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Archive: Jan 2015

Asian slow cooker bone broth

As one gets older one needs to retain as much calcium as possible, and I have been reading that in most Asian countries they have a version of this broth that they eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner and add noodles, vegetables or anything else to it, depending on what takes their fancy. It is loaded with calcium from the bones for your bones and is incredibly tasty and light.

 

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The slow cooker can be bubbling away slowly for several days with this and you just have to remember to top up the water level and add ginger, garlic, scallion and lemon grass if you have it.

 

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It is tremendously simple to make and the whole house will fill with the smell of the broth as the slow cooker gives forth it’s wonderful goodness. I have a 6 qt slow cooker, so I can fit in 4 to 5 lbs of bones.
If you use pork or chicken bones, you don’t have to roast them, but if you use beef bones, you may want to roast them at 350 F for 30 to 45 mins so the broth will be richer. Remove any marrow from the beef bones before you put them into the slow cooker or the broth will be cloudy and somewhat mushy!

Recipe

4 to 5 lbs organic chicken or pork on the bone. (For pork I use the spare ribs. For chicken, use wings and feet.)
Two good sized 2 inch chunks of fresh ginger, cut in half and peeled
2 stalks lemongrass (optional) peeled, halved and bruised
6 scallions,white and green parts, halved then tied with kitchen twine
1 head of garlic halved horizontally.

Put the meat in the slow cooker, add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and scallions then fill the slow cooker up to within 1 inch of the rim with cold water. Put the lid on.
Turn the slow cooker on high for about 1 1/2 hours so it bubbles and gives off scum. Open the lid and skin off the scum at this point.
Put the lid back on and turn it to low and cook for about 8 hours. You may want to skim again during the cooking process.
After 8 hours, ladle out the liquid, put into containers and let cool until the liquid is cool enough to put into the fridge. Top up the slow cooker with more water and turn on for another 8 hours, repeating the process.

You can scrape off any fat from the refrigerated liquid and add fresh chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, some red chilli, some noodles or anything else you fancy and you have the most wonderful meal that is very low calorie and incredibly good for you.

Easy chorizo pasta bake

I love chorizo and often order it online through “La Tienda” a great Spanish website. I like the mild chorizo best but do remember to peel it before using. This is a warming, spicy pasta that you will adore!
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Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 good sized red onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 red peppers (capsicums) roughly chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
6 oz (or even 8 oz) good quality Spanish chorizo, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch dried red chillies
28 oz tin plum tomatoes
a good handful of fresh basil, ripped up
1 tsp sugar
12 oz penne pasta
8 oz mozzarella

Heat the olive oil in a large pan then gently cook the onion for 5 minutes until soft, adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute.
Add the peppers and chorizo and cook until the meat starts to crisp up.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar, paprika, chilli, if you want an extra kick, and the tomatoes.
Mix it well, breaking up the tomatoes, add the basil, then season with a tsp of sugar and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and then add to the pan of simmering sauce.
Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and stir half into the pasta mixture.
Turn out into a large ovenproof dish, dot with the remaining chunks of mozzarella and then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is all melted.

Serve with a large green salad and some great garlic bread

Gluten free golden flapjacks with mango, dried cherries and coconut

I love all things flapjack and there is a limitless number of combinations for them. Being gluten-free they are so popular and this is a winning combination of flavors, kind of taking you to blue water beaches, sunshine and palm trees. Wait, that’s here!! Thank you Sophie Dahl for this recipe

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Makes 8 to 12

2 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp liquid honey
5 oz salted butter
5 oz porridge oats
4 oz dessicated coconut
3 oz dried sour cherries
3 oz dried mango, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Grease a medium-sized deep baking tray or Swiss roll tin (The depth of the tray will depend on the thickness of the flapjacks.)
In a large saucepan, melt the golden syrup, honey and butter together over a low heat, stirring until well combined.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the oats, coconut, cherries and mango.
Pour the flapjack mixture into the prepared pan and press it down gently into the corners of the tin.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden-brown on top.
Score the flapjacks into pieces while still hot and allow to cool in the tin turning out and cutting completely

Pesto chicken braise with cheesy dumplings

Oh my gosh, the BBC Food network has done it again! Divine and comforting.

 

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Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
12-15 chicken thighs, skin removed, bone in (or boneless, skinless, if you prefer)
7 oz smoked bacon lardons, chopped prosciutto or chopped bacon
1 large onion, chopped
4 celery sticks, peeled and chopped
3 leeks, chopped
4 tbsp plain flour
7 fl oz white wine
2 pints chicken stock
2 bay leaves
8 oz frozen peas
5 oz sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
5 oz fresh pesto
small bunch basil, chopped

For the dumplings
5 oz butter
9 oz self-raising flour
4 oz parmesan, grated
2 oz pine nuts, lightly toasted

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown it until golden on all sides – you might have to do this in batches – remove the chicken from the pan as you go and set aside.
Add the lardons to the pan and sizzle for a few mins, then add the onion, celery and leeks, and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 mins until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the flour, season and cook for a further 2 mins.

Gradually stir in the wine and allow it to bubble away, then stir in the stock. Return the chicken to the pan with the bay leaves and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1½ hrs or until the chicken is tender.(Or you can put it in a 350 F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours) The stew can now be cooled and frozen if you’re making ahead. Just defrost thoroughly, then gently warm through back in the pan before continuing.

Heat oven to 400 F
Add the peas, sundried tomatoes, pesto and basil to the stew.

To make the dumplings, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper and add about 4 to 5 fluid ounces of water, mixing with a cutlery knife to bring the crumbs together to form a light and sticky dough. Break off walnut-sized lumps and shape into small balls.
Roll the tops of the dumplings in the pine nuts so a few stick to the outside, then place the dumplings on top of the stew and scatter with any remaining nuts. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 25 mins until the dumplings are golden brown and cooked through. Serve with mashed potato or rice and a nice green salad.

Roasted butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

There are limitless ways of having your roasted butternut squash, but this has to be one of the prettiest and tastiest out there. Wonderful Persian inspiration behind this dish!

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For the butternut squash

1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on) and seeds removed (You could try other squashes too)
4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz feta
4 oz pomegranate seeds

For the pesto

4 oz shelled pistachio nuts
3 oz parmesan cheese, chopped into rough chunks
4 fl oz oz good olive oil
1 small bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 small bunch fresh dill
1 hot red chilli or 1 tbsp chilli oil (optional)
1 lemon, juice only
2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

For the butternut squash, rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously with sea salt and black pepper. Place on the lined baking tray.

Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly (you want to blacken the edges a little to give them a nice chewy texture). Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.

For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs, the chilli (if using) and lemon juice. Pulse again to combine the herbs and add a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it.

To serve, serve the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish.

 

 

Spiced Mocha Lassi

This is a terrific recipe from Bobby Flay and the only thing you need to do in advance is make the spiced coffee ice cubes. They are well worth having in the freezer as the flavors are incredible when you drop a cube into this drink. A wonderful and different breakfast drink.

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Serves 4

SPICED COFFEE ICE CUBES:

2 cups hot espresso
1/4 cup sugar
1 strip orange peel
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped

LASSI:

3/4 cup to 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or more to thin down the drink)
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ripe banana, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Make the spiced coffee ice cubes:
Combine the espresso, sugar, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Strain the coffee mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and discard the solids. Divide the mixture among 2 ice cube trays and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.

Make the lassi:
Add 3/4 cup orange juice, the yogurt, banana and cocoa powder to a blender and puree until smooth (if you’d like the lassi to be a bit thinner, blend in the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice).
Add a few spiced ice cubes to the blender and puree. Pour the lassi into glasses and add 2 more spiced ice cubes to each glass.
Serve immediately.

Pod Thai. (The worlds best cocktail!)

Cardamom-lemongrass syrup lends a bit of Thai spice to a fresh cocktail made with rum and coconut.

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FOR THE CARDAMOM-LEMONGRASS SYRUP
½ cup sugar
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced

FOR THE COCKTAIL
3 sprigs Thai basil
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1½ oz. light rum
1 oz. cardamom-lemongrass syrup
½ oz. crème de coconut
Club soda, for topping

Make the cardamom-lemongrass syrup: Boil sugar and ½ cup water in a 1-qt. saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add cardamom and lemongrass; let cool and then strain. Makes 1 cup. Syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

Muddle 2 basil sprigs with lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add rum, crème de coconut, syrup, and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass mug; top with soda and garnish with remaining basil sprig.
Enjoy!!

Thai crab risotto with kaffir lime and lemon grass

For me, this is the ultimate dish, combining all my most favorite flavors. It is a little time consuming but SO well worth it. This recipe is from the wonderful British chef, James Martin.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
10 oz Arborio rice
4 fl oz white wine
1 green chillies, finely chopped (The recipe says 2, but I’m a pussy!)
1 tsp Thai green curry paste (or more if you like a real kick)
1 thick stick of lemon grass, crushed and chopped into several pieces
2 Kaffir lime leaves, crushed and sliced finely
10 fl oz hot chicken stock
10 fl oz hot fish stock
2 tbsp Mascarpone cheese
About 1 oz flat leaf parsley and cilantro (fresh coriander) mixed and chopped together
1 lb white and dark crab meat, mixed
4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few micro greens for garnish

Melt the butter i a deep frying pan and add the garlic and shallots. Fry for 1 minute.
Add the rice and then the wine.
Stir in the chopped green chilli, curry paste, crushed lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves
Mix together the hot chicken stock and the hot fish stock. Add a ladle full of the stock to the rice and stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Continue adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time until all the stock has been absorbed. This should take about 13 to 15 minutes.
Once the rice is cooked,remove the lemongrass, add the Mascarpone cheese and the chopped herbs.
Add the crabmeat and the grated parmesan. Stir.
Add the cream and the lime juice and season well.
Spoon onto warmed plates and serve with extra parmesan, some sprinkled micro greens or a little chilli oil.

Mushroom and Marsala Pasta Bake

What a lovely idea to have the benefits of Chicken Marsala but with pasta instead of chicken. This is such a silky, comforting and tasty dish to make and can be all done in a 3 to 5 qt heavy stove-to-oven braiser, depending if you’re doubling the recipe for more people. This recipe is credited to “Smitten Kitchen” food blog.

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Serves 4

8 oz of a robust pasta of your choice, such as a ziti
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb fresh mushroom, sliced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (not pre-grated)
6 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Make the sauce:
Reheat your empty pasta pot over high heat. Add the oil and once it is hot, add the mushrooms and cook until they’ve begun to brown and glisten, but have not yet released their liquid. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions, salt and pepper and saute together until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated.
Add the Marsala and cook the mixture, stirring, until it has almost or fully evaporated (depending on your preference).
Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add the broth, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/mushroom mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash.
Repeat until all the broth has been added. Let the mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove the pan from heat.

Assemble and bake the dish:
Add the cooked pasta and stir until combined. Stir in half the parmesan, all of the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the parsley until evenly mixed. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and irresistible. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

Roasted figs with pomegranate molasses and orange zest

This is a heady dessert from Ottolenghi. I have not adapted it as there is nothing I could add to enhance these exciting flavors!  I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to choose good, sweet, squidgy figs, no matter what you do with them. It makes all the difference.

 

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Serves 4

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
4 thyme sprigs, 2 whole and 2 picked leaves
Skin of 1 orange, 3 long shaved strips and the rest grated
8 fresh figs, cut in half lengthways
4 oz mascarpone
4 oz  Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp icing sugar
Salt

Put together in a large mixing bowl the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 tablespoon of water, the orange skin strips and a pinch of salt. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and then stir in the figs. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the mascarpone, yoghurt and icing sugar until smooth. Keep chilled.

Remove the figs from the bowl (keeping the marinade) and arrange them snugly inside a small baking tray, roughly 8″ by 8″, the cut side facing up. Sprinkle the figs with the remaining sugar and put under a hot grill, clearing about 15cm from the grill. Grill for 10 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelised and the figs softened.

Meanwhile, pour the marinating liquids into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-4 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half and has a consistency of runny honey.
Transfer the hot figs to serving plates and spoon over any leftover syrup from the baking tray, then drizzle over the sauce reduction and sprinkle with picked thyme leaves. Place a spoonful of the yoghurt cream on the side or on the figs and sprinkle over the remaining orange zest.

Serve at once.