Sunday, 31 October 2010

Caramelised Garlic Tart with Chargrilled Asparagus and Courgette Salad

Last week there was a birthday in the Keston Kitchen. One of the gifts we bought for Charlotte was the new Ottlenghi book (Plenty) and so it was only fitting that the celebratory meal followed the Ottolenghi theme.

Some of the recipes from Plenty were published in a little booklet that came with the Observer a few months ago and a dish that we had not tried out yet was a tart of caramelised garlic and goats cheese. Julia suggested a delicious looking asparagus, courgette and manori salad to accompany it (minus the manori as this meal was not short on cheese already).

I blind baked the pastry crust and roasted the tomatoes for the salad the evening before but it still took quite a lot of preparation on the night, luckily Matt stepped up and chargrilled all the asparagus and courgettes and the hungry guests were tucking into Julia's wonderful starter of smoked salmon pate while the tart was cooking.

I also made a few individual tarts with spelt flour short crust pastry (low gluten) and although it didn't go quite as well with the flavours of the filling as the puff pastry, Becca, Charl's sister enjoyed it and the leftover spelt flour tarts were polished off by everyone else.

As with most Ottolenghi recipes it was time consuming to make but the extra effort was definitely worth it when it came to the results!

Caramalised Garlic Tart

This recipe says it serves 8 people but it is so good it could easily be finished off by 6 people in our household

375g all-butter puff pastry

3 whole heads of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

220ml water

3/4 tbsp caster sugar

1tsp chopped thyme (plus a few whole sprigs to finish)

salt and black pepper

120g soft, creamy goats cheese

120g, hard, mature goats cheese

2 free range eggs

100ml double cream

100ml creme fraiche

Roll out the chilled pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of a shallow, loose bottomed 28cm tart tin. Line the tin with pastry and then place a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill with baking beans. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Blind bake the case for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper before baking for 5-10 minutes more, until golden. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the caramalised garlic. Separate and peel all the cloves, put them in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, blanch for 3 minutes and drain. Dry the pan, return the garlic to it along with the oil and fry on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, chopped herbs and 1/4 tsp salt, and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cloves are coated in dark syrup.

Break the goats cheese into pieces and scatter in the tart case. Spoon the garlic and syrup evenly over the cheese. Whisk the eggs, creams, half a tsp of salt and some black pepper, then pour over the garlic mix, filling any gaps and making sure the garlic and cheese peep over the top.

Turn the oven to 160C/gas mark 3 and bake the tart for 35-45 minutes, until the filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Take the tart out of its tin and lay a few sprigs of thyme on the top before serving.

Chargrilled Asparagus and Courgette Salad

The below ingredients serve 4-6 people


350g cherry tomatoes, halved

140ml olive oil

24 asparagus spears

2 courgettes

25g rocket

Course sea salt and black pepper

Basil Oil:

75ml olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

25g basil leaves

a pinch of salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Start by preparing the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Mix the tomatoes with 3 tbsp of olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Spread the out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, skin side down. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until semi-dried. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Trim the woody base of the asparagus and blanch for 4 minutes in plenty of boiling water. Drain and refresh under cold water, making sure the spears are completely cold. Drain well again, then transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp of the remaining oil and some salt and pepper.

Slice the courgettes very thinly lengthwise, using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Mix with 1 tsbp of the olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave there for a few minutes. It should be very hot. grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning them over after about a minute. You want to get nice char marks on all sides. Remove and leave to cool.

To make the basil oil, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

To assemble, arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layers on a flat serving plate. Build the salad up whilst showing all the individual components. Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like and serve.

Best enjoyed around halloween - with all the garlic it is guaranteed to keep any vampires at bay!

Happy Birthday Charlotte

Rachael x

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sweet Autumn Fennel

Sweet Autumn Fennel by Charlotte

Fennel is a top ingredient that should not be confused with celery (for those of you who are strongly against the long stringy stuff). The first time I tried fennel was in Italy, eaten raw and dipped in oil with salt and pepper, which I highly recommend. Last year we had a spate of making a roasted fennel and chestnut side dish - this is also a great dish and in season right now. Maybe go for peeled chestnuts as peeling lots can really test your willpower.

This recipe is taken and adapted from the first Ottolenghi cookbook and has been made twice and tried and tested by lots of friends, who expect a good spread when they come round. Instead of making it in one large baking dish I opted for small ramekins as both occasions were a wee bit special and I decided individual pots were in order. 

Serves 10
4 fennel bulbs
3 tbsp olive oil
Sprigs of thyme, about 6
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
200ml whipping cream
100g Parmesan, grated
300g cherry tomatoes, tasty ones
Crumble top:
100g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar
65g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

- Mix the flour and sugar and rub in the butter to make a crumble topping.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Trim the fennel and slice into  small pieces, place in a bowl with the olive oil thyme leaves, garlic, salt and pepper and mix together.
- Put a small amount in each ramekin, divide the cream and pour over the fennel in the 10 ramekins.
- Mix the crumble topping with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle over the fennel.
- Cover each ramekin with foil and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the foil, arrange 3-4 tomatoes on the top of each ramekin and bake for a further 15 minutes. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

On location: Sicily

What's Sicily eating? by Charlotte

A comprehensive list of food eaten (by two) in Sicily over two weeks. 

Round focaccia with lard, innards, ricotta and Parmesan - a little greasy  for some.
Round focaccia with ricotta and Parmesan - delightfully light ricotta.
Mixed plate of caponata, fried cheese, good olives, cheese, bread - caponata is the best thing.
Le sarde - fried sardines with curry sauce - unexpected liking for curry.
Seabass rolled (rotolini) and stuffed with tomatoes, basil and capers - real good.
Fig semifreddo - ice cream cake slice with sponge base and caramelised fig sauce - yes yes yes.
Menu del giorno lunch (after much walking and viewing of catacombs, i.e. very hungry)
Ragu al miale, aka pork bolognese - tasty and plentiful.
Pasta with anchovies - salty fish and pasta al dente feast.
Veal and chips - top dog.
Salty pork meatballs - they like salt. 
Insalata verde, green salad, literally sliced iceberg - an unexpectedly popular lettuce in the city of Palermo.
Caponata - best I've had.
Brik, a pancake starter stuffed with tuna and capers and then deep fried - a bit try hard...
Calamari with sweet chilli sauce - not chewy, just perfect.
8 gamberone rossi (large red prawns) - truly meaty seafood, could have eaten 16.
Sicilian blancmange - pannacotta wins over this.

Beach lunch
Hot piadine filled with prosciutto crudo and mozzarella.
Mixed salad, mainly tuna - it was late, suspect they were low on other ingredients, Omega oils for the whole trip obtained.
Menu Turistica (dinner)
Casserecci pasta - extruded 's' shape, al dente and superb.
Fritto misto - always good.
La Botte in Parco delle Madonie (hills behind Cefalù) (lunch)
Insalata snob, salad with olives, artichoke, tomatoes, lettuce, fat parmesan shavings, mushrooms - anything with artichoke is good.
La Botte sandwich of cheese, prosciutto and rocket.
Dinner in Cefalù
Pizza Norma, with aubergine - ok, nothing to shout about.
Pizza Rustica, with anchovies - ditto.
Train lunch
Sandwich of cheese and prosciutto - cheese was squeaky like halloumi.

Aubergine rolls, mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese, patatas bravas, tortilla.
Piatto del mare - gamberone rossi, muscles, calamari, battered fish, salmon pate - great bar/restaurant, Lola writes a blog too - Sicilian Diary
Breakfast on boat to the Eolian islands
Pan ciok, large croissant pastry packed with chocolate pieces.

Beach lunch
Arancini - street food, deep fried rice balls stuffed with aubergine, spinach, bolognese, cheese etc. - Matt wasn't a fan. I am.
Bar Ingrid (breakfast & drinks)
With beautiful views, good coffee and delicious pastries (large gooey fig centered biscuit pastry yes please), necessary after a volcanic hike.

Il Trocadero (dinner)
Rustica platter of local cheeses, meats and olives.
Piglia e fieno, pasta with prosciutto, mushrooms and cream - nice.
Napolitana pizza - in Matt's words - sloppy.
Beach lunch 
Grilled vegetables - top dollar.
Evening drink - latte di mandorla (on all bar/gelateria signs) - sweet! too sweet!
Three types of olive oil; light from Catania; medium from Etna; strong from Ragusa - all good, think the light was preferred although the waiter misunderstood and only left the strong.
Spaghetti with tuna, bottarga and cherry tomatoes.
Calamari, mushrooms and pigs cheek cooked in masala wine - on my goodness, amazing.
Salad of fennel, orange, olives, red onion - best salad ever? I think yes.
Train station (lunch) 
Italian Ginsters lunch of pastry filled with mozzarella, prosciutto, tomatoes and olives - pretty good for a train station.

Trattoria Caico (in San Leone) (dinner)
Fillet of beef with Nero d'avola sauce - it had the look of Satan's dinner (it was basically black in colour).
Swordfish, grilled and served with lime - meaty and satisfying.
Breakfast - croissants with a light cream filling, sweet and delicious.
Best find in Agrigento serving food with a hint of north Africa.
Spaghetti with sardines, spices and sultanas - really tasty and lots of it.
Pennette with sausage and broccoli, a typical dish but with spices and sultanas - a favourite of the trip.
Pastries from Santo Spirito - made by the nuns(!) A mix of mini pastries and biscuits made with almonds, marzipan and pistachio nuts. 

Divino Rosso (dinner)
Pizza + chips + beer - best pizza we found in Sicily.
Danzibar Pasticceria (breakfast)
An 'Iris', a crispy, sugar coated doughnut stuffed with warm ricotta and chocolate - a succulent treat with hints of a cheesecake...
L'antica de Gaetano (lunch)
Chicken meatballs with a caper and tomato salsa - just perfect.
Orechiette pasta with prosciutto, mushrooms and cream - a brilliant pasta with interesting markings.
Street food snack - chestnuts smoked and salted - yum!
Brilliant local wines and bar treats, including pesto Trapanese (tomato, basil and almonds); small fish; pistachio pesto; tuna and orange pate; sun dried tomato pate.
Trattoria Garibaldi (dinner)
Fritto misto - not the best.
Red mullet - a little fishy...
Putanesca salad of potatoes, tomatoes, onion, capers and oregano - top salad.
Danzibar Pasticceria (breakfast)
Chocolate croissant - the last of many.
Sweet bread like brioche with a sausage inside - woo!