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: Cawl empanadas

Recently, to honour Y Wladfa – the Welsh colony in the Chubut province of Argentina – I made cawl empanadas out of leftover jackfruit cawl mixture. The results were absolutely delicious and the spices go really well with the stocky richness of the cawl to create a moreish empanada filling.

You’ll need:

  • A cup or so of leftover cawl (you can find a recipe for vegan Jackfruit Cawl here).
  • 1 roll of ready made shortcrust pastry,
  • 1 tsp cumin,
  • 1 tsp ground coriander,
  • ½tsp of Chipotle chilli powder (or similar, feel free to use more!),
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree,
  • 100ml sunflower oil,

Method:

Combine the cawl with the spices and the puree in a pan and allow the spices to infuse. Allow the water to boil away until you’ve got a dryer mixture.

Roll out the pastry and use a small bowl to shape the empanadas. Spoon out the mixture onto the disks of pastry and fold over. Crimp the edges together with a fork and place on a baking tray. One roll of pastry makes roughly eight empanadas but it will depend how much leftovers you have.

Bake in the oven for twenty minutes at 180°c or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a rack. Bring the oil to frying heat in a frying pan and quickly dunk the empanadas in the oil for twenty seconds each side. The pastry should change colour quickly so be ready to get them out quick!

For an indulgent touch, serve with some vegan mayo pepped up with smoked paprika and garlic oil.

I paired mine with a bottle of Gaucho from Tomos a Lilford. A light yet full bodied South American IPA brewed with Yerba Mate in 2015 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh landing in Patagonia.

¡Salud boyo!

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Food: Mulled cherry tarts

These cherry tarts are a quick and easy way of pleasing guests and delivering the kind of low effort, maximum impact impression we all look for around Christmas time. Whether you’re making them for family, friends or when a guest pops by.

You’ll need:

  • 1 jar of sour cherries in syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 70g of sugar (or more, depending on your sweet tooth!)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 small glass of red wine
  • 1 packet of pre-made shortcrust pastry

Pour all of the ingredients (bar the pastry and vanilla) into a saucepan and simmer on a low heat, allowing the spices to mull for a good 10-15 minutes.

When this is done, fish out the spices and crank up the heat until it’s boiling. Reduce until the mixture is thick and sticky. This is the time to add the vanilla. Stir and pour into a bowl to cool, then begin rolling out the pastry on a flour dusted surface to about 5mm thick.

Use a mug to cut out circles of pastry. Gently shape the circles into a greased tart tin. They should fill the tin but not overreach that much. Experiment with the mug width that works for your tin. When the pastry is loaded, spoon in the jammy mixture until it’s just about level with the pastry. Bake in the oven according to the instructions on the packet. Normally 180°c for about 20 minutes.

Perfect on their own or top couple of warm tarts with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream for a festive treat!