Roasted Poussin – Sunday lunch in under an hour!

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If your household is anything like mine, when it comes to roast chicken everybody fights over the breast meat – except me. I think thigh is tastier but I still wouldn’t mind a little of the breast action too. One day, while wondering the aisles of the supermarket, in the all too familiar daze of ‘what to cook this weekend?’, I spotted four little corn fed poussin sitting on the shelf and it struck me. This is the answer to end all those petty squabbles and please everyone. A little ‘chicken’ each! What a luxury but at £3.75 each it is only a little more than a good free range large chicken would be anyway. Poussin taste very similar to chicken but just as with chicken, the better quality, the better taste. In the trolley they went with some scented thyme, a lemon and a pack of pancetta.

I got them home, stuffed each of them with a quarter of lemon and the thyme, anointed each bird with a little olive oil and pepper and placed two strips of pancetta over each. Into a large roasting tin leaving a little room around each bird. Simple. Then into the oven at 200C Fan or 220C normal for 35-45mins.

IMG_2531The timing depends on the size of your bird. They tend to come in at 400g for the smaller birds or 500g for the larger. They respond well to the high heat and but do check they are cooked through using the skewer in the thigh method. You want nice clear juices! This means you can have a roast dinner on the table in 45 mins and cook the roasties, if you are doing them, at the same time if you are cooking in a fan oven as the temperature is high enough. The juices make a delicious gravy and bread sauce to accompany them is a must in our household.

If I were doing these for a dinner party for eight, as part of a three course meal, I would probably use four of the larger poussin and once cooked, carve them down the middle and serve half a bird per person.

IMG_2534They are also a great alternative to turkey for Christmas as it is a special thing to have a whole bird to yourself. If you want to stuff them I would add 10-15 mins to the cooking time. Christmas lunch in under an hour can’t be a bad thing! You might actually get to see the children open their stockings!!

Yorkshire Pudding

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IMG_2433For me, Yorkshire Pudding is the ultimate comfort food. As a child my sister and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and we were the apple of her eye. She gave us a greatly needed sense of security when our parents were going through a messy divorce and our worlds were turned upside down.

We spent most Saturday nights staying with her and we always had frozen shepherd’s pie and baked beans for supper, followed by banana custard. As you may have surmised she was not a natural cook. She had worked all of her life as a midwife and nurse and was often on the night shift. I guess time to cook was a luxury she had never had so the shepherd’s pie was frozen, the beans from the tin and the custard was Bird’s and we loved it! Always the same meal and with it came feelings of familiarity and comfort.

Sunday, however, was a different story. She did a mean roast. When I was younger, I think we had beef one week, lamb the next, followed by chicken. Always fabulous and plentiful! But as she got older, the lamb and beef weeks became fewer and far between and it became chicken every week. This was not for economical reasons. I think, with age, it must get harder and harder to do the associated multi-tasking that comes with cooking a roast, particularly the last twenty minutes or so of cooking. A cooks repertoire gets smaller and smaller as they age. So we ended up with chicken every week because it was easier. My sister and I, however, demanded that we have Yorkshire pudding with it. We could do without the beef and lamb but not Nana’s Yorkshire pudding. So, it became the norm to have both roast chicken and Yorkshire pudding every Sunday. To be honest, now that I look back, Nana’s Yorkshire pud did not rise greatly. It was, in fact, rather greasy and there was far more of the centre stodgy bit than the crispy outside. It didn’t matter. To us, it was delicious. No Sunday was complete without it.

As I got older, I spent fewer Sundays there. Inevitably, as a teenager, I had better things to do. Friends to see, boyfriends to take up my time and hangovers to get over. I still went over on a Sunday once a month or so. When I met my husband and we became quite quickly serious, suddenly family seemed more important too. So the visits became more frequent again but the food had rapidly gone down hill. The veg became more and more limp and over cooked, the roasties were hard, brown, crispy bullets and the Yorkshire was a thing of the past. My mother started helping out more and more when she was allowed too. I do remember one Sunday when we were served particularly anaemic chicken. We didn’t have much of an appetite that day. It wasn’t many weeks before we discovered that Nana had a brain tumor. She only lived another three months and I think that was her last roast.

So for me the roast is special. I don’t do it every Sunday but I probably do one every week. And nearly always with Yorkshire pudding. Now, my children wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes, though, when I’m doing a middle eastern leg of lamb with couscous and salad I have to explain that I just can’t serve Yorkshire pud along side. It would be wrong! The quid pro quo is that sometime during the week I will make them a mini pud to go with sausages and mash instead.

Each time I make it I return to Nigella’s method from ‘How to Eat’. It is backward in its method but it really NEVER fails to rise. The key points to take from the recipe are a really hot oven, as hot as you can get it, really hot oil and putting your oven shelf low because this thing really does rise high. I have made that mistake and had to peal it off the top of the oven! I have halved the recipe for a smaller version and I have added half again for a bigger dish and it still works beautifully. It also works well for individual puddings. The photo I took was actually not one of my best. They do get higher. If I do another one in the next week or so, I will go for it and show you the Yorkshire in all it’s glory. Just so you understand how good this recipe is, I must tell you that I have, on occasion, had a round of applause as I brought it to the table. It’s that good and as you can see from the photo of the recipe, it is definitely tried and tested! I urge you to try it this Sunday, or any day, with whatever roast takes you fancy!

IMG_2516Fool Proof Yorkshire Pudding from Nigella’s How to Eat

  • 300ml Milk
  • 250g Plain Flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp or so of Oil or Dripping with a high burning point. Groundnut oil, beef dripping or duck fat are all good choices.

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven as high as it will go. At least 220c.
  2. Mix the eggs and milk with some black pepper and a scant 1/2 tsp of salt. I, like Nigella, use my KitchenAid mixer. 
  3. Let the mixture stand for at least 15 mins and then whisk in the sifted flour.
  4. Meanwhile put the pan or oven dish with 1 tbsp oil or dripping into a very hot oven.
  5. Allow the oil to heat up until it’s sizzling and then quickly pour the batter into the tin.
  6. Cook for 20mins.
  7. ‘Bring it, triumphant, to the table.’

Enjoy, Kate x

Chorizo Cups with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Feta and Mint

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IMG_1849This is my canape of the moment! So easy yet quite impressive and the possible variations are endless! It’s a real winner with the ‘no bread’ crowd too!

Try it with Goat’s Cheese, Tomato and Thyme or Manchego and Membrillo. Any combination of cheese with roasted vegetables and herbs is worth a try.

Once you realise how easy they are you’ll be serving them whenever guests pop round. Especially as chorizo slices can be stored in the fridge for quite a while. Then it’s just a case of seeing what else you have to hand. The amazing thing about the chorizo is that it holds its shape so well!

Chorizo Cups with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Feta and Mint

  • Chorizo Slices
  • Feta
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Fresh Mint

Method

  1. IMG_2489Slice the tomatoes in half and lay on a baking tray cut side up. I usually use a whole punnet as slow roasted tomatoes are delicious with everything. Just love those leftovers! Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Pop into an oven at 140c for 1hr to 1 1/2 hrs. These can be done several hours in advance and warmed with the canape.
  2. Before your guests arrive you can pre-assemble you canape in mini muffin tins so that all you have to do is pop them into the oven for 4 or 5 minutes later.
  3. IMG_2491Take each slice of chorizo and gently press into the mini muffin pan shaping to fit the mould.
  4. Cube the feta and pop a piece into each chorizo cup.
  5. Add a slow roasted tomato to each cup.
  6. Just before your ready to serve, bake in an oven at 180c for 4 or 5 mins.
  7. When ready, using a palette knife, pop canapés out of the tin and arrange on a serving plate.
  8. Shred the fresh mint and add a little to the top of each canape.
  9. Add a little black pepper and serve!

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Enjoy!

Kate x

Battle of the Brownies

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IMG_2486The things I do for blog & readers! Last Thursday I baked and I baked and I baked again! Three sets of brownies, each one different and all in the name of research! I chose Thursday because I knew that I had 15 for lunch the next day, 9 of them children as it was half-term in England and was hoping, not only to gauge opinion on which was the winner but also to have them eaten up so that I didn’t find myself a stone heavier after the weekend.

The recipes I chose to do include one from a great friend and baker, Johanna, that appeals to children, Mrs Cooks brownies that I have previously mentioned that are adult, rich and oh so fudgy and a recipe borrowed from The Smitten Kitchen blog, that creates a chewy, soft and delicious brownie. I should say here what a fabulous blog The Smitten Kitchen is. In fact, my pre-ordered copy of the brand new cookbook should arrive on my doorstep on Wednesday, so expect to be hearing about a few more of their recipes over the coming weeks. In the meantime, check it out! Now back to the brownies!

The method for all the brownies was much the same. If you look at the quantity of ingredients this is where the magic happens. By adding a little more sugar or using a little less chocolate and using a whole pack of butter or nearly a pack and a half, the texture of the brownie changes. I’m sure there must be many alternatives out there and perhaps that is why the hunt for the perfect brownie is so difficult. I also think it comes down to personal taste. I like mine chewy! Only certain recipes give you that and even within a recipe, changing the size of the pan you cook them in can influence taste and texture. I will now, for personal preference, always cook them thin.But one rule remains. For a good brownie, always err on the side of under cooking. You want the centre to be gooey.

I have also found that melting the butter and chocolate in a double boiler is unnecessary. Instead you can put the butter and chocolate in a heavy based saucepan and put it over the lowest heat possible, stir when it starts melting and take off the heat while there are still some lumps to melt and keep stirring until smooth and glossy. The chocolate is then not too hot and only needs a couple of minutes to cool before you add it to the sugar and egg mixture.

So here are the recipes. I’ll tell you at the end what the results of the tasting test were and my personal favourite.

IMG_2449Johanna’s Triple Chocolate Brownies

  • 175g    butter
  • 200g    dark chocolate
  • 3       eggs
  • 350ml caster sugar
  • 150ml plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp  cacao
  • 100g    white chocolate chips
  • 100g    milk chocolate chips
  1.   Preheat oven to 175c & line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper 30cm x 20cm. (I used my brownies pan which is 23x23cm so made them thicker)
  2.  Melt the butter & dark chocolate.
  3.  Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and then flour & cacao.
  4.   Finally fold in chocolate chips (or buttons)
  5.   bake for approximately 35 mins – (mine are usually ready in 30)

Mrs Cook’s Legendary Brownies

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  • 375g soft unsalted butter
  • 300g lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line your approximately 33 x 23 x 5 1/2cm brownie pan with baking paper.
  3.  Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan.
  4.  In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
  5.  Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
  6.  When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then the flour.
  7.  Beat to combine and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined brownie pan.IMG_2459
  8.  Bake for about 25 minutes. Finger check at 20 mins that they are soft in the middle. Getting them out whilst they are soft is critical (as the actress said to the bishop)
  9.  When it’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey……. Gooey is very important when it comes to brownies.
  10.  Keep checking the brownies as they cook; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.
  11.  Leave them in the tray to cool before cutting into squares …. Leave them overnight if you can and cut in the morning.
  12.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Ok last but not least………

Smitten Kitchen’s ‘My Favourite Brownies’

Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies which you can cut into 16 2-inch squares (shown above), 25 smaller squares, or 32 2×1-inch bites, which is what I usually do.

  • IMG_244585g unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 115g unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 265g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 85g plain flour
  1. Heat oven to 175c. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.
  2. IMG_2437In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each.
  3. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.
  6. Let cool and cut into desired size.

Note from the author Deb Perelman- If you’re like me, you will prefer these and all brownies, cold or even frozen. But I bet you’re normal and will just eat them hot from the pan. If desired, dust the brownies with powdered sugar before serving.

Note from me: I made this recipe the week before and it was so good that I doubled the quantities this time and used a large baking tray.

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The Verdict!

So there you have three recipes to try, each with their own merits. They really are the best recipes around that I’ve found. What was the verdict at our lunch?

Well as expected all children under 13 liked Johanna’s Brownies best though there was a lot of adult appreciation too.

The general adult vote was split between Mrs Cook’s and Smitten Kitchen’s but I think Mrs Cooks Legendary brownies took it.

My personal favourite though…. definitely The Smitten Kitchen now ‘My favourite brownies’.

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The Diner at The Electric Cinema

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2110Friday saw me sneaking off to Notting Hill for lunch and a spot of shopping with a friend. It sounds so decadent and it felt it too! We strolled around the posh shops briefly, then down into Portobello Market, sat and had a coffee in the, oh so needed, sunshine and wondered where to go for lunch. We hadn’t booked anywhere so The Diner at The Electric was perfect as it has a no reservations policy.

The Diner has a dark, cosy look to it. You immediately feel at ease. This is not a place with airs and graces. It was already pretty busy and has quite a buzz. We sat at the bar as all of the booths were already taken. This worked out well as we were only there for a quick bite and it gave us the opportunity to see the chefs at work as the bar overlooks the kitchen. The waiting staff were great. Relaxed while still being 100% on the ball.

I thought I’d go for a sandwich and couldn’t resist the sound of the shaved rib of beef & smoked monterey jack. My friend had the egg option with crispy potato hash & confit duck gravy. We were happily chatting away while watching the chefs cook and I noticed a good looking platter of fries and a split baguette with two sauce boats. I assumed this was heading elsewhere and was probably a sharing platter. Perhaps next time, but no! This was my sandwich served with enough fries to feed a family of four and they were seriously good!! Hot, crispy and very tasty. The sandwich was delicious, melting beef with melting cheese in a warm and soft baguette. We are talking big American sized portions to go with the American diner theme brought from Chicago by the Au Cheval chain. The sauce boats contained a zingy but creamy horseradish sauce and a beautiful beef marrow reduction. I was advised by the waiter to double dip my sandwich which was heaven! I didn’t make it through all the fries but I had a jolly good go and I devoured the sandwich!IMG_2411

My friend went for the ‘egg’ part of the menu and had the crispy potato hash with confit duck gravy. She asked for a poached egg instead of the fried version it normal comes with and that proved no problem and in fact she was even complimented on her choice. When it came the egg was runny, the hash was crisp and the duck tasty. All in all, very good.

IMG_2414We had a glass of wine and a glass of prosecco served in a champagne coupe which added to the feeling of naughtiness. Especially while eating fries with my fingers!

We didn’t stay for pud although the menu is tempting. This was a quick bite after all. The bill was very reasonable considering the quality, service and surroundings and came in at a smidge under £45 including service. I would definitely go back but next time for a blow out dinner with friends or family.

Well done to the Soho House Boys. Another success to add to the list!

Preserved Lemons & Limes – An Update

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Preserved Lemons & Limes - One Week onIt’s been a very foodie week, all in all. I have been keeping an eye on my lemons and limes, turning them over every couple of days, watching to see what happens. Turns out, not a lot really. The level of juice rose steadily through the week, the colours of the skins faded and the salt dissolved. Below I’ll tell you what to do next, or rather what I did next. What I love about this sort of thing is that it’s open to interpretation. I still want to hear if you have any ideas or try something different. ‘How do you eat yours?’ as they say!

Ottolenghi Turkey & Courgette BurgersIMG_2396I also made the Turkey and Courgette Burgers from Jerusalem. Yum Yum! And the sumac and yoghurt sauce that went with them has been added to everything we’ve eaten ever since. The kids loved them too. We had them in pitta breads with a tomato, avocado and mozzarella salad.

In my search for the perfect brownie, I tried a recipe given to me by Lisa Cook, a friend. Her brownies are infamous and having tasted them I need to see if I could replicate them. They are very rich and definitely adult brownies. I made them in my brownie tin which is smaller and deeper than the dimensions the recipe called for. As a result they could have done with 5 more minutes but after a night in the fridge were seriously fudgy and oh so decadent! I will share the recipe with you in a few weeks when I do a brownie special. In the meantime if you are desperate to try them you can find the recipe on Lisa’s husband’s food blog. It is a beautiful blog and very well written. Do go have a look!

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Friday found me in Notting Hill. I went into Books for Cooks hoping to find a book on canning. Now that I have the preserving bug and with the hope that this year’s veggy patch crop will be far better than last’s, I think canning could be an interesting experiment this summer. However, we arrived 20minutes after the lunch service had started at about 12pm. It was mayhem! The tables were full, as was the shop, with people queuing around the bookshelves, waiting for a table. The food did look good though. My advice if you are thinking of heading there for lunch is go super early. I’m talking 11.30! I gave up looking for books. I’ll go back when it’s quieter. Let me know if you have any recommendations though! Instead, my friend and I headed for The Diner at The Electric on Portabello Rd. I’ll let you shortly how it was in News & Reviews. I also popped into Ottolenghi to pick up a copy of the book for a friend and grab supper. What a nice treat! And yes, I am a little obsessed at the moment!

Preserved LemonsSaturday meant the week was up and it was time to go back to the lemons and limes. The lemons looked good and I followed Ottolenghi’s advice and gave each lemon a good squeeze adding the juice to the jar. I then just added a few pink peppercorns and with a wooden spoon, pushed the lemons as deep into the jar as I could. I topped up the lemon juice with a couple more fresh lemons so that they were fully submerged and sealed the lid again. Popped them in the fridge and now they sit for another 4 weeks.

I decided to split the limes. The first half I treated much as the lemons, pushing them down into a smaller jar to squeeze out the juice. I then added a couple of bay leaves and some pink peppercorns ( they are so pretty and not as strong as black), and then I topped up the jar with the juice of 3 more limes and the original juice, so that everything was under juice.

DSCF5002The second half, I rinsed under cold water, taking the salt off, then stuffed them into a smaller jar with some chilli flakes. I then mixed about 250 ml of olive oil with a tablespoon of Baharat spice mix and added that to the jar, totally covering the limes.

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The first jar of limes in salt with bay and peppercorns, I will try in cocktails and the second batch in oil and Middle Eastern spices, will be used in cooking. Everything needs to sit for four weeks now so lots of time to plot and plan recipes. I am keeping the limes in oil, in the larder and the limes in salt, in the fridge with the lemons. Now I just need a little patience, something I’m not to good at but I’m assured the wait will be worth it. I’ll let you know!

Enjoy!

Kate x

Moroccan Lamb Hotpot

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DSCF4884Is a Hotpot considered a pie? That is the question I have been asking myself. I have been trying to come up with a new and innovative pie recipe. It is British Pie week from the 4th-10th March after all! Whatever this is, it’s good. Winter comfort food at it’s best and fairly healthy.

I am starting to wonder if my subconscious mind is making, not so subtle, hints that I need some sunshine and exotic travel. I can’t seem to via away from North Africa or the Middle East. Even when I am writing my own recipes. All this rain and cold is just not good for the soul. Husband, take note! I need Vitamin D and not in tablet form!

This dish combines a delicious, slow cooked, lamb stew with a topping of butternut squash and potato. The colours are rich and vibrant and the addition of the Moroccan spices in Ras-el-Hanout mean that that is just how the dish tastes too. It is not tricky to make and I was able to put my shiny new Magimix (Christmas Pressie) to the test when slicing the potatoes and squash, although this is easily achieved by hand, if far more arduous.

Moroccan Lamb Hotpot

  • 1kg Lamb Neck Fillet
  • 2tbs Ras-el-Hanout
  • 2 Large Onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Large Carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 tbs Tomato Puree
  • 2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 4 Garlic Bulbs, crushed
  • 500ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 500g Potatoes
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Fresh Coriander & Flat Leaf Parsley
  • You will need an ovenproof serving dish with a lid

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
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  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the lamb in batches until it turns a lovely golden colour. Add more olive oil to pan as you go, if necessary.
  3. Remove the lamb to a warm dish and add two more tablespoons of oil and heat. Then stir in the Ras-el-Hanout and let the spices cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the onion and stir the spice mix through. Cook the onions for 10 mins over a low heat until they are soft and starting to colour gently.
  5. Add the crushed garlic and stir.
  6. Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 mins.
  7. Return the lamb to the pan, add the tomato puree and stir through.
  8. Add a tablespoon each of chopped parsley and coriander.IMG_2337
  9. Next add the tinned tomatoes and give everything another stir.
  10. Top up with the stock, put a lid on and let it simmer very gently while you prepare the potatoes and squash.
  11. Peel and wash the potatoes and cut into 4-5mm slices either by hand or in a food processor.
  12. Cut the peel away from the squash and cut into similar sized slices as the potatoes.
  13. Transfer the lamb into your oven proof serving dish.
  14. Starting from the outside, lay overlapping slices of potato around the edge of the dish. Then working inwards lay an overlapping ring of squash and continue alternating the potato and squash in rings until you get to the centre.
  15. Dot this layer with butter and season.
  16. Repeat this adding another one or two layers until you have used up your veg.
  17. Cover with lid and put in oven for 1 & 1/2 hrs.
  18. Take off lid and return to oven for another 30mins.
  19. Take out of oven and allow to sit for 5mins.
  20. Serve with bread and salad.Moroccan Lamb Hotpot

Enjoy

Kate x

Preserved Lemons and Limes

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DSCF4969The latest additions to my ever growing cookbook collection are The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage and of course, Jerusalem by Ottolenghi. Both of these books have inspired me to try preserving my own lemons and each have their own take on the method and additions. Why not limes too, I thought? They can be preserved in exactly the same way and Nigella also has a recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess that makes use of the freezer to speed up the process and adds turmeric, chilli & cumin.

I have decided to keep it relatively simple in the hope that it then gives me more freedom to do with them as I please. I can’t help wondering what they would be like in a cocktail and all the spice seems so wrong in that context. So I will go, perhaps with a more botanical theme such as peppercorns and bay, maybe some juniper or rosemary. The point is you can pretty much add what you want. I may even split my limes once they have had a week in salt and add some middle eastern spices to one batch.

It’s all an experiment at this stage. I’ll report back in 4 weeks or so and let you know how they turned out. As a bonus, they just look so beautiful in the jars. I can’t wait to bring them to the table and they’d make a lovely present for a good friend. Why don’t you make some with me and let me know how yours turn out and what you decided to use to spice them up!

DSCF4971Ingredients

  • Lemons or Limes (unwaxed)
  • Sea salt – Lots!
  • Your choice of additions, for example: Pink Peppercorns, Black Peppercorns, Bay Leaves, Chilli, Turmeric, Cumin, Baharat, Cloves, Star Anise, Rosemary, Thyme, Juniper, etc.

IMG_2383Method for Lemons

  1. Cut a deep cross lengthways through the lemon until about 2cm from the base. Stuff each lemon with a tablespoon on sea salt. 
  2. Put a base layer of salt into a sterilised, 1 litre, preserving jar and squish the lemons into the jar. You can add your extra at this stage as you go or add after a week. Pack the jar with as many lemons as you can, probably about 6, pushing them down to make more room.
  3. Put in the fridge for a week, turning the jar upside down every few days.
  4. After a week, open the jar and squeeze as much juice as you can out of the lemons and keep in the jar.
  5. If you have not done so before, now add your flavours.
  6. Top up with lemon juice if the lemons are not already fully immersed.
  7. You can add a thin layer of olive oil now to help keep the lemons free from mould. (note-if they develop a thin layer of white mould do not worry, this is harmless and can just be wiped off when you can to use them)
  8. Leave in a cool place (larder or fridge) for a least 4 weeks.
  9. They should keep for up to 6 months.

IMG_2373Method for Limes

The method for limes is exactly the same as for lemons except that you cut them each lime into 8 segments and then layer them in the jar with the salt. Then proceed with the same method for lemons from note 3.

I will let you know how I decide to flavour my limes in a week’s time. Do let me know how you do yours!

Kate x

Ottolenghi’s Chicken with Caramelized Onion & Cardamom Rice

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images-1I have treated myself to Ottolenghi’s new book, Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful book with stunning recipes and a very interesting and thought provoking introduction. A friend of mine saw the book and said ‘too wordy!’ but I urge you to read on. It’s a little slice of history seen through the eyes of two men from different worlds, living in the same city. It talks more of the similarities than the differences when it comes to both the food and the people who live there.

I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes out and it gave me a great excuse to invite some friends over and have a girly evening. I chose the Chicken with Caramelised Onion & Cardamom Rice because it has so many of my favourite flavours in it. Cinnamon, Cardamom & Cloves. Having read the recipe, I also realised that it is quite simple and makes for a great midweek supper.

Unfortunately I did not have any barberries and Waitrose do not sell them… yet! Considering the number of recipes in the book that call for them, I wonder how long it will be before we see them on the supermarket shelves? In the meantime I substituted dried cranberries. The book suggests currants as an alternative but I’m not a huge currant fan. I also wanted something vibrant and colourful. Sour cherries are another option but I think a trip to the Ottolenghi café and shop may be in order. Just for stocking-up purposes of course!

It went down well with my friends and was right up my street. In fact today I wolfed down the leftovers for lunch. Delicious! Because it’s a one pot recipe it really is simple and great for entertaining because, once you’ve cooked the onions, browned the chicken and put everything in the pan, it basically cooks itself for the next 40 mins with minimal interference. I served it with a coriander and green chilli yoghurt but you could just serve it with the plain yoghurt in the recipe. I also did a golden beetroot salad on the side as I still had some leftover from the Borough trip.

IMG_2368I was so entranced with the aroma and eager to eat that I totally forgot to take a photo before I served up, so what you see here are the leftovers!

Must try harder to resist next time!

Chicken with Caramelised Onion & Cardamom Rice

  • 40g Sugar
  • 25g Barberries (or Currants, Sour Cherries & Cranberries)
  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 1kg Chicken Thighs
  • 10 Cardamom Pods
  • 1/2 tsp Whole Cloves
  • 2 Long Cinnamon Sticks, broken in two
  • 300g Basmati Rice
  • 550ml Boiling Water
  • 5g each Chopped Parsley, Dill & Coriander
  • 100g Greek Yoghurt mixed with 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Method

  1. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 40ml of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries and set aside to soak. If using currants you do not need to soak them in this way. (I used this method with my dried cranberries and it worked well)
  2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15mins, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a bowl and wipe the pan clean.
  3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well. Heat your frying pan again and place the chicken and spices inside. Sear for 5mins on each side and remove from the pan (this is important as it part-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a millimetre at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelised onion, 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Strain the barberries and add them as well. Stir well and return the seared chicken and push into the rice.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 30 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid and quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 mins.
  5. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yoghurt if you like.

Enjoy!

Kate x

Blood Orange, Beetroot & Burrata Winter Salad

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DSCF4939On Thursday morning a friend and I hopped on the train to Borough Market. True foodie heaven! We started in Roast for a delicious breakfast overlooking the market. Eggs Benedict with their delicious bacon and a cappuccino hit the spot as we watched the stallholders setting up and the market come to life.

We then went for a wander, starting in the large veg stall. I found the most amazing beets in all colours and quickly snapped them up. My friend, who hails from Aus, was entranced by the amount and variety of mushrooms the stall had. Apparently these are very hard to come by in Australia. Who knew?

IMG_2362Then we found the blood oranges. Wow! The great thing about Borough and in fact most food markets is that you can taste everything before you buy. These oranges were sweet and juicy and the colours amazing. Like a tequila sunrise in one orange!At the time of buying I had not quite worked out what I was going to do with them but I knew I had to have them.

We walked around tasting cheeses, olive oils, salamis, parma hams and then there’s the sweet stuff. Brownies, cookies, turkish delight, baklava and chocolate! It’s almost a meal in itself! We did however manage to leave room for a chicken empanadas followed later by a Bbq Pulled-Pork Bap with Slaw! Yum!

IMG_2360I found a stall that was unpacking the freshest Burrata packed in ice and couldn’t help but buy a couple. Then on a visit to Brindisa I bought some amazing aged Iberico Ham, Membrillo and traditional olive oil biscuits. I also came home with olive oil, aged parmesan and giant choc chip cookies for my girls. What a haul! I’ve been living off it ever since.

However I wanted to do something special with some of the ingredients. This what I came up with. A beautiful and colourful winter salad.

Blood Orange, Beetroot & Burrata Winter Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 Golden Beetroot
  • 2 Chioggia Beetroot (pink & white stripped)
  • 2 Red Beetroot
  • Fresh Burrata
  • 1 Blood Orange
  • olive oil
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • Salad leaves
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Firstly I scrubbed the beets and took their tops and bottoms off.
  2. Then, keeping the colours separate, I wrapped them in a pocket of tin foil, drizzled them with olive oil, seasoned them and sealed the tin foil.
  3. I then put the three packages on a baking tray and roasted them for an hour.
  4. Once cooled enough, I peel them. After roasting you can just give them a good rub and peel with your fingers or use a knife to scape the skins off. It should be easy.
  5. DSCF4930Then slice them either into quarters or slices through the middle to show off the markings. Be creative. They will bring colour to your plate.
  6. Leave them to marinate in a tablespoon of Sherry vinegar still keeping them separate in order to stop the colours leaking into one another.
  7. DSCF4929Take a blood orange. Top and tail it, then cut the peel and pith away, cutting down in strips. Now slice through the orange to give you beautiful wheels of orange full of colour. Reserve any juice!
  8. Put the leaves in a salad bowl. Tuck the beets in and around the leaves.
  9. Using your hands, break open the Buratta and place bits around the bowl.
  10. Top with the Blood orange slices.
  11. Drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle a little more Sherry vinegar. Add the leftover Orange juice and then season with sea salt and black pepper!

DSCF4935Enjoy

Kate Graham

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