Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Homemade mayonnaises. Two. Well.. Four.


Shop bought mayonnaise has been getting worst for quite some time. It made me wonder why I don't make my own more often. It is easy to make and the only problem with it is that it has to be consumed within 5-7 days. I suppose it can be a down side of making my own every time I fancy some mayo, but on the other hand I don't buy ready cakes made with dried eggs so why should I compromise on the mayonnaise?

The secret of good mayonnaise are fresh eggs and using ingredients in a room temperature. You have to be also careful with adding the oil - just a drop by drop at the beginning and then little bit more, but still steady!

I remember when I was making my first mayonnaise using a hand balloon whisker. It was this moment when Mike Robinson, BBC chef walked into the kitchen. He was around shooting some program about game in British cuisine and came for a lunch to the pub and restaurant that I use to work in. He liked it so much, that he decided to come back for a dinner the same night. And here he was - standing in a front of my while I was mixing my first mayonnaise. He came to say hello to those who were cooking for him that night. I often wonder if I would die of a heart attack if it was one of Roux brothers (or their sons) walking into that kitchen. They are without a shadow of a doubt the masters of eggs. 

The basic recipe I am going to show you today come from "Eggs" by Roux and what I found very interesting there was also a recipe for a mayonnaise using whites instead of yolks. It is lower in fat but this is not what convinced me to make this version of mayonnaise but the fact that I wasn't leaving any white behind while making classic one. No leftovers - how nice, I thought and I made both. The one made with whites was not as stiff as the classic one, I would say it was fluffier. What a great base to make some flavoured variation! Here they are: two plain and my two flavoured mayonnaises.

Classic mayonnaise 

about 300ml 

2 egg yolks
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
250ml sunflower oil (or other neutral such as grape seed oil)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice (or less/more up to your taste)
freshly ground black pepper

Place egg yolks in a large bowl and add the mustard and some salt and pepper. Using electric hand or stand mixer or just a balloon whisk mix the yolks with the mustard until well mixed. Next add a drop of oil and mix all the time. Add next drop of oil only when the previous one is incorporated into the eggs. Whenthe mixture starts to thicken you may add little bit more oil at time, mixing all the time. When all oil in mixed into the eggs beat vigorously for about 30 seconds until the mayonnaise is shiny. Next add the lemon juice or vinegar and adjust the seasoning.

Refrigerate in a sealed jar and consume within 5-7 days.

Mayonnaise made with whites

about 300ml 

2 egg whites
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
250ml sunflower oil (or other neutral such as grape seed oil)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice (or less/more up to your taste)
freshly ground black pepper

Place egg whites in a large bowl and add the mustard and some salt and pepper. Using electric hand or stand mixer or just a balloon whisk mix the whites with the mustard until well mixed and starts to thicken little bit. Next add a drop of oil and mix all the time. Add next drop of oil only when the previous one is incorporated into the eggs. When the mixture starts to thicken you may add little bit more oil at time, mixing all the time. When all oil in mixed into the whites beat vigorously for about 30 seconds until the mayonnaise is shiny. Next add the lemon juice or vinegar and adjust the seasoning.

Refrigerate in a sealed jar and consume within 5-7 days.


Tarragon mayonnaise

about 150ml

half of the classic mayonnaise made with the recipe above
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped

Mix the tarragon into the mayonnaise and store in a fridge in a jar.

Light mayonnaise with capers and dill

about 150ml

half of the mayonnaise made with whites (recipe above)
1 tsp salted capers, rinsed
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Mix all the above and store in a fridge in a jar.

Both versions will go very well with eggs, meat and fish dishes. The one made with whites is almost like a light cold sauce. 

While I am writing about the eggs. I buy eggs marked 0 or 1 only. Have a look at the photograph below showing you what quality of life had hens. Let them enjoy life while we enjoy their eggs.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Beetroot & parsnip raw salad with pineapple dressing

I mentioned once or twice that I live vegan food very much. I do not get too excited about the whole philosophy of veganism, I do not find eggs or butter substitutes especially in the desserts very tasty. In my kitchen vegan dishes are quite common (most soups!) and when you think about raw salads, veggie side dishes most of them are vegan.  

I have to admit though that I am not very good in making raw salads. I remember eating them a lot as a child, my Mum is very good at making them, I still cannot get them as perfect. Due to the strong memories of the raw salads I ate as a child I decided to go for something completely new.  I found this recipe and I thought it is completely crazy. And this means I have to try it asap!

This recipe comes form excellent book called "Veganomicon. The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook" (Isa Chandra Moscowitz, Terry Hope Romero) and in the future I think I will add a splash of lime juice to the dressing, because I think this would make it even better. I used freshly juiced pineapple, because we do not buy ready juices – we have our own juicer and make juices as we go. I could not see any point in getting ready bought expensive juice (yes, 100% natural are expensive) and not drinking most of it when I only needed little for a dressing, so I bought fresh pineapple and juiced it.  

Enjoy this most freaky crazy (in a good way!) raw salad.

Serves 3-4

2 large parsnips, peeled (about 220g)
5 small beetroots, peeled (about ok. 230g)
1/3 cup of chopped fresh mint


1 cup pineapple juice  
¼ cup red wine vinegar  
1/5 cup of oil (I used rapeseed, originally it was grape oil)
1 tbsp agava syrup or maple syrup
½ tsp salt  
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely grated

To prepare the dressing mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. 

Using a food processor shred the vegetables. You really need to use food processor here, first of all the vegetables will be nicely shredded, it will take one minute only and remember – the beets stain quite a lot so when you shred them using grater your kitchen will end up looking like a shower in “Psycho” film by Hitchcock.

Add the shredded vegetables to the bowl with the dressing and leave them to macerate for about 15 minutes.  

Next add the mint, mix well and chill slightly before serving.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Onion & sage farinata with peperonata

This is one of the recipes I have found in "For the love of Food" by Denis Cotter, one of the most talented vegetarian chefs. I have been looking at some recipes for a long time but only recently I decided to actually make one of them. Some of them are quite complicated, but the dishes look gorgeous. I will try to write a separate post about the book itself some time. 

I read that farinata is Italian street food – a pancake made with chickpea flour with some topping. I have never tried it, so I am would be most happy to read your comments on how the real farinata should be. This is only Denis’ take on this dish. 

I could not find any information how big the pan used for this dish was, so I used my large 28cm pan and doubled the amount of the butter. It came out about 1cm high – so was started in the book with the original quantities, so he must used smaller pan.  

This has very specific favour. Its consistency is similar to polenta, yet it has slightly fermented flavour. You suppose to leave the batter for at least 2 hours, and the longer you will leave it the more sour and yeasty flavour it will get. I left mine for longer than I expected (had to leave home for a while, not planned at all…) so it rested for 18 hours and had very yeasty flavour. It doesn’t bother me, but I can imagine it can put some people off. Next time I will leave it for about 6-8 hours in room temperature.  

It is tasty when warm, but cooled down was still very good; I think this would make lovely finger food when cut into small pieces.  Denis Cotter suggested serving this farinata with peperonata – it was very good indeed! 

For farinata

Serves 2-4 

200g gram flour  
about 500ml water
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt  
2 large, red onions, peeled, halved and sliced  
6 sage leaves

For peperonata

2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 large red bell peppers, deseeded and sliced into 1cm strips  
20 black olives, pitted, halved
2 tsp salted capers, rinsed thoroughly under running water 

First prepare the batter. Mix the chickpea flour with water until smooth, cover with a cloth and leave it to rest for at least 2 hours. Next remove the froth on the top and add 2 tbsp olive oil and salt. Mix well and heat the oven to 230C. 

Now prepare the peperonata. Heat the pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Next add the chilli, garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Add the peppers, capers, olives and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Heat the frying pan that you can use in the oven and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Next add the onions and fry over a medium heat until soft. Remove from a pan and set aside. Wipe the pan with some paper towel. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Remove from a pan and set aside. Next add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and when it is hot pour the batter into the pan.  Place immediately in hot oven. 

Check the farinata after about 3-4 minutes – the bottom should be firm already. Then add the onion and crush the sage leaves in your fingers on the top. Put back in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes, I used frill for last 2 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and accordingly to Denis you should be able to slide this pancake onto a chopping board. Well… This seemed impossible with mine, to I turned this upside down onto a chopping board lined with some paper and then again – upside down onto another chopping board. 

Cut into wedges and serve with some warm peperonata on the side.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Beet pickled stuffed eggs (and how to boil hard boiled egg)


I am a huge fan of eggs and egg based meals. What I do not like and run away screaming when I see it is this disgusting grey ring around the yolk. “Can you cook hard boiled eggs?” seems like a silly question to ask yourself, even worst to ask somebody else.  However I found out that you can boil hard boiled egg for too long or too rapidly and it turns out not nice at all. I read Roux brothers and you have to admit the eggs have no secrets for them; I also read some blogs and realised that there are probably two best ways to cook hard boiled egg. 

First. Suitable for those cooking on the hobs. 

Put the eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Add some salt and place on the hob. Bring to the boil and then immediately turn the heat off. Leave on the hob for 10 minutes. As soon 10 minutes go off, place the eggs under cold running water, cover with cold water and let them cool down. 

Second way. 

Place the egg into boiling, salted water and when it starts to boil again, set the timer for 6 minutes. Again, after this time, remove from a hot water, cool down in cold water. 

I prefer first way (longer, but less energy is used). 

So when you have your perfect hard boiled egg you can dress it pink. I love this colour, and idea of pickling eggs seems to be quite popular in UK and USA, however this beet pickled eggs are so much prettier! And they taste nicer. You can obviously make your own brine by cooking some fresh beets in vinegar with spices and sugar, or alternatively you can take a shortcut and use ready brine from shop – bough pickled beets. 

I took shortcut. These eggs are fantastic! They would look gorgeous on Easter table and should be very good as a finger food.

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled  
about 2  cups of brine from pickled beetroots
about 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
about ¼ cup of soft brown sugar
tsp of whole black peppercorns

Mix the brine, vinegar, sugar and peppercorn in a large jar. Lower the eggs into it, seal and keep in the fridge. The longer you will keep them the more intense the colours and pickled flavour will be. You can keep them up to 3 days, I kept mine 14 hours. 

Carefully remove the eggs from a brine and set on a paper kitchen towel. Then cut them in half and scoop out the yolks.

Prepare the filling.

yolks from pickled eggs
1 tbsp of mayonnaise
½ tsp English mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil (I used EV)
2 pinches of chilli powder
1 pinch of turmeric
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the above and working with a fork mash them very finely, until smooth. Place in a piping bag and fill the pickled egg halves.

Sprinkle with some chives before serving.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Mushroom & walnut pâté

Do you think about Easter already? I do. It does have quite strong religious character in Poland and I am not bothered about this, but I always manage to get some time off and this year I will spend this time with my family and friends in Poland. Therefore I look forward Easter and I cannot wait to get on a plane and go back home for few days. 

Today I would like to show you one of the recipes that can be quite useful when you have friends around and want to make light brunch, or just have something to snack. I find many people not knowing what tasty food to prepare when they have vegans or vegetarians for a meal. This is one of these things that will wow anybody, even committed meat eaters.  

I wonder how should I name it, but really a pâté seems to be suitable one (rather than dip).  The recipe below inspired by one from "Veganomicon. The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook" (Isa Chandra Moscowitz, Terry Hope Romero).

Makes about 2 cups 

about 5 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped  
leaves picked from 2-3 springs of fresh thyme
1 tsp of chopped fresh parsley  
about 400g mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used brown)
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 cup of cooked beans (I used cannellini)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar  
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for about 10 minutes until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic, thyme, parsley and fry for about 3 minutes. Next add the mushrooms, season with salt and let them cook until softened. Remove from a heat and set aside. Let them cool down slightly. 

Place the walnuts in a food processor and process until very fine. 

Next add the beans and the mushrooms with all the juices from the pan. Add vinegar, quite a lot of pepper and whiz. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil while whizzing. 

Season with some salt and pepper if required and place the pate in an airtight container. Chill before serving. It tastes so much better next day, when the flavours have chance to mellow.   

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fennel & corriander roast leg of pork and how to make gravy

I absolutely love Sunday roast. This was one of those things I fell in love with when I first came to UK. This dinner just seems perfect to me: selection of roast meat, roast potatoes (preferably in goose or duck fat), veg and gravy. Oh yes, and my favourite bit – Yorkshire pudding that I can use to wipe a plate clean.

Today I show you my favourite roast pork. I think those that I found in the pubs so far were slightly too plain, I like it with a hint of spices and herbs. Sometimes I let myself go on a wild side and have some pork crackling as well (wink, wink!). 100% cholesterol, but sooo tasty!

I have to say I am terrified by the amount of gravy granules or other instant gravy that people buy in supermarkets. There is nothing easier than to make tasty, homemade gravy in no time, while the meat is resting. Is this laziness? Is this lack of knowledge? I don’t know, but it made me prepare a photo tutorial, how to make gravy in few easy steps.

Talking about the lack of knowledge I remember once when we went to one of the local pubs and one of the members of the staff who happened to be Polish warned us that under no circumstances we should go for this dark sauce that it is served with the roast meat, because chef makes it using all burn bits of meat and veg leftovers from roasting. [sic!] Do you find this not funny at all? Then you should definitely read the recipe below and then read this paragraph again. 

I hope you will enjoy it, as much as I enjoyed homemade Sunday roast (I will show all the trimming another time…) 

Serves 6-8

about 1.8 leg of pork, boned and rolled
few tbsp olive oil
1 tsp of fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp of coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp of dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, cut into big chunks (no need to peel, just wash them thoroughly)
2 parsnips, as above
2 pieces of celery, cut into big chunks
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 onions, unpeeled, quartered
bay leaf

Heat the oven to 230 C.

In an ovenproof dish arrange all the veg.

Score the pork skin in about 1cm intervals (unless your butcher did it for you already). Rub in the oil and then all the spices and herbs, as well as salt and pepper. Place the meat on the top pf the veg.

Place in the oven and leave it for about 20-30 minutes until the skin starts to crack. Then turn the heat down to 180 C. If I roast pork with the fat and skin on I roast it for about 20 minutes in hot oven and then turn the heat down and roast it 20 minutes for every 400g of meat. If it has a bone I add extra 20 minutes. Therefore this piece of meat spent 1h 40 minutes in the oven.

Take a look few time and when the veg seem a bit dry or start to burn add little splash of water. (not on the meat)

When ready remove from the oven and set on a chopping board. Remove the string and carefully lift the fat and the skin. Remove the fat and discard, and set the skin on a baking tray. Turn the heat back to 220 C and place it in the oven.

Cover the meat loosely with some tin foil and leave it to rest. Prepare the gravy.

Extras for gravy

2 tbsp plain flour
a good splash of dry sherry, dry white or red wine
about 1l vegetable or chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the gravy first get rid of any excess of fat from a roasting tin. Place it on a hob over a medium heat. Add the four and stir – do not worry if it goes bit clumpy, you will sieve it later. Keep it on the heat and stir for about 1 minute, then add the splash of alcohol (it will evaporate, but you can skip it if you wish to do so, however it gives the gravy an extra flavour) and then warm stock. Stir and let it bubble.

Then using a potato masher press the veg firmly. Try to mash them to get as much flavour as possible out of them. Boil for about 5 minutes.

Next sieve it using a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Season with salt and pepper and let it boil until it thickens to your likeness.  I also add the juices released by the resting meat.

I often add my secret (not anymore, sic!) ingredient – redcurrant or mint jelly (about tsp of it). I did not have it this time, but a pinch of sugar does the trick as well.

In this time meat should be ready for carving and the pork cracking should be nice and crispy. I also prepare veg and potatoes while the meat is roasting. I will write about this another time.     

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Swede oven chips with parmesan

On Saturday we had four seasons in about 2 hours. Lovely warm sun, hailstorm, rain and snow intervals – the weather in Yorkshire made me realise that the spring will not come as soon as I expected. Last night we had a decent frost; grass was solid frozen in the morning. Why do not make yourself a treat while awaiting the spring? Chips sound lovely, but they could make you feel guilty especially when you have to undress little bit when it is warmer. Why not make oven chips? Why not use other veg instead of the good old (yet starchy and not exactly low IG) potato. Please let me introduce my favourite swede chips with some parmesan and cumin. They are perfect as a snack and as a side dish. I have them sometimes instead of potatoes. Enjoy this guilt free comfort food.

Serves 2-3 

1 large swede, peeled and cut into chunky chips (weight about 600g after peeling)
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin  
3 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed oil)  
freshly ground black pepper
heaped tbsp of freshly grated parmesan (pecorino is even better, but I did not have any at the time)

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Place the swede chips in large bowl, add the oil and toss until well covered in oil. Next add the chilli, cumin, some pepper and salt and toss again. They should be covered evenly in the spices.

Place the chips on a baking tray lined with some baking paper, place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes (you have to check the roasting time – smaller chips will take less time to cook). Sprinkle with the parmesan and turn on the grill for last 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.  

Friday, 2 March 2012

Vegetable & chickpea tagine

I don’t know how about you but I can smell the spring in the air. It is getting warmer, the nights are pulling out, I find it much easier to wake up in the morning and go back home with more energy after long day at work when there is still some daylight. New house gives me a lot of energy, even at the beginning it took a lot away from me. Now I am back and running again – cooking our favourite dishes. 

I hope I will have enough time, energy and patience to practice more with my camera, especially now when I have “Plate to Pixel” book that gave a lot of new thoughts and ideas on how to use my camera more efficiently. Again new house helps a lot – it has decent windows and faces south, so I do get much more daylight comparing to the old place. I would recommend this book by Helene Dujardin of the excellent and well known Tartelette blog to anybody who is not a professional photographer and wants to take better photos of food. Food wise I am not so keen on meat recently. I go through my vegan and vegetarian cook books in hope they will inspire me, so yes – there will be more meat free recipes on this blog in next few weeks. It seems like my body needs something else than hearty meat stews that we had quite often this winter, or perhaps I just can’t wait the spring veg and fruit season. 

Today I will serve you a bowl of very aromatic and tasty vegetable… Well… Tagine? To be honest I still do not have this special dish, even my best friend was rather amazed my kitchen is lacking this piece of equipment. Well, it is still on my wish list and I will get it one day.  So I made this Moroccan inspired dish using an ovenproof dish, can I still call it tagine?  Anyway, roasted vegetables are one of my favourite ones, their flavour and aroma is so intensified by roasting they amaze me every time I eat them. Spiced up by some aromatic spices are even better (if you have ras-el-hanout mix spice do not hesitate to use it – I run out of mine, so used several spice). Everybody who thinks the vegetables are boring (I know few people who actually think this way!) should be sent a bowl of this lovely tagine. 

 Serves 3-4 

2 tbsp neutral oil  
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped  
about 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped  
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp sweet paprika  
1 tsp ground cumin  
1 tsp ground coriander  
small piece of cinnamon bark
2 onions, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges  
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into large batons
3 parsnips, as above
1 medium swede, as above
3 medium potatoes, as above
1½ cup of boiled (or canned, drained) chickpea
about 125ml dry red wine (I used shiraz) 
tsp of honey  
400ml can of chopped tomatoes  
400ml water or vegetable stock  
10 prunes  
freshly ground black pepper  
almond flakes and chopper parsley or coriander to garnish (optionally)

Heat the oven to 150 C. 

In an ovenproof dish with a lid heat the oil and add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for about one minute, stirring. Next add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika, stir and fry until the spices are very fragrant. Add the onions, carrots, parsnips, swede, potatoes, chickpeas, stir and add the honey and wine. Let it boil for a while until almost all wine is evaporated. Next add the tomatoes, water (rinse the empty tomatoes tin) and the cinnamon bark. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and add the prunes then cover.  Place in the oven and roast it for about 1½ hour.  Check with a knife if the vegetables are cooked through, adjust the roasting time accordingly. 

Sprinkle with some almond flakes and chopped parsley or coriander just before the serving. You can serve it with bread or cuscus, but this already is quite filling dish due to the potatoes.