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Wednesday
Mar192014

herb ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms

 

another taste of spring, even if the herb gnocchi came out of the freezer! these gnocchi were made using suzanne goin’s ricotta gnocchi recipe, which i fell in love with two years ago, but with the addition of some finely chopped spinach, watercress, rocket and basil (i used a 100g mixed salad bag of the first three and a large bunch of basil).

the recipe was surprisingly forgiving – i needed a little extra flour but otherwise everything was as the original recipe.  as usual the gnocchi froze well - they cook from frozen, just add them to your boiling pan of water.

over recent weeks i’ve been working my way through various versions of “herb ricotta gnocchi with…” but i think this was my favourite – smoked garlic and chilli fried in olive oil, mushrooms (i used a mix of buna and shiro shimeji, shiitake and button mushrooms), white wine and seasoning plus a few spoons of mascarpone to create a creamy sauce; i added some extra basil to the sauce as well. a mushroom and pancetta sauce was also really delicious.

Monday
Mar172014

chorizo, feta and tomato salad

the weather in london has been very spring-like recently and i’ve really been wanting to make the most of this with my cooking. having said that, this salad was also a bit of an effort is using up various things which had been lurking in the fridge or freezer for a bit longer than i’d have liked.

i sliced a couple of chorizo sausages (the raw, cooking ones) and fried them in a little oil until they started to release their own oils. i then added  some fennel seeds, sliced red onion and red pepper and let these cook until the vegetables were soft and had begun to caramelise, so they added a lovely sweetness to the salad.

salt (not too much as the feta will be salty), pepper, a generous glug of balsamic vinegar and a tin of cannellini beans were the next additions and once everything had warmed through i added some halved cherry tomatoes which i let cook for just a few minutes as i wanted to keep their fresh, raw flavour (unlike a lot of tomatoes at this time of year, they were really flavoursome).

if i’d had any parsley or basil, i’d have added this now, just before serving in a large bowl, scattered with crumbled feta cheese and some fresh crusty bread – the first meal of 2014 that i’ve eaten in the garden.

Monday
Mar032014

lamb meatballs with peppers and feta

this was a bit of a random meal – i knew that i wanted to make meatballs and i had a plan to serve them with pitta breads, hummus, salad and pickles, but when i went shopping i got distracted and completely forgot about my plan.

so, a change of direction. a tomato and red pepper sauce flavoured with cumin and coriander, which the meatballs were cooked in after i’d grilled them for 10 minutes (turning regularly) to brown them. the meatballs were flavoured with preserved lemon, harissa, some smoked garlic and parsley and i added an egg to help bind everything together. feta scattered over the dish before it went into the oven for half an hour – covered in foil for half the time and open for the remaining 15 minutes – and all served with some lemony couscous.

the dish is based on this recipe, but much scaled back to make it quicker to pull together.

Monday
Feb102014

mushroom and mustard pizzocheri

pizzocheri is a buckwheat pasta which has a rich nutty flavour that contrasts really well with mild creamy flavours, which means i usually pair it with cheese. lots and lots of cheese.

today however, i decided to try something different – mushrooms in a creamy mustardy sauce. the sauce was inspired by nigel slater, who often uses mustard in his recipes, but was also a way to use up some mushrooms that were reaching the end of their life.

having added the pasta to boiling water i melted a little butter with some olive oil and then added a large handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms (you can use any mushrooms, including dried ones if you want a richer flavour) and a sliced clove of garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

i cooked this over quite a high heat until the mushrooms began to brown and then added a bit of white wine, a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche and a teaspoon of dijon mustard. this bubbled for a few minutes until the sauce had thickened (if it gets too thick add a little of your pasta cooking water) and just before adding the cooked pasta, i stirred in some grated parmesan, lemon zest and chopped parsley.

the sauce, mixed with the cooked pasta, is packed with flavour and a really lovely accompaniment to the pizzocheri. it would also be delicious served on top of a thick slice of seeded granary toast.

Friday
Feb072014

jerusalem artichoke tartiflette

 

several years have passed since i made tartiflette, in response to a friend’s request for a meal featuring “meat, potatoes and cheese” – my feelings then were that it was too rich and too much about the potatoes, which are not a favourite of mine.

so, when i saw a nigel slater recipe which substitutes jerusalem artichokes for some of the potatoes i decided to give it another try.  the result was really good – the jersualem artichokes have a lighter texture and a brighter flavour than the potatoes which helps balance the richness of the rest of the dish, which comes from slow-cooked red onions, pancetta and of course an abundance of reblochon cheese. the use of crème fraiche as a topping – the cheese is tucked away so it is able to melt completely – was also a nice touch.

this is, i think, perfect food for a freezing day, when you want something that will fill you up and keep you warm and content for hours after you finish eating. despite this, i think a salad is probably the best accompaniment, perhpas soemthing bitter involving chicory or just a mix of green leaves.

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