Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette

Tartiflette is a comforting French dish popular amongst those heading to Alpine resorts. Just picture the scene, coming back in from a day on the slopes and in need of a comforting dish to warm you up whilst sipping a glass of wine or two in front of a roaring log fire- heaven! If you like potato, cheese and bacon then this is the perfect dish for you! In my version I have added cavolo nero as a nod towards one of your five a day but you could leave it out if you prefer or replace with spinach if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
150g smoked bacon lardons
250g cavolo nero- washed
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 shallot- finely chopped
Knob of unsalted butter
800g waxy potatoes, such as King Edwards
400g Reblochon or Camembert cheese
300ml double cream
120ml vegetable stock

1. Firstly preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take a frying pan and heat over a medium heat; fry off the lardons until golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Keep an bacon fat which is in the pan. Shred that leaves of the cavolo nero and fry in the pan along with the garlic and shallot until wilted. Remove and set aside.

2. Rub a little softened butter in the inside of a baking dish approximately 20cm x 25cm in size. I sometimes use individual baking dishes so everyone has their own so it’s up to you.

3. Cut the potatoes into 3mm thin slices and layer in the dish with the cavolo nero, bacon and half of the cheese. Leave the thinnest potato slices for the top so they go crispy when it’s cooked. Season the layers as you go.

4. Pour over the cream and stock and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for few minutes before digging in.

Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette- go off piste with my version of this Alpine classic! The diet starts tomorrow…

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Traditional Welsh cawl

Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew that could not be simpler to make so give it a go. It is made with whatever meat (or meats) and seasonal vegetables were available so there is room for experimentation! The lamb could also be substituted with beef or a ham joint if you prefer. This is a perfect opportunity to try crumbly Caerphilly cheese if you have not had it before so dig in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
450g lamb casserole steak
25g pearl barley
2 sliced carrots
1 onion sliced
1/2 chopped swede
1 leeks in chunks
400g potatoes in chunks
Sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

1. Trim the meat and cut into large chunks. Add to large heavy based pan, top up with plenty of water and bring to a boil. As the meat comes to the boil you will see residue that needs to be skimmed off the top.

2. Next in goes the barley, carrot, onion and swede; bring back to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Bundle together the thyme and bay leaves and drop these in alongside the peppercorns and simmer for 2 hours.

3. When the stew has been simmering for a couple of hours pop in the potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes followed by the leeks which need to be cooked for 5- 10 minutes until tender.  Serve in deep, warmed bowls with a good hunk of Caerphilly cheese and fresh bread.

Simple, warming and authentic!

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup

At this time of year minds turn to soup as warming, comforting lunch or dinner. Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup hits all the right notes on the flavour front to give a satisfying meal that you will definitely want more of! If you like a hit of chilli then you can also add this to add some warmth but the flavours of the soup are just as lovely without.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- chopped
1 large red pepper- cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato- peeled and cut into inch chunks
200g red lentils- washed and drained
600ml hot vegetable stock
30ml milk (optional)
Salt and pepper

1. Start off by making sure that all the vegetables are chopped and ready to go. Heat the knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until the onion and pepper has softened.

2. Next up goes the potato chunks and stir to make sure they get a buttery coating. Cook until the potato is catching a little colour on the outside before adding the lentils and stock. Bring the stock to a boil before lowering to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer until the potato is softened and the lentils are tender. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with a hand blender; you can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like. At this point you can add a little milk if you would like a creamier finish but it was delicious without too! Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup- autumn in a bowl!

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup

Autumn is here and that means that soup season has started too! This roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup makes the best of fresh ingredients to bring out the flavours from each. When garlic and shallots are roasted they lose their pungency and develop a wonderful sweetness which keeps you wanting more. This recipe feeds four happily but it can easily be doubled to make a larger batch. The soup is best stored in a sealed container in the fridge and you will find that the flavours get better and better the day after you make it so try not to scoff it all in one go! It calls for leftover Parmesan (or similar) rind which sits in the soup whilst it’s simmering away and gives an extra umami hit. I always freeze leftover rinds for such occasions!

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 whole bulbs of garlic
6 shallots
Olive oil
Knob of butter
450g peeled potatoes- I used Maris Piper
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
900ml vegetable stock
Parmesan rind (optional but delicious so advised!)
40ml milk or double cream

1. Start by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for the garlic and shallot. Cut the tops of the bulbs and shallots to expose the flesh and then place cut side up on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with a good helping of olive oil and roast for around half an hour until tender. Remove from the oven, unwrap the foil parcels and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle squeeze out the flesh. Roughly chop the garlic and shallot ready for later and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add a knob of butter to a large saucepan which will be big enough to fit the stock later on and heat over a medium heat. Take your peeled potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Sautee the potato chunks along with as much thyme sprigs, sea salt and pepper as you fancy for 15 minutes until they start to soften slightly. I used smoked sea salt which added an extra layer of flavour but normal sea salt will be work too. Add in the garlic and shallot and stir well to combine before cooking for a further few minutes.

3. Make up the stock and then add to the potatoes along with the parmesan rind (if using). Bring to the boil and then drop down to a simmer; cover and cook until the potatoes are softened. Add in the milk and simmer for a few more minutes until it thickens slightly. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in deep soup bowls with some freshly grated parmesan, thyme leaves or crisped pancetta on top if you like and watch everyone tuck in!

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup- the only soup to make your house smell this good!

Autumnal lentil and bratwurst stew with pan fried spaetzle

This is a warming, hearty recipe that is perfect for autumn. Spaetzle are German noodles which are usually boiled or pan fried and served with a main dish. This recipe was inspired by a meal eaten in Berlin and I have used readymade spaetzle however you can easily find recipes online if you have time to give it a go. You can also add some smoked ham into the base of the stew if you like. If you can’t get hold of bratwurst then any good quality sausage will work well.

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Ingredients- serves 4
1 large carrot- finely diced
2 celery sticks- finely diced
1 large onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
100g diced smoked ham or pancetta (optional)
400g green lentils
600ml vegetable stock
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Fresh parsley
Bay leaves
4 bratwurst sausages
400-500g readymade spaetzle- alternatively you can find a recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/german-spaetzle-dumplings/

1. Get going by taking a large pan and heating a glug of oil over a medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes before adding in the carrot, celery and ham (if using). Stir through the lentils so they get a light coating of the onions and garlic.

2. Pop in the stock, vinegar and a couple of bay leaves and bring to the boil. I added 400ml of the stock to start with and reserved the rest and added little by little as some lentils are much more absorbent than others to judge it as you go. I always make more stock than I think I need just in case! Lower the heat, season well, cover loosley and simmer for around 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender and the liquid is reducing but some still remains for the next step.

3. Just before the lentil stew is ready, cook the bratwurst as you wish. Bratwurst can be boiled, grilled or fried so pick the cooking method of your choice! To finish off, you need to pan fry the spaetzle for a couple of minutes until cooked through. Serve the spaetzle and lentil stew with a sprinkle of parsley, with the bratwurst on the side and tuck in! Of course, you can also chunk the sausage and toss that through the lentils if you like.

Lentil and spaetzle stew with bratwurst- a tasty take on a German classic!