Tagliatelle with ham and cheese

This is a quick recipe from Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. This is a classic recipe book, lots of recipes, along with descriptions of context and history of individual dishes. It was first published in Britain in 1954.

I had some ham that I purchased from the reduced section in the co-op, and it was a work night tonight, so something quick and easy was required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g tagliatelle per person
  • 50g cooked ham per person, cut into strips
  • 25g freshly grated parmesan per person
  • Butter
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 8 minutes, or until done.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter and cook the ham for around 3 minutes, until warm through.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and add all of the butter and ham and half of the parmesan, stir together and serve with the rest of the parmesan and black pepper for seasoning.

Ham and leeks in a cheese sauce

This is a good quick supper, easy and tasty. I scored some cheap ham at the co-op this afternoon. Top tip – if you want to eat cheaply and feel good about stopping food waste, Sunday afternoons at the co-op is peak bargain time.

After we ate this, we reflected that we could have snuck in a layer or two of lasagne as well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 leeks
  • approx 4 slices of cooked ham, chopped
  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml of cooking liquid from the leeks
  • 300ml milk
  • nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
  • 100g grated cheese
  • breadcrumbs

METHOD

  • Prepare the leeks, cut them into 1 cm slices and cook in boiling water for around 7 minutes.
  • Drain the leeks and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Put the leeks into the bottom of a gratin dish, and cover with a layer of ham.
  • Fry the flour in the butter, for around a minute, and then add the liquid to make a smooth sauce, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Add half the cheese, along with the mustard and a grating of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the cheese is all melted into the sauce
  • Pour the sauce over the ham and leeks, then top with the rest of the cheese and then the breadcrumbs
  • Cook for 10 minutes under a moderately hot grill, until the topping is nicely browned.

Pasta with tomato sauce and chickpeas

I thought I was being brilliant and inventive and then discovered that this is a classic. There are hundreds of versions on the internet already.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 250ml sweet tomato sauce
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp mystery herb mixture including dried chillies from a present from Italy
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g pasta

METHOD:

  • Start by bringing a pan of water to the boil, and cook the pasta for the time advised on the pack, usually around 8 to 9 minutes.
  • In another pan, heat the olive oil, add the mystery herbs and after a few seconds, add the tomato sauce and bring it to a simmer.
  • Drain the chickpeas and add to the tomato sauce, and bring it back to a simmer.
  • When the pasta is done, drain and stir in the sauce and then serve

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.

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.

Tomato sauce

I need to add this recipe because it is used in so many other things. I’m just about to add some recipes for meatballs and this is a prerequisite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped, or one dried chilli, crumbled
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tins of plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 handful of basil, roughly chopped (I have made this without, when none in the shops)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a large pan, gently fry the garlic in the olive oil.
  • Add the chilli, oregano and tomatoes. Don’t break the tomatoes up if possible, leave them whole. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, checking every 10 minutes or so. If it is looking dry, add water.
  • Add the vinegar, and break up the tomatoes, stirring well. Add basil leaves, salt and pepper. A bit of very good olive oil can be added at this stage.

This makes a good quantity of tomato sauce, enough for one meatball recipe, and enough to serve six people.

Goose Bhuna

This recipe was inspired by seeing a bhuna recipe on ‘grubworm’ but when I went to download it, we had an IT failure, so I used a similar bhuna recipe from a book. The flavour is fantastic. The main feature of a bhuna is that the sauce is cooked right down to a sticky paste that adheres to the meat.

Seasoned Pioneers can supply just about any spice or herb that you can’t source locally.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4cm ginger root, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 4 goose breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250ml water
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • freshly chopped coriander leaf to garnish.

METHOD:

  • Toast the spices in a small pan for a minute or two, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Take off the heat, cool, and grind in a pestle and mortar with the salt.
  • Put the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processer and blend until the onion is in small chips.
  • Fry the chopped onion mixture in a little vegetable oil, until the onion is starting to brown.
  • Add the tomatoes and curry leaves, and cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add the ground spices, keep stirring, and after five minutes, add the water, and bring back to a simmer.
  • Put a lid on the pan and simmer on a very low heat until the sauce is really thick. This can take quite a while, an hour or so.
  • Meanwhile, around 10 minutes before serving, fry the goose in a very hot pan for around 5 minutes, and then add to the thickened sauce, stir and reduce the sauce further.
  • Sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with the chopped coriander.

Serve with plain rice, and a glass of cold beer. The flavour from the freshly roasted spices is amazing.

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.

Delia Smith’s Parsnip and Cheese Roulade with Sage and Onion Stuffing.

We had the big family Christmas this year, twenty people with five vegetarians. I made this for Christmas Day, and served it as an alternative for turkey et al. It was delicious, but it took quite a bit to find a corner to make it in while all the turkey and trimmings were being prepared. I used the recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas – a very fine book indeed.

INGREDIENTS:

For the stuffing:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper

For the roulade:

  • 100g grated hard cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 275ml cold milk
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 40g chopped and toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

For the parsnip filling

  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

You will also need a clean tea-towel, greaseproof paper or tin foil, and a swiss roll tin, or similar baking tray.

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C gas 6
  • Make the stuffing layer first. Melt the butter in a small pan, and fry the chopped onions for around five to six minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the herbs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and stir together.
  • Meanwhile, line the swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper, silicon paper or greased tin foil.
  • Make a thin layer of the stuffing in the swiss roll tin.
  • Next, make the cheese layer. Put the butter, milk and flour together in a saucepan. Heat this on a medium heat, stirring until thickened, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook on a low heat for a couple more minutes.
  • Put the sauce aside to cool. Separate the eggs, making sure the egg whites are in a grease-free bowl. Add the egg-yolks to the white sauce, and whisk them in. Next, add the grated hard cheese, and stir until it is melted in. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large bowl and clean whisk, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. (I got my sister to do this.)
  • Fold the cheese mixture into the egg-white: Start by adding a little of the egg-white mixture to the cheese sauce and then add the cheese sauce to the egg-whites, fold a spoon at a time until well mixed. Take care to ensure that the mixture retains as much air as possible.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the stuffing and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until set. It should be springy and feel firm.
  • Last layer: make the parsnip filling. Boil the chopped parsnips for at least 15 minutes, until soft.
  • Mix the cooked parsnips with butter, double cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Have a really good go at this to make smooth paste.
  • Assembly: Put the tea-towel on the table and sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts.
  • Turn out the stuffing/cheese layer onto the hazelnuts. Spread the parsnips onto the stuffing layer, and then roll up the roulade along the longest side, using the teatowel to ensure it ends up as a round shape.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

I found this to need a bit of reheating at the end to ensure it was hot enough to serve with the turkey. Turn the oven down to 180C, cover the roulade with tin foil, and heat through for around 20 minutes.

Tablet

Classic recipe.

Have to hand a sink with a bit of cold water in the bottom, a jam thermometer, an electric beater and a well-greased swiss-roll tin, preferably resting on a trivet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 kg caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 250g salted butter

METHOD:

  • In a large pan, mix the condensed milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. Rinse out the condensed milk tin with a little bit of water, less than half the tinful, and add that to the mixture.
  • Gently heat, whilst stirring, until the sugar has all dissolved and the butter is melted.
  • Keep a track of the temperature with a sugar thermometer. Keep on stirring and cooking, as the tablet begins to take on a brown colour, and is up just past the ‘soft ball’ temperature, around 119 C
  • When the tablet looks right and is the right temperature, take the pan off the heat, cool the bottom of the pan in a sink of cold water. Take your time to put down the spoon and the thermometer.
  • Beat the tablet as it starts to cool, until the surface starts to lose its shine. If you test the texture on the beater wires, it should begin to thicken and look slightly velvety.
  • While it is still hot, pour it into the greased swiss roll tin.
  • Leave to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then score into squares. When it is completely cool (usually much later) turn it out and break into squares.

I like tablet with coffee.