Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beetroot Bhaji

We have been getting lovely fresh beetroot in our weekly organic veg box delivery for a few weeks in a row now, and I was running out of ideas of what to do with it. I didn't want it to end up like the potatoes which we don't really eat much of, which are usually still left over at the end of the week (when we receive yet more of them). 

So I experimented and made them into bhajis, mixed with some red onion and lots of spices. I'm not sure if they are traditional at all, but they are perfect for picnics dipped into a minty raita, or stuffed into a chapati with some crunchy lettuce, tomato, cooling yoghurt and a chutney of some kind. 

Makes 20 - 25 bhaji


-1 bunched beetroot (roughly 500g), tops trimmed and left in their skins
-1 large red onion
-200g gram (chickpea) flour
-200ml fizzy water
-1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp nigella (jalonji) seeds
-1 tbsp cumin seeds - lightly toasted in a dry pan, then crushed
-1 tsp coriander seeds - lightly toasted in a dry pan, then crushed
-1 tsp ground turmeric
-1 tbsp good garam masala (I used madras)
-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
-2cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
-1 chopped red chilli, fresh or dried (optional)
-1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

-Sunflower oil for deep frying (about 750 ml)

1. Firstly give the beetroot a good scrub, then coarsely grate into a large bowl (or use appropriate attachment on your food processor).  Then peel and finely slice the red onion, tip into the bowl with the beetroot and put to one side.
2. In a separate bowl, sieve in the gram flour then mix in the remaining ingredients (apart from the oil and the fizzy water). Make a well in the centre of the mix, then start to incorporate the fizzy water, mixing with a fork. Add just enough to form a thick batter, then pour this onto the beetroot/ red onion and mix thoroughly.
3. In a large, deep frying pan, pour in the oil to about 5cm deep. Gently heat until it is hot enough that when you sprinkle flour into it, it sizzles.
4. Take tablespoons of the mix and lower gently into the hot oil, several at a time. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until the bottom starts to crisp, then carefully flip over. 

When they are crispy all over remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the rest.
Delicious served hot or cold. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Truffle & Mushroom Ravioli

I love filled pasta and really don't make enough of it. I have a pasta machine but it is one of those things that has been stored out of reach above the cupboards in the kitchen, and has ended up being neglected. However, recently I've been watching Michela Chiappa's 'Simply Italian' series on TV which inspired me to dust off the old pasta machine. To honour its outing I decided to open the jar of truffle paste I had been saving.

For a special occasion these ravioli are delicious served with a light sauce of olive oil & garlic. I served them with a rocket & roasted fennel salad and some nice chilled white wine.

Serves 4


For the pasta

-300g '00' flour
-3 eggs

-Semolina, for dusting

For the filling

-250g ricotta
-250g mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut and shitake mushroom)s
-1tbsp black truffle paste (or more to taste!)

For the 'sauce'

-100 ml good olive oil
-2 cloves of garlic
-Grated parmesan style cheese, torn fresh basil, to serve

1. To make the pasta, tip the flour onto a work surface or into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack in the eggs and gradually work them into the flour using a fork. When the mixture is starting to come together, use your hands to knead the dough for 10 minutes or until smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the filling. Finely chop the mushrooms and fry in a glug of oil over a medium-high heat, until all their water is cooked out and they start to brown. Leave to cool. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the truffle paste and mushrooms and season to taste. Chill until needed.
3. Dust your work surface with flour and either use a pasta machine or rolling pin to roll out your pasta dough to about 1mm thick. The dough should be worked well so that you get a smooth, almost translucent sheet of pasta. You need to keep the sheet of pasta dusted with flour and work quickly to prevent it drying out.
4. Have ready trays dusted with semolina to place the finished ravioli on. If you have used a pasta machine you will have 1 or several long rectangles of pasta, ideally this is what you are looking to achieve if you have used a rolling pin. Take the filling and place teaspoonfuls of it every 2-3cm along one side of the pasta sheet. Brush the edges and between the spoonfuls of filling with water. Carefully fold the other side of the pasta sheet over the filling. Press down and make sure no air is trapped in with the filling. Use a knife or pastry cutter to cut the ravioli and place on the trays dusted with semolina. Cover with cling film and chill until needed (you can also freeze them at this point).
5. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a small pan and gently fry the garlic.
6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and gently slide the ravioli in. They will take under 5 minutes to cook so make sure you are ready to eat!
7. When the ravioli are cooked to your liking, very gently drain them. Transfer to heated plates, drizzle over the garlic oil, sprinkle with the cheese and basil, a little salt, and lots of cracked black pepper. 

As it has been a while, i'm submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by Briciole