Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

Start by making a mushroom risotto but make sure to ALWAYS make a little bit extra just so that you can make these easy to create, amazing arancini!

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Ingredients:

  • Leftover mushroom risotto
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • plain flour
  • breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

Method:

 

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1st: Take the fridge cold mushroom risotto and make teaspoon sized balls.  Roll the mixture in the palm of your hands, taking care to squish back in any pieces of mushroom that stick out.

2nd: Place all the mushroom rice balls onto a baking sheet and place back in the fridge for a few moments to firm up.  Use this time to bring out the flour, beat the egg and pour breadcrumbs onto a plate that you’ll need for the next stage.

3rd: Take the rice balls out of the fridge and dredge each one through flour – shake off the excess – then pass through the beaten egg, and roll in the breadcrumbs.

4th: Chill for 10mins before deep frying them until golden.

These can be eaten as they are.  I prepared a quick aioli and chilli mayo to snack on but some favour a béchamel style sauce to dip these luscious balls into.  Either way, it’s a win-win situation: delicious mushroom risotto, amazing arancini!

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Rain splattering the windows for hours on end, the sea battering our coasts, wind howling through trees and thunder having its regular grumble at lightning. The home providing refuge and comfort from the elements.  As the weather turns we begin to want food that is more substantial such as roast dinners and oven cooked meals. And whilst we’re at it – pudding also follows suit.

As Autumn takes its hold on us we begin to want traditional British nursery desserts such as fruit crumbles – smothered in lashings of hot custard, that Enid Blyton would definitely have had mother baking at home!

My favourite crumble to make is a spiced plum crumble, however, any fruit variations are delicious.

I recently made an orchard crumble with: apples, pears, plums and a scattering of frozen blueberries.  The apples were a couple of Bramleys and some wrinkled looking Braeburns that were sat at the bottom of the fridge, the conference pears were nearly on the turn and the plums were hard as rock!

A crumble is a great way to use fruit that you bought thinking would ripen and is still rock hard weeks later or a glut of fruit that you bought on offer and you need to use up…fast!

When it comes to crumble, I always think of people as being in two camps: those that prefer more crumble topping, and those that prefer more fruit filling.  Even within this, there are then those who prefer their crumble slightly more scorched and crunchy, and those who prefer a blonde crumble, slightly soggy as it’s bathed in the tart fruit juices.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, I would recommend making your crumble mixture and keeping it in the freezer until you need it.  I pulse the butter and flour in a food processor and then mix in demerara sugar and flaked almonds.  I used to enjoy ‘fluttering’  the flour and butter (mixing these by rubbing them together between the fleshy parts of your fingers and thumb) but to be honest I don’t particularly feel that this makes for a better crumble and can be unnecessarily timely.  I’d rather spend the time pimping up the fruit.

Plum Crumble

For the crumble :
100g of butter
200g plain flour
100g Demerara sugar
flaked almonds
cinnamon
For the fruit filling:
12 plums
50g butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
4 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp caster sugar
rasping of fresh nutmeg
a splosh of water

Method:
1st:
Make the crumble mixture either by hand or the food processor and place in the freezer until needed.
2nd: Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
3rd: Cut the plums in half and remove the stone.  Sauté for a few minutes in a hot frying pan in the butter.
4th: Once the plums have begun to release their juices add the sugar and golden syrup.
5th: After a few minutes, add the vanilla, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add a splosh of water if you feel everything is too syrupy (I sometimes add red wine, port or plum liqueur).
6th: Once the plums have broken down into the syrup, place into an oven dish.
7th: Pour the crumble mix over.  Optional extras are mixing in flaked almonds/oats or adding powdered cinnamon.
8th: Bake in the oven for 20-25min or until golden brown.

A crumble is one of those desserts that you can quickly rustle up for one, two, four or more depending on how much fruit you’ve got – plus if you’ve got frozen crumble mix ready to go, it can be a quick dessert for a midweek supper should you have people round.

The best bit about a crumble is that it is hard to get wrong; my only definite piece of advice is, don’t go tropical!  You can make it as frugal or decadent as you want – decide whether it’s going to be:
a) hot custard
b) pouring cream
c) vanilla ice-cream
d) go nutty
e) go oaty
f) all of the above!

This autumn, how many different crumbles can you make?
Let me know which is your favourite.

Pear

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“Ui que freski!” can be heard as people pop out of their warm houses into the cool work morning air.

Midday temperatures climbing and sunny (though not unbearably hot) sunsets disappearing in the blink of an eye and evenings creeping in sooner.  Sorry folks but autumn is setting up camp for the next few months.

Fruit and veg has grown full to bursting soaking up every last bit of summer sunshine getting itself ready for the harvest.  Thankfully making its abundance present in our kitchens.

pearsA quintessential autumnal fruit is the pear.  Once I see pears-a-plenty I know autumn is here.  And I don’t mean long haul, greenhouse grown perfect pears; dry and hard to the bite.  I mean pears of varying shapes and sizes, soft to the touch, buttery and bursting with juice.

Outshined by apples every year, however, I find the pear just as versatile in the kitchen – it can be baked into cakes, used to top cheesecakes, used in salads, pureed, transformed into a chutney/relish, poached, used in main dishes as well as desserts.  A great accompaniment to cheese, especially if it’s blue and let’s be honest, perry (pear cider) really is that much better than apple cider.

So in a bid to extol the virtues of the underdog, I’ve created a few simple pear recipes to get your autumn pear imagination flowing.

  • Pear, gorgonzola, prosciutto and walnut galette
  • Pear, ginger and cinnamon tart

You can make both of these recipes simultaneously as they require similar ingredients and cooking times but their eatability is just as desireable!

Serves 2 as a 2 course dinner but quantities can be easily doubled.

Ingredients: 1 block of puff pastry and 2 pears (whether serving 4 or 2 as a two-course dinner)

Pear, gorgonzola, prosciutto and walnut galettePear and Blue Cheese Tart

  • Blue cheese (or other blue cheese)
  • Prosciutto (or other cured ham)
  • Rocket leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Honey and olive oil dressing
  • Seasoning

Method:

1st: Roll the block of puff pastry out onto a well floured board.

2nd: Cut the pastry into quarters and score the pastry with the tip of a knife creating a 1cm border around the outer edge (do not cut all the way through).
If creating both the sweet and savory version, leave 2 quarters to one side.

3rd: Crumble the gorgonzola into a bowl and beat with a palette knife until soft.  Spread a layer of this over inside of the border of each of your quarters.

4th: Slice half a pear per quarter and place ontop of the gorgonzola.  Brush the border with either milk or an egg-wash.

5th: Place into a preheated oven at 200°C for 15-20mins or until golden brown.

6th: Add slices of prosciutto, rocket leaves and walnut halves over before dressing and seasoning to taste.

Pear, Ginger and Cinnamon galettePear, ginger and cinnamon tart

  • Cinnamon
  • Light brown sugar
  • Stem ginger in syurp
  • Flake almonds
  • Cream / Ice cream to serve

Complete stages 1 & 2 as above.

1st: Brush the inside of the quarters with egg-wash and sprinkle cinnamon, sugar and a piece of stem ginger per quarter (chopped finely).

2nd: Slice the pears finely and arrange half a pear per quarter.

3rd: Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and cinnamon.

4th: Egg wash the border and place into a preheated oven at 200°C for 15-20mins or until golden brown.

5th: Serve with flaked almonds and either cream (with some of the ginger syrup mixed in) or ice cream.

Optional Extra – sprinkle the tart with ground ginger for added depth and warmth.

Click on the following links to view previous recipes posted on http://www.gastrorob.com

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Try any of the following or create some of your own; why not post your recipes here?

Pearfect!

With the onset of cooler nights I want my dinners to pack warmth.  The best and most effective way to add warmth to your dinner is by adding spice.  There are so many different types of spice to add warmth to a meal that you can pretty much tailor make the flavours to suit you. Creating an Curry from scratch is actually quite simple and is a great way of creating food with spice.

There are times when I use holy the trinity of aromatic spices: ground cumin, ground coriander and turmeric to create a taste of the ancient world in a beef tagine or Garam masala chicken dish.  If I want something to have a bright, chilli-citrus hit then it will be a Thai prawn curry with chilli, lemongrass and lime.  But there are times when only the South Asian flavours which combine the taste of the aromatic spices with the rounded warmth of ground ginger, the pungent heat of mustard seeds and cayenne pepper are sometimes the flavours I want in a beef or chicken curry.  These spice blends don’t always have to be made from scratch – shop around and find one that works for you.

To create a Meat-free Monday dish, substitute the beef of chicken for aubergine chunks.  The aubergine when cooked in large chunks holds its own without becoming mushy; it retains a meaty-kind of texture and does not disappoint.

The lemon pickle can sound frivolous but makes the world of difference to this dish and is super easy to create.

Aubergine Curry with Cardamom Rice and lemon pickle

Ingredients:

1 Aubergine per person

1 large onion

2 large tomatoes

1 tblspn tomato paste

2 cloves of garlic

1 tblspn curry powder of choice

 

3 cardamom pods

Basmati rice

For the lemon pickle:

1 lemon

1 tspn of mustard seeds

1 tspn of turmeric

Glug of vegetable oil

 

Natural yoghurt

 

01a995efcf64056fc02386cfcb101fa257cf2210a5Aubergine Curry

1st: Cut the aubergine into large chunks and drizzle in olive oil.  Either griddle or fry the aubergine chunks.

2nd: Slice the onions and fry until soft and add chopped garlic.  Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the tomato paste.  Let this simmer for 5 mins before adding the aubergine.

3rd: Add the tblspn of curry powder to the saucepan and mix well.  Allow to simmer gently for a few minutes before sprinkling coriander over and serving.

 

Basmati Rice

I prepare my rice via the absorption method usually adding a few pressed cardamom pods and or cinnamon stick to the pan.

Lemon Pickle

Slice a whole lemon down its length and cut each half into quarters.  Cut the lemon into small, thin pieces.  Remove any seeds.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.  Once the mustard seeds start popping add the turmeric and turn in the lemon pieces.

 

Serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt.

 

The weather seems to have finally cooled down.  And as the nights draw in, the food I want to cook and eat celebrates the mid-autumn vegetable haul: plump pumpkins, purple plums, gorgeous gourds and the last of the summery fruits.

With pumpkins hogging the limelight in October and being resigned to be carved into jack-o-lanterns or used to flavour and thicken soups (puchero) I prefer to turn my attentions to other gourds and the most valued player of the gourd world is the butternut squash.

Their golden orange hue reminding you that they’ve been soaking up the summer sun readying themselves for the autumn harvest.    

The butternut is a truly versatile vegetable.  You can puree it, roast it, steam it, mash it, grill it – great in soups but also works as a vegetable side dish, or even as a main-course ingredient.

In the past I have given recipes for Roast Garlic and Butternut Squash soup and Butternut Squash Risotto.  I have also included a photo of a Roast butternut squash and lentil salad with chilli and rocket leaves from a cookery weekend at Food at 52 in London.  However, today I have discovered the wonders of Moroccon spices with roasted squashes.

roasted butternut squash

Moroccan Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash

1st: Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.

2nd: Cut the squash into quarters (so that they cook quicker) and place them cut-side up into an ovenproof dish.  Dot with butter and season well.

3rd: Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, cumin seeds and sprinkle with dried chilli flakes.  Use paprika or chilli powder as an alternative.  Roast in the oven for 45mins at 210˚C.

4th: After 30mins, take them out and add a good sprinkling of sultanas and cook for a further 15mins.

I served my roasted squash with roasted chicken thighs that were cooked together with the squash in the same oven dish until their skins were brown and crisp.  Served immediately with some of the pan juices spooned over.

A juicy and fragrant Lamb or beef tagine served with the roasted squash must be delicious.

 Definitely one to try again!

As you already know, I have recently embarked on an “eat seasonally” ideology.  And as greatly moral as this is, it can be harder than it sounds in a place such as Gibraltar where firstly there isn’t any land to cultivate and grow produce – therefore relying on imported produce – and secondly but more specifically, we don’t really have four seasons. 

We go from hot to wet to warm again!

But who’s complaining?! Considering the glorious summers we enjoy in this region that can sometimes start as early as late April and last well into early November; it is not hard to understand why there can be an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables on sale at our local grocers and markets; especially towards the end of summer and triumphantly ending their season in autumn.

Last to be picked off their trees and vines, and having soaked up every last ounce of summer sun, flesh ripened into sweet nectar; skins full to bursting – it is the purple, deep red to blue-black fruits and vegetables that make their prominence known within these autumn months.

Purple foods have become a hot produce colour of late (cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, to name but a few).  They contain a phytochemical called anthocyanin, which is responsible to help fight free radicals and some cancers but may also protect against heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.  Purple foods are good at preventing age-related memory loss, keeping the eyes and urinary tract healthy and lowering the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.

My Purple Plum Crumble is a remarkably easy dessert to make; my nephew’s favourite, and quintessentially autumnal.  The scents of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house make this the perfect autumn pudding.

Plum Crumble

plum crumble

Ingredients:

  • 12 fresh plums, cut in half and stone removed
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A few raspings of fresh nutmeg
  • A splosh of red wine or water
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar

For the Crumble:

  • 100g butter
  • 180-200g plain flour
  • 100g Demerara sugar

Make the crumble first: In a food processor pulse the butter and plain flour (this can be done by hand by fluttering the butter and flour between your fingers and thumb) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the Demerara sugar to the mixture and place into the fridge.

1st: Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

plums

2nd: Sauté the plums for a few minutes in a hot frying pan with the butter and sugar.

3rd:  Add the vanilla, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, golden syrup and red wine (I sometimes substitute the wine for port or a mix of water and wine or just water).  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 6 – 8mins.

4th: Once the plums have broken down into a thick, syrupy texture, place into an oven dish and cover with the crumble mixture.

(Optional Extra: add flaked almonds to the crumble mix).

5th: Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden brown.

6th: Allow to cool slightly before serving with double cream or cold vanilla ice-cream or both!

Here are other simple ways to eat purple foods:

  • I have previously extolled the virtues of porridge in Oat to A Good Start – so add a handful of blueberries or blackberries to this superfood to make it a super breakfast
  • Beetroot hummus and pita bread
  • Add aubergine to the meat mixture for Spaghetti Bolognese or Lasagne
  • Use pomegranate when making lamb tagines
  • Make a mixed berry compote to go over pana cotta
  • Blitz Greek style yoghurt with frozen berries and freeze for an easy ice-cream

I apologise if the mantra ‘Eat the Rainbow’ sounds totally naff; almost as if I’m stealing the Skittles motto but if a handful of blueberries in my brekkie are going to help me against all sorts of ailments then bring them on by the punnet-load!

Alternatively, a cheeky glass of red wine a day is also high in antioxidants!

Enjoy.

Autumn finally decided to creep out from behind the shade of the beach umbrellas and tiptoe into the limelight of falling leaves and cooler, darker evenings.

The duvet finally came out.

Over the past week the temperatures have dropped; especially noticeable at night time and early morning.  Autumn has made a proper appearance and it doesn’t feel as if it’s going anywhere in a rush.

So what does this mean in terms of the kitchen and the food we eat?  If we are trying to eat seasonal it means that there are some great opportunities to be had with game at this time of year.  Venison steaks with blackcurrants and blackberries is absolutely delicious as is the one pot dish of duck magret with cannellini beans.

But I’m not after something that will be a quick flash in the pan; on these cooler, darker evenings nothing calls out to me as much as a hearty venison stew.

The great thing about a stew is that it’s a chance for you to experiment with cheaper cuts of meat that are packed full of flavour that you might not be accustomed to using, however they will generally need longer, slower cooking on the hob or in the oven.  If you’re not pushed for time putting a stew together can be very liberating as there are no measures or rules you must adhere to – it’s go with the flow time.

Venison Stew

This is what I do but is by no means a recipe that you need to follow – most of the ingredients are optional and you can substitute them for those you prefer.

I use diced venison dredged in seasoned flour and coloured in the pan.  Then fry onions in the meaty juices at the bottom of the pan (you may need to add more butter).  Deglaze the pan with red wine or port and then add the diced venison back into the pan.  Add potatoes and top with either or a combination of the three: water/beef stock/tinned tomatoes.  Chop mushrooms into quarters and add to the pot.  Make sure to season well, add oregano and bay leaves and chilli flakes for added warmth.  Chop a couple of carrots lengthways and place into the pot.  Bring to the boil on the hob and then put into a low oven 160˚C for 2 hours.  After two hours fish out the carrots and add green beans.  Let the beans cook in the residual heat of the stew.

Cook’s treat: sprinkle sea-salt and drizzle olive oil over the carrots and have as a sneaky treat before serving everyone else!

But the best thing about a stew is that with whatever is leftover you could always turn it into a pie the following day.

Venison Pie

Either use shop bought pastry or make your own shortcrust pastry.

Line a tart tin and bake blind in the oven.  Remove your baking beads/pulses and egg wash the base – baking for a further few minutes until golden.  The reason for this being that the egg wash will prevent your pie from having a soggy bottom.  No one likes a soggy bottom!

Chop the potatoes into smaller pieces and add as much leftover stew as you dare.  Then top the pie with either a full cover (make sure to leave some vent holes for the steam to escape) or create a simple lattice pattern over the top.  If the idea of having to make a pie is scaring you, a pasty might be easier but I would use ready-rolled, shop bought puff pastry for this.

If however, the thought of having to eat the same again is putting you off giving this a go remember that stews freeze very well.  I would fish out the beans and potatoes before freezing and probably serve this with fresh veg and mash next time!

Perfect for Bonfire’s Night to be eaten outside watching the fireworks…