Monday, 9 August 2010

Elle's Fish Pie (aka cheat and put a piece of puff pastry on top!)

This is one that I've cooked a couple of times now - it's somewhat faster than a traditional fish pie as there's no potato involved. Well, not as the top of the pie, anyway. It's also less claggy than the potato version which makes it eminently edible during summer. Bonus - dress it up with some artfully arranged vegies, or just have it with a green salad and some crusty bread. Wow. I have just shoed and handbagged my plate. Hmmm...


Serves 4

1 sheet butter puff pastry, semi defrosted (easier to work with)
50g butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
320g fish pie mix - Sainsbury's is good (salmon, smoked haddock and pollack)
400g raw, peeled prawns (I tend to go for king prawns)
1/2 cup dry white wine - make it good so you can drink the rest!
2/3 cup double cream
1 tbs finely chopped fresh dill or chives
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Following the directions on the packed for the puff pastry, turn on the oven (if there aren't directions, around 180 in a fan forced should do it) and while it's heating, cut the sheet of pastry into four squares and lightly score all the edges. Put the pieces onto a baking tray or two if easier, and bake until golden brown. Around 15 to 2o minutes should suffice.
While the pastry is doing its thing, melt the butter in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Saute the garlic and when you're getting that lovely garlicy smell, add the mustard and stir in, then add the seafood. Gently turn until cooked through - this shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a minute, then remove the seafood to a bowl, keeping the juices in the pan. Turn down the heat and add the cream. Stir in and allow to reduce a little, so the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Add the herbs and pepper and return the seafood to the sauce. Bring it all up to a good bubble, then turn off the heat.
Arrange a good ladle full of the seafood and sauce on a dinner plate and stick the pastry square on top. Or you could put the pastry first and artfully tumble your seafood and sauce over the top. Up to you.
This time around I served with new season baby potatoes and slightly fancified chopped, wilted spinach and baby peas.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Stuck on the bus, a 10 minute journey taking an hour, no food in the house and a house guest salad

You know when you have one of those days? The ones where you've got things nicely planned out, you stay back at work to get ahead on stuff for the next day, you get on the bus to go home and then... traffic chaos! The nice, easy trip home via the grocery shop to grab a few bits and pieces for dinner with one flatmate and one friend who's staying a few days is all of a sudden a flat out pelt around past Victoria station, sprint through Sainsbury's (cheating by grabbing tins of ready cooked lentils), high-tail it home, drain, chop, crumble and throw it all in a bowl.
Two things on the plus side - I know it's going to taste okay and there's very little washing up!
Thank you to Hoochie Mama's in Newtown, Sydney (who apparently no longer serve the salad that inspired this one).

Puy Lentil Salad with Chorizo, Feta, Beetroot and Greens

2 400g tins prepared puy lentils
1 long, dried chorizo (the sort you can eat without cooking)
cooked beetroot (around 350g - I get the traditionally prepared ones in a packet at Sainsbury's)
1 block of feta
1 bag of salad greens - water cress, rocket, baby spinach, all are nice

salad dressing
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove freshly crushed garlic (optional)

Tip the lentils into a sieve, rinse and drain. Make up the dressing in a jar and shake well. Chop the chorizo into bite sized chunks. Do the same with the beetroot. Put the lentils, chorizo, beetroot and greens in a serving bowl. Crumble the feta over the top. Pour over enough dressing to coat and toss (I'm big on using hands here). Serve - can go with crusty bread if you like.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Warm weather - salad time!

The World Cup is in full swing and the weather is breezy. And balmy, at a nice 27 degrees. It was kind of funny walking from Pimlico to Sainsbury's down near Victoria at the same time the Germany/England game was playing. I didn't need to see anything to know each time a goal was almost scored, I only had to listen.
Anyway, in a salute to the lovely day and the lack of people grocery shopping (note to self - a big match is a great time to do a really fast shop [and I'm in a bit of a snit at having lost pretty much all chance of getting any of my money back in the office World Cup sweep stake and am therefore not watching games]), I decided to treat myself to lamb neck fillet, served as a warm salad.
Turned out quite nicely - if I don't blow my own vuvzela, who else will?

Warm salad of lamb neck fillet with baby potatoes, spinach and watercress

Serves 2

2 lamb neck fillets
salt and freshly cracked pepper to season
1 tsp olive oil
10 - 14 baby potatoes (depends on size and hunger)
2 good handfuls of baby spinach
1 good handful of water cress

For the dressing:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp French Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey

balsamic glaze/reduction

Pat the lamb neck fillets with kitchen towel to remove any moisture. Season with salt and pepper and leave on a plate to come to room temperature - I'm cooking for me and I prefer my lamb tender, so I like it not to go from one temperature extreme to another. Turn a fan forced over to 200 degrees and place an oven-proof dish in it - the lamb will be finished off in the oven.
Put the potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover. Place a lid on the pot, bring the potatoes up to a boil and then simmer for around 20 minutes, until tender when stabbed with a fork. Drain the potatoes and leave uncovered to cool off a bit.
On the stove, get a medium sized frying pan on a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, put in the olive oil and then sear the lamb on all sides, should be about 30 seconds per side, just so it's caramelized. Put the lamb into the ovenproof dish, back into the oven and cook for 12 minutes for lamb that's still pink but not running around the place, baaing its little head off. This is one for you to cook to your preference. Around 15 minutes should see it getting to medium, if not well done.
While the lamb is in the oven, make the dressing. I use a glass, screw-top jar to do this (high tech, I know). Place the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, mustard and honey in the jar and shake well.
Put the warm potatoes onto two dinner plates, lightly smash with a fork to break them open and pour over around half the dressing between the two plates. Just let it sit and soak up.
When the lamb is done, take it out of the over and very loosely cover with a piece of foil while it rests for around 10 minutes. The idea is to allow steam to escape in order to stop the lamb from continuing to cook.
After the lamb has rested, uncover it while you place the salad leaves on top of the potatoes, drizzle on some more of the dressing (you don't have to use it all, it will keep quite happily in the fridge for a week) and toss with your hands to get things evenly distributed.
Slice the lamb diagonally, into something like 1cm wide strips. Place on top of the rest of the salad, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and serve (you may need to mop up round the edges with some kitchen towel). I had mine with a glass of rose - lovely!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Quick, easy and quite good for you - I'm talking Quorn!

Relatively new to my repertoire, mainly due to it not being available in Australia I suspect, is Quorn. Read all about it on the website, but in really simple terms, it's a meat substitute that's made from mycoprotein, which is a type of fungus. I get mine from Sainsbury's.
I've been using the chicken style pieces for a while for easy lunches for work - fresh egg noodles, frozen Quorn, stir fry veg and sauce of choice (usually a few splodges of ketsup manis) in a microwave-proof container. Stick the lot in the microwave when you're ready for lunch, with the lid loosened, nuke it on high until everything is piping hot and enjoy.
Today was my first go with Quorn mince. The really great thing is that aside from two ingredients, you're fairly likely to have most of the ingredients in your freezer or cupboard (okay, so the Quorn may be a new thing, but I'm betting you'll soon have it as a staple). So, Middle Eastern Quorn with spinach and couscous. Took me all of 15 minutes to cook and be sitting down to eat, very little washing up and although it's not the prettiest of dishes, it's proving to be pretty tasty!
Turns out that Quorn IS available in Australia - not quite the same variety at this stage, but the mince is there. Coles has the full range, Woolworths has some of it, and then various independent grocers.


1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil
300g bag Quorn mince - you cook it from frozen
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 lamb stockcube (I'm not veggie at the mo, but by all means use a vegetable one instead)
8 lumps frozen spinach (Sainsbury's frozen spinach portions)
2 tbs sultanas
1/2 cup water approx - plus more on standby
good handful of baby spinach leaves
enough pistachios to scatter over the top

rice or couscous to accompany

Heat oil in a frying pan on a low medium heat and add the garlic. Saute to flavour the oil, then add the Quorn mince. Add the spices and crumble the stock cube in. Stir for a minute or two to stop from sticking and to make sure the stock and spices are mixed through. Add the frozen spinach and the water. Let the spinach break up a bit and stir through.
In the meantime, make up some couscous according to directions. Or rice. Whatever takes your fancy. Pide (Turkish bread) would be nice too, lightly toasted.
Back to the Quorn, make sure that the spinach is thawing and cooking in through the mince. Add water to keep things moist. Add the sultanas. When everything is piping hot, you're ready to serve.
I just put some couscous in a bowl, added some baby spinach leaves that I had in the fridge, put the Quorn mince on top and then a scattering of pistachios.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Sunshine on a not so sunny day

It's a bank holiday weekend in the UK, so of course, after last weekend's show of sunny skies and temperatures well into the 20s, it's cold, a bit wet and grey.

This sees me sitting, cup of mint tea in hand, pondering my navel and thinking about what would bring a little warmth into the sitting room right now. Enter one special kind of cheese cake - honey, ricotta, saffron. Kind of sunshine on a plate, really. And yes, I know, I'm on a bit of a saffron kick, but life's for living and even though saffron's not the cheapest ingredient in the world, a little goes a long way and for me, the restorative powers are always a consideration. Apparently it's a bit of a goer in the come hither department as well. And if I could find my book about herbs and spices right now, I'd even be able to back that up.

Then I guess there's the bit about this cake being North African in origin, or at least that's what the recipe I read once in a book, a long time ago, and managed to store for later use in my brain, said. Place of origin conjures heat, sun and blue skies, and quite frankly, that works for me!

Two cautionary tips - do not under any circumstances get the cheese ratio back to front. I have managed to do that only once. There is nothing like removing the spring-form tin to see your pride and joy hold together for about ten seconds before almost audibly sighing and collapsing to fill an entire baking tray. Number two - do make sure to run a spatula around the cake before undoing the tin.

So, to the kitchen and the making of the sunshiny goodness.

North African Cheesecake

1 and 3/4 cups raw couscous
2 cups just boiled water
50g slightly salter butter
2 medium eggs
500g ricotta
100g grated mozzarella (grate it yourself - much nicer that way)
1 tbs clear honey
pinch saffron
1 tbs just boiled water
3/4 cup clear honey
1/4 cup water
1 tsp orange blossom water or rose water
1/2 cup unsalted pistachio kernels, belted around so that you've some whole nuts and some crumbs

Place the couscous in a good sized pudding basin, pour on the just boiled water. Cover with cling wrap and leave for around 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place both lots of cheese into a mixing bowl and with the tablespoon of honey added, stir until well combined.

Uncover the couscous and fluff up with a fork. You're not really after anything as grand as individual grains, just not a big lump of the stuff. Add the butter and stir it through. Leave to sit uncovered so that the couscous cools down.

Turn your oven to 190 degrees celsius (fan forced). Butter a 28cm spring-form tin (think that's about the right size).

Once the couscous has cooled down to around body temperature, stir the two eggs through the mixture. Place half the mixture into the spring form tin and flatten to an even layer. Put this in the oven for 8 minutes. When the time is up, take the tin out, put the cheese and honey mixture on top, flatten out to the edges of the tin. Then do the same with the rest of the couscous mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. At the end of the baking time, place the cake, still in its tin, under a grill until the top is golden. Remove from grill and allow to cool in the tin for at least 2 hours.

Place the saffron in a cup or mug and pour the tbs of just boiled water over. Allow to sit.

In a small saucepan on a medium heat, bring the honey and the water to a simmer. Add the saffron and its water and the orange blossom or rose water. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

When you're ready to cake up, release the spring-form tin after you've run a metal spatula around the cake and place the cake onto a plate. Sprinkle the pistachios on top and pour a few tablespoons of the syrup over the cake. Put the rest of the syrup into a pouring jug of some sort and allow everyone to help themselves - the cake itself isn't too sweet, so this is a nice way for people to control how sweet it ends up being to their own taste.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A Little Sydney Something

After a bit of a break on the blog front (cooking whilst trying to remain in charge of a nose with a cold is not conducive to being able to taste stuff), I'm back in Australia for a few short weeks, and have decided that cooking up a feast for the Parental Units is a good thing to do.

Enter today's edition of The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living (which apparently doesn't exist online - rude!), and a rather tasty sounding recipe for chicken with saffron, honey and macadamias. Which I will be doing with almonds. Because it's more fitting and that's what's in the cupboard - any problems, you can talk to my Mum!

The chicken has been sitting for an hour, having a little bonding time with all sorts of flavours, and is now in the oven, doing round one of the cooking. Here's the recipe to follow:

2 onions, halved and cut into 1cm wedges
1 red capsicum, cut into thick strips
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp allspice (ground by hand by moi)
good pinch saffron strands, crushed (I gave them a withering glance and a stern talking to)
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
4 chicken marylands (although due to some trick photography, you'll only see 3 in the photos)
100ml water or white wine
150g nuts (almonds, macadamias, mixed - whatever works)
1 tbs rose water
2 tbs honey
2 tbs coriander leaves

The recipe says for the first step, combine the list to follow in a large bowl. I say cut down on washing up and just put it in a large, shallow, ovenproof dish that you'll then use for the actual cooking. So, combine onions, red capsicum, spices, saffron, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Slash the drumstick of each maryland in two places, place the chicken into the mix as above, massage in all the yummy flavours and leave to sit for at least an hour, if not overnight in the fridge. If you leave everything in the fridge, allow the ingredients to come up to room temperature before placing them in the oven.

Heat the oven to 190 degrees. Add the wine or water to the baking dish, place in the heated oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Scatter the nuts onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for three minutes until golden. Roughly chop the roasted nuts (I just used flaked almonds to keep things simple). Whisk the honey and rose water together, add the nuts and spoon over the chicken at the end of the 35 minutes. Bake it for another ten minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are golden.

Serve with the coriander. I did basmati rice with it and a simple green salad with a few mint leaves torn through it. Only one photo as it's very slow to upload for some reason.

N.B. I would suggest at least three hours for marinading and make sure to put salt in with the rice. Also, flaked almonds are perhaps not the best choice here - go with whole nuts, roasted and then roughly chopped (the original recipe got it right).

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday Foodiness

It's been a day and a bit of firsts - gutted my first ever fish today (I'm by no means squeamish, but I don't think that's the sort of thing that anyone really looks forward to purely for enjoyment) and made my first lot of hot cross buns.

The fish thing was bouillabaisse - a lot of work, but it went down well. The recipe is one of Anne Willan's, from The Country Cooking of France.

The hot cross buns... well, I'd be the first to admit that I grew up quite spoiled on the food front. My Mum and Dad were never of the pre-fabricated, pre-sliced white mushy bread and devon brigade. It was often rye bread (not a fan at the time, but really like it now) and salami sandwiches, with a few gherkins thrown in as an accompaniment. So, hot cross buns at Easter were of the home made variety, and the long weekend wasn't complete without the smell of yeast and spices teasing from all unexpected corners of the house.

After one Easter away from home last year and no hot cross buns of comparable quality, this year it was time to bite the bullet, get Mum to cough up her recipe and get with the baking. Only one small hiccup - I made the shortcrust pastry too moist, so every single cross split, leaving me with hot cross g-string buns. Very tasty, according to all concerned, despite the kink.

I'm leaving the recipe in imperial, because it's just better that way - it's exactly the way I remember it as Mum completed the annual ritual.

Enjoy, if not as slightly late buns, then next year. Or whenever you might get the hankering!


1lb plain flour         
1 level tsp caster sugar         
1 oz fresh yeast (or 1 level tbs dried yeast)
1/4 pint lukewarm milk         
2 fluid oz warm water          
1 level tsp each of salt and mixed spice
2 oz caster sugar         
2 oz melted butter         
1 beaten egg         
1 oz currants (can be a bit heavier handed here)         
1-2 oz mixed peel

Sift 4 oz of the flour with the sugar.  Crumble (or mix in) the yeast and stir in the milk and water.  Leave the mixture in a warm place for 20-30 mins, until frothy.  Meanwhile, sift the remaining flour with the salt and spice.  Add the sugar.
Stir the melted butter, together with the egg, into the risen yeast mixture.  Gradually fold in the rest of the flour, currants and peel.
Knead dough until smooth on a floured surface.  Divide into 12 pieces and shape into buns.  Set the buns, well apart, on greased and floured baking trays and leave them to rise, in a warm place, until doubled in size.
Make a small amount of shortcrust pastry - I usually do 4oz plain flour, 2 oz butter and mix together with milk.  Roll out into a longish strip and cut it into strips about 5mm wide.
Put strips of pastry across the tops of the risen buns.  Bake just above the centre in an oven pre-heated to 190C (about 170C fan-forced) for 15 to 20 mins.  They should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
Leave the buns to cool on a wire rack; while still warm, glaze tops - 3 oz caster sugar dissolved in 4 tbs water.  I put a strip of greaseproof paper under the rack, makes cleaning up much easier!
They keep well frozen, to defrost just warm up in the oven.

Good luck!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Brunching through blah weather

Woke up this morning having finally had what feels like a really good sleep, to the sound of rain, then lovely sun (obviously I was seeing and feeling the sun bit), then more rain. Then ominous grey skies. London in spring, so not all that much of a surprise. Having caught up with various bodies back home in Sydney, done a bit of reading and generally procrastinated myself into a stupor, I decided it was time to make a move on the food front and trundle down to see what sort of damage I could do in Sainsbury's.

It being past midday and various bodies in need of a bit of a kickstart, I've gone with some smoked salmon, creme fraiche, chives and my secret ingredient - horseradish cream. Oh, and the all important onion bagels. Fairly standard really, except for the horseradish, which just seems to give everything else a bit of a lift and generally wakes up the bleary headed.


100g smoked salmon off cuts (the 88p one from Sainsbury's works a treat)
300g tub reduced fat creme fraiche
handful of chives, finely chopped
1 tsp horseradish cream
salt to taste
cracked pepper to taste
onion bagels (or plain, or whatever you like, really)

Combine all bar the bagels in a bowl.  Mix well, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for about half an hour (or the time it takes to snuggle back in bed with a good book, a cuppa, a loved [or lusty or both] one, etc).

Decide it's time to make a move to get something out of the day.

Slice bagels (or bread of your choice) and toast. Schmear with the smoked salmon concoction. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I feel like chicken tonight

That's right folks, it's Thursday night, the night when all good little Pimlicans come home to roost.

The day started out in interesting fashion. I'm a new convert to the House of iphone and have taken it upon myself to get a few apps in the last week.

Top of the list is Sleep Cycle, which with its premise of monitoring your sleep cycle and waking you when you're already coming into a waking state has been working a treat since I started using it. One small problem encountered today - if the feline part of the kitty sitting duo decides to sleep next to your head and therefore on the phone, the alarm doesn't go off. Fast forward to me waking up ten minutes before I should have been getting on the tube. I'm not sure that an impression of a chicken with its head cut off quite does justice to the frantic scrabble that was me getting myself out the door.

So, keeping with the chicken theme (and not the few choice words I threw the way of the cat), tonight's dinner:


1 - 2 skinless chicken breast portions per person
bunch of fresh thyme
2 lemons, sliced into 1cm thick slices
2 - 3 cloves of garlic per person - keep the skin on
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 tbs approx of good olive oil
1/4 cup water

Chicken, your thyme has come...

Turn the oven to 180 degrees celsius (mine's fan forced - if not, around 200 degrees).

Place the slices of lemon, garlic cloves and around 2/3 of the thyme into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken. Place the chicken on top of the lemon slices, garlic and thyme so that the side that would have had the skin on is facing up. Rub in some olive oil - you want the chicken to be pampered, not swimming in the stuff! Put the rest of the thyme on top of the chicken. Pour the water in around the meat. Roast for around 35 minutes, until the juice runs clear when you prick the meat at a thicker point. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

I served this with roasted tomatoes that I put in the oven for the last 15 minutes of cooking time for the chicken and then left in the switched off over while the meat was resting, some boiled baby potatoes with good mayonnaise and some steamed broccolini, with the roasted garlic squeezed over the top.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Simple, not necessarily plain

Another Thursday comes around, which means Flatmate Fantastico is back from climes Dutch and looking forward (I hope) to a home cooked meal. Nothing quite like a week of restaurants to really prepare a person for some comfort food.

As luck would have it, the weather - surprise, surprise for London - has got a bit cold and windy, so it's definitely a night for soup. I've decided to break with tradition and although there are tomatoes involved, the usual butter beans, green beans and basil are being given a break.

Tonight, it's tomato, puy lentil and pancetta soup, to the rowdy accompaniment of the Tiger Lillies. Certainly makes for some interesting solo kitchen salsa!


200g cubed pancetta (about 1/2cm cubes)
1 tbs good olive oil
2 shallots finely diced
1 cup uncooked puy lentils, well rinsed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a few extra for garnish
1 litre vegetable stock (I don't have space to keep home made stock - I like the Knorrs jelly stock: 1 tub to 1 litre water)
1 inch piece parmesan rind (idea pulled from Molly's chicken stew with a weapon - thanks!)
700g jar passata
optional - sufficient slow roasted baby tomatoes for serving (around 20 mins at 160C in an oven dish)

In a stock pot on a low heat, start cooking off the pancetta. Bring the heat up once the fat starts to render off and when the pancetta starts to brown, add the olive oil and shallots. Turn the heat down a little and saute until the shallots are transparent. Stir in the lentils until everything's got well acquainted. Throw in the thyme and add the vegetable stock and then the parmesan rind, bring up to a simmer and leave, without stirring, for about 15 minutes - you want the lentils to still have a good bite to them.

Add the pasata - half fill the bottle with water, shake to get all the rest of the tomatoey goodness, then add that to the soup as well. Allow to come back up to a simmer and cook for about another 10 minutes until the lentils are sufficiently cooked. They should still be firm, but no broken teeth, please!

Adjust the seasoning, remove the spent thyme and serve. If you've gone with the roasted tomatoes, place a few in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle the soup over them. Plonk a sprig of thyme on top and send out with crusty bread.

I think I can hear the front door now, so hopefully this recipe will survive its roadtest.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Well, am now sitting down to tea and it tastes pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Comment from Icelandic gnocchi convert: "This is amazing. Mmmm..."

Photos and more to follow.

starting from scratch

novice gnocchi

all together now

Fresh, homemade gnocchi and sauce in less than an hour? Or will Elle break loose?

Bit of a challenge for this next blog - Flatmate Fantastico sent me on a cooking adventure last night, by way of an Eat, Drink, Talk voucher for Christmas.

The course was all about Gastro Pub food - interesting, tasty meals in my favourite way:  you get good stuff to start with and don't muck around with it too much.

It also shouldn't take too long to prepare (between the five of us attending last night, four courses were made and consumed during two and a half hours). I was one happy, stuffed to the gills in a good way camper when I rolled out the door, it has to be said.

So, for tea tonight, hopefully in the next hour, I'm doing ricotta gnocchi with chorizo, red and yellow capsicum, tomato and onion sauce. The only thing I've done towards this so far is put the ricotta to drain. Otherwise it's all from scratch.

The ingredients are via the usual sort of grocery store one finds in the middle of London. Quality is fine, not fantastic, but the meal, which should serve six, will come in at the 10 pound mark.

Here goes...

for six good sized portions
750g ricotta, drained in sieve for half an hour
60g freshly grated romano (or parmesan if you prefer)
250g plain flour
2 medium eggs
pinch nutmeg
salt to taste

Combine everything except the flour in a mixing bowl. Add about 2/3 of the flour to start with and work everything together with your hands. You want the lot to come together into a ball and not be too sticky to touch. Add more flour as needed to get this consistency.

When the ball has formed, divide into about 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between your hands. You don't want it to be tacky, so work in more flour as needed. On a work surface lightly sprinkled with flour, roll into a long tube, about an inch in diameter. Chop into slices about half an inch think. Holding a fork tines pointing away from you and down, pick up a piece of the dough and place the cut side (should be the longest) across the back of the fork and roll it down, away from yourself, over the tines with a light pressure. See my novice gnocchi picture for a vague idea on what you're after. Place gnocchi onto sheets of baking paper as you go.

Once you've finished all your gnocchi, fill a large pan (I used a stock pot) with cold water, cover and gently bring to the boil. This gives the dough a chance to rest.

When boiling, gently tip gnocchi into the pan. They're done when they float to the top, about 5 minutes or so. These little pillows of tastiness are pretty soft, so use a slotted spoon to lift them into whatever sauce you've chosen.

2 semi dry chorizo, diced
1 small red onion, diced
half a red capsicum, quartered and finely sliced
half a yellow capsicum, quartered and finely sliced
tbs tomato paste
400g tin chopped tomatoes in juice

Place chorizo into a slightly warmed frying pan on a low heat. When the fat starts to cook out, turn up heat to medium, add onion and cook until softening. Add both lots of capsicum and stir in. Leave for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add tinned tomato, stir well and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Combine gnocchi and sauce, serve with a bit more grated romano and pepper.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Elle's Kitchen - Elle frozen over

So, after one too many posts on Facebook as to how I was rounding out my culinary day, various friends/ fellow feasters have given me an ultimatum - food blog or hunger strike on their part. Needless to say, without them as willing guinea pigs, I'm not going to get too far, so blog it is.

Tonight's offering is a reflection of the slight chill in the air in London and me getting some rather yummy saffron from Borough Markets last week.

For your slightly-more-sophisticated-than-hot-milk delectation, I present warm, saffron milk. Mellow yellow indeed!

2 cups of milk (semi-skim, full fat - up to you)
a pinch of saffron - around 16 strands
half stick of cinnamon
heaped tablespoon of almond meal
1 teaspoon good quality honey

Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Warm gently until almost at boiling point. Take out cinnamon stick. Pour into two mugs and enjoy!