Chapter One: Going back to basics

mixture

“Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first”

– Josh Billings, Humourist

Well, hello delightful ample followers! What a joyous occasion it is to meet one and other a year since my first ever blog post. I’m not sure I can believe it myself but by God, it’s been an entire twelve months since my first article on ‘fruit tarts and new starts’ and ample servings is still going strong! Once more, this blog is about to go through a turn for the better, what with my culinary training fast approaching. I must admit that I’m a little nervous to start my new chapter but I’d foolish not to be! It’s going to be a whirlwind adventure and I can’t wait to begin. Needless to say, you wonderful people will get to treat yourselves, not to mention amuse yourselves, with an array of food related delights and culinary disasters! Blood, sweat and perfectly salted tears pave the way to my desired success. Wish me luck, I’m going in (to a professional kitchen!)

 Kitchen Aid Video:

Homemade mayo with Jamie Oliver in 3 minutes! Do it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypQuZX5MVsI

Seemingly Seasonal:

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Redcurrants
  • Nectarines
  • Damsons
  • Quinces
  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Apricots
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkins
  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Courgette
  • Marrow
  • Chicory
  • Cobnut
  • Fennel
  • French Beans
  • Globe Artichoke
  • Cabbage

Meat & Fish:

  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Goose
  • Halibut
  • Whiting
  • Salmon
  • Mussels
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters

Culinary Query

Libby, Balham

Please could you suggest some tasty vegan meals that I can cook at home for friends?

Amongst a meat-loving, dairy guzzling, food crazed crowd the word ‘vegan’ often warrants a raise of the eyebrows and a great heave of disgust. I find this response a little unfair because truly, vegans can eat a great deal of food and your meals can still be full of flavour. The trick is to just ‘think vegan’ not goose, no….definitely not goose!

Here are a few suggestions that I thought of myself;

Brunch: Toasted soda bread with crushed avocado, salt and lemon juice. This is wonderfully tasty and quick as you like to make. Toast your slices of bread (under the grill is best!) and cut open your avocado. Once the toast is done, directly squash the avocado onto it with a fork. One avocado usually does three pieces of toast. Season with plenty of salt, a little pepper and a good squeeze of lemon!

Light-lunch: Portobello mushrooms stuffed with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and homemade basil pesto. Have fun with the pesto and replace your pine nuts with toasted walnuts or pistachios for a different flavour! See my previous post of homemade pesto for a recipe. Simply roast your vegetables in the oven along with the herbs (add the mushroom stalks but not the mushrooms themselves!), then gently mix in a little tomato puree and handful of breadcrumbs before seasoning. Sear your portobello mushrooms in a pan on both sides and then place your vegetable mix on the bottom of each mushroom. Pop them in the oven for a further 5-10 mins until your mushroom is cooked through and serve with some rocket salad and a generous serving of homemade pesto on top of your mushrooms.

Aperitif: Homemade hummus by Yotam Ottolenghi is your best option here. It’s smooth, silky and totally vegan! Why not add some caramelised onions to the mixture for a sweet finish? Serve with pitta breads and wine! http://food52.com/recipes/22888-yotam-ottolenghi-sami-tamimi-s-basic-hummus

Dinner: Vegetable Thai curry is ideal for a flavoursome vegan feast. If you have time, make your own curry paste but one from the supermarket does the job just as nicely. Coconut milk is your main liquid as well as vegetable stock and obviously fine to use. I suggest that you use nice vegetables such as aubergines, squash and parsnips to keep it both interesting and filling. Don’t be afraid to use chilli, Thai basil (sweet flavour) and thai vegetables like water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Pak choi is nice too! An example to follow: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/420641/veggie-thai-red-curry

This Weeks’ Recipes:

Grilled Halloumi with chilli

Halloumi

A very simple and easy dish which acts as a great accompaniment to any Mediterranean meal.

Ingredients:

250g halloumi cut into rectangles

Half a red chilli

Lemon

Olive oil

Method:

Place the halloumi onto a hot grill. Turn the pieces over when they get a nice colour on the bottom side this could take between 2-4 minutes. Once cooked and marked on both sides place them on a serving place. Finely chop your red chilli and sprinkle onto your halloumi, season with a little pepper and a good squeeze of lemon. Finish with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

Lamb Stuffed Aubergines

bergg

This is an Ottolenghi recipe and is utterly delicious. The one thing I would suggest is to not to stuff your aubergine until the last half hour of the aubergine cooking. My mince became a tad overcooked after an hour and a half of baking! Serve with some salad leaves of eat on its own.

Ingredients:

4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

One and a half tablespoons sweet paprika

One and a half tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 medium onions (340g in total), finely chopped

500g minced lamb

50g pine nuts

20g flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons tomato purée

3 teaspoons caster sugar

150ml water

One and a half tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

4 cinnamon sticks

Salt and black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the aubergines are cooking, you can start making the stuffing by heating the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/175C fan/gas mark 5 and a half. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergine roasting tin. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

Choux Pastry

eclairs

Last week we saw contestants on the Great British Bake Off making an array of eclairs for the show stopper challenge. This encouraged me to seek some choux pastry training from a professional pastry chef, Alice Peel. Although Alice prefers bread over pastry, she didn’t mind teaching me how to make a decent choux pastry (of which she is most skilled at!) and turning it into a sea of chocolate eclairs and choux buns. This recipe is from BBC Food but is more or less how we did our pastries on Monday!

Ingredients:

100g/3½oz unsalted butter

pinch salt

150g/5½oz plain flour

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

Method:

For the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Gently heat 150ml/5½fl oz water, the butter and salt in a medium saucepan until melted, then bring to the boil.

Sift the flour into a bowl then tip it into the pan of boiling butter and water. Remove from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, very quickly beat the mixture until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and continue to beat the mixture until you have a smooth paste. Return the dough to the bowl and add the beaten eggs gradually, until the mixture has a smooth dropping consistency (the dough should hold onto the spoon but drop off when lightly tapped on the edge of the bowl). Spoon the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle.

Line two baking trays with non-stick silicone parchment and mark six 13cm/5in lines on each piece of parchment, leaving as much room as possible between each line. Spray the parchment with water and pipe identical tubes of dough on the lines. Bake for 20 minutes, or until well risen and golden-brown.

choc

Behold Alice’s finished eclairs!

See you all next week for more foodie fun! I’ll leave you with a picture of my new chef shoes….I keep telling myself they’re not crocs! In fact, I think they’re worse!

shoe

Please note that all my opinions and comments on Ample Servings are my own and are not of the culinary school I attend currently.

Love E. Wells