Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Recipe LXXVII - Stuffed Beef Olives with Roasted Vegetables

This is an easy recipe, and a tasty one too. It requires about 45 minutes' preparation, but the results are really worth it. There's something about roasted veggies that give them extra special powers of tastiness.

2 long pieces of thinly-sliced beef (any cut should be fine)
4 carrots
1 leek
1 courgette
But I'm sure you'll choose your own vegetables!

For the stuffing:
About two hands full of yesterday's bread, broken into very small pieces
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
Some fresh herbs (basil, thyme or oregano should be good)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A binding agent like lemon juice or white wine

Turn the oven on to about 160°C. Put the stuffing ingredients (except the bread) into a mixer and give it a thorough blitzing.
Then add the bread and turn it into a pâté-like consistency.

Spread it out over the beef, making sure not to get too close to the outeide. Once rolled up, it will spread out itself.

Cut up some vegetables. I used carrots and leeks, and later on I added some courgettes. Pour some oil in a baking tray, put your vegetables in it and the beef on top, making sure most is covered in the oil.

Put it in the oven for about 45 minutes, and add the courgettes for the final 15 minutes. Sorry for the quality of the photo below, but the kitchen light plays havoc with the brightness and contrast...

In any case, enjoy!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Recipe LXXVI - Roast Masala Chicken, Spicy Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

There's something refreshing and wholesome about a roast dinner on a Sunday. After a long autumn walk in the country, coming home to a house full of the smells of your delicious immediate future is how it should be. This recipe is my own take on a version by my favourite Indian cook, Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes are shining examples of how complicated dishes are actually very simple when you have a little time and patience.


A whole chicken - Madhur Jaffrey removes the skin, but I choose to keep it on, because it's the best part!
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tablespoons of ginger
5 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
1 small, hot red pepper - Madhur Jaffrey used 3 hot green chillies, but I live in deepest, darkest Germany and can only get what I'm given.
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt

...and for later:
chili powder
freshly ground black pepper

Oil for roasting (olive/sunflower, etc...)
5 medium potatoes, peeled, and sliced to your preference
Half tsp turmeric
1 tsp Kashmiri (mild) chili powder
10 freshly ground black peppercorns
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
A pinch of salt

Instructions for the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 150-170C. Put all the ingredients for the marinade into a blender and blitz it to a paste. With a sharp knife, make two deep incisions into each breast. You should do this in the thighs and legs too.

Put the chicken on a baking tray making sure there is enough foil to cover the bird completely. I made two layers, in a cross-shape.
With your fingers or with a spoon, spread the paste evenly over the chicken and into the incisions.

Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Just before you put it in the oven, sprinkle the chili powder and black pepper over the chicken. Seal the chicken tightly in the foil and put it in the oven for the time it takes you to go for that afternoon stroll! For the last 10 to 20 minutes, you can roast it with the foil open. You can save that last roasting bit for later when you are browning the potatoes.

Instructions for the spicy roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts:
Boil the potatoes and Brussels sprouts for a maximum of ten minutes in some salted water.
Put the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili powder in a small bowl and mix them up well.
Make sure the potatoes and sprouts are well oiled and roll them in the mixed spices. Put them in a baking tray in a single layer and roast for a minimum of 30 mins - you may wish to share the oven with the chicken for the last part.

The chicken will simply fall off the bone and the juices make an ideal gravy.

I added Brussels sprouts to Madhur Jaffrey's wonderful recipe, and I made a few changes to the procedure, but I can say it was a joy to cook, and I will do it again very, very soon.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Recipe LXXV - Tagliatelle alla Poverina

Italian food is notoriously "safe" when it comes to adding spices. But the humble red chili pepper makes an entrance in this dish. It is quick to make, if you're looking for something that takes only a few minutes of cutting. A lot of Italian food comes out of a packet, and in this case, the spinach I used was frozen, as it's currently out of season.

400g tagliatelle
2 red peperoncini (chili peppers)
2 small-to-medium onions
150g-200g lardons (Speck)
4 blocks of frozen spinach, or a handful of chopped fresh spinach
Some cloves of garlic
Half a small pot of cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper


Cut up your ingredients in the way you like to eat them. I like segmented onions and round, chopped chili peppers. Heat up a frying pan with olive oil. Fry the lardons on a fairly high heat for a few minutes, turn the heat down to medium then add the onions and chili peppers. Once they have softened, put in the spinach and garlic and cover the pan. On a low heat, allow the flavours to run. About seven minutes before serving, add the cream.

Put some salted water in a pan and once boiling, add the pasta. You can either mix the pasta with the rest, or you can use the pasta as a bed. I did the latter.

Enjoy it with a nice glass of medium white wine!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Recipe LXXIV - Traditional Flapjacks

Autumn has arrived quickly this year. In fact, I barely remember any summer at all, let alone doing much summer activity. There were hardly any apples on the tree in the garden and nearly nothing in the way of nuts either. I got a measly handful of strawberries and a plate's worth of peas. Better luck next year. However, the forsythias loved it, as did the wild flowers, who just want to grow anywhere. This is when traditionally people would put all their gathered fruit and nuts into conserves and make recipes from them that would last the winter, hence the mighty Plum Pudding, which was eaten as a Midwinter feast, and centrepiece of a winter solstice celebration that the longer days were on their way.

Flapjack has similar origins. The name is most certainly not, but the recipe would have been pretty much the same since its inception. The idea would have been to make a filling oaty cake to chew on for energy. Now, of course, it's more like an accompaniment for an autumn party. I remember being regaled with flapjacks at the annual Bonfire Night celebrations at the beginning of November. I used to get told off by my mother for eating too many... But now I'm old enough, I can make as many as I like and eat them all. So there!

500g oats - usually jumbo oats, but for mine I used the smaller variety
250g demerara sugar
200g raisins, sultanas, etc
4 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 table spoon of cinnamon
250g butter
The peel of one orange
A large, square or rectangular baking tray

Heat the oven to about 175°C.
Put the raisins and sultanas into the oats and give it a good mix. Take the baking tray and grease the inside with the butter. With the rest of the butter, put it into a large pan and on a low heat melt it. Add the sugar, orange peel, cinnamon and syrup to the mixture and heat it gently until the sugar has melted.

Pour the oats, raisins and sultanas into the melted butter and allow the oats to soak up the liquid until there is a good consistency.

Put them into the baking tray and spread them out evenly until they reach all four corners.

Bake in the oven for 17 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Cut it into pieces immediately, because it's still quite soft.

Serve with a nice cup of tea.

Put the rest in a biscuit tin and eat at your leisure!