29 December 2018

Winter Veggie Pasta

This is something I had kicking around for years in an earlier version somewhere in my notes. As it has been foggy and cold for the last few days, I thought I’d revisit it as it is rather too substantial for a summer dish. Needless to say, I didn’t have all the same ingredients as for the original recipe, so think minus cauliflower and carrots and with seabuckthorn instead of agave syrup if you want to try that version out. It is quite quick (apart from the time it may take to do all the chopping) as the sauce takes about as long to make as getting the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook. By the way, I love pasta that retain the sauce hence my tendency to use conchiglie and fusilli for something like this.

What you need:

  • 4 tblsp olive oil
  • 300 g of broccoli, cauliflower and carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 spoonful Madras curry masala
  • 1 large onion also finely chopped
  • 100 ml bubbly (Clairette or Moscato)
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 100 ml crème fraiche
  • 1 tblsp agave syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic (not pictured)
  • salt or vegetable broth to taste
  • 50 ml dry or medium dry sherry
  • 400 g conchiglie

What you do:

  1. Sauté the onions in olive oil, add the Madras curry and allow the latter to brown a bit.
  2. Add the veggies and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the bubbly and allow it to reduce until the veggies are nearly dry.
  4. Add the two creams and leave it to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is quite creamy (the veggies will still have plenty of bite; if you want them soft, cook for longer and replenish with liquid, more bubbly, white wine or pasta water)
  5. In the meantime cook the conchiglie in salted water – about as salty as the med, an Italian told me – until they are al dente.
  6. Before serving add the garlic, squashed, the salt or veggie broth (instant or cube), bring to the boil briefly then add the sherry.
  7. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan or – my preference – pecorino romano.

03 December 2018

Quince Quiche

At the moment we have a bit of a glut of quinces in our garden. I tried this quince quiche in two ways, one with slightly caramelised quince segments and one with a quince puré. On balance I slightly prefer the second version. (Incidentally, for the quince segment version simply don’t puré the softened quince pieces.)

What you need:

  • Short crust pastry or puff pastry for the base (I lazily bought a 250g packet)
  • 3 to 4 good-sized quinces, peeled, cored and cut into slices (for the slice version) or cubes.
  • 50 g butter and
  • 3 table spoons sugar
  • two good table spoons of liquid honey
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod, sliced
  • 100 ml madeira
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1 tablespoon of quince syrup or jelly (to taste)
  • 75 g ground almonds

What you do:

  • In a wide or frying pan, melt the butter and stir the sugar until it caramelises.
  • Add the quince pieces and stir them until they are coated.
  • Pour in the wine and the honey, stir in the spices and allow to simmer till the quince slices are soft.
  • Cover the dough base with the ground almonds.
  • (If making the slice version, at this point lift out the quinces with a slotted spoon and spread them over the base.)
  • Add the cream and allow to reduce to a creamy consistency then purée the quinces. Add quince jelly or syrup, or sugar to taste.
  • Pour the mixture into the quiche mold (or the reduced sauce over the quince slices) and bake at 200° until the dough is brown and the topping has begun to brown (ca 40 minutes).
  • Allow to cool; it tastes great once it is cold.

09 August 2018


Sorry about the punny title: this is my take on a classic Italian recipe called parmigiana, an oven dish with layered aubergines. (Yes, I am rather partial to aubergines, and they are the only vegetables that I feel have to be cooked – in a rich sauce – until they are totally mushy.) Unlike the traditional version, which at least in some recipes adds a layer of béchamel sauce, and also, in at least one instance a thin layer of ham, this one is really just vegetables and one can even leave out the grated cheese on top if this needs to be vegan.

What you need

·       4 medium-sized aubergines cut into thin slices
·       seasalt for rubbing the aubergines
·       1 tblsp tandoori masala (more if you like a hot dish)
·       2 good-sized onions, finely chopped
·       2 – 5 cloves of garlic in thin slices
·       1 tblsp cinnamon powder
·       2 veggie stock cubes, crumbled
·       150 ml red wine or Marsala
·       500 ml of passata or chopped tomatoes
·       2 tblsp honey
·       2 tblsp vine vinegar
·       olive oil for frying
·       generous grated cheese (I like pecorino romano possibly with the same amount of parmesan added)

What you do

1.     Cut the aubergines length-wise into thin slices, salt the cut generously with sea salt and leave to sit for 60 minutes. In the meantime prepare the sauce:
2.     Sauté the onions and the garlic, add the tandoori and keep stirring until the onions are soft, add the stock cubes and cinnamon, then the wine or Marsala.

3.     Stir in the passata, add the vinegar and the honey. Leave to simmer on a small flame. Make sure the mixture is not salty.
4.     Rinse the aubergines well and pat them dry, then fry them in olive oil in single layers until they are golden brown. Some say one should remove olive oil after the frying but I think that would be waste of good olive oil.
5.     Place the aubergines and the sauce in layers in an ovenproof dish. At the end you may want to deglaze the frying pan with a bit of wine, which can be added to the liquid
6.     Cover generously with the grated cheese and bake at 175° for at least 30 minutes or until crispy brown on top, then reduce the heat to 120° (perhaps cover with silver foil) for another 10 to 15 minutes.

You can serve this with fresh bread or as I did, with some cooked buckwheat. (Per person 60 gr of whole buckwheat, 100 ml vegetable stock, brought to the boil and then left to steep for 15 minutes beside the stove or on a tiny flame). Alternatives would be pasta, risotto or tabbouleh.