Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beetroot and goat's cheese + basil

A deep-seated, beetrooted mood for purple food has come upon me.
  • Start with a roughly chopped red onion in olive oil. Let it colour with a bay leaf while you chop two cloves of garlic.
  • After ten minutes, get your garlic in and turn down the heat.
  • After another five or so add four cooked, hacked up beetroots
  • Let it all mingle then cover with veggie stock.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer and leave for a small moment until the garlic flavour has mellowed.
  • Whiz, adding water to achieve a silky smooth consistency.
  • Blend in 150g of Chèvre Doux. It's a mild, creamy cheese (and to help you on your shopping trip, it's made with pasturised goat's milk and cream, is 12% fat and of a spreadable consistency and comes in a little pot).
  • Season.
  • Serve with fresh, chopped basil.

What did it taste like? Amazing. What a great flavour combination. I am probably a genius.

Tip: It is very difficult to prepare beetroot without your kitchen looking like you have murdered someone in it. I am very lucky because my market sells cooked beetroot which you plonk into bags with the fork provided. At home, I covered my chopping board with a big sheet of grease-proof paper which I tucked underneath to hold it in place. I forked out my beets, scrapped off the skin with my knife and chopped. By the end of cooking, numerous red flecks will inevitably adorn you and your worktops, so don't wear white or your favourite frock.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

White asparagus

  • White asparagus needs to be peeled. It's a little fussy like that.
  • Once it's been peeled it likes a hot bath. Put it in boiling, salted water for ten minutes or so. If you can bite into it easily, it's cooked. If you can't, put it back in the water (don't do this step in front of your guests).
  • Drain the asparagus, saving ther water. Cut the best looking tips off and save for the garnish. 
  • Blend the rest of the asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and a little bit of the water.
  • In a bowl, stand up your winning tips, entwine with some sort of cured ham (I used some smoked stuff which was marvellous), shave over a little parmesan and drizzle with olive oil. 
  • You may need to reheat the soup at this point. If so, reheat it.
  • Eat.

What did it taste like?  Delicate but with a nice kick up the bum from the garnishes.

Tip: To peel the asparagus, hold the tip, and use your peeler in downward strokes, while turning the asparagus slowly. To remove the woody base, snap it - it will miraculously snap at the right point. You can take a bite, it's crunchy and sweet!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


  • Use 500g of lamb (tops of the leg, chopped up) or chicken.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and add 2 tsps each of turmeric, ground coriander and cumin, plus one of chili powder.
  • Add the meat and 25g of red lentils. Stir it up.
  • Brown the meat well. Make sure the meat is brown. Colour the meat. Cook the meat on the outside. Sear the meat. Did I say meat? Meat (lamb).
  • Season and add a generous amount of water, bring to the boil then simmer til meat is tender. I added half a can of coconut milk with the water, and the rest at the end of cooking. (The end of cooking is when the meat is very tender and the soup is the consistency you want (soupy). Let's say thirty or forty minutes.) 
  • Serve with lemon wedges.
  • I'm pretty sure eating this with bread and butter ups the anglo in this dish - I strongly recommend.

What did it taste like? England meets India in a bowl. It's really simple to make and very very tasty.

Tip: Use lamb instead of chicken - it makes it taste so much more like your nanny's cooking.

Nanny = grandmother
'Your nanny's cooking' = my nanny's cooking
My nan is a real anglo-indian so I followed her recipe which calls for no onions or garlic, vegetables or apple (!), as many others do. I am not a stickler for authenticity, but when your grandmother gives you a recipe, you follow it, right? Especially if it's so much simpler than any new fandangled versions :)
I did not have chili powder so I used green chili - this was the only change I made to her recipe apart from a tweak on quantities.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cauliflower cheese + chive

  • Put some butter in a big saucepan.
  • Is that it? Come on, put some more.
  • Add a roughly chopped onion and some garlic. Sweat, don't colour.
  • Add some potato, then water, bring to the boil. Simmer for ten. Now, pop in a whole chopped cauliflower. Don't worry if everything is not completely covered but put a lid on if the cauliflower is trying to raise his head above the water. Sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind.
  • When everything is cooked, whiz, adding salt, white pepper and a little water/milk/cream to achieve desired consistency/calories.
  • Add cheese in vast quantities. My dearest Cheddar was not returning my calls so I used Vieux Gouda and Cantal. Stir in until melted. Lick the spoon.
  • Sprinkle gratuitously with grated cheese and chives and serve with crusty baguette and butter for your ultimate contentment.

What did it taste like? Cauliflower cheese! Which I had not had for many years and was as comforting and tasty as I remember. Perfect for a cool, cloudy day when my little flat would just not warm up.

Tip: Check the cheese is delicious by eating small quantities during the course of the soup-making process.