Polenta and Mushroom bake

I think I have persuaded Malcolm that polenta is delicious. This is a dish from Elizabeth David’s book, Italian Food. I’ve recorded what I did, rather than what is in the book. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g polenta
  • 1 litre of water
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional 200g fontina or talegio cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • 600 ml milk
  • 1 bayleaf
  • a grate or two of nutmeg
  • 40g grated cheese
  • 500g mushrooms
  • another 25g butter
  • 25g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Start by cooking the polenta. Set the water to boil, and when it starts to bubble, swirl it and pour in the polenta flour in a thin stream, stirring the mixture as you pour to mix it well with the water. As it becomes like the caldera in a volcano, season with salt and pepper, and cook for around 8 minutes.
  • Pour the polenta into a large dish and let it cool. If you are adding Talegio or Fontina cheese, melt this into the polenta before pouring it out. 
  • Make a white cheese sauce. Melt 50g butter in a pan, and then add the flour. 
  • When the flour is beginning to brown, and the butter is foaming, add the milk, pouring in steadily and mixing to make a smooth white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add the bayleaf, and simmer for 15 minutes, before adding the grated cheese. 
  • Next, slice the mushrooms and fry in butter for 5 minutes. Elizabeth David suggests using white truffles, which are in short supply in South Uist. 
  • Slice the polenta. In the bottom of a buttered lasagne dish or similar, layer 1/3 of the polenta, then 1/3 of the bechamel and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 sauce, 1/2 mushrooms, then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 bechamel, topped with parmesan. 
  • Bake in a hot oven, 180C, for 30 minutes. 

This is delicious, and very filling. We had 2 servings each and there is loads left. We had a side dish of steamed kale with pepper. 

Rhubarb and ginger jam

I mentioned the large quantities of jam in our house to Spaid, and he started reminiscing about rhubarb jam, the best jam in the world if you come from the Hebrides. I made some, adds good vibes to work. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 kg summer rhubarb, chopped into very small segments
  • 25 g crystalised ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 kg jam sugar

METHOD:

  • Chop the rhubarb and put it in the jam pan, with the finely chopped crystalised ginger, and the lemon juice. Pour the sugar over the top. Leave the mixture overnight. 
  • The next day, heat the rhubarb and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved, and then quickly bring to a fast boil, and boil until setting point is reached. 
  • Pour into warmed jars. 

 

Wild goose with bulgar wheat

This is so tasty. The goose needs to be chopped pretty small though. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced finely
  • 1 medium onion, sliced finely
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced finely
  • 700ml stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 wild goose breast, sliced thinly and then cut into small squares
  • 250g coarse bulgar wheat (I bought mine online from Turkishop)

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the potato slices. As the potato starts to brown on one side, flip the slices over. Keep stirring and flipping. Once the potato is done, put it into a large casserole dish.
  • Next, fry the onion slices and carrots together in the remaining oil in the frying pan, for at least 5 minutes over a medium to high heat. 
  • Meanwhile, slice the goose and put it in a layer over the potato.
  • Once the onion is done, layer that over the goose. 
  • Put the stock into the frying pan and bring to the boil, and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Put the bulgar wheat over the top of the carrot and onion layer in the middle, making a mound. 
  • Pour in the boiling stock, cover and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. 
  • Let the dish stand for around 5 minutes before serving. 

Potato Scones

Continuing the theme of using things up so we don’t have to go to the shops. We had 125g of left-over mashed potato in the fridge, so this morning I made potato scones. The ratio of flour to mashed potato is around 1:5 so I added 25g flour. I mashed the flour into the potatoes until it was all well mixed, and then drew the mixture together with my hands. I rolled it out into a circle, and then cut that into six wedges. I fried the scones in lard until browned on both sides, and served with a couple of fried eggs and some Stornoway black pudding. 

 

Hollandaise sauce

This is an important sauce at this time of year, when asparagus is in the shops, the sun is shining, and a light supper is called for. Hollandaise sauce is the perfect method to help butter and lemon juice to stick to food, just thickened with egg yolk. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 150 g unsalted butter 
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper 

METHOD:

  • Put the butter in a small pan over low heat, and as soon as it has melted, take it off the heat. 
  • In another pan, half fill with boiling water, and put a small trivet in the bottom. Put over a low flame so the water stays hot. 
  • In a heat-proof bowl, beat the egg yolks with the vinegar, and sit them over the boiling water. 
  • Straight away, start pouring in the molten butter in a slow stream, beating the eggs all the time. A small balloon whisk is ideal. 
  • The sauce will be quite thick; add the lemon juice and keep beating, and season with salt and pepper. 

You can vary the lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste. 

 

Broccoli and mushroom stir-fry with black bean sauce

This is a good basic stir-fry recipe, and you can use just about any vegetables. Finely sliced courgette, mange-tout peas, slivers of red and green pepper, all work well. At the moment the co-op in Creagorry seems to have lots of fresh egg noodles in the reduced section for vegetables, so we used those. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g egg noodles
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g broccoli
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 200ml vegetable stock (I used marigold stock)
  • 2 tbsp black bean sauce 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger (approx)
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry such as Tio pepe, or Shaohsing wine. 

METHOD:

Prepare the ingredients:

  • Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the instructions (some noodles are sold ready-cooked) – rinse in cold water.
  • Chop the carrots into thin slices, cut on a slant. Cut the broccoli into small florets, and the stems into strips 5cm long. Wipe the mushrooms clean, and slice with the stems still on. 
  • Finely chop the ginger and garlic
  • In a small bowl, put in the cornflour, then slowly add the stock, and mix to a paste. Add the black bean sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. If it has gone lumpy, you can remedy this with a soup blender. 

Start the cooking

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over a medium flame. When it is hot add the garlic and ginger, and stir a couple of times. 
  • Add the mushrooms, broccoli and carrots, and 3/4 tsp salt, and stir and fry until the vegetables are all hot, it doesn’t take long. 
  • Pour in the sherry, cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for a minute, so the vegetables are very lightly steamed in hot sherry. 
  • Uncover, and add the cornflour/black bean mixture. Turn the heat up a little and add the noodles. Keep stirring and mixing so that the noodles are hot and the sauce is thickened. 

An alternative is to fry the noodles separately, treating them like a large pancake in the bottom of a frying pan. Fry without stirring for 3-4 minutes, and then when the noodles are crispy on the bottom, flip over and fry the other side. When serving, put the noodle pancake on a plate and pour the vegetables and sauce over the top. 

 

Potato, cauliflower and coconut curry

For when your husband comes home with a random cauliflower. It is a longish list of ingredients, but it is very very good. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small to medium cauliflower
  • 100g creamed coconut
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 100g tomatoes
  • 2.5cm cube of fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2.5cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 hot green chillies
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 4 eggs (optional – leave these out for a vegan version)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala 

METHOD:

Prepare all the ingredients.

  • Boil the potatoes, then cool, peel and chop them into 2cm dice.
  • Separate the cauliflower into small florets, about 2cm across at the top. Cook the florets for a minute in boiling water, then drain and rinse in cold water. 
  • Pour 500ml boiling water onto the creamed coconut, and stir so it is all melted in. 
  • Peel and chop the tomatoes. 
  • chop the ginger and garlic, and put them into a small blender with a spoonful of water, and blend until smooth.
  • Finely chop the onion
  • Finely chop the chilli peppers
  • Boil, cool and peel the eggs and cut in half. 

Next, start assembling the dish. 

  • In a wok or large deep frying pan, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the fenugreek seeds and then the cinnamon stick. 
  • After a couple of seconds, add the chopped onion, and turn the heat to medium, stirring and cooking for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the ginger and garlic mixture, and the chopped chilli peppers. Cook for another minute. 
  • Add the tomatoes, turmeric and curry leaves. Cook for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add about a third of the coconut milk, turn the heat to low, and simmer. As the sauce reduces, keep an eye and stir from time to time so it doesn’t stick. 
  • Add the potatoes, cauliflower, 1.5 tsp salt, another third of the coconut milk, stir and bring to a simmer. 
  • Add the rest of the coconut milk and the lemon juice, stir and then put the eggs in carefully, spooning the sauce over the eggs. Cover and simmer for a few more minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with garam masala before serving. 

This is good with flat breads such as chapati or roti. 

Spinach Lasagne

Covid-19. We are staying in as much as possible, and I am systematically going through the ingredients in the freezer, seeing how long we can stay in between shopping expeditions. The top shelf is now down to some cooked beetroot (we’ll have to find something to do with that later)

The second shelf had several half-tubs of ricotta cheese and quite a bit of spinach. This is such a good recipe, I didn’t have to think that hard about what I was going to make. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 40g plain white flour
  • 600ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • another 50g butter
  • 700g (approx) spinach
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 125g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • around 150g oven-ready lasagne sheets

METHOD:

  • Make a bechamel sauce: Melt 50g butter in a small pan, and add 40g flour. Cook for a few minutes, so that the mixture is smooth and well-mixed. 
  • Slowly add the 1 pint of milk, stirring all the while. Add the bay leaf, and cook slowly, stirring, for ten minutes. The sauce should be thick and smooth.
  • Remove the bayleaf, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Use a soup wand to make the sauce extra-creamy.
  • Set the oven to 200C Gas 6. Grease a dish that measures 20cm by 30cm and around 6cm deep. 
  • In a very large pan, melt 50g butter and add the spinach. It might be a tight squeeze to get it all in, but it will cook down in about five minutes. You might need to squish it in with a spatula or spoon. 
  • Stir in the ricotta cheese, garlic, half the parmesan and a grate of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Assemble the lasagne. The first layer is sheets of lasagne. Then around a quarter of the bechamel sauce, and then half the spinach. Next, a layer of lasagne, then another quarter of the bechamel and the rest of the spinach. Finally, another layer of lasagne, the rest of the bechamel, and then the rest of the parmesan. 
  • Bake in the oven for around 35 minutes. The top should be golden brown, and the pasta should be tender. 

Braised eggs with leeks, lemon and zahtar

We are about to head off to a family gathering, and so tonight’s supper was composed of items that needed to be eaten. This included a very chunky home-grown leek and some fresh local eggs. This served 3

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chunky leek, sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 150ml marigold stock or other simple stock
  • 125g baby spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 45g feta cheese
  • 1 dessert spoon zahtar spice mix
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter into the olive oil in a small braising pan which has a lid that fits well. 
  • When the butter starts to foam, add the chopped leeks and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes or so, until the leeks soften. Season with a little pepper while the leeks are cooking.
  • Add the cumin, lemon and stock, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes or so to reduce the liquid.
  • Add the spinach, and cover, cook for a minute until the spinach has wilted right down.
  • Use a spoon to make nests for the eggs in the mixture. Break the eggs into these depressions. Sprinkle crumbled feta over the top. Cover with the lid, and braise for 4 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks are runny. (I wonder if crowdie would work). 
  • Sprinkle with Zahtar spice mix, and then serve immediately, with fresh bread. 

 

Leeks in a lemon and tomato sauce

I still have some home-grown leeks and carrots from the garden, trying to eat them up before the weather totally trashes them. I also have a brand new Turkish recipe book to try, and so far, so good. It has a great index by ingredient, an informative forward describing the different culinary regions within Turkey, and it is massive. I’m thinking of adding it to the favourite book list. 

It is called ‘The Turkish Cookbook’ by Musa Dagdeviren.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g leeks, sliced (about 3 large leeks)
  • 150g carrot, diced (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red bell pepper paste (from Turkishop)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon or 2 tbsp grape vinegar
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 40 – 60g rice

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat
  • Add the chopped leeks, diced carrot, tomato paste, pepper paste, sugar and salt, and cook for around five minutes. 
  • Add the boiling water, lemon juice, and rice, turn the heat down low and cover the pan. Simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked. 

This works well on its own, as a light supper or lunch. It is also glorious with goat’s cheese and brown bread.