Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Braised Fennel With White Wine & Pinenuts

I am relishing having all my cook books back. We kept them all in storage whilst we were in Singapore but now that I have got them all in the kitchen I am loving flicking through them and rediscovering old favourites. Even though I use the blogosphere and internet resources as inspiration for new recipes there is something reassuring about a good solid hardback cookbook to flick through. 

This recipe is one of those I have rediscovered since coming back to the UK. While I enjoy the fresh zingy taste of raw fennel this recipe is the one that made me fall in love with fennel. The flavour of the fennel  is mellow and sweet and the fennel bulb absorbs the wine to create a delicate & soft texture. I like to eat this as a vegetarian dish over brown rice but it also makes a great side dish with  roast chicken, lamb or pork or with fish. The original recipe I used from the Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook added a 1/4 cup of Parmesan at the end and butter instead of olive oil but I have made this dish dairy free and vegan and added pinenuts instead and it still tastes yummy. Feel free to substitute the cheese and butter back in if you prefer. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soft Tacos

I always like to keep a few cans of beans in the cupboard as they have to be one of the best things to have a round for last minute unplanned suppers. This is one such dish that I threw together with the few ingredients that I had to hand. It is great with a salad and it went well with my parsnip and apple slaw that I have also published today. To get the smoky taste I thought I would use some Spanish spicy smoked paprika but I am guessing that chipotle chilli would work just as well but is not easy to get hold of in the UK.

Parsnip and Apple Slaw

I can honestly say that I didn't think that I liked coleslaw until my mum made homemade coleslaw when we first bought a food processor. Homemade coleslaw really tastes so much better than the insipid and soggy vegetables swamped in mayo that you often get in stores. If you have a food processor it really is so easy and quick to make coleslaw and you can vary the flavor any way you like really. Some of my favorite versions include thinnly sliced kohl rabi instead of cabbage, using lots of carrots and adding a good dash of curry powder in the mayo or how about chopped jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro and a squeeze lime for a spicy version. I often make a big batch to take to a bbq or picnic and I have never had to take any home with me afterwards. You can use a vegan mayo for this recipe if you require it to be dairy or egg free and as not much mayo is needed for this recipe it makes little different to the texture or flavor of this coleslaw.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pinenut and Almond Cookies

These little cookies are sweet morsels with a crusty outside and soft and moist centre. This recipe is kind of a mix between an Italian style pinenut macaroon and Claudia Roden's Maronchinos from her 'The Book of Jewish Food '. I liked the sound of both recipes so combined the elements of each that I liked, the texture of the maronchinos and pinenut topping of the macaroon. They turned out yummy and would be great to serve with coffee. They are quite sweet and rich so you only need one or two to be satisfied which is why this recipe only makes around 15. They are best served the day they are made as they can lose their crunch after a day or two.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cauliflower, Almond & Saffron Soup

I have had a cauliflower sitting in the fridge for over week now and I have been at a loss as to what to do with it until today when I needed a warming lunch. I added some ground almonds as I was worried that the soup might be a little thin and unsatisfying without any dairy or potatoes. The nuts add a nice richness and make this a really filling soup. I thought of adding some safffron after reading an interesting recipe for a cauliflower and saffron pasta sauce from Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook, (a book which I really love and which has some great recipes in by the way). So next time you are wanting something different to do with cauliflower try this rich and velvety soup. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dairy Free Sweet Potato Topped Fish Pie

Ok so this is my first purely non vegetarian recipe where I am not providing a meatless version. However, I promise that the next recipe that I do will be vegan just to make up for this one. Non meat eaters should look away now!

I made this fish pie for J as he used to love a classic fish pie when he could eat dairy but a rich white sauce with a cheesy potato topping really isn't going to cut it in these dairy free days. So I made this fish pie with a veggie packed wine and herb sauce and topped it with sweet potato instead which really isn't too bad and J never feels like he is missing out. Well it isn't as rich as a classic fish pie but is a little bit healthier and lighter. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spiced Elderberry Cordial

The season seems to be turning now with the occasional nip in the air and the trees and hedgerows are laden with autumn fruit. This drink is most definitely an autumn delight which is packed with vitamin C to help fight off the colds that are so often rife as this time of year.

This recipe is based on one I found in this months Country File magazine with some extra spices and less sugar added than the original. Don't be surprised if it smells like Christmas in your house after making this. It is very easy to make and you can also pick a double batch and freeze half the elderberries to make a second batch later in the year, just remember to leave plenty of fruit on the trees for all the local birds and animals. I foraged for these elderberries from some local hedgerows. In the UK elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are common all over on scrubby areas and in hedges. If you cannot get elderberries you could always try this recipe with blackcurrants or blackberries instead.