Sunday, 31 August 2014

Tarte au Chevre (Goat's Cheese and Onion Quiche)

Shamelessly stolen from the February 2011 issue of the Observer Food Monthly, where they share some excellent French recipes. I cheated and used store-bought pastry, and it wasn't as good, but I didn't have time to make it myself. I also had the wrong size tin so had to scale the recipe up by about 40%, and it worked fine, with 5 minutes extra cooking time.

We served this with their baked fennel (shown in the background of the photo), but I didn't find it a sufficient improvement on braised fennel to actually warrant bothering in future, unless I already had the oven on and felt like using the spare energy to heat something up.

For the quiche, you'll need a round 22cm tart tin at least 3.5cm deep with a removable base and beans for baking blind. I was extremely sceptical of their instructions for greasing the tin, but they really worked! One layer of butter, then another of flour.

For the pastry
  • 200g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a little milk
For the filling
  • 400g onions (usually 2-3)
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tsp thme leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 200g full cream milk
  • 180g goat's cheese
Blitz the flour and butter together in a food processor, until it forms tiny breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and enough milk to make a pastry dough. Pat the pastry into a flat round and roll out large enough to line the tart tin. Lightly butter the tin and dust it with a small amount of flour, shaking off any excess. Lay the dough into the tin and push it right into the corners without stretching. Trim off the overhanging pastry and repair any holes. Chill for 20 minutes.

At 200C, pre-bake the pastry case, using greaseproof paper (or foil) and baking beans to hold down the base. After 20 minutes, remove the case from the oven, pour out the beans, remove the paper and bake again for another 5 minutes, until the base is dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and turn it down to 180C.

While the crust is pre-baking, you can finely slice and fry the onions in the butter and thyme for a good 20 minutes, over a low heat, until they are totally falling apart, golden and tender. Beat the eggs and creme fraiche together, then slowly add the milk. (It will look like way too much, but the volumes do work out!) When you have blind-baked the pastry shell, put the onions in a layer on the bottom, crumble over the goat's cheese, then pour over the rest of the filling mixture. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes. The centre should quiver when gently shaken. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, so you can serve it warm.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Moroccan Braised Chicken

Back in Cambridge, we bought a second-hand copy of a One-Pot Cookbook which was really useful in the series of tiny kitchens where we prepared our meals. One of the standout recipes, which I always go back to, is probably incredibly inauthentic and doesn't even rate a photo in the cookbook (and you can probably see why, from mine). But it perfectly embodies the spirit of one-pot cooking. You literally only need a knife, a board, and a single large casserole dish to make this, and it will serve four or more (depending on the size of your chicken). Easy, no-fuss, and totally tasty.

  • a ~1.6kg chicken (giblets removed, etc)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion
  • a thumb of root ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 725ml of chicken or vegetable stock (from powder is fine)
  • 3 medium courgettes
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 4 medium carrots
  • a 340g tin of chickpeas
  • 225g cous-cous
  • 50g seedless raisins
  • 30g pine nuts
Peel and finely chop the onion and ginger, then add to the large casserole and fry with the spices for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken and turn so it gets covered with the spices. Pour in the stock, salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Dice all of the vegetables, then stir them in and simmer for a further 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Mix in the chick peas and then pour in the cous-cous and raisins. (You can remove the chicken first, if you prefer -- it certainly makes serving easier.)  While the cous-cous absorbs the liquid, toast the pine nuts gently either in the hot oven or on a small frying pan. Serve the chicken and vegetables topped with the toasted pine nuts.

Apple Turnover

One of my colleagues at work regularly buys enormous decadent pastries for "lunch dessert", from the local patisserie. He let me try a bite of his apple turnover, which was taller than it was wide! It consisted of a puff pastry base, then inch-thick layers of pie apple, custard, and whipped cream, topped at least with a puff pastry hat. It was amazing.

I knew that sitting at home was a bag of extremely cheap apples, which had not turned out very good for eating. I resolved to make apple turnovers to use them up and satisfy my craving for such an awesome dessert. While you could add custard and cream to these, they're more of a simple quick dessert that you can serve hot, with an added side of ice cream. I've written instructions for just two turnovers, but they're easy to make in large batches, as long as you have enough oven trays.


  • two eating apples
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • a sheet of ready-made puff pastry
Core, peel and dice the apples, dropping into the lemon juice as you go, to prevent browning. Stir in the sugar and cornflour, then microwave for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apple has softened and the cornflour has thickened the juices.

Preheat the oven to 200C and lay out a greased or silicone-lined baking tray. Cut the sheet of pastry into two rectangular halves. Lay out one half and spoon half of the apple mixture onto one side of it. Fold the other side over the top and press the edges together all around, so the pastry sticks together. Prick the top a couple of times with a fork. Do the same for the other piece of pastry, with the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, until risen, golden and crispy. Serve immediately, with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Yasai Itameru (Stir-fried tofu in coconut noodles)

I went back to the Wagamama cookbook for this one, and it wasn't half bad. I think the recipes still lack focus, having too many different kinds of vegetables, and the quantities are all over the place. However the sauce was very tasty, if a little rich. I also think it's silly to try to stir fry tofu at the same time as your vegetables: you can get a nice crispy skin if you do them separately, as shown in the photo. I'm posting my amended recipe rather than their original.

For the sauce

  • 1 garlic clove
  • a thumb of ginger
  • two lemongrass sticks
  • 100ml hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 100g in of coconut milk or cream (depending on how fat you feel)
For the stir-fry

  • 75g rice noodles
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 red onion
  • a bunch of Chinese vegetables, like pak choi
  • 50g sweet potato (about an inch from the middle)
  • 200g firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • a bunch of fresh coriander
  • juice of half a lime (or lemon)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
Crush the garlic, peel and grate the ginger, and finely shred the lemongrass. Cook in a small saucepan in the hot water until the garlic has softened. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook gently for a few minutes, but don't let it boil or the coconut milk can separate.

Cook the noodles according to their packet instructions. Peel and (if you like) deseed the chilli, then finely chop. Finely slice the red onion. Julienne the sweet potato. Clean and separate the pak choi. Stir fry the sweet potato and red onion until becoming tender, then add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry until just barely cooked, then remove from the pan to free it up for the tofu. Stir fry the tofu until golden and crispy, then return the vegetables to the pan and squeeze over the lime juice and soy sauce. Combine the noodles with the coconut sauce, and serve the vegetables over the top of them, topped with the coriander and a lemon or lime segment.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Pot-Roast Pork with Pears and Apples

Another winter, another conference season of failing to post! And before that, kitchen renovations; and before that, moving house! So, I'll try to get back into posting. Maybe a less ambitious target would be one new recipe a week? At least now that I have so many of my fallbacks posted.

During the move I took the time to reorganise my recipe file, which meant I found some recipes I had set aside meaning to try, but had forgotten about. Most come from the Observer, but British recipes often work poorly here because of the warm climate. Fortunately it's moderately cool at the moment, so I broke out a really gorgeous pot roast originally from Nigel in November 2009. I didn't expect much because the few times I have roasted pork, it's been dry and boring, but this pot roast was a revelation! I also simplified the recipe because in my experience, all that turning and browning at the start is totally pointless. I chucked in some fennel tops (the stalky bits that stay tough no matter what you do) to give the liquor a bit more flavour, and it seemed like a good way to use them up. This serves six with leftovers.

  • a couple of medium onions
  • 4-6 pears or apples
  • 2kg piece of pork on the bone
  • 400ml perry or cider
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • a few sticks of celery or leftover fennel tops (optional)

Set the oven to 200C. Peel, halve, and slice the onions. Core the pears/apples and cut into thick wedges. Pop the pork into a large oven-proof casserole dish (I use a Le Creuset) along with the pears/apples, onion, cider, bay leaves, and fennel tops if using. Cover and roast in the oven for about 90 minutes, or until the pork is cooked. (If it's leg, the meat will still be dark, but will have lost that 'squeaky' uncooked quality.)

You can rest the roast and serve it up, or (my favourite), put the whole thing in the fridge and serve a day later, with the pork cold and shredded, and the cooked apples and onions briefly reheated in the microwave, then seasoned. The pork works excellently with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage.