Pork, Tomato, & Feta “Baklava”

As I have mentioned several times before, I don’t do nearly as much cooking as I once did, now that I am living in two places. An exception to this came recently when I decided to make this “baklava,” from a recent edition of delicious magazine (it is a Sabrina Ghayour recipe, previously featured on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen which is where I have linked the recipe from). This is definitely a weekend project — preferably a cozy Saturday with a glass of wine, the paper, and some nice background music.

Although this dish takes a lot of time, it is not at all difficult and there is very little “fuss” involved. The most difficult part is assembling it, but even that is very easy. So, don’t be put off — what this requires most of all is time, not effort.

I bought a lovely pork shoulder at our local butcher — I have to admit that it was a bit unfortunate to cook it and then not just eat it right away and bury it in the baklava. Next time I buy it I’m not doing anything to it!

The recipe called for fennel, which I left out because I don’t like the taste if it. I think it’s complex enough without it though. The end result looks impressive and was really tasty — the honey means it has a tiny taste of sweetness. My only bugbear was that the sauce ended up a touch dry for me.

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Zucchini, Cheddar, & Parmesan Scones

I’ve been trying to write this post for well over a month now. It is an end of summer recipe and we’re deep into fall. Nonetheless, I’ve been determined to post it, simply because these are so good.

The recipe comes from the summer edition of Bon Appetit magazine (note that the url is from a different website but the recipe is the same), though the scones originate from Flora Bar in New York. It’s actually a recipe for Gruyere and zucchini scones: I bought Gruyere but then … oops… ended up eating it all before I got around to making this — confessions of a cheese addict. Instead, I improvised and used cheddar and Parmesan.

After so many years of food blogging you start to run out of ways to describe good food. These are, quite simply, really really good. Delicious, melt-in-your mouth scones. It’s one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a while. The zucchini keeps them moist, yet the melted cheese makes them a bit crispy. They’re not difficult to make and look impressive, so would be a great brunch dish or side. Warm, with a bit of butter — these are perfection.

Cauliflower & Cheese Croquettes

They had me at croquette. And cheese. This recipe appeared in the May 2017 edition of delicious magazine and it immediately appealed to me. And boy was it good. The texture was perfect — crispy on the outside, soft, creamy, gooey on the inside. Sooo tasty. Serve with mayo or Greek yogurt dipping sauce. Serve with a side salad.

Here’s how to make them. This makes enough for 2 people for 2 meals, so quite a bit.

  1. Chop a head of cauliflower into florets. Preheat over to 200C, and roast florets with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, for 20 minutes.
  2. When the cauliflower is roasted, whizz half of them, with 150ml milk, using a food processor or stick blender. Roughly chop the remaining cauliflower and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: melt 50g butter in a saucepan and stir in 75g plain flour [I found I needed a bit more better]. Gradually whisk in 350ml milk and stir to make a smooth, thick sauce.
  4. Add the following to a mixing bowl: the sauce, 100g grated cheddar, a pinch of nutmeg, 2 spring onions (chopped), and 2tbsp olive oil, and all of the cauliflower. Cool, and then chill for 2 hours. The magazine recommends using cling film and allowing it to touch the top of the mixture to prevent a skin forming.
  5. Get ready to form the croquettas: in bowl 1, beat 2 eggs; in bowl 2, mix 150g Panko breadcrumbs with 30g Parmesan. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly, and then roll in egg and then breadcrumbs. I did this as I went, batch by batch.
  6. Time for frying: the recipe recommends 1L sunflower oil. I did not use that much (probably about half). You want the oil hot — 180C on a digital thermometer (or until a piece of bread turns golden in 30 seconds).
  7. Fry the croquettes for a couple of minutes on each side. Leave to dry on a paper-toweled plate.

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Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheddar Bake

Soon after I posted saying I’m not cooking much new…I have a couple of posts in the pipeline.

This is like a mac & cheese except solely with vegetables. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but cauliflower rice is everywhere here: even in tiny shops it’s available, pre-chopped. I picked some up on a whim and for a couple of days mulled over what to do with it. Since we all know that I love cheese…it had to be something cheesy in the end. I loosely adapted this recipe.

I didn’t have buffalo sauce (it doesn’t seem to exist here? Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough), so made the recipe a simple “mac and cheese,” with bechamel sauce, cheese (mature cheddar and Parmesan), and “pasta” (vegetables). The original recipe is with shrimp, but, again, I omitted this.

I won’t lie: this was not the tastiest or most thrilling dish I’ve ever made. In hindsight I would have added some sharp blue cheese to it, and if I make it again I think I’ll do that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t dull or bland — I had it with a side salad and they worked well together. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of mincing the cauliflower by hand to make this though — some shortcuts are worth it.

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Gnocchi with Mushroom & Kale Cream Sauce

Welcome 2017
Happy new year readers! I’m starting 2017 off not with a ‘new year new you’ green smoothie or broth, but with some comfort food. It hasn’t exactly been an easy slide into 2017 for me, although I knew it wouldn’t be. My 2016 ended with a whirlwind of change: I got a full-time job! After 4 years as a student/very low-paid adjunct lecturer, I am very pleased about this development. However…the job involves me spending my weeks in the north of England and my weekends in London, which will radically change the way I live plan and cook meals. I start next week, and am currently in a stressful fog of marking, flat-hunting, and preparing for this new job. As ever, being in the kitchen remains a form of solace.

Obviously, the blog is about to undergo a bit of a change of focus, and probably less frequent posting in the short term. I will be cooking in a totally new way and the blog will reflect that. Hopefully you will still want to continue reading. 😉

The dish
Incidentally, I had never bought gnocchi until a couple of months ago (though have made it before). I picked up a couple of packages, thinking it would be a good to throw together on evenings when I didn’t have anything planned.

I can’t find the exact recipe I used online, but this one is similar. Although it has the taste of a dish that took much longer, this can easily be made in under half an hour. The sauce is made from sauteed mushrooms, cream (~150ml), stock (~150ml), thyme, sage, and salt and pepper. The original recipe called for spinach, but I used kale instead as I prefer a sturdier leaf in this type of dish. I also modified the cheese – the recipe called originally for 75g of Gorgonzola, but I used Stilton, and much less of it, and then topped with Parmesan.

Somehow this dish manages to be comforting but not too cloying or heavy, despite the cream. It’s a great one to throw together quickly — tasty, easy, satisfying.

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“Green Goddess” Mac & Cheese

The term green goddess seems to be everywhere these days. I’m not particularly fond of it, since it seems to be one of those terms that can be appropriated for everything from smoothies to face masks, but I’ve left it in the title because it sounds better than ‘healthier mac and cheese’ or ‘mac and cheese with kale, basil, and spinach.’

I’ll get straight to it: this was a real winner for us. I added in curly kale in addition to the basil and spinach. It’s fairly easy to make — pureeing the greens just takes a bit of extra time. There’s still lots of cheese, but you do feel a bit better eating this knowing that there is some healthy bits! It was absolutely delicious and will become a part of my regular rotation of meals.

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Umami Apple Pie

Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol’s The Flavour Principle is one of my favourite cookbooks. I love the way it is organized according to taste. This pie appears, as you might be able to guess from the title, in the umami section. Translated from the Japanese as delicious essence, umami is used to describe tastes that are deep, savoury, often ‘meaty’ flavour such as those in Parmesan, prosciutto, and soy sauce.

Onto the pie. It’s been a long time since I have made pie crust, but since this recipe calls for a special ingredient — cheddar cheese — to be added, I had to make it from scratch. And, surprisingly, it turned out well! (Much better than last time!)

I followed the recipe quite closely, using a mix of apples, although found that I had too much of the mixture after cooking them (this was also because I used a slightly smaller pie dish). I did find that the top browned too quickly so covered it with baking paper as Lucy suggests.

I was really pleased with this pie. The cheddar taste is milder than you might think, and delicious. Perfect fall comfort food.

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Spinach & Blue Cheese Biscuits

WOW is the word to describe these biscuits. Game-changer. They are simply delicious. I’d even go so far as to say amazing… I think they’re the best biscuits I’ve had! They’re so good that I don’t even have a picture to show you because we gobbled them up so quickly.

I followed Joy’s recipe closely, except I started with fresh spinach (not even sure frozen exists here), cooked it down, and allowed it to cool. The blue cheese flavour is subtler than expected, but it really works. And for those that don’t like spinach, I’d urge you to still give these a go. It’s not a strong taste.

They’re quite hardy, not a dainty biscuit. I was a bit worried because I had an oven fiasco and had to delay putting them in, but they turned out perfectly despite that. They’re best warm (I had every intention of freezing a couple but they didn’t make it that long!) and can be heated up in the toaster (just keep an eye on it due to the cheese), best served, I found, with a bit of butter.

I’ll be making another batch soon and will update this point with a photo but wanted to share the recipe as soon as possible.

Broccoli & Gorgonzola Tagliatelle

This is a great spring pasta dish. I found the recipe in an old delicious magazine and adapted it based on what I could find.

This dish is straightforward to make and manages to be light yet filling and decadent yet not indulgent. It even looks a bit summery. I used Gorgonzola in place of Dolcelatte and pine nuts instead of walnuts, and I personally think it worked very well. I’d recommended using the best pasta you can find. I normally use (dried) wholewheat, but this time decided to go for fresh and I do think it made a difference.

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Tuna Casserole

Oooh man, it’s been a busy few weeks. The latter half of March brought me to my knees. Teaching + conference + revision deadlines + job applications + PhD has meant I’ve been feeling a bit on autopilot, working through my responsibilities but perpetually feeling behind. (Oh, academia). And that’s just work-related stuff. 😦

Well, we often turn to food for comfort and there is no better dish to turn to than this one. The nostalgia of tuna casserole….where to begin! This dish will bring all of those childhood memories back but elevates to a completely new level. Chips + cheese + mushroom + cream + noodles….several of my favourite ingredients!

When I saw Meaghan’s post, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. It did not disappoint — this is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while! Though there are a few different steps involved, it’s easy to make. Moreish comfort food at its finest. Even though we are getting into spring, and this is more of a winter dish, I urge you to try it. You really can’t go wrong with this one!

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