Sunday, 26 July 2020

SEAFOOD LASAGNA


This seafood lasagna is a bit of faff to make but worth every effort! A real dinner party centre piece and a total seafood lover's heaven.

Serves 5-6

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 480g seafood (crab, prawns and scallops)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup white wine 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons flour 
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup dill (chopped)
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 300g frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
  • 400g fresh lasagna sheets
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)

METHOD
  • Heat the butter in a pan.
  • Add the seafood and saute until cooked, just a few minutes and set the seafood aside.
  • Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minutes.
  • Add the white wine and lemon juice, deglaze the pan, and simmer to reduce by half.
  • Add the seafood and toss to coat.

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add the flour and stir while cooking for a few minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until it thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper and dill.

FOR THE RICOTTA SPINACH FILLING
  • Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, parmesan, mozzarella and a cup of the white sauce.

ASSEMBLING
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the white sauce over the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of half of the ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of all of the seafood and pour a cup of the white sauce over it.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of the remaining cheese mixture.
  • Add a final layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the white sauce over the lasagna sheets and top with the parmesan and mozzarella.
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 45-60 minutes.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

THAI DRUNKEN NOODLES


Thai drunken noodles or pad kee mao is one of those ultimately comforting dishes to make, offering the perfect combo of carby goodness from silky, wide rice noodles, and proper warming spice, delivered via a gloriously sticky homemade sauce made from plenty of chilli, garlic, soy and oyster sauce as well as ginger, all finished off with a generous helping of super fragrant Thai basil. 

There are many different stories as to why these noddles are coined "drunken", I personally like the version which claims the sheer chilli kick from the noodles will blow out even the worst hangover cobwebs out of ones body though it is also meant to awaken the kind of thirst that can only be quenched by a chilled alcoholic beverage.

Regardless the origins of it's name, these noodles are proper, proper warming comfort food, easily made at home and as good as your favourite go-to takeaway Thai option, able to fix even the worst after effects of a wine, or five too many the night before, trust me!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g wide rice noodles (about 1/2 a standard package)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch cube of ginger, minced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or more if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of Thai basil leaves (crucial ingredient in this that tastes very different to conventional basil and is available at Waitrose!)
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
Sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar (can sub maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp water

METHOD
  • Cook the rice noodles in a pot of hot water for 5-6 minutes until al dente.
  • They should be a bit hard in the centre, and not cooked fully through.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok on medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chilli pepper and cook for 1 minute, then add the ginger, onion and pepper and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the noodles to the pan, tossing together and letting them cook for 2 minutes, until the noodles start to brown on the bottom slightly.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce and Thai basil leaves, mixing everything together.
  • Serve immediately and top with sliced spring onion.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, 20 July 2020

GOLDEN OREO BLONDIES



I am no cake or brownie fan but these wonderfully cookie like blondies, bursting with white chocolate chunks and finished off with golden Oreo's for an extra wow factor, are real crowd pleasers, easy and quick enough to make even for the most reluctant baker. 

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk discard the white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 packet of golden Oreos

METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius
  • Line baking tray with parchment paper leaving an overhang around the sides.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until the sugar is fully incorporated (about 1 minute).
  • Whisk in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  • Gently stir in the flour and salt.
  • Gently stir in the white chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the batter into the baking tray.
  • Place a layer of golden Oreos on top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is set and the sides are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs.
  • Cool fully in the pan (about 4 hours). 
  • Then pull the bars out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper. 
  • Place on a cutting board and cut with a large, sharp knife.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

WHITE CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY FLAPJACKS


This golden syrup free twist on the humble and comforting flapjack is SO easy to make and super delicious with the unusual additions of white chocolate, condensed milk and raspberry. The perfect dessert for any picnic!

INGREDIENTS
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 200 ml condensed milk
  • 80 g white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 290 g rolled oats
  • 150 g raspberries
METHOD
  • Melt the butter, condensed milk and white chocolate in a large pan over low heat.
  • Mix in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
  • Stir in the oats and raspberries as carefully as you can until just combined.
  • Press into 20cm (8" or 9") lined tin.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4). 
  • Leave to cool then cut into rectangles.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

VEGETARIAN MUFFULETTA (STUFFED SOURDOUGH LOAF)



Talk about picnic centre piece! This stuffed loaf, inspired by the Italian muffuletta, a loaf traditionally stuffed with layers of cured meats, cheese and vegetables, is a total flavour bomb and also looks rather stunning once you cut through the many layers of this "sandwich cake".

My veggie version gets extra oomph from smoked mozzarella (scarmoza) which adds a wonderful smokiness, though normal mozzarella will also do, while the Dusty Knuckle Bakery's fantastic potato sourdough, once hollowed out, offers the perfect "shell" for layer upon layer of roast veg, cheese, fresh herbs and tapenade.

Even better, once assembled you simply add your bread lid, wrap the finished stuffed loaf in cling film and chill it in the fridge, ideally leaving it for about an our hour so, so that all the different flavours and layers really infuse and marry together.

The muffuletta travels without risk of spillage to any picnic or dinner party destination and once sliced up into rustic quarters not only looks rather impressive but tastes pretty out of this world. If you want to impress at a picnic with minimal actual cooking I cannot recommend this total gem enough.

One last tip get your bread right (aka your trusted bakery of choice and bought fresh on the day), invest in good quality cheese and hit your local deli for all the other bits and this muffuletta will never fail to impress!

INGREDIENTS
METHOD
  • Cut the aubergine into slices.
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Heat a griddle pan over high heat.
  • Cook the aubergine until tender, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Remove from heat to cool.Carefully cut the top of the bread off using a serrated knife angled downward.
  • Scoop out the inside of the bread top and bottom to create a crusty bread shell.
  • Save the inside for breadcrumbs.
  • Spread the bottom and top of the bread with a layer of olive tapenade.
  • Layer the basil, vegetables, and mozzarella inside the bread, pressing them in firmly.
  • Pile the greens on top and cover with the top piece of bread.
  • Try to fill the sandwich with as much of the veggies as possible.
  • Wrap with plastic or parchment and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to eat.
  • Cut crosswise into sandwich slices to serve.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

BROWN SUGAR PECAN BUNS (NO DOUGH MAKING REQUIRED)



These incredibly tasty buns are made with readymade pizza dough (I know, what a life hack right?) so are rustled up with minimum fuss! The end result, eaten straight out of the oven, is pretty next level amazing - crunchy, cinnamon-y and gooey, making them the perfect indulgent dessert for any dinner party!

INGREDIENTS
  • All-purpose flour for the work surface
  • 1 store-bought pizza dough, thawed if frozen (my go-to is from the Northern Dough Co.)
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

METHOD
  • On a floured work surface, roll dough to a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. 
  • Dot upper two-thirds of dough with 1/2 cup butter and fold dough like a letter. 
  • Roll dough out to a rectangle again. 
  • Refrigerate on a baking sheet until firm, 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. 
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and salt. 
  • Leaving a 1/2-inch border, dot dough with 3 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Starting at a long end, roll up dough like a rolly polly. 
  • Cut crosswise into pieces. 
  • Place each piece, cut side down in a small baking tray.
  • Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Immediately invert buns onto a serving platter or baking sheet. 
  • Serve warm.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

ROAST AUBERGINE, HALLOUMI & BABA GANOUSH TART WITH PRESERVED LEMON, CHILLI, MINT & HONEY DRIZZLE



This puff pastry tart with a Middle Eastern twist may sound a little odd but the final product was without a doubt one of the best things I have rustled up in lockdown times.

Yes, it takes a bit of time and effort to make, the aubergine after all is prepared and used in 3 different ways, as homemade baba ganoush, griddled and roasted, but I promise you is very much worth it.

This tart is a real centrepiece for any picnic, flavourful and filling enough with the addition of cubed halloumi, to please and wow even the most dedicated carnivore.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 aubergines
  • 5tbsp olive oil
  • 50g tahini
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 x 320g rolled sheet of puff pastry
  • 250g halloumi cheese, cut into small cubes and tossed in a little olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the drizzle
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp runny honey
  • A handful of mint leaves, shredded
  • 1 red chilli, cut into tiny dice
  • ½ a preserved lemon, flesh discarded, skin cut into tiny dice (you cant it at Waitrose)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Cook one of the aubergines first. Cover your hob around the gas rings with foil to stop it getting filthy.

Ideally, you want to place the aubergine over the gas ring, using tongs, and char it with the open flame until it is completely burnt on the outside and collapsing. If you don’t have a gas hob, grill the aubergine instead.

When it is cool enough to handle, split the aubergine lengthways and scoop the flesh into a bowl, being careful not to get any of the burnt skin in with the flesh. Set aside.

Cut the second aubergine in half horizontally. Cut each chunk into eight vertical wedges (or six if your aubergines are on the skinny side). Toss them in 2tbsp of the olive oil, season well and arrange the wedges on one of the baking sheets, skin-side down.

Roast for 15 minutes, until golden and almost cooked. Heat a griddle pan on the hob. Take the third aubergine and cut it into thin, round slices. Toss them in 2tbsp of the olive oil, season and place the slices on the hot griddle pan, for 3 minutes on each side.

Take the flesh from the first aubergine and strain it through a sieve before placing it on a board and chopping to a rough purée. Place it in a bowl with the tahini, the remaining tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and add ½tsp of salt. Mix well and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary – it may need more salt.

Open the pastry roll and place it on the second baking sheet. Gently score a line around the pastry, about 2cm (¾in) from the edge, creating a border. Spread the aubergine purée – baba ganoush – over the inner section of the pastry. Lay the circles of griddled aubergine over the baba ganoush and arrange the wedges among the circles. Scatter with the halloumi. Season the tart with salt and pepper, and brush beaten egg over the pastry border. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the border is well risen and golden.

For the drizzle, mix the olive oil and date syrup or honey in a small bowl and add the mint leaves, chilli and preserved lemon. Using a teaspoon, drizzle all over the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

KIMCHI MAC N CHEESE


Ok, hear me out on this one. Kimchi mac n cheese might sound like fusion cooking taken a little too far but honestly this was one of the best things I have ever made.

Why? The tangy spice and crunch from the kimchi works in perfect symbiosis with the creaminess of the cheese, elevating the humble mac n cheese into something quite special here that you won't forget in a hurry. Give this a go, you won't regret it trust me!

PS: I used store bought kimchi on this occasion, but if you have a little time on your hands follow my homemade kimchi recipe which also works a treat and is a super fun little home fermentation project!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g macaroni (or any short pasta)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 560g kimchi, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean pepper paste which I adore)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 cups (480ml) milk
  • 1 cup cheddar
  • 1 cup brie
To garnish
  • Spring onion, chopped
  • Roasted sesame seeds

METHOD
  • In a large frying pan fry minced garlic in a little olive oil for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped kimchi and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently to stop the kimchi from burning at the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the flour and stir until you can no longer see any flour in the pot.
  • Slowly pour the milk into the pot, stirring all the while, until well-mixed.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat.
  • Add the shredded cheese. Melt the cheese, stirring quite frequently.
  • Keep on a low heat while you cook your pasta.
  • Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions, taking 2 minutes off the recommended cooking time. Drain and add to the kimchi cheese sauce, mixing thoroughly.
  • Add the gochugaru into the sauce.
  • Ladle the macaroni into heat-proof serving bowls (or a big tray).
  • Sprinkle with more.
  • Bake at 180°C or 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and bubbly.
  • Garnish with chopped spring onion and roasted sesame seeds and ENJOY!