27 May 2012

Roasted beetroot salad with yogurt

I never used to like beetroot, but since my brother cooked it for me this way I've been a dedicated convert and will now happily tuck into beetroot at any opportunity. I think this recipe was originally inspired by something from Ottolenghi's restaurant, but is something that can be thrown together with very little fuss and makes a super, summery alternative to the traditional veg served with roast chicken. A chunk of crusty bread, some salad leaves, and you're away.

Roasted beetroot salad with yogurt
Serves 4

4-5 medium beetroot
1 clove garlic
200ml natural yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
Small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Cut the beetroot into 1cm thick slices, leaving the skin on and place in a roasting dish. Drizzle over some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together so that the beetroot is well coated with the oil. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until the beetroot is cooked (it's best with a bit of bite, but it shouldn't be crunchy). 

When cooked, remove the beetroot from the oven and leave to cool a bit.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt dressing. Mix the yogurt with the lemon juice, and most of the parsley. Grate or crush half of the garlic clove and add it to the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. 

When the beetroot is cool enough to handle, drizzle some of the yogurt dressing onto your serving plate and layer the beetroot on top. Drizzle more yogurt on to the top of the beetroot. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

23 May 2012

Yogurt panna cotta with roasted rhubarb

I always think that panna cotta looks like one of those things that should be complicated to make. Custardy, creamy things often have an element of risk to them which means you have to be ready to follow the recipe to the letter and keep an eagle eye on them in case they start to go lumpy or something awful happens with eggs. But panna cotta is ridiculously simple. It's basically just fancy jelly, but it can be adapted in any number of ways which should make it the ultimate go-to for an easy dinner party pud.

The tangy, creaminess of the yogurt panna cotta is a brilliant partner to some slightly sharp roasted rhubarb.

Yogurt panna cotta with roasted rhubarb
Serves 4

300ml double cream
200ml full fat, natural yogurt
1/2 vanilla pod
50g golden caster sugar
2 sheets gelatin (or enough to set 1/2 pint or 250ml according to the packet)

Fill a bowl with cold water and soak the gelatin sheets  - make sure they're completely covered by the water - and leave for 5 minutes to soften.

Put the cream and sugar into a pan. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, and add it to the cream. Heat the cream gently over a low heat until just below boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

By this time your gelatin should be soft. If it is, remove the sheets from the water and squeeze out the liquid. Add the gelatin to the cream and stir to dissolve. Leave it to cool slightly.

Pour the yogurt into a large bowl, and add the cream fairly slowly, stirring well to prevent lumps (you shouldn't get any, but if you do, you can always sieve the liquid).

Pour the creamy yogurt into your serving dishes and chill in the fridge for a few hours to set. I didn't bother to turn out the panna cotta once it was set, as I'd used nice glasses, but if you fancy serving the panna cotta out of the mold, just dip the molds in hot water for a few seconds and it should soften the edges of the panna cotta just enough to turn out.

Serve with roasted rhubarb. Delicious!

If you like this, you might like...
Rhubarb cordial

Roasted rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of my absolute favourites. I think it's partly because it's only around for such a short while - it seems to be one of the few things that the gardeners in white coats haven't managed to get on the supermarket shelves all year round. But it's here right now - hurray hurray! And in our house that means it makes frequent appearances on the menu. Some people have been known to say too many, but I don't think you can ever have too much bright pink food, especially when it tastes as delicious as rhubarb.

This works as the basis for rhubarb crumble, rhubarb trifle, rhubarb ice cream... or just in a bowl with a spoon and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Roasted rhubarb
Serves 3-4

400g  rhubarb, chopped into 1" pieces
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp golden caster sugar (or more or less, depending on how sharp you want it)
1" piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Place the chopped rhubarb into a roasting dish with the rhubarb. Sprinkle over the sugar. 

Cover with foil and roast for 20 - 25 minutes, or until it starts to break down.

If you like this, you might like...
Yogurt panna cotta with roasted rhubarb
Rhubarb cordial

15 May 2012

Stag cushions from Pedlars

If painting walls and hanging new curtains isn't really an option, I think that switching old cushions for new can make a huge difference to a room and give it a new lease of life. And I love the statement that these huge cushions would make. There's a very outdoorsy character to them, which makes me think of roaring fires and toasted crumpets after big old blustery walks. Combined with something a bit more neutral, I think they would look equally good in a London bedsit as in a rambling, country mansion in Scotland.

The cushions (70cm x 70cm) are woven in Flanders and the images are woven into the fabric, rather than being digitally printed. You can get them online from Pedlars.

Delicious doughnut recipes

It's National Doughnut Week this week, and what more could you want when it's grey, gloomy and raining AGAIN, than a little sugary pick-me-up? If the thought tickles your fancy, you can find nine delicious recipes here, from doughnut holes and churros to double chocolate doughnut rings. Enjoy!

13 May 2012

Super quick banana ice cream

This is so easy, it's not really even a recipe. It's just a "how to" for making a delicious, super-quick, fat-free banana ice cream. And it's great for using up those bananas that have gone a bit black and mushy - just peel them, chop them then throw them in the freezer and you're ready to go. 

Super quick banana ice cream
Serves 2-3

4 peeled, chopped frozen bananas
Optional ingredients: honey, peanut butter, toasted crushed almonds

Put the frozen bananas into a food processor, and blitz them until smooth. They'll be a bit resistant at first, but keep the motor running for about 3 - 4 minutes, and they'll come together and get really creamy. And you're done!

It's delicious as it is, but you can add a tablespoon of honey (especially if you couldn't wait for your bananas to over-ripen before you put them in the freezer), peanut butter, or a sprinkling of toasted, crushed almonds.

7 May 2012

Water biscuits with poppy seeds

A cheese board, any cheese board, is pretty great in its own right, but add some homemade biscuits and you're heading towards perfection.

These biscuits are more like the dense, crunchy Bath Olivers than delicate Carr's Water Biscuits, but they're really easy to make, and would make a lovely dinner party gift. Or you could just keep them all to yourself.

Water biscuits with poppy seeds
Makes 25-30

60g lard
250g plain flour
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
4 - 5 tbsps cold water

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease and line two or three baking sheets.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, with the sea salt. Rub in the lard until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Sprinkle the cold water into the mix, and bring everything together to form a firm dough. You might need a bit more or a bit less water, so do a bit at a time, but try not to over-work the dough. Knead briefly until smooth, then flatten it into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for 20 mins.

When the dough is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, to about 2mm thick. Cut out circles with a 6cm pastry cutter. Lay the cut shapes on your baking trays and prick them all over with a fork.

Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until they edges are pale golden and crisp, then cool on a wire rack. Voila!

These will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

2 May 2012

Terracotta lamps by Hand & Eye Studio

These terracotta lamps, by architect-turned-designer Tom Housden at Hand & Eye Studio, are definitely on the List. The warm colours of the terracotta, combined with the flashy white glaze make this a beautifully modern design that would look perfect in the kitchen. The lamps are all made to order and are also available with neon coloured flexes for a bit of extra stylishness. The large pendant is available in two styles - bottom glaze and top glaze.

Tom set up the Hand & Eye design studio in 2011, to combine the roles of designer and maker, and projects are developed from the drawing stage right through to the making and manufacturing. Tom sells through his website, and will also consider commissions and bespoke products.

1 May 2012

Spicy aubergine and tomato salad

As much as possible I try to make my own lunch to take to work, but coming up with new ideas to keep things interesting can be a major chore. Sandwiches are never quite as good once they've been wrapped in foil for a couple of hours, lettuce-y salads don't keep hunger locked up all day and for some reason the extra leftovers I cook with the desk-based lunch in mind, often don't survive the evening.

But I came across a recipe that I'd squirrelled away months ago. Adapted from a book called Flavours of Morocco by Ghilli Basan, it's packed with flavours of exotic holidays.

Served with chunks of bread, or as part of a tapas spread, it makes a perfect lunch at home or at your desk.

Spicy aubergine and tomato salad
Adapted from Flavours of Morocco, by Ghillie Basan

Serves 4

2 large aubergines
4 large, ripe tomatoes
100ml olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp harissa
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
Small bunch coriander, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 200C. Put the whole aubergines in a roasting tray with the tomatoes. Drizzle half of the oil over the tomatoes, and bake for about 40 minutes until the aubergines are soft.

Remove the aubergines and tomatoes from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Then remove the skins, and chop the flesh of both to a chunky pulp.

Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the garlic and fry gently until it starts to colour. Add the tomatoes, aubergine, harissa and cook over a medium heat for 5 - 8 minutes until it thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander, and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.