Italian Potato and Ham Pie

Italian Potato and Ham Pie

I say this is an Italian Potato and Ham Pie, because I found the recipe on an Italian website – and I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese – but apart from that, I don’t think there’s anything specifically Italian about it. What it is about, is a recipe that is so easy, and ultimately so delicious, that you just have to try it.

INGREDIENTS

  • Potatoes
  • Two egg yolks
  • Cheese – the original recipe calls for caciocavallo cheese, but I couldn’t get this and so substituted it with mozzarella
  • Grana Padana cheese (or parmesan)
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Sliced ham
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rosemary – fresh is best, but dried will work, too

METHOD

  • Boil the potatoes until ready for mashing – drain, season with salt and pepper, add the grana padana (amount according to taste) and mash, the add the egg yolks, salt & pepper and rosemary and combine, then use of the mixture to line a dish or oven proof tin
  • Saute the spinach in the olive oil and garlic – when wilted, drain, so that all of the excess water is removed
  • Put a layer of the garlicky spinach over the potato, then a layer of the cheese you are using, then a layer of sliced ham
  • Add another layer of cheese and top with the remainder of the potato, pressing it down, so that it is compact
  • Brush a little oil over the surface, and bake for around 50 minutes in an oven, pre-heated to 190°C – it’ll then be ready to eat immediately or saved for later, and eaten cold

Photo credit : www.giallozafferano.com

Photo credit : www.giallozafferano.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filo Tart

Filo Tart

Winter is the season of comfort food. When the nights draw in very early and it’s dark and cold, we tend to cook comfort food. Hearty stews, thick soups, pasta dishes often loaded with a sauce, Sunday roasts. The kind of food that is often followed by a snooze on the sofa, under a furry blanket, in front of the wood burner. But, you can only eat this kind of food for so long, and as we have noticed spring bulbs beginning to emerge and days seeming to last a little longer before it gets dark, our evening meals are starting to change, too. Marinaded tuna, salmon, chicken fillets, lighter pasta dishes. And this weekend, a very spring-like filo tart, filled with punchy colours and flavours. It was the simplest and quickest tart to make, made up as we went along. The filo pastry was shop-bought – there is no way I’m standing in a kitchen making it, when it can just be unrolled from a packet. Sorry to pastry purists and serious cooks, but I’m not messing around with filo. And, within 10 minutes, everything had been chopped and prepared and it was in the oven.

The pastry was rolled out into rectangular baking tray and smothered in green pesto. Lightly roasted peppers and chopped cherry tomatoes were added, with back olives squished down into the veggie mix. Feta cheese was crumbled across the tart and chilli flakes sprinkled on top, then baked for about 25 minutes. It was served with a fresh spring salad and potato rosti. The pesto made a real difference as it during the cooking, it soaked into the base, giving it a creamy texture. A lovely, light and fresh dinner dish – which reminded us that spring is not too far off…

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl

It’s not a difficult dish to make, but there are many, many recipes out there for dahl. I think however, we’ve found the perfect recipe, because of the balance of flavours and texture. I found it on this website, but the author of the recipes/blogs goes into so much detail that the recipes ad ingredients are almost lost and it involves a lot of scrolling and clicking away from adverts, so I’ve posted the essentials below, if you want to test out this dahl.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • ½ finely chopped red chilli (or ½ tsp dried chilli flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, uncooked (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) coconut milk
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach washed
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red chilli and cook for a few minutes.
  • Grind the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds lightly in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan, along with the turmeric and garam masala and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the lentils, tomatoes with their juice, coconut milk and stock, then stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium/low heat for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thick. If you have time, you can leave it a little longer on a very low heat for even more flavor (just stir often and check it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan).Taste and add more chilli if desired.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and spinach until it wilts.
  • Serve warm with rice, naan bread or poppadoms.

Maybe it’s because you don’t cook the lentils first that the texture of this dahl is just a little different. It’s kind of creamy and “nutty” at the same time, so has a bit of oomph to it. Too often, when I’ve order a dahl, I’m disappointed because it’s on the lentil soup side of things. Not this one. Strong, bold flavours and extremely filling so plenty left for your lunch the next day.

Brussels Sprouts Risotto

Brussels Sprouts Risotto

Yes, you read that right. A risotto with brussels sprouts. A rich, blue cheesy, creamy risotto packed with those little green globes of gorgeousness. You might guess that I love a sprout – and if you’re also a fan, I promise you too will love this. However, if sprouts make you feel a bit on the gippy side, I’d recommend avoiding this recipe…

This is a dish, recommended by a friend on Twitter, and adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, in his Plenty More book. It’s the kind of dish that takes a while to prepare and cook – as with all good risotto recipes – but it’s the perfect kind of recipe to follow (loosely in our case), whilst chatting over a glass of wine or two. So, what do you need? Nothing that you probably wouldn’t have anyway – and if you do love sprouts, then surely you’ve always got a stash of them…

  • brussels sprouts – we used a normal supermarket bag of sprouts and cut about two thirds into quarters and then finely shredded the rest
  • finely chopped white onion
  • a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves
  • arborio rice – we used 200g and this was more than enough for two people
  • a couple of lemons – one squeezed, one zested
  • crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about three quarters of a normal sized pack was used)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (no idea how much we used here as we can never get enough of this cheese, so just adjust to your own taste)
  • olive oil & a knob of unsalted butter
  • vegetable stock (we just kept topping up as we thought necessary)
  • white wine (as above – judge according to your own taste)
  • salt & pepper to season
  • sprig of fresh thyme

The Ottolenghi recipe is quite involved and a bit more faffy than we wanted, but if you know how to make a risotto to your own taste, then just adapt it. It’s what we did, and our method seemed a lot less involved, but hey, we’re not professionals.

How We Did It :

  • Put the quartered sprouts in a roasting dish – if you line them up, rather than just chucking them in, they roast more evenly – and season with salt & pepper and splash with enough olive oil, so they roast rather than burn. Roast for about 20 mins (about 200 degrees), turning after about 10 minutes until the edges are nicely caramelised
  • While the sprouts are roasting, heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pan and gently sauté the onions for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to colour.
  • Add the garlic, thyme and and lemon zest strips and cook for another 2 -3 minutes
  • Next, gradually add the rice and shredded brussels sprouts to the pan and stir to coat every grain with olive oil mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent on the edges with a solid white center
  • Add the white wine (about a glass of wine at this stage) stirring until it is almost absorbed. Then begin adding the stock gradually, and stirring gently all the time. At this stage, we also topped up with white wine, to suit our taste and to ensure that there was sufficient liquid to cook the rice. The exact amount of stock required to finish the risotto varies slightly, so go by the results. If the rice has a starchy crunch it is not done yet. The finished risotto should be creamy in texture.
  • When the risotto is done, to your taste, stir in parmesan cheese and half the roasted brussels sprouts & season according to your taste. Serve in individual bowls topped with the remaining brussels sprouts, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

Salmon & Potato Bake

Salmon & Potato Bake

We’re doing a whole lot more cooking at home these days – as everyone is – but we’re dreaming of the time we can occasionally escape the kitchen from time to time, again. Until then though, we’re trying to vary what we eat and try out new dishes. Sometimes we do fall back on old favourites, sometimes we go for things we wouldn’t normally eat. But sometimes, we just have to go for what we can cobble together from the cupboards, fridge and freezer. I found a lovely sounding recipe from Delicious Magazine, but we didn’t have all of the ingredients to hand so had to improvise. The original recipe is below, with our substitutes in brackets :

SALMON & POTATO BAKE

  • 1kg floury potatoes, cut into 3mm slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach (didn’t have fresh spinach, so used frozen)
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 3 salmon fillets, sliced
  • 200ml double cream (didn’t have double cream so switched for mascarpone)
  • 50g grated Gruyère (used a mix of provolone & parmesan)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, then simmer the potatoes for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the red onion for 5 minutes, then stir in the flour and season well. Add the frozen spinach to the onions and gently heat until defrosted and cooked through.
  3. Butter an ovenproof dish and layer up the potatoes, onion and spinach with the broken up salmon, ending with a layer of potato.
  4. Heat the mascarpone until it liquifies, then pour over the bake. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

I think that if we make this again, the double cream will make a difference – mascarpone was fine, but I think the cream would just blend in a little better. It’s definitely a winter warmer and it’s a nice end-of-the-week meal as the salmon makes it feel just a little bit luxurious and more of a treat. If you make it, enjoy 🙂