Spinach and Feta Pie

Spinach grows well in the Uists, and it is also often available in the co-op.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg spinach
  • 1 small onion finely chopped, or six spring onions
  • 50g butter
  • 125g Feta Cheese
  • 1 dsp chopped fresh fennel or dill
  • 100ml cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • flaky pastry
  • Small grating of nutmeg

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in the butter until soft, then add all the spinach, and cook until it has all wilted down
  • Mash the cream, herbs, and cheese together
  • Mix the cheese and the spinach together, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Put the spinach and cheese mixture in a pie dish, and use the flaky pastry to cover
  • Bake in a medium hot oven for 30-45 minutes until the top is crisp and golden.

If you were going to be really authentic, this would be made with filo pastry to create little triangular packets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQITqEJ-TvQ shows you the technique.

Fig and Rhubarb Jam

Noms. I made this because I had the ingredients. It turned out very tasty and set well. The recipe is from Marguerite Patten’s book ’500 recipes for jams, pickles and chutneys’ price 2 shillings and sixpence. I thought it would be out of print, but NO it is really available on Amazon, newer edition than mine though.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb dried figs
  • 2 lb chopped rhubarb
  • 1 pint of water
  • 3 lb sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon

METHOD:

  • Soak the figs in the water for 48 hours, then simmer until soft
  • Add the rhubarb, and cook to form a thick pulp
  • Add the sugar and lime juice, simmer until the sugar is dissolved
  • Boil hard to setting point
  • Then put it in jars.

Nettle risotto

A recipe from the spring.

I know that nettles are supposed to be tasty and nutritious and free, but I’ve always struggled with the recipes that I’ve tried, usually ending up with something that looks wrong. But the scent of blanched nettles suggests an affinity with gooseberries, elderflowers, mackerel, and a wonderful hint of spring. I was out foraging for seaweed on the day I made this. At the end of the walk, I scrambled up a bank of dried kelp and pebbles, then silverweed, and then a great abundance of freshly sprouting spring nettles. 

When I got home, I blanched my pickings of nettle tops, and found I had 75g, enough to make myself a tasty wee risotto for one. You could easily multiply up for more.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 mild onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lovage sprig, finely chopped (leaves not the stem)
  • 25g butter
  • 75-100g blanched nettle tops, finely chopped
  • 100g arborio rice
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 300ml hot vegetable stock (I used marigold bouillon)
  • 1 oz parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion in the butter until it is soft and nearly browning.
  • Add the chopped nettles and chopped lovage, and stir in, frying, for a minute.
  • Add the rice, keep stirring and frying, until the rice looks glazed and shiny.
  • Pour in a glass of wine, and bring to the boil.
  • Slowly add the stock, bringing to the boil and waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding more.
  • Once the rice is tender, but still a little firm, add the salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Stir in, cover, and leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

Could you serve fish with this? Not sure. It was very good on its own.

Wild goose breast with wine and leeks

Courtesy of a greylag goose culler, we had goose in the freezer.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 goose breasts cut into 3cm chunks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of good red wine
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 pint of marigold stock
  • 1 small celeriac, diced
  • 1 bayleaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 150C
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet or frying pan, and fry off the onions, leeks and garlic until they are nearly browning, and soft. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  • Fry off the goose in the same oil and transfer to a casserole dish.
  • Stir the flour into the remaining oil, heat through, and then slowly add the wine and the stock to make a sauce, and then add to the casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the celeriac and bayleaf, and mix together. Put the covered casserole dish in the oven and cook until tender. Goose is variable in toughness, so check at intervals to see how it is going – could be an hour or two.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, such as kale tops.
You could add fried mushrooms to this. Or truffle oil. Very good.

Squat lobster risotto

We had the usual debate through the late afternoon about what we might do for a meal, when the spouse mentioned that we had some squats, and I said that I liked risotto. We used Valentina Harris’s book, Risotto Risotto to give us the technical details. This is what we did.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • A lovage leaf (or a little bit of celery)
  • 50g butter
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 1/4 bottle vinho verde (or any dry white wine)
  • 500ml boiling hot vegetable stock
  • 500g squats, cut in half (peeled weight)
  • 25g freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper

My rule of thumb, for a good sized portion per person I allow 75g rice and 225ml liquid. For a starter, 50g. This recipe depended on how much weight of squats we had, and we got three servings.

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion in half the butter until soft, then stir in the risotto rice and lovage.
  • If you are using celery, chop it finely and fry it with the onion.
  • Stir the rice into the frying onion until it looks opaque and is hot. Then stir in the wine, then start adding the stock a little bit at a time, allowing each bit of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
  • With the last little bit of stock, add the squats. When the stock is fully soaked in, remove the risotto from the heat, and add the parsley, the rest of the butter and the parmesan, add any salt and pepper that is needed, and then cover. Leave the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Boned wild goose breast with limes and herbs

I think I may have cracked this wild goose recipe challenge again: A Persian herb stew with goose in it. I adapted the recipe from one in ‘A Taste of Persia’ , very tasty. I prepared it one evening, then finished off the cooking the next night.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 pair of goose breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp saffron in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 whole dried persian lime, punctured with a sharp knife (lime was mail order)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained
  • 3 tbs sunflower oil
  • 2 cups of mixed chopped herbs including fresh coriander, parsley, dried fenugreek leaves OR
  • 1 cup Gormeh Sabzi (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 cup chopped spring onions or chives
  • juice of one fresh lime
  • 1 litre of water

METHOD:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, and add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until they are translucent, about five minutes.
  • Add the garlic and continue to fry for another 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring intermittently.
  • Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, the kidney beans and the whole dried lime, and fry together for another couple of minutes
  • Add one litre of water, and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Meanwhile, mix the herbs and chopped chives/spring onions together, and fry in the sunflower oil for 20 minutes, stirring all the time. The smell from the fenugreek will be very strong.
  • Add the fried herbs to the pot along with the lime juice, and cover. At this point, I took the stew off the heat and stored it ready to finish cooking the next night. This is optional.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, flash-fry the strips of goose meat for around five minutes, and add to the pot to heat through, around five minutes before serving.
  •  Serve with rice.

Grilled grapefruit

One of my mother’s recipes from the 1970s.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

METHOD:

  • Cut the grapefruit in half, remove the pips and loosen the segments with a grapefruit knife.
  • Mix the butter, sugar and spice together, and spread onto the grapfruit halves.
  • Place under a hot grill for five minutes, to caramelise the sugar.

Aubergine sauce for pasta

This sauce is good mixed with small pasta, or layered with lasagne and a bechamel sauce and baked. In fact, I bet you could mix it with small pasta and bake it. I have tried it two ways, once using some mystery chilli and herb seasoning that a relative bought back from Italy for me. I made a small quantity suitable for two or three people, so double this would be a really good lot of sauce sufficient to serve around six people.

Top tip discovered whilst doing this: One handful of small pasta weighs a good ounce. Three handfuls is one good-size portion of pasta. There are other versions of this classic sauce around: I found one in The Pasta Bible, and another on Allrecipes website

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsbs olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • A handful of fresh parsley (I used fresh flat-leaf parsley from the garden)
  • 1 medium aubergine, diced
  • 1/2 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground chilli (or use a small fresh chilli and add it with the garlic)
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp marigold stock powder
  • 1 tin chopped organic tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (If you are using the mystery Italian seasoning from the holiday pack of pasta, use this in place of the parsley, chilli, basil and paprika, and add with the aubergines: I would suggests a heaped teaspoonful)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and add the garlic and parsley.
  • Turn the heat to very low, squish the garlic with a wooden spoon, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes while you chop the aubergine. I got nervous about this, it seemed a long time, so I checked every so often, and took it off the heat once the garlic looked cooked.
  • If you used a small whole fresh chilli, remove this now. Add the aubergines, chilli powder, basil, half the water, and cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • I put the marigold stock powder into the remaining hot water, along with the saffron and sugar and allowed this to infuse.
  • After the 10 minutes is up, add the water, saffron, sugar, stock powder, wine and tomatoes, along with the paprika. Season to taste, cover and settle it to simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, put it somewhere safe, boil up the pasta of your choice, drain and then stir in the sauce.
  • If you are using this for a baked pasta dish, stir in the cooked pasta, put it into an ovenproof dish, top with mozzarella, and bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven.

Persian herb omelette

A Kookoo is a large omelette dish from Iran. It has a little flour and raising agent added, and it is baked in the oven, a bit like a Spanish frittata. It tastes wonderful, spiced and flavoured with herbs. It often has vegetables in it as well. This version is full of herbs from the garden, with spices and barberries, which I sourced from Seasoned Pioneers.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp advieh (Persian spice mix)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup of chopped herbs, to include chives, parsley, fennel
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp dried barberries

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Melt the butter in an 8 inch frying pan or skillet that will go into the oven
  • Break the eggs into a bowl, and lightly beat in all the other ingredients
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes

Serve with salad and bread, possibly a little Greek yoghurt. A herb Kookoo is a traditional New Year dish, a taste of the start of spring.

Braised pork chops

This is another recipe from the fantastic Organic Meat cookbook, from Frances Bissell. The accompanying mashed potatoes with pears is a real discovery, absolutely delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • 30g plain flour, seasoned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 can chopped organic tomatoes
  • 140ml marigold stock
  • 140ml dry white wine or dry cider
  • Salt, pepper
  • chopped parsley

METHOD:

  • Trim the fat from the chops, dust lightly with flour, and fry the chops in the oil in a large frying pan. Transfer them to a shallow casserole dish.
  • Fry the onion until golden brown, and add to the pork
  • Pour the tinned tomatoes over the meat. Deglaze the frying pan by pouring the wine and stock into it, and then add that to the casserole as well.
  • Season the casserole with salt and pepper, and cover. Bake in the oven at 220C for 30 minutes, and then 180C for 45 minutes. Take the lid off the casserole for the last 15 minutes.
  • Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley, your favourite seasonal vegetable, and mashed pear/potato.