Braised Fennel

I love fennel, especially with fish dishes. This method is truly delicious and very easy. I found it in Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray. I left out the tomatoes that she suggested, because I didn’t have any. She suggests a specific type of tomato that I have never seen here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Fennel bulbs: allow one large bulb for two servings
  • Butter
  • Parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Slice each fennel bulb into quarters vertically, and cook for five minutes in salted boiling water.
  • Drain the fennel well, and then braise in a heavy pan in the butter for around 15 minutes.
  • During the cooking process, sprinkle the fennel with the parmesan cheese, turning the pieces so that the cheese coats the fennel. Continue to cook, so that the fennel is lightly browned.
  • If you have some pomodori appesi, (small semi-dried tomatoes) – you can add these to the dish at the end.

Baked beetroot

There are some great fresh beetroot in the shops at the moment, UK-grown. I’ve been trying out a few recipes, and found this one in ‘Full Throttle’ by the two Fat Ladies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Raw beetroot
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh mint
  • Sour cream

METHOD:

  • Put the beetroot into a roasting tin, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, much as you would do for baked potatoes.
  • Bake in a hot oven 200C for at least one hour, until they are tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Split open and serve with sour cream and chopped mint.

Stifatho – Greek beef stew with tiny onions

My recipe for Stifatho comes from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs. I bought it in a jumble sale in 1987, and it has been in use ever since. There are many other versions online. The trickiest bit was to find small onions or shallots. Shallots grow well here. The ones in the shops are a bit too large, you are hoping to use shallots or onions about the size of a walnut.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg stewing steak, cut into portions about the size of half a post-card and 1cm thick
  • 1kg shallots or pickling onions
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a skillet, brown the meat in hot olive oil and put into a casserole dish.
  • Cover the meat with hot water, and stew gently in a moderate oven (140C) for an hour.
  • Using a soup wand, puree the tin of tomatoes, and add them to the meat, along with the peeled whole onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves, spices, red wine, wine vinegar, and the rest of the olive oil.
  • Bring the stew to a simmer, stir, cover with a lid and return to the oven for at least another two hours.
  • Once the meat is tender, and the sauce is rich and thick, take it out of the oven and set to one side. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper at this stage.
  • Cook some small potatoes, and serve with the stew. The stew could be served with mashed potatoes, or in small bowls with a side-serving of boiled potatoes.

Beef stew with chocolate and prunes

This is madly delicious. The original recipe is in Honey from a Weed by Patience Grey.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg beef, cut to about the size of half a post-card, 1cm thick.
  • 1 onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass of spanish brandy
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 bunch of herbs, include thyme, bay, parsley
  • 200ml white wine or noilly prat
  • 300ml water
  • 12 fine prunes
  • olive oil
  • 2 potatoes per person, peeled and cubed.

METHOD:

  • Soak the prunes for an hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a pan, and brown the meat. When it is browned, put it in a casserole dish.
  • Fry the sliced onion in the olive oil, with the unpeeled garlic cloves, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the tomatoes to the frying pan, with the brandy, and wine. Simmer for around 20 minutes
  • Add the paprika, bitter chocolate, and the cinnamon, and the herbs.
  • Stir in the water, and cook for a few minutes, before pouring this over the meat in the casserole dish.
  • Simmer in a moderate oven, around 140C, for 2 hours.
  • Cook the prunes for 1/2 an hour in a very little water, and drain them.
  • Fry the cubes of potato in hot oil until they are golden.
  • Serve the stew on a platter, with the fried potatoes at one end, and the stewed prunes the other.

Tas Kebab

I found this in an old book of Greek recipes, but when I researched it online, I found many variants. It is one of many Greek recipes that originated further east, and there are dishes by the same name in Iran and Turkey.

All of the recipes have in common a stew that is served with rice. I made it the way suggested in my book, with a bit more detail about how to add the rice. The quantities are quite large: once the rice is added this will serve around 10 people.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg stewing steak, cut into small pieces, around the size of the last joint of your thumb
  • 50g butter
  • 2 finely sliced onions
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 wine-glass of vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
  • 500ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper.
  • 500g basmati rice
  • Sliced carrots, optional extra.

METHOD:

  • In a heavy pan, melt the butter and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions slowly so they soften and begin to colour.
  • Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pieces of meat and add to the pan with the water, bring to a simmer and cook very slowly for a couple of hours.
  • Add the vermouth and set to one side.
  • Wash the rice in cold water then boil it in salted water for six minutes. Drain the rice and rinse through with cold water. If you are adding carrots, they can be chopped and cooked with the rice.
  • Put half the rice in the bottom of a casserole dish. Then add the stew, then the rest of the rice (you can do multiple layers like this, ending with a rice layer).
  • Put the casserole pan into the oven at around 130C and bake for an hour.

If you don’t want to cook it straight away, you can freeze the stew in portions. I allowed 100g of stew to 50g of rice to good effect.

Vegetables with spices and coconut

I went to the co-op on the way home from work, with the express intent to see what I could buy in the reduced section before it was discarded. I bought a pack of mixed prepared vegetables, which included a cooked potato, some carrots and some broccoli. This recipe could use peas, carrots, kohl rabi, cauliflower, all sorts of lovely things. I added some more potato.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 carrot, chopped (or peas)
  • 1 small cauliflower, chopped (or broccoli or kohl rabi)
  • 3 small potatoes, chopped into quarters
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies, or green tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated creamed coconut
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, if available.

METHOD:

  • Chop the potatoes into quarters. Chop the vegetables into florets, 2cm dice, all a similar size.
  • In a large pan, wok or karhai, heat the oil, and when it is hot, add the asafoetida and mustard seeds.
  • As the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves, and then the potatoes, along with the chillies, turmeric, salt and sugar, and stir for a couple of minutes
  • Add 50ml water, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check regularly and add more water if the mixture looks too dry.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables, stir into the mixture along with a little more water, and cook for a further five minutes.
  • Sprinkle over the grated coconut and coriander, before serving.

Roast shoulder of lamb version 2

This is a fancier version of the simple recipe from Shetland. Same principles but more ingredients. Slow cooking is essential with local lamb.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped (or use Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.5 kg shoulder of lamb
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 glass of white wine

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 140C.
  • Chop the rosemary, capers, garlic and anchovies, and mix with the olive oil and the zest and juice of one of the lemons.
  • Slash at the joint of lamb and rub the rosemary mixture all over.
  • Chop the onion into wedges and scatter into the base of a roasting dish. Cut the remaining lemon in half, squeeze into the tin, and then put all the used lemon halves into the tin with the onions.
  • Put the lamb on top of the onions and lemons, and roast for an hour
  • Add the glass of wine and roast for a further three hours until the meat is really tender. Cover the lamb with foil if it is looking at risk of getting too crispy.
  • Leave the lamb to rest for fifteen minutes before serving. Pull the meat into portions rather than carving – it should just fall from the bone.

Lamb and brown rice in one pot

We always have some lamb left after we have roast lamb, but it is never as good the next day. This was very good, I found it on the internet when I was looking for something else, never found it again.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Chopped left-over lamb – enough to fill a 1 pint jug.
  • 200g brown rice
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • finely diced streaky bacon, or salt pork, or pancetta, or lardons or similar

METHOD:

  • Boil the rice in a big pan of water for 15 minutes, drain and set aside. It should be slightly underdone.
  • In a large pan, fry the bacon, onions, celery and carrots for at least five minutes
  • Add the lamb and rice, stir together and then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, and worcestershire sauce.
  • Bake in a low oven for 45 minutes.
  • Serve with a green vegetable, such as broccoli.

Bramble cocktail

I keep thinking it would be nice to have a cocktail each weekend, try out a new recipe. It has taken me quite a long time to get round to it. I had some blackberries in the freezer, picked last autumn, so I made this.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 blackberries
  • 1 level teaspoon of caster sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 1/2 floz gin
  • 1/2 floz creme de mure (blackberry liqueur)
  • Soda water (or any carbonated water e.g. from the sodastream, to avoid plastic)

METHOD:

  • In the bottom of a tall glass, mix the sugar and lime juice and add the blackberries
  • Fill the glass with ice, and add the gin and creme de mure.
  • Top up with soda water, and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.

I have some Tanqueray gin flavoured with lime, so I might try that next time.

Green beans in a tomato sauce

I have been thinking about how I buy vegetables. I prioritise local and homegrown, but at this time of year, I buy a lot from the local shops, trying to stick to Scottish produce wherever I can.

I also like to buy the reduced vegetables, to avoid the shops having to throw these away, reducing food waste. So, here comes the first of a series of recipes inspired by ingredients rescued from the reduced section.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packs of fresh green beans
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Trim the beans and chop into 2 cm lengths
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan, and when it is hot, fry the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the thinly sliced onion, and lower the heat a bit, cooking the onion until it is wilting. Do not let the onion start to turn brown. This should take around three minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper, and a cup of boiling water.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • At the end, take off the lid and boil off any liquid, so that a thick tomato sauce coats the beans. Check the seasoning.

I served this with couscous, but rice would also be a really good option.