Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thai Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken & Gai Lan

Pad See Ew, also known as Stir Fried Soy Sauce Noodles, is a Chinese-influenced noodle dish, and one of the most popular street foods in Thailand. The soft and chewy rice noodles are traditionally pan fried with chicken, beef or pork, Chinese broccoli — known as Gai Lan — scrambled egg and dark soy sauce. Inspired by a mouthwatering recipe from renowned Australian chef David Thompson, widely recognised as an authority on Thai food and culture, his celebrated cookbook 'Thai Food' is a comprehensive account of this ancient and exotic cuisine and features all of the classic, well-loved recipes as well as hundreds of lesser known but equally authentic and delicious Thai dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation, such as the sensational Pad See Ew. Quick, easy and delicious, the dish takes less than 5 minutes to cook, and captures the essence of one of Thailand's ultimate comfort foods.

Gai Pad See Ew - Stir Fried Soy Sauce Noodles with Chicken
Serves 2

2 tbsp dark soy sauce or 'ketjap manis', an Indonesian sweet soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce 
2 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp palm or brown sugar
2 tbsp water

Stir Fry:

6 oz wide flat Thai rice stick noodles
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic cloves, minced
12 oz skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 large egg
4 cups Chinese broccoli, also known as Gai Lan 
Pinch of fresh ground white pepper 
Handful of bean sprouts
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Soak the rice noodles in cold water for 1-2 hours, then drain. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the gai lan and trim 1-inch from the end of each stalk and discard. Separate the leaves from the stems and reserve both. Chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces, then slice the stems vertically into thin 1-inch long strips. Mince the garlic straight into a wok or large pot with the oil and place on high heat. When the oil is hot and the garlic begins to colour, add the chicken and continue to fry until the chicken is almost cooked. Add the noodles and gai lan stalks and once they are cooked, about 4 minutes, crack in the egg and stir fry to scramble. Add the sauce and leaves, folding gently to combine, and stir continuously until everything is well combined. The sauce should coat the noodles evenly and become lightly caramelized. The dish should be served immediately sprinkled with fresh ground white pepper and garnished with bean sprouts and fresh cilantro.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yellow Split Pea, Tuscan Kale & Sweet Potato Curry

Enriched with black Tuscan kale and nutritious sweet potatoes, this fragrant Yellow Split Pea Curry is a terrific mid week meal. Made in just over 30 minutes, one chopped onion is sautéed with ginger and garlic then seasoned with an exotic mixture of classic Indian spices including quality curry powder, garam masala, cumin, turmeric and hot red chili powder moistened with a little water to create a thick paste. Cooked until rich and aromatic, the vegetable broth, yellow split peas and black Tuscan kale are added to the pot and cooked until the split peas are tender, about 20 minutes. The sweet potatoes, yogurt and lime juice are then combined into the curry and cooked an further 10-15 minutes. Garnished with fresh cilantro and a dollop of thick Greek yogurt, this simple and healthy Yellow Split Pea, Tuscan Kale & Sweet Potato Curry is delicious served with Basmati rice and oven warmed naan brushed with ghee and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Split Pea, Black Tuscan Kale & Sweet Potato Curry
Serves 4

1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp curry powder, such as Bolst's
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red chili powder
5 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed and picked through
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 bunches black Tuscan kale, stems removed, washed and finely sliced
1 tsp black salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped cilantro to taste

Add the oil to a shallow saucepan, and sauté the onion over medium until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to sauté for another minute, then add the ginger, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and chili powder and stir well to combine. Add a tablespoon or two of water to moisten the spices into a thick paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the broth, split peas, kale and stir well. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover with the lid offset slightly and simmer for about 20 minutes. When the split peas are more tender and the liquid has reduced a bit, stir in the sweet potatoes, yogurt and lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just cooked through and remove from the heat. Garnish with cilantro, a dollop of yogurt and serve with Basmati rice and warm naan.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pad Thai with Shrimp, Tofu & Organic Bean Sprouts

One of Thailand's national dishes, Pad Thai is a simple and delicious stir-fried noodle dish enjoyed throughout Thailand, one of the most popular and loved cuisines in the world. Showcasing the classic harmony of Thai flavours: sweet, sour and salty, this sensational recipe embodies the culinary spirit of Thailand,   made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs, chopped extra-firm tofu, plenty of plump prawns and flavored with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, garlic, shallots, palm sugar, and garnished with lime wedges, fresh hot red chilis and chopped roast peanuts. Inspired by some of the delicious Pad Thai we enjoyed while in Bangkok, Chaing Mai and Koh Samui, this recipe shows how the flavours and textures of premium quality ingredients come together into one amazingly delicious dish.

Garlic and shallot sautéed in oil for a few seconds

Shrimp and cubed firm tofu added to the garlic

2 large eggs added to the pad and lightly stirred

Soaked Thai rice noodles added to the pan

As the noodles soften, a sauce of tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce and chili powder are added to the pan with the chopped green onions

A handful of cilantro is added towards the end

Pad Thai with Shrimp, Tofu and Organic Bean Sprouts
Serves 2

4 oz wide flat Thai rice stick noodles, about 1/4 package
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp palm sugar
1/8 tsp chilli powder, to taste
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 oz extra-firm tofu, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large prawns, peeled and deveined
2 large eggs, ready cracked
4 cups organic beansprouts
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
4 green onions, green part only, cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces
1 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped 
2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish
2 fresh red chilis, seeded and sliced on a diagonal, optional

Soak the rice noodles in cold water for 1-2 hours, then drain. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar in a small pan or medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Season with chilli to taste and set aside. 

Lay out all the ingredients within easy reach of the hob in the order they'll be used. Put a wok on a high heat and add half the oil. Add the garlic and shallot and stir constantly for two minutes. Then add the shrimp and tofu and stir fry until the shrimp begin to change colour, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan and using a wooden spoon, pierce the yolks and gently move the eggs around the pan until almost cooked. Then place across the pan the drained noodles and gently stir fry until they become slightly limp, then add the sauce and stir fry until they are just tender and evenly coated with the sauce, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped green onions, two tablespoons of the chopped peanuts and cook, tossing, until they are mixed in and barely heated, about 30 seconds. Test a noodle for doneness, then add the cilantro and toss well to combine. The noodles should taste sweet, sour and salty.

To serve, transfer the noodles to a large platter, leaving space for a mound of bean sprouts next to the Pad Thai, then top with the reserved lime wedges. Garnish the noodles with the remaining chopped peanuts, cilantro and sliced red chilis, and serve immediately.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Cauliflower Cheese: An English Comfort Food Classic

A classic English comfort food, Cauliflower Cheese is simple as it is delicious. This heartwarming recipe features lightly steamed fresh cauliflower topped with a rich luscious cheesy sauce made using top quality Welsh or English cheddar, light cream and a spoonful of hot English dry mustard. Baked in the oven for at lest half an hour until it's lightly golden and bubbling hot, this sensational Cauliflower Cheese can served as a side dish with a Sunday roast, or as a sinfully decadent treat all on its own with a big spoon to scoop up every last bit of the lovely scrumptious cheesy sauce.

Cauliflower Cheese 

Serves 2

1/2 head cauliflower, broken into large florets

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup whole milk or light cream
1 tsp English mustard
2 cups good quality mature cheddar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly and place in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is almost tender, but still fairly firm. Tip into a colander and leave to drain. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy-based pan and stir in the flour. Cook over a gentle heat for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the mustard and two thirds of the cheese and set aside. Arrange the cauliflower in and ovenproof baking dish. Carefully pour over the sauce, ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Scatter over the remaining cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Roast Pork with Rosemary Sage Wine Cream Sauce

Braised with white wine, garlic, fresh sage and rosemary then deglazed, simmered and finished with a light and creamy sauce, this Roast Pork with Rosemary Sage Wine Cream Sauce recipe is a delicious one-pot showstopper of a dish. Pork shoulder, tenderloin or even using half of a leftover roast sliced into generous 1/2-inch thick medallions as I did, work equally well, but choosing a fattier cut does end up braising and tasting much better. Inspired by a recipe that I found online and wanting to take advantage of the bounty of fresh herbs from our garden, this gorgeous dish is easy to prepare and is absolutely delicious served with a dangle of Buttered Caraway Egg Noodles.

Roast Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy

Serves 8
Recipe inspired by Seasons & Suppers

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 lb centre pork loin 
1 1/4 cups dry white wine, plus a bit more to deglaze pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth 
1/2 cup heavy cream, or a lighter cream mixed with 2 tsp. cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic, rosemary and sage, stirring for about one minute. Add the pork loin to the pan, carefully placing it on top of the herbs. Sauté the pork for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove it to a plate. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until the smell of the alcohol has disappeared, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Lower the heat low-medium, return the pork to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover with a lid and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the pork and scraping the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it, making sure there continues to be some liquid in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of warm water if necessary.

When the pork is cooked through at an internal temperature of 150°F, remove the pork to a plate to rest. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the liquid in the pan to medium. If your pan has little liquid, deglaze with a splash of white wine. Stir well to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until the alcohol smell disappears, about 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool in the pot for 20 minutes.

When the sauce has cooled, add the cream and put the pan back on the stove. Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring the sauce constantly until it thickens a bit and warms, but do not allow to boil. If the sauce doesn't thicken sufficiently, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour with 2 tablespoons of water and add a bit at a time to your sauce until it thickens to the desired consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Place the resting pork on a cutting board, adding any accumulated meat juices back to the sauce if desired. Slice the pork very thinly and place on to a serving platter. Pour the warm cream sauce over top, and serve over Buttered Caraway Egg Noodles or brown rice.

Buttered Caraway Egg Noodles
Serves 8

1 lb 1/2-inch-wide egg noodles
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp caraway seeds
Fresh herbs for garnish

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Melt butter in the same large pot. Add the noodles and caraway seeds and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with seasonal fresh herbs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken & Dill Yogurt Sauce

Enormously full flavoured with an bold mixture of fragrant spices, fresh garlic and fruity olive oil blended into a thick aromatic paste, this succulent Mediterranean Grilled Chicken recipe is a celebration of complex flavours and simple healthy ingredients. Massaged all over with the spice and garlic paste, the chicken thighs are placed on a bed of sliced red onions bathed in lemon juice and olive oil, then covered and chilled for a few hours to allow the marinade to work its magic, and it does. Grilled on a outdoor barbecue over medium-high heat, the chicken and red onions are cooked for about 10 minutes per side, until the thighs are golden brown and cooked through, and the red onions are sweet and caramelized. Arranged on a decorative platter and garnished with fresh lemon and a tangy Dill Yoghurt Sauce, this recipe is a triumph of flavour and absolutely delicious.

Chicken thighs marinating in a garlic, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and olive oil paste
over a bed of red onions and lemon juice

Dill yogurt sauce to be served with chicken

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken & Dill Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of 'The Mediterranean Dish'

Dill Yogurt Sauce:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed plus extra for garnish
1 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
Salt, if needed

Grilled Chicken:
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Salt and pepper
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
1 medium size red onion, sliced
2 lemons, juiced

Combine the minced garlic, fresh dill, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Season the sauce with salt if needed then transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill for at least one hour or until ready to use.

In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, spices and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the chicken thighs dry and rub with the garlic-spice mixture. Place the spiced chicken in a large plate or baking tray on a bed of sliced red onions topped with lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.

When ready, heat an outdoor barbecue to medium-high, and place the chicken thighs and chopped red onions on the grill. Cover for 5-6 minutes, then turn the chicken over and grill for another 5-6 minutes covered.

To serve, arrange the grilled chicken and onions on a warm platter garnished with fresh dill, with a side dish of the dill yogurt sauce, warm pita and Greek Salad.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Coconut Chicken & Chickpea Curry with Spinach

With an irresistible blend of aromatic Indian spices and sweet coconut milk, this creamy and delicious Coconut Chicken & Chickpea Curry is a healthy, low fat and wonderfully full flavoured dish, packed with a savoury combination of leafy green spinach, diced tomatoes, vitamin-packed cauliflower and fresh fragrant ginger root. The perfect antidote for a cold wintery evening, this sensational curry can be easily adapted to a variety of legumes, such as lentils, split peas or kidney beans and personal choice of fresh seasonal leafy or root vegetables. Served with warm Basmati rice, some buttery naan and sprinkle of chopped cilantro, this mild curry is especially nice topped with a dollop of cold thick plain yogurt.

Creamy Coconut Chicken & Chickpea Curry with Spinach
Serves 4

2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces 
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 mediums onions, sliced
28 oz can dicd tomatoes 
3 cups fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
sea salt & ground black pepper to taste
16 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup cauliflower florets
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 2-inch piece ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
14 oz can coconut milk
2 tsp flour whisked with 1 tsp water until smooth
1 bunch cilantro, washed and leaves only, for garnish
1 cup plain yogurt for garnish
Basmati rice and naan, for serving

Pat dry the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan and brown them in batches, then transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining oil to a large deep pot over medium high heat. When shimmering, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute. Then add the garam masala, curry powder, cumin, turmeric and ground coriander and stir for one minute until the spices are mixed through and become fragrant. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and ground black pepper, mixing well. Lower the heat to medium and allow the tomatoes to cook until the juices are released, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the chicken with any accumulated juices, chickpeas and cauliflower, stirring well to combine. Add the coconut milk and flour, and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often to ensure the sauce is not sticking. 

When the chicken is cooked through, turn the heat to low and add the spinach. Continue to cook until the spinach has wilted and the curry has become thick and creamy, about 25-30 minutes. The curry can be turned to very low heat and kept warm until ready to serve, as the flavours will continue to develop the longer it simmers. Add a little water to thin the sauce, if necessary. To serve, garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt sprinkled with paprika and chopped cilantro, along with some Basmati rice and buttered naan.

Easy Naan Bread
Serves 2

1 package pre-made naan
1 tbsp ghee or butter
Maldon salt, to taste
1 tsp black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 2 of the naan on a foil lined baking sheet and lightly spread with ghee or butter, sprinkle with some Maldon salt and garnish with black sesame seeds. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the naan is lightly golden but still moist. Serve with any curry.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kolokithokeftedes: Greek Zucchini Fritters with Feta

Also known as Kolokithokeftedes, Greek Zucchini Fritters are a popular Greek meze, and when topped with a dollop of thick and creamy tzatziki, are a wonderfully delicious appetizer or side dish. These Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill are incredibly easy to make but the key is to squeeze out as much water as possible from the grated zucchini so that they produce a good crisp crust. Simply grate them, wrap them in paper towel and let it do the work of pulling out the extra moisture. Give the grated zucchini one final squeeze, mix it with the fresh dill, mint, feta, chopped green onions, lemon zest, ground cumin, beaten egg and bind with flour and panko crumbs, then simply spoon into small patties and pan fry. It's that easy. The zingy combination of feta, fresh dill and mint make these fritters amazingly addictive, so better to make more than you think you'll need, for they'll be gone in no time.

Chopped dill, mint, green onion and crumbled Greek feta

One large beaten egg is added to the mixture 

The egg is stirred in well to combine 

Lemon zest and ground cumin are added for extra flavour

Just before ready to make the fritters, flour and panko crumbs are added to the batter

Using a non stick pan on medium heat, the fritters are fried in a little oil until golden brown, 
about for 3-4 minutes per side

Nicely crisp and golden brown, the fritters are best served straight away with cool tzatiki

Garnished with some fresh dill and lemon, the fritters are perfect — crisp on the outside while still moist and flavourful on the inside

Thick and creamy Tzatziki

Greek Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill
Makes 8-10 fritters

2 medium zucchini

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

4 green onions, green and white parts, finely sliced

3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 large egg
, beaten
1/2 cup flour

4 tbsp Panko bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
3 cups tzatziki sauce

Wash the zucchini. With the skins on, grate them using the coarse side of a grater, then using your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible. Follow by placing the grated zucchini in a dry tea towel and press out as much water as you can. The towel will become very wet. Transfer to another tea towel and wrapping tightly, press down to release more water then leave for an hour. 

Place the grated zucchini in a bowl with the dill, mint, lemon zest, cumin, feta and green onions and mix well with a fork. Stir in the lightly beaten egg then add the flour and panko. The mixture needs to bind, so a little more flour may be needed depending on how much liquid was squeezed out of the zucchini. 

Pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large non-stick pan, and set on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, spoon dollops of zucchini mixture into small patties and cook until nicely brown and golden, about 3-4 minutes for side, then remove the fritters and place on paper towel to remove some of the excess oil. To serve, arrange the fritters on a warm pate and garnish with a sprinkle of dill and a curl or two of lemon zest. Serve warm with tzatziki sauce at the side. Yum-yum.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chickpea & Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potato

An enormously flavourful vegetarian curry, this robust Chickpea & Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potato combines all the classic spices and flavours of a traditional Indian curry combined with naturally sweet coconut milk, rich San Marzano tomatoes and fragrant fresh cilantro, for a thick and delicious curry that's also gluten and dairy free. Vegetable sources of protein including nutritionally rich legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, are the cornerstone of healthy eating and with Indian food being one of the tastiest plant-based cuisines, there is a world of extraordinary vegetarian recipes and sensational curries out there to satisfy almost any palate, like this gorgeous recipe.

Chickpea & Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potato
Serves 4 to 6

1 yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, diced into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 large head cauliflower, broken into large florets
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 2-inch piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
28 oz can diced San Marzano plum tomatoes
15 oz can full-fat coconut milk
19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves only, plus some extra for garnish
1 cup plain thick yogurt for garnish, optional
Basmati or Jasmin rice, for serving
Naan, optional

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir constantly for 1 minutes, then add the sweet potato and sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cauliflower with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté another 5 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Stir in the curry powder, garam masala, cumin and cayenne and mix well to combine. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower and sweet potato are tender. When the vegetables are tender, add the chickpeas and cilantro leaves and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and some chopped cilantro, and serve with basmati or jasmine rice with some warm naan on the side.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage & Black Kale

A hearty Tuscan classic, Zuppa di Cavolo Nero, Cannellini e Salsicce is a robust soup that is nutrition-rich and absolutely bursting with flavour. Similar to an Italian minestrone, the ever popular rustic vegetable-and-bean soup, this version up is piqued with the addition of sweet Italian sausage, although chicken or turkey sausage would work just as well, or omit altogether for a heart-smart Vegetarian option. Like its cousin kale, Cavolo Nero is a member of the brassica family and comes into season during the autumn and winter months. Rich in nutrients, with high levels of iron and vitamins, it’s dark green leaves, sweet flavour and attractive crinkled appearance have made it a popular option for chefs looking for a more enticing alternative to better-known kale varieties, with a delicious taste all its own.

Browned sweet Italian sausage sautéed with garlic, diced onions, carrots and bay leaves

Vegetable stock, cannelloni beans, diced tomatoes and chopped cavolo nero are added to the pot, covered and simmered for 45 minutes

Turned down to low heat, the soup was left for another hour or so 
before being labeled into bowls for dinner  

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 lb Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, divided: 2 minced and 1 halved
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 tsp crushed dried fennel seeds
2 15 oz cans white cannellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 bunches black Tuscan kale (cavolo nero), stems removed and roughly chopped
8 cups good quality vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 thick slices country-style bread, optional
Grated parmesan cheese, optional

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown, stirring occasionally to break into smaller pieces, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, carrots and bay leaves. Season generously with kosher salt and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. 

Add the minced garlic, fennel seeds, and half of the beans, mashing the remaining beans with a fork or wooden spoon and then add them to the pot, stirring to distribute within the soup, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the kale, and cook until it becomes slightly wilted. Then add the chicken stock, tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, and cover with a lid. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, however allowing it sit for another hour and then reheating gently makes it even better. 

Meanwhile, toast the bread and rub it with the cut end of the halved garlic clove, then drizzle each slice with a little olive oil. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with toasted bread on the side, and a little grated parmesan cheese

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Summerhill Market Chicken Pot Pie

Summerhill Market's chicken pot pies are legendary, with customers snapping up over 300 pies a day. Full to bursting with marvellously moist chicken, carrots, celery and peas topped in a creamy sauce under a flakey crown of buttery puff pastry, chef Jameson Watermulder says the secret is using "the best chicken and the best sauce, not to mention homemade puff pastry." Summerhill's chickens are poached whole, and chef Watermulder thickens the sauce with a roux of rendered chicken fat and flour, which produces the signature thick rich and creamy sauce. Rated as one of the best pot pies in town, Summerhill's Chicken Pot Pies are the closest thing to homemade, with many customers buying a dozen at a time. 

Summerhill Market Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 2 pot pies - 6 servings each

3 lb chicken pieces, white and dark meat, or 1 whole chicken split in half 

1 tsp salt
1 onion, quartered
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups finely sliced carrots
1 1/2 cups finely sliced celery
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp white or black pepper and kosher salt
1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
2 tbsp whole milk

In large pot, cover the chicken with 6 cups water. Add salt, onion, thyme, bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until it's falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, add the carrots to the pot and boil over medium-high heat, covered, for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, divide the carrots between two 6-cup shallow casserole dishes.

Remove the skin from the chicken and separate the meat from the bones and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Divide between the dishes along with the celery and peas, mixing well. Strain the cooking liquid and skim off the fat. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and cook the flour and pepper, stirring, for one minute. Gradually whisk in 5 cups of the cooking liquid, bring to a boil and cook stirring often, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour over the chicken mixture, season with salt and pepper, then allow to cool for 30 minutes. 

Make-ahead: Refrigerate until cold, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks; thaw in refrigerator and add 10 minutes to baking time.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half of puff pastry about 2 inches larger than the top of the dish. Place over the dish and trim to leave 1/2-inch overhang, reserving the excess pastry. Press the overhang onto and over the edge of the dish. With a fork, whisk the egg with the milk, then brush over the pastry. Use the excess pastry to cut out shapes and place on top if desired, and brush the egg mixture over the pastry details, and cut 4 to 6 steam vents. Bake at 400°F until the filling is bubbly and the pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake

Moist and buttery with a fruity layer of puréed fresh strawberries and sweet raspberry jam with a delicious crunchy streusel topping, this lovely Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake was inspired by a recipe by Nigella Lawson that was featured in the New York Times back in 2004. In the recipe, she suggests enjoying it slightly warm as a dessert, or served chilled as a coffeecake for breakfast the following day. The cake is slightly tricky to assemble, and at some point it may look like a mess, but everything comes together in the pan as it bakes, resulting in a tender and fragrant cake that's berryliciously good.

Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake

Serves 8-10
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, 'At My Table' in New York Times, 2004

Strawberry Purée:

8 oz fresh strawberries, hulled
3 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake and Crumb Topping: 

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp or 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp turbinado sugar

In a blender, combine the strawberries and jam. Make a paste of the cornstarch and vanilla, and add it to the blender. Purée until smooth then set aside.

Heat oven to 375°F. Oil a 9-inch springform pan with a some vegetable oil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle in the butter cubes and rub them in by hand until the mixture resembles large coarse crumbs. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. To a large bowl, add the sour cream, egg and vanilla and mix well.

Using a little over half of the cake batter, drop dollops of batter into the greased pan. Pat the batter across the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides — the mixture will be very sticky and somewhat uneven. Add the strawberry purée, making an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then cover with the remaining cake mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine the reserved 1/2 cup of dough and the turbinado sugar, and stir with a fork to mix, then sprinkle evenly over the cake. Bake until lightly golden, about 35-45 minutes. Cool slightly before releasing the cake from the springform pan, and allow to cool further before serving with some whipped cream or warm custard.