With a name thought to originate from the Italian word for ‘knuckles’ or the Lombard word for ‘knots of wood’, these little pillows of potato have been around since about the 17th century and we know why they haven’t budged from our culinary repertoire since – they are simply divine. Saveur have written up a gorgeous account of the history of these elegant little mouthfuls and I encourage you to read it because you’ll love them even more.
Not a pasta but a dumpling, gnocchi are a real favourite at home and a repeated request for lessons by students in my private cooking classes. They go with just about any sauce or vegetable and make a great accompaniment to any meat dish too. They can be made small or large depending on the dish. I love to serve them with slow cooked lamb and roasted tomatoes or sautéed greens and tender stem broccoli – whatever is in season and always topped with a generous grating of parmesan cheese.
This recipe is a culmination of my many attempts to find the perfect texture with the easiest method. I hope you enjoy them! I certainly do.
For lessons in hand made pasta and gnocchi, do get in touch and I’ll pop by to teach you all the tricks to this very special dish.
This carrot soup has a certain farm-like decadence to it. It is rich while nourishing and looks beautiful. You can make it vegetarian if you wish, but the chicken stock does add another layer of flavour. Punchy caraway and mustard seed add depth of flavour to the sweetness of the carrot while the garnishes – sour cream, dill and pine nuts – add a creamy richness.
I imagined myself eating this dish at an outdoor table on a warm summer evening, watching the stars begin to glimmer. However, as it is made from a lasting root vegetable it is also seasonally versatile – it just happens to taste the best when the carrots have been pulled straight out of the ground. Serve with a cool glass of California chardonnay.
CARROT SOUP WITH SOUR CREAM, DILL AND PINE NUTS
1kg carrots, peeled and cut into 1inch rounds
2 sticks celery, cut into chunks
3 banana shallots, sliced
2tbs olive oil
Splash of white wine
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1tsp dried dill
1tbs mustard seeds
1tbs caraway seeds
salt and pepper
4 dessert spoons sour cream
4tbs pine nuts
4tbs fresh chopped dill
Start by sweating the vegetables and dry spices in a medium saucepan in a dessert spoonful of olive oil with a teaspoon of salt stirred through, which helps the vegetables break down. It’s great to get a bit of colour on the shallots as their caramelised flavour lends beautifully to the sweet carrots.
Once the vegetables have a bit of colour on them, pour in the white wine followed by the chicken stock. If the vegetables aren’t covered with liquid, top it up with water. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Cook until the carrots are completely soft, about 30-45mins.
When the carrots are soft, take the soup of the heat and blend it until it is a fine puree. Let it down with a bit of water until it is the desired consistency. You don’t want it to thick, nor too thin. Think the of the body of double cream, that’s what you’re going for. Add plenty of fresh cracked pepper and a bit of salt if the flavour needs a bit more oomph.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil and add a dallop of sour cream in the middle, laying it down gently so it rests on top of the soup. The sour cream really boosts and balances the flavour of the sweet carrots. Sprinkle over the dill and finally scatter the pine nuts.
Happy New Year 2014!!! 2013 was busy and exciting for me and the final 3 months were the busiest of all! My greatest accomplishments of 2013 was to finally start cooking school in September. My life-long desire to put my passion for food into action has finally come to life and I couldn’t be happier.
Eight weeks at Leith’s School of Food and Wine has showed me I am doing exactly what I should do but I am here to report that I have been dog tired, as in can’t even lift my head up off the floor to scratch at the flee behind my ear dog tired. But who cares?! I have never been so happy as I am in chef’s whites merrily cooking or learning techniques and theory involving food. I have learned a million new skills and to do almost everything I have ever done in the kitchen the right way instead of the sloppy way. Just to give you an idea, here are a few examples:
I have learned to fillet a fish, joint a chicken, scramble, bake, fry, poach, scramble, and boil eggs, whip meringues, pipe icing, brown meat, congeal custard, make a million kinds of pie pastry, whip cream, aerate flour, make choux into eclairs, gougers and profiteroles, whip, fold and cream cakes, render fat, temper chocolate, froth mousse, deep fry goujons, wield a pastry, filleting, boning, santoku, office and fruit knife, bake fruit, roast everything, split curds and whey, baton, chop, dice, concasse, julienne and slice every vegetable imaginable (including my fingers) and bake simple breads.
I will admit though that as my standards sky rocket in the kitchen at school, my standards at home have slipped into an abyss of quick noodles and scrambled eggs, hence the lack of posts! Not to mention an endless house hunt which has finally come to a moving date – now! But never mind that, let’s start the new year off right and as we mean to go on! Back to regular posts courtesy of more time on my greedy little hands. Yippee!
I have been on and off obsessed with sweet potatoes and now I’m on again. Sweet potatoes are versatile and interesting although often over looked. Let’s start with a dauphinoise shall we?
Sweet Potatoes Dauphinoise
Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 500g)
1/2 large white onion
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
handful of fresh or dried thyme, stripped from the stalks
400 ml whole milk (can be alternated with double cream but not single cream)
Peel and thinly slice onions
and put into a saucepan with milk. The milk should be enough to just cover the onions when they are laying flat as they can in the pan. Crush garlic and add to the pan.
These days I am so busy back being a student there is little to no time for cooking at home! Thank goodness I get to cook half the day at school or I would be going crazy.
Speaking of students – my brother-in-law, who just started university, has asked for some cheap, simple recipes with little washing up. He can already cook basically anything but I hope this dish of tomatoes and aubergine (eggplant) will add some vitamins to his friend’s repertoire! I remember what I ate at university – a whole lot of grilled cheese… I mean a whole lot. Like, everyday.
The easiest thing to cook while at university other than grilling a sandwich with an iron is probably cous cous. You can make it using just a kettle and a bowl and by chance it’s the perfect accompaniment to this dish, which is cheap, easy, vegetarian and full of flavour. Oh and only one roasting tin used!
Roast Tomato and Aubergine with Chickpeas
Serve with Cous Cous
Serves 2 or 1 seriously hungry person
4-5 medium tomatoes or roughly 200g+ cherry tomatoes, off their stems
1 head of garlic
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1 can chickpeas
salt and pepper
Quarter tomatoes and cut eggplants into relative size chunks according to size of tomatoes. You want even sizes here. Juice the lemon.
Peel garlic – here is a tip that will change your life if you have a microwave:
Top Tip: As learned from Cooks Illustrated – If you want skins off garlic for a recipe, pop the whole head of garlic in the microwave for 20 seconds. the cloves will pop out of their skins due to the steam breaking the membrane. The garlic will be slightly less pungent but will still taste great.
Put all veggies in a roasting tin and toss evenly with olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper to your taste. I use lots of black pepper because I’m a fiend for it.
Kale, kale, kale – it’s everywhere. I say for good reason. Rich in colour and packed with vitamins, kale has an earthy, slightly bitter taste that goes very well with rich food. For example, mac and cheese! I came across this idea while trolling the net for ways to use kale. I have added a serious kick to it with some cayenne pepper. Talk about a winter warmer…
Brrrrrr! It was so cold yesterday (and by that I mean it snowed!!!) I just had to make some soup for lunch, and maybe for lunch today too come to think of it… I guess I don’t need an excuse such as snow to make soup really… I make soup at least twice a week. Some might say I’m a soup fiend, I say I am a soup worshipper. Talk about a comfort food to warm the cockles of your soul when the weather is yucky and the day a bit dull. Rich as you want and healthy as you please, soup is a wonderful food to serve, so let’s get started on one of my favourites right now. I predict many more to come on my current broth based craze!
Celeriac Soup is made from celery root, available at any local farmer’s market this time of year, and brings with it that wonderfully fresh flavour of celery but with the starchiness of a potato. It’s also about as variable as our favorite spud but with a little more zest. In other words, plain ‘ol Potato Soup might seem to lack imagination, but serve Celeriac Soup and your guests might be just that much more impressed!
It’s just starting to get chilly out and that means time for garlic. I don’t know if it’s the earth telling us to stock up on vitamin C, but garlic is everywhere at this time of year. As for me, I don’t think there is anything better than hearty veggie soup with loads or garlicky flavour to ward of that chilly feeling.
It’s beyond simple, a one pot deal and just what you need for a cold day and a great use for all your leftover market bought veg.
Alright, I know we have already had a drought and it’s not even May, but this thunder and lighting and bucketing down rain is enough to make someone yearn for a hosepipe ban! The bad thing about the rain is that it stops me from exploring… I would rather not soak my new DSLR thank you very much! In case you were wondering, yes, I am soooo excited about this new and seriously long overdue edition to our home! I am going to get so snap happy as soon as this rain stops…
The one good thing about being cooped up inside is that it means I get to spend some guilt-free time in the kitchen!
I have been discovering the joy of lentils recently. They are amazing! I know I have made a habit of taking these for granted- one of my favourite cheats is Merchant Gourmet’s ready made lentil packs. There are so many ways to eat them! Try the Porcini Mushrooms and Thyme Puy Lentils, they are to die for.
Toss them with spicy rocket salad or eat them warmed up with crackers and cheese… either way they make a gloriously easy and healthy sit-in meal.
If you want to venture a bit further and make your own, they are nearly as easy and twice as satisfying. Think of them as like potatoes- you can add almost anything to your lentils, actually- you can also add potatoes!
My favorite combo so far is sliced and grilled chorizo, diced onion, carrot, and celery with a little thyme and bay leaves. Fry the chorizo in a heavy bottomed pan, my teal Le Creuset does the trick perfectly.
Rinse the lentils (I used the puy as they hold texture nicely), and add all to the pan with the chorizo your veg, herbs, a little ground black pepper, and a stock cube. Cover with water and bring to a boil, stirring as you go to dissolve the stock, then simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add some potato chunks at the beginning if you want some starch.
The husband and I just had this dish for dinner with a glass of red.
Now that I think of it, the rain isn’t really that bad….
Made by Maggie
After the Market (but today just out of the cupboard…)