Monday, 28 February 2011

Around the world in recipes

Val d'Isere

The recession has hit me badly and I can't afford to travel, instead I have decided to cook myself around the world in recipes. As it is the ski season, I will start my journey in the French Alps. 

Raclette cheese

I will begin my French feast with a raclette. Raclette cheese originated in the French speaking alpine areas of the Valais in Switzerland. According to local legends, the trend of melting this semi-firm, cow's milk cheese began when the local farmers set up camp for the night and the cheese accidentally melted next to the fire. One farmer, not wanting to waste any, quickly scraped it off the rock and discovered it tasted even more delicious. The trend quickly spread and is now very popular among the Valais ski resorts. 
The traditional dish is served with boiled potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and a selection of dried meats.
I don't have a fancy raclette melting device so I just melted the cheese under the grill and served with roasted vegetables.

Serves: 2
Big chunk of Raclette cheese, chopped
Handful, baby potatoes
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into chunks
1/2 courgette, sliced length ways
1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
6 mini gherkins
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

V: 1 parsnip, quartered length ways.
M: Selection of dried meats: salami, proscuitto, Viande des Grisons

Heat the oven to 180ยบ. Put the carrot, pepper, courgette and garlic into a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning. 
Separately place the parsnip in an ovenproof dish. 

V: Drizzle with olive oil, honey and seasoning. 

Place both dishes in the oven for approx 20 minutes.
Boil the potatoes until soft but firm (approx 15 minutes). 

Divide the chunks of raclette cheese between two oven proof dishes and grill until melted (approx 5 minutes). Serve straight away as the cheese quickly hardens.

M: Serve with dried meat selection.


Sunday, 27 February 2011

Green Beans with Parsley and Garlic

Leek fritters, halloumi and green beans

Green beans with parsley and garlic

So the detox didn't last very long, I met friends for dinner and accidentally ordered wheat, meat and dairy in one dish! I've decided to try again next week as I couldn't resist having a few glasses of wine too. Today I made leek fritters from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty. I followed the recipe exact apart from adding spinach to the Vegetarian's mix and bacon to my portion. Ottolenghi suggested mixing the batter in with the vegetables which saved the fiddly mess that usually occurs when you try to dip the mix into the batter. I served the fritters with corriander and parsley yoghurt dip, grilled halloumi cheese and this simple but very tasty green bean dish.

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful parsley, finely chopped
Handful green beans
Small knob of butter
Sea salt and black pepper

Par-boil the green beans for about 5 minutes, drain.
In a frying pan melt the butter, add the rest of the ingredients and fry together for a few minutes. Season with sea salt and black  pepper.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Warm salad with tzatziki: Feta or Bacon

Warm salad with tzatziki

I'm attempting a detox this week, which technically makes me a vegan as it cuts out meat and dairy products as well as wheat, caffeine and sugar. I went for the easiest detox I could find but it's already proving to be quite difficult. For breakfast today I had yoghurt with granola, vegetable soup with ryvita for lunch, snacks of fruit, nuts and raisons in between, and this warm salad for dinner. Usually I would serve this salad with a boiled egg, giving the vegetarian a few chunks of cheese and myself chopped up crispy bacon, this is the recipe I am giving you. I forgot to add any protein to my detox version of the salad this evening so I now blame my craving for sweet things on this. I'm not sure what happened but I found myself in the kitchen stuffing rice cakes dripping with honey (honey is allowed) into my mouth. This was not an exciting snack, I do not recommend.

Serves: 2
Handful baby potatoes
1/2 head of broccoli
Handful fresh peas
Handful green beans, halved
Handful asparagus, chopped into three
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 free range eggs
Glug olive oil
Glug ume plum seasoning

V: Chunks of feta cheese
M: 2 slices of bacon, chopped

Boil the potatoes until tender (approx 15 minutes). Drain and half.

Steam the broccoli, asparagus, green beans and peas for 5 minutes.

Cook the eggs in water for 3-5 minutes once the water has boiled for a semi-hard yolk. Drain and half.

M: Fry the bacon until crispy.

Mix all the ingredients together adding bacon to one portion and feta to the other. Serve warm with tzatziki.