Tag: Cheese

polenta chips
Condiments, Gluten Free

Polenta

Such a simple cupboard staple with so many variations.  A block of cooled polenta is great fridge food for busy lives, the polenta can be made in minutes and refrigerated ready to snap to action.  Best of all it goes with almost anything and makes it better.  Most of these photos have been taken over the summer but as we transition to winter I am looking forward to teaming it with the likes of – buttery mushrooms with loads of garlic and parsley or roast pumpkin, maybe some chorizo, spinach, walnuts and cheese, or a slow cooked juicy ragout – mmmmm. Sliced into “chips” and baked or fried polenta is never a bad choice and will make the most conservative palates happy.  Set it like a trivit under a stack of roast vegetables and olives or a whole cauliflower drizzled in a spicy paprica oil, or for meaty options – think chicken pieces, lamb fillets, chops, rumps or racks, or a steak on the bone to roast and catch the juices – any of these choices will never be wrong and if you want to test its versatility just crumble it and bake or fry to use as croutons in your next salad and you will be equally happy. Another great feature is that although like most foods polenta can be richly enhanced with any amount of butter cream and cheese, the polenta can be equally delicious when made with fresh herbs, olive oil and or spice mixes such as […]

courgette and goats cheese butter
Autumn, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Summer, Vegetable

Zucchini/Courgette and Goats Cheese Butter

Zucchini – courgette whatever the name they are definitely a part of summers bounty, in the stores they are plentiful and affordable and if you have a garden chances are you have a constant supply of them.   This is one of my favourite ways of using them, it hits all those exciting flavour notes with chilli, garlic, lemon and basil.  It is great on croutons for a party or a snack, spread on flat breads with a bit of salad on top, or spread on your wrap as well as or instead of hummus or mayonnaise,  and, it is an especially useful way of using those crazy courgettes gone rogue that look more like marrows. It makes a little bit of good quality goats cheese go a long way and it can make a large quantity of courgettes aka the marrowlike version of courgettes shrink down to a more manageable volume when necessary. When you are preparing the courgettes for this, you can use one of two methods, firstly with young firm courgettes you can simply grate them and add to the pan, but with the larger or watery marrowlike versions, I grate them on to a tea towel and then twist the towel with the courgette well enclosed, over the kitchen sink to wring as much of the liquid as I can from them ( I am sure this liquid is very nutritious and would be great added to smoothies or soups).  This squeezing of water from the […]

labna and char grilled vegetables
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Lunch

Labna Yoghurt – Everyday Delicious

Welcome to 2019, I wish you all well and I hope it holds everything good for you. I did have a momentary panic as I sat down at the computer this morning, wondering if I would even remember how to open this blog — it feels it has been a long time since I have sat myself down and written anything, being busy and being creative it would seem do not go hand in hand for me.  Luckily life seems to be in some sort of order now (an optimistic view of my normal state of semi controlled chaos) and with the madness of Christmas behind me I am looking forward to some slightly more considered and creative eating and cooking. As always for me it is condiments that star in my cooking and the main player the last few weeks has been strained yoghurt called Labna or Labneh.   Labna is a Middle Eastern staple made by straining yoghurt to remove excess whey and resulting in a thickened slightly sour spread.  Inspired by both some delicious Turkish eggs eaten at a local cafe, and a recipe from Ottolinghi s new book – Simple – for “Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt”.   I was ready to make again that staple I have talked of before Labna/Labnah.   While both these recipes use greek yoghurt I wanted to make my own version of this thickened greek style yoghurt in order to control the thickness. With Labna you can choose how thick you […]

ricotta gnocchi
Lunch, Meal

Spinach, Lemon and Ricotta Gnocchi

These gnocchi are a slightly lighter and looser gnocchi than usual.They are quick to put together and, at a stretch, can be said to be made from store cupboard ingredients. Ricotta and spinach from the freezer, lemons, parmesan, eggs and flour. Anyone who knows me well knows I love food bargains and hate waste.  One of our extended family who lived with us for a while was known to to ask “what’s special for dinner tonight”, and he wasn’t referring to my cooking!  In fairness he always did seem to love the cooking as well. My bargain hunting means I always have a stock of short dated ricotta in my freezer ready for savoury or sweet treats. These little gnocchi are substantial enough to be the hero of your meal and will team well with any of the usual simple pasta accompaniments – simple brown butter is amazing, but for a lighter approach think about wilted spinach, peas and pine nuts, sweet summer cherry tomatoes and basil, a simple Puttanesca sauce, or a wintery dish of roast pumpkin and toasted almonds!(……Maybe some of the fresh asparagus and peas just starting to appear in the market,  topped with a few lightly toasted pine nuts – YUM!.) I have also wandered off track a little with these in the experimentation process and have enjoyed them in a curry sauce and used them as dumplings in a big oxtail stew.  I cooked them from raw in the sauce both times and very happily […]

carrot top pesto
Condiments, Gluten Free, Snack

Carrot Top Pesto

Todays pesto combines the mild flavoured, fresh green goodness of carrot tops, with some punchy flavoured Peccorino cheese, garlic, chilli, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted cashew nuts. Carrot top pesto was not my intention for the blog today, but having bought the lovely baby carrots to go in a salad it was immediately apparent that the tops were almost more vibrant than the carrots.  This reminded me of my frustration in seeing people throwing carrot tops like these in the rubbish bin and so here I am making peace with my own carrot tops and making pesto today.  I could just have easily have used these lovely greens to made a herb dressing, a salsa verde, or used then in another batch of last weeks sassy salsa / ravigote sauce. Carrot tops have a mild  slightly parsley / spinach like flavour making them ideal for my pesto today.  You can, of coarse, use this method and list of ingredients to make what ever pesto you like – basil, parsley, rocket …  This loose recipe offers another quick and tasty option to use up those spare ‘herb’ greens  that you have either taken the trouble to grow or purchased. I have used cashew nuts in my pesto as in this part of the world they offer a more cost effective option than the more expensive pinenuts.  The cashews will still give the same buttery texture, but as always you should feel free to use what you prefer. This pesto, or […]

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]

pumpkin feta fritters
Autumn, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Winter

Spicy Pumpkin and Possibly Feta, Fritters

The chill in the south continues to deepen and with the forecast temperature at -7’c this morning, the kitchen is a great place to be. That chill coupled with an amazing vege lettuce burger I had a couple of months ago has certainly encouraged my quest to create a simple and tasty winter vegetable fritter at home.  Having now settled on my favourite version, I think their uses are far from limited to burgers. Stacked up for breakfast or brunch with an egg, some spicy tomato salsa and greek yogurt or as an alternative to fritters make the mix as one or two whole rosti style pancakes and serve with some hot or cold smoked salmon, sour cream capers and lemon…….. With all these options I am still excited about the lettuce burger today.  Not a new idea at all but still a really good one – put together one, two or three Iceburg lettuce leaves to make a great vessel for your favourite burger, refreshing, crunchy and amazingly sturdy. Couple this with a tasty vege fritter, simple salad or slaw, a spicy salsa or some kimchi, maybe a little creamy dressing or yogurt and possibly a few potato crisps or tortilla chips inserted at the last moment for extra crunch. Delicious! I am making these today and plan to put them in the refrigerator ready for “tired and can’t be bothered” night, because on those nights I can’t be bothered to go out and get food either. SPICY PUMPKIN […]

pumpkin crostini
Autumn, Canape, Salad, Vegetable, Winter

Multi Tasking Pumpkin Crostini

Pumpkin season is upon us and even if the calendar says it is still autumn the snow on the hills and the snow makers working hard on Coronet Peak suggest otherwise.  I love pumpkin, and was lucky enough this year to have some – grow themselves – from my Bokashi compost in the vegetable garden. Those lush rambling pumpkin plants did a great job of making my neglected garden look as if something purposeful was happening, yielding several pumpkins and smothering a multitude of weeds. Today Ed is briefly home and so I am hoping these pumpkin crostini will be a welcome step up from his usual hurried travel fare. These are quick to put together taste delicious, and today they then doubled as a side vegetable/salad for the venison we had for dinner. Happy days! Fresh sage is one of those herbs that is easy to grow, and holds on through our sometimes harsh winter. Sadly it is also a herb which I struggle to get around to using.  It teams so well with pumpkin making it a great winter herb and is also great with pork.  This method of frying the leaves renders them absolutely delicious so don’t skip this step if you are lucky enough to have fresh sage available. I dithered today over whether to use blue vein cheese or the Chevre De Bellay goats cheese, I chose the the blue vein cheese this time as Ed does not enjoy goats cheese, and while the blue […]

tomato,pumpkin,basilandlentilsalad
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

End of Summer Tomato Pumpkin Basil and Lentil Salad

This delicious salad marks an end to the summer days in my world, but, it could just as easily be a welcome to spring salad for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  It makes the most of this transition period for vegetables in my garden, when the tomatoes and basil  are coming to an end, and the pumpkins are just coming into their prime season.  For those of you heading into spring, the opposite will be happening in the vegetable markets and gardens. The temperatures plummeted here this week, which left me looking urgently for the comfort of warmer, more substantial food, while still wanting to finish the last of my summer harvest.  This salad bought these needs together perfectly. With events not being quite as I anticipated, and with over ambitious ideas of how much three people really want to eat for lunch – I found myself home alone this week with a lot of left over salad!  Four dinners later, I can tell you that as well as being delicious this is a very versatile salad! Starting with enthusiasm – I mean who doesn’t like to think they haven’t already got a delicious dinner already made just waiting for the finishing touches – dinner number one was enjoyed with a piece of white fish, pan fried and placed on top of my lightly warmed salad.  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to eat, photography was not the priority it should have been.  I can only say that it really did […]

potato fennel artichoke gratin
Autumn, Gluten Free, Vegetable

Fresher, Lighter – Potato, Fennel and Artichoke Gratin

Cook this soon, it is delicious and simple to make!  A lighter, fresher feeling version of the classic potato gratin we all grew up loving. Somehow despite a deep desire to eat foods like the traditional creamy potato gratin, my body and common sense suggests that other than special occasions, eating Potato Gratin is not in my best interests. Meet this super tasty and satisfying answer to the cheese/cream lovers dilemma – just as tasty and introducing some extra vegetables and complex flavours.  It is a little bit sophisticated, with references to Italy in the fennel, artichokes and parmesan, it goes with anything from a simple green salad, to salmon, to a big juicy steak.   I have made it three times this week – just to make sure it is always good!  I have found it simple to put together – using just a few ingredients,  it is one of those recipes where time in the oven brings the sum of ingredients deliciously together.  It makes for great every day food, or it is equally appropriate for a special shared dinner with family and friends. I found the basis for this idea on Jamie Olivers latest five ingredient TV series – there are some great ideas for busy people wanting delicious food – not always fast or cheap, but very do-able. Despite my ongoing but inconsistent efforts and attention to my garden (over many years), the only thing that consistently does well is potatoes, and even they seem to grow […]