Roasted Fennel with Orange and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Friends from California came and stayed at the weekend and gave me the Gjelina cookbook, which I have been cooking from ever since. My goodness it is good. Having received it on Saturday I have since cooked 4 recipes:

garlic confit

roasted yams/butternut squash with honey, red pepper flakes and lime yoghurt

roasted cauliflower with garlic, parsley and vinegar

roasted fennel with orange and crushed red pepper flakes)

I plan to cook a 5th (grilled squash with mint-pomegranate pesto, which is on the front cover below) tonight, so I guess you could say I’m rather smitten with the book.

For those of you in the dark, Gjelina just so happens to be one of my favourite restaurants in LA. As it says in the book cover: “In Southern California, there’s no restaurant that better expresses the energy and cool excitement of Venice Beach than Gjelina” and I couldn’t agree more. It epitomises grain and vegetable centric, globally inspired cuisine, which suits me down to the ground. It has echo’s of Ottolenghi’s tomes – think za’atar and pomegranate molasses infused dishes – but the thing I automatically liked about it is that the recipes are those you actually want to cook and share with friends and family, also they are dead easy and if you don’t have an ingredient you can ad lib and make your own additions. The photos and props are also definitely the style that I love.

I have a large pot of garlic confit sitting in my fridge now, like the one above. I can’t wait to make their version of mushroom toast – I mean how divine does it look?. This would definitely appeal to my father who also has a deep fondness to mushrooms, like myself.

So last night I made the ‘roasted fennel with orange and crushed red pepper flakes’. I couldn’t find any blood oranges so I used a regular orange. I also played around with the measurements here and there to suit me. The final dish was delicious and is perfect with a roast chicken, fish or perhaps some other vegetable dishes. Great for summer gatherings. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

 

Roasted Fennel with Orange & Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 

2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges and the stem into thin slices, reserve the fronds

1 large orange, peeled and cut into segments

60ml extra-virgin olive oil

flaked sea salt

80ml fresh orange juice

30ml masala wine (they use 60ml of white wine but I none to hand)

60ml of vegetable stock (I used my homemade poussin stock which is so flavoursome)

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare the fennel bulbs and then in a large frying pan warm the olive oil. When it is hot add the fennel wedges so that the cut sides are against the bottom of the pan to get a good sear.
  2. Cook until the fennel is caramelised, which takes about 3 minutes. Turn over, using tongs, and caramelise the other side for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and toss in the fennel stems and continue to cook for another 2 minutes so the stems are well-browned.
  4. Now add the orange juice, wine and stock and let reduce do that the sauce thickens and the fennel is seared and starting to softened – this should only take a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the fennel fronds, orange segments.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Super easy and super delicious. I hope you agree.

 

 

 


Smoked Salmon and Soba Noodle Bowl From Kelli Foster’s NEW book “Buddha Bowls”

I adore meals that can be eaten in a bowl, that are packed full of goodness and flavour. Going through my kitchen cupboards you will find all manner of bowls of different sizes and depths depending on what’s going in them. You can therefore imagine my delight when I came across Kelli Foster’s, new book “Buddha Bowls – 100 nourshing one-bowl meals”. Kelli is a food writer and editor for the daily food magazine on the web called ‘The Kitchn’ based in New York.  Buddha bowls are nothing new and the term has been banded around now for many years, along with “bliss bowls’, “nourish bowls” or “power bowls” but Kelli’s book is wonderfully original, with so many great sounding recipes that you actually want to cook. Turmeric-ginger cauliflower and lentil bowls, Moroccan-spiced chickpea bowl, chipotle sweet potato bowls, chicken kofta bowls, harissa chicken bowls, spinach and mushroom pesto breakfast bowl the list goes on. Making a decision on which to cook first is hard.

I opted to show you all the ‘smoked salmon and soba noodle bowls’ recipe as it is exactly the sort of thing that I make for myself and the family for lunch in the holidays or weekends. All the ingredients I already had in my pantry and fridge and it really is very straightforward to make. It’s super healthy and flavoursome so a win win.

At the beginning of the book Kelli has included a wide range of sauces to go with the various buddha bowls – for example chimichurri, creamy feta, essential pesto sauce with any herb of leafy greens, miso-ginger, tahini. The book is then split into chapters: breakfast bowls, fish and seafood bowls, chicken and turkey bowls, vegetable bowls, fruit bowls.

Photograph by Maria Siriano in the book Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster published by The Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group

The recipes are all inventive, sound delicious and beautifully photographed. The ‘green goddess quinoa bowls with crispy tofu’ looked very appetising and will definitely be on the menu over the summer holidays for my family.

Photograph by Maria Siriano in the book Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster published by The Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group

For those with a sweeter palate then the ‘blackberry millet breakfast bowls’ are perfect in the coming months when blackberry season is in full swing. I love overnight oats for breakfast so this will be a good one to try.

Photograph by Maria Siriano in the book Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster published by The Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group

I also love the idea of the ‘quinoa and chicken taco bowls with cilantro (coriander to us Brits)- lime dressing. How divine sounding hey!

This book is bursting with ideas that the hardest thing you will find is actually deciding on which to opt for. It’s priced at £14.99 and $22.99 in the US and $29.99 in Canada but on one certain retailer you can pick up a copy for under £10 – click here.

I am running a competition until Sunday 5th August on my instagram where you can WIN a copy of the book by simply doing three simple things:

  1. follow me on instagram
  2. like my post with the salmon noodle bowl photo
  3. tag 2 friends who might be keen to win the book.

There will only be one winner and they need to be based in the UK. Good luck.

Smoked Salmon and Soba Noodle Bowls

serves 4 (gluten free)

4 tbsp (60ml) tamari (similar to soy sauce but contains little to no wheat)

1 tbsp (15ml) rice vinegar

1 tbsp (6g) freshly grated ginger

1 tsp (5mo) toasted sesame oil

1/2 (half) tsp honey

200g dry buckwheat soba noodles

1 cup (120g) shelled edamame

4 ounces (115g) thinly slices smoked salmon

1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and julienned

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

shredded nori (seaweed)

red pepper flakes

  1. First make the dressing by whisking the tamarind, rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil and honey together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions and then drain them and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Boil the edamame for 5-7 minutes until cooked, strain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Stir the sauce together once more and toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon (15mp) of sauce.
  4. To serve, divide the soba noodles among bowls. Top with edamame, smoked salmon, cucumber and avocado. Drizzle with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with nori and red pepper flakes. (I forgot the latter until after I had taken the photos!)

Absolutely delicious and super quick to rustle up. Enjoy.

NOTE: chilliandmint kindly received a copy of Buddha Bowls. All views and opinions are her own.

Thai Jungle Curry and Review of “Mae’s Ancient Thai Food” by Carole Mason and Ning Najpinij

I bought a new exciting cookbook recently all about Thai heritage cooking called “Mae’s Ancient Thai Food” by Carole Mason and Ning Najpint. Bold, bright and bursting with a wonderful range of recipes that you actually want to cook straight away.  The book is an ode to Ning’s mother – Kobkaew – who sadly passed away, but was a known figure in the culinary world both in Thailand, and more globally. Her recipes and articles appeared in a number of magazines including: Vogue USA, Australian Gourmet, Tatler, as well as David Thompson’s books, “Thai Food” and “Thai Street Food”. It seemed a fitting tribute therefore for Carole, her protege and friend, and daughter – Ning, to create a beautiful cookbook dedicated to Kobkaew – known affectionately as ‘Mae’ (mother) to both her daughter and her beloved students.

Thai cooking does require a little forward thinking to get the fresh ingredients. One ingredient that is as ubiquitous in Thailand and Thai cooking as onions are to British fare, is coriander root. The bad news folks is that hard to track down, although not impossible in the UK.  Carole is trying to spread the word that this needs to change so that second and third generation Thais living in the UK, and those who are passionate about Thai cooking, don’t lose touch and knowledge of heritage Thai cuisine. She has even placed “we love coriander root” on the front of the book itself to signal its importance in Thai cooking. If larger supermarkets could start stocking it, and we all start using it, her campaign will be achieved. In the meantime if you can’t track it down  you could use a good handful of coriander stalks and leaves to create the colour and then add a teaspoon of coriander root powder, which is easier to source in the UK.

Other than the obvious ingredients, who will have to go to an Oriental supermarket to source some things or go online to the suppliers that Carole outlines in her book. She clearly explains techniques and explanation of the various Thai ingredients you may not be familiar with. The chapters are then split into: curries,  soups (including hangover cures), salads, seafood, dips, nibbles and canapés, vegetables, noodles and stir frys and desserts.

Jumping out at me is: Muu Parlow – Pork and Egg Soup, Gaeng Som – Prawn and Papaya curry, Gaenglean – Good Old Fashioned Soup, Nahm Prik Pao – Thai Chilli Jam (HELLO yes please), Yam Plate Too – Mackerel Salad, I could go on as they all sound so good.

 

So what type of person would this book suit?

Personally, I think anyone who loves cooking and trying out new recipes and does not flinch at the thought of sourcing a few ingredients will LOVE it. Those who want their meal on a plate with minimum effort and the thought of searching for a particular ingredient causes them to break out in a sweat, then perhaps this isn’t for them. I only own one other Thai cookbook so for me this book was screaming out at me to be bought. Oh yes, and you need to like chilli as chilli is definitely a cornerstone in Thai cooking.

Publishing a cookbook is never easy, especially when you self-publish, which is the route that Carole and Ning went down. It is an incredible achievement but now comes the equally hard work of spreading the word. So folks feel free to retweeted and forwarded this post (or photo on instagram) as much as possible. Blogging is an amazing community of wonderful folk,  so lets help ‘Mae’s Ancient Thai Food’ gets the notice it deserves. I bought the book myself and all my views are my own (as they always are) in case you are wondering.

So are you intrigued by what I cooked? ……

I went for “Gaeng Pah – Jungle Curry”. Packed full of flavour and zing, but no coconut milk. Now I will be honest that I did change some of the ingredients because if you can’t get hold of a particular ingredient then replace it with something similar, its not worth getting too stressed about.

So these are the changes I made:

I converted everything from cups to grams, cause that’s how I roll.

coriander root – I replaced with coriander stalks and a few leaves and coriander root powder

small green apple aubergine – I used one courgette, peeled in striped and cut at angles

snake beans – I used regular beans and also added sugar snaps (cause I love my green veg)

holy basil – I could not source it so used Thai basil

I added 1 tsp of caster sugar – you could also add palm sugar. Carole does not add either.

The recipe was a triumph and I think I went back for thirds. It feeds around 4 people.

First I made some fresh chicken stock – which is super straightforward:

Fresh Chicken Stock

4 chicken wings on the bone

10 white peppercorns

3 garlic cloves,

half an onion, peeled

a lump of ginger

if you live in a country that you can get hold of coriander root or Chinese celery pop them in

bay leaf

  1. Simply cover the wings with water and an extra 3 inches of water on top and bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins.
  2. Strain the stock and remove the flesh from the chicken wings and keep for another time. I also keep the garlic too. Discard the rest.
  3. Either use of freeze the stock.

 

Gaeng Pah – Jungle Curry

Serves 4

Jungle Curry Paste

10 small green Thai chillies

a pinch of salt

1 coriander root OR a handful of coriander root and leaves and 1 tsp of coriander root powder

2 whole lemongrass, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely sliced

1 tbsp galangal, sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tsp coriander seeds dry roasted and ground

10 white peppercorns

1 tsp of shrimp paste

  1. To save time, although not authentic (sorry Carole) I popped all the ingredients into my little mini blender, added a couple of tablespoons of water and blended together. If you have time however using a pestle and mortar will give you a better, more authentic paste. Carole has laid out the steps to do this properly – in short – hardest ingredients first one at a time until they make a paste before moving onto the next. Add the dried ingredients last and the shrimp paste. Pound until smooth.

Other Ingredients

1 batch of jungle curry paste (as above)

3 tbsp of vegetable/rapeseed oil

300g chicken sliced diagonally (I used thigh, but use breast if you prefer or you could use white fish)

1 tbsp fish sauce

750ml chicken stock (or fish stock if you are going down the fish route)

1 courgette, peeled to create stripes and cut into diagonally strips

100g green beans, cut in half

100g sugar snap peas

1x227g tin of bamboo shoots (drained weight 140g)

1 tbsp grachai, peeled and shredded (I had never used this but my local Thai grocer had it so was able to use it. Finger shape and size but with a similar skin to ginger or turmeric.

5 young green peppercorn strips, washed and left whole

5 kaffir lime leaves, de-veined and torn

 

a handful of thai basil leaves, washed and stalked removed

1 lime, quartered to serve

2 red chillies, cut into fine strips to decorate to serve

 

  1. First make the paste above.
  2. Next heat the oil in a pan and add the curry paste, stirring gently to let the aromas develop.
  3. Add the chicken (or fish) and stir into the paste.
  4. Heat the stock and add it to the pan and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the courgettes, beans, sugar snaps, bamboo shoots and after a couple of minutes add the grachai, green peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil.
  6. Taste and add more fish sauce. I added a little caster sugar, but you may find you don’t need to.
  7. Serve with a quarter of fresh lime per serving and some fresh red chilli strips.

I ate mine with a bowl of rice.

You can buy Carole and Ning’s book  here or if you are based in London it is now stocked at the heavenly bookshop “Books For Cooks” in Notting Hill.

 

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Sri Lankan Egg Curry and ‘Sri Lanka The Cookbook’

Recently, when I was in Sri Lanka, I was having a look at the local cookery books and, similar to the ones I had seen in Kerala, they seemed a bit dated, 70’s style.

 

Photograph by © Kim Lightbody and book published by Frances Lincoln

Don’t get me wrong the recipes are probably wonderful, but today we are quite spoilt with such beautiful cookery books being published here in the UK that the bar has been raised long ago on what makes a great looking cookery book. So you can image how thrilled I was to arrive home to find Prakash Sivanathan and Niranjala Ellawala’s beautiful cookbook ‘Sri Lanka The Cookbook’ waiting for me – photo above. 

Photograph by © Kim Lightbody and book published by Frances Lincoln

Firstly I adore the tactile, almost hessian feeling cover and opening up the book I was equally as impressed. The photographs, of which there are many, where well shot by Kim Lightbody – matt and crisp with great props and importantly, tasty looking recipes. Photographs are so important and sometimes I have high hopes when opening a cook book for the first time and my heart sinks a little as the photographs just don’t do justice to the book. I’m no pro by any means but I am quite particular on what I think looks good to the reader.

Photograph by © Kim Lightbody and book published by Frances Lincoln

The book starts with an introduction giving a concise overview of Sri Lanka’s chequered past, it’s people and cuisine. As a side note: if you want to learn more about Sri Lanka I highly recommend these two books that I read on my recent trip. Love them both equally.

It then gives a short note about the authors themselves and their background – interestingly Niranjala is  Sinhalese from the south, growing up in the the hill country in Ratnapura and Balangoda and Prakash a Tamil from the Jaffna peninsula in the north – and then moving to London for university. Following their studies they set up ‘Elephant Walk’ restaurant in London in 2004. In 2006 it won the coveted ‘Cobra Good Curry Guide Award’ for the best Sri Lankan Restaurant in the UK.  The restaurant closed however in 2013 and the couple continue to work with food through their Coconut Kitchens cookery school.

Photograph by © Kim Lightbody and book published by Frances Lincoln

The next sections are dedicated to a glossary of ingredients and how to make a range Sri Lankan curry powders, before tempting readers with a host of Sri Lankan favourites: idli, appa (hoppers), sambols and many meat, fish and vegetable kari (curries). Some of the ingredients they use are exciting as I don’t often cook with them – such as plantain, snake gourd, breadfruit. Thankfully I live near an Asian area so sourcing all these ingredients is straightforward. For the home cook who loves to try new things – this is the book for you. That said there are many ingredients which don’t require so much sourcing for ingredients – such as the prawn and coconut curry or spicy baked chicken. Come the Autumn I am definitely going to be trying the ‘wild boar curry’. There are a few pages dedicated to sweet recipes – love cake, semolina pudding, banana fritters, but it is the mains, sambols and other savoury delights, which really capture my attention.

Photograph by © Kim Lightbody and book published by Frances Lincoln

It is published by Francis Lincoln and is available to buy at all good bookshops or online. This is definitely a keeper for me and I hope those of you who want to try to widen your Sri Lankan repertoire will consider getting hold of a copy. It’s a book you want to linger over and to go back to time and time again.

I thought the ‘Mutate Kulambu’ or ‘Egg Curry’ looked a lovely recipe to share with you all. It is straightforward and is great for a vegetarian lunch or supper.

 

It talks about adding a tablespoon of Thool (curry powder), but since I bought some back with my from Sri Lanka I have not followed their recipe for curry powder but thought it might be useful to include it for you if you would like to replicate this recipe here at home. Their are 2 methods and I have shown you method ‘A’.

Roasted Tamil Curry Powder: Thool

250g coriander seeds

50g cumin seeds

75g fennel seeds

20g fenugreek seeds

250g dried red chillies

20 fresh curry leaves

1 tsp ground turmeric

50g black peppercorns

 

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds in a frying pan until they are golden brown. Keep the pan moving the pan so that the spices do not burn. Remove from the pan and place to one side.
  2. In separate batches dry roast the cumin seeds, followed by the fennel and fenugreek seeds. Set aside.
  3. Dry roast the dried red chillies for 20 seconds or so allowing them to darken in colour. Set aside.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and when it is hot add the turmeric and toss for a few seconds so that it is lightly roasted.
  5. Place all the ingredients, including the black peppercorns into a spice grinder – I love my Krups – and grind to form a fine powder.

Place in an airtight container. They say it will last up to 2 months but I keep mine for much longer to be honest.

Muttai Kulambu: Egg Curry

serves 4

4 hard boiled eggs

2 tbsp oil

half tsp mustard seeds

half medium onion, finely chopped

6 fresh curry leaves

6 garlic cloves, cut into quarters

2 green chillies chopped

half tsp fenugreek seeds

quater tsp cumin seeds

quarter tsp ground turmeric

200ml coconut milk

400ml water

1 tbsp Thool – Sri Lankan curry powder

quarter tsp salt

 

  1. After boiling the eggs for 9 minutes (if medium size and 12 minutes if large eggs), shell them and cut them in half lengthways and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium, lidded saucepan over a low heat. Add the mustard seeds and once they begin to pop – which will be a few seconds later – add the onion and curry leaves and stir for a few seconds. Add the garlic, chillies, fenugreek and cumin seeds and cook until the onions are soft and turning golden.
  3. Add the turmeric and stir. Add the coconut milk, water, curry powder and salt and mix well. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and half cover allowing the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Gently slide in the halved eggs and half cover with the lid again and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste for salt and remove from the heat and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

For those who are interested in wellbeing and the power of herbs (which I most certainly am) then the recently launched ‘Cleanse Nurture Restore with Herbal Tea’ by Sebastian Pole – founder of Pukka tea – will be a book that you will most definitely want to get your hands on. It’s also the prefect gift for those who have everything and you are at a complete loss on what to give them.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

There is so much interesting information within its pages that you need to take time to drink it all in. In fact drinking one of their elixir might just be the perfect accompaniment. Pole talks about how in the past we would “live at the mercy of nature, the care and protection of our loved ones would be high up our to-do list. We would be dependent on the shamans, healers and wise women for talismans and incantations as well as herbal brews and poultices to help heal all manner of ills. And we would have to understand the natural world around us so that we could stay healthy”.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I think in the Western world today many of us have lost the interest and inclination to discover  the magical qualities of herbs and spices.  We are beginning to hear more and more about the health benefits of turmeric for example, but turmeric is one of thousands of herbs and spices that can help relieve pain and ailments.

cupoflove

Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I am always interested in reading about tribes in the Amazon rainforest staying fit and healthy by utilising the numerous herbs around them in the forest. We are definitely missing a trick not listening more closely to these so call ‘primitive’ tribes. In many respects they are far far more knowledgable about medicines – well herbal medicine at least – and staying well, than many of us who rely purely on antibiotics so sort us out. One wonders perhaps who is in fact the primitive ones!

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

Pole’s book is split into many chapters to help guide us through the world of herbs and their individual qualities. There are chapters titled: The language of herbs, The doctrine of signatures, The perfect blend, The art of making herbal tea, Helpful herbal terms. Later on in the book the chapters focus more on mood and wellbeing hence: Ailments & Elixirs, Cleanse & Detox (great one to focus on in January folks!!), Nourish & Digest, Energise & Rejuvenate, Peace & Harmony, Joy & Happiness, Defend & Protect and so forth. A further chapter talks about ‘ayurveda’ and ‘where do herbs come from’, as well as a useful chapter on ‘suppliers & practitioners’. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read, which will motivate even the most reluctant herbal tea drinker. Some drinks are hot whilst other ‘teas’ are cold. I opted for a cold one in fact to have at the beginning of my day.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I decided to try out the ‘Nourishing almond saffron elixir’ – it is described as ‘Heaven in a glass. Golden, silken and sweet, it builds your brain and brawn’. Other than the soaking of the almonds overnight it takes minutes to prepare. I think ‘heaven in a glass’ might be pushing it just a touch, but it did taste rather good indeed and I will be making it again for sure. In fact I am keen to try ‘Elderberry & Echinacea winter warmer’ next as I can feel a chill in the air.

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Nourshing Almond Saffron Elixir

serves 1

10 almonds, soaked overnight

5 saffron strands

2 cardamom pods, seeds only

150ml water

honey to taste

  1. Soak the almonds overnight and in the morning remove the skins – back of teaspoon works well doing this (similar to how you would remove skin from fresh ginger).
  2. Put all the ingredients, aside from the honey into your blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add honey to taste.

In the book, Pole goes into detail about the qualities of each of the ingredients listed so you will know what wonderful benefits it is giving your body.

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You can order your order our own copy here

Disclaimer: From time to time chilliandmint.com receives new cookbooks that are about to/have just launch. It is only those that she would actually recommend that make it onto the blog itself.  All opinions are her own. 


A Year in Cheese – Now isn’t that a thought!

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The brothers Alex and Leo Guarneri who run the London fromagerie ‘Androuet’ and the restaurant next door have just brought out a rather delicious sounding cookbook called ‘A Year in Cheese’. Along with their Italian chef Alessandro Grano they have put together a collection of their favourite recipes incorporating cheese. Much like vegetables, fruit and meat, cheese is also seasonal and it is with this in mind that the brothers have come up with some tasty cheese dishes to whet the appetite all year round.

A Year in Cheese-2

Images from A Year in Cheese: A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook by Alex and Leo Guarneri, Recipes by Alessandro Grano. Photographs by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln.’ 

Those who love ‘kinfolk’ style, myself included, will be naturally drawn to this recipe book. I particularly love it’s matt, rustic, moody photographs and recipes that look homely and inviting. Just browsing through the book, I love the sound of the ‘portobello mushrooms stuffed with walnuts and gorgonzola’, ‘french onion soup with 18-month-old comte’, ‘baked camembert with rosemary, honey and almonds’, ‘green and white asparagus with red Leicester crisps with sauce vierge’. The ‘watermelon and feta’ combination is always a winner and the brothers have come up with their own take on one of my favourite salads – see below. Salty, sweet with a blast of colour – what’s not to love!

WatermelonFetaSalad_22

Images from A Year in Cheese: A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook by Alex and Leo Guarneri, Recipes by Alessandro Grano. Photographs by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln.’ 

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The book is split into chapters according to seasons and then there is a separate chapter on cheeseboards and complementary wines. The book is original – I can’t think of another one focused on cheese in quite the same way – so for any cheese lover it is certainly a great addition to their recipe book library.

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As a christmas present, I think I would probably pair it with an interesting cheese and a fancy cheese spoon – how about this one – to complete the well thought through gift. I know that I would love to receive a gift like that.

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I decided to make their ‘tomato tarte tatin with Saint Nicolas De La Dalmerie’. It comes under the summer chapter, so perhaps I should have chosen one of the winter dishes because the cheese suggested was clearly not going to be in season. As such I replaced it with and English ‘Rosary plain’, which is a mild and creamy fresh cheese made from pasteurised goats milk.

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The recipe was delicious and quite frankly perfect for any time of year, the only thing that I need to work on was making the puff pastry rise better, as mine had not puffed up as well as the one in the photo in the book. I fear that there was too much balsamic vinegar making the pastry a little too wet to puff as much as it would like. As such I have made some alterations to the recipe.

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The olive oil that I like to use is the Nudo variety, which make a whole range of wonderful olive oils that come in eye catching tins. The extra virgin comes in the green tin (I used  this one for this recipe), the yellow tin is infused with lemons and the red tin has notes of chilli. The olive oils themselves make great gifts – see here for the trio selection, but I am also a huge fan (and have been for a number of years) of their gift idea where you ‘adopt’ an olive tree and then receive extra virgin olive oil through out the year. The gift that keeps on giving – perfect. Click here to learn more about the olive tree adoption.

 

 

Tomato Tarte Tatin with English Rosary Goats Cheese

Serves 4-6

500g cherry tomatoes, halved (you can use larger just slice them thinly)

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Nudo olive oil, for drizzling

salt and pepper

1x320g sheet of chilled puff pastry

1 egg, whisked

50g English Rosary goats cheese

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (375 degrees Faranheit/gas5) and butter a tart tin. I used my regular 8 inch diameter cake tin. In the book they suggest using 2 6 inch diameter tart tins.
  2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for 10 seconds and then move them to a bowl of cold water. The skins will then peel off easily.
  3. Half the tomatoes and then drizzle them with the balsamic vinegar, sugar, olive oil and fresh thyme.
  4. Arrange the tomatoes neatly in the tin and then drizzle the remaining juice over them and add salt and pepper.
  5. Place a pastry topping over the top of the tomatoes and prick with a fork. Gently brush the pastry with the whisked egg.
  6. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, so that the pastry has puffed and bronzed.
  7. Remove from the oven and then place a plate of the top of the tin and turn upside down so that the tomato tarte tatin comes out.
  8. Crumble the goats cheese and place under a grill for around 10 seconds so that it begins to melt.
  9. You can scatter with a few rocket leaves and pine nuts if you have them to hand.

Perfect served hot or at room temperature.