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.