Wednesday, 29 September 2010

ottolenghi - marinated romano peppers with mozzarella or feta cheese

I love soft, marinated peppers with good bread to dip in the marinade and scoop up the peppers with. I found this recipe in my new cookbook which is proving a very good purchase. This recipe uses romano peppers which visually look good on the table as well as tasting a wee bit more subtle than bell peppers.

6 romano peppers
120ml olive oil
2.5 tbsp finely chopped coriander
2.5 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp cider vinegar
100g rocket
200g of your chosen cheese - mozzarella or feta
sea salt and black pepper
Bake or buy your favourite bread

Spread the peppers out on a roasting tin, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Mix well and roast for 15 minutes at 200/G 6
While the peppers roast, mix the parsley, coriander, garlic and vinegar and 80 ml of the olive oil - season to taste
Put the warm peppers in a bowl and mix in the marinade - leave at room temprature for at least 2 hours

To serve, warm your bread, spread the rocket out on a plate and lay over the peppers
Spoon the marinade over the peppers and break your cheese into chunks over the peppers
Serve with the warm bread and be ready to be licking your fingers clean!

For this version I used organic feta which worked well. I haven't tried the mozzarella yet - I also think a good sharp parmesan would be good.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

ottolenghi - marinated chicken and char grilled broccoli

I have recently bought the Ottolenghi cookbook - I haven't been to their restaurant in London yet although the recipes and description of their food philosophy in the book means a visit is most definitely on the cards. I bought the book partly because the reviews were good and partly because of the look of the book. Superficial maybe, but if a cookbook looks simple and well designed then often the food is too.

I wanted to try something new but easy and with a health kick to it - and some punchy but clean flavours - so went for the marinated turkey breast with cumin, coriander and white wine served with chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic. I love broccoli - it is one of my favourite vegetables - but there aren't a lot of recipes about for it that arean't focused on cheesy or creamy sauces.

For the turkey

A turkey breast or turkey fillets
4 tbsp mint leaves
4 tbsp parsley leaves
4 tbsp coriander leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
60ml lemon juice
60ml olive oil
125ml white wine
half a tsp ground cumin
half a tsp salt
half a tsp black pepper

This makes enough for 4-6 but I halved the quantities for this occasion. Usually I would make the 4-6 in order to have enough for the next night.

Put everything apart from the turkey into a food processor and whizz it all up to make the marinade
Put the meat into a non-metallic container and pour over the marinade, massaging it into the meat

Cover and leave in the fridge over night
Take the turkey out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature
Place turkey in a roasting tin - reserving the marinade - and roast at 220/G 7 for 15 minutes and then 180/G 4 for 30-45 minutes if using turkey breast. If using fillets roast at 200/G6 for 20-30 mins
Put the marinade in a small pot and heat up, reduce by about half, season to taste
When the turkey is ready let it rest for ten minutes then slice it thinly and serve with the sauce

For the broccoli
1 head of broccoli
55ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 mild red chilli thinly sliced
sea salt and black pepper
toasted flaked almonds [if you have them, I had forgotten about them!]
thin slices of lemon to garnish

Separate broccoli into florets and blanhc the broccoli in boiling hot water for 2 minutes
Plunge into a bowl of ice cold water then drain until completely dry - this stops it cooking and keeps the broccoli nice and crunchy
Toss the broccoli in a bowl with 20ml of the olive oil
Place a ridged griddle - or as I did a frying pan if you don't have a griddle - over a high heat and grill the florets
You might need to do the broccoli in batches - once done put in a heatproof bowl
While grilling the broccoli warm the oil in a small pan with the garlic and chillies

Pour the olive oil mixture over the broccoli and toss well - give it a taste and adjust the seasoning
Garnish with the lemon and almonds if you wish then serve

I also had some bread with this to sook up the lovely juices and sauce.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

When I was 24 Andy bought me some amazing red chunky kick ass boots for my birthday from a shop in Edinburgh called 'Pie in the Sky'. At first I was unsure because they were to the knee lace ups with a sole on them like a tractor tyre. I was worried I couldn't carry them off. But in fact with them on I felt like I could take on anything.

I had never heard of the brand 'Art' before - it is a spanish brand an until a year or so ago - when I spotted them in a shop in London - hadn't seen anything else like them.

They have been faithful friends seeing me through 8 winters and being comfy, reliable and toasty as well as adding that edge to my usual weekend outfit of jeans and hoody.

Well, the sole started to go on my red boots and while the cobbler is doing his best to squeeze a bit more life out of them I have to accept they will now be worn on occasion and when I don't think the weather will finish them off.

So with a heavy heart I began to think about new winter boots. Well, as luck would have it, one of the two rather excellent shoe shops in Bridge of Allan, Chapter, sells Art boots and shoes. Last winter I had seen a pair of Art boots in Chapter but had decided it would signal a betrayal of my favourite fellows and they weren't done in yet. When I realised another winter was unrealistic I called up Chapter and asked if they still had any and they did!

I went down and tried them on and it was like falling in love all over again. This time they are black and have a bit of a chunky heel on them - but in all the important ways, comfort, warmth, kick-assability - they are blood sisters to my previous pair.

Of course, my original pair are still favoured - they will have outings too. But I will make sure they are outings that won't tire them out to the point of no return. Their retirement should be a long and happy one - and anyway, mad as it is, I cannot bear to part with them.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

RAF Leuchars air show

When my wee brother was up to stay in August we visited the East Fortune airfield and museum and while we were there saw a flyer for the Leuchars air show. It transpired that neither Andy, Theo or I had been to the Leuchars air show and we decided we must go. Andy had been to RAF Fylingdales air shows when he was a wee boy but Theo and I reckoned Leuchars could compete with whatever Yorkshire had managed to put on.

I was looking forward to it but surprised myself by how excited I was to see the planes and the demonstrations. I was also reminded of what it means to have weapons that can destroy hundreds if not thousands of lives.

The Vulcan - which can carry nuclear warheads - was chilling to see up close. Its size and shape were menacing and the sound it made as it flew over our heads did induce fear. I imagined what it would be like if you were hearing that as someone who wasn't in an airfield in Scotland and I have no doubt it would be a terrifying experience.

I was also reminded though of the day to day work of the RAF. I would classify myself as a pacifist but if anything this makes me feel even more strongly about how we support and see our troops. It is governments that decide to go to war - not pilots. The demonstrations by the Red Arrows were fantastic in their skill and the commentary reminded the audience that all of the pilots serve on the front line at one time or another and one pilot who was flying has a partner currently serving in Afghanistan.

I had never seen the Red Arrows live - and it was an incredible display. Andy really enjoyed it too - and I think was a bit tickled by how much I enjoyed it. I am not usually into machines or being enthralled by trains, planes and automobiles but I was gobsmacked by what was on display.

I think that the layout contributed to this - we were incredibly close to the displays. Andy said that he had never been so close at Fylingdales.

My favourite part though was the fly by in honour of the few who fought and won the Battle of Britain.

The Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane were beautiful and the sound they made was such a contrast to the modern machines we had witnessed to that point. I always suspect that we are a hairs breadth away from fairness to fascism - it seems so easy for people, society, governments to lose a grip on being humane [you only need to look at France and its treatment of the Roma]and slip easily into racism, xenophobia and hate. The fly by was a strong reminder that many people, normal everyday people, gave up their freedoms for us to be able to stand at an air show and enjoy our Saturday afternoon.

And, for that matter, enjoy fish and chips and an evening of xbox playing - because that is exactly what we did. We met up with Theo who had gone along to the show with the air cadets he stayed over with us in Stirling. It is great having him to stay and it was really good to hear all his thoughts and comments on the show - I learnt a lot - he has a huge amount of knowledge that helped put what I had seen into context.

It was a great day and would very much recommend it - I would definitley go back as it was something you really could see time and time again.

Friday, 3 September 2010

selkin' about

I haven't blogged for a while as life has been a bit frantic recently but I have to share the fantastic birthday present I got from Andy this year.

I really feel the cold - I have Raynaud's - and spent last winter in various levels of pain and numbness induced by the cold weather and our single glazing rented accommodation. My fingerless mitts were worn out - I pretty much wore them most of the time - even when trying to make the dinner.

A couple of years ago Andy discovered Lippi Selk Bags - a sleeping bag with arms and legs and a hood - that you can wear I guess a bit like a romper suit. I loved the idea but I guess it seemed a bit of a mad thing to buy.

Well, this year when Andy gave me my pressie I couldn't believe it - I could tell the minute I read my card - the cryptic message was all about Andy's duties to make me cups of tea and making sure I am kept toasty - and I just knew. A Leppi Selk Bag!!!

Andy knows just how much I suffer in the cold weather and while not everyone may see the romance in it I have to say sometimes the most thoughtful pressies are not the usual suspects.

It is the warmest thing ever - and it has reinforced feet so I can walk about in the garden. It might sound crazy but even in the coldest darkest depths of winter I like to sit outside with a cuppa. With my selky I will be able to do just that and be warm and cosy and not have blue fingers and nose. I almost can't wait for the cold weather...