Recipe – Grilled Caesar Salad

This is a delightful twist on that ubiquitous classic, Caesar Salad.

Grilling the lettuce before putting the dressing on doesn’t in any way diminish it’s crunch and there’s something rather wonderful about warm, crunchy lettuce oozing with melted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a classic Caesar dressing.

There are no croutons here. If you can’t bear the thought of a Caesar salad without croutons, I recommend serving some thinly sliced and buttered baguette, topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and popped under the grill for a minute or so.

Although you can’t taste them, the dressing contains anchovies which makes this salad unsuitable for vegetarians – but if you leave them out, the end result will definitely taste flat, so don’t be tempted to do so.

The entire thing can be whipped up in no time and this salad is sure to impress. Be sure to use the best Italian Parmesan cheese and you’ll need a ridged grill pan, otherwise make this on your BBQ grill outside which will be more fun.

Grilled Caesar

Grilled Caesar Salad

GRILLED CAESAR SALAD

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 hearts of Romaine lettuce (that’s Cos lettuce in the UK) trimmed and halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil

1/2 cup (120ml measure) of grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

For the dressing:

1 fat clove of garlic, crushed

6 canned anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped

2 teaspoons of best quality mayonnaise

2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1/2 cup (120ml) of extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (go easy on the salt)

Action:

Start by whisking all the dressing ingredients together until you have a thick emulsion then set it aside.

Get your grill or grill pan nice and hot. Brush the cut sides of the lettuce halves with olive oil and put them cut side down in the grill pan (or on the BBQ grill) for a minute or so until you have nice scorch marks. Rotate them and grill for another minute so that you have a criss-cross of grill marks.

If you’re using a stove-top grill pan, heat the broiler/oven grill.

Transfer the lettuce halves to a baking tray cut side up and brush each generously with the dressing, making sure that you get it into all the crevasses of the lettuce. Sprinkle each with Parmesan and either leave them to one side of the outdoor grill under cover for a minute or two until the cheese melts, or put them under the grill/broiler on your stove until the cheese melts – don’t let the cheese burn.

To serve, brush them with any remaining dressing and scatter with more cheese, followed by  a good grind of black pepper.

Eat right away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fish, Made in Under 30 mins, Salads & Appetizers | Leave a comment

Recipe – Asian Turkey & Rice Noodle Salad

This delicious salad is simple to make and positively zings with the flavors of fresh lime, cilantro, mint, ginger and chili.

Even though it takes less than 30 minutes to assemble, I like to make this up to 24 hours ahead for the flavors to develop. I’ll keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to serve it, which is a bit unusual for a salad but this is a substantial main course dish; absolutely perfect on a warm day.

If you’re still waiting for that first warm day,  you’ll definitely want to earmark this recipe for later!

Asian Turkey & rice noodle salad

Asian Turkey & Rice Noodle Salad

ASIAN TURKEY & RICE NOODLE SALAD

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

7 oz (200g) of thin rice noodles

1 small red chili, seeded and sliced

2 medium carrots cut into thin matchsticks

A small red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of Tamari or low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon of hi-temp cooking oil

14-16 oz (400-450g) of ground turkey

A small bunch of cilantro (fresh coriander), leaves stripped and coarsely chopped

A handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

The juice of 3 limes

1 fat clove of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of soft light brown sugar

Action:

Start by whisking together the dressing ingredients then set it aside.

Put the dried noodles in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water – after 4-5 minutes drain them (you want them to be a little ‘al dente’ rather than mushy).

In another bowl, combine the red onion, carrot and chili with the drained noodles and toss everything with half of the dressing. Set aside.

In a wide saute pan, heat the oil and brown the turkey mince until completely cooked trough then stir in the Tamari. Transfer to a separate bowl and allow to cool then stir in the remaining dressing. You can make it ahead up to this point – just cover and chill.

To serve, toss everything together with the cilantro and mint.

 

 

 

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Poultry, Salads & Appetizers | 4 Comments

Recipe – Spiced Yogurt Grilled Salmon with a Salad of Quinoa, Cucumber, Mint & Pomegranate

A spring-like, even summery dish, bursting with flavor and crunch – and perfect on an 80+F degree day, despite the fact that there’s more snow in the forecast. Ah well, the hummingbirds are already here so as far as I’m concerned, summer is just around the corner.

You can whip this all up in under 30 minutes but you can make the yogurt dressing and salad ahead if you prefer.

The quinoa salad will also go very well with grilled chicken or lamb and is lovely on it’s own.

Grilled salmon with spiced yogurt and a pomegranate, mint and cucumber salad

Spiced Yogurt Grilled Salmon with a Quinoa, Pomegranate, Sweet Pepper, Cucumber & Mint Salad

SPICED YOGURT GRILLED SALMON WITH A QUINOA, POMEGRANATE, CUCUMBER & MINT SALAD (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

7 oz (200g) of low-fat Greek yogurt

1/2 a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground cumin and chili pepper flakes

1 fat clove of garlic, finely minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 salmon fillets, skin-on, each weighing about 6 oz (170g)

A couple of lemons

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cups (480ml measure) of cooked quinoa

1/2 a hothouse ‘seedless’ (English) cucumber, chopped

1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 smallish red onion, chopped

a small bunch of fresh mint, chopped with a few leaves reserved

1 cup measure (240ml) of pomegranate seeds

Action:

Mix the yogurt with the spices and garlic. Season with salt and set it aside. Line a roasting pan with foil and arrange the salmon, skin-side down.  Spread half of the spiced yogurt mixture on each salmon fillet and grill/broil for about 6-8 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through.

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, red pepper, cucumber, red onion, most of the pomegranate seeds, the chopped mint and toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon; season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you make the salad ahead, just cover and keep it in the fridge.

To serve, divide the quinoa salad between 4 plates along with the cooked salmon (the skin should be left behind stuck to the foil in the pan).

Top each salmon fillet with the remaining spiced yogurt and scatter with the reserved pomegranate seeds and mint leaves – and offer lemon wedges for squeezing.

This salad is also delicious with the cooked salmon served cold.

Posted in Fish, Made in Under 30 mins | Leave a comment

Recipe – Baked Eggs with Wild Mushroom Duxelles

I’m lucky to have access to fresh free range eggs on a daily basis so I’m always looking for a different way to serve them that doesn’t involve too much hassle.

Of course I took the hassle out of this recipe by making a large batch of duxelles (a fragrant wild mushroom reduction) in advance and freezing it so that I can transform a pile of mashed potato, a burger, pizza, steak or in this case a fresh free range egg, at a moment’s notice –  and duxelles defrosts in seconds.

This simple appetizer is voluptuous, divinely mushroom-y and rich-tasting and all you’ll need is some hot buttered toasted baguette for dunking. Absolutely wonderful!

Yes, you’ll need to make duxelles which can take up to an hour but trust me, if you make a sizeable quantity, it’s totally worth it! As a little goes a long way I recommend freezing it in ice cube trays first then transferring to a plastic container making it easy to use in small amounts.

Baked Eggs (En Cocotte) with Wild Mushroom Duxelles

Ingredients:

Per person, 2-3 heaped tablespoons of duxelles (recipe here)

Per person – a 3 inch diameter 1.5 inch deep ramekin, well-buttered

Per person, one large fresh egg, preferably free range

One cooked mushroom set aside to top each ramekin

A heaped tablespoon of crème fraîche per serving, divided

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley to serve

Action:

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Stir 1/3 of the crème fraîche into the duxelles and divide it between each buttered ramekin. Make a well in the center and drop a freshly cracked egg in there. Gently spread a spoonful of crème fraîche on top of the egg and top that with a reserved cooked mushroom.

Arrange the ramekins in a deep-sided baking pan and pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 18 minutes, making sure there’s a bit of a wobble going on as you don’t want the yolk to be overcooked.

Scatter with a little chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Posted in Salads & Appetizers, Vegetables / Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Recipe – Chicken Breasts in a White Wine, Garlic & Anchovy Cream Sauce

Dissolving anchovies over a pan of hot water quickly yields a rich brown sauce and the addition of roasted garlic and cream will transform a simple wine-poached chicken breast into something unusually delicious. The anchovies add their indefinable richness and the garlic creates a hint of sweetness.

I recommend serving this with tagliatelle verdi (green ribbon pasta) for some color but if taste is as important to you as it is to me, I advise against the new style of ‘supergreens-enriched’ pasta, unless you love the overpowering aroma of really old grass cuttings. Dried kale, broccoli, parsley, zucchini and spinach sound like wonderful, healthy additions but your taste buds will revolt. Tagliatelle verdi is the only way to go.

Chicken in a wine, garlic and anchovy cream sauce

CHICKEN BREASTS IN A WHITE WINE, GARLIC & ANCHOVY CREAM SAUCE

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

6 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each

5-6 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled

1/2 pint (300ml) of white wine

The juice of 1 medium sized lemon

5 fresh bay leaves

One 2 oz (56g) tin of anchovy fillets

1/2 pint (300ml) of heavy cream

A good handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper  – and perhaps some sea salt

Action:

Preheat the oven to 325F (170C). Lightly oil a shallow gratin/baking dish and put half of the bay leaves in the bottom. Arrange the sliced chicken in a single layer on top with the remaining bay leaves over the chicken and the garlic cloves tucked in among the slices.

In a small saucepan, bring the wine and lemon juice to a boil and quickly pour over the chicken. Cover the dish tightly with foil and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the garlic is tender.

Remove the chicken from the liquid, cover and keep it warm while you make the sauce.

Discard the bay leaves and set aside the garlic.  Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and simmer to reduce it to about a third. It should be slightly syrupy.

Meanwhile, tip the anchovies into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. They’ll quickly melt into a brown creamy sauce. Squeeze the garlic out of their papery skins and push them through a sieve into the anchovy sauce. Add this along with the cream to the reduced wine/lemon liquid and bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and stir in the chopped parsley.

Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken and combine everything well.

Serve the chicken and sauce over your favorite (green) pasta. A mixed leaf salad with a lemony dressing on the side would be a nice accompaniment.

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Recipe – Carrot & Walnut Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve been making this lovely moist carrot and walnut cake for longer than I care to remember. As a single layer cake, it’s not quite as guilt-inducing as those towering triple-layered confections, despite its luscious creamy frosting.

This is a more modest looking cake but there’s absolutely nothing modest about the taste and best of all, it’s very easy to make.

Carrot Walnut Cake, Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot & Walnut Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

CARROT & WALNUT CAKE with a MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

(Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

6 fl oz (175ml) of canola or corn oil

6 oz (150g) of sugar (caster sugar in the UK, regular in the US)

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

4 oz (100g) of walnut pieces, chopped (plus 8-10 walnut halves for decoration)

8 oz (250g) of ready-peeled carrots, chopped

6 oz (150g) of all-purpose (plain) flour

1 teaspoon (5ml) of bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon (5ml) of baking powder

1 teaspoon (5ml) of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon (5ml) of salt

For the frosting:

3 oz (85g) of full-fat cream cheese at room temp

2 oz (50g) of butter at room temp

2 oz (50g) of powdered sugar

1/8 cup (30ml) of maple syrup

8-10 walnut halves for decoration

Action:

Oil a 9 inch (22-23cm) loose-based cake pan and line it with baking parchment. Lightly oil the parchment.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.

Put everything except the walnuts into a food processor and blend thoroughly, until the carrots are finely chopped. Fold in the walnuts then spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan.

Transfer to the center of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hr 15 mins. Check after 1 hour as ovens vary – press gently in the center of the cake, it should spring back and have begun to shrink from the sides. Cool in the pan for 5 mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy then add the maple syrup followed by the icing sugar. You can adjust the quantities of maple syrup to sugar depending on how maple-y you want it to taste.

Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.

The cake keeps well but I’d cover and refrigerate it due to the frosting…however, I like to serve it at room temperature.

 

 

 

Posted in Desserts | 5 Comments

Recipe – Red Wine Glazed Beets

Sweet and earthy, these twice-cooked beets make a wonderful accompaniment to wild game or fowl and the red wine glaze intensifies their color, if you can imagine that.

Baking the beets in a sealed parcel first really brings out their natural sweetness. You could eat them right then but sautéing them in butter with leeks and red wine takes them to quite another level.

You can make this ahead; just reheat gently to serve.

Beets Braised in Red Wine

Red Wine Glazed Beets

RED WINE GLAZED BEETS

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

8 smallish beets (beetroots) of equal size

2 medium sized leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and thinly sliced

2 cups (500ml) of good red wine

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

Action:

Preheat the oven to 450F (230C). Wash and trim the beets then wrap them in a sealed foil parcel with a little space around them. Bake for about an hour, remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Slip the skins off and quarter them. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan and cook the leeks gently until they’re soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add the quartered beets and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes then add the red wine – bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer until most of the wine evaporates. Add the butter and stir until it’s melted and the beets have taken on a glossy appearance.

Check the seasoning once more before serving.

Love beets? Try these recipes as well –

Roasted Beets with Almond Skordalia & White Anchovies

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with a Toasted Hazelnut & Orange Dressing

Roasted Beets with Red Onion, Orange & Bay Leaf

Beets with a Yogurt, Garlic & Caraway Dressing


 

Posted in Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment