Saturday, 29 April 2017

Harvest Cookbook Review

The best fruit and vegetables are those eaten in season as they are often at their juiciest and tastiest.  Lamb and game meat are also associated with seasons throughout the year and also taste their best when eaten in season.The British fruit and vegetable seasons offer a range of wonderful seasonal fare which is great for those who want to eat ingredients that taste great and also at it's cheapest.

 This cookery book, Harvest by Parisian Emilie Guelpa showcases a range of seasonal recipes based on the 4 seasons: Summer, Autumn, Spring and Winter. The concept of this book is that one featured ingredient, which is cultivated in a particular season, such as: Plums, Peach, Pears, Lamb and rhubarb, is followed by a number of recipes showing the versatility of the featured ingredient. The result is a cookery book containing 180 recipes. Harvest, published by Hardie Grant is currently on sale via Amazon for £13.49, which I think is good value for money given the number of recipes, easy to follow recipes and that most of the recipes are family friendly. 


As stated the recipes are split into 4 seasons, standout recipes include:
  • Summer - recipes to try include: Almond, Marzipan and Blueberry Slice, Sticky Lemon Roast Chicken with Sweet Tomatoes, Linguine with Broad Beans, Pancetta and Spicy Tomato and Cauliflower, Mint and Chickpea Salad.
  • Autumn - standout recipes include: Pear and Almond Tart, Five-Spiced Duck and Pomegranate Salad and Maple and Cranberry Chicken Drumsticks.
  • Winter - recipes to try include: Lentil and Cauliflower Curry, Thai Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Salad of Fennel, Pomegranate and Candied Walnuts and Chipotle-Braised Beef Ribs with Spicy Baked Pumpkin.
  • Spring - stand out recipes include: Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Hot Broad Bean and Feta Dressing, Ginger-Lime Glazed Chicken, Coriander Salmon Tacos, Rhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins and Pineapple and Cinnamon Relish. 

There are a number of tantalising recipes featured in this book, but the recipe which I made was the Herb-roasted leg of lamb. I omitted the suggested serving of the hot broad bean and feta dressing. However, will include this in case you want to recreate the recipe in full.



Recipe for Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb wit Hot Broad Bean and Feta Dressing.
Serves 6
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped basil
zest of 2 lemons
125ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5kg lamb leg
1.5kg fava beans
80g pitted kalamata olives
1 handful flat leaf parsley
1 small handful of mint
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
100g crushed feta cheese

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Grind the garlic using a mortar and pestle. Add the herbs and lemon zest and grind to a rough paste. Add the olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until combined.
Rub the herb-and-garlic paste all over the lamb. Place in a deep roasting tin and roast for 1- 1 1/2 hours. To check if the lamb is done, insert a small knife into the centre of the roast. Count to five. If the knife feels warm (tepid), the meat is rare. If it feels bearably hot, the meat is medium. You're aiming for medium to medium-rare. If necessary, cook for a further for 5 minutes and test again. Cover and rest for 20 minutes in a warm place before carving.
Meanwhile, remove the broad beans from their pods and bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the beans for 1 minute, then drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the pale green skins by creating a slit in the skin and pushing beans through it. Discard the skins.
Toss the broad beans, olives, parsley and mint together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour into a large frying pan over medium-low heat, add the feta and the broad bean mixture and cook gently until just warmed through. Pour the lamb roasting-pan juices into the dressing and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.

To serve, carve the lamb and top with the hot broad bean and feta dressing.

Many thanks to Hardie Grant for sending me a review copy.

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Nothing quite says Spring than a the bright pink, long stalks of the vegetable yet eaten as a fruit, rhubarb. I've always seen think pink hued beauties at my local supermarkets and often passed them to  fruits which I am more familiar with. I really want to cook more with seasonal British fruit and vegetables this year. Fruit and vegetables always taste better when in season and so hopefully I'll be hearing more and more recipes using seasonal ingredients.

The last few weeks was the first time I've ever cooked with rhubarb. The first thing I made was rhubarb crumble, it reminded me school puddings -such fond memories. I noticed, though that when the rhubarb is baked, some of the vibrant pink hue was lost, so when I remade this, I added an early seasonal bunch of strawberries to add further sweetness. The end result is a rich, fruity and comforting crumble which will keep you satisfied from Spring to Summer.





Ingredients
4 x rhubarb, cut into 2cm thick
75g demeara sugar
150g plain flour
50g oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
25g margarine (e.g stork)
250g strawberries, hulls removed and cut in half.


Method 
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Place the rhubarb in a pie or oven dish, sprinkle the brown sugar over the rhubarb and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, cinnamon and margarine. Using your fingers mix together - the idea is to have finer pieces of crumble, alongside some large clumps.
Remove the rhubarb from the oven, add the strawberries and gently mix with the rhubarb. Place the crumble on top and bake in the oven on the top shelf for between 35-40 minutes.

xxx
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Friday, 14 April 2017

Chicken Chow Mein

I've previously blogged this recipe four years ago - i've come a long way in term of my food photography skills! I've used udon noodles for this version which I much prefer as it's thicker and more robust than egg noodles. I've also added a splash of the fiery thai sauce sriracha to an extra chill kick. What I love most about this dish is that it's quick, easy and healthy. 




Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook In: 10 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients
150g  medium egg noodles (I used udon noodles) 
2 dashes of toasted sesame oil
300g skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Dash of soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp chilli sauce (optional)
1 tbsp cornflour
1-2 tbsp of groundnut oil
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
150g beansprouts
1 large spring onion, sliced lengthways
2tbsp light soy sauce
ground of black pepper
Sriaccha (optional) 

Method
1) Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until al dente, or according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, then rinse under cold running water and drain again. Drizzle with a dash of sesame oil and toss together to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
2) Place the chicken strips in a bowl and season with the dark soy sauce, five-spice powder and chilli sauce (if using). Mix well, then lightly dust the chicken strips with the cornflour.
3) Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and add the groundnut oil, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and golden.
4) Tip in the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the bean sprouts and spring onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked noodles and season with the light soy sauce, the remaining dash of toasted sesame oil and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the noodles between plates and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mountain Berries and Desert Spice Review and Giveaway.

This is the second book from Sumayya Usmani, the chef introducing the UK to the delights of Pakistani cuisine. I've previously reviewed her debut book Summers Under The Tamarind Tree and I must say, I much prefer this book, Mountain Berries and Summer Fruits. Perhaps it's because I have a ridiculously sweet tooth, or that the book brings back memories of my teenage years. Growing up in a multi-cultural city, I tried many an Indian sweets and there are some sweets featured in this book such as the Jalebis which I developed a slight addiction to when I lived in Leicester. But there are many other sweet recipes, some which uses familiar ingredients and others where you may have to source out.

There are key ingredients which are featured in many recipes and alternatives given - so you can easily recreate the recipes featured. It's hard to describe how the recipes are split into different chapters as there are reference to type of fruits and also regions and seasons. The recipes feature a range of delicious sweetness and spice which will spice up your usual sweet treats. There is also a wonderful guidance and informative history of the diversity of Pakistan. The climate, for example can influence the fruit and spices grown, heck the diversity of the dishes. I've pencil marked a number of recipes and so far have made the Shahi turka brioche bread, although I plan on making many more.




This cookery book is split into the following chapters.

  • Sour morning berries, Rising to mouth-watering spice. Recipes which stood out for me include Sharbat (Buckwhet porridge with pink salt, cardamom and stewed Hunza apricots), Hunza barove giyaling (Buckwhet pancakes with summer berries, walnuts and apricot oil) and Sweet parathas (filled with date, walnut and milk fudge).
  • Sugar almonds and buffalo milk, The sweetness of diversity.  Recipes include Gajrela (Carrot rice pudding), Bejewelled Parsi wedding custard, Dar ni puri (sweet bread filled with channa daal and candied peel) and Memon lappi (crunch oats with jaggery, cinnamon and fennel seeds).
  • Kits, kingdoms and cardamom samosas, Flavours from Lahore and the Mughal Empire. Recipes to devour include: Pakistani jalebis (spiralled fermented doughnuts in turmeric - infused syrup) and Shakarkandi ki kheer (sweet potato pudding with rice flour and spices. 
  • Through mulberry valleys, Summer fruits in harsh winters. Standout recipes Spiced apple samosas, Chamborough (Stewed Hunza apricots with cream and apricot kennels) and Gajar mukhadi (Semolina and carrot pudding).
  • A saffron blaze, Following the spice caravans. Recipes to try include Khanfaroush (Spiced saffron crumpets with honey) and Peshawari pistachio ice cream. 
  • Festive spice and roses, Celebratory sweets. Standout recipes include Shahi turka brioche bread pudding (with saffron, ricotta, cranberries and chopped nuts), Milk fudge fill samosas with coconut, cloves and pomegranate and Kashmiri shufta (paneer cheese with floral spiced nuts).
  • Chilli mangoes and ocean breeze, The sweetness of homecoming. Recipes to try include Mummy's panjeri semolina granola with mixed nuts, dried fruit and puffed Arabic gum and Karachi halva with pumpkin seeds and cashews.
The recipe that I tried and enjoyed was the shahi turks brioche bread pudding. I found this recipe incredibly easy to make, with all the ingredients available in my local supermarket. This pudding is rich, indulgent and sweet - a perfect end to a lazy weekend. 

Preparation: 25 minutes and chilling 
Cooking: 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients 
1 litre whole milk
250ml generous 1 cup condensed milk
a pinch of saffron threads
4 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely crushed
150g ricorra
3 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
10 slices of brioche loaf, cut in half
handful of chopped pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, dried cranberries, cherries and raisins

Method
Put the milk, condensed milk, saffron and cardamom together in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boiled over a low-medium heat down to low, add the ricotta, stir until smooth (tiny lumps may remain which are fine) and cook for 10 minutes until thick. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the ghee in a pan, add a brioche slice and fry until it is toasted on both sides. Transfer the brioche to an ovenproof dish and repeat frying all each slice of brioche in 1 teaspoon of ghee.
Pour the milk mixture over the brioche and decorate with nuts, berries and raisins. At this point you can either refrigerate or bake in an oven preheated to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this cookery book from the publishers. All opinions are my own.
xxx
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