Category Archives: Lunch

Pearl Barley and Puy Lentil Salad

I have recently started working at the gorgeous Anderson & Co in Peckham from Wednesday to Friday cooking breakfasts and lunches. The cafe opened nearly 2 years ago and have graced our local high street with excellent coffee and homemade food and cakes. The best thing about having a new job is all the new people to cook for. I have had a lovely freedom to experiment since starting and I hope to share a few of the recipes we have been serving up to our lovely customers.

This one had been brewing in my mind for a while as I absolutely adore pearl barley and its nubby, nutty little bite. I wanted to create a salad that was a substantial meal and contained enough variety in each bite to keep you interested. I find that a salad is often so samey, every bite the same combination. A great salad, awakens your tastebuds with texture, variety and flavour.

There are several elements to this salad to give it it’s zingy fresh mix of pimento, sweet squash and fresh mint but one of the main flavours comes from the marinaded peppers. These are equally good just on their own and keep excellently in the fridge. Make a big batch and serve them on pizza or as antipasti. Make these first, and roast the butternut squash for the salad at the same time.

Marinaded Peppers

6 Red cap peppers

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1/3 tsp paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

Brush a baking sheet with a little oil and turn the oven on high (Gas 6, 200 degrees)

While the oven is pre-heating, cut your peppers in half and remove the stalk and seeds.

Place the peppers face down, skin side up on the baking tray.

Put them in the hot oven until the skins are starting to blacken and the flesh shrink. About 30-40 minutes.

When they are ready take them out of the oven and move them from the baking tray to either a plastic bag or a bowl that you can cover with clingfilm. This makes the peppers sweat and after 15 minutes they will be cool enough to handle and the skins will peel off easily. Retain all the liquid they will have seeped out.

Once they are all peeled put the peppers and their lovely juices in a jar or bowl and add the vinegar, paprika and olive oil and mix.

 

Now your peppers are made we can get on with the salad…

Pearl Barley and Puy Lentil Salad

250g pearl barley

150g puy lentils

1/2 a butternut squash, cut into cubes about 2cm

A small handful of marinaded peppers torn into strips (and a few tablespoons of their juices if you can spare them)

1 large red onion, sliced into very thin rounds or strips

4 chorizo sausages

a large handful of parsley, chopped

a large handful of mint, chopped

A few spoons of yoghurt to serve, with extra mint stirred through if you fancy

 

First roast your butternut squash on a big tray with a slosh of olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 40 minutes at gas 6 or 200degrees

Cook the pearl barley and puy lentils in separate pans of deep salted water for the required amount of time (barley about 30-40 mins, lentils a little less). Both behave very well and need no pre-soaking or faffing.

Fry your chorizo in a pan until it’s sticky on the outside and has released it’s fiery red oil. Slice the chorizo into bite sized pieces.

When the lentils and barley are cooked, drain and while still warm, toss with the thinly sliced onions and a couple of tablespoons of the chorizo oil. When it has cooled add the butternut, chorizo, peppers and herbs and serve either slightly warm or at room temperature. It goes beautifully with a simple green salad on the side and a dollop of mint spiked yoghurt on top.

 

 

 

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Filed under Lunch, Meat, Pulses, Quick, Recipes, Starter, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

A Sourdough Day

For most people Sunday is used as a day of rest and relaxation; put your feet up and have a cup of tea and a biscuit. For me, I want to be brewing the pot and making the biscuits. Last Sunday was no different, I invited a friend over for a day of sourdough experimentation! I’d spent the week nurturing what became affectionately known as my ‘alien baby’ otherwise known as a sourdough starter.  Here it is in all it’s bubbly fermented glory!

To start this off, I used a San Fransico sourdough culture bought for me by the same dear friend who came over to help. This was to be mixed with strong bread flour and water and then fed every day for a week. Some of the instructions were baffling “Leave your starter in a warm place between 80 and 90 degrees” even in fahrenheit this is outrageously warm for a February (or even mid summer!) in London. I put it by the boiler and hoped for the best. I nurtured this creature for a week, feeding it every day with flour and warmed water, stirring it, sniffing it, until it reached this very alive and yeasty stage.

The next part of my story is less successful. I’m sharing it with you because the starter gave rise (no pun intended) to a really excellent day of eating, cooking and catching up with a great friend and because the starter was such a bubbly success I just had to show you… the bread, alas, was not so successful hence why no recipe is included. I’ll wait until it’s fool proof.

We discovered early on that not only does the starter take an awfully long time to prepare, so too does the bread itself. Most recipes I found started at 8.30 in the morning and then had half an hour timed instructions through to 6pm! We thought the hard part was over with the starter, no such luck. Eventually we found a recipe that was more to our liking, mainly because it appeared not to take as long as some of the others. It did however, seem a bit untrustworthy, the fellow who wrote it was a shifty looking character and the instructions were a little hazy which is not a good sign in a bread recipe. Despite this we ploughed ahead and created a lovely sticky dough

We then had to knead it for 15 seconds, then rest for 30 minutes. Yes that’s right, 15 seconds – 30 minutes. You repeat this step over many hours increasing the resting time each time. At one point you swap from the mini kneads to a stretching and folding routine. Our dough was really rather nice, soft, floppy, warm and glutinous maximus! When tipping it out of the bowl, it hung on for ages, stretching it’s gluten enriched strands down towards the table in a most satisfyingly alien manner. Unfortunately I didn’t get a great picture of this because by that time, it was getting dark.

To relieve ourselves of the monotony, we decided to throw together some lunch. I, of course, had originally thought we could have warm bread and cheese, but new plans had to be made. It was a typical Sunday in our fridge, the ends of the week’s shopping and vegetable box hung around waiting for inspiration. There would be a number of things that were off limits as they had been reserved for supper and on this particular Sunday this left very little to play with. With the familar cry of “pasta?” in the air, we foraged until my friend in a flash of inspiration said: “Pasta Con Le Sarde?” After living in Venice for many years, she is very good and seeking out what I cannot when looking at an empty fridge. OBVIOUSLY I did not have any fresh sardines just lying around, but we had most of the rest of the ingredients and to be honest, it was delicious. I can’t wait to try it with the sardines!

 

Pasta Senza Sarde (Pasta Without Sardines)

200g mini orzo pasta

5 anchovies

2 cloves of garlic finely sliced

2 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped

30g raisins

Parsley, roughly chopped

Parmesan to serve

 

Cook your pasta according to instructions…meanwhile…

Warm a good slug of olive oil in a pan and add the anchovies to melt, slowly on a low heat.

When they have broken down and are smelling lovely add your garlic, raisins and tomatoes and cook slowly until the tomatoes are beginning to break down and the raisins have puffed up a bit

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, loosen it with olive oil, and stir it through the fishy tomatoes, add the parsley at the last moment and serve with Parmesan. Eat with a spoon!

A proper recipe for this, with the correct additions of white wine, fennel and saffron (and of course sardines) can be found here. I’m certainly going to try it.

After lunch we braved the bread again, this time stretching then folding the dough into thirds and then leaving it to rest, again and again…..

It was a very lovely dough. It certainly felt as though it was going the right way… But then, who knew? We were just persevering with the ever complicated recipe and hoping we were on the right track.

The bread making left quite a lot of room to do other things so I decided we needed something sweet. Tea time was fast approaching and the bread was far from ready. Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies were the decided treat and I set about it.

The recipe I used is one from the lovely food blog Smitten Kitchen

These aren’t really a chewy cookie, they are more of a soft tea time mini bun. Tom is insistent that they are rock buns. I will continue to call them cookies because that’s what they appear to be. In reality, he is probably right.

The reason I like this recipe is that it is ridiculously quick. Butter, sugar and an egg are combined in the whizzer, then flour cinnamon and salt are added,  oats and raisins are mixed in at the end and then you simply put dollops of the dough on a tray, chill for 10 minutes then cook for 10 minutes. Excellent and all ready in half an hour.

I like to make mine really small, about a teaspoon of dough per cookie. It is a very good idea to chill them for 10 minutes in the fridge first as they probably have a tendency to spread like mad if you don’t.

I haven’t reproduced the recipe here as it is in full and good order at Smitten Kitchen. If you don’t have American weighing cups, I recommend you get some. They make this sort of cooking so much easier and are very satisfying. Translating recipes from cups is pretty difficult as you can imagine: think of a cup of flour, a cup of dark brown sugar and a cup of walnuts, these are not going to all weigh the same.  Next time I make these, I will weigh each thing and write it down and share it if you really want. But until then, buy some cups.

So after our tea time treat we went back to the bread… Evening was fast approaching and my dear friend was getting tired, she left me with the dough and went home for some well earned rest. I soldiered on with the dough, stretching, folding and resting (I was resting too, 30 minutes of series 1 of ER then back to the kitchen)

As it was now dark I thought I’d better start on dinner so with the remaining bits and bobs in the fridge I whipped up a potato curry. And jolly nice it was too. It was influenced by an Ottolenghi dish and some general online curry recipes.

Potato Curry

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
6 cardamom pods
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon

700g potatoes, peeled and quartered
200g carrots, peeled and quartered
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs black mustard seeds
1 onion, sliced thin
5cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
1 green chilli, seeds removed, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 or 6 curry leaves
1 tin of good chopped tomatoes
125ml coconut milk

 

Toast the coriander and cumin in a pan until they start popping

Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind them up with the cardamom until they smell wonderful. You can throw away the cardamom skins when the seeds are released

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, fry until soft then add all the spices, ginger and mustard seeds and stir to gently cook them. Now add the chilli, curry leaves, garlic, carrots and  potatoes and mix the while lot together until the potatoes are turning yellow with the turmeric.

When everything is smelling wonderful, add the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk and leave it to putter away on a low heat with the lid on for a good hour.

Check on it after this to make sure the potatoes are cooked, then when you are ready to eat, re-heat with the lid off for another 30 minutes.

You could do all this in the oven too if you were so inclined.

I desperately wanted to make Naan bread to go with this but we didn’t have any yoghurt and I still needed to focus on the sourdough, which was gently mocking me from a corner of the room.

Finally it was time to shape the dough. Last year I went on a bread baking course at the wonderful Lighthouse Bakery School. It was such a fantastic day, I highly recommend it. In fact my bread lesson companion was the same as my sourdough buddy, but unfortunately she had long since gone home and so the shaping lesson we had listened so intently to at the Lighthouse was left to me alone to re-create. One thing that really stuck from that day was the lesson not to knead your dough with flour. Instead we were taught to wipe a light layer of olive oil onto the surface, this keeps the dough from sticking and doesn’t add a new component to the dough. Kneading with flour means you ruin the delicate balance of ingredients.

Another important lesson was how to shape the dough using it’s own elasticity, stretching the dough so it forms a ‘skin’ on the top.

You do this by pushing the dough away from you and then folding it back on itself. You do this around 6 times turning after each fold so you have created a taught top (which will be facing down). It still looked like an alien.

To be honest, I knew this was where things would start to go downhill. The recipe I followed only called for one shaping of the dough. A sourdough has an extremely high water content and it spreads if you leave it for even a minute. I think this dough needed 2 shapings.
This is a pretty interesting video. I like how she calls a Boule a Boo-lee!
But it gives you an idea of how crazy this dough is. It runs away from you!

So to cut a very long story a little shorter, I shaped my dough, slashed it and left it to rise one more time and then I put it in the oven for the suggested 40-50 minutes…

 

And I burnt it.

 

That’s right. After a whole day of labor, I burnt the bugger.

And the slashes sealed up on the top leaving me with a huge round black bomb! OK it wasn’t too bad, the top was VERY crispy but it wasn’t totally ruined. The lovely open texture I was hoping for after all that work, was only evident in the top third of the loaf (due to the slashes disappearing I think). Something went very wrong, I am yet to discover what. I think what is needed is a whole lot more experimentation, but really… who has the time?!

Luckily by this point Tom had come home and had brought some raita with him to eat with our potato curry. We sat down and ate while I mourned the death of a loaf… But we still had warm slices of it for pudding with butter and plum jam… And really, who cares if you make a big baking mistake, it’s all learning and you never know, I might get it right one day and until then, we’ll eat it warm with butter and jam and pretend that’s how it’s supposed to be.

 

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Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Bread, Curry, Lunch, Pasta, Quick, Recipes, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

Chicory, Apple and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

We invited some dear friends over for Chinese new year so to make sure we had  room for the evening’s 3 courses we had salad for lunch. We are currently experimenting with an organic vegetable and fruit delivery service so when we opened it up and found 3 gorgeous heads of chicory and some red apples I jumped at the chance to crunch my way through a tasty winter salad.

 

Chicory salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter or side

3-4 heads of chicory (depending on size, ours were quite little)

1 red skinned apple

3 tbsp walnuts, pine nuts or mixed seeds (walnuts would be best but I didn’t have any so substituted with seeds and pine nuts)

2-4 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta

Dressing

50g blue cheese (I used some stilton left over from making a broccoli and stilton soup, but gorgonzola would be gorgeous)

2 tsp yoghurt

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard

salt and pepper

 

First make the dressing, chicory and apples discolour very quickly so you want to be able to chuck it all together at the last minute.

In a whizzer or just in a bowl break the cheese up into small pieces with your hands, now add the rest of the dressing ingredients and pulse or mash with a fork until combined but still has a nice texture

Fry your bacon on the hob without any oil until it is very crisp, then cut into small pieces.

At the same time toast your nuts/seeds either in the oven or on the hob stirring all the time to avoid burning for about 2 minutes

Now cut the end off the chicory and gently separate all the leaves

Cut the apple into quarters, slice out the core and slice very thinly

Toss leaves and apple slices together, sprinkle with seeds/nuts and bacon and dollop (it doesn’t pour!) the dressing over the top

 

 

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Filed under Cheese, Fruit, Lunch, Quick, Recipes, Starter, vegetables

Feta, Leek and Spinach on Toast

A quick lunch was required and I was at a loss until I saw the feta in the fridge and decided that it had the type of consistency that would be excellent whipped up into a frenzy with some lightly sauteed veggies and then spread thickly on toast.

Leeks go very well with feta cheese and the addition of spinach was more necessity to use it up and a craving for colour than anything else, but it’s silky texture really added to the finished experiment. This was a brilliantly simple Saturday lunch to whip up when a friend was over. It would be lovely with a crisp glass of white wine.

A variation I have thought of since would be to bake it…. If you fancy trying this just pop the whole lot in the oven for 10 minutes with a little more oil and maybe some fresh tomatoes until the feta gets really spreadable…and let me know how it turns out!

Feta, Leek and Spinach on Toast

1 block of feta

1 leek, sliced

olive oil

20g spinach

Parsley

1/2 lemon

pepper

Slice your leeks into rounds and sautee in a teaspoon of olive oil until soft, then remove them.

Wash the spinach and add to the pan until it has wilted, then squeeze out excess moisture and slice

Chop your feta into very small pieces and put it in a bowl with the parsley, lemon juice and a glug of oil

Beat until it is leaning towards smooth

Now stir in your leeks and spinach and season with plenty of pepper and some more olive oil.

Serve on top of hot toast

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Filed under Cheese, Lunch, Recipes, vegetables, Vegetarian

Potato and Celeriac Soup

I know, I know, MORE soup but I just can’t help myself. And this week I have a cold so need some simple soothing comfort food.

This is a version of traditional potato soup recipe except I wanted to use celeriac too and I decided cream was too rich so used milk instead . The result is creamy, smooth and so tasty I kept on getting out of my sick bed to have another spoonful.

I made enough for a lot of servings but I’m busy having it for every meal at the moment (and those sneaked spoonfuls) so I don’t have an exact serving amount I’m afraid… Let’s say it serves 6.

Potato and Celeriac Soup

4 sticks of celery

1 large white onion

3oz/85g butter

4 medium sized potatoes

1/2 a celeriac

1 ltr chicken stock

400ml milk

salt and pepper

chives and a dot of butter  to serve

Dice the celery and onion into roughly 1cm cubes

Melt the butter in a large pan (or split it between 2)

Sweat the celery and onions over a low heat with the lid on, taking it off to stir occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until it is soft and translucent.

Now add the diced potatoes and celeriac and stir to combine

Stir the vegetable mix occasionally and keep the heat low until the potatoes and celeriac are beginning to soften

Heat your stock in a separate pan and then add it to the  vegetables, bring this to a simmer and allow the potatoes and celeriac to soften until they are on the verge of collapsing.

Now add the milk and bring to a simmer, taste the soup and then season with salt and lots of pepper

Now blend with a hand mixer until it foams…

Yes that’s right, I was given a hand mixer wand for my birthday so now I can blend with the best of them!

Now ladle into bowls, scatter over some finely sliced chives and add a little dot of butter to swirl into the creamy foamy sweet and soothing rescue remedy. You don’t need bread with this soup, it is a meal all by itself.

If you have a true invalid to take care of serve on a tray, with a teacloth and a little vase of flowers

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Filed under Lunch, Recipes, Soup, Supper, vegetables

Minestrone

Another cold day, another soup.

My minestrone is a bit time consuming, because of the amount of ingredients and prep but wonderfully relaxing to cook. Because minestrone is not a smooth soup you have to take the time to make sure the texture just right. I like a minestrone to have all its ingredients chopped very tiny so that you get a lovely nubby mouthful every time but you don’t have to, you can have them cut larger, just adjust the cooking time. You can also make this soup with or without the pancetta but the addition of pork intensifies the flavour, and adds a little luxury. Traditionally minestrone is from the ‘cucina povera’ style of Italian cooking (literally ‘poor cooking’) as it is very cheap and very adaptable. In fact, you can (and should) try to use almost any vegetable, cabbage and turnip are common additions and beans and pasta are the Italian staple ingredients but you can experiment with whatever vegetables are in season and add beans, pancetta and stock to your taste or availability. If you’re really pushing it, just use water instead of stock, it’s not as flavoursome, but still very good.

I always cook my pasta separately if I’m planning on keeping any leftovers otherwise the pasta continues to increase in size while it absorbs all the soup liquid, but if you’re serving it all up, cook the pasta in the soup, it will absorb not only liquid but all the gorgeous flavours. If you can’t find little pasta use spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces before cooking. I’ve included some tips below on speeding up the chopping process but I recommend you take your time, put the radio on (or Desperate Housewives, my current weakness) and slowly prepare until everything is ready in neat little piles ready to cook!

Minestrone

2 oz butter

1 large white onion

(optional) 100g pancetta, cubed

4 carrots

3 sticks of celery

1 leek

1 courgette

4 cloves of garlic

a handful of grated Parmesan and a Parmesan rind (if you have one)

12 small plum tomatoes, quartered

1 1/4 pints stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

2 tsb olive oil

100g fresh spinach, shredded

200g tiny pasta

salt and pepper

Parmesan to serve

Serves 6

Cut the carrots, celery and courgette into very small dice but keep them in separate piles because you add them at different times

I do my ‘tiny dicing’ by slicing the carrots and courgettes lengthways into about 5mm slices, then turning and doing the same lengthways slices to make strips. Then chop into little square dice:

Chop your onion finely and the leek into thin rounds.

Melt the butter in a large enough pan to hold all the ingredients and sweat the onions celery and carrots (and pancetta if your using it) on a very low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.

After 5 minutes add the courgettes, garlic, leek and courgettes and continue with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are only just cooked.

Now add the fresh tomatoes, Parmesan, Parmesan rind and stock. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring the whole lot up to simmering point. I like to chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces while they are still in the tin using scissors

Add the pasta to the soup or boil a separate pan of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente

Season your soup to taste

In the final moments before serving add the spinach, and cooked beans and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil (don’t forget to remove the Parmesan rind!)

If you have cooked the pasta separately stir some olive oil through it and serve the soup with a few spoonfuls on top.

Absolutely delicous. I must say, it’s one of my favourite things to eat on a cold day. Warming and hearty, yet not heavy.



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Filed under Lunch, Pasta, Pulses, Recipes, Soup, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

The Easiest Supper in the World

Baked beans on toast…

OK not that easy.

Mushrooms with Goats Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a great recipe with only 5 ingredients and is great for a mid-week meal. My mum used to make this when I was little but olives were something I didn’t like until my teens, I actually trained myself to like them by forcing them down at every opportunity… now I can’t get enough!

Buy big deep mushrooms, they will act as a bowl for the cheese and olives and their thickness gives a lovely meaty bite.

Mum always used a goats cheese log with a skin on the outside for this, it has the perfect combination of ooze and staying power, perfect for grilling and baking. You can buy a chunk from the deli and slice it into portions yourself or if you’re buying from the supermarket 1 pre-packaged round will just serve 2. I haven’t put exact measurements with this because I do the whole thing by eye and what is handy, also you can adjust to your taste, more olives, less goats cheese… just try it and decide.

I recently taught this to a friend who  does.not.cook.  She found the whole thing very satisfying as it requires so little preparation and time. She mastered it in one go.

Mushrooms with Goats Cheese

2 large portobello mushrooms

enough goats cheese to top each mushroom with a 1cm  slice

a handful of kalamata olives

a handful of pine nuts

butter

pepper

Serves 2

Pre heat your oven to gas mark 3 (180 degrees)

Gently pull the stalk out of the centre of the mushroom (I cup the mushroom cap in my hand and gently twist and squeeze the stalk, don’t pull or bend as this may split the mushroom) and place them, as little mushroom bowls,  in an oven proof dish.

Dot the inside of the mushroom cap with little flecks of butter

De-stone and finely chop your kalamata olives and divide between the mushrooms

With a serrated knife, slice your goats cheese into even round portions and put on top of the olive mixture.

Sprinkle with a little olive oil and freshly ground pepper  and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and the cheese is browning lightly and oozy at the edges. In the last 5 minutes, scatter over some pine nuts to lightly toast.

Serve this with a crunchy salad, watercress, beetroot leaves and roasted seeds would be good, and some crusty bread.

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Filed under Cheese, Lunch, Recipes, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian