Alas, it’s been so long between posts, between life/school/family/work I don’t have as much time as I’d like to be witty. I still cook every day but I rarely get around to documenting my recipes. So for the time being you’ll have to do without banter, just ingredients + instructions. My old flatmate used to bring this dense, flavorful bread back from Portugal, and I’ve made this a few times now – if you can’t finish the whole loaf, grind it up for breadcrumbs and use it to top macaroni and cheese, you won’t be disappointed.
- 225 ml boiling water
- 175 g corn meal
- 1. 5 tsp (8 g) sea salt
- 10 g brown sugar
- 1 TB olive oil
- 7 g instant yeast or 1/2 cake fresh yeast dissolved in 65 ml tepid water
- 200 g white flour
- 50 g rye flour
Mix cornmeal, salt, sugar and 1 TB oil in a large bowl, stir in boiling water and allow to cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid water and stir into cornmeal mix. Gradually add flours, stirring until well mixed. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Tip the dough ball out onto an oiled counter top and fold 8 times (see this video for the stretch and fold method), form back into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour. After the bulk rise, tip the dough onto an oiled counter top and stretch and fold 4 times, then shape into a boule, and leave on the counter covered with cling film or a towel. Leave it to rise while the oven heats.
Heat the oven (bottom element only) for 30 minutes to 225ºC/450ºF with a cast iron pot inside. Remove the pot’s cover, carefully place the boule inside and bake for 25 minutes with the cover on. Remove the cover, rotate the pot and bake for 20 more minutes until the bread is dark golden.
Carefully remove and let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing and eating. Bread is easier to slice when it’s cool.
Side note: If you are new to baking I recommend http://www.thefreshloaf.com for tips and videos on how to prepare, shape and bake bread.
It’s nearly that time of year again! Joel actually remarked to me yesterday that he’s tired of summer now and would like for it to be colder. A definite case of “beware of what you wish for!” But I tend to agree if only in that I am really hankering for some fall/winter food. It’s time for stews, casseroles, roasted vegetables and other hearty comfort food. It seems like everyone’s got a recipe for white chicken chili (my mom’s is particularly tasty) but this incarnation is a product of cupboard-scouring. Since most of the ingredients are staples (in my house at least) it makes for a quick and healthy mid-week supper.
- 500 g chicken breast, cut into 2″ chunks
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Italian green peppers (cubanelle peppers), de-seeded and diced
- small tin (200 g) of pickled jalapeños, drained and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sweet pimentón (paprika)
- 1/2 tsp smoked pimentón
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 500 ml chicken stock
- large jar (500 g) white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (250 ml) frozen corn kernels
Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot or dutch oven. Lightly sauté the onions, garlic and green peppers just until they start to become soft. Stir in the jalapeños, herbs and spices. Add the raw chicken and the stock. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken chunks with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl to cool slightly. Add the corn and beans to the pot and continue to simmer. When the chicken has cooled, shred the meat with your fingers and add back to the pot. Add a bit more stock/water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer for another 15 minutes over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring gently so you don’t beat up the beans. Adjust salt/pepper to taste. Serve on its own or with a bit of shredded cheddar or sour cream.
Servings: Four generous bowls. 449 calories (without added cheese, etc.)
As you may have gathered, we like lentils in this family. It’s just that they are so versatile, and cheap, and healthy! I like the peppery flavor of Du Puy (French green) lentils. Continuing on from the vichyssoise we have another a French-inspired summer dish. It’s great to make ahead and goes nicely with some grilled tarragon chicken. If you Google tarragon chicken you’ll find approximately eight jillion recipes. Adapted from Epicurious.
Put lentils in a small sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes until they are tender but not falling apart, rinse carefully with cool water and drain well. Put lentils back in the saucepan and stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Put dry couscous and another pinch of salt in a large bowl. Bring water to boil on the stove top (I use an electric kettle, much faster). Pour water over couscous and stir with a fork, then cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely.
In a small bowl (or in the mortar you used to mash the garlic) whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lentils and dressing into couscous. Chill salad, covered, for 45-60 minutes (or overnight if you really want to make-ahead). After this time stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill additional 30 minutes and give the salad a squeeze of fresh lemon juice right before serving.
Servings: Six. 260 calories.
So I wanted an alternative to gazpacho (and I don’t mean swapping cucumber for watermelon, etc., been there/done that. Delicious, but.) that screamed springtime, and here it is. I’ve made this vichyssoise a couple of times now, it’s a winner. I think it’s best just a bit chillier than room temperature, however I brought some to work to share with my pal/colleague Becky and we agreed it’s also lovely warm. Adapted from this easy peasy recipe at foodandwine.com.
- 2 leeks, white & light green parts, rinsed well (watch that sand!) and sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 bunch green asparagus (400-500 g.) woody ends cut off and chopped into 1″ chunks
- 2 medium yellow-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
- 1 thyme sprig (fresh or dried)
- a pinch of fennel seeds (use seeds, not fresh fennel or it overpowers the asparagus)
- 500 ml broth (chicken or vegetable)
- sea salt to taste
- 200-250 ml milk
- freshly ground pepper (5 peppercorn blend is nice)
- freshly snipped chives and olive oil, to serve
Melt the butter/olive oil in a large saucepan.Add the leeks and cook over medium heat, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus stalks, potatoes, broth, water, fennel, thyme and a good grating of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Take the soup off the heat source and let it cool down a bit. Discard the thyme sprig. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add the milk and blend again, adding a bit more milk depending on the consistency you prefer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Take soup out of fridge and allow to come to just below room temperature before serving.
Ladle into bowls and drizzle with just a bit of a nice cold-pressed olive oil and freshly snipped chives.
Servings: Four generous bowls. 125 calories
I’m going through some of the things I’ve made recently but haven’t posted, so there will probably be another flurry of activity for a few days and then silence again for months, sorry!
Minestrone is a hearty and healthy soup that’s easy to whip up mid-week. The wee bit of pancetta adds a nice smoky touch, but if you’re a veggie leave it out and you’ll be none the wiser.
- 50 grams of pancetta, diced (or tiras de beicon)
- 1 tb olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 leek, washed and sliced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 100 grams fresh or frozen chopped spinach
- 2 400 g cans of tomato puree (triturado)
- 1 jar white beans (mongetes or cannelli, whatever you can get your hands on), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 liter of chicken stock
- 1 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and thyme
- bay leaf
- black pepper and sea salt, to taste
Heat a soup pot over medium heat, add a lug of olive oil and the pancetta/bacon, fry the bacon until it starts to brown, then add in the leeks and onion. Scrape up the bits of browned bacon that have become stuck to the bottom of the pot and continue to sauté until the onion starts becoming translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, until you can smell the garlic frying. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini and cook slowly for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften. Add in the spinach, tomato puree, herbs and stock and bring to a boil. Gently stir in the beans and lower heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning with pepper and salt to taste.
Serve with grated parmesan and fresh chopped herbs (if you’ve got any) and some nice crusty bread.
Servings: Six, 190 calories (without cheese).
Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I have kept cooking, promise! We all get into our ruts though, and recently wanted to shake things up. I’ve recently-ish discovered harissa paste, and it’s now my new favorite ingredient. The couscous is an easy one-pan meal and you can chop up the salad ingredients while it’s cooking. I also make a spicy-cool (oxymoron?) yogurt sauce that’s makes a wonderful accompaniment. It makes quite a large quantity of food, but this is definitely one of those better-the-next-day dishes. Enjoy!
- 400 g. chicken breast, cubed
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- pinch ground nutmeg
- pinch ground cinnamon
- ground black pepper or five-peppercorn blend, to taste
- chunk of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), peeled and grated
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- small can (200 g approx) garbanzos, drained and rinsed
- 200 g couscous
- 450 ml chicken stock
- a handful (1/3 cup) of sultanas or golden raisins
- small handful (1/4 cup) salted sunflower seeds
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3-4 ripe tomatoes
- 2 cucumbers
- red pepper
- large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp harissa paste
- juice of half a lime
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Sauté the onions until they start to soften then add in the chicken and garlic. Cook the chicken and onions for about 5 minutes. At this point add in the harissa paste, grated ginger and spices. Stir to coat the chicken and onion mix with the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the chickpeas (gently – don’t smush them) and let cook for another minute. Pour the couscous, raisins and sunflower seeds over the chicken mix. Pour the stock over and stir once, then cover the pan with a lid or tin foil and leave to sit for 10 minutes, until the couscous has soaked up all the stock. Remove the lid and sprinkle the lemon zest over the couscous and then fluff the mix up with a fork. Cover the pan back up and let rest until ready to serve.
To make the salad: Chop the red pepper and tomatoes. Peel, de-seed and chop the cucumbers. Toss with the sea salt and lemon juice and place in a medium bowl. After about 10 minutes, drain the excess liquid off the salad. Stir in the mint leaves and serve.
Yogurt sauce: stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and put in the fridge to let the flavors blend.
Serve the couscous with a side of salad and a nice dollop of the yogurt sauce.
Four generous servings. 450 calories.
I like apple crumble better than apple pie. It’s easier and faster to make, and I think crunchy crumble topping is better than pie crust. Green apples (or any other tart apple) work best for cooked desserts because they are a nice balance to the sweet crumble.
I’ve juggled the quantities of the ingredients so that they are even proportions, más fácil no puede ser.
- 4 green apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 50 g brown sugar + 1 tsp separated
- 50 g flour
- 50 g oatmeal (not instant)
- 50 g cold butter
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch sea salt
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Butter a square baking dish and set aside.
Peel and core the apples, quarter and cut into slices. Put the apples into a pan with a teaspoon of sugar and cover with water. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes and place in the baking dish. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice (about 1 TB) over the apples.
Place the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into small cubes and add this to the oats and flour mix. Rub the mixture into the butter with your fingertips until it resembles an even crumb texture.
Cover the fruit with the crumble mixture. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until the crumble is golden and the apple hot. Serve with ice cream or custard.
Servings: Six. 230 calories.