Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

There seems to be a overwhelming number of variations on hummus these days. Sometimes in the supermarkets it is hard to even find the old-fashioned chickpea variety. Deliciously Ella has about 10 different types on her blog – Roasted Carrot, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil – I could go on. So  I decided to try out a few at home and was quite pleased with this Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus. I always seem to have half a butternut squash hanging around and I guess it add a few more vitamins to chickpeas alone and it went down well as half-term lunch, served up with crudités and pitta bread. It also works well with roast red peppers and a little cumin, so I am giving you that recipe too.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

½ butternut squash

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 200C. Put peppers on a tray and roast until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. Remove and place in a bowl covered with cling film, or in a sealed Tupperware, to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle gently peel away the charred pepper skin and remove the stalk and seeds. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Red Pepper Hummus with Cumin

2 whole red peppers

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven 200C.  Roast the peppers in the oven until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. This should take about 30 minutes. The blackening adds a smokiness to the flavour of the pepper and makes the skins easy to remove. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film to steam a while. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds.  Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Tartiflette

Just as I thought the weather was getting warmer, temperatures dropped accompanied by a bitterly cold wind. I need sustenance fast and nothing is going to sustain you more than the famous French dish from the Savoy region in the French Alps – Tartiflette. A mixture of Reblochon cheese, bacon lardons, potatoes and onions, it is rib sticking rich and guaranteed to warm you up.

Tartiflette

Serves 6

1.3kg (3lb) waxy potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

250g (9oz) chunky bacon lardons

2 onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Creme Fraiche

1 Reblochon, about 350g (12oz)

Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices about 1” thick. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender. You should be able to easily insert a knife. Drain. Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook the lardons over a medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Turn down the heat, add the onion and a good pinch of salt to help them cook down and cook until soft and beginning to colour. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add this to the potatoes and gently combine. Finally stir in the Crème Fraîche. Give one final stir and tip the whole lot into a oven-proof dish. Season with pepper.

Slice the Reblochon and lay on top of the potato. Bake in an oven, preheated to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5, for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Aloo Gobi

Riverford supply a variety of different potatoes throughout the year. The qualities of the potato of the moment are always written on the bag ranging from floury to waxy, it is important to choose the right potato for the recipe. Waxy potatoes will never make a good chip, or roast potato for that matter. On the other hand, if you choose a floury potato for your Spanish omelette, you are going to end up with mash. I particularly like the selection of waxy potatoes which Riverford offers. These are quite hard to get hold of in England apart from the obvious new potatoes or Charlotte, which are usually sold very small, making them laborious and time consuming to peel. They are best left whole with their skins on.

Aloo Gobi requires a waxy potato which holds it shape. I used the Alouette potatoes which often turn up in the boxes at this time of year. I like to roast the cauliflower in a little coconut oil and add it at the end to give the finished dish more texture. Serve up on its own with a nan or alongside your favourite curry.

Aloo Gobi

Coconut Oil

2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1-2 small green chilli, chopped

Large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even small bite size pieces

1 large cauliflower, broken or cut into large bite size florets

1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

 

Heat some coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until they become creamy, golden, and translucent. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric and salt. Continue to fry for a minute or two more but do not burn. Add chopped chillies (according to taste). Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly. Cook a few minutes more. Add potatoes plus a few tablespoons of water and stir well to ensure that they are coated with the curry sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Keep checking and stirring every now and then so that it does not catch and burn.  Add a little more water each time if necessary. When the potatoes are about half cooked, add the cauliflower, stir well and cover again.  Leave for a further 10 minutes of so until the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked.  Stir in the cardamom and coriander and adjust seasoning.  Try not to stir to much at this stage so as to keep the texture.  Allow to sit for a while to allow flavours to infuse.

Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Three lovely potato dishes for you this week. First up a Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin. I am cooking this at the SuperClub this week in Putney and since I have never made it before I thought I had better give it a try. Obviously you can make a gratin with practically any root veg but it is the starch in the potato which helps hold the whole thing together, so it is always worth putting a bit of potato in, even if it is not the main ingredient.

I love Jerusalem artichokes. Though strangely enough they do not come from Jerusalem and have nothing to do with artichokes. They are in face a  tuber from the sunflower family and originate from North America.

This gratin is delicious on its own served up with a nice green salad, or would work very well along side a piece of chicken or lamb.

Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Serves 8-10  This makes a very large gratin. You can cut the amount easily by 1/3 or 2/3

1 cup milk (250mls)

3 cups Double cream (750mls)

3 whole peeled garlic cloves

1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper, to taste

800g potatoes, sliced thin

500g Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, whole garlic cloves and rosemary over low-medium heat being careful not to boil over. Gently boil for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. The cream is going to season the whole dish so it can be quite salty. Arrange the sliced Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes in a gratin dish. The Jerusalem artichokes discolour quickly so finish with a layer of potatoes.

Mash up the garlic cloves in the cream until they dissolve. Check the seasoning of the cream. Pour the infused milk over the potatoes. It should come up nearly to the top, but not quite. If necessary add a little more milk. Cover the dish with foil and place in a preheated 170 degree oven. Pre-boiling the cream should stop the gratin boiling over in the oven but just in case put a layer of tin foil under the gratin to save on washing up. Bake for about 1 hour until the potatoes are tender. A knife should easily insert in the middle. Uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes until gratin is golden around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Grilled Leeks with Romesco Sauce

And so to my last leek recipe of the week. This recipe is actually for new season’s spring onions. In Catalan they have a festival in honour of their spring onions, called Calcots and the festival is literally called Calcotada. They grill their Calcots on fabulous charcoal fires and serve it with variations of this Romesco Sauce. It is funny I should think about this recipe now, because when I did some research into the festival, I discovered that it is celebrated this weekend! How is that for timing!

I have adapted the recipe for lovely fresh leeks. The secret to grilling perfect leeks is to boil them first until completely tender. Obviously that would be best grilled and lightly smoked, over a charcoal grill, but if not a griddle plate will have to do.

Romesco Sauce

2 red peppers

75g blanched almonds

75g walnuts

3 slices of wiale white sourdough bread

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sherry wine vinegar

1 small dried chilli

1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted

30g bunch of parsley

1 tbsp. tomato puree

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the leeks

4 leeks

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Put the peppers in a roasting dish and leave in the oven for 40 minutes, until they are charred all over. Remove and place in a bowl, covering with cling film to steam the peppers and help the skins slip off. When cool enough to handle, skin and deseed. Meanwhile, lightly toast the walnuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring frequently. Add to a bowl with the tomatoes, bread, vinegar, garlic, paprika, chilli, tomato puree, parsley, fennel seeds, olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the peppers and pulse all the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand blender until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Check for seasoning.

Put a large, salted pan of water on to boil. Trim the leeks both ends and cut in half. Put the leeks in the boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes until you can easily pierce all the way through the leek with a sharpish knife. It is imperative that your leeks are properly cooked. Remove and leave to drain in a colander. When cool. Carefully cut in half lengthways with a sharp knife. Brush both sides of either leek and grill on a really hot BBQ or griddle. Leave until griddle marks are clearly made on one side before flipping to the other side. Serve warm with your Romanesco Sauce.

Spicy Chorizo, Leeks and Tomato Baked with Eggs

This week is all in praise of leeks. It is still a month until St David’s day and I don’t know what got me thinking about leeks, but once I did, I couldn’t stop. The first recipe is a sort of variation on the North African Dish of Shakshuka. Here I replace the peppers and onions with leeks and chorizo. Serve it with plenty of sourdough bread to soak up the sauce. A great brunch!

Spicy Chorizo, Leeks and Tomato Baked with Eggs

Serves 2

120g Good quality Chorizo, finely chopped

2 leeks, cut in half and shredded, washed and drained

1 can tinned plum tomatoes

Pinch chilli flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

4 eggs

A little extra virgin olive oil

A small bunch of coriander

In a heavy bottomed pan (which can go in the oven) add a little oil and then fry the chorizo until it releases its own fat. Add the leeks, season, cover and cook gently for about 15-20 minutes, checking regularly. Remove the lid and continue to cook until they are beginning to caramelise. Add the tin of tomatoes and half a tin of water.  break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the chilli and paprika and cook down until the sauce has thickened. .  Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Preheat oven to 180C. Make little wells in the sauce and crack a egg into each hole  Place the pan in the oven and cook the eggs to your liking. I like mine yolks just runny, whites fully set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with bread.

Chickpea, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

I have been making Thai Curry with Butternut Squash for years but for some reason it never occurred to me to make and Indian Curry with it instead. Butternut squash is very dense and very rich so it is important to cut it with another vegetable. Cauliflower works really well and along with the chickpeas adds texture and interest. As always, I prefer to roast the veg and add them to the sauce at the end.

I think this intensifies the individual flavours of the vegetables as well as stopping the vegetable becoming overcooked.

Chickpea,  Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

3 tablespoon coconut oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1 knob of ginger, scraped and finely grated

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cardamon seeds (try Spiceways)

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. tomato puree

½ a butternut squash diced into ½-inch cubes

1 large cauliflower florets cut into small 1-inch sized pieces

1 tin chickpeas drained

1 tin coconut milk

1 small bunch coriander

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté over medium low heat for 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Meanwhile toss the butternut squash cubes with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. Toss the cauliflower with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. When the onions are tender, add the ginger, garlic and chilli cooking and stirring for one minute. Next add the spices and tomato puree and cook for a minute more to release the flavours. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the spices have mellowed and integrated. Taste the sauce and add more salt as desired. Stir in the coriander and then add the butternut squash and cauliflower. Reheat and serve with basmati rice.

Potato Latkes

I have a fridge full of potatoes as the moment and I don’t even remember how they all got there. So I was thinking of interesting things to do with potatoes and remembered making delicious Potato Rosti in one of the Restaurants I used to work in. I started looking up recipes for this Swiss fried potato cake but they seemed over-complicated and confused. No one seemed to agree on what sort of potato to use – waxy or floury and some recipes mentioned boiling the potatoes first before grating them.I wanted something quick and easy for the kids tea.

So I turned instead to a less known cousin of the Rosti – Potato Latkes. Being almost identical but thinner, they are much easier to cook and there is less chance of an overcooked outside and a raw middle. There is nothing worse than a raw potato. What I can’t agree on is the traditional accompaniment of sour cream and apple sauce when what they really need is my favourite – sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. Delicious.

Potato Latkes

2 large potatoes (450g)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch non-stick frying pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to frying pan as needed. Serve hot.

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Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sour Cream and Sweet Chilli Sauce

I cant believe that I never thought of baking a sweet potato. How many sweet potato recipes I must have made over the years and I never thought of just putting them whole in the oven and removing them an hour later. That’s it. Healthier than a normal potato, they bake perfectly, and are a stunning deep orange when you cut them open. But what to serve them with? Well, Chilli con Carne would be lovely, or Spicy Black Bean Chilli, but both involve quite a lot of work. I was thinking more on the super quick and simple baked potato fillings – baked beans, grated cheese, tinned sweetcorn. But none of those sounded at all nice with a sweet potato. So I turned to my absolutely favourite accompaniment of all, the unassuming sounding but totally delicious combination of sour cream with sweet chilli sauce. It was perfect!

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Wash your sweet potatoes and dry well and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cook in a pre-heated oven for about one hour depending on size. They are cooked when you can easily squeeze them. Remove, cut open and sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt and Swiss Chard

I have to admit that I am not very good at trying new recipes. If I do choose a new recipe, it is usually similar to something that I have tried before. I suppose at my age, I put it down to taste and experience. I know what I like and I know what is likely to turn out well. But we can become a bit safe, a bit boring, never trying something that really sounds a little bit out of your safety zone.

With this recipe, I just heard the words “warm yoghurt” and I panicked.  I mean, it just sounds like it is going to curdle. I was about to opt for a safer option – lamb meatballs with braised chard, pitta and yogurt but I stopped myself. After all this recipe is Yotam Ottelenghi from his massively successful restaurant “Nopi” so who was I to question why. Warm yoghurt – why? So I made it.  To tell you the truth, I would have preferred my original idea, but this is for all the more adventurous of you.

Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt and Swiss Chard

1kg lamb mince

150g fresh breadcrumbs

70g pine nuts, toasted

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp dried mint

4 tsp ground allspice

4 garlic cloves, crushed

60ml olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (120g)

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced

300g Swiss chard, white stalks removed and green leaves roughly shredded (120g)

300ml chicken stock

40ml lemon juice

500g Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp water

1 egg, lightly beaten

seeds of 1 medium pomegranate (150g) (optional)

20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped

coarse sea salt and black pepper

Put the first six ingredients in a large bowl with half the allspice, half the garlic, two teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Mix to combine, then shape into 5cm-wide meatballs weighing 50g each. You should make about 24 balls.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan, add the onions and remaining garlic and fry on a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions have softened but not taken on any colour. Add the chilli and chard, cook for two to three minutes, until the chard has wilted, then stir in the remaining allspice, the stock and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Put the yoghurt, cornflour paste and egg in a large bowl with 150ml of water. Whisk to a smooth paste, then gradually spoon in the hot chard mixture, stirring well after each addition, until well combined. Stir in two teaspoons of salt and a good crack of black pepper, and set aside.

Pour the remaining oil into a large, high-sided saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and fry for four minutes, turning a few times so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding a little more oil if need be.

Wipe down the pan and pour in the yoghurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat – it should barely be bubbling – and stir continuously in one direction to prevent it curdling. Return the meatballs to the pan (they should just be submerged in sauce), cover and cook on a low heat for 20–25 minutes, until cooked through. Serve at once, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, if using, and coriander.