Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Carrot Pesto

As you can see here, here and here, I obviously love pesto with all different sorts of ingredients. For a complete list, please enter 'pesto' in the Search box of my blog. For some time now, I've wanted to try out a carrot pesto. My other half brought more of the lovely local yellow carrots back and since they taste like 'real' carrots I finally did it. Tastes great not just with pasta but also with unpeeled boiled potatoes and is great as a dip or sandwich spread.

500 g carrots
1 pointed red pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 small handfuls of (toasted) hazelnuts
50-75 g freshly grated parmesan
sea sal
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp cumin
extra virgin olive oil

Half the pepper lengthways and core. Place under a hot grill until the skin starts to blacken. Transfer into a plastic bow and put the lid on. A plastic freezer bag works as well.

Meanwhile peel the carrots and slice them into 2 mm thick slices. Bring a pan with about an inch of water to the boil. Steam the carrots for 10-12 minutes until they are just tender.

Coarsely chop the nuts or grind them in a food processor. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or the beaker of a handheld blender and whizz.

1 kg of (yellow) carrots
80 g unpeeled almonds
juice of 2 limes
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp toasted cumin
75 g parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
30 g fresh coriander

Prepare as above using as much olive oil as you think it needs. Make the pesto Wash, spin and chop the coriander. Add to the pesto and whizz for a couple more minutes.

Because of the lime juice and lack of sweet peppers this is a much lighter pesto that's also great as a sandwich spread or with crackers.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


I found this recipe somewhere a few years ago but don't remember where. I think it was in a supermarket leaflet. Blinis are great for for Christmas or as tapas and go well with a variety of toppings, e. g. smoked salmon, smoked salmon and hot horseradish, spreadable goats cheese. This recipe can be made a couple of days in advance. I tend to serve the blinis at room temperature but they can be warmed in the oven.

(makes about 80 blinis)

60 ml warm water
2 g (1/2 tsp) dry/ 5 g fresh yeast

125 g flour
125 ml milk
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
30 g unsalted butter

vegetable oil for frying

1. Mix the yeast and and water and leave for 5 minutes. Melt the butter.
2. Beat the flour, milk sugar, salt, egg yolks, melted and yeast mix into a smooth runny dough. Leave to rest for 1 hour.
3. Beat the egg whites and fold into the dough.
4. Gently heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the blinis in batches. Cook them until the look dry and there are bubbles on the surface. Flip over and cook for another minute. Drain on kitchen papier, then cool on a rack and store in an air-tight container in the fridge until used.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Filo Tart with Yellow Carrots, Abate Pear and Goats Cheese

I love filo tarts, Flammkuchen, Pizza etc. For Tonight's tart I used some of the Scottish yellow carrots that my other half found at Aldi of all places. When I opened the package – unfortunately, they came in a plastic punnet wrapped with cellophane-like film – I was greeted by the most wonderful smell. And they tasted great, too. The remaining carrots from the packet were used in a shredded winter salad.

1 packet of filo pastry
4 yellow carrots, approx. 250 g
1/2 Abate pear
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
100 g goats cheese
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a good handful of fresh herbs (flat parsley, tarragon, dill)
150 ml soured cream/crème fraîche/Schmand
150 ml yoghurt
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp cumin (ground toasted whole cumin seeds)
extra virgin olive oil

1. Place your first filo sheet(s) on a baking tray or pizza tin, brush with olive oil, then add the next layer. Continue until all the pastry has been used up.

2. Mix the yoghurt, soured cream, pepper, salt, cumin, tomatoe puree and herbs and spread the mixture onto the filo pastry.

3. Peel and cut the carrots into 1-2 mm thick slices (I used the food processor for this) and slice the onion. Sauté in a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Season with a little pepper and salt. Scatter on top of the cream mixture.

4. Quarter and core the pear but leave the peel on. Cut into 2 mm tick slices and place onto the tart.

5. Cut the goats cheese into 2-3 mm thick slices and place onto the tart as well. Drizzle each slice with a tiny wee bit of olive oil

6. Bake at 200° C for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven.

Carrot and Coconut Soup

Serving in matching coloured bowls is not mandatory ;)

1 kg carrots
300 g potatoes
1 l vegetable or chicken stock
1 can of coconut milk
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 red chilli with seeds
1/2-1 tsp toasted and ground cumin
olive oil

1. Peel the carrots and slice into 5 mm thick pieces, peel and dice the potatoes.
2. Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli.
3. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes without browning. Add the carrots, potatoes and cumin. Mix, then pour in the stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the vegetables are soft. Whizz and add the coconut milk. Heat through and check the seasoning.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chickpea and Vegetable Pan

Today's recipe comes without too many instructions. It was spontaneous, vegan and delicious. Just try it using your imagination. Serve with warm crusty bread, e. g. ciabatta, pasta, potatoes, couscous, millet, buckwheat, rice or... or...

red onion, sliced
aubergine, diced
courgette, cored and sliced
mushrooms, sliced
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
splash of red wine
sea salt
black pepper
toasted cumin seeds, ground
garlic, crushed
olive oil
chopped parsley or coriander to serve, optional

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and start sautéing the onion and aubergine. Once they start browning, throw in the courgette and mushrooms. Add the garlic and seasoning. After a few minutes add the can of chopped tomatoes and the wine. Cover and simmer until the veggies are almost done. Add the chickpeas during the last five minutes. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley or coriander if at hand.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Savoy Cabbage and Pasta Bake

I've mentioned before that I don't really like cabbage but I'm discovering that this really only applies to boiled white cabbage. Other, greener, cabbages are just fine though I never boil them.

Today's recipe is sheer autumn indulgence and is the result of my not being ready to eat when the food was cooked last night. So I added soured cream and yoghurt, chucked everything into an oven-proof dish and baked it. Heaven on a plate!

Try also with cavolo nero.

(serves 6)

500 g pasta
1 medium savoy cabbage
2 garlic cloves
300 ml soured cream/crème fraîche/Schmand
300 ml Greek-style yoghurt
300-400 ml vegetable stock
2 balls of mozzarella, optional
2-3 tbsp pine nuts
freshly ground parmesan
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

1. Remove the dark green, outer leaves from the savoy, cut out the stalks. Stack the leaves on top of each other, roll and cut into 5 mm strips. Halve the remaining cabbage, remove the stalk and also cut into strips.

2. Bring a pan of water large enough to hold the cabbage to the boil. Prepare a large bowl with icecold water. Blanch the savoy for 2 minutes (no longer), drain in a colander or remove with tongs and dump straight into the cold water. Once the cabbage is cold. Drain and either spin dry or place in clean teatowels and pat dry.

3. Bring another pan of water to the boil, add salt and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes (if the package instructions ask for 11-12 minutes). Drain when done and transfer into the oven-proof dish.

4. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil and sauté the cabbage over a medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the crushed garlic and season with pepper and salt. Pour in about 250 ml of the stock and simmer until the cabbage is al dente. Add more stock if necessary. The stock should be almost completely absorbed by the time you add the cream and yoghurt. Bring to a high simmer, season with Tabasco and a little nutmeg. Check the seasoning.

5. Mix the vegetables with the pasta. Tear the mozzarella into chunks, if used, and "bury" in the mix. Scatter the pine nuts over the top.

6. Bake in a preheated oven at 175° C for 20 minutes. Then, sprinkle with the parmesan and bake at 200° C for a further 10 minutes or until the parmesan is browned.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Banoffi Pie

When I came to Scotland in 1990 banoffi pie was all the rage and I liked it although it can be very, very sweet. What's put me off from making it is that it's LOADED with fat and sugar. Normally, the base is made with crumbled digestive biscuits – which are already high in saturated and hydrogenated fat, not to mention salt and sugar and God knows what else – and about 200 g of melted butter. This is then topped with the content of a tin or two of condensed milk, which is approx. 50 % of sugar. On top of the caramel go sliced bananas and sweetened whipped cream... You get the idea. I just couldn't do it, let alone serve it to other people. But for some strange reason, I was thinking about banoffi pie the other day and when I baked a Swiss Walnut Tart last weekend I had a brainwave! Some of the ingredients are the same, only they are unadulterated. My first attempt worked quite well. I just need to practice getting the caramel lump free as the harder bits didn't quite disappear during baking. Still, it was delicious.

(serves 6)

Shortcrust pastry:
80 g butter
50 g soft brown sugar
touch of salt
150 g flour
1/2 egg, beaten

10 g butter
150 g soft brown sugar
125 ml whipping cream

1 banana
125-160 ml whipping cream (depending on weather it's sold in 250 ml or 284 ml tubs)
grated dark chocolate, optional

1. Make the short crust pastry by kneading all the ingredients together. Grease a 20 cm flan dish with a little butter. Roll out the pastry, line the dish and forming a rim. Stab a few times with a fork.

2. Next, make the caramel. Warm the cream. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat in a saucepan, add the sugar and over a medium to high heat keep stirring until the sugar has melted and you have a smooth, thick caramel. If there are lumps, don't worry just keep stirring until they have dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour in the cream. The mix will start to boil so make sure you have a large enough saucepan. Keep stirring until you have a smooth caramel Leave to cool for a few minutes then pour onto the base.

3. Bake at 175° C/gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes, then leave to cool.

4. Before serving slice the banana and place on top of the caramel. Whip the cream and spread over the bananas. Sprinkle with the chocolate if used.

As you can see 160 ml whipped cream make a very generous topping.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cauliflower and Carrot Soup

Served with a slice of yesterday's tomato topped courgette quiche
The last time I made chicken stock I added a red chilli including the seeds, which gave the stock and the soup a nice warming kick. Unlike vegetable stock it contained enough fat so didn't have to use any oil when making the soup. For a vegetarian version see 'Variation' below.

1 medium cauliflower
2 largish carrot
1/2 leek
1.5 l home-made chicken stock
sea salt
black pepper

If the stock is not freshly made, heat it and bring to a high simmer.
Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Peel and cut the carrot into 5 mm slices. Slice the leek. Add the vegetables to the stock, season with some pepper and cook at a high simmer until they're are soft. Blend and check the seasoning.

If using vegetable stock, sauté the leek and carrots in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then add the stock and cauliflower and proceed as above.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tomato Topped Courgette Quiche

(serves 8)

one batch of oil and yoghurt dough

2 large courgettes
4 large tomatoes
100 g crème fraîche
125 ml semi-skimmed milk
4 medium eggs
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
unrefined sugar
extra virgin olive oil

Make the dough according to recipe, roll out and place  into an oiled 28 cm silicon mould. Form a nice thick rim.

Top and tail the courgettes, cut lengthways and core, the chop into 1 cm thick slices. Fry until brown, then drain on kitchen paper and season with a little pepper and salt.

In the meantime mix the eggs, milk, crème fraîche and season with pepper, salt and nutmeg.

Cut the tomatoes into 1 cm thick slices and fry for a couple minutes of each side until browned.

Spread the courgettes onto the dough, pour on the egg mix, then top with the tomato slices. Season with pepper and salt and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake at 200° C for 45 minutes.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Marinated Mozzarella

mozzarella di bufala
coriander oil

Rip the mozzarella into bite-sized chunks. Pour on some coriander oil. Mix and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting the squash brings out the sugar in the veg. The result is a deliciously sweet soup.

1,2 kg butternut squash or seasonal pumpkin, e. g. hokaido
1 large carrot
1,25 l vegetable stock
sea salt
freshly grated black pepper
1 onion
1 garlic clove
extra virgin olive oil

toasted pumpkin oil and toasted pumpkin seeds for serving

Cut the squash or pumkin in half, core and cut into wedges. I didn't peel my butternut squash because we normally eat the skin when I roast them. Cut the carrot into wedges as well. Season with pepper and salt. Place on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes at 200-220 °C/gas mark 5 or 6 until the vegetables are browned and cooked.

Finely chop the onion and garlic. When the vegetables are ready, sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, place the roasted vegetables on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil and add to the stock. Bring to the boil and purée. Check the seasoning. To serve drizzle a little pumpkin oil and scatter some pumpkin seeds on top.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Black and Brown Rice with Black Beans

I couldn't get wild rice at a price I was willing to pay this time...
I tasted black beans for the first time on a holiday in Key West in 2001 in a wee Cuban (?) cantina off the beaten track that we'd never have found without our local hostess. Such a shame most Americans just eat and leave and don't take time to sit and chat, have a digestif, coffee, more wine, more chat...

You can either use left-over rice or boil rice from scratch. With left-over rice soak the raisins in a little hot water and add to the frying pan at the same time as the rice. If you're boiling rice scratch just cook the raisins along with it.

(serves 6 as a side dish)

1/4 mug of wild rice
1 mug of whole grain rice
2-3 tbsp raisins
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 - 1 sweet red chilli
1/2 ground cumin, optionally toasted and freshly ground
1 440 ml can of black beans, no salt or sugar added
2-3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
fresh coriander, optional

1. Boil the rice until tender. Drain and rinse the beans.

2. Sauté the garlic, onion and chilli in olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the cumin. Sauté for a further minute, then add the rice, the beans and the raisins including the liquor. Season with pepper and salt and heat through. Mix in the pumpkin seeds and chopped coriander. Tastes lovely hot or cold.

Coriander-and-Lime Oil

(makes 300 g)

60 g coriander
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
sea salt
freshly grated black pepper
1 lime

Place the coarsely chopped coriander, chopped garlic and seasoning into a food processor, add oil as required and whizz to achieve the desired consitency. Check the seasoning and squeeze in some lime juice to taste. Store in the fridge in sterilised screw-top jars. Keeps for about a month.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Shredded Winter Salad

I hate boiled white cabbage with a vengeance but like it as or in a salad. This is a Jamie Oliver inspired recipe from Jamie's Great Britain. Jamie uses mayonnaise but I opted for something a little lighter.

2 large carrots, coarsely grated
2 uncooked beetroot, coarsely grated
2 handfuls of very finely sliced white cabbage
1 Abate pear or 2 small pears
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 small handfuls of toasted, chopped walnuts

150 ml soured cream or crème fraîche
1 tsp mustard
2-3 tbp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp (elderflower infused) cider or sherry vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the vegetables, fruit, herbs and nuts into a large bowl. Make the dressing and mix together. Marinate for about an hour.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Autumnal Filo Tart with Butternut Squash and Pear

I got the idea for this last year ago on a German blog and now that autumn's here again I'm finally trying it out as I love the combination of sweet and savoury. Unfortunately, I can't find ready-made pizza dough in British supermarkets so have resorted to filo pastry on several occasions. It's a little more work because every sheet has to be oiled but it's faster than making a yeast dough from scratch and really tasty. You can make this using hokaido or other seasonal pumpkins, I just find them too floury when baked. I think some rosemary sprigs would work really well with this, too.

1 packet of filo pastry
1/2 medium butternut squash
1 large or 2 small pears
1/2 red onion
200 g soured cream* or crème fraîche
50-60 g pancetta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of flat parsley
1 large garlic clove
extra virgin olive oil

1. Peel the butternut squash and onion and slice very thinly (2-3 mm). Cut the pancetta into small strips. Leave the pear for now.

2. Finely chop the parsley. Squeeze the garlic into the cream, season with pepper and salt, add the chopped parsley and mix.

3. Layer the filo pastry onto a baking sheet or pizza try oiling each layer, including any overhangs. I like to roll up the overhang giving it one last brush with the oil and enjoy its crispiness when cooked.

4. Spread on the cream and herb mix. Scatter the pumpkin, onion and about 2/3 of the pancetta over the top. Now, core and thinly slice the pear. Add with the remaining panchetta. Season and drizzle with a little olive oil.

 5. Bake at 200° C, gas mark 5 for 20-30 minutes until the squash is cooked.

*British soured cream has a higher fat content then, say, the soured cream available in Germany (10%). It doesn't state how much but it certainly has lots more calories and doesn't curdle when used like this.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Chicken Stock

I try to not just throw out the bones and skin of a roast chicken (recipes here and here) but to make a light chicken stock with the left-overs.

bones and skin of 1 roast chicken
garlic and herbs from inside the chicken
1 onion
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 celery stick
2 litres of boiling water
any left-over juices from the roasting tray

optionally any or all of these:
1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
fennel fronds/herb

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and lightly boil for 20-30 minutes. Drain through a sieve or colander. (I didn't forget to add salt, BTW.) Use for soups or risottos or anything else you can think of.

Fennel Chicken

I've almost finished the lovely organic veg from our friends at Rowanbank now but there were still a few things left today: wee fennel bulbs including the lovely herby fronds, tomatoes and potatoes. Add to that a free-range chicken and you have a Sunday roast dinner on a Monday night. Not bad, not bad at all!

(serves 4 - 6)

1 free range or organic chicken (approx. 1500-1750 grams)
1 lemon
sea salt
black pepper
1 whole bulb garlic, julienned
olive oil

vegetables for 4-6 servings:
fennel bulbs with fronds
cherry tomatoes
fennel seeds, optional

Season the chicken inside and out with pepper and salt. Place the fennel fronds, garlic and lemon inside. Cook in a preheated oven at gas mark 5/200 °C for a total of 90 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Parboil for 10-12 minutes in salted water. Drain and leave to dry. Drizzle with olive oil. Slice the fennel, season with pepper and salt and drizzle with olive oil. After 45 minutes add the potatoes, fennel and fennel seeds (if using) to the roasting tray and cook for approx. 25 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Mix all the vegetables and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Pierce the chicken thigh. If the liquid runs clear the meat is cooked.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Porcini Risotto

Included in our organic haul was at least 500 grams of chard, Swiss, red, yellow and orange, which I turned into a warm salad. You can find the recipe here, look for 'variation'. To accompany this I opted for risotto. Not having any fresh mushrooms I made my first risotto using only porcinis. Very satisfying!

(serves 2)

150 g arborio rice
1/4 red onion
1/2 celery stick
1 garlic clove
500 ml vegetable stock
200 ml porcini stock
150-175 ml dry white wine
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
50 g freshly grated parmesan
10 g butter

Boil 200 ml of water and soak the porcinis for 30 minutes. Remove the porcinis and reserve the stock. You'll use it when making the risotto. Coarsely chop the porcinis and set aside.

Now make your risotto as described here. After the wine has been absorbed add the first ladle of porcini stock and, since I used home-made, unsalted stock, season the rice with salt. Once you've used up the porcini stock, start adding the vegetable stock. Once the rice is cooked to your liking add the chopped poricinis and season with black pepper. Stir in the parmesan and butter. Cover and leave for a couple of minutes. Serve in warmed plates.

Cooked Salad of Green Beans and Hard Boiled Eggs

Last weekend, we were given a heap of organic veggies by our friends from Rowanbank and have been eating really well all week. Normally I sauté green beens with onion and garlic before adding stock and/or tomatoes and serving them as a vegetable side dish or salad. Today I fancied doing something a wee bit different and steamed them instead. While the salad was marinating I hard boiled some eggs for no specific purpose. Not having had any lunch I decided to add a couple of the egss to the beans. The result was icredibly morish. I could have eaten the whole lot by myself!

500 g green beans
2 hard boiled eggs
fabby vinaigrette
dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Top and tail, then wash the beans. Cut them into 2-inch pieces, place into a steamer, season with pepper, salt and oregano. Bring some water to the boil, place the steamer on top and cover. Steam the beans for 5-8 minutes until just tender turning them occasionally. Place into a large bowl and dress to taste with the vinaigrette. Leave to cool but mix them every so often so prevent the beans from cooking further. Chop up two hard boiled eggs and gently mix with the beans. Eat slightly warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vanilla Ice Cream with Blackberry Sauce and Pistachios

Today, we bought some blackberries but when we got home we realised that they were very soft and on the cusp of going off. We had to eat them quickly. So I came up with this easy dessert.

(serves 4)

200-250 g blackberries
maple syrup
unsalted pistachios, chopped
vanilla ice cream

Puree the blackberries adding maple syrup to taste. Spoon over four portions of vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with pistachios.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Yoghurt and Oil Dough

Fresh Pea Quiche
In Germany, many cakes and savoury dishes are made with a quark and oil dough, which is a lot lighter than a shortcrust pastry. However, finding quark in the UK is really difficult. 20 years ago I would have bought French fromage frais but nowadays I can only find 0% fat fromage frais, which means this product has thickeners added to it. And I refuse to buy processed foods like that. Ricotta might be a good alternative but it's expensive (in comparison) so I've experimented with yoghurt and I've finally come up with a recipe that work. Only, it was a wee bit too much dough for my 26 cm flan dish and as you can see there's rather a lot of pastry for my fresh pea quiche. But that's okay, I'll reduce the amount of dough next time or buy a larger tin. It's delicious at any rate.

200 g strong white bread flour
100 g wholemeal flour
15 g baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil
200 g yoghurt/Greek-style yoghurt/soured cream

Combine all the ingredients either by hand or using the kneading hooks of an electric mixer/the kneading knife of a food processor. Roll out and line a lightly greased 30 cm cake tin.

Top with a quiche mix of your choice.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Aubergine and Sundried Tomato Dip

Today, I really needed to use up two aubergines I bought last week and decided on a baba ganoush. Only, I had no tahini in the house. After raking through the food cupboard to find something to thicken the dip with – I like using this kind of thing as a spread – I spotted a pouch of sundried tomatoes. These are soft but don't have any oil on them, other than what's needed to separate them, a bit like raisins. The result is really tasty. Will have to do this again. If you don't have this type of sundried tomatoes to hand just use the ones in oil and don't add any oil to the dip until it's been blended and you know if it needs more oil

2 aubergines
juice of 1/2 lemon
5-6 sundried tomatoes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp toasted, ground cumin
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Pierce the aubergines all over with a fork and roast in the oven at 220° C/ gas mark 7 for 90 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and leave to cool.

Combine all the ingredients and blend. Check the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with some chopped herbs, e. g. basil, coriander.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Paprika pork strips with red peppers, cherry tomatoes and red onion

Another idea for marinating meat for a barbecue turned into something else when the wheather didn't play ball. Based on a recipe for spare ribs from "More fired up" by Ross Dobson.

(serves 4)

4 pork loin steaks, cut into strips

60 ml sherry vinegar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients, pour over the meat, toss the meat and marinate in the fridge over night.

3 sweet red peppers
1 large red onion
400 g cherry tomatoes
olive oil

roughly torn fresh basil, optional

Slice the peppers, half and slice the red onion. Drain the marinate off the meat and toss the veggies in it. Pour a little olive oil into a frying pan and sauté the peppers and onions until they start to brown. Add the tomatoes. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Transfer into a warmed bolw and set aside. Add a bit more oil to the same frying pan and fry the strips of pork for about 5 minutes until done. Mix in the vegetables and serve with pasta. Scatter with the basil, if used.

Vegetarian variation: Marinate the veggies for 1-2 hours and cook as above.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Hot fruity salsa

I saw this recipe in one of our BBQ books to be served with prawns but didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised (with peach, apricot and pink grapefruit, parsley instead of coriander, 1 green chili instead of 2 red chilis)

2 apricots
1 peach
1 pink grapefruit, juice and flesh of
1 lime, juice of
fresh parsley
fresh mint
1 clove of garlic
1 green chili, with seeds
1 red chili, with seeds

Blend all the ingredients. It's hot hot hot. I couldn't eat it. Next time I'm going to deseed the chillis. Serve with prawns, other fish, white meat or veggie kebabs/barbecued veggies.)

Friday, 4 July 2014

Mascarpone-and-Berry Dessert

Use whatever berries you like with this. It'll be wonderful.

(serves 4-6)

250 g mascarpone
100 g natural yoghurt (3.5 %)
200 g strawberries
100 g blackberries
maple syrup to taste
toasted, chopped pistachios for sprinkling

Blend all the ingredients. Check the flavour. Chill for an hour.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Avodcado and Strawberry Dip

I'm not sure why but I'm crazy about strawberries this year. I've served them with roasted asparagus and scattered them over spaghetti with pesto. After slicing some over mashed avocado I wondered if I could blend the two together and the experiment worked, even though the colour is a bit insipid. You can really taste the strawberries. For my next experiment, I'm going to make a dessert of avocado and strawberries. Watch this space.

1 large, very ripe avocado
125 g straberries
2 tbsp Greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp parseley-and-lime oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
lime juice to taste
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Chill for an hour to firm up. Use as a dip or spread on toast, crisp bread or crackers.

Marinated Mozzarella di Bufala

1 mozzarella di Bufala
1 tbsp coriander and lime oil
freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Rip the mozzarella into chunks, mix with the herb oil and marinate in the fridge for an hour or longer. Optionally sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper before serving. Delicious!

Parseley or coriander and lime oil

I love flavouring oils in different ways and though I really like pesto I sometimes prefer something a little less heavy. So I leave out the cheese and nuts and concentrate on the oil and herbs.

1 bunch of coriander or parseley
100-150 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 smal garlic clove, crushed
a wee squeeze of lime juice
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Blend and transfer into a sterilised jar. Keep in the fridge and use within a week.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Golden Beet Salad

I love beetroot and I love the patterns when you cut them opten and all the wonderful differently coloured varieties. Their earthy flavour goes really well with a sweet dressing, though by that I don't mean adding honey, maple syrup or sugar. Instead I'm referring to the type of vinegar I use. With red beetroot, balsamic is wonderful but it discolours the beautiful golden colour of these beets, which unfortanatley oxidise very quickly anyway.

500 g golden beet
2-3 tbsp elderflower vinegar
6 tbsp elderflower oil
sea salt
freshly ground black or white pepper

Make the dressing. Peel the beetroot and grate finely. Mix and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Honey and Cumin Carrot Ribbons with Ribbon Pasta

(serves 2)

200 g pasta
4 carrots
1/2 tsp cumin, toasted and ground
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 garlic clove

Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut into ribbons using a speed peeler. Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the garlic, cumin and fresh thyme. Soften for a minute or two without browning the garlic. Add the carrot ribbons, season with pepper and salt and sauté until the carrots are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve.

Non-vegetarian variation with Kabanossi sausage croutons, fennel seeds, goats cheese, lime and fresh coriander. Leave out the honey and thyme.

1 thin Kabanossi sausage
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
fresh coriander
juice of 1 lime

Thinly slice the Kabanossi sausage and fry with the fennel seeds in a little olive oil until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper. Chop the coriander and goats cheese. Set aside.

Prepare the carrots as above leaving out the honey and adding the juice of half the lime instead. Cook the pasta.

Mix the carrot ribbons and pasta and divide onto two warmed plates. Add the goats cheese. Sprinkle with coriander and kabanossi and drizzle with the  juice of the remaining half lime. Serve immediately.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Roast Venison Fillet with Portobello Mushrooms, Red Wine, Balsamic and Blueberry Sauce and Pan-Fried Potatoes

Ich musste auch ein bisschen im Internet stöbern, um herauszufinden, wie lange so ein Fillet gegart werden muss, denn ich wollte es nicht in Medallions schneiden und braten, sondern im Ganzen in den Backofen schieben. Hier ist das Resultat. Dazu servierte ich, inspiriert von Mickey, Bratkartoffeln, allerdings auf saarländische Art aus rohen Kartoffeln. Wir kennen auch Bratkartoffeln aus gekochten Kartoffeln, aber die schmecken völlig anders. Das Rezept reicht für 2-3 Personen.

500 g venison
3 Portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp blueberry jam
150 ml red wine
2 El balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tsp flour
2 tsp cold  water

2 medium-sized potatoes per person

Das Fillet mit Pfeffer und Salz würzen. Die Champignons in 1 cm dicke Scheiben schneiden. In einer Bratpfanne (oder direkt im Bräter) etwas Olivenöl erhitzen und das Fillet auf beiden Seiten bräunen. Das Fleisch in einen Bräter legen, die Champignons dazu geben. Diese mit Pfeffer und Salz würzen und mit Olivenöl beträufeln. Im Backofen bei 200 °C/Gas 6 20-25 min. (Englisch) oder 30-35 min. (medium) backen. Das Fleisch auf einen vorgewärmten Teller legen und im abgeschalteten Backofen ruhen lassen, während die Sauce zubereitet wird.

Während das Fleisch gart, die Kartoffeln schälen und in Würfel schneiden. Reichlich Olivenöl in einer Bratpfanne erhitzen, die Kartoffeln dazu geben, mit Pfeffer und Salz würzen und braten, bis sie rundum goldbraun und gar sind.

Für die Sauce Rotwein, Balsamico und Heidelbeermarmelade zu den Champignons in den Bräter geben. 1 Aufkochen lassen. Das Mehl mit dem Wasser glatt rühren und zur Sauce geben. Die Sauce erneut aufkochen lassen und dann köcheln bis sie eingedickt ist.

Das Fleisch in Scheiben schneiden und mit den Champignons und der Sauce anrichten.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Porcini and Aubergine Risotto with Lime Juice and Coriander

There are times when I make risotto about once a week. That's when I experiment with different ingredients so we don't get bored.

200 g arborio rice
1 banana shallot
1 garlic clove
1/2 celery stick
150 ml dry white wine
750 l vegetable stock (mine was homemade without salt)
15 g of porcini mushrooms
1/2 aubergine
1 lime, juice of
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
40 g parmesan, plus some extra for serving
10 g butter
1 handful of fresh coriander
pistacchio oil to serve

1. Soak the porcinis in boiling water for about half an hour. Remove from the resulting liquor but don't throw it out, it will be used in the risotto. Chop up the porcinis and set aside.

2. Cut the aubergine into thin slices and fry in olive oil until they're browned and soft. Remove from the pan and set on kitchen paper to drain. If the aubergine is very greasy drizzle with a little lime juice to cut through the oil.

3. Make the stock and keep hot on a low heat. Grate the parmesan. Juice the lime. Chop the coriander

4. Finley chop the onion, garlic and sellerie. Sauté in olive oil for approx. 5 minutes.

5. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously until the rice becomes slightly transparent. Now, add the wine. Stir over a medium heat until the wine has been absorbed, season with salt, then add the porcinis and the porcini liquor. Keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed, then add first ladle of stock. Keep repeating this until the rice is al dente. This takes 15-20 minutes.

6. Remove the risotto from the heat, season with pepper. Stir in the parmesan and butter. Cover and leave to rest for about 2 minutes. Mix in the cooked aubergine, the chopped coriander and lime juice to taste. Check the seasoning. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with a little grated parmesan if desired and optionally add some freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Baked Chocolate Cheese Cake on Gluten Free Almond-and-Chocolate Base

When I saw this recipe on Indre's blog I knew immediately I had to try it out, the base alone sounded wonderful. Here in the UK, it's really hard to get the German "quark", if I'm lucky I can find the French fromage frais but mostly with 0 % fat and that means additives to give it its consistency. I was going to try ricotta but the local supermarket didn't have any in that day and I almost went for Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche when I spotted fromage frais with 0.2 % fat. I decided to make an exception and buy it. I don't object to the low fat content but the drawback is that thickening agents have to be added to make it thick and creamy. And I try to avoid all sorts of additives. Next time I'm going to use ricotta.

Update 27/06/14: Ricotta worked a treat! Will try a baked German cheesecake with ricotta next.

The other item I can't get here is chocolate custard powder so I researched this on the internet and made my own. I also reduced the amount and type of sugar, added a pinch of salt. The changes I made to the recipe are printed in italics.

As I expected, the base is fantastic – as is the topping – and I already have plans to use if for other cakes, the recipes for which I'll no doubt publish in this blog.

200 g ground almonds
200 g dark chocolate, min. 70% cocoa solids
1 pinch of salt
200 g butter
200 g sugar/150 g fine unrefined sugar
4 eggs
vanilla extract
1 sachet (15 g) baking powder

1 sachet of chocolate custard/30 g custard powder mixed with 10 g cocoa/ home-made chocolate custard powder made of 10 g cocoa, 30 g cornflower and a little vanillin
250 g fromage frais or ricotta
100 ml milk
150 g sugar/120 g fine unrefined sugar
2 small or medium eggs

1. Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat in a saucepan. Leave to cool
2. Beat the almonds, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract and eggs together.
3. Mix in the chocolate butter.
4. Pour the mix into a greased spring tin/silicon mold (26-30 cm)
5. Bake for 45 min. at 180 °C/gas mark 4.
6. Mix the chocolate custard powder with the fromage frais/ricotta.
7. Add the milk, eggs and sugar and beat to a creamy consistency.
8. Spread over the base after the inital baking time of 45 minutes, then bake for another 35-45 minuts.

This cake will keep covered and stored in a cool place for 3-4 days.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Flemish Apple Tart

I can't remember where I got this recipe from. It's definitely from "home" and if you look closely at the photo you'll notice there are no apples in this tart. That's because I'm still trying to clear out the larder and needed a recipe, in which I could use two small cans of peach halves that wasn't too similar to last week's pear and chocolate cake. This custard tart seemed a good candidate and it worked rather well. In fact, I think this recipe lends itself to be used with all sorts of fresh and tinned fruit. I think fresh peaches or apricots are going to be gorgeous but before they're in season I want to try out morello cherries. Just remember that tinned fruit needs to be well drained and, if necessary, patted dry. The latter definitely applies to morello cherries.

Here's the original recipe.

Shortcrust Pastry:
250 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
120 g soft butter
1 Egg
80 g sugar
2 tbsp milk (if the pastry is too dry)

500 g of apples
fresh lemon juice (only use with apples or fresh pears)
1 tsp cinnamon (do not use with other fruit)

Custard Topping:
250 ml milk
50 g sugar
2 eggs
40 g vanilla custard powder
250 ml whipping cream
160 g butter

First, make the shortcrust pastry and line a greased 28 cm spring tin or silicon mold forming a 2 cm rim.

Next, cut the apples into cubes, drizzle with lemon juice, distribute evenly over the pastry and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

Then make the custard topping by mixing the milk, sugar, eggs and custard powder. Gently heat the cream and butter until the butter has melted. Stir in the mixed ingredients and while stirring continuously bring to the boil to thicken the custard. Pour the custard over the apples.

Bake at 190-200° C/gas mark 5 for 50-60 minutes.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Pistacchio and Herb Risotto

I've used chopped pistacchios with rice before but what gave me the idea for this risotto was a small bottle of pistacchio oil we bought a while ago but hadn't actually tried.

(Serves 2)

200 g arborio rice
1 banana shallot
1 garlic clove
1/2 celery stick
150 ml dry white wine
1 l vegetable stock (mine was homemade without salt)
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
40 g parmesan, plus some extra for serving
10 g butter
2 small handfuls of shelled, roasted and salted pistacchios
2 handfuls of freshly chopped herbs (mine was a mixture of flat leaf parsley, basil and Dill)
pistacchio oil to serve

1. Make the stock and keep hot on a low heat. Grate the parmesan. Shell and coarsely chop the pistacchios.

2. Finley chop the onion, garlic and sellerie. Sauté in olive oil for approx. 5 minutes.

3. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously until the rice becomes slightly transparent. Now, add the wine. Stir over a medium heat until the wine has been absorbed, season with salt, then add the first ladle of stock. Keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Keep repeating this until the rice is al dente. This takes 15-20 minutes.

5. Remove the risotto from the heat, season with pepper. Stir in the parmesan and butter. Cover and leave to rest for about 2 minutes. Mix in the chopped herbs and pistacchios keeping a tablespoon back to sprinkle over the plate before serving. Check the seasoning. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the remaining pistacchios, drizzle with a little pistacchio oil and optionally add some freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Pear and Chocolate Tart

I'm currently trying to use up some foods that have been languishing in the cupboards for far too long. When I came across two large cans of Williams pears I knew immediately what to do with the first one.

I've had this recipe for more than 30 years and though I can't remember when I last baked this tarte I do remember that it's a cracker. I don't think we used chocolate with 70% cocoa solids then but that's what I'm using all the time now. The same goes for the sugar, I never use white sugar anymore.

150 g butter
150 g unrefined, soft brown sugar
3 eggs
300 g flour
1 1/2 packet/21 g baking powder
125 ml milk

100 g crumbled chocolate (70%)
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp oat flakes
1 tbsp rum (single malt whisky works, too)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg

500 g pears (peeled, cored and halved) or 1 large tin of Williams pears (drained and if necessary patted dry)

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy, then add the eggs. Next, mix the flour and baking powder, add gradually before adding the milk. Lastly mix in the remaining ingredients.

Divide the mixture in two and spread one half into a greased spring tin or silicon mould (26 cm). Place the pear halves on top and spread the other half of the cake mix on top.

Bake for 60 minutes at 175° C - 200° C/gas mark 5.

If you don't have much time, use muffin casings and a muffin tin instead and bake for 20-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffin-shaped cakes.

Serving suggestion: Topped with cinnamon flavoured pear compote and whipped double cream


Use 150 g fresh or frozen raspberries. Pour all the batter into a baking tin/silicon mould, scatter the raspberries evenly over the top and gently push them into the batter. Great in summer.

Variation 2: 1 jar of morello cherries, drained and patted dry/150g frozen morello cherries. Double the amount of cocoa.