Ratatouille

I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 4 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.

Chard Fritata

This is another classic from my old recipe book. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 500g chard
  • 6 eggs
  • ground black pepper
  • 75g parmesan or similar hard cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Wash the chard and chop roughly
  • Beat the eggs and season, and beat in the cheese
  • Heat the oil and add the chard, cook until it has wilted
  • Add the eggs, reduce the heat and cook. When the bottom of the fritata is done, put the whole pan under a grill until the top is done.

An annotation in the book: ‘This is supposed to serve two or three people, but I can finish it in one go if I am very hungry.’

Beetroot gratin

We had this last night and tonight, totally delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 6 beetroot, boiled and skinned, cut into 1cm cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 anchovies, or some worcestershire sauce
  • 250ml to 300ml double cream
  • breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Butter a gratin dish, and spread 1/3 of the cheese across the bottom.
  • Add a layer of half the beetroot, and then add the anchovies, or a good sprinkling of worcestershire sauce.
  • Next layer, another 1/3 of the cheese.
  • Next layer, the rest of the beetroot.
  • Last layer, add the rest of the cheese, and press the ingredients into the dish. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Pour the cream over the beetroot, and then add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top.
  • Bake in a hot oven 200C for 15 minutes or more, until bubbling and golden on the top.

I served this with bread as a light supper one evening, and then as a side-dish the next night.

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, (baby tomatoes stored on the vine) – 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.

Braised red cabbage with apples and spices

The best recipe. There are many others. It is worth following this Delia Smith recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg red cabbage, chopped
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 15g butter
  • salt and black pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the oven to 150C
  • In a large casserole dish, arrange a layer of shredded cabbage, then salt and pepper, then a layer of onions and apples, sprinkled with garlic sugar and spice. Continue to repeat these layers until everything is in the dish.
  • Pour over the vinegar, and dot the butter over the top.
  • Cover the dish tightly and put it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Stir and check a couple of times.

This dish reheats well, and it also freezes OK. We usually only have this at Christmas, with ham.

Parmesan-baked parsnips

This is another recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas but I serve this all-year round. I keep the pre-prepared flour and parmesan in the freezer for when I need it.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 kg parsnips
  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil and butter

METHOD:

  • Combine the flour, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  • Peel the parsnips, and quarter them lengthways, then cut each length in half.
  • Boil the parsnips for around 3 minutes and drain.
  • As soon as you drain them, when they are still damp and sticky, roll each parsnip in the flour mixture. They can be stored like this until you are ready to put them in the oven.
  • Heat the oven to 200C.
  • Grease a roasting tin with vegetable oil and add a knob of butter for more flavour. Heat in the oven until the fat is hot.
  • Add the parsnips and roll them around in the hot fat, before putting the tray in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn and continue to roast until all crips and golden, for another 15 minutes.

Tartiflette

We make this frequently at home, because it is easy, and it is a top comfort food. For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.2 kg waxy potatoes
  • 200g diced smoked bacon
  • 1 onion, finely sliced (you can add garlic if you like)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • Salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • 1 reblochon cheese (a softish cows’ milk cheese)
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 glass of dry white wine (Apremont for preference: it has a fresh light taste)

METHOD:

  • Peel and boil the potatoes for ten minutes, drain and leave to cool
  • Gently fry the onion in the oil, and add the bacon. Cook until the onion and bacon are beginning to brown slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and a grate of nutmeg
  • Butter a gratin dish large enough to take all the ingredients. Slice half the cooked potatoes thickly, and make a layer over the bottom of the dish
  • Add half the onion and bacon.
  • Use the rest of the potatoes, sliced to make a second layer and top with onion and bacon.
  • Pour over the glass of wine
  • Spread the creme fraiche over the top, then halve the reblochon lengthwise, and put this cut-side down over the potatoes.
  • Bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes, so the cheese has melted into the potatoes.

Pumpkin, ginger, and potato gratin

I’ve had this recipe for years and years. I think it is best with a firm squash or pumpkin, like butternut squash.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lb pumpkin or squash, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lb potatoes, boiled for 15 minutes and cubed
  • 1 oz grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 oz butter (omit for a vegan version)
  • 3 floz olive oil
  • 1 oz wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter and the olive oil together and add the ginger, cumin and cardamom, and start to fry, for around 30 seconds
  • Add the potato, pumpkin and fry for another 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is softening and the potatoes are starting to brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper, put into an oven-proof gratin dish, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
  • Place under a hot grill for a few minutes, until the top is crips and the interior is bubbling.

Green beans with coconut

I have three recipes for green beans with coconut. This is a very easy version.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb green beans in 1 inch lengths
  • 2oz grated coconut
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaf
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 chopped green chilli
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

METHOD:

  • Combine the coconut, coriander, asafoetida, green chilli and salt in a dish.
  • Blanch the beans in boiling water for 3 minutes
  • In the oil, fry the sesame and mustard seeds together with the cayenne pepper – after about a minute, the seeds will pop, so take them off the heat at that point.
  • Add the beans to the mixture, and cook on a low heat until they are tender
  • Add the coconut mixture, and serve