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Pizza • Carrot Anise Puree, Balsamic Onions, Goats Cheese & Walnuts

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Pizza • Carrot Anise Puree, Balsamic Onions, Goats Cheese & Walnuts

I hope it’s OK to compare my food to a tree - is it? As this pizza looks not too dissimilar to an Autumn tree, seducing with its warming array of colours and shades - orange, purple, brown, green - am I wrong?

This season! A time to notice and appreciate the nature around us and nurture the little pot belly that’s promising to keep us warm for the next 6-8 months. Comforting fruit and veg (think pears, beetroot, potatoes, pumpkin), layers and cosy evenings in, not sweating before you’ve even left the house - what’s not to like about Autumn?

Without further ado, Autumn on a plate, is served.

Enough for one pizza

Ingredients:

For the puree:

  • 250g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped into small chunks

  • 12g vegan butter

  • 1 star anise

  • 100ml vegetable stock

  • 50ml coconut milk

  • Juice of 1/4 lemon

  • 1-2 red onions 

  • Olive oil

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar

  • 4 slices of hard goats cheese

  • Handful of walnuts

  • Rucola 

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

For the carrot puree, gently melt the butter in a shallow pan, add the carrots and star anise and stir until the butter coats the carrots. Cook for 10 mins, stirring often until the carrots are glazed and starting to soften. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable stock and pour into the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins until stock is slightly reduced. Now add the coconut milk, bring back to the boil and simmer for 1 min. Remove pan from the heat, take out the star anise and carefully stir in the lemon juice. Season well, transfer carefully to a food processor and blitz in to a puree (alternatively leave in the pan and use a hand blender instead). Consistency should be smooth and quite thick. Set aside to cool.

Now for the onions. Cut and discard the tops and tails of the onions, peel away the outer layer and cut width ways, about 2cm thick. Lay onion rounds flat on the baking paper of a prepared roasting dish. Season with salt and massage each round with a splash of oil and then, balsamic vinegar. Don’t go crazy here, you don’t want the onions to be swimming in Modena’s finest, but be generous all the same. Roast for 40 mins or until slightly charred. 

Prepare the rest of the toppings by slicing 4 - 5 slices of the goats cheese, about 1cm thick and roughly chopping a handful of walnuts. Once all the toppings have cooled, take your pre-prepared / store bought pizza base, top with the carrot puree, onions and goats cheese. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes at 200°C until the middle of the pizza is hot to tough and goats cheese starts to melt. Remove from the oven and finish with some rocket and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Blood Orange & Thyme Polenta Cake

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Blood Orange & Thyme Polenta Cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 blood oranges (for the bottom)

  • 125g vegan butter (plus extra for greasing)

  • 250g light brown sugar

  • 175g polenta

  • 200g ground almonds

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • Zest and juice of 2 blood oranges

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 4 tbsp flaxseeds + 8 tbsp water

For the syrup:

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp water or juice of half an orange

  • Pinch of dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and butter the bottom of a 23cm/9inch clip cake tin (if you don't have a clip tin, line the whole thing with baking paper leaving enough poking out of the top so that you can easily lift the cake out once cooked).

Prepare the oranges for the top of the cake by carefully slicing into thin rounds, remove and discard any seeds and bitter pith and arrange the slices to cover the bottom of the cake tin. Fill in any gaps with smaller cuts of orange segments. 

Prepare the flax-eggs by mixing the flaxseeds and water together in a bowl and leave for a few minutes to bind. Peel the remaining blood oranges and chop roughly. Measure all the dry ingredients and place in a blender, then add the chopped orange, vanilla, salt and flax-eggs and blitz until combined. Pour mixture in to the cake tin on top of the orange slices and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until it turns a deep golden colour.

While the cake is in the oven you can make the syrup. Pour equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat on a low - medium heat, stirring often until all of the sugar has dissolved, around 5-10 minutes.  As the syrup begins to bubble gently, add a pinch of dried thyme and stir well. Remove from heat and leave to cool. NB: I only had dried thyme in the cupboard and it worked perfectly, although I'm sure that fresh thyme would be just as, if not more satisfying. You could even crisp some up in the oven and serve along side the cake.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Unclip the sides (if using a clip tin) and slide a sharp knife or spatular underneath the cake to loosen it from the bottom. Turn the cake upside down and carefully remove the bottom of the tin to reveal those tempting blood orange rounds.

Smother with as much syrup as your sweet tooth can take and enjoy! 

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Albinelli Winter Salad

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Albinelli Winter Salad

Mercato Albinelli in Modena, Italy -  so far, my favourite food market ever! We went there on the morning of my birthday to buy fresh pasta and ingredients for dinner that evening. We bought radicchio and blood oranges, perfect Winter produce, and tossed them together with the freshest, crunchiest rucola and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano - delizioso!

It was perfect alongside our pasta dish and I couldn't wait to replicate it at home, only this time I added some raw marinated fennel and a balsamic maple dressing.

Buon Appetito!

Serves 4-6, side dish

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of rucola
  • 1 small radicchio
  • 1 - 2 blood oranges
  • Salt & black pepper

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

First you want to marinate the fennel; after washing, chop off the stalks and using a pair of scissors, carefully cut the fronds and leave to one side. Cut the bum off of the bulb and stand the fennel upright. Slice in half and discard the outer layer, which should fall away by itself. Then using a mandoline if you have one, slice the fennel - the thickness is really up to you but I like it very thin or about 1/2cm thick - and place in a shallow bowl. Add the lemon juice, oil, some salt and pepper and massage the fennel until coated. Leave to sit for as long as you can wait...anywhere between 10 mins - 2 hours!

Meanwhile, prepare the radicchio by discarding the outer layers and peel away the leaves, tearing into whatever size and shape you prefer. Peel the blood orange and cut into small cubes, discarding the bitter white pith as you go. 

For the dressing, combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt in a jar and shake well. Taste and adjust for seasoning if necessary and if you prefer it sweeter, just add a little more maple syrup (NB: you can always substitute the maple syrup with honey).

Once the fennel is ready, toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and drizzle over the balsamic maple dressing. Finish with the fennel fronds and if you like, shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano. 

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Almond & Kale Pesto

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Almond & Kale Pesto

We all know that a traditional pesto recipe involves pine nuts, parmesan and basil, and whilst there is a perfectly good reason for this, here I'm using almonds (cheaper), kale (Winter) and no parmesan (vegan)

Homemade pesto is simple to make and and makes everyone's go-to dinner, pasta pesto, so much more delicious and wholesome.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g kale leaves, washed
  • 120g almonds (I like un-blanched for the colour &)
  • 120ml olive oil
  • Juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper

Roughly chop the kale leaves and add to a food processor along with all the other ingredients (add the almonds in last to weigh down the mix). Blitz, taste and adjust for seasoning. Store in the fridge for 1 week and top up with a little oil to help keep it fresh. 

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Beetroot Pizza with Winter Greens, Feta & Toasted Hazelnuts

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Beetroot Pizza with Winter Greens, Feta & Toasted Hazelnuts

BEHOLD A FEAST FOR THE EYES AND STOMACH! 

Probably my favourite pizza visually and it's also totally delicious. I'm using rainbow chard here as it was available at the time, but you can always use Tuscan cavolo nero or kale instead - any Winter green you can get your hands on will work well.

The pizza base is my signature cauli-crust - watch this space for how you can get your mits on it soon…

Enough for one pizza

Ingredients:

  • 150g beetroot cannellini bean dip (see my recipe here)

  • A few leaves of rainbow chard / cavolo nero / kale

  • Handful of feta

  • 1/2 small red chilli (depending on seed count & personal heat preference)

  • Handful of hazelnuts

First make the beetroot spread and set aside. 

Cut the ends off the chard, wash the leaves and pat dry. Bunch them together and slice into 1cm thin strips. Sauté in a wok / frying pan with a little oil along with the red chilli (you don't want to end up with oily leaves here, just enough so that it doesn't stick) Season well, stir often for about 5 mins and remove from the heat.

Take the pizza base and using the back of a spoon spread the beetroot bean mix over the base and top with the sauteed chard. Pop the pizza in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes to heat up, then take the feta, break into small chunks and scatter over the pizza along with lightly some toasted hazelnuts. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice (very important) and enjoy! So yum.

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