Sunday, 10 January 2010

Briouats filled with Goat's Cheese

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I went through my photo archive today and came across pictures I had taken of Briouats filled with Goat's Cheese that I made some time last year and for some reason forgot to blog about. Briouats are fried Moroccan pastries and can be either savoury or sweet. They are good, both hot or cold and you could serve them on a bed of mixed salad as a starter or as part of a finger food buffet. So, with a little bit of a delay, here's the photo and the recipe:

Briouats filed with Goat's Cheese (makes about 40)

400g goat's cheese
2tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1tsp parika
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
400g filo pastry sheets
75g melted butter
2 egg yolks, beaten
vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl mash the goat's cheese with a fork and add the parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

Keep the pile of filo pastry sheets covered with a damp tea towel and work with one at a time, making sure the rest stay covered with the towel.

Place one sheet in front of you and cut into 4x10 inch strips.

Brush them with the melted butter using a pastry brush.

Place 1tsp of the goat's cheese mix at one end of each strip, about 2inches in.

Fold over the shorter end of the pastry strip to cover the filling.

Turn in 1/2inch of both long edges and then continue to fold over the short edge until you are left with a square.

Seal the edges with the egg yolk.

Fry in hot oil until golden. Alternatively, do as I did and bake them in the oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Leek and Potato Soup

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Are you bored of soup yet? Well, I'm not and I doubt I ever will be, especially while it is this cold.

I know some people are moaning about the cold and all the snow, but I'm loving it. I really am. This is what winter is supposed to be like in my opinion and I know it's a pain to drive in this weather, but I don't have a car anyways, so that doesn't bother me. I feel a slight pinch of sadness every time I walk past my bicycle that's not been taken out for a ride for over a week now, but I smile every time I pull the laces on my hiking boots tight, put on another layer of crazy knitwear and venture out into the white in the knowledge that there is a pot of soup or at least a cup of cocoa waiting for me on my return.

Leek and Potato Soup (serves 4)

2tbsp butter
1lb leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
1lb potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
225ml milk
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
single cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.

Add the chopped leeks, potatoes and onion and sautee for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.

Add the stock and the milk and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

Depending on your preference you can serve the chunky soup as it is, or whiz it with a stick blender until it is smooth.

If you like you can pour a little single cream into each bowl before serving, swirl it around gently with a fork for a pretty pattern.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Top Five from 2009

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Maybe it's a good idea to look back as well as forward at the beginning of a new year. So without much ado, here are my top five recipes from 2009 (in no particular order):

Labneh with Olives and Pistachios

Onion and Goats' Cheese Flan

Spicy Roast Aubergine with Jeweled Couscous

Muttar Paneer

Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream and Berries

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Simple Creamy Tomato Soup

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Building snow women all afternoon meant that I wanted something warming again for dinner that didn't require loads of time spent in the kitchen. So what better than another bowl of hot soup?

I didn't really want to put my hiking boots, scarf, hat and mittens back on for another trip to the shop either, so it had to be something I could make with what I always have in my cupboards. That decided it for me, Creamy Tomato Soup it was to be.

Creamy Tomato Soup (serves 2-3)

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1tbsp, tomato puree (paste)
2 tins (400g each) of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped or a handful of chopped basil
1 1/2tsp vegetable stock powder
a pinch of baking soda
350ml milk (or half milk/half vegetable stock)
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for about four minutes until beginning to soften.

Stir in the tomato puree and continue to cook for another couple of minutes whilst stirring.

Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and vegetable stock powder and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the baking soda with about 1tbsp of the milk.

Stir into the tomatoes, it'll froth but don't worry it'll stop.

Add the rest of the milk and simmer for another five minutes.

Serve with your favourite crunchy bread.

Note: You won't taste the baking soda at all, it just stops the milk from curdling or splitting.


Sloe Gin

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I just pulled up my blinds and couldn't believe my eyes. I know it had snowed already last night and was still at it when I went to bed at midnight, but it must have continued for most of the night. I haven't seen snow like this in years. Probably not since I lived in Oslo.

It's a day for building snowmen and making snow angels and as there's no soup left to warm me up when I get back in, I might just have to have a glass of my homemade sloe gin, or two!

Sloe Gin

450gr sloe berries
1 litre gin
225gr light brown sugar

If there's been no frost by the time you pick your slow berries, pop them in the freezer for a week or so before making the gin. They need to have frozen once at least to release some of the sugar in them.

Place the sugar into a large sterilized jar.

Prick each berry with a clean needle and add them to the jar.

Pour in the gin, seal tightly and give everything a really good shake.

Store in a cool dark place and shake every other day for about a week, then once a week for two months.

After that you can pour the gin through a clean sieve into sterilized bottles and start drinking it!


Monday, 4 January 2010

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

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It feels like Manchester is frozen over. I just took a stroll to the local shops with E and JM and it must have taken us twice as long to get there as we were slipping and sliding all over the place. I'm beginning to understand why penguins walk the way they do.

Before we ventured out we had some hot soup to warm us up from the inside. Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup to be precise, or January Soup as E christened it, as it comes from the January page of the 2010 Good Food calendar. As I often do I made some slight alteration to the original recipe, so here is my version.

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup (serves 3-4)

2tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
600gr carrots, washed and coarsely grated
140gr split yellow lentils (you can use red of course as in the original recipe)
1 1/4 litre hot vegetable stock
125ml milk
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 tsp hot chilli powder
natural yoghurt

Dry fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for about one minute in a large saucepan. When they begin to release their aroma, remove half from the pan and set aside.

Add the carrots, lentils, vegetable stock and milk and simmer until the lentils are done. If you're using yellow split lentils this will take about 30minutes if using red it'll be a little quicker.

Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until completely smooth.

Return to a simmer and season to taste with salt, pepper and chilli powder.

Ladle into bowls and add about a tablespoon of natural yoghurt to each bowl, before sprinkling with some of the reserved cumin seeds and chilli flakes.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Traditional Scones

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What do you do when you wake up early on New Year's Day, the sun is shining and you're looking forward to spending the day with some wonderful people? Well, you get up and bake some scones of course!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Traditional Scones
(makes 12-18)

450gr self-raising flour
a pinch of baking powder
a generous pinch of salt
50gr caster sugar
110gr unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
50ml double cream
200ml milk (you might need a little more)
1 egg, beaten with a little milk

Preheat your oven to 180C/ Gas 4.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the baking powder, salt and sugar.

Add the diced butter and rub it into the flour with your finger tips until you have a mixture a little like dried breadcrumbs.

Add the beaten egg, double cream and enough milk to moisten.

Mix well until you have a soft and doughy mixture that is not too moist. Don't overwork the dough.

Roll into a ball and roll it out lightly on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1inch thick.

Cut out with a round cutter and place the rounds onto a non-stick baking tray.

Gather the off-cuts and carefully roll out again (you really want to make sure that you don't overwork the dough), cut and repeat until you have used up all the dough.

Brush the tops with the egg and milk glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden.