Posts Tagged 'spinach'

mushroom radicchio & spinach fettuccine

this dinner was an elegant combination of the results of a food-related, dinner based, free association game* and a vision in my minds eye. my cohort had just yelled ‘pine nuts’ and ‘magnesium’. so i had a lot of thinking to do because i was less after dietary requirements and more focused on the aesthetic qualities of the meal. pasta is quick which seems so often to be the only factor under consideration so pasta it was. i had to use radicchio because i had a bee in my bee-ridden bonnet (other bees include banana bread…coming soon to a post near you). the worst supermarket in the world for some reason had a vast selection of wild mushrooms, the likes of which i had never before seen (in this barren culinary landscape) and which, im told are a high source of protein. i dont do science so protein and magnesium sounded the same…in as much as they made equally little sense to me and were of equally little importance to my artistic vision. spinach too was, according to the world wide web, rich in magnesium and green always looks pretty so i was home and hosed with robbie buck. (all for you snow). and so it was, mushroom radicchio and spinach fettuccine. pretty and magnesium heavy.

*game not suitable for children or those lacking intuition where food is concerned. it takes place often unintentionally during negotiations relating to the making and eating of dinner during which seemingly arbitrary food related words get yelled out. (in our case with its strange specificity it often starts with couscous and ends in pine nuts.)

5g dried porcini

few tbsp olive oil

30g butter

3tbsp cream

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

couple spoons of chopped oregano

500g mixed mushrooms

350g fettuccine

half radicchio roughly chopped

couple handfuls spinach

couple handfuls parmigiano-reggiano finely grated

first put porcini in 125ml boiling water and set aside to reconstitute. cook the pasta in a large pan full of boiling water. nigella once said that the water you salt pasta in should be as salty as the mediterranean. thought she didnt say it, the italians did. but its a nice analogy and she delivered it well.

heat oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms. try not to crowd the pan…if its too full it will steam and not fry so if you have, as you always have, gone too far, try doing mushrooms in batches. when the mushrooms start cooking down add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and add the oregano.

add cream and stir. then add the porcini and soaking liquid and simmer so that it reduces by half. add in the spinach and cook til just wilted.

drain pasta and toss through the mushrooms. add the radicchio and parmesan. scatter with pine nuts too if you are so inclined.


roast squash, tahini, pinenut salad

things have been a little rough. again. and so the mournful returns. its not that i dont enjoy the giggling, the car-mel, heart-shaped cookie cutters, and the hand clapping. i especially love the hand-clapping. its just that the world doesnt really present me with much of that. i realise that some of this may come across as martyrdom (cant imagine why, its not like i have inherited any kind of victim mentality). its just that the world doesnt make me want to clap my hands. its wintery and cold. there are not enough hours in a day before it gets dark and so often there are too many. in the words of a boy i know, this is the winter of our discount tent. theres the interminable problem of israel, its barbarity, and the violence inherent in zionist ideology. then, on a more personal level theres the problem of being in the possession of 14 winning mars bar wrappers and henceforth the looming predicament of having 14 mars bars on my person and (presumably) subsequently in my person. theres an exploding wardrobe full of clothes deemed unsuitable, and a devastatingly unattainable little calvin klein dress, hidden behind a curtain, that i cant afford on the salary of a blogger. and of course, theres the intractable problem of the starter, the untrelenting, unforgiving, and unappealing starter which is suffering in the cold and has had to go into hibernation in the bathroom (until it gets its proving oven). the steam and heat of a post shower environs seems to do worlds of good. which is ok… it just makes this world a stranger place to be. in amidst these troubles, there is so little time for cooking and writing. so this was the best i could come up with. but i make no apologies because it was really quite lovely. so here is an improvised, left-over inspired roast squashy (that was a typo but its very funny so it stays), tahini, pinenut and parmesan (and/or feta) salad.


1 butternut squash (cut into cubes)

4 garlic cloves

few sprigs of thyme (or rosemary…which id dare say is better if you have it. i did not.)

salt & pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

bunch of spinach and rocket leaves

handful of pine nuts lightly toasted

handful of parmesan (shaved)

for tahini….

150ml tahini paste

2 garlic cloves crushed

80ml lemon juice

1/2tsp salt

2 tbs olive oil

150ml water

handful parsley finely chopped

preheat your oven to 200 degrees. cut up your pumpkin and toss in a bowl with 3 or 4 garlic cloves, olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper and roast for about half hour or until soft.

to make the tahini bash up some garlic in a mortar and pestle. mix the garlic with the lemon juice in a bowl. add the tahini and mix to combine. then add the water and the olive oil and mix well. check for seasoning and if its too thick just add more water. finally throw in the chopped parsley. set aside.

put leaves on the plate. add the squash on top. then drizzle with tahini. scatter over pine nuts and finally give it some shavings of parmesan. alternatively crumble over some feta. or even alternately do both.

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.


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.

roast butternut squash & spinach risotto

this blog was, in its most scathing critique to date, recently described as “derivative” and “boring”. the real question is not, i dont think, is this blog truly derivative and boring but rather can the ego of this auteur bear such destructive criticism? shattered though one might be, after having being canned by one of your own supporters (a producer no less) in a review that was neither sought after nor invited, is there a way to get back up on the proverbial horse? some (mostly psychotherapists) would probably argue that in this particular case, with all its horrifying specificity, the answer is no. quit while you are behind. others however, those more perverse in character would say, why yes indeed. in no healthy way, this verbal beating needs to be embraced. and here is what i propose: a derivative and boring post…to show you what derivative and boring really means.

i was walking through my local all-round providore the other day, trying to come up with some ideas for dinner. uninspired by the range i was ready to throw in the towel when i fell upon some organic bio-dynamic and bio-logical muscat grapes. this i had to have. hubby loves muscats..they seem to have a soothing effect on his psoriasis. poor dear, he has such a delicate, flaky constitution. the little one enjoys them too..he enjoys chewing on the gummy things until he has extracted all their flavour and then spits them on the floor. i find it best to hover beneath his highchair, with cupped hands ready to catch the next bit of flying refuse…oh how we laugh. sometimes, when im feeling a little adventurous, i mascerate the muscats in a some dry sherry. hubby drinks around the muscats. and then i toss them through some yakult…baby seems to respond well to the liquor mixed with the lactobacillus gg strain. those evening often end in riotous hijinx and when the two have passed out, i often stop, and looking down at the scene, i thank the lord i have been blessed with such a wonderful family and such a culinary gift.

…think this experiment in derviation and mediocrity went of the rails somewhere. but still, in the timeless de-contextualised words of a boy i know, to the critics and sceptics i say: “you really need to stop talking to me now”. and to those who are cold and hungry i say, try this.


half butternut squash peeled and chopped into cubes

4 whole garlic cloves


1 white onion finely chopped

1 1/2 cups aborrio rice

3 cups stock (chicken, vegetable…whatever whatever)

50g butter

salt & pepper

couple of tbsp olive oil

couple handfuls of spinach

couple handfuls of parmesan

put the pumpkin, garlic, rosemary (or thyme if its all you got) and a few glugs of olive oil into a large mixing bowl and toss til its all coated. put this in an oven at 180 degrees for about half an hour – until soft but still shape retaining.

meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat cook the onion in 25g of butter until it is softened (about 5 minutes). then throw in the rice and stir until all the grains are coated and have gone translucent. have your stock gently boiling on the other hob and slowly add stock to the rice, stirring all the time and making sure all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladelful. do this for about 18 minutes. once the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid, remove it from the heat. put in your spinach at this point and stir until spinach has wilted. put in the other 25g of butter and a good couple handfuls of parmesan. stir once and then place a lid on and let the rice rest for a couple of minutes.

get your pumpkin out of the oven and stir through, careful not to break up the pumpkin too much. serve with some parmesan sprinkled over the top and a handful of pine nuts for greatness.

mushroom, hazelnut and thyme salad

this was initially conceived of as a mushroom, hazelnut and thyme salad. but as i wandered through the supermarket i happened, fortuitously upon chestnuts. i have a very long and involved history with the chestnut. for one parisian year, they were my lifeblood. my first point of call in italy was a place known as “the chestnut village”. apparently i had just missed the annual chestnut festival, which invoked images of chestnut strewn streets, chestnut songs and dances, chestnuts falling whimsically (not hazardously) from the sky, chestnuts roasted… all things chestnut – good and great. it was with a profound sadness, and heavy boots that i left the village empty handed. i vowed never to miss an opportunity for chestnuts again. so what choice did i have? sure this salad already had a nut, and a fine nut at that, but could the addition of chestnuts hurt? overwhelm, yes. but hurt, certainly not. and so it was that this salad found its hook. and so it was that this blog became unremittingly beautiful and autumnal.


500g mushrooms (whatever you can get. if you are privileged enough to live in the land where the names of mushrooms all end in -ini you will be better off. if you live in the land where “field” and “portabellos” are the best you can do, then let the melancholy pass and accept that that will just have to be good enough)

spinach and rocket

1 shallot finely sliced

1 clove of garlic finely sliced

couple sprigs of thyme

4 tbsp olive oil

1tbsp balsamic vinegar

30g butter

salt and pepper

couple handfuls of hazelnuts toasted and roughly chopped

handful of chestnuts roasted and roughly chopped

first preheat the oven to 180 degrees and toast the hazelnuts. if you are using chestnuts as well the best way i know to roast them is first score the rounded side (so they dont explode…kind of an important step) and put them in a fry pan with a sprinkle of cold water. toss them round every now and then. once they have blackened a bit take them off the stove. peel the skins off. then put the chestnuts into the oven (alongside the hazelnuts if you like that kind of efficient use of space and time) and toast until golden.

then make a dressing using half the shallots, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. mix this to combine and set aside.

in a fry pan put a knob of butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. when the butter starts to foam, throw in your mushrooms. then put in the garlic and some thyme leaves. cook until softened…about 5 minutes. season well with salt and pepper and put in another knob of butter and toss to coat the mushrooms – it makes them shiny. (at this point, i put in the pre-roasted chestnuts in to absorb some of the garlicy, buttery, mushroomy juice…unorthodox but spectacular.)

once your mushrooms are done put your green leaves on a plate and get your ingredients together. toss the rocket in some of the dressing and scatter over some more shallots. pour over the mushrooms and tumble the hazelnuts atop. its autumn and its beautiful.