Friday, 28 December 2012

Love your leftovers!

When you like to cook, it can sometimes seem like the fridge is permanently full of leftovers.  Come christmas, and everyone is in the same boat.  I have a few favourite leftover recipes, and after facing the fridge still half full of leftovers this morning, I decided to share some on my blog. I've included easy recipes for nasi goreng, Cornish style pasties with leftovers, leftover Christmas cheese pie and biryani rice with leftover curry.

First up, it has to be nasi goreng (or maybe mee goreng if you're more noodle inclined).  I love this dish for lots of reasons.  It's the first street food dish in Indonesia I fell in love with.  I think it takes the universally popular egg fried rice and gives it kick and substance, turning it into a proper supper.  It can be served with egg scrambled through the rice, or an omelette (you can make fancy strips and layer them on the top), but the favourite in our house (and most traditional) is a perfectly cooked gooey fried egg.  You can pretty much use any leftovers, veg or otherwise, just chop them up into bite sized pieces.  The key to great nasi is left over rice that has been cooked and fully cooled, preferably after a night in the fridge

One of my favourite Christmas leftover recipes is leftover cheese pie.  We always have excessive amounts of cheese over the festive season, and we end up with odds and ends of all kinds of cheese from different places.  One year I made a pie from the leftovers, and so the tradition was born, leftover cheese pie.  This year, inspired by Cornish blue and yarg from my new Cornish brother in law, I also made some Cornish style pasties.  The recipe below uses a traditional dough recipe for Cornish pasties, with the requisite knob of butter and black pepper seasoning.  But the rest of the filling is a hotch potch of what was kicking around the fridge.  I made them with leek & potato dauphinoise (WINNER!), rocket mash & stilton (kind of ended up a bit hollow, but scored big on the taste board), and leftover xmas veg with carrot & swede mash, roast potatoes, red cabbage and veggie roast (which was really yummy with cranberry compote).  I'm making the leftover cheese pie for NYE, so recipe below reflects this years particular cheese fest, but you could use pretty much any cheese I reckon.

The last recipe is just a few tips on making biryani rice from leftover curry.  Again, this is totally adaptable to whatever curry you've been cooking and have leftover, whether vegetable, meat, seafood or chickpeas (I make this with Sunil's dal and it's delicious).  You could also use any leftover vegetables or whatever you have, and knock up a masala sauce to layer with the leftovers and rice.

Nasi Goreng


Ingredients - serves 2-3
2 cups of basmati (or long grain) rice, steamed or boiled, al dente
4 free range eggs
Leftover veg, such as carrots, peas, onions, green beans, I've even used roast potatoes before
2 tbsp garlic paste
3 tbsp finely chopped onions or shallots
1 large red chilli
1-2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp of chilli sambal (I use sriracha)
1 tbsp of fish free worcester sauce (or fish sauce)
1 tbsp soy sauce
sesame oil for frying
sliced spring onions, fresh coriander and few red chilli slices to garnish (all optional)


1. If making omelette, beat eggs together with little salt, and ¼ of the mixture in small pan to make thin omelette. Repeat until have 4.  Them roll up together and slices into long strips. Set aside.
2. If having fried eggs, start cooking them at step 5.
3. Mix together sugar, soy, chilli sauce and set aside.
4. Heat sesame oil in wok, add onions and soften, then add garlic and vegetables. Cook for 2 mins then add chilli and cook for further minute.
5. Add cooked rice, mix well and cook until fully heated.
6. Turn off heat and add sauce mixture.  Mix well.  Mix through half egg strips, if using.
7. Serve portions with remaining egg strips or fried eggs over top of rice, and scatter with fresh spring onions, coriander and fresh chillies (if using).


 Cornish Style Pasties with Leftovers

Ingredients - makes 4 large or 6 medium sized pasties
Dough: 500g strong plain flour
120g vegetable suet
25g butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
175ml cold water

Fillings:
Leftovers 
Butter & black pepper for seasoning
Free range egg & 1 tsp salt, for glazing
Veg oil for frying

1. Mix all dough ingredients together, except water, to make a breadcrumb texture.  Then add water and knead well until dough is soft and pliable. Leave to rest in fridge for at least an hour.
2. Chop any leftovers into 1-2cm pieces.
3. Divide dough into 4 or 6 equal sized pieces, on floured surface roll out into circle. Egg wash edges.
4. Fill half of the circle with filling, add a knob of butter & pinch of black pepper over top, then fold over dough. Then crimp edges (you can check out the technique here, step 11. It takes a bit of practice).
5. Brush generously with salted egg wash.
6. Bake at 170 for 30-40 mins until golden brown.

Leftover Christmas Cheese Pie


Ingredients - serves 6
Pastry:
225g plain flour
100g butter
salt
1 free range egg
80g pecans, crushed (optional)

Filling:
400g assorted cheese ( I'll be using odds & sods of cornish blue, stilton, red leicester, mature cheddar, wensleydale, lancashire & brie)
400g potatoes, cut into slices and boiled until just soft
1 red onion, chopped
salt & black pepper
1 free range egg, beaten, for glazing

1. Heat oven to 190C
2. Place all ingredients for pastry in food processor, pulse until combined. Wrap in cling film and chill in fridge for at least an hour.
3. Roughly chop up the leftover cheeses, and mix together with red onion.
4. Grease pie dish with butter, and layer with sliced potatoes and cheese mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.  Pour a little milk or cream over top of filling to ensure it stays moist, especially if not using any soft cheeses in the mixture.
5. Roll out pastry on floured surface, to cover top of pie dish with nice thick pastry top.
6. Brush pastry top with egg wash & bake pie in oven for 30-40 mins until pastry is golden brown and crisp.
7. Serve with fresh green salad leaves and a heap of cranberry compote of pickles.


Biryani Rice with Leftover Curry


Ingredients - serves 4
3 cups leftover curry
3-4 cups of cooked basmati rice (al dente)
1 large onions sliced
Fresh coriander & saffron (optional)
Toasted cashews, chopped

1. Grease the bottom of deep ovenproof dish, preferably with a lid, but you could use foil.
2. Place a good pinch of saffron in jug of hot water. Leave to soak for 5 mins.
3. Fry onion with a little salt and butter, until well caramelised and brown (not burnt). Set aside.
4. Cover bottom of dish with layer of leftover curry (or masala sauce and leftovers). then cover with approx 4-5cm of cooked rice. Scatter 1/3 onion mixture across top and drizzle with saffron water.  Repeat at least one more time. Finish with layer of rice, onions and remaining saffron.
5. Cover dish and bake at 190 for 40-50 mins.
6. Scatter with fresh coriander and chopped cashews before serving.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

What's on the menu for dining club?

You may well have noticed we've had to postpone the pop up at Home Sweet Home.  These things happen sometimes.

The good news is that I have been able to add some new dates for my dining club. To book a place you need to get in touch via email thehungrygecko@gmail.com



There are just a couple of places left for Friday 16th November, and I have posted an additional date for Thursday 15th.  Spaces are very limited, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.  

Here's the menu for next week.


Amuse bouche
Onigiri – griddled & marinated sushi with nori wrap
Served with pickles including wild samphire, black radish & ginger

First course
Steamed buns stuffed with wild mushroom & hoi sin

Second course
Thali tasting plate – paneer shashlik, matterwali tikki with tomato & green chilli masala, aubergine mash, kali dal & channa pilaf
Served with daniya chutney, cachumba salad & chapati

Pre-dessert
Wild raspberry & curd cheese sorbet

Dessert
Coconut pannacotta with macaroons,
served with kaffir lime jelly & pomegranate sauce


Masala spiced tea (chai), jasmine green tea or coffee

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Rest, Regroup, Relaunch...

So it turns out that street food is mighty harder work than it appears to the outside world!  The last  nine months have been some of the most intense working periods of my entire life.  It's a good job I had all that time off swanning around Asia for a year or two.  It's the only way that having so little time off now would be at all bearable.


But aside from the exceptional hard work required, it has been a year of intense ups and downs.  I've learned an incredible amount (and still much more to go).  I've had some of the best times of my life. And some of the most terrifying.  Which is interesting, because that's a lot like travelling as a family across Asia.  I have made great friends along the way, tasted amazing food and experienced such support from people, it has made some very difficult times endurable.


During the next few months, I have a couple of Christmas markets to attend to, cooking up some warming street food on the streets of Ramsbottom and Leeds.  But my focus will be returning to some fine dining and writing.  I have an exciting pop up with a fellow chef in the pipeline, vegetarian fine dining at my supperclub and cookery classes in the stunning setting of Catton Hall.

For detailed information about events, check out my new website www.thehungrygecko.com

Hope you like it!

Monday, 24 September 2012

RECIPE TIME.... Sunday dinner for veggies!

My household may consist of a bunch a vegetarians, but I don't mind saying, we do love a family Sunday dinner as much as anyone.  With all the usual trimmings. Crispy roast potatoes with rosemary, creamy mash (I like to mix it up with spinach, but recently I've taken to making carrot and potato mash since my teen daughter decided she doesn't like cooked carrots anymore), peas (with a little garden mint) and a home made onion gravy.  

This recipe evolved yesterday as I was making a nut roast.  I wanted to make the main feature protein rich and nutritious, as I've been feeling a bit neglectful of my family's diet (and probably my own).  Nut roasts can often be a little dry, so I've tried to counter that with plenty of succulent vegetables, and replacing half the amount of nuts with chestnut mushrooms, and half of the breadcrumbs with quinoa.  When I tasted the filling, it felt like it needed something sharp to cut through the sweetness of the veg and the earthiness of the nuts and mushrooms.  Hence the Cheshire cheese, but you could use any tangy cheese such as feta or perhaps stilton. Don't be put off by the savoy wrapping.  I simply removed the thick part of the lower stem, and blanched it in the potato water.  Be generous with the overlapping layers to ensure it holds together. 

CASHEW & QUINOA VEGGIE ROAST

Ingredients - serves 6

150g cashews, lightly toasted
100g quinoa (or couscous)
1 red onion, diced, pref 1/2 cm pieces
1/2 courgette, diced 
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, finely sliced
5 chestnut mushrooms, diced
1 thick slice of brown/seeded bread
1 free range egg (or use silken tofu if vegan)
120g Cheshire cheese (or feta, Lancs, blue etc)
Savoy cabbage, 6 outer leaves, trim thick stalk end
Oil or butter for frying & greasing
Salt & white pepper for seasoning
1 tbsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried herbs, I used fresh thyme & marjoram


To prepare:

1. Grease a loaf tin with butter or oil.  Heat oven to 190 degrees.
2. Add onion, courgette, carrot, leek & mushrooms to pan with a little oil or butter, and cook for 8-10 mins until vegetables are soft.
3. Simmer quinoa for 4-5 mins in veg stock (or hot water with a smidge of marmite).
4. Toast cashews in a pan, then blitz in food processor into small pieces.  Avoid blitzing into a powder or you will lose the texture.

5. Blitz bread into crumbs.
6. Blanche cabbage leaves in hot water for 2 mins and set aside.
7. Mix the vegetables, nuts, breadcrumbs and egg (or tofu if using).  Add fresh or dried herbs and season to taste with salt and white pepper.
8. Line the loaf tin with the cabbage leaves, using five large leaves to cover bottom and saving one leaf to seal the top.
9. Half fill the loaf tin with mixture, firmly pushing down with back of spoon to ensure shape.
10. Crumble the cheese over the filling. Then add remaining filling on top, again pushing down to make a firm shape. If you're vegan, omit this layer and add squeeze of lemon to veg mixture.
11. Fold over edges of cabbage leaves to cover top of roast, and then layer final leaf over top and tuck into sides.
12. Cover loaf tin with foil and place on baking tray.
13. Bake in over for 15 mins, then turn over, foil side down on tray, and continue baking for another 10-15 mins.
14. Remove from oven, turn right way again and remove foil lid.  Turn onto chopping board and remove tin.


Hope you enjoy it!  Here's to family time :0)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Time for a catch up... in photos

It's been a very busy few weeks.  I've worked so hard, the details are a little hazy!  But here's some rather lovely photos...





The Big Feastival in the beautiful Cotswolds was quite a challenge, but a great learning experience with the new outside wok!


Never too young to learn the art of pad Thai
Almost sunny!

The definition of exhausted!
Sunset at The Big Feastival



Bolton Food & Drink Festival.  More challenges but lots of fun & northern love!







Not forgetting the Manchester Picnic.  Top notch fun in Piccadilly Gardens!






Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

View from the back door :)



Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's coming up....


As the old saying goes, we must make hay while the sun shines.  This is certainly true for us street food traders, except the sun has been a little unreliable this summer. There's been the odd blip of sunny loveliness and that was certainly true for the Manchester Picnic and my little jaunt to Harrogate for the International Classic Citroen Car Rally.


I'm about to hit my busiest run to date.  Starting this weekend with the Bolton Food & Drink Festival.  I will be there all bank holiday weekend, from this Friday 22nd August.  

This weekend's menu...

Cheshire Beef Rendang, slow cooked beef w/ lemongrass & coconut 
Indonesian ‘jungle’ curry, smoky tempeh & veg w/ spicy peanut & cashew curry (Vg)
Served with choice of lime rice or soft roti bread or both
Butter dal & aubergine masala, w/ stuffed paratha & pickles (V)
Thai Sweetcorn Fritters, w/ hot & sour noodle salad (V)
Spicy seasonal veg samosa, w/ homemade aubergine pickle (V)
“Little bit of everything” plate w/ curries, dal, fritter or samosa, roti, rice & pickles

Fresh watermelon ice pops pure & simple, with frozen lime yoghurt (V)
Mango & lime sherbet lassi w/ yoghurt, Alfonso mango & homemade sherbet 
Indian Chai, traditional masala tea w/ homemade spice mix

Then I'm off to The Big Feastival at Alex James Farm in Oxfordshire with my biggest team to date.  I need to seriously up my turnover if I'm going to meet the costs of going to bigger festivals.  This will be the test bed....

Then it's CarFest North on the 8th and 9th Sept at Cholmondley Castle in Cheshire.  Really hoping Chris Evans bobs over to see Barbarella and maybe try some of my food. I hear he likes a good curry!

After all that, I'm off to London for the British Street Food Awards 2012.  I've been shortlisted to the final 15 and am really excited about creating something new and delicious for the event.  Feeling quite a lot of pressure because it feels like there's an expectation there being a MasterChef alumni.  Everyone expects me to perform well but there's a massive amount of competition this year, with some amazing traders and producers.  It's going to be tough! 


Monday, 25 June 2012

Recipe for Roast Cauliflower, Broccoli & Pasta Fondue

RECIPE TIME!  Roasted cauliflower, broccoli and pasta fondue with a pumpkin seed crust.  This is a fairly quick and easy dish to prepare.  I find it's very popular amongst children and teens, but then the fondue sauce gives a slightly more ‘grown up’ feel to the dish too. 
It came about as a result of my indecision between making macaroni cheese or cauliflower cheese.  You can use different combinations of cheeses, but I do love the classic combination of gruyere and emmental.  I try to include seeds in recipes sometimes as they are a great source of nutrients for anyone's diet, especially veggie's.

Ingredients – to serve 4-6

  •  1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 medium broccoli head
  • 300g penne or rigatoni pasta
  • ½ bottle dry white white
  • Clove of garlic (optional)
  • 200g Gruyere
  • 200g Emmental
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 50g Sainsbury vegetarian Italian hard cheese
  • Small handful of pumpkin or mixed seeds
  • 2 slices of brown bread (preferably a little stale)
Method
  1. Heat oven to 220 C.
  2. Break and trim cauliflower and broccoli into large florets, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and roast in the hot oven for 10 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, bring add pasta to pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 mins.  Drain water and then return to large pan and set aside.
  4. Rub the sides of a small pan with the garlic clove (if using), then add white wine and bring to boil.  Simmer until reduced by one third.
  5. Grate gruyere and emmental and add to simmering wine, along with mustard.  Heat gently and stir until wine and cheese are well combined.
  6. Blitz brown bread slices in mixer to create breadcrumbs.  Bread can be grated if you don’t have a food processor.  Mix breadcrumbs with finely grated parmesan or vegetarian Italian hard cheese.
  7. Add roasted vegetables to pasta pan, mix together and then add fondue sauce and stir to combine well. Check seasoning and add salt and white pepper to taste. Turn out mixture into large baking dish, ensuring even arrangement of cauliflower, broccoli and pasta.
  8. Layer breadcrumb mixture over top and then sprinkle with pumpkin or mixed seeds.
  9. Bake in hot oven, 200 C, until top is golden and crispy.

Enjoy :0)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Next up... Split Feastival at Sunderland festival

Looking forward to heading North East in June for Split Feastival Food & Drink Village at Sunderland Festival, in Herrington Country Park. It's a mixed crowd so planning a menu that will offer something for everyone. 

The hot weather at VegFest in Bristol got me thinking about offering more cold dishes.  It was so hot in the trailer.  This was the view from the hatch...
  

I'm also very excited about serving up my audition dish from MasterChef which I'll serve with a kicking coriander sauce.  There'll be a battle of the curries between a slow cooked rendang (with well sourced beef from local Frosts butchers) and my very popular Indonesian jungle curry with marinated tempeh (vegan and super tasty).  The mango and lime sherbets went down well at VegFest so I think I'll make them again.  reminder to self to get the lime sherbets fermenting this week so they're ready in time.  I ran out in Bristol, so had to switch to making pina colada slushies with pineapple and coconut.  I could start a lassi & slushie bar at this rate :o)   

 

Split Feastival Menu

  • Paneer shashlik roti wrap, with cachumba salad & coriander sauce
  • Malaysian beef rendang,  slow cooked Cheshire beef with jasmine rice
  • Indonesian ‘jungle’ curry, with tempeh & jasmine rice
  • Sushi platter, fish (inc line caught mackerel) or veggie
  • Rhubarb samosas with star anise & vanilla ice-cream

For more info about Split festival check out their website here.

I'm then a bit more local in Stockport for an Olympic torch 'brunch'.  I'm planning a breakfast and brunch menu with a twist, including masala omelette, chilli fried eggs and roti canai, a Malaysian flaky roti with a veg dal.  I'll be serving this up in Stockport Mersey Way from 8am on Sun 24th June.

 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

VegFest menu... & some lovely mushroom recipes

I was pleased to be asked to produce some vegetarian recipes for the Mushroom Bureau recently.  As wild mushrooms are now coming into season, it's a good time to start getting creative with one of my favourite vegetables.

I've put together six tasty mushroom dishes, including pot sticker dumplings, tempura, satay skewers and a very tasty mushroom and puy lentil cottage pie.  You can download the booklet for free here.

I'm at VegFest next weekend and am very excited about my new menu... 
  • Crispy cauliflower & rocket pakora roti wrap
  • Sweet & sour popcorn tofu, with Asian salad
  • Indonesian ‘jungle’ curry, with tempeh & jasmine rice
  • Hot & sour ‘tom yam’ soup, with wild mushrooms
  • Rhubarb samosas with star anise & vanilla ice cream
Hope to see some of you there.  Should be a great event.  And don't forget it's free (the event, not the food :)

For more details about the festival, check out their website here.

Jx

Monday, 23 April 2012

A tasty recipe for quinoa... really? Try this Moroccan style vegetable claypot

Having a rare day off on Sunday, I was enjoying some sofa surfing and bad TV, when hunger drove me to inspect the half empty cupboards and fridge.  This is one of those recipes that comes from trying to make something out of only the things you already have.  Being slightly obsessed with spices, I have a well stocked dry store cupboard to be fair.  But the fridge was looking very lean indeed...

I had 2 aubergines and 1 yellow pepper leftover from a cooking class, an onion and loads of garlic.  There was also a very sad looking half cauliflower, which needed a good trim, half a jar of green olives, half a lemon and half a tube of tomato paste.  And the ubiquitous herbs from the garden....  

For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa, it's a kind of grain that originated in S America.  The Incas believed the crop was sacred, and hardly surprising given it kicks the nutritional backside of most other cereals and grains, containing essential amino acids as well as calcium and iron. 

The recipe looks like a lot of ingredients, but it is very much a 'chuck it in a pot' recipe.  Enjoy :) 

Moroccan style vegetable claypot with quinoa


1 or 2 white onions roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic crushed
Olive oil for frying
1-2 aubergines, 1" pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cauliflower, trimmed florets
300g frozen quorn pieces (optional, but adds nice texture & soaks up flavour; you could also use tofu mince or tofu pieces, or add more variety of vegetables)
1 can of chickpeas, washed
2 tbsp of tomato paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Couple of sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp saffron, steeped in hot water for 10 mins - then strain saffron water into pot
1 tsp sumac (optional)
1 tsp hot paprika or cayenne pepper
3 pints of veg stock
1-2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 lemon, cut into thick slices & deseeded
1 cup of green olives, stoned
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
200g quinoa, cooked for 10 mins in 1/2 pint veg stock, then leave to stand for 5 minutes (you could substitute with couscous or bulgar wheat also, soak in same way)
Handful of chopped marjoram (could substitute for coriander or parsley)

1. Prepare ingredients as above.
2. In a heavy bottomed deep pan (I use a creuset pot for this kind of food), soften onions in olive oil until translucent and then add garlic.  Cook for a further minute or two, then add aubergines, peppers and cauliflower (you could use any veg really such as carrots, sweet potato, courgettes). 
3.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the quinoa.  Ensure there is plenty of liquid in the pan, as this will be absorbed by the quinoa later.
4. Bring to simmer and cook on very low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 
5. Stir the ingredients well, then layer the soaked quinoa over the top.  Replace lid and leave to stand for 5 mins.  Sprinkle with some fresh chopped marjoram (or parsley or coriander) just before serving.
6. Serve with hot crusty bread and a green salad!


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My first streetfood event @ Ramsbottom Choc Festival

I barely know where to start.  On MasterChef, they say that cooking doesn't get tougher than this.  I may have to contend this point.  I have never worked so hard or learnt so much in such a short space of time.  The preparation and set up during the last few weeks was almost overwhelming.  I've learnt to tow (and even reverse) a 3 tonne 23ft trailer.  I've taken delivery of more produce and prepped more food than I ever thought I would (or could for that matter).  Just bonkers!  But what an amazing experience.  The highs and lows have left me exhausted and exhiliarated at the same time.  The best bit of all was seeing people enjoying my food and hearing such great feedback.  It has made all the hard work, sweat and yes, a few tears, very much worthwhile :)

Our weekend in Ramsbottom at the Chocolate festival was the perfect first event.  I owe a HUGE thanks to the lovely people there for making us so welcome and for helping us out with numerous hiccups and challenges (The Chocolate Cafe, Ruth from Bury Council, Room54 and the lovely Stuart for his impromptu lesson in reversing a trailer).  From class 1 driving lessons to supplying water from local shops, we couldn't have done it without the support of everyone there.  I think I've fallen a little bit in love with Ramsbottom!

So here's a few pics.... 



At one point, the queues were overwhelming and we felt like we just couldn't serve people fast enough.  Thanks for your patience though and the feedback was inspiring! 

  
It has to be remembered that neither my sister Nic or my best mate Fran, have EVER worked in food service or kitchens before.  They did brilliantly and learned so fast.

  
And I only shouted a few times ;0)



My friend H, made some special edition cake pops for The Hungry Gecko including dark choc & chilli and choc fudge & stem ginger.  They went down a storm.  Seriously, her cake pops really can't be beaten and she makes a fine cup cake too.  Check out her facebook page for more info CupCakeCuties

Saturday, 25 February 2012

An update on Barbarella, upcoming festivals & that damn car...

I'm happy to say that Barbarella is looking mighty fine.  Kitchen fit out is almost complete.  Flag poles are on their way and I now need to reaquaint myself with a sewing machine.  I'll post some new photos once I pick her up.  In case you missed this earlier, this is what I hope's to come...

Some other VERY exciting news I have to share is that I will be collaborating at the Exeter SW Festival of food and drink with James Nathan (winner of MasterChef in 2008).  You can check out what he's been up to here

We are both working hard in planning our menus and making the most of what the SW has to offer.  For me that's going to include some organic Devon made smoky tempeh, Cornish butter and New Forest mushrooms.  For James, I believe there's some rather marvellous local lobster, chicken and pork making an appearance.  Please do come and see us if you are down for the weekend.  We're both doing demos too.  It's all going to be so much fun...

I'm also really busy with cooking classes, recipe writing and planning menus for my first events.  I will be at the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival on 31st March and 1st April if you want to come and check out my new street food venture, and maybe enjoy some gourmet Asian delights :0)

Jackie x

Monday, 20 February 2012

Another family favourite recipe from our house…

We love a good vegetarian lasagne in our house.  I don’t think you can better the homemade versions.  I think the dish benefits from being left overnight and baked the following day.  This recipe is what we’re having for dinner tonight.  It can be made without the aubergine, and the puy lentils can be substituted for soya mince or similar product.  I know I often include fresh herbs and you can substitute with dried ones if needed.  But I would encourage you to grow these herbs yourself if you can.  Of course, you can make your own pasta too, but I tend to leave that kind of thing to my MasterChef pal Sara Danesin.

There is nearly always enough to make a second lasagne, which I always freeze.  For busy working families, nothing quite beats homemade ready made food in the freezer!

Recipe for Roasted Aubergine & Puy Lentil Lasagne

Ingredients:
12 large tomatoes
250g puy lentils
2 aubergines
4 cloves of garlic
1 carrot, diced
1/2 stick of celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper
Dark soy sauce, 1-2 tbsp
Vegetable stock, 2 pts, good quality vegetable bouillion works best
Small sprig of fresh thyme
Handful of fresh marjoram
1 bay leaf
Black pepper, white pepper & sea salt
300ml milk
2-3 tbsp plain flour
40g butter
100g grated strong cheese
1 packet of good quality lasagne pasta

Method:
  1. Saute ½ onion and one clove of crushed garlic in olive oil until softened.  Add puy lentils, sautĂ© for further minute then add 1 1/2 to 2 pints of stock and simmer until lentils are fully cooked and soft.  Add further stock as needed.  You are aiming for them to absorb most of the liquid without leaving too much broth. 
  2. Remove hard core of tomatoes and place whole on baking tray, along with 3 garlic cloves. Roast on high heat until well roasted and starting to blacken. Blitz with handblender. Set aside.
  3. Remove ends and slice aubergines lengthways, approx 1.5cm thickness.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast on high heat until golden brown and soft. Set aside.
  4. Saute remaining onion, carrot, red pepper and celery, then add cooked lentils, soy, bay leaf and fresh marjoram.  Add half of the blended tomato sauce (or as much as you want).  Bring to simmer and check seasoning.
  5. Heat butter in small pan, add pinch of salt and plain flour and cook to make roux.  Then slowly add milk, whisking all the time until reach a creamy consistent sauce.
  6. Layer some sauce in bottom of large deep baking dish and cover with pasta.  Then layer over lentil and tomato mix, followed by layer of roasted aubergine, allowing the aubergine to overlap to create nice thick layer. Add another layer of lentil mix and then top with another layer of pasta, and on top of pasta pour creamy bĂ©chamel sauce. Sprinkle top with cheese and salt and pepper.
  7. Bake in medium hot oven at 190 C for 30-40 mins until bubbling and top is golden brown.