Archive for the 'Rosie Lovell' Category

Sweet yellow lentil dahl

January 19, 2010

Now, that might look like a picture of a bowl of soup. A pretty orangey coloured soup, butternut squash maybe, with a dollop of sour cream? No. What that is, in fact, is a sweet yellow lentil dahl. Yes, like the thing you get with your curry, but in dessert form. As someone who likes lentils very, very much, imagine how delighted I was to find the opportunity for another entire course of lentil. Very delighted, is the answer.

For the less lentil enthused, I argue thus: here is where the blandness of the lentil really works in its favour. It provides a formless, starchy mush, which may not sound appealing, but basically it’s exactly the same job that rice plays in rice pudding only it’s nicely pastel hued. It’s the kind of food you might feel like giving to invalids. There’s a whisper of cardamom, but the great sticky hit of condensed milk prevents it from being in any way elegant. The yoghurt is for contrast – trust me, on first bite it might not seem that sweet, but a few mouthfuls in and – ah, there you go.

Sweet yellow lentil dhal  Serves 4

A quick note about lentilly things: I used the tiny yellow moong dal here, the split and hulled version of a mung bean. It mushes down well, I find, because of its diminutive size. However, I feel that the recipe may have had a larger legume in mind because the quantities of water given were far too much and took ages to absorb. I’d say start with a ratio of twice as much water to lentil and top up if necessary.  

I halved these quantities, which you may do also, if you want to use the other half of the condensed milk to make baked yoghurt.

1 mug of yellow lentils
2-5 mugs water
6 whole cardamom pods
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sultanas
1 x 397g tin condensed milk
natural yoghurt, to serve

Place the lentils, water, cardamom and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 50 minutes with the lid off. The time may vary depending on your lentils, but all the water should be absorbed and the lentils should be soft to the bite. The recipe instructs you here to mash them so the lentils are half-pureed, but mine were really soft, not mashable, more like a savoury dahl.

Add the sultanas and condensed milk and warm for a further 10 minutes on a low heat. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.


Baked yoghurt with frangelico

January 18, 2010

It’s not often you come across something completely new in a cookbook. I mean, recipes you haven’t tried yet, yes, but completely new ideas? Like baked yoghurt? I had no idea you could bake yoghurt. But as soon as I knew you could, I wanted to. Especially if it involved frangelico, which is a deliciously sweet hazelnut liqueur that I like to have around. And the great thing about this is, once you’ve discovered the technique, the variations are pretty much endless: imagine it with another liqueur, or the alternative listed in the book, baked yoghurt with fig jam. If I’d had fig jam, that might have been a tough decision, but I think the frangelico still would have edged it.

So the book describes these puddings as having the texture of the top bit of a cheesecake – I found mine turned out a bit more moussey than that, but then I didn’t cool them for very long. Either way, boozy yoghurt mousse was nice. And it really works in the way that a cheesecake works, with that satisfying combination of dairy and sweetness and richness. This was pudding after the Moroccan chicken and it went down perfectly, even on an already full belly.

Baked yoghurt with frangelico  Serves 4

I’ve reproduced the quantities as written, although you could halve it, as I did, safe in the knowledge that I have another recipe coming up to use the other half of the condensed milk. Also, I ended up leaving out the lime and hazelnuts because I didn’t have a lime and was feeling lazy.

500g natural yoghurt (I used the Rachel’s whole milk one)
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
1 small lime (optional)
100ml frangelico liqueur
3 handfuls hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180c. Measure out the yoghurt and whisk so there is no contrast between curd and whey – I didn’t need to do this as my yoghurt seemed fairly well homogenised. Pour in the condensed milk and beat. Now grate in the lime zest, if using, and pour in the liqueur. Pour the mixture into four ramekins – it may stretch to five. I actually filled two mugs with my half measures, so either Rosie’s ramekins are bigger than mine (ooh!) or my yoghurt measurements were very imprecise, which is entirely possible. And, come to think of it, that might be why mine didn’t set quite so much.

Place the ramekins on a roasting tin and fill with water until it comes two-thirds of the way up the puddings. Place the tray in the oven for 20 minutes. When ready, they should only wobble slightly in the centre. They will emulsify as they cool.

If using the hazelnuts, roughly chop and toast them and sprinkle over the tops of the yoghurt pots.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.

Moroccan honey chicken

January 18, 2010

Do you know what, this book is brilliant. The tone takes a bit of getting used to – all breathless chit-chat and boys and late nights – but once I started thinking of her as a bit like Nigella’s debonair younger sister I settled into it. And I’m glad I did, because she knows her stuff, this Rosie Lovell. From the book this week we made: banana and buckwheat pancakes, muesli, rice cubes with dipping sauce, tofu with soy beans and mushrooms, carrot and sweetcorn fritters, onion and butterbean soup, tuscan bean stew with orzo pasta, smoked mackerel and broccoli bake, smoked mackerel pate, ebi chilli men, babaghanoush, chicken and mushroom korma, plus the moroccan chicken and two other tasty things I’m going to tell you about shortly. The only thing I didn’t like was the soup, which I thought combined sweetness and fishiness in a way that was not pleasant, but Tom liked it. I’m sad to move on, because this is a weighty book and when I was jotting down things I’d like to make from it, before I do my weekly meal plan (you should see it, it’s insanely detailed), I basically just copied out the contents list.

Back to – or rather onto – the chicken. I had to immerse myself in a lengthy and consoling food preparation session on Saturday to take my mind off the horrible hangover resulting from a cocktail party the night before. Of course, we decided to bring the ingredients for White Russians. If you ever see me with a White Russian in my hand feel free to stage an intervention – it’s for my own good.

This is perfect for such a scenario (I didn’t know I needed a recipe specific to a White Russian hangover, but now I have one). You basically poach a whole chicken with some aromatics, which takes a good hour and a half, so you can maybe have a little lie down while the smell of chicken and cloves wafts medicinally in the air about you. Then you have to leave the chicken to cool before you can strip it, which takes another hour or so. You need to make a tomato sauce, too, but that’s mainly simmering for an hour. See? You can take it at your own pace. The chicken stripping is oddly calming and, bonus, you get a whole pan of chicken stock for absolutely no effort whatsoever.

I served it with the afore-listed babaghanoush as a sort of smokey relish, along with his n’hers starch accompaniments of cranberry and toasted almond-scattered couscous and lemon and thyme roasted potatoes:

Moroccan honey chicken  Serves 3-4

Note: I roughly halved the original recipe, which serves 10. I cooked only one chicken instead of two, using half of the meat and saving the other half for salads and the next day’s chicken curry, and I just halved the sauce quantities. The ratio seemed about right.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, around 1.5 – 1.8 kg
2 bay leaves
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp peppercorns

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 red chilli
3 garlic cloves
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2-3 tbsp honey
black pepper

Fill your biggest pan with water and immerse the chicken, along with the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns. Simmer for around an hour and a half, until the chicken is fully cooked and the flesh is starting to come easily away from the bones. Remove the chicken, keeping the stock, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, start the sauce: heat the olive oil and fry the onions gently with the cloves, cinnamon and chilli. After a few minutes, peel, crush and add the garlic. Leave for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook, covered, over a low heat for around an hour. You can use a little of the chicken stock to loosen it to the required texture should it dry out. (The chicken stock also comes in handy for cooking the couscous, if that’s what you’re having on the side.)

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip all of the meat from the bones. Set aside half for other uses and tip half into the tomato sauce. Stir in the honey and season.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.

Smoked mackerel, broccoli and spinach bake

January 13, 2010

Restorative, I think, is the best word for this. It almost didn’t get made because, yesterday, I’d had the sort of day where I wanted to just give up and have toast for dinner. The sort of day where you feel like inanimate objects are forming malicious plots against you. You know the ones? I found myself shedding a little tear or two of self-pity on my way home because a car honked at me at the traffic lights, and not because I’m a wuss, but because it was the last straw. And, OK, because I’m a wuss.

Thank goodness I felt sorry for the broccoli looking so neglected and yellowing in the fridge drawer. I thought I’d better just at least boil it in a little water. And then I might as well cook the other vegetables too, and then all it needed was for a quick white sauce to come together, some parmesan to mix with the breadcrumbs that were already waiting in the breadbin, and suddenly we were sitting down to a big, steaming savoury comfort blanket of a dinner.

The title may make it sound a little earnest, but that’s the great thing about this dish: you can feel, with the dark green vegetables and the oily fish, that you’re doing something good and sensible for yourself, but it’s also rich and velvety enough to be satisfying and to not feel wrong, on a bleak January day. It’s a winner, all round.

Smoked mackerel, broccoli and spinach bake  Serves 3 generously, or 4 with bread/potatoes on the side

I should admit that the original title, smoked mackerel and chard bake with a crunchy top, is much more appealing than mine. But I didn’t have any chard, so I couldn’t exactly call it that. Instead of half broccoli and half chard, I used broccoli and spinach with a leek for good measure; it’s nice to have the greens, but I imagine this recipe would be quite forgiving of any vegetables you want to throw at it. The addition of lemon, mustard and nutmeg to the white sauce adds a lift of interest and stops this being too retro-bland.

400g chard or spinach (I used frozen leaf spinach)
400g broccoli (one average sized head)
1 leek (optional)
350-400ml chicken or vegetable stock
50g butter
60g plain flour
100ml semi-skimmed milk
juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tbsp)
1 dsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
black pepper
200g smoked mackerel (about 2 fillets)
100g breadcrumbs
100g mature manchego, parmesan or any strong, hard cheese (I actually used 75g because I balked at using so much of my parmesan in one dish)

Wash and chop the vegetables. If using the leek, slice it thickly and rinse thoroughly in a colander to get rid of any dirt lurking between the layers. If using chard or fresh spinach, wash and slice into ribbons. Separate the broccoli into small florets, chopping the stalk separately into 2cm chunks (you might need to peel the outer layer of stalk if it’s particularly big and thick).

Boil water to a depth of about 2cm in a large pan and cook the broccoli, leek and frozen spinach for 5-7 minutes with the lid on. If using chard or non-frozen spinach, add after the first few minutes of cooking the broccoli. The vegetables should be tender, but not too soft as they’re going into the oven later. Remove them with tongs (you want to keep the cooking water) and pile into a baking dish or casserole.

Preheat the oven to 150c. Have the stock ready for the white sauce. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Whsen it has melted, add the flour and whisk together, stirring frequently for a few minutes to cook out the flour. At this point it should smell toasty and delicious, and also a bit like chicken nuggets (though that might just be me). Add the leftover vegetable cooking liquid and the stock, whisking to remove any lumps. Gradually add the milk, whisking, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. It should be creamy and thick enough to coat the vegetables but not stodgy. Add the lemon juice, mustard, nutmeg and pepper and check the balance of flavour. You shouldn’t need salt as the fish and cheese are pretty salty already, and even I thought that was enough.

Peel the skin off the mackerel and tear it into chunks over the vegetables. Pour over the white sauce and mix well. Grate the cheese and mix with the breadcrumbs. Scatter this over the top of the dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the topping has darkened and crisped.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.

Tofu feast

January 13, 2010

A week of eating like Nigella at her purest and I found myself at a local gastropub-type joint eating steak smothered in butter, with chips and greens smothered in butter, with dessert. If you’re anywhere in the Oxford area, you should check out the Magdalen Arms, under new management: they’ll serve you a rare roast hare saddle on a giant floral platter, excellent salty bread, and drinks in cute little French farmhousey glasses. And, what I particularly liked, it was as if they’d somehow been inside my head when they compiled their drinks list: Americanos, negronis, whisky macs, dark n’ stormies, bloody marys, a sherry list – all of my very favourites!

After all that, it was time to eat some tofu. Our next book is ‘Spooning with Rosie’, the first book by a young lady by the name of Rosie who owns a cafe/deli in Brixton, and it was to her I turned for this, one of her ‘feasting fiestas’: a stir fry of tofu and vegetables with lime and honey, little cubes of rice with an intense, tangy dipping sauce, and carrot and sweetcorn fritters. I had to adapt it slightly to more conveniently use up our leftovers, but it worked well: I wouldn’t before have eaten vegetable fritters with an Asian meal, but I now realise the shortcomings in my imagination – it’s like an extra vegetable portion, but more fun! The rice cubes are cute, too, although mine weren’t quite as cube-y as they should have been. It’s really not as much work as it looks, either: apart from a bit of grating and chopping for the fritters, there’s almost no preparation required.

Tofu feast  Serves 4-5

There was a mango, cucumber and mint salad in the original fiesta, as well, but I had none of those things, lovely though it sounded.

For the rice cubes & dipping sauce:
1 1/2 cups of Thai rice (I used cup for 4 servings, and short-grain brown rice)
1 red chilli (use a hot variety if you like things spicy)
8 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar (plain granulated is fine)
1 sprig of mint (optional – I left it out as I didn’t have any)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

This bit requires advance planning for the rice to cool properly (hence my irregular cubes). Overcook the rice by simmering it for 5 minutes longer than the instructions on the packet ask – 55 minutes for my rice, in one and a half times the amount of water to rice. It should be sticky and mushy. Break it up further with a fork or potato masher, then press it shallowly into a small tin lined with cling film. Cool it to room temperature before putting it in the fridge for 8 hours if you have time. I put mine in the freezer for a little bit. It should be served at room temperature, so take it out again a while before you want to eat. Slice it into cubes the size of your choice with a wet knife. Unmould the cubes onto a plate.

For the dipping sauce, finely slice the chilli (seeds removed or not, as you like) and place it in a pan with the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 15 minutes on a low heat – it should reduce quite a bit, so you have enough to half fill a ramekin. It is potent, so you don’t need a huge amount. Serve the sauce alongside the rice cubes for dipping.

For the tofu stir-fry:
400g fried tofu (you may be able to get ready-fried tofu from your local Chinese supermarket. I used regular tofu).
2 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
2 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
200g mangetout (I used shelled edamame beans)
120g enoki mushrooms (I used common or garden veg box mushrooms)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 dsp honey
juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp)

Slice the tofu into smallish pieces. Heat the oil until very hot and add the tofu, turning down the heat. Fry for a few minutes and then sprinkle in the ginger, beans and mushrooms. Stir and add the honey, soy sauce and lime juice. Cook for just a few minutes more and then serve.

For the sweetcorn and carrot fritters:
2 eggs
3 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 spring onion
1 clove garlic
a small handful fresh coriander
1 x 285g tin of sweetcorn, or about the same weight frozen and defrosted
1 carrot
1-3 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil

Crack the eggs into a decent sized bowl and whisk thoroughly. Whisk in the cornflour and baking powder. Finely chop the spring onion, garlic and coriander. Peel and grate the carrot. Add all of this to the bowl along with the sweetcorn and mix well (I added a sprinkle of salt, too).

Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot. Dollop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, about a heaped tablespoon at a time. I got 8 fritters in 2 batches, although the recipe notes say 10. They should only take a minute or so per side and should become golden and crisp, flipping easily. If oily, drain on kitchen paper. They are best served while still warm but I found a quick blast in the microwave to reheat the leftovers the next day didn’t do much harm.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie: Food, Friendship and Kitchen Loving’.