Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Peaches with apricot, cardamom & lemon fraîche

Here’s a quick recipe for a dessert perfect for cooling down in the Summer sun.  The flavours also give a taste of the exotic, so even if you’re stuck at home, you can feel like you’re on holiday

Serves 2

You’ll need:

  • 4 peaches ( I used doughnut peaches as they are in season)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 shot of lemon vodka (optional)
  • 2tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Apricot fraîche:

  • 1/2 tub of vegan crème fraîche/ yogurt ( I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 2tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 apricots, chopped finely
  • 1tbs ground cardamom
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

 

Start by making the fraîche. Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix throughly. You can either then place it in the fridge to firm or do as I did and use the freezer. It will start to create a slightly frozen texture, like a semi-freddo.

Whilst it’s in the fridge/freezer you can prep the peaches. Cut them in half and de-stone. This is usually a messy job, so I tried to keep it intact by poking the stone through the other side. once this is done, heat up a pan on a medium heat. Place the peach halves in the pan, flesh down. cook until they begin to colour. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle them with the lemon zest. Take them out of the pan and place them into the serving bowls. This in an optional step, but I like pouring a shot of lemon vodka on them too! Take the fraîche out and dollop it on top. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I’d recommend you pair it with a Tokaji wine.

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Carrot salmon & spinach lattice

Following from the success that was my fishless fishcakes recipe, I wanted to see if I could make “carrot salmon” the star of the dish, which is where the lattice pastry came in. This recipe is a perfect alternative for a salmon en croute and with Mother’s day on the horizon would be a perfect treat for any mam/mum!

You’ll need:

  • 4 medium/large carrots, peeled cut into coins,
  • 2 tbsp of Nori Flakes/ ½ sheet of Sushi Nori (cut into pieces),
  • 1 tbsp of dried dill,
  • Handful of dill stalks,
  • 1tsp dill oil (optional),
  • Salt & pepper,
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 200g frozen spinach,
  • Zest of 12 lemon,
  • Juice of 1lemon,
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped,
  • Glug of garlic oil,
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff-pastry
  • 1tbs aquafaba
  • 1tsp non-dairy milk (I used Oatly)

To garnish:

  • Sprinkle of salt (I used Saltverk black lava salt)

 

To begin,  boil the carrots until soft in salted water mixed with the dried dill, the stalks and seaweed.

Meanwhile, fry the onions in a pan until translucent. Set aside for later.

Once they’re done, drain and remove the stalks. Mash the mixture until you achieve a flaky consistency. Set aside in a bowl and leave to cool.

Then add the lemon juice & zest, the onions, the garlic oil, the fresh dill, and the frozen spinach. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up, during which point the spinach would have thawed.

Once firm & slightly dry, mix the now thawed spinach through the mix. Season to taste. Roll out the pastry and cut a box net, this is so you can wrap the filling up, leaving a window at the front. Leave a square of pastry aside, though, for making the lattice. Cut this into thin strips.

Place the filling at the centre and begin to place on the lattice strips, I did it in a diagonal formation, to give the impression of fish scales. Feel free to change it up, though! Once happy with the design, start to fold up the edges. At this stage if theres excess, you can fold it back down and simply trim it. Once folded, crimp each corner and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof.

Place into a pre-heated oven (180°C fan) for 25 minutes. Check and turn and place back in for another 20 until golden brown. Take out the oven and let to cool slightly.

Serve with some green veg, parsley potatoes and a crisp glass of wine.

 

Enjoy!

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Food: Armenian stuffed peppers (Dolma)

Having bought loads of peppers on double discount at work last week I had quite a few left to use up. What perfect way than with some stuffed peppers!

I had made a vegan version of Armenian peppers previously, for my Eurovision party- and it was a resounding success. This was surely the way forward.

The finished dish ends up feeding 2-3 people  (we were very full afterwards!)

To make you’ll need:

  • 5-6 medium/large red bell peppers, charred

For the filling:

  • 80g of cooked rice (per person)
  • 1/2 fried courgette, chopped finely  (I used some from an antipasti jar to save time)
  • 2 Lombardi peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

For the mince:

  • 100g green lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sun dried tomato paste,
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 1tsp bouillon
  • 1 cup red wine

For the sauce:

  • 1 carton/ jar of passata
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 (Heaped) tbs of pepper paste

Soy garlic yogurt mix

  • 2-3 tbs of soy yogurt (I used Alpro Go On. Which is a thicker Quark style yogurt)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic infused oil
  • A sprinkle of smoked paprika – to garnish

Start by making the mince.

I’d recommend doing this in advance so you have a batch ready for you to use.  We usually have big batches of lentil mince  in the freezer that Tom cooks up whilst I’m in work on a Sunday. It’s so versatile (if you remove the cayenne and mixed spice) and can be made into all manner of creations from pies, ragù, Chilli- you name it!

This batch i’ve included the extra spices as I knew this batch was only for making dolma.

In a small cast iron pot fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add the paste and the purée and heat through. Pour in the lentils and stir until thoroughly coated with the sauce. Add the herbs, spice and bouillon with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Cover with the water and put the lid on. Simmer for at last forty minutes, an hour won’t hurt – this will allow the lentils to truly swell and soak up all the liquid.

After an hour the mixture should be rich and just about ready. Stir in the wine until the mixture reconstitutes itself – allow to cook through for another twenty minutes until the wine has cooked out. Leave aside to cool slightly, or store overnight/ freeze*

*If using thawed/chilled mince, I’d recommend heating it through before stuffing.

Once your mince is ready the rest is simple and fairly quick to make!

When you’d like to make the dolma, simply put each pepper over an open flame ( I used my gas hob) until it begins to bubble and blacken. Once burnished and black, take off and leave to cool down.

PS: Be careful around open flames! The amount of times the pepper (now a ball of fire) fell off the ring- and I was wearing oven gloves!

As they are cooling I’d recommend cooking the other components.

Cook the rice as you would normally, remembering to cook slightly less than usual as you are stuffing it with a rice mixture rather than serving it with rice. Whilst it’s cooking start the sauce.

Heat up a saucepan and fry off the garlic with the olive oil until translucent. Next, add in the pepper paste and cook for another minute. Then add in the passata and let it simmer until the flavours start developing.

The rice should be done by this point. Set aside and leave to cool.

Return to the peppers and de-core & de seed them, making sure that you cut them close to the top so that you have a vessel to fill. Remember to keep the tops, though.

Grab the mince, empty it into a mixing bowl and combine it with the rice. Then, add in the lemon juice & zest, chopped peppers, courgette and parsley. season well.

Then pour the sauce into a baking dish and sit the peppers in the tomatoey-peppery bath. Fill the peppers up to the brim  with this aromatic mixture and re-hat them with their tops. Place into a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

Once they are in the oven, you can make the topping. Combine all ingredients together, (except the paprika) until it becomes thick & glossy.

Take the peppers out of the oven and de-hat them once again ( no fear they’ll have their hats back on soon enough!) and smother with the  lemony-garlic yogurt. Top with the smoky, fiery paprika and return the tops on (see, I told you 😉 ). Serve with a side salad or on their own

Enjoy!

Drink: Queen Bey Lemonade

n celebration of Beyoncé’s sixth studio album ‘Lemonade’ and her extravaganza last night on HBO, I Made a little cocktail,with the flavours of WATERMELUN & cayenne, this is one Creole punch that truly Slays!

To make, you’ll need:

  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 300g watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 200ml water
  • 2 shots simple syrup
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 shots lemon vodka ( I used ABSOLUT CITRON)
  • A few sprigs of mint

 

Optional:

  • 1/2 a lemon, sliced thinly

 

First, in a big jar make a Traditional lemonade by combining the lemon juice, water and simple syrup together. Stir thoroughly, and taste. Add more simple syrup if necessary.  Next, add (in a separate jug) the cayenne pepper, watermelon chunks and a dash of the lemonade and blitz. Add this in to the lemonade, along with the shots of vodka and a few sprigs of mint. I also sliced up some lemon and added in to the jug, this is optional.

Stir and serve!

Put the album on and Enjoy the Lemonade with Queen Bey!

 

Food: Apple, Plum & ginger crumble

Here’s a recipe for a hearty and warming crumble with a speculoos/speculaas topping.

Makes 6 portions.

To make, you’ll need:

For the filling:

  • 8 medium apples,
  • 1 jar of sour plums,
  • Half the liquid from the plum jar,
  • 1 star anise,
  • Thumb size piece of ginger (grated),
  • 125ml of apple cider,
  • 20g of crystallised ginger,
  • 1 knob vegan butter,
  • 80g of brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon,
  • 1 tbs of golden syrup (agave/ corn syrup will work as well),

For the topping:

  • 120g of plain flour,
  • 60g of brown sugar,
  • 60g of vegan butter,
  • 60g speculoos biscuits,

 

To make the filling:

Peel, core and slice the apples then set aside. Begin by melting the butter in a pan, add the sugar and allow them to caramelise. Add the apples and stir them around until they’re coated. Then add the plums along with the juice, the apple cider, the star anise and allow to simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes with the lid off.

When the mixture has reduced add the grated fresh ginger, the crystallised ginger, the zest and juice of half a lemon and the golden syrup. Stir until combined and the golden syrup has loosened and melted. Spoon into a medium sized baking tin until you’re ready with the topping.

To make the topping:

Measure out and combine the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and breadcrumb by rubbing between your fingers. Smash the biscuits in a pestle and mortar (or in a plastic bag and bashed with a rolling pin) until they’re a mixture of crumb and rubble sized pieces. Combine the two and sprinkle over the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for forty minutes until the topping is rich and golden. Once out of the oven, leave it cool slightly and serve with some soy custard 😉

Enjoy!

 

Food: Nordic Blueberry Bagel

Continuing on the Nordic theme, this is a recipe for a satisfying sweet Scandi-themed breakfast.

This recipe was also an excuse to open my Oatly cream cheese/påMackan that I brought back from my recent holiday in Copenhagen & Malmö. It’s only available in Sweden atm, so you’ll have to substitute it for other Vegan cream cheese.

I thought, what better than to partner it with with a Scandi themed compote to compliment the cream cheese

To make the compote, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs blueberry jam
  • 100g sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 1 shot of snaps/akvavit
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 50g blueberries
  • 1tsp cornflower, slaked in 1tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of quarter of a lemon

To make, simply put a pan on the hob on low and add the sugar, blueberry jam and water. When it all begins to dissolve, add in the blueberries, lemon zest, snaps and the spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the cornflower mixture. Take out the cinnamon stick by this point. Stirring, so it all comes together, cook out until it becomes a thick, sticky mixture. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Once the compote is sufficiently cool, cut and toast a bagel (I used a sesame bagel) then slathered on a thick layer of Oatly cream cheese/påMackan. Now its’ time to spread a layer of the delectable Nordic fruity spread. Add the lid of the bagel, pick it up and devour- with a coffee of course 😉 !

Enjoy!