Monday, 30 January 2012

More 'Bilbao' than Boston Baked Beans!


I seem to have established a bit of a reputation for comfort food. Until I started blogging I don't think I realised just how much I like warming stews and casseroles, bakes, crumbles and pies.  Not wanting to disappoint my followers, here is another one!  It started out as Boston Baked Beans but as I had no belly pork as per the recipe, I subsituted the spicy chorizo sausage which was in my fridge, so the dish moved continent and ended up in sunny Spain.


I'm entering this for Slow Sunday on Karen's blog 'Lavender and Lovage'



Bilbao Baked Beans with roasted roots
350g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 sticks celery, sliced
200g chorizo sausage, cut into chunks OR 200g Quorn Meatballs
1 x 200g can tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp molasses or  black treacle
1 tsp mustard powder
600ml chicken stock

Roasted Roots
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small swede, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp 'Do me a Flavour'  Roast Parsnip Seasoning (optional)
2 tbsp sunflower oil

1. Bring the beans to the boil in a pan of fresh unsalted water.  Cook them for an hour until tender but not mushy.


2. Put 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a roasting tin add the chopped veg and the seasoning, if using.  Mix together and roast in the oven at 200C for 40 - 50 minutes.  The swede I had was using wasn't cooking very well, so after about 30 minutes, I covered the tin with foil and cooked it for about 20 more minutes, then uncovered to finish it off for 5 minutes.


3. While the roots are roasting, make the bean dish, put 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a pan and add the onion and celery, cook gently until starting to soften then add the chorizo chunks, or quorn meatballs (you might want to add half a teaspoon of smoked paprika if you are using the quorn) and stir around until the onion and celery start to take on the colour of the chorizo.


4. Add the beans, the tomatoes, tomato puree, molasses or treacle, mustard and stock.
5. Cover the casserole and cook in a preheated oven (160C) for 1hr 30 minutes.  Add the roasted root vegetables to the casserole and cook for another 30 minutes.


This dish is quite a long way from either Boston or Bilbao but was inspired by both, and also by what I needed to use up from the fridge!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Lunch at Hadrian's Brasserie, Edinburgh

Today we went to Edinburgh for a Spa Day at the Balmoral Hotel. This was a Christmas present from my Mum and included lunch in Hadrian's Brasserie.  The Spa is superb and the treatments were excellent, it's not cheap, but is a lovely treat.

Apologies for the quality of the photos, I didn't want to take my DSLR with me so took the little Nikon L2.  It reminded me why I upgraded!   This is the menu which you probably can't read, the two course lunch was included in the Spa Day Package.

Brian chose the Lanark Blue Salad with Walnuts and Pear which he enjoyed, the pear was red, we weren't sure if it had been marinaded in something or was a red pear!


I had the Roast Pumpkin soup with Parmesan Croutons, it was very smooth although I thought it could had done with a little more seasoning.

The starters were served with a wooden platter of rolls, in fact they brought us a second serving of rolls, they were very nice although a little chewy.

We both chose the Sea Bream with wilted spinach, red pepper, baby artichokes and salsa verdi.  Now this was really delicious, the skin was crips and the flesh was perfectly cooked, the vegetables and sauce were also excellent.

Overall, I felt the menu was overpriced and although the food was very good and the service was very attentive, I don't think it was good value.  I stayed over at the Carrick Lodge Hotel in Ayr last Monday night and had a superb meal with excellent service that was a much better deal.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Random Recipes - Beetroot and Black Cumin Soup





For the New Year,  Dom at Belleau Kitchen has invited us to cook from a new cookbook.  Now I only got one cookbook for Christmas and it features nothing but...CHOCOLATE!  However, the house is still full of chocs and biscuits, the fridge still has two jars of homemade mincemeat and we have only just finished the Christmas cake, so I really couldn't face making any more sweet things.


So instead I turned to the books I won from Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food, I got all three of the Moro cookbooks by Sam and Sam Clark.  I randomly chose the original Moro book from the three.  Then I opened the book in a random sort of way and found that I had chosen  


Beetroot Soup with Black Cumin
4tbsp olive oil
1/2 large Spanish onion,thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 rounded tsp black cumin or normal cumin seeds
750g raw beetroot, peeled and finely diced
1 large potato, finely diced
1.25 litres cold water
3 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
100g home-made or Greek yoghurt, thinned iwht a little milk an seasoned with 1 garlic clove crushed to a paste with sea salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook for 10 mintues, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to colour.  Now add the garlic and cumin and cook for 2 more minutes to release their flavour, followed by the beetroot and potato.  Pour in the water, bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soft, about 15 minutes (I don't think I chopped mine small enough as it took much longer to soften).  Place the vegetables and the cooking liquid in a blender or food processor and blend until just smooth.  You may need to do this in two stages. Return to the pan, add the vinegar, half the parsely and salt and pepper to taste, bearing in mind you may need more salt than you think to blance out the acidity of the vinegar.  Servie with a little yoghurt on top, the rest of the parsley and an extra drizzle of olive oil.




The soup was very easy to make and looks incredible, it has an interesting sweet and sour taste with the combination of the sweet beetroot and the red wine vinegar.  I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't taste the cumin and I did actually use black cumin but I can't say it was obvious.  I would make it again but might increase the amount of cumin, or maybe use some ground as well as cumin seeds.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gong Hey Fat Choy - Sang choi bao


Happy Chinese New Year and Welcome to the Year of the Dragon!  We celebrated Chinese New Year with another recipe from February's Delicious Magazine, San choi bao or prawn, mushroom and vegetable wraps, and I served it with the suggested garnishes of spring onions, fried shallots, toasted sesame seeds and peanuts.  

You are supposed to use the lettuce leaves as sort of wraps but they tended to fall apart.  The recipe suggested 'round' lettuce but I think it might work better with iceberg letter which might hold together better with the warm food.

Dragon / () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Delicious Flamiche (Flemish Leek Tart)

My friend has recently been in hospital for major surgery, she is back home now and I went to visit her yesterday taking with me a lunch of this Leek Tart.   The recipe is in the February edition of Delicious Magazine and not available on the website yet, but hopefully it will be once the March edition is published.


I have to say we were both mightily impressed by this tasty tart, the cheesy pastry and leek, creme fraiche and egg filling (I also added an 50g of cheese to the filling mix) was moist and the pastry was still crisp underneath - hurrah, no soggy bottom!

I accompanied the tart with a roasted tomato salsa.  The cherry tomatoes were roasted because they were just not quite as ripe as I would have liked, so I drizzled them with olive oil and a little salt and stuck them in a hot oven for 10 minutes.  Once they had cooled, I mixed them with diced celery, cucumber and coriander, poured in the remaining roasting oil and  a little white wine vinegar.  No photos of that I'm afraid as I was hurrying out the door to get to my friend's house for lunchtime!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Haddock Mornay Layer Bake - keen as mustard!

All of this little lot came to me from Kelly Atkins at Food Matters.  They are working with  Henry Harris and Grey Poupon to show the versatility of Grey Poupon Dijon mustard as an ingredient in cooking.  Grey Poupon is one of the finest Dijon mustards, it’s the white wine in the ingredients that makes it superior to its competitors and the flavour it creates when used as an ingredient is very unique.

I opted to make a fish dish and only specified some spinach, the rest of the ingredients were a surprise to me a bit like doing 'Ready Steady Cook'! 

So here is what came in my bag:
2 Haddock Fillets
260g bag of Spinach
220g Blue Stilton
300ml Creme Fraiche
2 Leeks
3 potatoes
215g jar of Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

You will also need:
2 tbsp olive oil
75g butter
1 tsp cornflour
50g Gran Padano cheese, grated
100g mature cheddar, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper


After much thought and some inspiration hunting through my cookbooks, I decided to make a layered bake.


 Put 1 tbsp olive oil and 15g butter in a large pan, add the leeks when the butter begins to sizzle.  Saute the leeks gently until they are soft and slightly golden.  Tranfer them to an ovenproof baking dish, season with salt and pepper.

 Put the other 1tbsp of olive oil and 15g butter into the pan and add the whole bag of spinach leaves once the butter begins to sizzle.  Cover the pan (I used a sheet of foil and cook gently until the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes.

 Place the wilted spinach over the leeks in the ovenproof dish, season with salt and pepper.

 If the fish has skin, remove the skin and cut the fish fillets into chunks and spread over the spinach and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put a tsp of cornflour into a bowl and add about a tbsp cold milk, mix together.  The cornflour will help the creme fraiche not to split when the dish is baked.

 and now for the mustard, add a generous teaspoonful of Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard to the milk and cornflour and mix thoroughly.

 Add the Creme Fraiche and the two chesses and mix together.

 Spread the mixture over the fish and vegetables layers.

Peel the potatoes and slice thinly, parboil in a pan of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes until soft but not breaking up.  Top the ovenproof dish with the potatoes.  Melt around 20g of butter in a pan and brush the potato slices with the melted butter.


Bake in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes until the sauce is hot and bubbling and the potatoes are golden brown.


 I was really pleased with the taste of this dish, you could taste all the ingredients but no one overpowered the others and the crispy texture of the potatoes was a nice contrast to the creamy sauce and soft vegetables.

 Now the eagle-eyed among you may  have noticed that I did not use the Stilton.  I felt that it would have overpowered the taste of fish and I wanted the mustard to be the dominant flavour.  However, I thought it might be nice to accompany the Fish Bake with a salad and a little Blue Cheese Dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing
100g Blue Stilton
2oz cream cheese
1 tbsp mayonnaise
100ml single cream

Crumble the blue cheese, set aside about 1/3 of the cheese and mix the rest with the cream cheese until well blended.
Stir in the mayonnaise and the single cream, then stir in the remaining blue cheese.
Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 3 hours to blend the flavours

I made a simple Waldorf salad with Romaine lettuce, chopped celery, sliced apple and chopped walnuts, combined with the Blue Cheese dressing this was very good and a complete contrast to the fish bake.  

I'm not convinced these are ideal parnters but the Blue Cheese dressing would make an outstanding dip to have with crudites as it really complimented the celery (especially when I was testing it out before serving!)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Lamb Tagine

I bought a pomegranate last week and then wondered what to do with it!   So I thought I'd make a Lamb Tagine, I used the recipe from my Good Housekeeping book but bumped up the veg content to make it go further and make it healthier.  I topped it off with chopped coriander and the pomegranate seeds which I loved by were not so popular with my husband!

Lamb Tagine

1.4kg boneless leg or shoulder of lamb
4 parsnips, peeled and cubed
6 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
1/2 Celeriac root, peeled and cubed
2 tsp ground ginger
2tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp saffron strands
5 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
275g pearl onions or shallots (I just used ordinary onions and cut them into chunks)
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp plain flour
1tbsp tomato paste
450ml lamb or chicken stock
150ml sherry
2tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
75g stoned dates
1 tbsp honey
coriander leaves to garnish

1. Cut the lamb into 4cm cubes.  Place in a bowl with the ginger, ground coriander, saffron and 1 tbsp oil.  Season, cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
2. If using pearl onions or shallots, immerse them in biling water for 2 minutes, drain, refresh in cold water and peel.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy based flameproof casserole and brown the lamb in batches, using more  oil if necessary.  Add the garlic and stir over the heat for 1 minute.  Add the onions and the cubed vegetables and cook over a medium heat until slightly softened and caramelised.  
4. Return the lamb to the casserole. Stir in the flour and tomato paste, then add the stock, sherry, herbs and cinnamon stick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil, cover and cook at 180C for 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. Discard the cinnamon  and bayleaf. Add the dates and honey and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Garnish with coriander and serve with couscous.




Saturday, 7 January 2012

Stollen Bread Pudding


Are you still eating leftovers?  We seem to have a lot of cakes, cookies, biscuits and chocolates left.  My SIL brought a large Stollen down at Christmas and although half of it had gone, there was still a big piece left and it was beginning to dry up, so I decided to make it into dessert.

I buttered the oven dish, sliced the Stollen and laid it into the dish added a few spoonfuls of apricot jam (left over from marzipanning the Christmas Cake), beat together 3 eggs and about 1/2 pint of milk and poured it over the Stollen.  I didn't add any sugar to the mixture as I would with plain bread, the Stollen was quite sweet enough.

I know I'm a day late, but I am entering this for Frugal Food Fridays 
run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.


Monday, 2 January 2012

Bad photos, good food

There is nothing I like better than making little bits and pieces of party food.  I am not a great party giver, something to do with living out in the country and the general state of tension it leaves me in!!!
However, this year for New Year's Day we had a little family party  and I spent the morning cutting up little squares of rye bread with pate, cheese or prawn toppings, making bruscetta, and filling bowls full of crisps.  Add to that a Lemon Tart (not home made) and some Christmas cake and we had an instant party.


The photos were taken from my new Flip video camera so the quality is not as good as my DSLR but it is very handy.  I also didn't get to the table before the hungry visitors, so the paltes are a little dimished, but I am sure you get the general idea.

Here is my plate, gherkins and chilli jams were served separately as some guests like their food very plain.   I forgot to mention the sausage rolls, my grandson loves them so I made some specially for him.

I hope you all enjoyed your parties and are ready for another year of cooking, baking and sharing your passion for food.
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