Tag Archives: Simple

Very Suisse!

Meringue Suisse

A Swedish Childhood Dessert

As you will know when I got my Foodie Parcel last month, I was very excited to receive a broken meringue as part of a lovely package.  I promised Teresa that I would blog the recipe for Meringue Suisse, which I knew I was going to make as soon as I saw the broken meringue.

This is a dessert that the Big Guy had often in his childhood. In Sweden. I am not really sure where the Swiss thing came from, although I could probably surmise something about Swiss chocolate, or the fact that it resembles the Matterhorn or something.

This time, I made the basic recipe, and used good quality vanilla ice cream from the shop. As with most simple recipes, the better quality the ingredients, the better the final dish will be. Teresa’s meringue and chocolate were both of such quality that I didn’t want to mess around with the recipe too much.

The basic recipe I give here is pretty simple, but you can play around with it, if you like. Try adding soft fruits (the Big Guy’s family add bananas, but I’ll be having none of that!). You can make it fancy by making your own ice cream or meringue, or you could even make praline or do a bit of sugar work. Crumbled amaretti biscuits could also be a very good topping.

What other toppings or additions would you choose?

Recipe: Meringue Suisse

Ingredients

Good quality vanilla ice cream

1-2 tsp slivered almonds

60 g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

15o ml whipping cream (to be used in 2 parts)

Knob of butter

1 meringue, broken into pieces

Method

Remove the ice cream from the freezer, so it can soften to a scoopable consistency.

Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan. You will need to watch them carefully, and stir them often, as they catch easily. Once they are a nice golden colour on both sides, remove from the pan, to prevent them from cooking any further.

Combine the chocolate, 50 ml of the cream and the butter in a saucepan. Cook over a very low heat until the chocolate has melted. Don’t stir it at this stage.

Meanwhile, whip up the remaining cream to soft peaks.

Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir the sauce well to combine it. It may look a little grainy at first. Don’t worry, keep stirring it and it will become a smooth and glossy sauce. Allow to cool slightly, so that it does not melt the ice cream immediately.

Scoop enough ice cream for two people into a bowl, and combine with the meringue. You will need to have reasonably soft ice cream for this. Put the ice cream and meringue mix into serving bowls and top with the whipped cream.

Pour over the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. The chocolate sauce should go a wonderfully fudgey texture when it hits the cold of the ice cream.

This is a very easy dessert, but one that looks and tastes impressive. The only question is how will you top yours?

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Sauteed Chanterelles for Breakfast

…But If You Try Sometimes, You Might Find, You Get the Breakfast You Need.

We were recently in Sweden, and spent a wonderful afternoon with the Big Guy’s sister and her family foraging in a wood. We are never in one place for long in Sweden, and I had spent much of the week eyeing up the meadowsweet and rosebay willow herb that was abundant in the area we were in at the start of the week. I have never seen either plant in the Netherlands, so was looking forward to cooking up some goodies with them. In Swedish, meadowsweet is called älgört (pronounced el-lee-yurt), which means moose herb. Rosebay willow herb is called rallarros (pronounced rah-lor-rose), as it used to be the first plant to line the railways once they had been cleared through the forest, hence the name of railway rose. This is what makes it a pioneer species.

Tettigoniidae spp Bush Cricket

A Fellow Forager

As is often the way, when we got out to where his sister lives, we were actually in a subtly different habitat, and so there was no meadowsweet or rosebay willow herb to be had. This is a good foraging lesson – if you see it, grab some, as conditions may not be the same the next time you come back, or if you move onto a different spot.

Wild raspberry

Forest Jewels

However, all was not lost, we came across some other things I am yet to find in the low countries. First was wild raspberries. Slightly smaller than their domestic cousins, but just as sweet. They were great to come across, and we filled a few tubs.

Bilberries

Edible Carpet

Blue berries are everywhere in Swedish forests. We would call this variety bilberries in the UK, they are a little smaller and less sweet than the ones you would typically buy from the shops. They carpet the forest floor, alongside their cousins, the lingonberry. They are actually not at their peak for a few more weeks yet, but I like them when they are sharper too.

Unripe lingonberry

Not Ready Just Yet

 

The lingonberries are not yet ripe, so we didn’t even try to pick them. Apparently, there is a hybrid between the lingonberry and the blueberry that they call the ‘blingon’. We didn’t find any of those, but I’d love to taste one, just to see what it is like.

Too young Chanterelles

Beloved by Chefs, But Better Left a While

The main thing that we actually did go out to find was the chanterelles, and we were not disappointed. We started to come across really tiny ones. This is the kind that chefs often prefer because they are fairly regular sizes, and can pretty up a dish. However, many foragers lament this habit, because if everyone only took the smallest ones, they would not have time to spore, thus spoiling things for future forages, and the fungus itself.

Mature Chanterelles

We Struck Gold

We were lucky in that we didn’t have far to go to find more mature ones, and we found large mushrooms by the bucketful.

Cleaning Chanterelles

House Work

Because these mushrooms grow in the leaf litter (often quite well hidden, but once you have found one, there will be more) they will need a little trimming, and a bit of a clean with a stiff bristled brush. This can be time consuming, but well worth it to get rid of grit from between the fine gills.

Cleaned Chanterelles

A Bucket of Breakfast

The next day, we ate a king’s breakfast, starting with sautéed chanterelles and scrambled egg, followed by muesli and yoghurt, liberally scattered with raspberries and blueberries. We were leaving Sweden that day, and it was a fantastic start to our travels.

Muesli and foraged berries

Second Breakfast of Champions

We did manage to get through all of the chanterelles, even though we picked a lot. We left many of the berries for the Big Guy’s sister, and I know that she will make delicious things with them. I’m also very lucky that she likes to forage as well, and I’m very grateful to her for a wonderful afternoon, and for the huge pot of mushrooms that she’d dried from last year’s bounty.

Dried Chanterelle spp

Once-Buried Treasure

 

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Sauce Grib-ish

Dill, Boiled Egg & Capers

Ooh, Saucy!

I first had a dish like this whilst having dinner at my friend’s. He writes the excellent Morning Claret wine blog. He really knows his stuff, so if you want some good wines, and great writing, go and give him a visit. Both he and his partner are very accomplished cooks, and it is always a joy to be invited to their house for fine wines, great food and excellent company. His version had anchovies in it, and he served us boiled globe artichokes to dip in it. I loved it, and decided that I would have a go at recreating it.

A bit of research later, and I have found that it was a variation of one of two classic French dishes. Either Sauce Gribiche or Ravigote. Of course, as with any classic dish, there are a lot of variations and the lines are blurred between the two. It seems that ravigote is more like a vinaigrette to which chopped boiled egg has been added, and in gribiche, the yolk is used to make a mayonnaise, and the chopped white is added. This is sauce is not quite either of those things, so I have called it Sauce Grib-ish.

I first made this after an Easter egg hunt left me with quite a few boiled eggs to use up. It also needed to be vegetarian for the friends that I had coming over. It is so versatile, you can serve it as a dip, over asparagus, or with fish and chicken. I’m also going to try to make a potato salad with it, I think it will be a great combination.

I am entering this simple seasonal sauce into Herbs on Saturday at Lavender and Lovage, although I only use dill in the recipe given, it will also be really good with tarragon, chervil or even parsley.

Sauce Grib-ish

Sauce Grib-ish

Recipe: Sauce Grib-ish

Ingredients

This sauce is easy to scale up or down, depending on how many people there are. I have given the amount for two people to have as a sauce to go with vegetables or fish. Taste is the key to this dish, as you need to balance the richness of the egg with the acid of the lemon and/or caper vinegar. The amounts I give here are approximate, so keep testing and adjusting the sauce, according to taste.

1 egg, hard-boiled

2 tbsp capers plus vinegar from the caper pot

Juice of ½ a lemon (or just the vinegar from the capers)

Small bunch dill, finely chopped

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Method

First, halve the egg, and remove the yolk. Then finely chop the white.

Mash the yolk with a little lemon juice or vinegar. You want the yolk to be a smooth, runny paste, about the same consistency as thick pancake batter.

Roughly chop the capers, and mix together with the dill, egg yolk and egg white. Taste and adjust for acidity, adding caper vinegar if needed.

Add some olive oil and taste and adjust again. The amount of olive oil you need will depend on what you want to use it for. For example, if you are serving it as a dip with crudités, you will want a thick sauce that will stay on bread, tortillas or short lengths of carrot and cucumber. If you want to serve it to accompany artichokes or asparagus, you will want a much thinner consistency, so add more oil. For potato salad, you will want it somewhere in between. The oil will also alter the acidity, so make sure you taste and adjust as you go along.

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Salad Daze

Boiled Egg and Salad

Salad as Protein

Obviously, we are now at the height of the salad season. I have an abundance of rocket, leaf salads, radishes, cress, mustard greens and more. And yet, I am about to do a post that focuses largely on the less usual salads and ingredients that I have been having since last I updated you on the 52 week Salad challenge.

Chickweed Stellaria media

Salad as Easy

I remain loyal to chickweed, and luckily it seems to remain loyal to me. I have been eating it for what seems like months now. I remember that I lamented the lack of chickweed back in the spring, and thought that the conditions in the Netherlands were not suitable. It turns out that I was wrong. Chickweed loves the growing conditions here, but it does appear about 6 weeks after it would in the UK. It has kept me and the guinea pigs happy for quite a while. I have no idea why people write this off as a weed, I think it is delicious.

Mixed Salad with Broad Bean Tips

Salad as a New Kind of Shoot

Back in June, I was also including broad bean tips to my salads. These really are the gardener’s treat, as they don’t keep well, so must be used fresh from the plant. This year, I was also fortuitous in that I hadn’t quite got round to eating my dock and digging it up. I have discovered that blackfly love dock much more than my beans, so they remained pretty free from these sap suckers. Since dock is edible, and has proven to be so effective, I shall probably not be so hasty to remove it all in future, as long as it stays out of my raised beds.

Salmon Fishckes, collaboration salad, Taboulleh & Sauce Grib-ish

Salad as Leftovers

This past month, herbs have also featured heavily. I am finding that herb fennel, dill, mint, basil, and parsley have become a regular addition to my salads, as well as providing me with lots of tabbouleh, and sauces.  I have also been adding herbs to salad dressings. I’ve always used thyme, of course but lately, my oregano has gone crazy, so I have been looking for recipes to use it in. I found this lovely oregano, mint and lime dressing by Laura of How to Cook Good Food. It was an entry in Karen’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge, and has been on heavy rotation in our house since I came across it. It is really a salad dressing for summer.

Mixed Family Salad

Salad as a Family Affair

Back when it was my Mum’s birthday, I made a lovely collaborative salad of leaf lettuce from my sister’s garden, fennel, mint and chives from my mum’s garden, and foraged chickweed. I also added carrot and radish leaves, and was very happy when it all went at her birthday barbecue. I also livened up a simple pasta and chive salad, by mixing in a separated chive flower. I think I converted one of Mum’s friends, who was pretty amazed when she found what it was. She didn’t know chive flowers were edible, but said she would try them from now on.

Summer Vegetable Nage

Salad as Soup

Another herb that has been featuring in my cooking of late is chervil. Although you rarely see chervil in the shops it is really easy to grow, and I have many pots and planters with it. I love this delicate little herb, and it makes a great addition to any salad. It goes so well with broad beans and peas too, as you can see from this vegetable nage I made a while ago.

Something else I really love, especially when the weather is a little too cold for salad is to braise lettuce, beans and peas in a good stock. A dish that is made even better by the addition of a little chervil just before serving.

Braised Salad, Beans & Peas

Salad as a Side Dish

(c) P. Caspar 2012

Recipe: Braised Lettuce, Beans and Peas

Ingredients

This will serve four people as a side dish

100 g podded weight broad beans

100 g shelled weight fresh peas

2-3 Little Gem lettuce, depending on size. This dish also works well with Witloof chicory, and other firm hearted salads

400 ml chicken or vegetable stock

Small bunch chervil, finely chopped

Method

Briefly cook the beans and peas in unsalted boiling water. You can use the same pan, but the beans will need 3-5 minutes, depending on size, and the peas will need 1-2, so add the peas to the pan after the beans have had a couple of minutes. Once they are cooked, drain and refresh in cold or iced water.

Double pod the beans.

Halve and rinse the little gems. You need to keep the stalk, so that the lettuce stays together during the cooking.

In a sauté pan, heat a little oil. Once hot, add the lettuce and cook briefly. You want a little colour on the leaves, but be careful, as they will burn easily. Turn them once to get similar colour on each side. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you could stir in about a tbsp. of flour at this point, and cook it out briefly. I don’t often bother with this stage, unless I am going to use this as a soup.

Add the stock, and cover. Bring to the boil then simmer for about five minutes. Add the peas and beans and heat through for another minute or so. Just before you serve, season a little, if needed and stir through the chervil.

This makes a great accompaniment for most main courses, or you can shred the lettuce a little when it is cooked, stir through a little cream, and serve as a light soup.

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They Called me the Wild Rose

Wild Rose Jelly

…But my Name was Eliza Dane

I’ve been back collecting rose petals again. As I mentioned in my post about rose cordial, the roses in my favourite spot are probably rosa acicularis. These are quite a long flowering variety, and you don’t need that many for this recipe, so you can still find them now if you try. Don’t forget to leave the bees behind when you pick them, though.

This time I made a really delicately flavoured jelly. My version definitely has all the flavour of rose, but has quite a subtle colour. If you would like a darker coloured jelly, then you can boil the petals up in the water before you add the apples, but I personally don’t think it needs it.

I have never made rose petal jelly before, but once you have the proportions in your head, making jelly is easy. You will need a jelly bag, or muslin and a sieve to strain the liquid. I have a thick piece of muslin that I nail to the frame of a chair with the seat removed, and that works well for me. Whatever method you use, it needs to support a bit of weight.

This makes 3 standard pots of jam, but I actually used smaller jars, as it was a lovely one to give away as gifts. I was also thinking ahead to possible foodie penpals. When I sent my first parcel out, I found to my penpal’s cost that sending jars mean that I can send much less, due to weight limitations. A nice work around is to try to send small jars as testers. I will see if that works.

This jam is a good breakfast preserve, and nice with yoghurt. However, I actually think this has more potential as a glaze for patisserie. I am going to try making a raspberry tart, and use rose petal jam as the glaze, where you would probably ordinarily use apricot jam. Of course, I shall let you know the results when I try it.

Wild Rose petals

Pretty In Pink

Recipe: Rose Petal Jelly

Ingredients

15 g rose petals

500 g apples

400 ml water

Granulated sugar – the exact amount will depend on how much liquid you have

Method

Rinse the rose petals, and remove the claw.

Cut the apples into chunks. There is no need to peel or core them, as this contains pectin, which you need to help the jam set.

Place the apples, petals and water in a pan, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for half an hour. At the same time, boil your muslin to sterilise it.

Strain the fruit pulp through your muslin/jelly bag/ whatever set up you use into a large bowl. Leave  it to strain overnight, so you get the maximum amount of juice from your pulp. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag, or push the pulp through though, or your beautiful clear jelly will be cloudy.

I usually make fruit butter with the leftovers from jelly making. It is a tasty preserve, but it does have a short shelf life. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to make it or to find homes for the pots where it would not go to waste. As there has been no sugar added, you can still compost the pulp with no adverse effects.

Before you start to make the jelly, sterilise some jars. You can do this in various ways, including washing them in hot water, rinsing well, and putting them in a warm oven; you can steam them in a pressure cooker; or wash them in a dishwasher, being careful to time your cycle with about the right time that the jam is ready. At the same time, boil your muslin to sterilise it.

Measure your juice that was strained from the pulp. This is where the proportions come into play. For every 600 ml of juice that you have, you need 400 g sugar.

In your preserving pan, gently warm the juice and the sugar, stirring while the sugar dissolves. Then bring to a rapid rolling boil. Allow to boil like this for about 10 minutes. Your jelly will have reached setting point at 104.5 °C, or when you get a skin forming on jam dropped on a cold plate and left in the cold  for a minute.

Pour into the sterile jars while both are still hot. Fill to within 3 mm of the top, then put a wax disc over it, wax side down. Seal with a screw lid, or a cellophane cover.

Label them and give them a week for the flavour to develop. Once you have opened a jar, keep it in the fridge.

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A Whole Lot of Rosie

Wild rose petal cordial

Entente Cordiale

At the same time as we collected all the elderflower, we were also delighted to find some wild roses. The most common of these is the dog rose, but they have mostly gone over in the more accessible places. I did manage to get a photo, but couldn’t reach the  blooms, as they were on a steep slope, and behind a lot of brambles.

Wild Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Luckily, we also came across a load of what I think is most likely to be prickly rose, or rosa acicularis. This is a really beautiful rose, with abundant, dark pink flowers. They also have a lot of thin thorns on them. I was so excited to find them that I forgot to take pictures, but I’ll try to go back soon to get some. When the sunshine comes back. If the sunshine comes back.

The good news is that all rose petals are edible. The more highly scented, the better they will taste. As well as some basic foraging rules please be careful that the roses that you use have not been sprayed with any pesticides, which can be an issue if you are foraging in a park. Another word of caution; if you are allergic to bee stings, like I am, please check each flower before you pick the petals. Bees love roses, and will spend a lot of time feeding from each one. I very nearly picked one up with some petals, but it warned me by buzzing angrily, and I quickly dropped the petals. Bees are quite polite really, and will warn you before they sting.

You could dry the petals, and use them in cakes and jelly, or even brush them in egg white and dip them in caster sugar to crystallise them and then use them as a cake decoration.

Rose petals with & without claw

The white claw (L) is bitter and must be removed

When you use rose petals, you need to remove the claw, or the part where by which the petal is joined t the rest of the flower. This is bitter and can taint your produce. I usually just snip them off with scissors.

The first thing that I made was a cordial. This recipe is inspired by one that Sandie made at Herb and Wild Food Recipes. Sandie intended to make a jam, but actually made a syrup with dog roses. I used the same technique to prepare the roses, and then made a cordial as I would normally. This is a great blog, full of wild food recipes, so please do go and have a look.

It has also taken on the dark pink of the rose. I have had it as a refreshing drink, but I’m also going to try this in a syllabub, and maybe to cook some gooseberries in. If you have any suggestions for ways to try this cordial, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Recipe: Rose Cordial

Ingredients

2 large handfuls of rose petals (claws removed as above)

Juice of a lemon

500 ml water

300 g sugar

Method

Sterilise a 500 ml bottle and the lid. You can do this in a number of ways. I find it trickier to get bottles clean in the dishwasher, as I would do for jam jars. You can wash them in hot soapy water, using a bottle brush to get into the nooks and crannies. I give them a good soak in the steriliser I use for brewing before I rinse, and put in them in a w arm oven (150°C). If you have a pressure cooker, you can also hold it in steam.

In a saucepan, add the lemon juice to the flower petals and the water. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain through muslin, and return the liquid to the saucepan. As you would expect, I didn’t throw out the rose petals. I have a great recipe for them to come. You can refrigerate or freeze them, if you want to use them later.

Add the sugar to the rose-water, and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to simmer for five minutes, then hot-fill the sterile bottle.

Keep this little jewel in the fridge.

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A Spoonful of Elderflower Sugar

Preparing to infuse sugar

This Will Help the Medicine Go Down

I have been frantically trying to preserve a lot of elderflowers. Last weekend, the Big Guy and I went out picking elderflowers and rose petals.

I greedily decided to try a second champagne recipe, and went off picking without really reading how much I would need. The recipe I chose to use required far less than I had imagined, so I had a lot leftover.  Of course, not being one to waste them, I have lots of recipes to share in the next few days. I’m waiting for some of them to finish brewing.

However, if you are going to be able to take advantage of these this year, you can still find some flower bracts now, but we are definitely coming towards the end of their display, at least here in the Netherlands. Go out and get some, and keep them in the fridge for some of the elderflower recipes to follow.

The simplest thing to do to preserve the flavour of these short-lived but beautiful flowers is to infuse sugar with them, in a similar way to the vanilla sugar that makes the use of high quality vanilla beans worthwhile.

The elderflower sugar keeps well and is a lovely reminder of the early summer when the flowers are in full bloom. You can use it in cakes, biscuits and many other things, and I will be experimenting with some baking in the coming weeks. If you only have enough elderflowers for one more thing, this is the stepping-stone recipe you should probably make.

And this is how you do it:

Get a large glass jar with a lid. The amount of flower bracts that you will need will be determined by the size of the jar.

Pick through elderflower heads, and remove any brown flowers or bits. Remove the flowers from their stalks. This is easily done, by gripping the stalk between your thumb and forefinger, and pushing them down to the flowers. They will pop off with very little pressure.

You need to keep as much of the pollen as possible, because that is where the flavour is, so try to get the blooms in the jar as you strip them from the stalks.

Keep going until you have filled about a quarter of the jar. Top up the rest with the sugar, give it a stir and leave it to infuse for at least 3-4 days.

Sieve out the flowers before use.

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Beans, Beans are good for your …Burgers!

Bulgur & Bean Veggie Burger

Barbecues – Not Just for Carnivores

You may have gathered by now that I like to barbecue. We don’t have a fancy grill or gas burner, and rely on simple charcoal. I don’t really see the point in lighting up a barbie if it is only going to be the two of us, so I tend to supersize mine, and invite loads of people. I’m pretty well-practiced at it now, and can happily cope with 20-30 guests.

We fill a baby bath with ice, for the drinks to chill in, and I set about making the things that will go onto it, with various salads, and dips. There are a few things that must feature – ribs, sausages, vegetable skewers, and of course burgers. I make my own meat burgers, and I don’t leave out veggie friends.

BBQ used as heat for guests

Burn All The Things

Of course, as is tradition, I do all the prep work, and step back to let the Big Guy get the glory, as he (and often a few other grill kings/ queens) ‘caramelises’ my food.

I am not a fan of fake meats. I know that they have saved many a vegetarian at a barbecue, but they just aren’t for me. These vegan burgers are not pretending to be meaty, I think that their flavour and texture is good enough to speak for themselves. And they are great in a bun!

The recipe is a good basis for a veggie burger. From here, you can change the spice mix, substitute coriander for the parsley, use fresh chilli instead of the cayenne pepper, or add nuts or some other vegetables to the mix. I have made a few variations myself. I’d love to hear your variations, and maybe steal them give them a try.

These burgers keep well in the fridge or freezer, and you can cook them in a frying pan too, if you don’t have enough people round light the barbecue.

You may have noticed that a lot of my recipes have been veggie or vegan lately. This is because a friend recently cycled the Dunwich Dynamo, and I agreed to “sponsor” him by signing up to reduce my carbon through Do-Nation. This is a great way of getting people to do a few simple green actions for a short period of time, to see how they get on. It is also a lovely way to help people to feel involved in supporting your event without asking them to donate money, which can be a little awkward in these straightened times. The actions themselves are not too difficult to achieve, and it may get a few people to continue to do them, after all it is supposed to take 30 days to form a habit, so after 2 months it may be second nature.

Peter managed to smash the carbon target that he set himself at the start. I chose the Veg Out option. I really don’t eat all that much meat, so for two months, I have pledged to cut it even further, and also to go vegan a couple of days a week.

The Dunwich Dynamo took place over the weekend, and so far reports are that my friend is very happy, and a little sore, but I expect that there will be no lasting problems. Congratulations Pete, on getting your friends to take some small carbon friendly actions, and for the epic ride!

Bulgur & Bean Burgers Ready to Grill

Grill Ready

Ingredients

200 g dried beans, or one can. I usually use kidney or brown beans here, but the variety is really up to you.

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp cayenne pepper

100 g bulgur wheat

400 ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

Good bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Method

If you are using dried beans, soak them for a few hours. Drain then bring them to the boil in fresh, unsalted water. Cook until they are tender. You’ll probably need at least 40 mins for this, but it depends on the age of the beans. Don’t be tempted to salt the beans, or you will make the skins tough.

If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them, and heat them in fresh, unsalted water.

It is best to work with warm ingredients, as they bind a bit better, so try to get all the ingredients cooked at roughly the same time. If you are using dried beans, they will need to be started first, if you are using tinned, they should be warmed through as you come to the end of the bulgur preparation.

In a dry pan, toast the cumin seeds until they give off their characteristic scent. Keep them moving, as they will catch quickly. Once they are done, remove immediately to a mortar or a spice grinder.

Add a little oil to the warm pan, and sweat the onion on a gentle heat. You don’t want to colour the onion.

Meanwhile, grind up the cumin, and add the cayenne and garlic, and grind up to a paste. Add to the translucent onion, and fry until the aroma begins to waft.

Add the bulgur and stir to coat all of the grains in the onion and spice and oil. Add the stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the stock has been absorbed.

When the beans are done, drain, but don’t discard the cooking water. If the burger mix is too crumbly, you can add a bit of this to help it to bind.

Mix the soy, beans and parsley into the bulgur mix. Use the stalks of the herb too, as they pack loads of flavour. Set aside about a quarter of the mixture, and then pulse the rest in a blender until it is comes together. You want it to be sticky, but not a paste.

Add the reserved mixture from earlier, for texture and stir well.

Make patties by rolling lumps into balls in your hands, and then flattening on a board to make the burger. They will look surprisingly round. This is normal.

Chill for at least an hour before you grill them, to help them retain their shape. Grill or fry on either side over low coals. Preferably on a summer’s day. You may be able to make great burgers, but you can’t control the weather!

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A Soup for Summer

Summer Vegetable Nage

Summer Soup A-Swimming

For the past two years I have been experimenting with poaching. I have poached chicken, fish and even lamb. I love the tenderness that poaching lends meat, and it makes it really difficult (though not impossible) to  over cook.

The basis of a really good poached dish is the poaching liquid itself. This can be really simple, such as using water and maybe a few drops of vinegar when poaching eggs. More commonly, the poaching liquor, or nage is used to impart flavour and herbal notes to the thing you are poaching.

Nage comes from the French verb nager: to swim. The basis is a really good stock, and probably adding extra vegetables, which are then discarded.

Lately, nage has come to mean a delicate broth that gets served with the dish, but that can hold its own on the plate. The vegetables that were added for flavour are usually still removed. I hate wasting perfectly good food like this, and have been thinking that the basis of a poaching nage would make a delicious soup in its own right.

I had a vegetarian friend coming to dinner, the weather was stuffy, and I had broad beans, peas and herbs reaching their peak in the garden. I decided that I would experiment. The peas and beans should impart their soft sweet taste of summer, and the other vegetables needed a little bite. Unless you have few teeth, soft mushy vegetables are not pleasant, and certainly not what I wanted to represent a light summer soup. I served this dish as a delicate starter.

One of the herbs that I have in my garden is chervil. This delicate herb is often quite difficult to find in shops or markets in the Netherlands and the UK, but it really easy to grow, in the garden or on a windowsill. It has a delicate aniseed flavour but it really can add a lot to a salad, soup, fish or chicken dish, and will add a lot to a herb sauce. I really recommend that you have a go at growing this delightful little herb.

Herbs on a Saturday Challenge badge

Because I have used chervil and parsley in the soup, I am entering it in the June Herbs on Saturday, hosted by Karen Burns Booth at Lavender and Lovage. I really feel that this summery dish really captures the light herbal notes that are perfect for June.

The lemon zest trick was inspired by Nathan Outlaw, I think, but I’m not really sure where it came from. Don’t miss out that step though, it is important.

This soup really needs a good stock. You won’t be able to make it with a powder or a stock cube, it will be far too salty, and will also take away from the light herb flavours. Luckily, using the trimmings from the vegetables from this dish and a cabbage leaf or two, you can make a really good stock to use as the basis of the dish, with no waste. You definitely won’t regret it.

Recipe: Summer Vegetable and Herb Nage

Ingredients

Juice and zest of a lemon

700 ml of good quality vegetable stock (no cubes please)

100 g peas, shelled weight

200 g broad beans, shelled weight

2 shallots, finely chopped

4 summer carrots, finely chopped

1 bulb florence fennel, tough outer leaves removed and finely chopped

4 sprigs chervil, finely chopped (including stalks)

Small bunch curly leaf parsley, finely chopped (including stalks)

Any fronds from the fennel, finely chopped.

Salt to season

Method

Cook the lemon zest in a dry pan until you can smell the essential oils have been released. You will need to keep stirring, to help prevent burning.

Add the stock to the pan, and bring it to boiling point. Then lower the heat and simmer it for five minutes. Take it off the heat, and let it cool.

Cook the beans and the peas in unsalted boiling water. You can use the same pan, if you like, but the peas will need to go in after the beans have been cooking for a couple of minutes. Please take care not to over cook the vegetables. They really only need minutes, although the exact time will depend on their size. You will definitely not need longer than five minutes, even for large beans.

When cooked, drain the vegetables, and run them under a cold tap, or add to an ice bath to stop them cooking any further. Double-pod any broad beans bigger than half a centimetre in length. I know that this can seem like a hassle, but it really is necessary, and will give a much better balance of flavour overall.

When the stock is completely cold, add the lemon juice.

The next stages are very quick, so as not to overcook the vegetables, so please make sure that you have done all the chopping, don’t be tempted to continue chopping stuff while something  else cooks.

Soften the shallots for a minute or two on a low heat. You don’t really want the flavour of your best extra virgin olive oil here, so use a light olive oil, or sunflower oil. Be very careful, shallots can catch quickly, and you don’t want them to even start to colour. Keep stirring them.

Add the carrot and the fennel to the shallot, and sweat them all off for a minute, again, not allowing them to colour.

Add the cold stock, and bring it up to boiling point. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables just begin to soften. This will take no longer than five minutes, as the vegetable pieces should be quite small.

Taste and season with a little salt if you need to. You don’t need pepper for this dish, it will totally change the delicate balance of the flavours.

Add the peas and beans, and simmer for about a minute to allow them to warm, but not really cook more.

Finally, stir through the chopped herbs and serve this light, refreshing summer soup immediately.

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A Very British Affair

Salmon Fishcakes with tabbouleh, sauce grib-ish and a green salad

A Succulent Summer Plate

This past week, I have been in the UK again, mostly for my Mum’s birthday. We had a lovely weekend, starting with a bracing walk around the old English towns of Burnham on Sea and Weston Super Mare. Unfortunately, we also went on days when almost the entirety of both towns were closed, probably due to the weather. We still managed to have some lovely fish and chips, and an ice cream. And a poke around the end-of-pier arcades, but that really was mostly to get out of the wind for a bit.

Last week, I also noticed that Liz Knight of Forage was going to be doing a family forage at the Tudor Farmhouse Market  in Clearwell in the Forest of Dean. As that is pretty close to where my parents are, and it is a beautiful place to go, I cheekily asked if they would take a family with grown up kids. When they kindly agreed, I had a plan for Sunday too.  We enjoyed a short walk around the grounds of the hotel, and picked up loads of delicious treats, and all of us learned about things that we didn’t know were edible. There were also local food producers and a folk duo playing live.

As you know from yesterday’s post, Liz has been very helpful over Twitter, so it was lovely to meet her in person. She is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable, as well as being great with all the kids that came. She kept everyone engaged on the walk. There were bread and syrup making demonstrations afterwards, using our bounty. Liz runs a number of foraging walks and classes, so you could look out for them, I guarantee that you will learn a lot.

We also had a barbecue for Mum’s friends and family. I was happy to lend a hand with home-made burgers, salads, and dips. Many of them will appear here soon, but I have so many things to post that they may be over the course of a few weeks.

The important thing is that she enjoyed herself, and there were actually few leftovers. This is a good thing, but you do know how I love using up leftovers. My dad had baked a salmon, and there were a few new potatoes that we had cooked up in their skins, in water with a few mint leaves in it. We served these simply in butter. What better way to use these ingredients up than to have fishcakes?

No Waste Food Challenge by Turquoise Lemons

This is also my entry to this Month’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted by Turquoise Lemons. For June, Kate is challenging us to produce a recipe using leftovers of any kind. This entire meal was to use up the leftovers from the barbecue, with only the addition of freshly cut herbs for the fishcakes, so it definitely qualifies.

I served the fishcakes with tabbouleh, sauce grib-ish, and a fresh salad. A perfect way to round up a birthday weekend. And at last the sun had arrived, so we ate this meal in the garden.

Prepared Salmon Fish Cakes

Pat-a-Fishcake

Recipe: Baked Salmon

Ingredients

1 whole salmon*, gutted and cleaned.

4-5 sprigs tarragon

Small bunch flat leaf parsley

Cucumber, sliced

Butter, softened enough to be able to brush on the delicate fish

Method

Check that the salmon will fit into your oven, on a baking sheet. If you are having problems, then you can remove the head or the tail, or both. I like to leave the head on if I can, the cheek meat is the cook’s treat.

Pre-heat the oven. Dad just says a low oven. I would suggest that this is no higher than 160°C.

Place the herbs and the cucumber in the cavity of the fish, and season to taste.

Brush the fish with butter, then wrap it in foil, as you would for cooking en papillotte (the parcel making starts at 2.16). Place the parcel on the baking sheet, and cook in the oven until the fish is just done. Exact times will depend on the size of your fish. As a guide, our fish was 1.3 kg and took about 40 mins in a low gas oven.

This gives a lovely, moist fish, that is delicious hot or cold, served on the bone.

Recipe: Salmon Fishcakes

As this is intended to use leftovers, this is more a guideline than a recipe, so I have listed the ingredients, but not the amounts, use up what you have.

New potatoes, boiled, or leftover mashed potatoes

Cooked salmon

Cream Cheese

Parsley, finely chopped

Method

The next day, I had about 7-8 new potatoes (not the really tiny ones). I peeled them, then heated them up in the remainder of the butter. New potatoes are not the best kind to use for mash, but when they were warm, they mashed really well. I added a scant tablespoonful of cream cheese to help bind it. Horseradish cream would also have been great, but my Dad won’t eat that.

Remove skin and any bones from the salmon, and flake it into large chunks.

Mix the mashed potato, fish and herbs, until they are well combined. Form into patties by rolling balls in your hands, then flattening and shaping on a chopping board.

I had worried that the new potatoes wouldn’t mash too well, so I was going to coat them in breadcrumbs to help. As this wasn’t needed, I decided just to fry them in a little oil until they were browned on both sides.

These fishcakes will keep in the fridge for a few days, and they also freeze well.

*When sourcing a salmon, due to recent overfishing, it is better to get a farmed  one. Fish farming can have serious environmental issues, particularly where the fish are fed other fish by-products and are routinely fed antibiotics (mostly required in overcrowded nets). In order to avoid this, please look for organic farms, that feed a plant-based diet. This is what the Marine Conservation Society have to say on the issue.

NB: This is not a sponsored post, I mention Forage and the Tudor Farmhouse because I really enjoyed the experience.

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