Thursday, April 29, 2010

Balsamic roasted beetroot, orange and feta salad

A recipe and some waffle - not a waffle recipe!

I’m celebrating by heading off to a festival for the bank holiday. It’s called Vantastival  - so we’re taking down our lovely van Mister to hang out with all the other old VWs. There is lots going on for the weekend - lots of music, Kila, Sleep Thieves, Fred, Ambience Affair - and little xs for eyes (my band)

Most importantly - I will be entering the second cooking competition of my life! The first was Aoife Mac’s Pie Off. This is  a camper van cook-off. All contestants must cook up the best meal they can with limited ingredients and the cooking facilities of their vans - for me that’s a two ring hob. We toyed with the idea of connecting a rotisserie arm to the engine - but sadly that ‘s not allowed - any suggestions for how to cook a nice desert on a hob would be appreciated I’m drawing a blank right  now. See picture  of the Facilities!! Wish me luck

I’ll update you all when I return - have a great bank holiday you guys!

Also a fail to report - I tried and failed to make yoghurt yesterday - but I have not been put off I will persevere - blog post to follow when successful

What a load of Waffle, here’s a recipe

Balsamic roasted beetroot, orange and feta salad
2 fresh beetroots - diced (1cm cubes)
1 orange segmented
big handful of parsley - chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1/3 block of feta

Toss your beetroot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and season. Pop into a preheated oven for 35 mins at a high heat (gas mark 7)

When it’s roasted and turning nicely deep red, remove from the oven. Prepare the rest of your ingredients in a bowl. Mix together the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Combine the beetroot with the other ingredients and toss well with the dressing.

This is a great salad - with a huge range of flavour. I had sprouted some watercress especially for this salad (it took a week to sprout) then I forgot to add it in. The sharp peppery taste would definitely add to the overall flavour, but it was still delicious without.

Here's a photo of this salad from Jenny Hammerton from Silver Screen Suppers Blog. Thanks for sending it onto me - always good to get feedback. Check out her blog - it's great themed around food the glamourous stars of yesteryear cooked! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jerusalem Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Soup

The Worlds Tastiest Soup?
I have been reading the British Larder blog for a while now, this is the first recipe of theirs that I've tried. They're cooking is of a different echelon to mine, this soup seems a good place to try and up my game a little. It's amazing, well worth the little extra effort, slow roasting the garlic lends a rich depth and a little sweetness. I am forwarding it for most tasty soup ever, anyone argue that?

You can find the recipe here, check out their other recipes while you're there too!

 If you're not familiar with a Jerusalem artichoke - then it's the little knobbly guy there on the bottom right in the picture above.

This is the best picture I got of the finished product - hot soup may have been fogging my lens - try it you really won't regret it. The other half of the roasted garlic can be spread on freshly toasted sourdough and eaten as is  -just don't serve it with the soup - that would be complete garlic overload - even for me!  For a dinner party this would be thoroughly impressive starter, and the garlic could be roasted along with other parts of the evening menu.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pea and mint soup

Absolutely minted.

I have blogged before about my early childhood experience of brightly coloured soups before. So suffice to say that this version of pea soup is so quick its almost instant. Fresh, bright green and delicious. I served it with the aforementioned homemade sourdough bread on a gorgeous spring afternoon. Its a winner all round.

1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 500g pack frozen peas
500ml good vegetable stock
a handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Saute the onion and garlic in a small glug of olive oil in a roomy pot until they are soft and transluscent. Add the peas to the pot and the hot stock. Bring back up to the boil. At this point the peas will be cooked. Add half the mint and blitz the whole lot in a blender or with a stick blender. Season to taste. To serve add the rest of the mint. Thats it!

Some chopped grilled bacon added in to this would be really good too.

Sourdough Bread

My new pet

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine Fiona offered to give Lu and I some of her beloved and well established sourdough starter. I put it in a big kilner jar fed it up with flour and water, nurtured it, named it Larry and finally made my first loaf, as you can see in the pictures. Once you have a healthy and bubbly starter you can keep it in the fridge and only feed it once a week (if only all pets were so easy to maintain). For more detailed and nerdish info on how to grow your own starter (I have tried and failed) check out these websites, where you will also find loads of great recipes. When you feed your starter it you will notice that its absolutely mingin. Seriously. If you are getting it right it should be a white sloppy floppy goo that has a very odd elastic snotty texture like the slime from an 80s horror film. But white. And a smell like old beer. Bleugh.

BUT its worth it because it makes bloomin' amazing bread. And it's really not all that much effort as long as you have the time to:
A: feed your starter 8 hours before you want to start making the bread
B: have another 8 hours (overnighter) to spare for the first proof
C: have another 2 hours spare for the second proof
D: 40 minutes to bake it
so.. hardly any effort at all then....

But Fiona has told me that it really shouldn't take this long and as I still haven't quite achieved that chewy, open sourdough texture after three attempts, I figure young Larry just isn't strong enough yet. I have started to feed him more regularly in the hope of building up his strength, so I'll keep you all up to date as to when his stores of bacteria have multiplied in sufficient quantities to allow him to produce the perfect loaf. The little scamp. The quest begins.

Meanwhile, our bread consumption has gone through the roof, oops, all in he name of science....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Baked Eggs with Herb and Parmesan Crust

15 minute miracle
For shame out lack of blogging of late, due largely to the good weather and gardening

I have 5 minutes in which to recount this recipe so I'll make it snappy. It's after work, I've cooked dinner, done some gardening and I'm running out the door to rehearsal now. This is a quick and easy recipe which can provide a satisfying meal in less than 15 minutes.

2 eggs
splash of milk
5 chives - chopped
small handful of parsley
1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A handful of freshly grated Parmesan

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8. Grease a ramekin dish. In small bowl combine all the ingredients except the cheese, mix gently to ensure that the yolks remain intact. Place mixture into ramekin dish and top with the grated cheese. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 8 minutes, until golden and brown and puffy.

I served this with a slice of toasted sourdough (of Lolas making - recipe to follow) rubbed with garlic and drizzled with good olive oil as well as side salad of sugar snap eaps olive oil and sesame seeds.

and I'm off .... into the lovely bright evening