Posts Tagged 'ottolenghi'

beans, feta, spinach & sumac

sometimes in life you lose your balance. or, to quote a glorious but tragic clown, you “fall off the life horse”. sometimes its less of a fall and more of a plummet. in these times, you have two options. resignation or beans. i choose beans – because they push you, one way or the other, over the edge. generally they seem to straighten things out. something about the fibre seems to act as a stabiliser, sometimes a tranquilizer. desperate as i was for a culinary solution to the problems that come with everyday life, (ie, the cold, a cut on my primary cooking finger, an interaction with a rigid, unforgiving, and unattractive bureaucrat, a 72 hour period which passed without even a hint of productivity, a heavy heart from it all and very heavy camper boots), i turned my attention to beans. i have had some bitter encounters with beans in my time…on more than one occasion, when i was deep in the jungles of central america, my stomach faught with beans – a fight it could never win. and so it was with some trepidation that i approached this recipe. but it was the great enthusiasm from my most dedicated and important eater, whose attitude to food and the discussion thereof can at best be described as indifferent, won me over. and so it was that i climbed back up on the dark, trauma-ridden horse and tried to re-invent my relationship to beans. it was also inspired by a recipe and a photo found in ottolenghi’s new cookbook which suddenly made everything seem ok. so here it is…my bean/life renaissance – thank you to ottolenghi. thank you to my hooded eater, who gave it an involuntary thumbs up. and thank you to snow, who through her ‘oatmeal with the lot’, showed me the power of fibre to make things good again.

ingredients

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 red chilli finely chopped

8 spring onions sliced thinly lengthways

big bunch of spinach

handful of basil

300g butter beans

60g butter

1tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1tsp sumac

1tsp lemon juice

150g feta

finely chop your chilli, crush your garlic and slice your spring onions lengthways into thin strips. then chop the spinach and basil into strips, or shreds, or whatever word you think best describes what you see here

melt the butter with some oil in a fry pan and throw the beans in. cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes each until they get some colour. try not to overcook and let it all go to mush. just before they’re ready, throw in your garlic, chilli, spring onions, green stuff (reserving a handful for the glorious end) and finally the sumac. stir gently to combine and cook for another minute or so.

remove from the heat and let cool a bit until it is just warm. squeeze in the lemon juice, crumble over the feta and toss in some remaining basil. give it a gentle loving stir.

this of course was served with pine nuts – because what isnt in this place? it was, on its second night, eaten as beans on toast. the toast being the first successful sourdough of my ever-lengthening life. and so with little baby bean steps, and giant yeast-based leaps, things seem to be looking up.

pear & raspberry tea cakes

teacakes sound so naff. but kugelhopf doesn’t. it has resonances of the old country. wherever that may have been. and all things sweet and heavy which come from the east. and when i saw these teacakes in the ottolenghi cookbook i was filled an overwhelming nostalgia for a time and a place which never existed as well as an insatiable hunger…for teacakes. i began the search for some mini kugelhopf tins. fortuitously there is a baking supplies store conveniently located near my house where the aforementioned tins were also conveniently located. it had been a while since i last turned on the oven…after some failed sourdough i felt it best to keep a low profile. after spending days up to my arms in fermented yeast, i felt a little numb to the whole exercise. and my self-esteem took quite a battering when my first sourdough, albeit a prototype, still in its embryonic/learning-what-not-to-do phase, failed to do any of the things it was required to do, including but not exclusive to, working. but as soon as i saw these teacakes i was suddenly filled with a sense of possibility and hope and i heard hundreds of voices in my head chanting “yes we can”. moved as i was by my own internal dialogue, i decided it was time to get back up on the dying horse and rediscover beauty. i looked to the truest most pure source of beauty i know – butter, sugar and vanilla. and surely enough, there it was. and here it is.

ingredients

180g unsalted butter

260g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

160g caster sugar

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

170ml sour cream

2 pears halved, cored and cut into 1cm bits

250g raspberries

first preheat your oven to 170 degrees. grease 6 mini kugelhopf tins. you can use muffin tins if you cant find the “proper” tins. no one will judge. but you will end up with muffins rather than teacakes. no one will judge you, you will only be cheating yourself. then prepare your fruit and by that i mean open your bag of frozen raspberries and cut up your pears. pears in small dice…they will stay the size they are so cut them the size that will make sense to your mouth

sift together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. set this aside. cream the butter and sugar until light and gorgeous. mix in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and beat well.

gently fold in a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the sour cream. continue this until they are both mixed in and the batter is smooth. finally fold in the pears.


scatter some raspberries onto the base of the tin.

then spoon the mix into the tins and fill it almost to the top and smooth it over.

then press about 5 raspberries into the the mix so they are just below the surface.

bake for 25-30 minutes. check with a stick of any description you can find to make sure they are cooked through. not that there is anything wrong with raw cake batter. but by then, you may have had enough raw dough and will be looking for something more cooked through

let them cool before, in the immortal words of nigella, “applying to face”

nb. smoo – time this took was roughly an hour, including oven time as well as spoon-licking time, raspberry grazing time, and marvelling at the quality sara lee’s frozen raspberries which are remarkably superior to creative gourmet (which seem to come in one large frozen clump as opposed to sara lee’s exquisite, physics-defying, individualised raspberries which have a flavour i n’ere before tasted from a frozen berry) and cheaper.
nbb. i also made a ras-white-choc, replacing the pear with raspberries and inserting 100g white chocolate finely chopped – the berries bled and the chocolate was a bit of overkill. but it was still sublime – as only raspberry and white chocolate can be.

raspberry and white chocolate tarts

it sounds sickly sweet. it sounds unsophisticated. its a play on a very prolific muffin. but in terms of my own creative production it represents an apex. an aesthetic apex. and a rather elegant solution to a glut of tart tins. it was a long lazy day when i happened upon 20 tartlet tins. this incident was closely followed by a catering request. i cant help but wonder how intimately the two were linked. i suspect the latter was an attempt by a primary eater to offset the results of the former. in any (pastry) case, suddenly 20 tarts had to be made. this therefore is the first of a number of tarts which will appear in this space. i have given a recipe for shortcrust pastry. instead of using one large tin, roll this chilled pastry out, cut out circles, and put the pastry into 20 mini tart tins. or use a muffin tray. probably two. this recipe for the filling will make about 10 (max.). for the other 10, use your imagination if you have one. if not, do as i did and refer yourself to a reference book like ottolenghi. i would like to add, not because of any coercive influence, that these tarts were made with BBC worldservice on in the background. the soothing british voices, the calm english panic about the rise of indias economy, the human interest story about little madeleine who disappeared in portugal three years ago, and the exquisite interview technique of the bbc journalist who asked the pertinent question of her parents “are you ever able to laugh?”, provided an intellectual and emotional space in which these tarts were so lovingly and tenderly made. i think they speak for themselves. and they are made in memory of little madeleine. as well as for snow and berry who taught me the true meaning of raspberry and white chocolate.

ingredients

1 quantity short crust pastry – this should be divided into mini tart tins. it will make about 18 pastry cases.

180g white chocolate (very finely chopped)

20g butter – cubed. very little ones obviously.

90ml cream

40g raspberries

6tsp raspberry jam

first mash up the raspberries through a sieve to remove the pips. what this will give you is raspberry coulis. you may have to do this twice if you have a penchant for pureed raspberry and have absolutely no self control so perhaps should amend this to be 80g of raspberries for those restraint-challenged

then chop up the chocolate and butter and put into a heat proof bowl

in a small saucepan heat the cream over medium heat. just as it gets to boiling point remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate and butter. stir with a spatula until all the chocolate has melted and you have a very sexy ganache on your hands

quickly spoon in a teaspoon of raspberry jam into the base of each tart case. (quick because the ganache will set and then it will all, very quickly, fall apart).

pour the chocolate in, over the jam. dont lick the spoon too much…remember what you are licking (refer to ingredients.) it will only end in a stomach ache.

fill the tarts to the rim

then put a small teaspoon of coulis into the centre and with a pointy implement (i used a very groovy cocktail umbrella. it was orange and i think came from the seventies) swirl the coulis around and make it look like something you cannot believe you made. put them into the fridge to set and i think, remove them 15 minutes before serving. i cant say for sure because here, there is no chilling and no serving. just eating.

they are very rich. and potentially sickly but the raspberry elevates it all…as only raspberry can. they are beautiful and if you have 20 mini tart tins and 6 hours free i suggest you make them.

lentils and rice: kosheri

i found this recipe for kosheri in the ottolenghi cookbook which is beyond words in its goodness. and i made some minor adjustments – eg. halving the amount of lentils for fear of what it would do to delicate, western, non-lentil lined insides. and before putting the vermicelli noodles in the butter with the rice i sweated one white onion because its not like you can go wrong. thats about all because its spectacular as it is, and as the smartest, tiredest person i know says “there comes a point when you just have to stop fucking around with it”…eloquent as ever.

ingredients

300g green lentils

200g basmati rice

40g unsalted butter

50g vermicelli noodles broken up

400ml chicken stock

pinch ground cinnamon

salt and pepper

4tbsp olive oil

3 white onions (2 finely sliced, 1 minced)

first run the lentils under cold water and drain. then put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. drain again and set aside.

then in a saucepan melt the butter, add the onion and cook until softened. then add the vermicelli, stir and continue to fry until the vermicelli turns golden brown. add the rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter. then add the stock, cinnamon, salt and pepper. bring to boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 12 mins. once finished cooking remove from the heat and cover with a tea towel and put lid back on for a few minutes…this makes for fluffiness.

finally heat olive oil in a pan, add onions and saute for about 20minutes until brown.

then assembly: add the lentils, and the onions to the rice. season if needed.

theres not many words for a thing like this. its best eaten. so i suppose the most appropriate description i can give, if youre into ambiguation and obfuscation, is: “ive never tasted anything like this before” – the fluffhead across the way.