Spiced pumpkin risotto

This recipe is from the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver. It has rather a lot of ingredients, but the flavour is amazing, so it is really worth it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash or onion squash
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme leaves (or add fresh thyme while you are cooking the risotto)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes, or two small dried chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • another tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 head of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 more cloves of garlic
  • 400g good risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 70g butter
  • 100g parmesan
  • 2 heaped spoonfuls of mascarpone

METHOD:

  • Turn the oven up to 200C and start to prepare the spices. Put the dry herbs and spices and the salt and pepper into a spice grinder, or grind with a pestle and mortar. Once it is all in a fine powder, crush the garlic, and pound it in, and mix to a paste with the olive oil. 
  • Next, prepare the squash. Peel it if you are using a butternut squash and you don’t like the skin. Cut length wise into eights (half, half and half again) and scoop out the seeds. Rub the squash all over with the spice mixture, and lay it out in a small roasting dish. Roast for thirty minutes in the middle of the oven. 
  • The roasted squash is just lovely as it is, and if you wish, you could add chickpeas to the recipe. For the risotto, set it aside to cool, and then chop finely. Chop one half more finely. 
  • Make sure your stock is good and hot to make a good risotto.
  • In the risotto pan, head olive oil, and then gently cook the onion and celery for 3 to four minutes, before adding the garlic. Once the vegetables look soft, add the rice and turn up the heat a little. Continue to cook until the rice is turning translucent. Keep stirring so the rice doesn’t scorch or stick. 
  • When the rice is ready add the wine or vermouth and the thyme leaves, and keep stirring. Once the alcohol has boiled off, start adding the stock and the roughly chopped half of the chopped squash. Add the stock slowly, a ladleful at a time,  and keep checking the flavour and texture of the rice. I found the squash quite salty, so you don’t need to add masses more. Wait until each addition of stock has been absorbed by the rice before pouring more in. The rice will be ready when it is tender but still with a hint of a bite to it. 
  • When you think it is just about ready, turn off the heat, and stir in the rest of the pumpkin, the butter, mascarpone and parmesan. 

This makes four very large or six modest portions. 

Shakshouka – eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

Susannah and Alexander have hens, so I have eggs. This is another dish in which the eggs are poached in a sauce. This is delicious served with warm flatbreads, such as pitta bread. Susannah is good at home-made flatbreads, and I shall have to get instruction. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 long red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 hot green chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomato
  • 250ml vegetable stock 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • eggs – 2 per person
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley to garnish
  • feta cheese, crumbled, to garnish

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan to a medium heat, and cook the chopped onions and peppers until soft, and beginning to brown at the edges. 
  • Add the oregano and spices, stir once and then add the tomatoes and stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until reduced to a thick stew. 
  • Use a spoon to make a small dent in the sauce, and crack the eggs into it, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. 
  • Garnish with the parsley and feta cheese and serve with bread. 

Pressed Tofu with Cabbage

This is another wonderful recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. It is very satisfying. To press tofu, select a medium to firm tofu, place between two teatowels under a baking tray, and put something heavy on top, such as a tin of beans. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • around 100g pressed tofu (firm)
  • 225g cabbage (works well with brussels sprouts too)
  • 2 fresh hot green chillies
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

METHOD:

  • Chop the ingredients as follows: 
    • Cut the tofu into julienne strips 4cm long
    • Core the cabbage and cut into fine strips
    • Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and slice into 1/2 cm slices
    • Cut the spring onions into 4cm lengths, and shred lengthways
    • Cut the green chillies into fine 4cm strips
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the wok over a  medium/high heat and fry the bean curd for about 10 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Add the rest of the oil to the bowl, and add the ginger slices for 20 seconds, pressing into the side of the wok. Then add the garlic and fry for a further 15 seconds. 
  • Add the chillies, mushrooms and spring onions, and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the shredded cabbage, and frying for a further minute. 
  • Add the wine, then the soy sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Add each ingredient round the edge, and stir, before adding the next. After another minute add the bean-curd. 

The original recipe says to remove the ginger slices beforehand, but I can never find them, which is why I chop it up finely. 

Tagliatelle with St Agur Cream sauce and spinach.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from ‘Vegetarian Pasta’ by Rose Elliot. We had quite a lot of cream and cheese left towards the end of the Christmas break, so this was an excellent way to pull everything together. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 300ml cream 
  • salt, black pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • 400g tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 125g blue cheese such as St Agur or dolcelatte, chopped
  • 125g spinach leaves, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add the onion. Cook very gently for ten minutes with the lid on. The onion should be tender, but not brown. 
  • Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the cream, and leave to simmer very gently for another ten minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the tagliatelle. When the water boils, add the pasta, give it a stir and leave to cook for around 8 minutes. 
  • A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cheese and spinach to the sauce, and stir to warm through, and season with pepper. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta and put it back in the warm pan, add a tablespoonful of good olive oil and stir. 
  • Serve in warm dishes with the sauce poured over the top. You can also pour the sauce onto the pasta in the pan, stir, and then serve onto warm dishes. 

Tofu and broccoli

Another outstanding and adaptable recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Eastern Vegetarian Cooking.  Tofu and any of the cabbage family is very good. A top tip from the recipe book, after chopping the broccoli, freshen it in cold water until you need it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 175ml stock
  • 1 tbs shaohsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tps soy sauce 
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 spring onion
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 225g broccoli florets and stems, all about 4cm long
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • roughly 225g medium tofu, cut into 2cm cubes or thereabouts

METHOD: 

  • Put the cornflour in a cup or small jug, and add 50ml of the stock, and mix before adding the sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil. 
  • Cut the spring onion into 4cm lengths and then shred lengthways into strips. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for 10 seconds, then add the broccoli and spring onion. Continue to fry for around a minute. 
  • Add the rest of the stock, cover and simmer on medium/low for a minute until the broccoli is hot but still crisp. Lift the broccoli out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Turn the heat to low, and add the tofu, heating it through. Once it is hot, stir the cornflour mixture in the jug, to ensure it is well mixed, and then pour over the tofu. Mix very gently, and then return the broccoli to the pan. Continue to cook on low, stirring very gently, until the sauce is thick and everything is hot. 

Tofu in a spicy ginger sauce

I am home alone this week, and experimenting with ingredients. I was very pleased to find tofu in Creagorry Co-op recently, and this was the recipe that I tried tonight. It is very easy to prepare, and can be varied quite a bit. I’ll put all the variations in brackets. I got the basic recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I have the first edition, complete with stains and a burnt cover. Very authentic. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp cornflour (or Japanese arrowroot – kudzu)
  • 100 to 200ml vegetable stock (or beef stock)
  • 1 tsp chilli paste with soy bean (or sriracha +/- miso paste) 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, preferably Chinese thin soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or Basra date syrup)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried ginger, added to the stock)
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced into rounds, including the greens
  • 1 block of bean curd (about 300g) cut into cubes – can be as large as 2cm cubes. 

METHOD:

  • Prepare the sauce. Put the cornflower into a bowl or jug, and mix in a little stock and stir out any lumps. Then add the rest of the stock, along with the chilli paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and sugar, and mix well. 
  • Make sure the other ingredients are fully prepared and lined up. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok (medium high) and then add the garlic and ginger, stirring and frying for 10 seconds. 
  • Add the spring onions. Stir and fry for 5 seconds. 
  • Add the tofu. Stir and fry for 1 minute
  • Add the sauce, turn the heat to low, stir gently and simmer until the sauce thickens. 

I served with steamed broccoli, toasted sesame seeds and noodles. 

Potato Gnocchi with mushrooms cheese and parsley

Shows Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese
Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese

Malcolm came back from a trip to the mainland with some gnocchi, a cauliflower, and some mushrooms. I vetoed the cauliflower, so we had this dish. This served two. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g Gnocchi
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g grated hard cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • A punnet of mushrooms, chopped
  • a shallot 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Butter
  • Herbs e.g. sage or thyme
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic finely, and fry in butter until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and herbs, and continue to fry until the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Meanwhile boil the gnocchi according to the instructions. 
  • Mix the mushrooms, cheese, and gnocchi together, and add enough butter to ensure that the gnocchi are coated. Adjust seasoning. 
  • Serve garnished with parsley

I have seen versions that include blue cheese or spinach. 

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.