Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Chill – and – Potato Cakes

Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Red Chilli

Tuesday Nights is Rock n Roll dancing and Hedsor. Dinner needed to be quick as we have a reasonable drive from West London to Maidenhead so I same up with these two dishes.

Dancing was great this week. During the lesson we rotated partners and ended up dancing with everyone. Very cool. Really helps you realise what you’re doing wrong and how different people dance in different ways. Lots of newcomers too. So we aren’t the newest ones there anymore!

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Surprisingly we had time to watch Broadchurch before we went out. Not sure we like this series as much as the first one. Lots of sleuthing – not enough detective work. Lots of sub plots – not enough focus on one thing. We shall see!

The Broccoli takes minutes. The potato cakes need cold mashed potato so you’ll need to do these in advance to allow them to cool down.

The broccoli dish is simply a medium-hot pan – toast some almonds but don’t burn them and allow to cool. Then dry fry the broccoli for a good 10 minutes – add the red chilli – fry a little more then serve with the almonds.

This dish was too hot for Freya. The broccoli really takes on the heat from the red chilli and she wasn’t a fan. I loved it. I love chillies. I added a mustard dressing which made the dish far more enjoyable for Freya. The dressing was simply mustard, egg yolk, cider vinegar, oil and garlic all whisked together.

The potato cakes are simply mashed potato, baking powder and rice flour, mixed together and fried as patties until they go fluffy.

All in all a very simple dinner. Nothing special but very tasty and a good fast dinner that filled a hole.

Sesame Roast Carrots

Sesame Roast Carrots

Doesn’t everyone always have a bag of carrots lying around in the bottom of the fridge. I know I do. Every time I go shopping I get carrots and I never use them all. They are so cheap that you always just buy a bag, use 2 and leave the rest to shrivel up in the fridge.

Well this dish could be the answer. Well – a better answer than carrot and coriander soup – which I just don’t enjoy!

Another offering from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook, this does use up a kilo of carrots with minimum effort.

Simply prep the carrots, toss in sesame seed and rapeseed oil and roast. Season them and roast them until they caramelise. Job done!

But what’s that you see in the picture – raisins? While the carrots are roasting simmer some runny honey and some orange zest and juice and add some raisins. Turn off the heat and let them soak up the juice.

When the carrots are ready, add the raisins and serve with a little chopped parsley. Very simple indeed.

I had every intention of serving these as a side yesterday but it got too late to eat – so I ended up eating these on their own for lunch. I didn’t have anything else to eat as my Ocado order doesn’t come until tomorrow morning.

These are quite sweet and very orangey  – the carrots really soaked up the juices from the raisins. Not sure they work on their own. Probably better to serve these with something more substantial.

Baked Onions and Savoury Porridge

Baked Onions and Savoury Porridge

Yes you read it right. Savoury porridge!

One of the more curious offerings in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook – this recipe was potentially the dud in the book. I remember making practically everything in one of Ottolenghi’s books once and then tried something with Verjus and it make me think ‘well you can’t always get it right’. This recipe for me could have been that recipe.

But it wasn’t – it was very good indeed. Freya looked puzzled – and a little cautious but she liked it too.

We ate quite late today having gone to the gym after work – I didn’t start making it till 8:30pm and it is quite time consuming. Fortunately we were watching the film ‘Locke’ – another film I thoroughly recommend you watching. It only has one person in it and he drives a car from Birmingham to London for the duration of the film. Curious!? Give it a go!

To make this you top and tail some big onions (leave them in their skins) and roast them on a bed of oil, thyme and sea salt until they caramelise. The you add bay leaves, and garlic, wrap in foil and bake for even longer this time until they are tender. This took about an hour.

Take the onions out and keep them warm. Add stock to the herbs and oil and then make a porridge as you usually would – stirring for about 10 minutes, checking the seasoning along the way. While the porridge is cooking, toast some hazelnuts and chop a little parsley.

Then you’re done. Just serve the porridge with a couple of onion halves, a few crushed hazelnuts and the parsley.

It’s very much like a risotto. Quite creamy despite there being no dairy. Much like the ‘actual’ risotto I made the other day it feels like it’s got cream in it but it hasn’t at all.

This really was better than I expected and I would probably make it again if I was having someone round just to see them raise their eyebrows in disbelief. If it were just for me I would probably give it a miss as it takes too long to make and I much prefer the oven baked risotto I made the other day.

That said. How often do you only have onions and porridge in your cupboards! Pretty sure it could be an emergency meal!

Ultra Choc Brownies

Ultra Choc Brownies

Freya finally got her wish for a chocolate dessert last night with these Ultra Choc Brownies – from – you guessed it – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook.

There have been two slabs of dark chocolate floating around the back of the fridge for over a month since my failed attempt to get my daughter Olivia to make cookies with me. I seem to recall I made them while she watched TV (or played with the iPad – I can’t remember) and then Freya and I ate all of them because she forgot to take them home with her.

Anyway – rather than have this chocolate gradually disappear square by square (not unlike the bag of marshmallows that seemed to suggest we either had mice or secret marshmallow stealer) – I figured I’d use it to make these brownies.

The recipe calls for chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids. Mine only had 60% but it didn’t seem to matter. It also called for coconut oil – which you won’t find everywhere. Morrisons didn’t have it – they didn’t even know what I was on about! I ended up getting mine from the small Turkish supermarket on Brentford High St. I bought a few bottles as I figured I might make these again!

To make these you melt the chocolate and coconut oil over a bowl of water (they way you’re supposed to) and let it cool down to barely warm. While that’s cooling whisk a couple of eggs with light brown sugared some vanilla extract. I didn’t have any so I split a vanilla bean I found in that back of the cupboard!

Then sift some ground almonds, rice flour and baking powder. Add the egg mix, and the chocolate mix and fold it all together. Finally add some chopped walnuts. You end up with a thick batter which should pour easily into a baking tin. It’s a good idea to line the tin with parchment or you’ll never get the brownie out!

Since we moved onto the boat, we found a leak on one of the roofs so we used our silicon baking tin as a ‘stopper’ and it’s been out there for over 6 months. Suffice to say we didn’t use it – we bought another one!

Bake the mixture until a skewer comes out clean – then take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Let it go cold in fact or it will probably fall to pieces as it is quite fragile.

While it was cooling we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Far better than The Maze Runner – and full of that Marvel humour that I love. If you want to see how far CGI has come on over the years – and how it is put to good use –  this is the film for you!

By the end of the film the brownie was cool enough to eat! So I cubed it and we had a few squares. Well – you’re never sure with just one piece are you!

They are fairly gooey on the inner squares – fairly crumby on the outer squares. One things for sure – they are very chocolatey. The nuts add a very nice texture too!

According to the book if you leave them in the fridge they will get fudgey. I shall be finding this out today!

UPDATE: They very much do become more fudgey after a day in the fridge. Must be the coconut oil. So – make them – and be patient – they will be so much better this way!

Beetroot Burgers with a Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

Beetroot Burgers with Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

And now for something completely different!

I’ve dabbled with non-meat burgers before from many other chefs and I’ve always had the issue with them falling apart. I wondered if the same would happen with these burgers from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook.

We love beetroot. Not the processed cooked kind you get in jars or plastic wrap but raw beetroot that you either roast yourself or eat raw in salads.

These burgers caught my eye because of the colours. They looked so moist, bright and purple that I had to give them a go. Looking through the ingredients list I figured they were pretty healthy too and had a good chance of holding their form.

This is another one pot – well in this case a food processor – dish. Get your magimix out and add raw beetroot, carrot, onion, garlic, chickpeas, porridge oats, an egg and some spices – and blend it all together to a thick paste. I thought my paste was a little too wet so I added some more porridge oats. Not sure if I needed to but it didn’t affect the outcome.

Then, simply make patties out of the mix and fry in a pan until they start to brown. Turn them a couple of times while you cook them. I used 2 spatulas because I was convinced they were going to fall apart. They didn’t – I was pleasantly surprised.

Once cooked allow them to cool – they will firm up if you do. And it gives you time to make the salsa.

This salsa was very easy too. It’s just chopped red onion, a tin of black beans, blueberries, garlic, red chilli, paprika, sugar, lime and cider vinegar all mixed together with a little oil and seasoning.

Very very simple. And surprisingly tasty. It’s not something I would have thought of putting together but it certainly works – especially with the burger.

As you can see I served the burger on a plate with the salsa. It tastes far better than it looks – and it looks pretty good – it’s just that red food is very hard to photograph in low light.

Also, its strange that picture makes the burger look wet and sloppy but it really wasn’t at all. It does have a falafel feel to it and I think it would be better server in a wrap. Obviously you’re then adding a bread element to your meal – but where’s the harm in that!

Oaty, Nutty, Fruity Cookies

Oaty, Fruity, Nutty Cookies

Sunday turned out to be slightly more productive than Saturday.

For a start we went to the gym and had a very long workout. Freya started experimenting with a rug she is going to knit for the sitting room on the boat. She’s going to knit lots of offcuts of suit fabric on giant needles into a hefty rug of three colours. Early signs are that it is going to be awesome!

While she experimented I went back into the kitchen to bake.

I don’t do sweet things very often (I’m sweet enough as it is – haha) but these cookies caught my eye whilst flicking through the pages I never really look at in any cookery books – the ones at the back with the puddings in !

They are from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. Like everything in his book they are ridiculously easy to make – so I knocked up a batch.

All you do is beat some crunchy peanut butter with some runny honey, then add an egg, some bicarbonate of soda, raisins and porridge oats until you have a gooey gloop.

Blob the gloop (dessertspoon sized) in the oven on some baking parchment and bake for about 10 minutes. When they are done cool them on a wire rack. Couldn’t be easier could it! Again – one bowl – one spatula/spoon. No washing up – dead easy.

They are lovely and chewy. Nice and soft. And so peanutty. I don’t usually like peanuts but these were amazing. I think the raisins just sweetened them up enough for me to change my point of view.

It does say in the book that these are best eaten within 2 to 3 days. We made 10. They lasted 2 – 3 hours. I think I’ll make some more today!

Popcorn with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Runny Honey

Popcorn

I’ve never really understood why people buy bags of popped popcorn. Granted its not that expensive but the bag is rarely big enough. Especially if you’re me. And if you make your own you can flavour it as you like!

While watching the Chinese epic Red Cliff (5 hours!) Freya said she wanted dessert. Well we didn’t have anything. Freya will tell you that I don’t make puddings. Much to her disappointment. I did promise to make more sweet things in 2015 but it’s just not something that tickles my fancy. Savoury all the way for me!

Then I remembered we had a massive bag of popcorn kernels. So what better than some salted, runny honey popcorn. It takes minutes and can’t really go wrong.

Grab a big pan (if you’re making lots). I used my All Clad Tagine – which is very big! Then heat some oil and 100g of popcorn kernels on a high heat until they start to pop. Then reduced the heat and let the popping continue until it stopped.

If you’re impatient like me the popping won’t have stopped and you’ll have popcorn flying everywhere! No doubt I’ll find a few popped kernels next time I do the boat cleaning (‘housework’ to most of you).

Fish them out of the pan into a bowl – sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and then drizzle with honey and stir with a couple of wooden spoons. Don’t overdo it or it’ll be too sticky to eat and will go soft.

Suffice to say I made a second batch. Well – it was a long film !