Monthly Archives: February 2012

Griddle Pan

It’s a funny word griddle, I think it´s often mistaken for grilling, the dictionary definition is exact

griddle |ˈgridl|

noun

1 a heavy, flat iron plate that is heated and used for cooking food.

I use my griddle pan so much I don’t even bother putting it away any more.  It is a permanent fixture on the top of my cooker.  I will bear reference to the use of it a lot in the recipes that I will be posting, but essentially I use it for vegetables, meat and toast.

They come in all diferent shapes and sizes, square, rectangle and round.  If you are going to go out and buy one, I recommend the rectangle ones.

Griddled Aubergines with Yoghurt and Pomegranate

This is as good as any introduction to ‘griddling’.  Aubergines really drink oil but cooking them this way will mean you have better control over how much oil you use.  The pomegranates are a great finishing touch but don’t worry if you can’t find one in the supermarket, the dish holds up anyway without them.  This is a sharing dish that goes on the table.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 aubergines
1 small pot (125g) zero or low fat yoghurt
1 lemon
1 pomegranate
2 spring onions
2 green chillies
Maldon sea salt
Pepper
Sunflower oil (or any oil, sunflower is my preference for this recipe)

Method 

Cut the aubergine long ways into three or four thick slices depending on its size. You have to level off the rounded outer bits so it sits on the griddle pan.  Put the griddle pan on the flame and brush with the oil.  Lay the slices onto the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Cook each side until the skin is well marked and the aubergine is golden. Take off the heat and lay onto kitchen roll, repeat the process until all cooked.

Dab off any oil from the aubergine with the kitchen paper then lay onto a large plate.  Put the yoghurt into a bowl and mix a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cut the spring onions and the green chillies into rings, not too thick.  Empty the seeds out of the pomegranate (see chef´s tips).  Dress the plate when it is ready to go to the table by evenly drizzling the yoghurt over the aubergines, sprinkle over the spring onions and green chilli then finish with the pomegranate.  There are no problems prepare this dish in advance.

Raw Brownie

This is a real success story.  It´s  a  5/10 in terms of how easy it is to make with superb results.  The first time we made this recipe we  used all cocoa powder.  As we are always trying get more health into our healthy desserts we were trying carob, which hasn’t got great press, unfairly so.  This recipe uses  50g carob powder and 25g cocoa.

Nothing was lost in the taste but a little gained in the originality of using  a fairly unknown ingredient.  I would see no problem in replacing the cocoa for the carob gram for gram.  This is an effective and tasty snack to pack up if you are training to get through to the next part of the day or just in your lunch box as a healthy sweet thing.  Raw Brownie has unlimited shelf life within reason.

Ingredients

300g dried figs
250g peeled almonds or 150g almonds and 100g walnuts
65g hazelnuts
75g cocoa or carob powder
50g dessicated coconut
2 tsps vanilla essence
3 tbsps orange blossom water (if you cannot get this then use either rosewater or fresh orange juice)
50g dried cranberries

Method 

Soak the figs in water for an hour.  Thoroughly drain the water and blend until nice and smooth in a food processor.  Roughly chop the almonds (and walnuts if you are using them), and add to the processor.  Pulse the nuts with the figs.  It is okay if there are a few chunks in the mix.  Chop the hazelnuts and add to the mix along with the cocoa powder, coconut and vanilla essence.  Pulse a few times.  The mix should be starting to come together now.

Remove from the food processor with a silicone spatula and place into a bowl.  Chop the cranberries with a large knife and stir into the mix.

At this point we want to add the orange blossom water.  Do this one tablespoonful at a time, making sure the cranberries are evenly distributed.  Once all the water has been added the mix should be smooth and pliable.

Take a disposable aluminum tray or tupperware container approximately 30cm long and 18cm wide, if you don´t have exactly these measurements that is okay, it will just affect the thickness of the brownie.  The desired thickness is 1cm thick.

With a spatula, evenly press the brownie into the container.  Once this is done, lay greaseproof paper over the top.  Place a heavy weight over the top and leave for an hour.  This is to ensure the brownie is nice and compact.

Place in the fridge for one hour to set, before cutting into pieces.  It is upto you what size pieces to cut the brownie, but they do not need to be big.

Keep in a tupperware container in the fridge.

Soaked Oats

Come springtime hot porridge can be seem a bit like a winter chore.  For variety if nothing else you should try this recipe.  It is  lighter and has a different texture and taste to porridge.  It retains the same nutritional impact possibly gaining something from not cooking. In the photo I have combined the oats with the compote and toasted nuts. It will work with bananas or any fruit. Toasted nuts and seeds, always.

You can use any kind of oat for this recipe apart from  the fine oats such as Quaker which are a bit powdery. The consistency of the soaked oats is optimal with medium sized oats. The quantities given for this recipe is for 2 people for one breakfast. It doesn’t really keep that well so be exact with the measurements.

Ingredients 

75g oats per person
225ml apple juice
Yoghurt (Greek, soya or natural)

Method

Place the oats into a tupperware container or glass bowl with a lid or just wrap with cling film.  Cover with the apple juice.  The oats need to completely covered but not swimming in the juice.

Put into the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. Overnight works better  so you can have them for breakfast that day.

When you are ready to eat the oats put them into a colander and drain the apple juice off.  Put back into the bowl and stir in a tablespoon of yoghurt until nice and creamy.  If you don´t want to use yoghurt, you can use almond or hazelnut milk or a bit of both.  I recommend ‘zero’ greek yoghurt

To serve

Take two individual glasses and spoon in some of the fruit compote and then spoon in the soaked oats.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts and seeds.

Sprouted Sunflower Seed and Mushroom Pate

If you are trying not to snack on rubbish, this kind of thing will be just what you need in your fridge.  It will last three or four days in a plastic container and is perfect with crackers or crudites.  It would also work well in the context of a ‘mezze’ which I willl develop later in the blog. You can find almond paste in health food shops and is a nice alternative to tahini particularly in dips such as this one.  It is rich in protein and full of flavor.

Ingredients 

100g mushrooms
75g sprouted sunflower seeds (see tipsanything sprouted will do it)
40ml almond paste or tahini
Juice of half a lemon
20ml olive oil

Method 

Clean the mushrooms and peel them.  It is better not to wash mushrooms as they tend to go slimy which often puts a lot of people off.  Slice them and put all of the above ingredients into a blender and pulse until you have a  smooth consistency.

Place in a bowl to serve and drizzle over a little extra olive oil.

Buckwheat, Hazelnut and Raisin Pancakes

It has taken me a long time to  like buckwheat.  I have always used it in my cooking as it is a good, relatively easy to find,  gluten free product.  It wasn’t until I made these pancakes that I started to really appreciate the subtlety of this flour with its  unique earthiness.  It took me 20 minutes to make the stack in the photo.  This is great weekend treat that the whole house would enjoy.

Ingredients

100g buckwheat flour
1 large egg
125ml soya milk
125ml apple juice
50ml water
2 tablespoons (30ml) of Greek yoghurt
60g sultanas soaked in water for one hour
50g roasted hazelnuts
Zest of one lemon and one orange

Method 

The batter

Heat the oven to 200 degrees, and place the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and roast in the oven until nice and golden.  Leave to one side to cool.

In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg, soya milk, apple juice, yoghurt and buckwheat flour together.  Use the 5oml of the water to get a good dropping consistency with the batter.  That means so the batter is thick enough so it retains its shape in the pan when you drop it into the pan. If you think that the mix does not look wet enough you can add another 25ml of water being careful not to make the mix too wet.  Drain the water off the sultanas and add to the batter.  Roughly chop the hazelnuts,  zest  the orange and lemon (optional) and add to the batter.

The pancakes

Take a non-stick pan and a plastic or silicone egg slice.  Put the pan on a high flame.  Get the pan really hot then turn down to medium.  Add a little bit of olive oil and drop in about 50ml of the batter (small ladle),  it should set straight away.  Use your spatula stop the batter running by bringing it back into shape.

After  a couple of minutes add a touch more olive oil and flip. It should be a nice even brown colour. It will take a few attempts before you get the hang of it.

Black Olive Tapenade

Clearly the better the olive the nicer your tapenade will be.  Saying that though, even the cheap tinned olives come out nice when you give it the tapenade treatment. I use it as a spread for my crackers, or as a dip dressing with salads. It supports other flavors well given how strong the flavor  is. I see it often used as a sauce for fish or meat, especially on Mediterranean influenced menus.

Ingredients

250g pitted black olives
15g capers
Juice of half a large orange
30ml olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Method 

Place of all the above ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. You might need to add a splash of a little bit of water depending on the olive.  Should be a nice smooth consistency, great served with crackers or as part of a mezze.

Gluten Free Ginger Loaf

Today you can find many different options for gluten free baking.  Brown rice flour, cornflour, corn starch, polenta all with  varying degree of success.  Some of the gluten free flour mixes for baking work well but can leave  a chalky aftertaste in the mouth, I am guessing this comes from the cornstarch.  This recipe uses  almond powder resulting in a  lovely rich  texture which retains moisture over time.

Ingredients

250g ground almonds
2 tsps ground cinnamon
5 tsps ground ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground nutmeg
125g raisins
1/2 tsp salt
125ml of olive oil
3 eggs
125ml maple or agave syrup (or mix of both)

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.  Grease a 26cm loaf tin with olive oil, and lightly dust the sides with cornflour (I am using cornflour here to keep the cake completely gluten free.  If you don´t have this use any of the above flours, or just oil well.  The cake may stick a little if you don´t use any flour, just loosen from the sides before removing from the tin.

Mix together the almond powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and raisins.  In a seperate whisk together the oil, eggs and syrup.  Blend the two mixes together and evenly pour into the tin.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes.  The top may brown before the cake is completely cooked, this is not a problem, just cover the loaf tin with foil.  When tested to see if the cake is cooked, insert a wooden skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean it is ready.

Fillet of Mackerel with Dill, Lime and Chilli

This has got lunch on a sunny day all over it.  The contrast of textures and flavors is as good as it gets.  As a chef  I am  always looking for rock solid combinations.  Lime, dill and mackerel is one of those.  Aim for trimmed and pin boned fillets of mackerel from your fishmonger, explain that  you are following a recipe.  The very least you will get is the fish filleted.  The bones you will see, just try and pull them out with  tweezers or pliers don’t get bogged down by that, a few bones doesn’t matter.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 small or 1 large mackerel fillet per person
2 red chillies de-seeded
5g fresh dill
3 limes
75g spring onions (1 bunch)
Olive oil
100g sweet potato per person ( a medium potato)
100g courgette per person  ( a large one)
100g rocket salad leaves

Method 

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice lengthways 1cm thick .  Get your cast iron griddle pan (see chef’s tips) nice and hot and then turn down to medium. Toss the potato with the olive oil, and cook until the marks are prominent and the sweet potatoes are soft.  About four minutes each side.  Don’t let them get too black.  The potatoes will be reheated in the oven so you can do these in advance.

Slice  the courgettes 1.5cm thick (thicker than the potato) lengthways, and cook the same as the sweet potato.  Courgettes have a much faster cooking time, one and a half minutes each side should be be enough, use your own judgement as well.  These will also go under the grill to reheat so be careful not to overcook.  Lay the potatoes and courgettes onto a baking tray lined with paper or foil and put to one side ready to reheat under the grill. Drizzle a little honey over the sweet potatoes, squeeze some lemon over the courgette and season both with sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the chillies nice and small leaving the seeds in if you like it hot.  Slice the spring onions into rings, and roughly chop the dill.  Put 20ml of olive oil into a shallow pan and soften the chilli and the onion.  Add  the juice of two limes  two generous pinches of sea salt and half the dill.  Remove the pan from the heat once softened and put to one side.

Brush the mackerel fillets with  oil and season well.  Cook them skin-side up under a hot grill until the skin is crispy.  It shouldn’t be necessary to turn them as they are quite small and thin, they would normally cook through, though turn them if you think it is necessary.   As soon as the fish is cooked take it out and put the courgettes and potatoes under the hot grill to warm through.

Lay your plates out and put a few leaves of rocket in the centre.  Take out the tray from the grill and lay a slice of sweet potato, a slice of courgette a bit more rocket and the fillets of mackerel.  Divide and spoon over the dressing and repeat between the two plates.

Finish with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a wedge of lime.


Tamari Seeds

I can’t get enough of these. Always make more than you need as they are hard to stop eating. They keep well in a tupperware making a great addition to green salads and vegetables. When you make them the smell should remind you of twiglets.

Ingredients

75g sunflower seeds
10ml tamari

Method 

Heat a large frying pan and add the seeds.  Dry roast them until they are nice golden colour, remove from the heat and splash over the tamari.  You will need to keep the seeds moving (use a silicone spatula for example).

Once the seeds are evenly coated, put onto a plate and leave to cool.