Sunday, 21 June 2015

Ottolenghi experiments

For supper at home, experiments are always fun. We'd had a big lunch and didn't fancy anything too filling for supper so, after a flick though the incredible Ottolenghi cookbook, we decided to have lots of smaller dishes, experiment with some flavours and make a few different things.

We ended up with six dishes on the table, lots of good white wine and candles and it was a perfect way to spend a Saturday eve. 

So, the food: mushroom stroganoff, green pancakes with lime chilli butter, leek fritters, sweet potatoes with a crispy breadcrumb topping, coconut rice and gremalata carrots. A bit of a mixture but a great combination all the same. I cooked the dishes simultaneously, prepping as I went and the timings turned out pretty well. For me this kind of cooking is all approximated, I don't really stick to recipes with savoury cooking and guess the amounts but the below may give some inspiration! Recipes are listed in the order that I made them. If you haven't been to Ottolenghi yet then firstly, where have you been and secondly, grab a book and get inspired!  

Crispy sweet potatoes: 
[my take on the Ottolenghi pumpkin] 

1. Begin by peeling the potato, we used one due to the nature of the meal, and halve lengthways before chopping into 1cm think slices. Lay on a baking tray, season well, drizzle with olive oil and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes until soft, at 220degrees. 
2. In a bowl, mix equal amounts of breadcrumbs and grated mozzarella. Add in a little fresh chilli and a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, before seasoning well and gently mixing with your hands. 
3. When the potatoes are soft take them out of the oven, top with the mixture and press down lightly to ensure its compact. Drizzle with a little more oil and pop back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy. The result is delicate, melt in the mouth potatoes filled with fresh punchy flavour. 

Gremalata carrots:
(Not an Ottolenghi recipe but one my sister makes a lot that we all enjoy) 

1. Begin by peeling the carrots and chopping lengthways in half if large. At the same time, add a good glug of olive oil and 30grams of butter to a baking tray and place in the oven for five minutes to heat.
2. When the oil is hot, lay the carrots flat in the tray, season and cover with tin foil. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
3. When the carrots are soft remove the foil and pop back in the over uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes.
4. Mix together a handful of freshly parsley, the zest and juice of half a lemon, a little more melted butter and a clove of finely chopped garlic. When the carrots are cooked pour over the gremalata and serve immediately. They should be caramelised and delicious, with the garlic and parsley complimenting the taste of the roasted veggies. 

Leek fritters:

1. Remove outer leaves and chop off the ends of 3 leeks. Slice into 1 inch thick pieces. Add to some melted butter, with a finely chopped red onion on a low heat for 15 minutes until sautéed. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
2. One cool, add the juice of half a lime or lemon, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, turmeric, zest of a lemon or lime and chilli powder. Chopped parsley helps to enhance the flavours, as does a good twist of black pepper. 
3. Whisk the White of one free range eng until peaks start to form.
4. In a separate bowl, make a batter; add flour, an egg and milk and whisk until smooth. Add the vegetables and egg white to the batter and fold gently, being careful not to mix too much or the lightness of the batter will be lost. 
5. Heat oil - olive or coconut -  on a high heat and spoon blobs of the batter into the hot pan. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes before laying on kitchen roll to remove excess oil. You need quite a lot of oil for these beauties so it is worth draining off once cooked. The mixture will make 8-10 fritters so add more oil to the pan as required. Serve with a spoonful of natural yoghurt on the side. 

Coconut rice: 

1. Wash a cup of basmati rice under cold water and add to an empty pan on a low heat for a couple of minutes to allow the rice to heat through. Add half a tin of coconut milk and a cup of water.
2. Bring to the boil before covering and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Don't allow the pan to boil dry, adding more water as required. 
3. After 10 minutes of simmering, remove from the heat and leave the rice to absorb any remaining liquid with the lid on the pan. Fluff with a fork and serve. 

Mushroom stroganoff:

(Another dish that is cooked a lot at home- it's so simple and yet so delicious) 

1. Begin by chopping a punnet of mushroom into halves, or quarters if large. Cook on a high heat with butter and oil for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 litre of good quality vegetable stock and allow to boil on a high heat until half of the liquid has evaporated.
2. Add 100mls or so of double cream and bring to the boil. 
3. Season well, add a shot or two of Pernod (if it's in the cupboard, not to worry if not), some fresh or dried thyme (a good handful) and stir. Allow the flavours to infuse for a couple more minutes on the heat and serve. An aniseed-y, mushroom-y pot of deliciousness and absolute home comfort food.

Green pancakes with lime butter:

These are one of my go to dishes at home for a quick and easy supper. The lime butter definitely adds a special something though! 

1. Begin by making a simple batter, as above. You can use almond milk and spelt or gluten free flour and the consistency still works well for these savoury wonders. Add an extra egg for a protein hit and a drop of water if required. 
2. Add the mixture to the blender with a couple of handfuls of spinach, 6 chopped spring onions (and I'd also use basil if I wasn't serving with the flavoured butter). Pulse until chopped. 
3. For the lime butter, use a couple of good spoonfuls -50 grams? - of room temperature butter and pop in to a bowl. Add in the zest of one lime and the juice of half a lime, half a finely chopped de-seeded chilli or a 1/4 tsp of dried chilli as an alternative. Season well with salt and mix.
4. You can roll the butter into a sausage, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to infuse but we were hungry so missed out this step and it was definitely still delicious! 
5. Fry the pancakes in coconut oil, adding small piles of the mixture to the pan, turning when they start to colour. Remove from the pan and serve with a dollop of butter. The perfect combination! 

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