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!

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Plate

Saturday was a day of plans. We had a long list of things to do – as always – and didn’t really get many of them done. Aside from catching up on sleep and not surfacing till well after 11am we didn’t really get going until after some particularly awesome bacon and fried egg bagels. Not the most healthy of foods but you have to treat yourself once in a while.

After spending most of the afternoon tidying up the kitchen I set to making this awesome dish. I don’t really think you can mess this up. It takes time – but it isn’t attended time. You just have lots of baking to do – and waiting in the meantime.

We spent the afternoon and evening watching Red Cliff. It’s a two part – 5 hours in all – Chinese epic by John Woo. If you haven’t seen it you should. If you end up watching the cut 90 minute version then sad times for you – you missed out on 5 hours of amazing cinema.

This recipe is – you guessed it – also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy book. It certainly is easy.

Simply quarter and roast some shallots with some thyme in an ovenproof casserole until they are soft – almost caramelising. Add chestnut mushrooms, garlic and balsamic vinegar and roast some more. Finally add stock and risotto rice and roast until the stock has absorbed into the rice. It took about an hour for me.

I have to say half way through I didn’t think it was going to work – but in the remaining 15 minutes all the stock got absorbed into the rice and it was a gorgeous gloopy consistency just like a proper risotto.

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Pan

You’ll note there is not cheese or dairy in this at all. It’s very healthy indeed. There’s only a tablespoon of oil in the whole thing!  And it tastes just as good as any risotto you’ll eat.

There’s a serving suggestion of drizzling chilli oil over it – but we didn’t bother with that. I didn’t have any – didn’t want to make it – and decided that Freya might not enjoy the chilli addition.

As easy dishes go, this really is. Barely any washing up. Essentially a one pot dish. One knife quartered the onions and chopped up the mushrooms into large chunks – but that’s it. A very tidy dish. I’ll certainly be making it again.

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Last night was Film Club night – we watched Frida. It’s very good – you should watch it!

Most Film Club nights end up with us nipping over to Moes (poor mans Nandos) for half a chicken and rice because we haven’t got any food left over from lunchtime.

I was better prepared this week and made this pesto which, when mixed with white beans and served on lettuce leaves, makes for a very nice snack. It probably would have gone very well with some chicken from Moes!

Pesto has undergone quite the transformation over the years. My first recollections of it were the Sacla jars which you would stir through some pasta when you were too lazy to cook anything proper. Since then everyone and his dog has been making their own jars of the stuff, including Jamie Oliver and Lloyd Grossman. I’ve always found them very vinegary or jar/tin tasting which I imagine is down to the preservatives they add.

I always understood pesto to be basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan blended with olive oil but it is seems that the current trend is to call any blend of herb, nut, oil and cheese a pesto. Strictly these variations aren’t pestos – but then again there’s lots of fizzy white wines passing themselves off as champagne these days!

I’ve made many different types in the last year, ones with coriander, parsley, different cheeses, different oils and a variety of nuts. This pesto from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’  is another variation on a theme – but its one of the best I’ve made.

Simply blend parsley leaves, garlic, a tin of anchovies (oil as well), walnuts, some rapeseed oil and a little lemon juice to taste and you’re done.

If you have a Nutribullet you can made this in less than a minute and it will be very smooth.

I’ve copied Hugh’s serving suggestion of stirring through some white beans and laying on some lettuce leaves.

I loved this. It has a real punch to it. Many pestos are quite bland but this is far from it. The anchovy really packs in flavour. Just don’t add more salt – anchovies are salty enough as it is.

There was quite a bit left over which I imagine we will use up with some feta and salad in our tortilla wraps for lunch today.

So far I’m really enjoying this book. Simply cooking. Great taste. That’s what we all need when we have little time to spare.

Brussels Sprouts with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Brussels with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Freya and I were discussing our eating strategy for work yesterday. Sounds complex but it isn’t really.

When I started this blog we lived in the middle of nowhere and going out was too much effort – so we just stayed in – watched box sets – and cooked every day – which meant we had ‘lunch’ for work the next day in the form of leftovers (or something made specifically for lunch).

Since autumn last year this changed. We go out at least 4 times a week and often don’t eat at home. Tuesdays we go dancing until late – and Thursdays we have film Club at work. Consequently we had no food and ended up in the awful situation yesterday of having to go out in the freezing cold for lunch that we didn’t really want – and waiting ages for it as well. On top of that it always costs us £10 or more for the privilege and we lose an hour of our day (at least).

So last night I resolved that we would always have something for lunch by being better prepared – and this is where this dish came from – made whilst watching Broadchurch Season 2 Episode 3 last night. Broadchurch is far more ‘soap-opera-extreme’ this season – it’s very intense!

Anyway – back to the food. This dish is as easy as (and very similar to) the Broccoli and Beans that I made for dinner yesterday – and is from the same ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’ cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Simply roast some brussels sprouts with a little oil and seasoning until they start to char a bit and look done. While they are cooking prepare some Puy lentils. I cheated with a ready made sachet from ‘Merchant Gourmet’ – not through laziness – more through my local Morrisons not having anything else.

Then made a dressing (again very similar to the Broccoli dish) of oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice (no egg yolk this time) an pour it over the lentils. Finally mix the lentil mix with the brussels and stir through some chopped walnuts.

Couldn’t be easier. We ate it at room temperature (as recommended in the book) and it tastes yummy. It got a few jealous looks while we ate it at work. And a few bemused looks from those that had never seen those ingredients combined like that before.

One of the sad things about cooking late at night on a poorly lit boat is the standard of food photography. I’ll seek to improve this somehow!

Roast Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

I wanted something very simple for dinner today and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new book ‘River Cottage – Light & Easy’ had just what I needed. Most of the recipes I’ve shortlisted from this book look easy. Barely cooking at all – more throw some stuff together. Just what you want when it’s freezing cold outside and you’ve just spent an hour heating up a very cold boat!

I couldn’t get hold of Purple Sprouting Broccoli so I used tenderstem broccoli instead.

This is so easy. Just preheat an oven, roast some broccoli with a little oil and seasoning for 10 minutes, add white beans and sunflower seeds and cook for another 2 minutes.

While that’s doing make a dressing of a little garlic, cider vinegar, english mustard, oil and a little sugar. I added an egg yolk to mine – which pretty much makes a hollandaise.

Then simply serve the beans and drizzle the dressing on top.

This is pretty awesome – very tasty – and was done in less than 15 minutes. Just my sort of dinner. I think this could end up in the ‘go to’ pile.

I thought there would be enough for lunch tomorrow – but we had seconds and polished it all off!

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

It seems like forever since I posted on sifty. I have been eating – honest – I just haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to photograph and blog. It gets very cold on a boat this time of year – it kind of discourages you from doing anything!

Our fortnightly visit to Freya’s parents offered up two surprises:

  • a new cookbook (for Freya really – as it was her birthday)
  • a flick through a load of magazine supplements

This weekend’s Daily Mail supplement (which I would never advocate reading) had an interesting article about Ella Woodward and her ‘soon to be released’ cookery book ‘Deliciously Ella’. At the back of the magazine were some very healthy recipes that caught my eye – so I snagged the magazine and made the chilli and brown rice last night.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find black beans in my local supermarket so I swapped them for Fava beans. As the recipe suggests you can knock this up in 10-15 minutes. Its so basic. But it was just what you need when it is -1 outside and you need something warm quickly!

To make this you do nothing more than add grated carrot, garlic, kidney beans, black beans (fava beans in my case), passatta, tomato paste and a jalapeño pepper to a saucepan and heat through for 10 minutes. That’s it – nothing more.

For me it was a bit too tomatoey – Freya loved it. It made plenty. There’s tonnes left for lunch today and it cost next to nothing to make.

I’ll make this again when I am short on time – and I’ll make it with the correct ingredients next time.

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

Carrot, Feta and Mung Bean Salad

 

Another dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, I made this last night after we’d already had our evening snack of halloumi wraps.

We eat out at lunchtime way too often for my liking and every time it costs us over £10. It soon adds up – and it eats into the day. It’s rare that we can go out for lunch in less than an hour. Worse than that we never eat healthily at lunchtime. Fast-ish food is never that going to be healthy in Hatfield.

I knocked this up pretty quickly (maybe 35 minutes) whilst watching the new David Attenborough series ‘Life Story’. You have to see it – it’s shot in 4K – gorgeous photography!

Anyway, this recipe is quite easy – finding dried mung beans is the hardest bit. I found mine in a turkish supermarket. I’ve since been assured that many indian shops stock them.

Cook some mung beans in water until they are done but still have some bite. While they are simmering away, cook some carrot batons in very little water with a little sugar and salt.

When both the mung beans and the carrots are nearly done, fry some fennel seeds, caraway seeds and cumin seeds in a little olive oil until they pop.

Drain the mung beans, add the popped seeds and toss together with some garlic, white wine vinegar and chilli flakes. Let is cool down.

Finally, add the carrots, chopped coriander, lemon zest and diced feta and gently toss together with a little more olive oil.

This really is a tasty dish and one I will be making often. It’s very filling, has many textures and is very colourful. Leaving it overnight to allow the garlic and vinegar to soak into the beans makes all the difference.

Ottolenghi strike again. I’m really looking forward to making ‘Red Onions with Walnut Salsa’ on Thursday when I cook again.

Tuesday’s is now ‘Free Sausage and Mash’ with a pint night in the ‘Horse and Groom’ in Old Hatfield. You really can’t turn that down ! We had it last week and the sausages were excellent – coming a close second to the amazing gravy that covered them !

Sort of Waldorf Salad

Sort of Waldorf SaladNeither of us really fancied dinner this evening; both having eaten out for lunch at work – but we always need lunch! So I knocked this up for tomorrow’s lunch.

A traditional waldorf has apples, celery and walnuts dressed in mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce.

This recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More swaps walnuts for hazelnuts and there is the addition of red cabbage, red onion and sour cherries (I used barberries which are pretty similar).

This is pretty easy – and pretty quick – I think it took a little more than 30 minutes – but only because you have to toast the hazelnuts gently for around that long alone.

Mind you while they are toasting you can easily do the rest.

Finely slice red cabbage, red onion, apples (granny smiths), celery and toss together with some dill and sour cream.

Then make some mayonnaise. I did mine in my new Nutribullet blender (this little beast will blitz anything to a perfect puree). The mayonnaise is made with a shallot, dijon mustard, cider vinegar and a mix of sunflower and rapeseed oil. And it was amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever buy mayonnaise again.

Mix the mayonnaise with the salad, scatter with your roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts and you’re done.

I think this salad is amazing and might be nice with something on the side – or even in a wrap with some Halloumi. I do love my salads though and I could eat tonnes of it on its own.

Brussel’s Sprout Risotto

Brussels Sprout Risotto

I’ve made this twice now. And I know I will just keep making it. It’s quick, easy, tasty and I always have the ingredients to hand. On top of that it makes lots so there are always leftovers for work the next day!

Tell someone you are making Brussels Sprout Risotto and they are sure to turn their nose up at you. Freya’s brother did. I could see his mind whirring at how he needed an excuse to leave so he could pop into McDonalds and get some real food! But trust me this is worth it.

The Brussels that Ottolenghi has in the pictures in Plenty More look stunning. Straight off the stalks with lots of purples and dark green colours running through them. I had to settle for the boring light green pretrimmed variety from the supermarket. I’ll try and hunt down the colourful ones nearer Christmas; I think the dish will look super special with more vibrant colours.

You make the risotto by frying some onions in butter and oil and then adding lemon, garlic and thyme. While that is caramelising, shred your Brussel Sprouts.

I must admit I made it wrong this time. You’re supposed to shred about half the sprouts and quarter the other half but I wasn’t paying too much attention and added all the sprouts and the rice to the onions at this stage.

The idea is you pan fry the quartered Brussel Sprouts in hot oil until they are golden and crispy and add them as a topping at the end. I’ll try and remember this for next time!

You now make the risotto as you would any other risotto; add wine and let it absorb and then gradually add stock while stirring often. When the stock is all used up the rice should be cooked but still have some bite.

Right at the end add Parmesan, Dolcelatte, tarragon and some grated lemon zest. if you followed the recipe properly, add the pan fried Brussels on top and serve.

It’s just as good with all the Brussels incorporated it just doesn’t look as striking – and it removed a crunchy texture that could have made the dish even more special.

This risotto is so creamy and is really tasty – especially with the additional lemon zest that I added.

There was so much of this left over that we had it for lunch the next day. I don’t think we were especially popular in the office later that day. Two Brussel’s Sprout meals in a row!

Globe Artichoke and Mozzarella with Candied Lemon

Globe Artichoke and Mozzarella with Candied Lemon

 

The UK weather has been so mild of late that is seems almost normal to put together a cold salad for dinner on 27th October 2014!  I was expecting to come home to a cold damp boat every evening and be heating the boat to keep warm but it just hasn’t been necessary.

After spending an eternity in the IKEA returns department and then another eternity spending the store credit we got home quite late and were both feeling pretty hungry. Fortunately this dish can easily be put together in less than 30 minutes.

After bashing together an immediate snack of toasted pumpkin seeds with tamari, I set to work making this awesome salad.

The salad is courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It does require really fresh ingredients though or it will just disappoint you.

Last week we bought some Dill and Mint from our local Morrisons and it was tasteless, chewy and limp and really let down all the dishes I made. Contrast to yesterday when I asked for mint from our local greengrocer and he went out the back and got me the freshest, most aromatic mint I’ve had for ages. It really is worth shopping around for your herbs!

Anyway – there are two ways of making this dish; the hard way or the easy way. The hard way relies on you being the master of artichoke preparation and having lots of time on your hands. The easy way uses them from a jar or frozen. We don’t have a freezer on the boat so I plumped for jars.

The only cooking involved here is candying some lemons. I really recommend you do this rather than copping out and just adding lemon rind, as the sauce and the sweetness from the lemons really sets this salad apart from the rest.

To candy lemons, remove the rind, cut into 1mm batons and cook down in lemon juice and caster sugar until the liquid reduces to about a third. Remove the lemon batons and allow to cool down. Keep the sauce for the dressing of the salad.

All that’s left is to cut some little gem lettuces, tear in some mint, parsley and basil and top with your quartered artichokes and torn mozzarella.

To serve, dress with some olive oil, your candied lemon and lemon syrup and some black pepper.

This salad is so fresh and tangy. The lemon hit might seem too much to start with but I found it really lifted the salad. The mozzarella, artichokes and lemon went really well together and it really was a meal in itself. Albeit a late one!

Fortunately for us we had loads left over so we have a very nice lunch to look forward to today!