Aubergine Stacks with Gremolata

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This week’s recipe combines aubergine, mozzarella and tomato to produce a light and delicious main. I am accompanying the dish with an Italian accompaniment; gremolata which is made from parsley, garlic and lemon zest.

Eggplant stacks with Gremolata

Aubergine Stacks with Gremolata – for two

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Chop one aubergine into rounds, add seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix and place on a baking tray. Cook for ten minutes on each side (check regularly)
  • Meantime, make the sauce by adding a teaspoon of olive oil to a pan. Gently squash one buffalo tomato into the pan and season. Using a potato masher/folk gently mash the tomato on a low heat. Once warmed through, take off the heat
  • For the gremolata finely chop 45g of parsley with 1/2 cloves of garlic and one teaspoon of grated lemon zest. Mix together
  • Slice the second buffalo tomato into rounds and do the same with the mozarella
  • Start the stack with a buffalo tomato slice, followed by one spoonful of sauce. Then add the mozzarella followed by the aubergine. Repeat.
  • To serve, spoon the gremolata around the stack

Eggplant Stacks with GremolataYesterday I arrived in Madrid. I’ll be in the city for a month for my day job. Living out of a suitcase will make cooking tricky and so for the next four weeks, I’ll be posting pictures from Madrid exploring colour, landscape and the atmosphere of this captivating city.

travelling

Gluten Free Apple and Almond Crumble

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After being ill with a nasty bug, their was nothing more comforting than a home made apple crumble. This week’s recipe is a simple gluten free version of the classic – using a mixture of ground almonds and GF plain flour to create a great crispy crumble topping.

gluten free apple and almond crumbleGluten Free Apple and Almond Crumble - for two

  • Preheat the oven to 190C
  • Peel and cut two cooking apples into pieces
  • Add to a small saucepan with 50ml of water and a teaspoon of soft brown sugar
  • Simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile prepare the crumb, by adding 50g of gluten free flour, 85g of ground almonds and 45g of soft brown sugar to a bowl
  • Then add 45g of soft butter, cut into small pieces. Using your hands, rub together until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs
  • Add the cooked apples to a dish together with two tablespoons of the juice. Top with the crumb and bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and serve with cream or ice cream

Gluten Free Apple and Almond CrumbleOn Easter Sunday, I took a long walk around my favorite park in London, Hampstead Heath. It had been an age since my last visit, and with the sun out, a perfect opportunity to survey the first signs of spring.

hampsteadheath.insp

Happy Easter & Hotel Chocolat

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Happy Easter! Hotel Chocolat, a luxury British chocolatier recently contacted me to taste test their Cow Beastie Egg. Who could resist?

hotelchocolateSnatching the box from the courier I sat down to ‘taste’ aka devour the Beastie Egg. The perfect task for getting into the Easter spirit and for forgetting the freezing temperatures outside. I particularly liked the glamorous presentation and unusual cow pattern. The main egg had a nice thickness to it, with a strong but sweet cocoa flavour emanating from the crisp chocolate. 6 mini eggs in two flavours where also included. The praline mini eggs where my favorite, filled with a rich nutty cream. The salted caramel mini eggs had thick outer shells with oozy fillings. A bit too sweet for me, but my helper-tester gobbled them down without any persuasion.

What delicious treats do you have in store this Easter?

Spiced Red Onion Bhajis

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Onion bhajis are great year round and especially uplifting for the cold grey days which the UK has been inflicted with. This recipe combines red onions with a light spiced batter to make a scrumptious warming dish.

Onion Bhajis RecipeSpiced Red Onion Bhajis - makes around 10-12

This recipe is based on one by Mary Cadogan which I have amended and added a few more spices too.

  • Thinly slice one large red onion and roughly chop a second red onion
  • In a large bowl, sift 100g of gram flour along with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Add the spices; two teaspoons of curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of table salt and 1/2 teaspoon of garam powder, pinch of ground black pepper and then stir
  • Add 100ml of very cold water and stir until everything is combined and it resembles a paste
  • Add the onions and 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander. Stir through
  • In a small frying pan add grapeseed oil (you can use vegetable oil as well) and when hot add a desert spoon of the onion mixture into the pan per bhaji
  • Cook in small batches, for one minute and then flip over for another minute. Drain on kitchen paper

Spiced Red Onion Bhajis RecipeI was lucky enough to spend the entire weekend in front of an open fire while the outside froze and snow fell. Surely spring must be around the corner?

hearth fire

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

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Sun-dried Tomato Pesto is this week’s recipe post. It’s great at elevating pasta dishes and can also be used as a marinade for meat or added to sauces to provide extra flavour.

homemade sun-dried tomato pesto

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto – makes two small jars

  • I used ‘dry’ sun-dried tomatoes, so a few hours before I added 100ml of olive oil to a bowl with the tomatoes to rehydrate them. You can skip this step if you are using sun-dried tomatoes already in olive oil
  • Take 100g of sun-dried tomatoes and chop them up into small pieces. Add them to the blender
  • Add 65g of pine nuts and 70g of grana padano cheese (you can use parmesan also)
  • Once the dry ingredients are combined, add olive oil in a thin stream. I used around 200ml
  • Once you have the desired consistency – it shouldn’t be too thick or too runny add the seasoning. A generous amount of salt and pepper plus 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Stir and decant into jars

homemade sun-dried tomato pesto recipeI went to Paris last week and stopped by the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t believe my luck, as I sat in my vantage point, the sun came out and I basked in that spot for what felt like eternity. Could anything be more perfect than this I thought? Perhaps some lunch? Some snaps from my mobile of Paris:

eiffel tower, notre dame, metro

Ham Hock, Spinach and Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

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This week’s recipe uses ham hock, spinach and new potatoes to create a delicious dish. The dijon mustard acts to lift the ham hock and bring all the flavours together.

Potato Salad

I am cheating by using supermarket prepared ham hock. For a recipe to make your own ham hock I recommend this one (first 6 steps). This is also a great recipe for using up leftovers from a roasted ham.

Ham Hock, Spinach and Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing - for four

  • Wash and halve 750g new potatoes and add to salted boiling water until cooked, normally 15-20 minutes depending on size
  • Meanwhile prepare the mustard dressing. In a bowl mix two teaspoons of dijon mustard with four teaspoons of olive oil and a small squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Whisk until all the ingredients are combined. Taste and if needed adjust the quantities
  • Once the new potatoes are cooked, drain and place back in the pan.
  • Add 200g of ham hock and combine with the potatoes. Cook for two minutes
  • Once the ham hock has been heated through, layer the washed (and still dripping) spinach leaves on top of the potatoes
  • Cover with a lid and steam for 1.5 minutes
  • Place everything in a large bowl and add the mustard dressing. Combine the ingredients and serve

Potato Salad RecipeLast week I was in Barcelona for a short break. Some shots below of the vibrant city.

barcelona

Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Crème de Cassis Coulis

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I have a soft spot for panna cotta. Over the years I have tried a fair few but Sam Harris’s recipe is by far the best. It delivers a creamy rich texture which zero hassle.  I have paired the recipe with a raspberry and créme de cassis coulis which provides a fruity richness to the finished dish.

Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Creme de Cassis CouliPanna cotta with raspberry and crème de cassis coulis - makes four

Panna cotta: Published in Eat London2 by Peter Prescott & Terence Conran. Recipe by Sam Harris, p299. Original quantities have been halved.

  • Split 1 vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds
  • Put 350ml double cream, 150ml milk and 50g of caster sugar into a saucepan and stir in the vanilla seeds
  • Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the 1.5 gelatine leaves until they dissolve, then allow the mixture to cool slightly
  • Pass the mixture through a sieve into a jug and then pour into the molds
  • Cover each mold with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight until set

Raspberry and Crème de Cassis Coulis:

  • In a saucepan add 150g of the raspberries to a pan with two teaspoons of brown sugar and two tablespoons of water
  • On a low heat gently stir and once the raspberries dissolve add in two tablespoons of crème de cassis
  • Stir and continue to cook on a low heat until the sauce reduces by half
  • Take off the heat and cool before adding to the panna cotta. Top with a raspberry

Panna cotta with raspberry and creme de cassis coulis recipeSome shots of my raspberry crop last year. Tasted delicious! Fingers crossed for this year’s.

Raspberries

Mushrooms with Garlic

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After a rather hectic week at work, I received the good news that I will be spending a month in the Madrid office. I am looking forward to digging into all the fantastic dishes and soaking up some sun. To get into the spirit (and to avoid Spanish verb drills) this week’s recipe is dedicated to the humble button mushroom, which occupies a special place on any bar’s tapas menu.

Mushrooms, Garlic, ChilliThis recipe is from Claudia Roden’s The Food Of Spain, p230.

Mushrooms with Garlic

  • Gently wipe away any earth from the 250g of button mushrooms, rinse and trim the stems if necessary
  • Cut the mushrooms in half. Peel and slice 4-5 garlic cloves
  • Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • Sauté on a medium-high heat, stirring and turning them over
  • Add salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and serve

Chilli & Garlic MushroomsAlthough my trip is a few months away, I am already day dreaming of all the things I will do, see and best of all taste! Here a some photos, taken on my last work visit to Madrid.

madrd.insp

Zoot Suit Tonic

This is my favourite cocktail to make at home. It’s perfect as an aperitif, combining citrus fruit with Campari and tonic water. Zoot Suite Tonic CocktailRecipe has been adapted from Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails, p257

Zoot Suit Tonic – makes two

  • Slice one orange and one lime into quarters
  • Add 30ml/2oz of sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker followed by the fruit
  • Squish down with the help of a rolling pin until all the juice has been released
  • Add 6 ice cubes to the cocktail shaker, 90ml/3oz Campari, 60ml/2oz sanguinello orange juice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds
  • Strain and top up with 90ml/3oz of tonic water
  • Distribute into glasses and finish with ice cubes and lime pieces

Zoot Suite TonicI particularly love the colours of this recipe, the intense and vibrant hues are eye catching. A perfect cocktail to start off any party! Below some photos of bright flowers from 2012. I can’t say enough, that I am very much looking forward to spring/summer 2013.

campari.insp

Gluten Free Banana Loaf

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This is one of my favorite treats. It’s perfect for a tea time indulgence (and i have been known to scoff it for breakfast as well). But best of all, its gluten free, light and banana fantastic. The secret is to make sure the bananas are very ripe – if not the flavor just won’t come through.Gluten Free Banana Loaf CakeGluten Free Banana Loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line a loaf tin (I’m using 12 by 6 inch) with baking parchment
  • Cream 140g softened butter with 140g caster sugar
  • Beat 2 large eggs and add them slowly to the mixture
  • Fold in 140g gluten free self raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon of xanthum gum and 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • The bananas need to be very ripe – I buy mine from a market stall and wait a couple of days until brown spots cover the skin. Peel the three large bananas and mash with a folk into a pulp
  • Add the banana pulp into the cake mixture,  fold very gently and then pour into the loaf tin
  • Bake for 30  minutes. Test with a skewer to make sure the mixture is cooked through
  • Leave for 15 minutes and then remove from the tin

Gluten Free Banana Loaf Cake Recipe Some snaps of Angel this weekend:

Angel London After all the snow, it seems London is finally busy again. Angel was so full it was impossible to find a spare table in one of the many cafes that line the area. Not too worry, a tempting pub offered us a home.

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