Monday, September 28, 2009

NIGEL SLATERS' LEEK RISOTTO WITH PARMESAN CRISPS


I could have told you I grew the leeks myself, I could have said I bought them from the Farmers Market, I could even have said, they were in my box scheme delivery. Alas, none of the above would have been true.

I know you are all going to be disappointed with me now, but they were out of a plastic see-through bag bought from the local supermarket. These leeks were left over from the Leek and Gruyere Quiche in my previous posting. I've let you down, I've let myself down and most of all I have let Nigel down - lets hope he will forgive a fellow West Midlander.

I preplanned the quiche and then forgot to buy the leeks and so had to settle for non-squeaky leeks. I could have made something else, but I had promised my husband I would make quiche, ran out of time and had to settle for the see-through bag!!!

If you can get crisp, bright, fresh leeks, then this simple recipe will taste even better, because it totally relies on the quality of the ingredients, that said, my risotto didn't disappoint but would have been even better, if only I had bought wonderful leeks....................'nough said about those leeks now.

The Parmesan crisps were tablespoons of grated Parmesan placed in a non stick pan and cooked until crisp. They were very moreish and one each just isn't enough - I would definitely make more.

The recipe is from Nigel Slaters new BBC programme Simple Suppers. It's great to have someone on TV who is giving the home cook simple, realistic, achievable and furthermore, delicious recipes. Nigel Slater never disappoints the home cook and he makes cooking stress free and enjoyable.

If you take a peek at his new cookery book you will find he grills some pancetta and adds this to the risotto at the end of the cooking time, but the above recipe is part of his DigIn series of programmes, which is obviously based on growing and eating your own veg!


Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be given some homegrown leeks! I know that I have missed the moment with the above recipe but I think I have now redeemed myself to you all.............

Saturday, September 26, 2009

PIZZA EXPRESS LEGGERA BLOGGER'S LUNCH


We Are Social asked if I would like to join another food blogger, Jo of Jo's Kitchen, for lunch at Pizza Express to try the new range of Leggera lighter pizzas (Leggera means light in Italian).

Jo and I met for lunch in Birmingham at Brindley Place one very sunny Saturday afternoon in September. Brindley Place Pizza Express is set in a wonderful location by the waters edge, and if you are lucky enough, you may be able to see some familiar faces from BBC Birmingham sitting quietly having lunch!

From the Leggera menu you can have a choice of starters, mains which comes in at approximately 500 calories, and dessert - not forgetting a lighter drink choice too.

My choice of starter was Crostini al Pomodoro which are toasted ciabatta slices topped with marinated tomatoes, garlic and oil and a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar. The presentation was wonderful and had great plate appeal, it tasted extremely good too!


Mains was Margherita Leggera which is a part pizza base topped with tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. The hole in the centre was filled with rocket. The pizza is served on a slab of marble and comes complete with a wheel to cut the pizza into slices. The sauce was vibrant, and the presentation of the pizza was a feast for the eyes although my rocket salad in the centre looked a little wilted, which was a shame.


When I go to Pizza Express, I always feel as though I can eat a huge pizza, and then when it comes on a huge plate, I soon realize it's too much of a challenge to eat the entire pizza on it's own, this was definitely the better option for me.

Ah now for dessert - Sotto Zero - which was two scoops of frozen yoghurt served with sliced fresh strawberries, fruit coulis and a chocolate straw. The dessert was fab!

On a personal note, I don't have any weight issues for which I am eternally grateful but lots of people do struggle. When you go out for a meal you don't want to be the one having to order two salad starters whilst everyone else is enjoying pizza. The wonderful thing about this Leggera menu is you don't even notice that it is the lighter option.

Surprisingly the waiting staff didn't ask us why we were taking photographs of our lunch and neither of us spilt the beans to them!

Another reason to return to this branch - the waiting staff excelled themselves and helped to make it a very pleasant lunch for us both and thank you to them.

Also, thank you to We Are Social for inviting us along to Pizza Express, it was a pleasure having the opportunity to meet Jo, a fellow food blogger from the West Midlands.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LEEK AND GRUYERE QUICHE



The summer has reached the West Midlands at last! We can now have barbecues without having to run for cover and cook under the parasol, we can even eat quiche!

My tomato plants are at last happy and producing good red cherry tomatoes. Even some of the plants that have been on a back burner have burst into life and are trying their very best to put on a show for me.

If you are in the mood for quiche and have some leeks lurking in the fridge then this is a great recipe to use them up. A delicious quiche but try not to cook it to within an inch of its life because it will carry on cooking whilst cooling.

Oh dear look what happened to my pastry! This was after resting the pastry before rolling out, and then after popping the lined tin to rest in the fridge for half an hour or so. It didn't matter though and if I had removed the quiche from the tin you would never have known! Taking a belt and braces approach, by either pressing the uncooked pastry just above the rim of the tin or letting the pastry overhang the tin and when it's cooked just trim the pastry neatly from around the edges of the tin. I've never managed to trim the cooked pastry from around the tin neatly to this day!


One of my favourite Gary Rhodes recipes, although I think it is fair to say, I haven't come across many of his recipes on food blogs.

GARY RHODES - TIME TO EAT
ISBN 9780718153144
Page 180 - Serves 4 people

You will need:

a large piece of butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 sliced large onion, 1 large leek finely shredded and washed, 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 150ml double cream or milk, 100g Gruyere cheese grated, salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 175g fresh or frozen ready-made shortcrust pastry (although I made my own).

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and butter a loose 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
2. Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large frying pan. Once sizzling, fry the sliced onion for 5 to 6 minutes before adding the leek. Continue to fry for a further minute or two, then spread them on to a tray to cool.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them together with the extra egg yolk, and then add the cream or milk. Stir in the grated cheese and onion and leek and season with the salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
4. Roll our the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line the tart tin. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or dried rice and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Bake blind for 15 to 20 minutes, and then allow to cool. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and cut away the excess pastry. Lower the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.
6. Pour the filling mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until just set. Remove the quiche from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes before serving just warm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SUGAR PLUMS AND A NEW WEBER BARBECUE


My husband has just bought himself a new toy - a Weber Spirit barbecue - he's even bought some of their accessories. It was pleasing to see him, instead of the usual suspect (me), buying utensils he didn't really need, but I have to say they do lure you into parting with your cash, they are sleek in design and also very practical.

The previous week he 'faffed' about with barbecue and kept asking for opinions and help on how he should go about cooking the food on his new barbie, it really is a learning curve with the Weber, as they recommend cooking with the hood down for some foods.


As you can see from the photograph - the barbecue was delicious!

I knew we would need a very easy and quick dessert to eat after the barbecue because I had to be prepared for the 'faffing' again! Idly flicking through the pages of the September issue of BBC Good Food Magazine I stumbled upon this glorious recipe for roasted plums.


Roasting plums brings out the very best flavour and the wonder of this simple recipe was the vivid purple juices that oozed from the plums to make a delicious sauce. I allowed my plums to cool down for 10 minutes or so and served them simply with double cream poured over. Unfortunately, the photograph doesn't show the wonderful juices that came from the plums, perhaps due to more 'faffing'.

You will need:

140g white granulated sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1 large egg white, 12 ripe purple or red plums

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk the egg white, then roll the plums first in egg white and then the cinnamon sugar until very well coated in a sugary crust.
3. Space apart in a buttered baking dish then bake for 15 minutes or until the plums are crusty, cooked through and starting to be juicy (I allowed mine to be quite juicy without the plums collapsing). To test poke in a cocktail stick, if it goes in easily, they are ready.
4. Serve with creme fraiche, ice cream or double cream.