Asparagus Risotto

This is a beautiful summer risotto. We made it because there was asparagus that had been reduced in the co-op, and added some fresh vegetables from the garden. I added mange tout peas, broad beans, and chive flowers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g broad beans
  • 100g asparagus, chopped into 2cm lengths
  • 100g mange tout peas (or about 300g total green vegetables)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • a handful of chive flowers

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in half of the butter, until it is soft, about five minutes.
  • Add the rice and give it a good stir, heating it through. 
  • Add the glass of wine, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. 
  • Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, bringing the risotto back to a simmer each time, and waiting for the stock to be absorbed into the rice. 
  • About half-way through, add the sage, asparagus, beans and peas. Continue adding the stock as before. 
  • When the rice is just about done, take the risotto from the heat, stir in the parmesan and the chive flowers and the rest of the butter. Season with pepper, and a bit of salt if required. Leave the risotto to rest. 
  • Transfer to a warmed platter to serve. 

This can be garnished with toasted sage leaves, or other chopped herbs. 

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

It is raining this morning, so I am looking out the soup recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium to large onions, peeled and thinly sliced into rings. 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.2 litres of hot stock 
  • 300ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 250g Emmental cheese, grated.

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C gas 4
  • Mix 1 tbsp olive oil with one clove of crushed garlic, and put into an oven-proof tray or baking sheet.
  • Slice the baguette into thin slanting slices, and mix with the olive oil and garlic. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • In a large saucepan or casserole dish, on a high heat, melt 50g of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil, and when this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning and stirring until the onions are getting quite dark around the edges. 
  • Reduce the heat right down, and cook very slowly for another 30 minutes or so. 
  • Pour in the stock and wine, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and then cook very gently for about an hour. Don’t cover with a lid. 
  • Just before serving, put the grill on.
  • Transfer the soup into a tureen or serving bowls. Put the toasted baguette onto the soup, cover with the grated cheese and put everything under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling. 
  • Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. The bowls will be very hot, so be careful. 

 

Celeriac and celery soup

This has its roots in Delia Smith’s vegetarian cook book. Some of the recipes have lasted with me, and it is a book I dip back to regularly. It is a good way to use all of the celery that gets left from other recipes that only use one or two stalks. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g approx of celery stalks
  • 550g approx of celeriac, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1.5 litres of marigold stock
  • 3 bayleaves
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche or greek yoghurt, chopped herbs to serve. 

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 140C gas mark 1
  • Use a peeler or sharp knife to remove any stringy sections from the outside of the celery stalks. Cut into large chunks.
  • Peel and chop the celeriac, and cut the onion into large wedges.
  • Put all of the ingredients into a large casserole dish with the stock, bayleaves, salt and pepper. Bring it to a simmer on the hob, cover, and transfer to the oven. 
  • Leave to cook in the oven for three hours. 
  • Remove the bayleaves, and blend using a soup wand, 
  • Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche, and chopped herbs. Parsley or chopped celery leaves work well, so do chive flowers, the colour contrast is so beautiful. 

 

Butternut squash and chickpea stew

A visitor to my house made this, and then referred me to the Kitchenist website. The stew was delicious. I’m not going to type it out, because the Kitchenist has already done that and you can just click on the link. Instead, here are my top tips for making this. 

First of all, I made Barbari Naan to go with it, but haven’t perfected the techniques for that yet, so you’ll need to wait for the recipe. Nan or pitta bread should be good. I also served this with home-made labneh, which was delicious. Recipe for that coming soon. A Greek salad with lots of feta cheese in is also good. 

I also found that the recipe needs a bit of salt and pepper, just my own taste, I suspect. 

There’s a bit in the recipe that calls for garlic, ginger and lemongrass to be mashed together. I have a small coffee/spice grinder attachment for my bamix blender that I use just for this sort of thing, small and quick. There are a few similar products on the market, really worth while for this sort of cooking. 

 

 

A quick potato, dill and bean salad

Cooking quickly to avoid being inside when the weather is good. I combined a 400g bag of new potatoes, boiled in their skins and chopped, with a bag of beans from East camp, cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water. I added some chopped dill, spring onions and mayonnaise. 

Salmon is what you need to serve with this. 

Beans, garlic, dill and eggs

I can hardly wait to tell you about this recipe, or to eat it again. It is delicious, and dangerously garlicky, so I think I will be in trouble at work tomorrow. I made it with tinned beans, but the original recipe starts from scratch. I got the recipe from the remarkable book, Nightingales and Roses. These are recipes from all over Iran, organised by seasonal availability of ingredients. Where she wins over my other current favourite book, Jerusalem, is her serving suggestions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of cannellini or borlotti beans
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, with the cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp of dill seed, or 5 tsp dried dill weed, or 30g fresh dill, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 eggs

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a medium lidded frying pan, add the oil and then the chopped garlic, and fry until the garlic is turning golden. 
  • Add the turmeric, pepper, dill, and salt, and then add the can of beans including the water they are in. 
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook, until the mixture is getting drier and thicker. 
  • Make 4 wells in the bean mixture, and into each well, break an egg. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until the eggs are cooked to your liking. 

The book suggests serving this with a little rice, with side dishes of olives, chopped radishes, smoked fish. We were not so dainty, and served this with a side salad with herbs and some bread, olives and labneh

Frittata

I think I got this recipe from Nadine Abensur’s new Cranks’ recipe book, which I gave to someone. We are in peak egg season at the moment, I have been given so many boxes of eggs. Combine that with summer potatoes, and the sweet burn of fresh garlic from the garden. Who knew that the Hebrides could be so lush. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • New potatoes, around 4 medium sized, or more if they are smaller
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Lots of olive oil
  • tomatoes, peppers or other vegetable, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 eggs

METHOD:

  • Slice the potatoes thickly, and slice the onions finely. Chop the garlic. 
  • Heat some olive oil in a large deep frying pan. Turn the heat to low and then add the potatoes, onions and garlic. Cook on a low low heat until the potatoes are cooked. Stir so that nothing burns. 
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the fried potatoes to the eggs
  • Put the onions or other vegetables with a little oil in the pan, and then, over a medium heat, add the eggs and potatoes. 
  • Once the edges and bottom of the frittata appear to be cooked, put the pan under a hot grill for 4-5 minutes

Serve in slices with salad and wine. 

Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

This is just too good to be true, and too good not to share. The Hebrides produces the main ingredients so well. Mint and rhubarb grow in my garden, and there are sheep all around. The recipe is Persian, and this version comes from ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil, or 50/50 oil and butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 400g lamb, off the bone and cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 120g parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 stalks of rhubarb sliced into 2cm lengths
  • 2 tsp date syrup, or brown sugar

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish, and lightly brown the onions. 
  • Turn up the heat a little and add the lamb, turmeric, salt and pepper, and fry until the meat is browned on all sides
  • Pour over boiling water, so that the meat is covered by around 2 cm of water. Simmer for an hour and a half. 
  • Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, and cook the herbs for four to five minutes, until they start to darken. 
  • Add the flour, and continue to stir and cook for another three minutes or so. 
  • Add the herbs to the lamb stew and simmer for another half an hour, to make a thick minty stew. At this point, the stew can be set aside and can be finished another day. Just add the herbs, and then stir and freeze, and then do the half hour simmer on defrosting. 
  • Add the rhubarb and date syrup, stir it in and then cook the stew on a low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t stir, as this will break up the rhubarb

Serve with rice. 

Home-made Labneh

I only recently discovered Labneh, and now I want it every day – classic with salad at lunch-time in the summer. It is very easy to make as well. It is a dish from the Levant (think of the countries south of Turkey, like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine) – east of the Mediterranean. 

There are recipes everywhere once you start looking; this one is from Jerusalem

INGREDIENTS: 

  • Two tubs of thick plain yoghurt, around 500g each, could be greek style yoghurt, goats’ milk yoghurt
  • 3/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Pour the yogurt into a large bowl. Stir in salt.
  • Line another large bowl with a linen or muslin towel (or several layers of cheesecloth.) Pour the yogurt mixture into the towel. Pick up the edges of the towel and tie at the top. Hang from a kitchen sink faucet to drain for 24 to 48 hours. Alternatively, set a large sieve, lined with linen towel over a deep bowl. Add the yogurt mixture. Cover gently with the overhang of the linen towel, or another linen towel. Set aside on the counter, or in the fridge, to drain for 24-48 hours. I actually used a muslin intended for coping with babies, still new. I tied the tops over the yoghurt, and rigged up a thing with string and a wooden spoon over a deep bowl. You may need to empty the bowl at the bottom half-way. Also, it takes up a bit of space in the fridge. 

To serve, spread labneh in a bowl and top with extra virgin olive oilza’atar spice (or chopped fresh herbs like mint or parsley). Add fresh pitta, or other warm bread, on the side. Sliced vegetables, such as tomatoes, radishes, olives, are a good addition. 

I have been storing the labneh in a plastic container in the fridge, and allegedly it will keep for a couple of weeks.

Penne with wild orache, pine nuts and parmesan

I put seaweed on my soft fruit plants this year, and as a result, I think I imported a load of orache seeds. If you don’t know, orache is a weed that grows on the upper shore at this time of year, and it is delicious. I’ve got more than I can eat at the moment, the most successful vegetable in my garden at the moment. I also had some left-over wholewheat pasta courtesy of my super-healthy children, so I used that too. Plain pasta is good too. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g pasta
  • salt
  • enough orache to feed four people (no idea of weight, it just looked OK)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped, not crushed
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a squeeze of orange juice
  • 50g pine-nuts, toasted
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Fill a large pan with water, bring to the boil and then add the pasta along with a good spoonful of salt, and bring the water back to the boil. Let the pasta cook as long as the pack says (8 minutes for plain pasta, 11 minutes for wholewheat is the usual thing)
  • A couple of minutes before the pasta is done, stir-fry the orache and garlic in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes, until the orache has wilted. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
  • Drain the cooked pasta and the put it back in the warm pan. Add the orache and the pine nuts and parmesan. Give it all a quick stir, check the seasoning, and serve.