Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pasta with Roasted Peppers - Inspired by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one cool dude. He's my food hero!

While most famous chefs show signs of being a megalomaniac, Nigel comes across as a quiet, chilled out, low profile chef who is highly respected in the industry. There's no yelling in his kitchen, no puffed out chest or big noting himself. He's just a man in black working quietly and comfortably at his own pace.

Having watched a few of his DVD's, read his memoir "Toast"  and a number of other cook books he has published, I am a true Nigel Slater 'Groupie'. Somehow he seems to blend the right amount of herbs or spices in the simplest way and team ingredients to give un complicated and delicious dishes. If you are unfamiliar with Nigel's work, then just go to this link.

Inspired by one of his couplings - Pasta with Peppers, I have tried to recreate the dish without his actual recipe. I hope I have done it justice.

I served this to a group of friends for lunch, just before Christmas and it went down really well. I was feeling pretty rushed at the time and wasn't sure what to make as it was quite a warm day and we were eating outside.  I made up a big Mezze Plate for Entree, stuff I didn't have to cook; Dolmades, Greek Beans, olives, semi-dried tomatoes, dips, etc. Such an easy way to entertain a lot of people when you have little time.





PASTA WITH ROASTED PEPPERS 

I have worked on the ratio of 2 capsicums (peppers) per person, but only one if they are very big. Once cooked they do tend to shrink a little.





Serves 4

6 Capsicums (peppers) red, green or yellow 1. 5  - 2 per person
large bunch of basil
6 shallots finely sliced
6 - 8  cloves garlic peeled, finely chopped
250g ripe cherry tomatoes
olive oil
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
250g pasta - I use penne or spirals
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Crème Fraîche -optional

In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until golden and set aside.

Take each pepper and take a small slice out of it lengthways. The capsicums are going to act as little 'boats' to support the tomatoes and garlic. Place the capsicums into a lined baking dish. 

Put the garlic, shallots and tomatoes into a bowl.  Chop the slivers of capsicum that you sliced off and add this to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and using your hands, mix the whole lot together and divide the mixture between the capsicums, filling up the cavities.

Take a large bunch of basil and a very large slug of olive oil and blend the two together, until they resemble a thin sauce.  Add a pinch of salt. 

Tip the basil sauce over the capsicums, and bake in a preheated oven at 170º fan forced for around 40 - 50 minutes until the capsicums are nicely charred, soft and very very juicy.

While the capsicums are cooking, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta following the recommended guidelines.

Remove the cooked capsicums from the oven, place them on a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Retain all the lovely juices from the pan. 

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the juices in the pan, warming slightly on the cook top. Tip the pasta into a serving bowl and add chopped parsley. It is advisable to serve the pasta and capsicums separately.

I remember Nigel served his peppers with a dollop of Crème Fraîche and that is a option, if you don't mind the extra calories.













Thursday, 22 December 2016

Summer Break

The forecast for Adelaide is around 40 degrees for 25th and 26th December 2016. Food choices for the festive season is going to be interesting because there will probably be a total fire ban. That means NO outside cooking, even on a BBQ. 

It's pretty sad to have this kind of heat so early in the season as we have had little time to adjust to silly temperatures. Beaches will be crowded, there will be a lot of young and the not so young that will get excessive dehydration,(excessive alcohol), sunburn and caught in rips! I hope everyone is sensible! 

Keep an eye on your neighbours, especially if they are elderly. Remember to drink lots of water and restrict alcohol when it's really hot!




My family is planning on some very early or late afternoon beach trips, trying out new salad and ice cream recipes and keeping as cool as possible - the oven is not going on during those temperatures.





I am taking a blogging break for a couple of weeks - it's been a very busy year and I am really in need of some down time, although I will still be playing with food, of course.

These are my favs for eating over the holidays - red cabbage salad with dried figs, lentil and currant salad, asparagus and fennel salad, nut roast with passata, sour cream and cranberry ice cream, vegan chocolate truffles.



Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope the next few weeks allows you to have time with your family and friends, eat lovely fresh and healthy food and have a wonderful start to the year. 

Don't forget your new year's resolution. Are you going to stop, start, make, go or take up something new? I'm pretty good at making resolutions and honestly, I really believe I'm going to keep them and then something happens and I fall off the wagon. This year I will be a little more sneaky and make sure I make a resolution I can really keep.



Thanks for your following over the last twelve months, it's been fun. I'll see you on the other side. 



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Not many of my friends make their own preserves. They probably think I am a bit nutty because I tend to make everything I can. Just to prove how right they may be (well just a wee tiny bit) here are the contents of my preserve cupboard I've just cleaned out.

Cherry and Vanilla Conserve  9 jars
Seville Orange Marmalade    14 jars
Grapefruit Marmalade with Whiskey 1 jar (Obviously need to make more of this)
Indian Lemon Pickle 2 jars
Pear Jam                 2 jars
Ginger and Pear Chutney 1 jar
Preserved Lemon             4 jars
Tomato and Chilli Chutney  4 jars
Apple and Cranberry Chutney 6 jars
Brinjal Pickle    1 jar
Spiced Nuts     3 jars
Onion Confit    1 jar


See what I mean? There's not nearly enough for the coming year; and I have some luscious green apples to use and teamed with cranberries you have a fabulous festive chutney to give to friends for Christmas. I know there isn't much time left but this recipe is so quick and easy you can make it in a jiffy!




It's not easy to find fresh cranberries in Adelaide but a good alternative is frozen ones. The recipe works just fine using frozen and they are readily available in the supermarket. Other great things about this recipe is that it is very quick to make, as well as being a versatile chutney for vegetarians because it teams so well with vegetable dishes and the colour is stunning. The origin of this recipe came from BBC Food but I have changed the recipe quite a lot to suit my taste. But to be fair, this was not an original recipe of mine and I need to acknowledge that.


So in order to add more colour to my preserve cupboard I am making another batch of this chutney. Let's go!




APPLE AND CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

2 kg cooking apples - peeled, cored and chopped into bite size piece
1 kg  eating apples - peeled, cored and chopped into bite size pieces
1 kg white sugar
1 kg cranberries frozen or fresh
500 ml of verjuice or apple cider vinegar
1 kg brown onions sliced finely
100g grated fresh ginger

1. In a large pan add onions, apples, verjuice, ginger and sugar and sit on a low heat stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

2. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the fruit is nice and tender. This will take anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour. The mixture should be thick and chunky.

3. Add the cranberries. Cook for a further 10 mins. I like to burst a few of the cranberries with a wooden spoon and leave the rest whole.

4. Spoon the mixture into hot, sterilised jars and seal (if you are not sure how to do this check out my post on Cherry Jam).

5. Keep in a cool dark place to mature for a few weeks. Refrigerate on opening.