Roasted Garlic, Potato and Leek Soup

Chilly Autumn evenings are best spend indoors with something comforting and hearty bubbling away on the stove top, or slowly cooking in the oven. As the evenings draw in, get comfortable and enjoy this warming soup made with leek, roasted garlic and potatoes.

Roasted Garlic, Potato and Leek Soup

Serves 4 – 6

Olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped fine
1 stick celery, sliced fine
3 leeks, roughly chopped and rinsed in water
1 tsp chilli
parsley stalks, finely chopped
1 large garlic bulb or 2 small
6 medium potatoes
1.5 litres chicken stock
black pepper
150ml crème fraiche
Finely chopped parsley to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 200C.
  2. Prick potatoes with a fork, rub with oil and salt and place on a baking tray. Roast for approx. 1 hour, or until cooked and fluffy inside.
  3. Rub Garlic bulb with oil and wrap in tin foil, place on another shelf and roast for 40 minutes.
  4. In a large pot, fry onion in some olive oil until soft. Add celery, parsley stalks and leeks, cook 15 minutes on a low heat.
  5. Remove skin from potatoes and roughly chop flesh. Next squeeze garlic from casing and add both ingredients to the onion mixture along with chilli flakes, stock and pepper.
  6. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. When ready blend soup until smooth and to finish stir in 150ml creme fraiche. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  7. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley

Chocolate Coffee Buckwheat Crepes

This week I have been testing a selection of Lavazza limited edition coffee blends, which has resulted in me bouncing around the house with plenty of energy. Apart from the standard cup, I’ve made use of the granules by coming up with as many coffee based recipes as possible. I was encouraged to do so by Lavazza through their online recipe gallery featuring coffee based treats and cocktails which you can view here: www.lavazza.co.uk/uk/at-home/recipes

Branching out from my favourite trusty espresso martini, I put together this gem of a dessert – Chocolate Coffee Buckwheat Crepes with maple syrup and ice cream. Buckwheat crepes or pancakes, also known as Gallettes de Sarrasin, are associated with the region of Brittany in France, and were often used as a replacement for bread. Savoury versions include egg and cheese, but to please everybody with a sweet tooth here is my luxurious chocolate-coffee version.

 

Chocolate Coffee Buckwheat Crepes

Serves 4

100g buckwheat flour
1 pinch of Salt
1 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 egg
250ml milk
50ml strong Lavazza coffee brew (left to go cold)
50g melted butter
1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
Vanilla clotted cream ice cream and maple syrup for serving

METHOD:

  1. Place flour, salt, cocoa powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix together then crack in the egg.
  2. Mix milk and coffee together. Add the milk-coffee mixture a little at a time, beating into a batter.
  3. Whisk until smooth and leave to rest for a least an hour (can also be made the night before to rest overnight).
  4. Once rested, stir the melted butter into the batter, whisk until smooth.
  5. Lightly oil a heavy frying pan and to medium.
  6. Pour a small amount of batter into hot pan, rolling it around to cover the surface. It should bubble quickly, showing small holes.
  7. Flip pancake over and cook on the other side. Roll or fold pancake up and remove from pan.
  8. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle generously with maple syrup.
Tomatoes a la Creme

Tomatoes a la Creme

Tomatoes a la Creme, although originating from France in the 1920s, has been a popular dish in many countries for decades. Inciting romantic verse and fond memories from grown-up children who recall happy moments in the kitchen watching their mothers and grandmothers make and serve the simple but delicious dish.

Maybe the thing that gets to the heart of people with Tomatoes a la Creme is the simplicity of ingredients. Tomatoes, butter and cream are easy to obtain all year round and when put together carefully, result in rich satisfying flavours that resemble dishes with much longer cooking times and a hint of dreamy sunlit days in the countryside.

The cooking technique is key: don’t kill it will too much heat. Gentle heat and slow cooking will soften the tomatoes, allowing the juices to flow into the pan and add the wonderful base flavour to the butter and cream. Although adequate seasoning of salt and pepper will complete the recipe, adding a few leaves of thyme or basil enhances the dish nicely as well. Serve with crusty bread or as a side to meat and fish.

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 medium-size ripe tomatoes
A large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche or double cream
Thyme leaves or basil (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Cut tomatoes in half and prick all over with a fork. Melt butter in a skillet and add tomatoes cut side up. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium-low heat.
  2. Turn tomatoes over, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes. All the juices should be running out into the butter. (If you wanted to add some thyme leaves now would be the time to do it).
  3. Add cream and let it gently bubble away for a minute or two, ensuring the sauce does not dry out.
  4. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.
  5. If you are using basil as a garnish instead of thyme then sprinkle with chopped basil now.

Tomatoes a la Creme

ham cheese toastie

Ham, Cheese, Pickle Toastie with Honey Mustard

Anytime is a good time for a toasted sandwich. A breakfast staple, light lunch or snack in-between meals, devour a buttery crusty cheesy hot sandwich with the drink of your choice – coffee tea or beer.

My ultimate toastie is cheese, ham, pickle and honey mustard, hence the recipe below. Controlled heating on the teppanyaki grill keeps this toastie golden, whilst slowly melting the cheese. Much easier than a frying pan on the stove, just switch the grill on, make you toastie and simply wipe grill down after with a sponge. No dishes except your plate!

ham cheese toastie

 

INGREDIENTS:

Crusty white bread
butter
Ham
Cheese – emmental, swiss or chedder
1 pickled cucumber or gherkin
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey

METHOD:

  1. Turn teppanyaki grill to heat setting 2.
  2. Mix mustard with honey.
  3. Butter bread. On unbuttered side layer ham, cheese, pickle, salt and pepper. Spread other side with honey mustard.
  4. Grill on buttered sides until golden brown (by adding pressure to the bread it will cook faster, so either press down with your hands or place a small saucepan on top).
beef ragu

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu with Red Wine, Porcini Mushrooms and Bone Marrow

This is a truly satisfying and comforting dish that warms the belly and heart. Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu with Bone Marrow served on pappardelle pasta. The rich sauce is infused with porcini mushrooms and red wine then topped with parmesan and olive oil. Beef brisket is a wonderfully cheap cut of beef that benefits from slow cooking and melds easily into a rich sauce, resulting in plenty of flavour.

Ingredients:

800gm beef braising steak
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery stick, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Small bunch each of rosemary, thyme and oregano, leaves removed and finely chopped (substitute 1 tsp dried oregano if fresh unavailable).
1 tsp dried chilli flake
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms plus boiling water
2 glasses red wine
300ml beef stock
2 x 400gm tinned tomatoes
2 marrow bone pieces (approx 10cm)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh or dried pappardelle
Parmesan cheese and olive oil for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat some olive oil in a crockpot, le creuset or other stove top casserole pot. Fry braising steak briefly on a high heat until browned. Remove from and set aside.
  2. Add onions to the pan and cook until soft. Next the grated carrot, celery, garlic, chilli flakes, and herbs continuing to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Place porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes. Once ready drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Chop mushroom into small pieces. Strain liquid to remove any grit and reserve for cooking.
  4. Return beef to pot along with red wine, bring to boil then turn to simmer and let it bubble until most of the liquid has cooked away.
  5. Next add beef stock, tinned tomatoes, porcini mushrooms and their liquid and cracked black pepper. Bring to the boil. Then cover and turn to simmer. Cook for 2 – 3 hours depending on your stove and cooking pan. The ragu is ready when the sauce has reduced down to a thick consistency and the beef is soft and pulls apart into juicy strands.
  6. While the ragu is simmering away, heat oven to 200 degrees. Place bone marrow on a tray and roast for 20 minutes. When cooled down scoop marrow out of bones and set aside.
  7. Boil water with some salt and cook pappardelle according to packet instructions. Drain when ready reserving some of the cooking liquid.
  8. To finish the sauce, at the end of cooking stir in the bone marrow and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring through until melted along with some of the pasta cooking liquid to loosen the ragu. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  9. Divide pappardelle into bowls, cover with ragu, grated parmesan and drizzle with good quality olive oil.

beef ragu

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus, Courgette & Mozzarella in Lemon Basil Oil

Italians treat vegetables with love and care, respecting the art of cooking them without adding meat due to historically not affording the luxury on a regular basis. It’s a fact that vegetables leave you feeling lighter, digest easier and the nutrition from greens is a must to keep you going.

This Italian recipe, classically grilled and charred vegetables doused in good quality olive oil, basil and lemon is deeply satisfying. The bread has to be superior, white, oily and crusty on the outside. Rubbed with oil, grilled and then rubbed again with garlic, the delicious base lays the foundation for the crunchy charred green vegetables topping.

I made this for lunch, stacked on toast. For a dinner option try adding cannelloni beans, or spiralled pasta and a little parmesan to beef (!) it up.

Grilled Asparagus

 

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

Olive Oil
200gm asparagus
1 courgette, sliced into thin strips
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
125g buffalo mozzarella
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp capers, chopped
2 tbsp basil
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 tbsp lemon rind
Good quality bread for toasting
1 garlic clove

 

METHOD:

  1. Heat griddle pan on stovetop.
  2. Put sliced onion in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain. This will help take the overpowering onion taste away.
  3. Rub asparagus and courgette in a little olive oil. Griddle in pan until soft and charred lines appear.
  4. To make dressing, mix olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon rind, chopped capers, salt and pepper and whisk together with a fork.
  5. Tear buffalo mozzarella into medium sized pieces.
  6. When vegetables are ready, place in a bowl along with the onion and some additional salt and pepper.
  7. Cut bread into thin or thick slices (whatever you prefer). Rub with a little olive oil. Griddle in pan until browned and charred lines appear. Cut garlic clove in half and use it to rub each piece of toast.
  8. Pour dressing over courgette asparagus mixture, coat evenly. Next add in mozzarella.
  9. Serve in a bowl or large plate alongside toasted garlic bread