Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fried Olive Breads

This recipe is from one of my favourite new additions to my cookbook shelf: Vefa's Kitchen (Phaidon). Vefa has been writing cookbooks since the 1980's and this one is a collection of traditional recipes from all the different regions of Greece. It's a hefty volume of  700 pages, with hundreds of recipes- so many to try...

Fried Olive Breads


-350g bread flour
-1/2 tablespoon dried quick yeast
-2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
-250ml lukewarm water
-1/2 tsp salt
-120g Kalamata olives, stoned and chopped

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the yeast, and make a well in the centre. Pour in the honey, oil, and lukewarm water. Add the salt then incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet and knead to a soft pliable dough, adding more flour if necessary. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
2. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a rectangle 1cm thick and sprinkle the olives on top. Roll up tightly and slice crosswise into 1cm rounds. Flatten these slightly and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
3. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the breads a few at a time, 5-8 minutes each side or until puffed up and browned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conchiglie Pasta with Carrot and Thyme sauce, Mushrooms and Sausage

I was torn by what to eat this evening. I really fancied pasta, yet on the other hand I knew I really should use up the bunch of carrots I had, before our vegbox delivery tomorrow (including yet more carrots). The solution: a puréed carrot pasta sauce. It may not sound that appetising, but with some lovely fresh thyme and good seasoning, it makes a nice creamy sauce.

Serves 2


-200g conchiglie (pasta shells)


-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1 tsp fresh thyme
-100ml double cream
-100g grated parmesan or other cheese (e.g. cheddar, emmental)
-1/2 tsp tomato purée, 1/2 soy sauce (optional- I like to add a bit of an umami flavour)
-Seasoning: salt, pepper, a good grating of nutmeg


-2 field mushrooms (or portabello) sliced into large chunks
-2 vegetarian sausages, sliced ino 1cm chunks

-sunflower oil for frying

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, then drain. Fry the mushrooms and sausages until browned, season, and keep warm.
2. To make the sauce, boil the carrots until very soft then drain. Fry the garlic and thyme for one minute or two, then add the carrots, cream, tomato puree and soy sauce (if using). Blitz in a food processor until smooth and season to taste.
3. Over a gentle heat mix the sauce into the pasta. Serve with the mushroom/sausage mix and top with some parmesan shavings.

I am submitting this as an entry to Presto Pasta Nights again this week, hosted by Briciole.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fruit Madeleines

I have added fruit to these classic French buttery cakes. Unfortunately though, I doubt these count towards one of our 'Five a Day'...


-175g self raising flour
-120g unsalted butter, melted, then cooled to room temperature
-130g caster sugar
-3 large eggs, at room temperature
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-Zest of one small lemon (unwaxed)
-Pinch of salt
-Butter for greasing


-100g chopped fresh fruit- or jam. I used 1 fresh peach, a handful of blueberries, and 4 tsp of melon jam to create 3 different flavours. 
-Handful of almond flakes

1. Grease a muffin tin or individual tray bake tin with butter and dust with flour (shake off any excess). Place the tin in the fridge or freezer until needed.
2. To make the batter, beat the eggs, sugar and salt until frothy (around 5 minutes). Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold in - just enough to combine. Add the lemon zest, then the butter a spoonful at a time, folding after each addition. Refrigerate the batter for at least an hour. 
3. Preheat the oven to 200C. Spoon the batter into the moulds without spreading, filling 3/4 full. Top with the fruit and almond flakes. 

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just cooked (insert a skewer into one of the cakes to test- if it comes out clean they are done). Cool on a wire rack. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Penne with Dolcelatte, Spring Greens, and Crunchy Walnut Topping

Serves 2 - 3


-200g penne
-100g chopped spring greens
-100g dolcelatte cheese, chopped into cubes
-100ml double cream
-100g chopped walnuts
-Handful of breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the grill. Spread the breadcrumbs and half the chopped walnuts on a baking tray, and toast for 2 - 3 minutes or until crunchy. Keep warm. 
2. Cook the penne according to packet instructions in a large saucepan. 3-4 minutes before the end, add the spring greens to the pan. Drain, and then return to the pan.
3. Over a gentle heat, add the rest of the ingredients to the pasta and spring greens and stir gently to create a creamy sauce. Season to taste, and serve topped with the crunchy walnuts. 

This makes a quick mid-week meal and is a good way to use up veg box greens. I seem to be getting them every week at the moment, and I am running out of ideas of how to use them! You could also use spinach, or any other blue cheese instead of the dolcelatte.

I have recently discovered Presto Pasta Nights , so I am submitting this recipe for this week's roundup hosted by Pictures of All My Princesses

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bread-making at Blackheath Cooks

Following my recent venture into bread-making, I decided I should attend a course to help me along. I found this one by Blackheath Cooks , who also do a range of other cookery classes at the rear of their shop in Blackheath.

There were 5 of us there, and we each had equipment and materials laid out for us when we arrived. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun, and at the end of the 2.5 hour session we had baked 4 kinds of delicious bread, picking up handy tips along the way. My favourite bread was the focaccia, so simple to make yet delicious and very impressive. The basic focaccia recipe is below. We also made: Rye Bread, Seeded Rolls, and Cinnamon Buns. 



-350g strong white bread flour
-1 tbsp caster sugar
-1 sachet dried 'quick' yeast
-1 tsp salt
-250ml luke warm water
-2 tbsps olive oil


-Rock salt
-Choose from: sliced onion, olives, rosemary, sundried tomatoes, garlic, chilli...

1. Tip the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water and olive oil. Slowly incorporate the flour mix into the liquid stirring with a fork.
2. When you have a sticky dough, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. The dough should spring back to the touch.
3. Flatten the dough (by hand or using a rolling pin) into a rectangular shape and place on a greased baking tray. It should be around 1cm thick. Leave in a warm place until puffed up.
4. Use your fingers to create dimples in the dough then drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the rock salt. Then add the toppings, pressing them into the dough.

5. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes or until golden. The bread should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.

Serve with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tomato Relish

We had our first BBQ of the season last night. For the vegetarians I grilled some portabello mushrooms and served them in a bap with salad, brie and this relish. They went quickly!

As it has a high sugar content and contains vinegar, it should keep, so I made extra for the next BBQ :-)


-6 medium sized tomatoes, diced
-1 large red onion, diced
-1 red pepper, seeds removed and diced
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1 red chilli, chopped
-150 ml white /red wine vinegar
-150g sugar
-2 tsp ketchup
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-2 tsp sunflower oil

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the tomatoes, mustard seeds, garlic, ketchup and chilli and fry for 3 - 4 minutes more.
2. Add the sugar and vinegar and turn up the heat. Stirring frequently, cook until the sugar has dissolved and there is very little liquid left.
3. Leave to cool and serve at BBQs or with cheese, or preserve in sterilised jars.