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Rob’s Recipe of the Week: Panzanella riffed

September 10, 2020 by General Administrator

One of the benefits of so many of us working from home is that there’s more time to make a fancy lunch. This week I’ve enjoyed riffing on Panzanella themed recipes – you can adapt the one below to suit what you have in the fridge and the time you’ve got to make it.

Panzanella

Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
Splash red wine vinegar
day old bread, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tsp salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
1 cucumber sliced 1cm thick
1 or 2 peppers cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
20ish large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp capers, drained

Method:
Heat the bread either by pan frying in oil if you have time, or 30s in the microwave if not. Then mix thoroughly with all the other ingredients in a large bowl, season and serve.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Lebanese Tabouli

July 30, 2020 by General Administrator

When I was growing up, tabouli formed part of my father’s very limited cooking repertoire, alongside steak tartare and chicken marsala. The recipe he used called it ‘non-lettuce salad’, and that’s a good description of this blend of parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers and a little bulgar wheat. I dedicate this recipe to him!

The secret to this tabouli is the Lebanese 7-spice blend. For an absolute feast, serve it with Lebanese 7-spice chicken. It’s pretty good on its own, too.

Lebanese Tabouli
Serves 4

Photo from https://www.feastingathome.com/lemony-tabouli-aka-tabbouleh/

Ingredients
7 Spice Blend Ingredients

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Tabouli ingredients
250ml dry medium grain bulgar wheat
4 spring onions
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 cup mint leaves
1 small bunch dill
3 medium tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 tablespoon lemon zest
70ml lemon juice, or to taste
125ml cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon 7-Spice mix

Preparation
First prepare the 7-spice blend. This will make more than you need for the tabouli, but that shouldn’t be a problem since it’s so delicious. You can add it to lots of other things, including this splendid Lebanese 7-spice chicken. To make the blend combine all the ingredients together. If you want really to go to town with it, you can roast whole coriander and cumin seeds and then grind them, before combining with the other ingredients. This gives an added warm depth to the spice blend.

To make the salad, first prepare the bulgar wheat. Put it in a small bowl and pour 250ml boiling water over it. Cover with a plate, and set aside for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. This allows the grains to soften.

Slice the spring onion and place in a large serving bowl.

Chop the parsley as fine as you can. It’s ok to include the thinner stems. Add to the bowl. Chop the mint and dill and add them as well.

Dice the tomatoes and cucumbers into small cubes and add them to the bowl, along with all their juices.

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and 1 teaspoon of the 7-spice mix. Give it all a good stir.

By now 30 minutes have probably passed, so the bulgar wheat should be al dente. Once it is, add it to the salad as well and mix again.

If you have time, let the salad sit for a few hours to allow the flavours to meld. The parsley will soften and the bulgar will soak up the flavourful juices. It will in any event be very good the next day if there is any left over.
Before serving, give a stir and taste for salt, lemon and 7-spice. Adjust to your liking. Slyvie Fountaine, whose recipe this is, says ‘You want just the faintest whiff of the spices, like a whisper’.

Recipe adapted from Sylvia Fountaine, ‘Feasting at Home’. https://www.feastingathome.com/lemony-tabouli-aka-tabbouleh/

Rob’s Recipe of the Week: Swedish Summer Sandwich

July 10, 2020 by General Administrator

This week’s recipe is a little niche if you stick to the vegan recipe, especially now that IKEA has closed in Coventry, but it can be adapted with other seafood flavours (the most obvious being actual seafood e.g. prawns). At worst, at least I’m giving you a quick and easy vegan mayo recipe… It’s another that I picked up in Sweden and is an adaptation of the dish “Skagen” which is a sort of seafood toast topper/sandwich filler (£6 for a baguette in the Volvo canteen ouch!). For a while it was my absolute favourite breakfast when combined with cucumber, salad and tomatoes all of which will be abundant in the shares over summer.

Vegan Skagen

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Seaweed pearls (AKA veggie caviar, available at IKEA)
  • Bunch of dill
  • 1 pack of tofu, drained and squeezed as much as possible whilst maintaining solid chunks

Mayo:

  • 100ml Soya milk (must be soya – I’ve tried with others but they refused to emulsify with the oil)
  • 1 tbsn lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 200 ml oil (preferably rapeseed, other veggie oils work but again can have trouble emulsifying)

To serve:

  • Toast
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Wedge of lemon (optional)

Method:
For the mayo, combine milk, lemon juice and mustard in a blender (handheld will do) before SLOWLY adding oil as a thin stream whilst blending on a fairly high speed. As you get to the end of the oil the mixture should thicken up to a mayonnaise texture.

Then combine all ingredients in some Tupperware and serve with toast, sliced cucumber/tomato and lettuce. A lemon wedge is a nice addition if you have it.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Smashed Cucumber Salad

July 3, 2020 by General Administrator

This is an ideal recipe when you have 4 or 5 cucumbers looking at you from the bottom of your veg drawer. Smashing the cucumbers, which is apparently a classic Chinese recipe technique, changes the texture by making them more absorbent so they really soak up the dressing. It’s refreshing, easy, and makes an excellent accompaniment to an Asian-style noodle dish, such as this one for sesame noodles with smashed courgettes by Meera Sodha. (By the way, I served the noodle dish warm, which worked just fine.)

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers with Sesame Oil and Garlic
Serves 4 as a side dish

Photo from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017629-chinese-smashed-cucumbers-with-sesame-oil-and-garlic

Ingredients
4 cucumbers
Salt
Sugar
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soya sauce
2 garlic cloves, grated
½ -1 Canalside chile, minced (to taste)
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped, for garnish
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Preparation
Top and tail the cucumbers, and cut lengthwise into 4 long strips. Cut each strip into bite-sized pieces.
Using a rolling pin or (this is the less messy option) the side of a large knife, crush the cucumber pieces so that the skin begins to crack and the insides break down, releasing some of the seeds.
Place the crushed cucumber pieces in a colander and toss with a big pinch of salt and another of sugar. Fill a plastic bag with ice and place this on top of the cucumbers pieces, to weigh them down and at the same time chill them a bit. Leave for anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: mix 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and the rice vinegar. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved and then add the sesame oil and soya sauce.
When you are ready to serve, shake the cucumbers to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a beautiful flat plate. Toss with about half the dressing, and then add the garlic and as much chile as you like. Toss again, and then add more dressing to taste, until you’re pleased with the ensemble. Serve, garnished with fresh coriander and toasted sesame seeds.

Recipe adapted from New York Times Recipes.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: A Fish Dinner

September 14, 2018 by General Administrator

Grilled mackerel with cucumber-fennel relish, boiled potatoes, and, perhaps some steamed fresh spinach: between two people you can have this on the table in 25 minutes from turning on the grill. It makes a lovely Saturday night supper. Grill the fish whole for 8-12 minutes per side.

The relish or salsa has a crisp, assertive sharpness that contrasts well with the rich oiliness of the mackerel. It would be good with grilled trout, as well. The recipe makes enough for four generous servings. The key is to cut the vegetable into very small pieces; it’s this that gives its charm. ‘Dicing’ is cutting into cubes—but you can also simply chop the cucumber and fennel very fine, if producing tiny cubes seems too fiddly.

Cucumber-Fennel Relish

Ingredients
1 cucumber, cut into 3mm dice
1 small fennel bulb, cut into 3mm dice
¾ cup chopped fresh dill
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon Demerara sugar
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Preparation
Combine all the ingredients and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, sugar or vinegar/lemon juice if you wish—this should be quite sharp.

Pip’s Recipe of the Week: Hot weather? How about a cold soup?

August 2, 2018 by General Administrator

Our resident Recipe Meister, Rebecca Earle, is having a break during July, and so newly joined member Pip Smith has stepped forward to tantalise our tastebuds in Rebecca’s absence. Thanks Pip for standing in. Here’s this week’s recipe, the final one from Pip in this guest slot – Rebecca will be back next time:

This is an adapted recipe from a soup in Anna Jones ‘a modern way to cook’ – it’s adapted only because I don’t have the recipe book anymore, otherwise I would have followed it! With all this hot weather there’s probably nothing more important than keeping well hydrated. We take in a lot of our daily water from our food, in particular from fruits and vegetables. When I looked at the cucumbers in my fridge I immediately fancied a cool and hydrating soup, here’s the recipe I used.

Avocado and cucumber soup

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cucumbers chopped
The flesh of 1 avocado
The juice of 1 lemon
1 handful of basil
2 spring onions
2 handfuls of toasted seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Pop the cucumber, avocado, basil, spring onion and lemon juice into a blender or use a stick blender and deep bowl.

Season with salt and pepper.

Dish into bowls, sprinkle with toasted seeds and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Optional – you might like to chill before serving. I mean the soup.

 

Rebecca’s recipe of the week: Griddled Cucumbers

August 24, 2017 by General Administrator

This makes a great lunch. It’s quick, crunchy and surprising. Cooking a cucumber intensifies the flavour and gives it a crisp edge. The richness of the haloumi contrasts with the sweet bite of the tomatoes and the sharp, herby dressing pulls it all together. Eat with some crusty bread.

When I made this I used some of the wild marjoram that grows all over Dorset, but I think it would work well with other herbs, or a mixture of whatever you have to hand.

Griddled Cucumber with Haloumi
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cucumbers
8-10 cherry tomatoes
half a packet of haloumi, sliced into tranches

for the dressing
handful of fresh marjoram, or oregano, or coriander, or parsley or a mixture of different herbs
100ml olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin—for optimal flavour, toast some whole cumin seeds in a dry pan, let them cool, and then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet, as you prefer)—or less, to taste
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Slice the cucumbers lengthwise into 1cm thick planks.

Heat a frying pan. A grill pan with ridges will leave attractive grill-lines on the cucumbers, if you have such a thing. Brush it lightly with oil and place some of the cucumbers in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, by which time the undersides should be attractively seared and the flesh should look a bit yellower. Turn them over and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until both sides are charred (but not burnt). Place them on an attractive serving platter. Griddle the remaining cucumbers in the same way.

Prepare the dressing while the cucumbers are cooking: whizz the fresh herbs together with the olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings to make a very thick dressing. Taste it to see if it needs more lemon juice. If it’s extremely thick you can thin it out with a bit more oil.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Once the cucumbers are grilled, scatter the tomatoes over them.

When the cucumbers are done use the grill pan to griddle the haloumi. It should take about 3 minutes per side to develop a nice golden crust. Tuck the slices of haloumi amidst the cucumbers and tomatoes. Dot the dressing over the top and serve with crusty bread.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Smashed Cucumbers

July 21, 2017 by General Administrator

This delightful recipe is apparently from Turkey. The original version calls for mulberries. If you have access to a mulberry tree do substitute the lovely, seedy berries for the blackberries.
Smashing the cucumber (instead of slicing it) gives it a rough, shaggy surface that happily absorbs flavours.

Smashed Cucumber, Blackberry and Pistachio Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients
1/2 cup pistachios
3 Canalside cucumbers, peeled or not, as you prefer.
1 teaspoon salt, to salt the cucumber
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt
about 20 mint leaves
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
additional salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
8-12 Canalside blackberries from the pick-your-own orchard

Preparation
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the pistachios (don’t add any oil) and toast them gently until they are golden. Keep an eye on them so that they do not burn. Once they’re toasted remove them from the pan and leave them to cool a bit.

Put the cucumbers on a board and, using a rolling pin or any other such implement, smash them into large chunks. Alternatively, you can crush them by using the side of a large kitchen knife.

Toss the cucumber chunks with the teaspoon of salt and put them in a colander to allow some of the water to drain out. Leave them for at least 10 minutes, and longer—up to an hour—if you have time. Then rinse the cucumber chunks to remove the excess salt.

Place the rinsed pieces of cucumber in a bowl and toss them with the pistachios, yoghurt, mint and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture onto a serving platter and drizzle with the pomegranate molasses. Top with the blackberries and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Silvana Rowe, Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean.)

Rebecca’s recipe of the week: A Summertime Noodle Dish

July 14, 2017 by General Administrator

Cold Chinese noodles with a spicy sesame sauce make an excellent lunch, plus they’re very easy to prepare.

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients
250g soba noodles (you can also use Chinese egg noodles or linguine)
2 Canalside cucumbers
50-100g spring onions, white and some green bits thinly sliced
50-100g peanuts, toasted in a dry pan and chopped
The sesame sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup tahini (or natural crunchy peanut butter—in which case you’ll be making noodles in a peanut sauce)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, to taste

Preparation
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Soba noodles should take about 5 minutes. When the noodles are al dente drain them and run them under cold water for several minutes to cool them off and prevent their sticking to themselves. Let them drain, and cool, for a few minutes.

Cut the cucumbers into little matchsticks. I do this by slicing the cucumber in half, and then cutting each half into lengthwise slabs (like lasagne noodles). Stack these slabs into a pile and cut them into little matchsticks. The goal is to have little sticks of cucumber roughly the size of the noodles, only shorter. If you find this too fiddly you can simply grate the cucumber coarsely. In either case, put the cucumber into a bowl.

Add the sliced spring onions and peanuts. Toss together and then add the cooked and drained noodles. Toss everything together.

Prepare the sesame sauce: mix all the sauce ingredients together. The tahini (if you’re using it) will resist mixing so you’ll need to stir it all together with determination. Once it’s all mixed add it to the noodle bowl and toss.

Serve and enjoy.

Mark Bittman notes that you can add cooked chicken, pork, beef, or seafood to the finished dish. You can also fry up litle tofu cubes and add those, as well, if you’re so inclined.

(Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes in the World (2005).)

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