5 cm pieces. Place in a large pan, preferably heavy bottom one. 

Peel the onions and dice into small pieces. Add to the pan with the apples. 

To the pan add the sugar, ground cinnamon, vinegar, remaining ale and soaked currants and sultanas. Add the bag with spices and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 2½ - 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Most of the liquid should evaporate and apples should be very soft. If you wish to have less chunkier chutney use potato masher and roughly mash the chutney after removing the spices in the bag. Or you can leave it as chunky - texture really depends on the variety of apples you are using. 

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 months. To do so place clean kitchen cloth in a pan together with the jars - up side down and cover half way with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Leave it to cool down, remove from a pan, dry and store in dark, cool place.