Tag Archives: herbs

Cheese-chilli bread to die for

3 Oct

This was an experiment due to an excess of cheese in the fridge, mostly.

Cheese, chillli, garlic, bread, crusty,

A golden slab of cheese and chilli bread – a successful experiment

I didn’t measure anything, so if you need precise quantities, I’m sorry… Bad blogger. But the ‘recipe’ is marvellously flexible and forgiving, so even if you’re a precision chef, give this a whirl.

I started with cheese – about 300g of mixed cheese lurking in my fridge – a feta-like salty number, and rich creamy cheddary type (but choose your cheese – a salty one means you don’t have to add extra salt) chopped into smallish but uneven chunks (it will melt in the oven).

About 300g of general-purpose white flour – I added another couple of shakes once the first lot was mixed, because the dry mix seemed to call for more flour.

Two green chillis – one was bland, one turned out to be quite hot – chopped small. A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and some thyme; three cloves of garlic, crushed; two heaped tablespoons of sour cream (greek yoghurt would be fine), a bit of salt, a good grinding of black pepper. Add it all to the cheese and flour mixture and stir; whisk two eggs and add them to the mix, then pour in a slosh of milk and stir thoroughly, adding milk gradually till it’s a nice sticky heap – not runny, but not stiff. Malleable but not pourable. At the last minute add a 10g packet (two level teaspoons) of baking powder and mix in thoroughly.

Line a tin of your choice with grease-proof (baking) paper, and pour in the mixture. Stuff into the oven on a medium heat and check after 50 mins – if it’s tanned and firm to the touch, it’s ready.

Eat while warm, or if you’re patient, let it cool. Great with soup, salad, or a treat on its own.

Try not to sneak down to the kitchen at midnight to scoff the lot.

vv

Ratatouille and barley

11 Mar
ratatouille, sour cream, vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean recipe, colourful food, barley

Suzie’s first taste of ratatouille

An extravagant dish for winter, when all the ingredients come in from Turkey, but there are days wen you just can’t resist the lure of summer, still four months away. In summer, all these delicious Mediterranean veg are very cheap here in Romania.

What:

2 large aubergines (eggplants)

3 courgettes (zucchini)

1 enormous red (bell) pepper (or several small ones)

1 large onion

4 big cloves of garlic

4 tbps tomato paste

basil leaves

cayenne pepper, salt & black pepper

big pinch of mixed dried herbs (or handful of fresh ones)

How:

Chop the aubergines, turn them in oil and mixed herbs and roast on high heat for half an hour.

Chop onion, garlic and red pepper and sizzle gently in oil (separate pan) until soft and smelling delicious. Mix in the tomato paste (I’d use fresh tomatoes in summer) and a bit of water to make a sauce.

Chop the courgette into inch-square chunks and add to the tomato pan, with some basil leaves. Mix everything together and turn the heat down to the minimum (or turn it off) until the aubergine is done (browned or slightly charred, soft and aromatic).

Tip the aubergines into the main pan, mix, season to taste, and simmer slowly for another 20 minutes.

Serve with boiled barley (preferably whole grain, not pearl barley), or brown rice.

Vegan at this point, but a dollop of soured cream on top will render it veggie.

(Carnivores can eat this with a bit of grilled pork or chicken, or lamb cutlets.)

Slow roast pork, tender and rich

6 Jun
roast pork loin, potatoes

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was prompted by the Ranting Chef’s post yesterday to tell you about my slow-roast pork, which is always a guaranteed winner for any occasion, even if you’re on your own (piggy, piggy). [Beware: if you do this for a party, make you sure you get some early, because it vanishes before you can say crackling.]

Scour the supermarket shelves for the largest pork joint you can find. Doesn’t really matter what joint it is as long as it’s pork and not bacon, ham, gammon or suchlike – unsullied roasting pork – leg, shoulder, belly. Carving will be immaterial – the meat will fall off the bone if there is one. If you’re lucky, you can find a big joint on sale, which makes it even tastier, somehow…

What: joint of pork bigger than you think you really need (it will all be eaten); packet of mixed herbs; cheapest bottle of dry white wine or cava; salt

How: The day before you want to eat it, ie 24 hours ahead, put the pork in a deep (3″ – 4″) roasting dish (cut it in half if it’s too long and nest the two halves side by side). For good crackling, cut deep slashes into the skin all over the top and sides and rub salt into the skin. Pat the mixed herbs all over the pork, including underneath – be generous. Slosh the white wine or cava (I used an old bottle of cava that had lost its fizz a bit, so no good for drinking – perfect for cooking) into the roasting pan – use the whole bottle, or as much as will go into the pan. If pan too small, get bigger pan. The wine keeps the pork moist and makes the most delicious, aromatic gravy.

Stuff pork in oven on high heat for half an hour, then turn the oven to its lowest setting and leave it for 24 hours. This is very difficult, as the smell of the roasting joint will torment you, especially when you come down for breakfast. But do not give in to temptation. LEAVE IT. Check that it’s doing okay and hasn’t dried out too much – if there’s no liquid or almost no liquid in the pan, slosh in some more wine. If there’s a lot of grease, pour some off into a bowl (not down the sink) and put the joint back into the oven.

For the crackling, I’d suggest taking the crackling off the meat half an hour before serving. Keep the meat warm and let it rest, and put the crackling back in a hot oven until it’s bubbly and crisp. You can make the gravy at this point, too. Take the juice from the pan, pouring off excess fat, and either serve as is, or thicken with a little flour or cornflour and top up with a little boiling water if necessary.

For a dinner party, serve with garlic mashed potatoes or a herb risotto, and a green salad; for a party, it would be the centre piece of a buffet. Don’t worry, it won’t be around long enough to go cold…

Fridge lunch – Italian flag salad

30 May
Thymus serpyllum, Mother Of Thyme

Thymus serpyllum, Mother Of Thyme (Photo credit: KingsbraeGarden)

What to eat? I raid the fridge and ponder. No lettuce. But… cucumber, tomato, red (bell) pepper, spring onions (salad onions in US), mozzarella, feta. Ho ho.

Who needs lettuce? There’s greenery outside the door. I step outside into the drizzle and search my lawn for goodies. Some Good King Henry, a few leaves of sorrel, wild thyme flowers, Fat Hen or orache – can’t be sure which it is – and from the pots: parsley, basil, chives.

Back inside – wash the wild leaves and the herbs, and chop up. Chop up all the other ingredients and fling all into big bowl. Squeeze juice of half a lemon and throw into mix with glug of olive oil (or walnut oil, if you’ve got it, but it’s quite pricey). A few grinds of black pepper and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.*

Toss well, cut a bit of good sourdough bread or a couple of oatcakes, and eat. Wonderfully healthy – especially the wild stuff – much fuller of vits and mins than the cultivated stuff – and low carb (except the bread), and vegetarian. Substitute tofu or nut butter for the cheeese, and it’s vegan.

Bull’s eye. Healthy, quick, cheap and very delicious. Ker-ching.

* toasted sesame seeds: buy a bag of raw sesame seeds and toast them – spread on baking tray and put in oven for about 10-15 mins. Keep an eye on them and don’t let them go more than a middling tan. Toast the whole packet and keep in a tin.