Posts Tagged 'thyme'

sweet potato & goats cheese galette

5 more sheets of puff pastry and 5 hours to kill. it wasnt until very recently that i felt something other than contempt for puff pastry. it was always synonymous with everything i find objectionable and it always produced something substandard. but after having made an exception the other week on account of an unprecedented pastry craving, and left with 7 sheets of the stuff, it was by necessity that i was impelled to delve, albeit tentatively, deeper into this foreign world of magical pastry – pre-made, pre-packaged, and pre-destined to be crap. much to my consternation, i was proven wrong. the uses for puff pastry are as infinite as the misuses of it. yet being a deeply stubborn individual i couldnt shake my 25 year long disdain for these pale, anemic looking frozen sheets of “pastry”. the fact that they were sitting in the freezer was making me irritable and i had a persistent sense that i needed to get rid of them. sooner rather than later. one acceptable use was a tarte tatin – because with that much butter and sugar you cant really go wrong. caramelised pears could be served on a bed of durian fruits and i dont think you could go past them. but 5 stubborn sheets remained and in a manic and inspired moment of revelation i recalled a galette i had read about in ottolenghi. puff pastry yes. but mitigated by sweet potato, goats cheese, chili, garlic and thyme. it seemed to be an extremely apt use of the pastry and my time. and so here it is – the final installment in the puff pastry series entitled “puff pastry and me: a girls photographic odessy from paris to coles” – words on internet, by new moon.

ingredients

couple of sheets of puff pastry (however many you have remaining or however many you wish to make)

2 sweet potatoes

1 egg lightly beaten

100ml sour cream

100g goats cheese

1 dried chilli

3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic clove crushed

handful of thyme

salt & pepper

i also made a couple with oven roasted tomatoes, basil, mozarella, garlic and pine nuts for which you will need…

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

handful of basil

1 ball mozarella

2 cloves garlic finely sliced

handful of pine nuts

to my befuddlement, after all this, i was still left with some sheets of pastry. so i looked in the fridge to see what was leftover. cauliflower apparently. so if you have some cauliflower left over from the previous post (are you following me this closely?) put some on. give it a bit of salt, pepper, and some chili flakes and tear over some mozarella.

so first, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. cut the cherry tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. put the sweet potatoes (in their skin) and the cherry tomatoes side by side on a baking tray and put into the oven for 50 minutes.

the cherry tomatoes should be shrivelled and the sweet potato should be soft but still slightly raw in the centre. leave potatoes until they are cool enough to touch and then peel and cut them into slices.

remove pastry from the fridge and cut into rectangles about 7-14cm. line a baking tray with baking paper and place the rectangles on the paper – with room between them to grow and do what they do. now lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg. then spread a thin layer of sour cream around the pastries. leave a small border – untouched and unmarred by anything that will go on top. place the slices of potato on the pastry, overlapping slightly. sprinkle with salt, pepper and some dried chilli. then crumble over the goats cheese.

put these into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

while the pastries are cooking – stir together the crushed garlic, with some salt, pepper, thyme and the olive oil. as soon as you get the pastries out of the oven, brush them with the oil. you can also, while these are cooking, make round two. with the prepared pastry rectangles, already brushed with egg, place cherry tomatoes, slices of garlic and torn up mozarella in and around. tear over some basil. and give it a good grating of parmesan if you so desire.

or place anything you like on top – like cauliflower you prepared earlier. bake these for 20-25 minutes again.

when the tomato and cauliflower ones come out – sprinkle with some pine nuts and brush with the garlic oil.

the sweet potato needs nothing – some pine nuts always work but i didnt think necessary here. they are a bit creamy, not unlike the potatoes and cheese so if anything, try another nut maybe – almonds or even pumpkin seeds. brush them with some of the garlic oil and there you have it.

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.

ingredients

half butternut squash peeled and chopped into cubes

4 whole garlic cloves

rosemary

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.

ingredients

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.

cauliflower & cherry tomato gratin with pangrattato

there was a request for cauliflower cheese. but there was also no way that was going to be possible. no sooner had i heard those two words, vivid, painful memories of cauliflower cheese served to me from a bain marie at the surfers paradise rsl during one of the tri-weekly 4:30pm dining experiences came flooding back…like a dream recalled. and there was no way i was prepared to return to that traumascape..not even on a psychological level through food-induced memories. so a compromise had to be made. and it was found in the gratin…with a smattering of parmesan over the top as opposed to cauliflower glued together by cheese which is too yellow for its own good, and some pouring cream as opposed to a flour based white sauce.

the other thing i did to offset the potential flashbacks and visions of a bowling club and a piano man playing show tunes to a crowd of geriatrics who crawled in at 4pm for the early bird special, was to cut and cut and cut right through the stoginess. first with some pangrattato (i adapted this recipe and added some toasted blanched almonds – they give a layer of unprecedented texture. as i kept telling my photographer – i am doing some very important things with this pangrattato and i dont think it would be going too far to say that im staging a small revolution right here and now. it was met with a non-committal nod so i will share this thought with you all, who may be more receptive.) i also tossed through some rocket at the end…which cuts through the clag, but mainly the psychological scars, nicely. the cherry tomatoes have a similar effect here. but as i was wandering the aisles of the supermarket in preparation, i happened upon some pistachios and id like to suggest that some lightly toasted pistachios strewn throughout the finished dish will elevate this from a wonderful tasting dish to a visually appealing one and with the right photographer, you will be able to create something of a chef d’oeuvre merely out of a humble cauliflower.

ingredients

2 cauliflowers

2 punnets cherry tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

bunch of thyme

cayenne pepper

dried chilli flakes

200ml cream

25g butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt & pepper

couple handfuls parmesan cheese

pangrattato ingredients

2 large handfuls of torn bread (preferably sourdough, preferably stale)

150g blanched almonds

olive oil

3 crushed garlic cloves

1 dried red chilli

couple of sprigs of thyme

preheat the oven to 200 degrees. first blanch cauliflower florets in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. drain and place in a large mixing bowl. toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 garlic cloves crushed, 2 cloves of garlic unpeeled, a tsp of cayenne pepper, pinch of chili flakes, some thyme leaves as well as a couple of sticks of thyme. make sure it is properly coated.

put this into an ovenproof gratin dish and add the cream and grate over some parmesan and dot with a few knobs of butter. cover with foil and put into oven for 45 minutes.

meanwhile make your pangrattato. roughly chop up your almonds, tear up bread into crumbs and crush garlic with a good pinch of salt.

in a fry pan pour a lug of olive oil. then throw in the garlic and the almonds and toast til lightly golden. then add the bread crumbs, thyme and some dried chili.

toss for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

after 45 minutes remove cauliflower from the oven. remove foil and place cherry tomatoes contrived-ly in and around.

give another significant and liberal grating of parmesan over the top. and put back into the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

there are three alternative serving suggestions here. all good…no one better than the other – either with some peppery rocket…or with the pangrattato (you’d probably want to if you made it)…or all three if you are that way inclined.