Tag Archives: Garlic

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

I feel I should start this post by way of an apology. It’s an awful photo. I know. It shall be replaced next time I make this pie, and being such a tasty pie as it is this won’t be long. But as time is most definitely in short supply right now I’m going with the shameful shot in order to make another entry to this month’s Four Seasons Food challenge.

I’d also like to take to take the opportunity to offer huge and well deserved congratulations to my friend and partner in foodie crime for the Four Seasons Food challenge, Anneli! If you haven’t already heard she won the glittering Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Food award on Friday night for her gorgeous and inspiring Delicieux blog. I believe she’s still getting over the hangover and on her way back to rural SW France as I write. Well done Anneli, so can’t wait to help you celebrate!

So on to the Pie. I’ve been intending to bake this pie for a long long time, and despite the sad photos it was stunningly tasty. And took me right back to many a happy Greek joliday of yonder year. Though also made me a little sad, sad in the sense it was made with shop bought spinach and not Chez Foti spinach which until recently has been growing in huge abundance. As my garden winds up there’s very little greenery out there any more, bar a barrage of weeds and lots of (overgrown) herbs. In case you didn’t know I’m moving back to the UK this summer, back with the littlies to be nearer my family in gorgeous and foodie Herefordshire. Which funnily enough is very similar and gentle countryside to where I live now, minus the Pyrenees obviously!. And one day very soon I’ll be very excited to start another veggie plot on English soil. But more on my new venture in another blog soon.

Anyway, I digress again. Back to the pie, which was a real doddle to make. And makes for a wonderful cold or warm picnic, lunch or dinner munch. Don’t be put off by the filo, it’s so easy to use and very forgiving in any shape or form!. The pie’s assembled in a flash, simply a matter of sweating a little onion and garlic, followed by a seemingly monstrous amount of fresh spinach. A stirring in of lightly beaten eggs flavoured with nutmeg and a little Dijon mustard, pine kernels, parsley and feta. Then spooning into a filo pastry shell, topped with more filo and baked for a mere 30 minutes.

fsf-summerNaturally I shall be entering my picnic-perfect pie to the Four Cooking-with-HerbsSeasons Food challenge, a new monthly event hosted by myself and (award winning!) Anneli at Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s aptly Picnics and Outdoor Nibbles. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event,Simple and in Season Ren Behans Simple and in Season and Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.Made with Love Mondays

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Great For: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers (if they’re not green adverse!), Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Picnics, Nibbles, Mains, Lunches, Dinners, Dinner Parties, Parties, Spinach Growers (sob, sob)

Notes: Substitute fresh spinach for the same weight in frozen spinach which has defrosted (no need to wilt)

Serves: 4-6 large slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, medium sized, medium dice

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

500g fresh spinach, washed & dried and roughly shredded

2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

50g pine kernels

3 free range eggs

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

pepper

4 large or 8 small sheets filo pastry

40ml olive oil

Special Equipment: a small ovenproof baking tray, pie dish or tart tin (roughly 20 x 20), round square or oblong! A pastry brush.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan on a low to medium heat. Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

3. With the pan still on the heat stir in the spinach, in batches, until it’s all wilted. It helps to have a saucepan lid. Once wilted take off the heat and set aside.

4. Stir into the spinach the parsley, Feta and pine kernels. Lightly whisk together the eggs with the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. Stir the eggs into the spinach along with a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Ensure everything’s very well combined.

5. Grease your chosen dish or tin liberally with olive oil. Line it with a small sheet of filo pastry or half a large sheet (letting the other half of a larger sheet hang over one side – it will form the top once the filling’s been added). Brush the sheet with olive oil before adding another layer. Continue until you have 4 base layers of filo.

6. Spoon in the spinach mix and evenly spread. Layer 4 small sheets of filo pastry on the top, brushing on oil between each and tucking the edges into the sides to seal the pie. I like to scrunch them up for effect. If using the larger sheets turn them over and scrunch them onto to the top of the pie and tuck into the sides. It might look messy but filo pies are very forgiving!.

7. Brush the top with olive oil if you haven’t already done so. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until set, golden and crispy. Turn out of the dish, if you dare, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Lovely warm or cold.

You might also like:

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce


A Couple of Summer Crostini for the Four Seasons Food Challenge!

Summer Crostini Recipes

I’m a huge fan of Crostini and Bruschetta, well anything tasty on toast to be honest. Little niblets of loveliness to gobble down between sups of vin blanc on balmy summer evenings (of which admittedly we’ve had precisely one so far this year!). And they don’t just have to be for grown ups, Jacques in particularly gets very excited about crostini, though Francesca’s a little more cautious, as ever. Whenever we have friends over I can’t resist a few toasty offerings and these are my favourite toppings of the moment.

Firstly a Wild Garlic and Cannellini Bean Crostini, a simple mix of cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, a small bunch of wild garlic leaves and bulbs , a little green chili, olive oil and seasoning. Plus a sprinkling of parsley to finish. No cooking (bar the crostini toasts) just a simple assembly job. And it so happens to double as a deliciously morish dip, which I find requires considerable restraint to not polish off in a single session.

Secondly there’s my now-favourite topping of all time. Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini. Admittedly this is a little more faffy, but so so worth the effort. And exceptionally crowd pleasing to all ages and tastes. And since all the elements (like the Cannellini Crostini) can be made in advance you don’t have to be faffing when your guests arrive.

fsf-summerI shall, of course, be entering this post to my brand new Four Seasons Food blogging Simple and in Seasonchallenge, co-hosted my myself and Anneli of Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s Summer Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Cooking-with-HerbsAnd as the ingredients are all in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And last but most certainly not least to Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Cannellini Beans & Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic & Cannellini Bean Crostini

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, wild garlic foragers, dipping

Notes: Substitute the wild garlic for a crushed clove of cultivated garlic if you can’t forage or source

1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous squeeze of juice

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small bunch of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped or 1 clove of cultivated garlic, crushed

½ green chili, finely chopped, optional

salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon finely chopped parsley for the top

crostini toasts – see recipe here

1. Simply mix together the beans, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, chili (if using) and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re making for little people avoid the chili (unless they like it) and salt.

2. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to suit.

3. Serve spooned onto crostini with a little chopped parsley on top or as a dip with crudités or breadsticks.

Summer Crostini Toppings

Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini:

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though Jacques at three adores these!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, courgette growers, pesto fiends

Notes: This recipe makes enough for about 12 crostini, feel free to substitute the homemade pesto with shop bought, but homemade is a cinch to make and truly sublime on this recipe, particularly parsley pesto (made with any sort of nut)

Special Equipment: A griddle pan or heavy based frying pan

1 large or 2 small courgettes, washed

2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

12 crostini toasts – see recipe here

2 – 3 tablespoons of homemade parsley pesto, or you could make your own recipe using these mix ‘n match ideas

100g of feta cheese, crumbled

1. Slice across the courgettes into diagonal 2mm thick strips

2. Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan until very hot

3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Fill the hot pan with a single layer of courgette slices and cook for a minute or two on each side until char-grilled. Remove the slices from the pan and place in the bowl with the oil and lemon mix.

5. Continue with more courgette slices until they’re all fully cooked and charred. Stir them all around in the bowl with the olive oil and lemon, cover and set aside to marinate until you’re ready to assemble the crostini.

6. When you’re ready for crostini assembly take each crostini and spread on a generous layer of pesto. Top with a small pile of the courgettes and finish with a crumbling of feta.

7. Serve. Eat. Divine with vin blanc.

Summer Crostini Recipes

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade


Forager’s Freebie Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

I have for you today a fabulously light, healthful and frugal Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto. And anything this green has to be amazing for you surely? And indeed it is. I even kept away from adding any dairy to make as light a risotto as one can, omitting my normal more decedent additions of creme fraiche and Parmesan. But feel free to add if you want something a little less delicately flavoured and more substantial in body.

Incidentally Nettles, in case you didn’t know, have an incredible amount of health giving properties. Not only are these stingers an excellent natural iron source (way higher than popeye spinach, take note ladies!), they’re very high in protein for a plant, fabulously cleansing for hair and skin and are used to treat a huge variety of ailments and iillnesses from arthritis, gout and rheumatism though to various immunity disorders, allergies and infections. And as for the Wild Garlic it’s a potent antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic. And wild garlic, more significantly than cultivated garlic, is known to reduce blood pressure, and thus also reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. So I say get yourselves out there and a-gathering!

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different to the normal UK Ramsons

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different in appearance to the normal UK Ramsons

And I’m not the only one gloving-up to forage these wonder weed stingers. Andrea over at Shabby Chick made a tasty looking ricotta and filo Wild Greens Pie recently which I’m so going to try. Sarah at The Garden Deli cooked up Nettles with Cannellini Beans, the latter being a big favourite of mine but I’ve yet to try her lovely recipe. She also used them as part of a foraged Spring Leaves Pesto, gorgeous! The king of foraging and my foodie hero, Mr HFW, regularly writes about nettles and I know I’ve seen several other recipes recently incorporating them, but have somehow failed to locate them from my diminished memory bank for the purposes of this post. So if you have any nettle recipes I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Simple and in SeasonherbsonsaturdaySince Nettles, Wild Garlic and Parsley are all in season right now I’m entering my post to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, currently hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux. Credit-Crunch-MunchAnd being about as frugal a risotto as one can make to Fab Food 4 All‘s and Fuss Free Flavour’s Credit Crunch Munch, this month hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl’s Kitchen. nature's Lunchbox logoAnd last but certainly not least to a new-blog-to-me, Foodie Laura, who so happens to be running the Nature’s Lunchbox Challenge showcasing freebie foraged meals!.

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Great for foragers, tight budgets, health kickers, vegans & vegetarians, bigger kids (who can get over the idea of eating nettles), grown ups, mid-week suppers

Enough for two hungry big people:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 shallots, very finely chopped

4 baby wild garlic bulbs OR a clove of cultivated Garlic, very finely chopped

180g of Arborio Risotto Rice

a glass of White Wine

600ml of hot Vegetable Stock (I invariably use Marigold)

3 large (gloved!) handfuls of Nettle Tops

a bunch of Wild Garlic Leaves

a small bunch of Flat Leaved Parsley

Salt and Pepper

a little very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the shallots and wild garlic bulbs/clove of garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the greenery!. With gloved hands remove any thick stems from the nettles and thoroughly wash the leaves. Blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain. Squeeze out the excess of water and finely chop. Wash and finely chop the wild garlic tops and parsley.

When the rice is tender stir in the diced nettles, garlic tops and most of the parsley (leave some for sprinkling on the top). Cook for a moment or two longer and then leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of parsley and a handsome glug of good quality olive oil. Believe me you’ll feel instantly healthful! I personally enjoyed the delicate flavour of the nettles, wild garlic and parsley but if you’re in need of a little more sustenance then feel free to stir through a little creme fraiche and top with grated Parmesan.

Nettles

You might also like: 

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry


Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Risotto

Pearl barley risottos seem all the rage of late and it was really about time I got around to trying my hand at one. I had fully intended on making Anneli’s (of the fabulously inspiring Delicieux blog) Marvelous Mussel Puttanesca Pearl Barley Risotto and even bought the mussels especially in for the very recipe. But somehow after a couple of glasses of vino they got used in making an impromptu Moules Frites supper one night instead. Oops, sorry Anneli, but rest assured I will be trying your delightfully interesting recipe very soon!. Moules-less but still determined to give a pearl barley risotto a crack and happening to have an abundance of mushrooms begging to be used I opted for my favourite Roasted Mushroom Risotto instead, just replacing the rice with barley.

I actually made this for my Mum and Dad as I was with them in the UK at the time, helping out whilst my Mum recuperated from a nasty dose of pneumonia. Luckily she’s now firmly on the mend. Both parents gave the risotto the thumbs up, and there’s even an extra couple of portions waiting to be re-heated in their freezer (along with a whole host of fish pies, stews and soups I made for them whilst I was there!).

IMG_0494

On the whole I was pretty pleased with the barley risotto. An interestingly nutty texture and taste which I actually really liked, but on the down side it didn’t half take a long time to cook! Nigh on an hour, probably at least double the time of the rice version, which seemed a little on the lengthy side. But with a glass in hand (it seemed wrong not to finish the purposefully-opened-for-the-risotto bottle of white) I was quite happy to potter around the kitchen whilst it bubbled away.

You may recall my earlier obsessions with the aforementioned Roasted Mushrooms, namely my Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza or the Stilton, Parsley & Walnut Pesto Spaghetti with Roasted Thyme & Garlic Mushrooms. And I’m still obsessed. Love them. Can’t bring myself to cook a mushroom any other way. And they’re amazing in a risotto, especially paired with a little lemon, Parmesan and plenty of parsley. If you don’t fancy whiling away an hour feel free to substitute with arborio risotto rice instead. Or a top tip I gleamed on Twitter was to soak the barley for an hour beforehand in boiling water.

As Thyme and Parsley are key flavours in my risotto I shall be entering this post to the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday challenge. And as there’s Grana Padano to the One Ingredient Challenge which has the theme of Cheese this month, an event co-hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen. And finally since pearl barley is considerably cheaper than risotto rice this makes the dish a pretty frugal munch and a deservant recipe to enter to Credit Crunch Munch, a monthly challenge held jointly by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and this month hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All.

herbsonsaturday

One-Ingredient-April-Cheese-300x247

Credit-Crunch-MunchRoasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Great for: Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Suppers, Mid-Week or Week-end Slowies, Vegetarians, Wild Mushroom Foragers, Roasted Mushrooms Obsessives

Serves 4:

For the Risotto:

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 medium or 4 small Shallots, finely diced

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

a stick of Celery, finely diced

280g of Pearl Barley (or Risotto Rice if you prefer)

200ml of White Wine

1.5 litres of weak hot Veggie or Chicken Stock (about a litre if using Risotto Rice)

a heaped tablespoon of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

a small bunch of Parsley, or 3 – 4 tablespoons, chopped

80g of Grana Padano, finely grated

a squeeze or two of Lemon Juice, to taste

Salt & Pepper

For the Roasted Mushrooms:

600g of Mushrooms, as interesting/wild as you can find – but Chestnut would be fine

4 cloves of Garlic, skin intact

a few sprigs of Thyme, leaves removed

Salt & Pepper

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots, garlic and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the barley or rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful or two of hot stock. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the mushrooms. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. If you’re using smaller or button mushrooms leave them whole. Tear or chop larger mushrooms into two or four. Place on a baking tray with the garlic, thyme and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and using your hands ensure the mushrooms are evenly coated. Spread out over the tray and place in your pre-heated oven. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

When the barley or rice is tender (which could take up to an hour!), stir in half the roasted mushrooms, the creme fraiche, parsley, cheese and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Squeeze out the flesh from the roasted garlic and stir into the rice too. Cover and leave the risotto to stand for a few minutes whilst the flavours mingle. Taste and season with black pepper and more lemon juice to suit. You probably won’t need any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve topped with the rest of the mushrooms. Enjoy!.

You might also like:

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto


PSB Pasta!

PSB Pasta

Following on from the PSB Tart this is my go-to Mid-Week Supper. High on the flavour stakes, quick to put together, deeply satisfying and a great way to use up an umteen amount of PSB. And a dish I’ve been dreaming of all winter eagerly anticipating the glutinous arrival of my homegrown Purple Sprouting Broccoli!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The pairing of PSB and anchovies is a flavour combination I confess to having become more than a tad addicted to, but then I am a BIG anchovy fan and just don’t get people that aren’t. The duo here are also paired with an overtly generous amount of garlic, chilli and good olive oil, run through interesting egg pasta and topped with anchovy infused crunchy croutons and plenty of Parmesan. This is a dish that really gets my juices going, and certainly not one for the faint hearted!. Nor a dish for the littlies, sadly it’s way too salty and hot for little tums. But then it’s nice to have a grown up dinner sometimes isn’t it? If you’re wanting something more child-friendly then PSB works wonderfully in Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne – my kids adore this for their dinner.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Simple and in SeasonNow for the bloggie challenges!. First up Simple and in Season, this month hosted by Ren herself at Fabulicious Food, as without a doubt my PSB is in season. pasta pleaseSecondly to Pasta Please as this month’s theme so happens to be Chillies (I just hope I qualify with the anchovies?), the event is the baby of Jac of Tinned Tomatoes and is being hosted by Allotment to Kitchen this month. And finally as this is a pretty frugal munch Credit-Crunch-Munchto Credit Crunch Munch, an event co-hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Recipe

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta

Great for Mid-Week Suppers, Bigger Kids and Grown Ups, Vegetarians (those that eat anchovies anyway!), Anchovy Obsessives

Serves 2:

For the Pasta:

160g of good quality Egg Pasta, dried or fresh

200g of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, washed

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

1 – 2 Red Chillies, depending on how much heat you like, finely sliced

6 Anchovy fillets (preserved in oil or salt)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Pepper

Parmesan to serve

For the Croutons:

50g of stale Bread, diced into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 Anchovy fillets

Pepper

Cook your pasta to packet instructions.

Meanwhile prep and steam the PSB. Slice the tougher ends into inch long strips, leaving a generous couple of inches for the delicate purple florets. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Set aside.

Place the garlic, chilli, anchovy fillets, olive oil and a generous pinch or two of black pepper in a large saucepan. Heat on a low temperature, stirring often. Once the anchovies have disintegrated into the oil tip in the steamed PSB. Give everything a good stir and continue to cook on a gentle heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the PSB is fully tender.

Now for the croutons. Heat the oil with the anchovies and a generous pinch of pepper on a medium heat until the anchovies have disintegrated. Throw in the bread cubes and toss in the hot oil. Fry the bread on all sides until golden and crunchy.

Once everything’s cooked combine the PSB with the pasta and a couple of tablespoons of set aside pasta water. Serve in large bowls and scatter over the croutons. Liberally grate over some fresh Parmesan. Heaven.

You might also like:

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca


Stilton, Walnut and Parsley Pesto Spaghetti with Roasted Thyme and Garlic Mushrooms

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley PestoYou know when you make something that you become a little obsessive about? And you end up eating it several times a week, and making every possible permutation of it. Well that’s pesto for me these days. Since I blogged my Parsley and Almond Pesto recipe back at the beginning of January it’s fair to say my processor’s been turning out an inordinate amount of pesto. But my latest addiction is one made with crumbled Stilton, lightly toasted Walnuts, Walnut Oil and Parsley. Make it. Please. It’s heavenly. And particularly wonderful melted into pasta with a generous serving of roasted mushrooms on the top. It’s also fair to say I have a wee addiction to Roasted Mushrooms. After my success of the Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza, I’ve been roasting wild and ordinary mushies and adding them to many a Pizza, Risotto, Pasta dish, Bruschetta or Omelette. Believe me once you’ve tried roasting mushrooms you’ll never go back!

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto

And it’s not just me that’s been getting excited about homemade pesto lately. My inspiration for the stilton pesto came from a blog by Marmaduke Scarlett which so happened to win January’s Herbs on Saturday challenge. Thanking you very unkindly for my new addiction! Andrea of the gorgeous Shabby Chick enlightened me to the use of both Kale or Cavelo Nero and Pumpkin Seeds in a pesto. Urvashi from the Botanical Baker uses Sunflower Seeds and Comte in her Parsley Pesto. Anneli of Delicieux offered a Walnut & Basil Pesto and served it with a fun Spaghetti Squash! And she also recommends Mache Lettuce. And very recently Under the Blue Gum Tree showcased her delightful Spinach & Walnut Pesto and 8&Ruth won February’s Herbs on Saturday with her wonderful Themes of Wild Garlic Pesto blog. Also in the same competition was a highly intriguing Seaweed Pesto
from Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto

If you’ve never made your own pesto then I urge you to set aside a few minutes and do so. And minutes is all it takes, really. And I wholeheartedly promise you it will be sublime. As for what to put in, then get creative and frugal!. Clear your fridge and store cupboards. So this is what you need, intending to be in no means exhaustive!:

Some sort of Nut – Walnuts, Pine kernels, Cashews, Almonds, Hazlenuts, Pecans all work marvellously. Or even a Seed – Pumpkin, Sunflower

A Hard Cheese – Parmesan, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Mature Cheddar, Mature Manchego, Comte, Stilton – anything with a strong flavour really!

Something Green & Raw – Rocket, Spinach, Watercress, Kale, Chard Leaves, Parsley, Basil, Mint, Mache/Lambs Lettuce, Wild Garlic

Garlic – Unfortunately no pesto is quite right without a little garlic!

An Oil – Olive, Sunflower, Hemp, Walnut, Rape

Salt, Pepper and possibly a little Lemon Juice

Crush all together in a Pestle & Mortar or like me take the easy option of blitzing with a stick blender or food processor. And there you have it a bowl of your very own pick and mix pesto!

And pesto isn’t just for pasta! It’s perfect smothered on a pizza base in place of a tomato sauce – I have my Rocket Pesto Pizza coming very shortly for that. It’s great on puff pastry as a tart base (A Couple of Tomato Tarts), perfect paired with salad or Goats Cheese or both in a sandwich, spread on toast or muffins with creme cheese (and avocado if you want to be really extravagant!) and glorious on a jacket potato.

As luck would have it Homemade Pesto is the theme of this month’s Pasta Please, a monthly challenge held by Jacqueline of the super veggie blog Tinned Tomatoes, and this month hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. So naturally I shall be entering this very pesto-ey blog! I’m also entering it to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by London Busybody.herbsonsaturday

pasta please

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Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto Spaghetti topped with Roast Garlic & Thyme Mushrooms

Great for: Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Dinner Parties, Mid-Week Suppers, Vegetarians

Serves 4:

For the Mushrooms:
300g of Mushrooms, Wild Mushrooms would be amazing but Chestnuts or even ordinary Buttons will happily do
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves, skin removed and each clove cut into 3 chunks
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed
Salt and Pepper

For the Pesto:
60g of Walnuts
60g of Stilton, crumbled
40g of Parsley leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
a clove of Garlic, finely chopped
75ml of Walnut Oil or Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

For the Pasta:
400g of Spaghetti, Linguine or Tagliatelle

Pre-heat your oven to 200 c.

Tear or cut the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. I leave button sized whole and Chestnuts I half or quarter if particularly big. Place on an oven tray along with the garlic pieces and drizzle over the olive oil. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Using your hands give everything a good mix ensuring the mushrooms are evenly coated.

Place the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes, and stir and turn about half way through.

Whilst the mushrooms are roasting cook your pasta to packet instructions and prep your pesto. Start with toasting the walnuts. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat until hot, throw in the walnuts and lightly toast for a few minutes, turning and shaking very frequently – you only want a light colouring and toasting to boost flavour and no burnt black bits.

Now place all the pesto ingredients (including the toasted walnuts) bar the seasoning in a food processor and pulse a few times. If you don’t have a processor use a deep sided bowl and a stick blender or a pestle and mortar. I prefer a fairly coarse texture so you can really taste and identify the walnuts. Once you have your desired texture, taste and season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt to suit.

Once the pasta’s cooked drain and run the pesto through it, I use a pair of tongues to do this. Place the pasta evenly on four plates or bowls and serve with a pile of the roasted mushrooms on the top. Enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Pumpkin Carbonara

Pumpkin Carbonara


A Couple of Winter Crostini – Lovely (Cannellini) Beans and Green Olive Tapenade

Winter Crostini

Now I’m a big fan of pre-dinner nibbles in the form of Bruschetta or Crostini or whatever you care to name them, but for some odd reason I tend to favour such appetisers more in the summer months. Eaten as the sun goes down alongside a glass or two of white . They’re usually assembled to use up an glut of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines or peppers from the garden (my Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta being a bit of a favourite). Which got me thinking, there really must be some excellent store cupboard toppings that would be equally as fabulous in the depths of winter with a glass of red.

The Lovely (Cannellini) Beans topping I’ve made many a time before, but not for many years now. It’s simply a heady mix of Garlic, Fresh Chili, Fresh Rosemary and lots of good Olive Oil roughly mashed into canned or soaked and pre-cooked warm Cannellini Beans. Quick and easy, but very substantial in the flavour department!. A posh beans on toast. The Green Olive Tapenade is a newbie on me – I put it together to clear out the three half eaten tins of green olives that were lurking in my fridge – and part followed a multitude of internet recipes. And with pretty tasty and zingy results. An extremely flavourful mix of Green Olives, Olive Oil, Capers, Anchovies, Fresh Chili, Lemon Zest and Juice, Garlic and Fresh Parsley.

Both are great just on toast or pitta bread, ‘poshed up’ on Crostini or Bruschetta or served as a dip with raw veggies and breadsticks. The Tapenade is also sublime stirred through hot pasta or as a topping for tarts (see A Couple of Tomato Tarts) or pizza and even slathered onto bread for a sandwich. And probably lots more amazingly tasty treats that I haven’t thought of!.

herbsonsaturdaySince herbs feature fairly highly in both these toppings I’m entering my blog to Karen of Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday bloggie challenge. And also to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Mondays as both my Crostini toppings are made with lots of homemade love!

Made with Love Mondays

Lovely Cannellini Beans

Lovely (Cannellini) Beans!

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though my toddler Jacques adores these beans on toast!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians

2 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

½ to 1 Red Chili, finely sliced (use less or none at all if you’re heat adverse)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a 400g tin of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed OR the equivalent in soaked and home-cooked beans (I tend to cook up large batches and use them in various recipes)

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh Rosemary leaves

1 – 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the garlic and chili and fry for a few moments. Once you get a garlic aroma (but before it browns) quickly stir in your beans and rosemary together with a teaspoon of the red wine vinegar and very generous pinches each of coarsely ground black pepper and salt.

Keep the pan on the heat and allow the beans to warm through and the flavours to infuse. Once hot, remove from the hob and mash the beans a potato masher. I like a fairly rustic texture so don’t go too wild on the mashing, a few whole beans here and there are perfect.

Have a taste, adding more salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to suit. I don’t normally advise this but you may need to add a fair whack of salt to do the beans justice.

Serve warm on Crostini or Bruschetta with a naughty additional drizzle of olive oil. With a glass of red. Obviously.

Green Olive Tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians (if they eat anchovies that is)

200g of pitted Green Olives

a heaped dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

3 Anchovy Fillets (canned in oil)

½ a Red Chili, sliced

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Parsley

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

Zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of Juice

a generously large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

50 ml of Olive Oil

No cooking required here. Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have your desired texture. Again, I quite like a fairly rustic texture here so don’t go too crazy on the blitzing. Or you could whiz with a stick blender in a deep sided dish. Taste and add more lemon and pepper if you wish; it’s unlikely you’ll need any salt.

Crostini

For the Crostini

These really are a cinch to make and well worth the effort if you have friends over for a nibble, especially as they can handily be made a few hours in advance.

a Baguette, or part of a Baguette, preferably stale

Olive Oil

a clove or two of Garlic, peeled and halved, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Simply slice a baguette, stale if possible, into thinnish rounds of ½ to ¾cm thickness. Slice across the baguette for smaller and more delicate crostini or diagonally for a more generous two to three bite-fulls – my personal preference! Cut as many slices as you think you may need, plus a few more just in case.

Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, rubbing one side with the cut side of half a garlic clove. I sometimes rub garlic in, sometimes I don’t, depending on how much the toppings already have in (and mine invariably have quite a bit in!). Place on a baking tray.

Place in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, turning half way through. They should be golden and crispy when done. How long they take will depend on their thickness and how stale the bread was to start with – stale obviously being quicker to ‘crisp’ up.

Set aside to cool. They can be made a few hours in advance. Top with either of the above toppings, or anything else you so care to eat!.

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Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

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The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!


The best Garlic Bread, and a Chorizo, Potato and Rosemary Pizza

Garlic Bread

It’s most definitely pizza weather here at Chez Foti. We’ve had seemingly ceaseless rain, gales and miserable cold for way too long now, since New Year’s Day to be exact. And it’s getting kind of depressing now, in a British wintery kind of way. Our garden is one big muddy swamp and the wee pond a lake, just a shame we don’t have any duckies to appreciate it. Bet they’re the only ones happy round here. And the forecast for the next week is still more rain, a little snow, and grey, grey, GREY. AHRRRRRR. Where’s that gorgeous south of France sunshine and glorious blue sky that amazed and cheered me through the last two winters?  OK, enough said, weather rant over (well I AM English!) and on with a couple of recipes to insulate against the outside nasties.

You really can’t get much better winter warming and cheery fodder than a homemade pizza, especially a heftily insulating one with a gutsy topping of Potatoes, Chorizo and Rosemary. Admittedly not one of my healthiest of recipes, but hey ho everything in moderation, and it is rather good. And if you want to omit the Chorizo it’s equally as tasty with just Potatoes and Rosemary. Don’t be put off by the way with the idea of potatoes on a pizza (and try not to think about the carb overload), they really work!

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Living so close to Spain Chorizo is cheaply abundant in these parts and I cook with it regularly, though much more so in the winter. It’s one of my staple store cupboard ingredients and gets used to liven up many an Omelette or Tortilla, Salad (Chorizo & Manchego Salad), Veggie Side ( just a little is fabulous sauted with Cabbage, Chard or Spinach and even roasted with Pumpkin or Butternut) or Soup (Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde). And then there’s obviously Paella and other rice based dishes that it works so well with. But there’s no qualms about it, Chorizo’s not the healthiest choice of ingredients, but a little really does go a long way in the flavour stakes and it can be used remarkably sparingly. Though perhaps, ahem, not so sparingly on this particular pizza!

And I also have my favourite Garlic Pizza Bread, made exactly in the same way as pizza but simply containing a topping of Garlic (lots of), fresh Parsley or Rosemary (lots of) and good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (again LOTS OF). It’s that simple. Whenever we have a pizza night I always start with one  or two of these naughty little herby numbers to get things going. And it’s equally as delish with rosemary or parsley, just go for what you fancy or happen to have in, but be generous!

I shall be entering my herby post to Karen of Lavender & Lovage’s February Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Herbs on Saturday

Garlic Pizza Bread with Parsley or Rosemary

The Best Garlic Bread!

Serves 4 as an appetiser

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I use this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

Salt & Pepper

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus a little extra for drizzling

a few sprigs of Parsley or Rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped, be generous!

Special Equipment: a Pizza Stone, Pizza Baking Tray or an ordinary Baking Tray

Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it will go. Place your pizza stone or baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Start with making your oh so simple topping. Crush the chopped garlic with a little salt using the flat edge of a large knife. Mix the garlic with the olive oil, a generous amount of black pepper and the parsley or rosemary. Leave to infuse while you prep the pizza base.

Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I like mine very thin, particularly as this is only an appetiser. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Evenly spread over the garlic and herby oil and place in your very hot oven for a few minutes until golden and crisp. It should only take about 5 to 8 minutes and watch as it can burn very easily.

Drizzle with a little more olive oil, slice and serve.

 Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Chorizo, Potato  & Rosemary Pizza

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (as per Jamie Oliver recipe if you wish)

2 – 3 tablespoons of Tomato Pizza Sauce (see below) or my slow cooked fresh tommie sauce (which I so happen to have half a freezer of still!) A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

150g of small Potatoes, washed but with skins on, waxy ones work the best but any will do really!

80g of Chorizo, skin removed and finely sliced

2 or 3 sprigs of Rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped

a 125g ball of Mozzarella, sliced

Salt & Black Pepper

Special Equipment: a Pizza Stone, Pizza Baking Tray or an ordinary Baking Tray

Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it will go. Place your pizza stone or baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Cook the potatoes until almost tender. Once cool enough to handle slice.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Smoother the base with your tomato sauce, followed by an even scattering of the chorizo, potatoes, rosemary and mozzarella. Finely add a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp, golden and bubbling all over. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the electric oven around 10.

Slice and enjoy. With a salad if you want to feel just a little less indulgent!

Tomato Pizza Sauce

Enough for two large pizzas:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

a 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes (or fresh obviously!)

a generous pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a gentle heat and fry the garlic for a few moments, ensuring you do not burn the garlic. As soon as it takes on any colour and you can smell it cooking throw in the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit. You can either use the sauce as it is or blitz with a stick blender or processor for a smoother texture (I rarely bother!).

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Happy New Year, and a Parsley Pesto to you!

Parsley Pesto

Well christmas was mayhem at Chez Foti. Lots of friends and family guests, way too much food and good wine, late nights, plenty of doggie walks in the glorious (and surprisingly mild) sunshine and a couple of days of sledging in the Pyrenees. A fabulous time. And now the house is quiet, well as quiet as it gets with a two and a four year old and two chaotic doggies. Here’s hoping you all had a fab festive time and wishing everyone the very best for 2013.

I have to admit to very little on the cooking front since New Years Day. After weeks of pre-christmas freezer-filling baking and cooking it’s been a welcome break to gorge on the leftovers and eat simple pasta suppers. But I have been making plenty of my own pesto, which is ridiculously quick and simple to make. I’ve been using parsley instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine kernels, with fabulous results. My basil finished weeks ago in the garden but the Parsley’s still in happy abundance. And you really can’t beat a bowl of pasta served plainly and simply with lashings of homemade pesto. Though if you want to veg things up a little, as I always do, it’s wonderful with a handful or two of steamed french beans or courgette strips running through the pasta too.

Being of largely herby composition I’m entering my pesto to Lavender and Lovage’s  Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat. 

herbsonsaturday

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Parsley & Almond Pesto

Enough for 4 servings:

40g of parsley, thick stalks removed, washed

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

40g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

60g of whole almonds

75ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

salt & pepper

Simply place all the ingredients, bar the lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until you have a your desired pesto texture. I like mine fairly rustic with a few lumps and bumps. Or place all the ingredients in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender. Both work equally well. Taste and season with a little lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Et voila, you have super-quick super-tasty homemade pesto. Serve with pasta and/or veggies of your choice.

Bonne annnée everyone!

Parsley Pesto


Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

There’s been a good deal of wild mushroom foraging recently at Chez Foti. Magnificent Parasol Mushrooms have been popping up literally all over our garden the last couple of weeks and I’ve been on a bit of a picking and eating frenzy. I wasn’t too sure what they were at first but after consultation with two sets of very knowledgeable neighbours and my trusty mushroom book I was pretty excited to find they were exceptionally good to eat!. And in fact some of the finest mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. We also have ceps and chanterelles growing in our garden, but there’s been very few this year (and neither in my opinion have been as good as the Parasols).

And so there’s been no end of wonderful freebie wild mushroom dinners lately at Chez Foti. Mushroom bruschetta, tarts, pizzas and risottos a plenty. Times like this make living here pretty special, when you really can eat off the land.

Parasol Mushroom

I make a lot of pizzas as at Chez Foti. Mainly because we have an original wood-fired bread oven in the lounge of our house which bakes amazing pizzas throughout the colder months (it’s too hot to light up most of the summer). But this pizza was actually baked in my new oven, testing out it’s pizza baking capabilities. And I wasn’t disappointed, it did the wonderful foraged mushrooms the justice they deserve.

I’ve been experimenting lately with tomato-less bases or ‘white’ pizzas, well since the tomatoes finished anyway (although it seems I have half a freezer of tomato sauce to use up!) . The ricotta, lemon zest, chili and parsley base on this pizza complements the heavenly rich roasted garlic and thyme wild mushrooms. Incidentally don’t skip on the pre-roasting of the mushrooms; roasting gives them a much stronger, richer and somehow more meaty texture and flavour. Truly divine.

If you can’t forage or buy your own wild mushrooms choose some interesting shop bought ones, big or small. Ideally anything but the boring and bland button mushies anyway!.

Jacques looking pretty happy with our find

I’m entering this blog to a couple of bloggie challenges. Firstly, as there’s a fair flavouring of herbs, to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, the baby of Karen @ Lavender & Lovage, and this month hosted by Blue Kitchen Bakes.

And secondly to Simple and in Season, held by Ren Behan of the fabulous Fabulicious Food blog!

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Serves 1 – 2 (depending on your appetite for pizza!)

One quantity of pizza dough (I usually stick to a Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get it)

175g of wild or interesting shop bought mushrooms, wiped but not washed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

20g of butter

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half

salt & freshly ground black pepper

120g of ricotta

zest of ½ a lemon, plus a little juice

½ a red chili (or a whole one if you prefer), seeds removed and finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaved parsley

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated parmesan

extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil to finish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start by roasting off your mushrooms. Tear or cut the mushrooms into large bite size pieces. Combine in a small baking dish with the olive oil, butter, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, giving everything a good move around half way through.

Meanwhile prepare the ricotta base. Mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, chili, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Once the mushrooms have roasted remove the garlic from the pan and finely slice. Add the garlic back to the mushrooms. Turn the oven temperature up to the hottest it will go and put your pizza stone or baking tray in to heat up.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the ricotta evenly over the base. Scatter on the mushrooms and sliced garlic and sprinkle over the grated parmesan. Finally give the pizza a squeeze of lemon and a generous drizzling of some very good extra virgin olive oil OR if you’re lucky enough to have any (I’m not!) I’m pretty sure truffle oil would be sublime.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes.

Lots of lovely Parasols

Master J having a good look through Mummy’s Mushroom Book!

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