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Celeriac Soup

If you ever come across this funny looking vegetable, don’t walk past it. Pick one up and try this delicious soup. It was on the menu at a restaurant that we were at the other night but we didn’t choose it. However, when I got home, I realised that we had  a celeriac knocking about, so I made the soup. I really liked it, it’s got that nice celery taste and with the potatoes it was nice and thick.

Ingredients

  • 1 celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 potato, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic,  crushed
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock or bouillon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for frying

Method

Fry the onions and garlic in some olive oil until they’ve softened. Add the potatoes, celeriac and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Then when the vegetables are cooked well, blend with a hand held blender until smooth, season to taste and serve hot with fresh chives or some thyme.

Eggs Benedict

It has been my “go to” breakfast/ brunch order for ages now but have never made it before. Now I can add Hollandaise sauce to my repertoire and it really isn’t as scary as you may think. Follow these instructions and you’ll be fine.

Ingredients (for the Hollandaise sauce)

serves 4

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 110 g butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

for the rest

  • bacon
  • english muffins, crumpets or toast
  • 4 free range, very fresh eggs

Method

Make your Hollandaise sauce. In a blender, blend the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and a little pepper for a minute on the highest setting. At this point, put your bacon under the grill and get that cooking. Boil the vinegar and lemon juice in a pan until bubbling and add to the mixture while blending, then stop. Melt your butter in a pan until it starts to foam.

Then with the blender on its highest setting slowly add the butter. This should take a few minutes. When this is done pulse the mixture once more for a few seconds and you’re done. Now poach your fresh eggs and assemble the ingredients to form something that resembles the picture.

Beetroot fritters

Tasty starter that we made this summer. Was really delicious and made up for the disappointing main course that followed. The day that I discovered too much parsley is not good. Thanks to the Guardian for the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 250g cooked beetroot, grated
  • 100g cooked chickpeas roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 free-range egg
  • ½ tsp salt and some black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • For the yoghurt sauce
  • 1 big pinch saffron threads
  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

Method

Very simply add all of the ingredients together and shape into patties. Shallow fry in very hot olive oil and serve with the yoghurt. 

Mince Pies

Simple, seasonal classic. Thanks to Delia Smith for the pastry recipe. The, half lard, half butter combination creates that beautiful flaky texture. The tinsel decoration is optional. To our American friends there is no meat in this dish despite the filling being called mincemeat. The mixture is actually chopped dried fruits sugar and spices.

 

Ingredients (Makes 24)

  • 350g plain flour
  • 75g lard
  • 75g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 450g of mincemeat
  • small amount of milk
  • icing sugar

Method

Sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt, add the lard and butter in small chunks and rub the fat into the flour until you get fine crumbs. When you get to this stage, add a little water and start mixing with your hand,  keep adding a little more water and keep stirring until the dough forms a nice ball. Put the ball of dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins.

Remove from the fridge and cut the dough in half, actually 60% and 40% chunks (one for the base of the mince pies and one for the slightly smaller top.) dust a work surface with flour and roll the larger part out as thinly as you can, and use a 3inch pastry cutter to create the bases of the pies, placing them in a greased pie tin. Spoon the pre-bought mincemeat equally into the pastry bases. When that’s done, roll out the other 40% of the dough, again as thinly as possible, then cut the tops of the pies out using a inch cutter. Brush the pies with milk and bake them in a pre-heated oven for 30 mins. Leave them to cool, then dust with icing sugar. Best served at Christmas time with a cup of tea.

 

Boxing day starter this year was my job. I thought, what would be nice and different from the beef that was  to follow and I decided on fish cakes. Smoked haddock seemed like a perfect flavour that cuts through the potato and also meant that I didn’t need to add something like chilli to make it interesting. Also very quick to make. You can even make them a few hours before.

Ingredients

  • 400g smoked haddock
  • 400g potatoes
  • large pinch of saffron
  • sprig or two of flat leaf parsley
  • milk
  • olive oil for frying
  • salt and pepper

Method

Pre heat the oven to 200C. Put the fish into a baking tray and just cover with milk. Bake the fish in the milk for about 25 mins to half an hour. While the fish  is in the oven,  make your mashed potatoes, setting them aside to cool when they are done.

When the fish comes out of the oven, peel away the skins and flake the fish into a bowl and leave it to cool. When both the fish and potatoes are cool enough to handle, mix them together with the saffron, parsley and season. You can shape them into whatever shape you like, I went for a kind of croquette shape and then shallow fry them in hot olive oil until they’re nicely browned.

Shooter’s Sandwich

We’re back. I am posting this on the 24th of December and this isn’t exactly festive, even though I have made 24 mince pies this evening. Anyway it’s good to be back and to return with something I’ve been meaning to make for ages. This one is a classic British sandwich that I read about over 6 months ago and made it last week. Great for picnics and something a little different from ham and cheese. Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 round loaf of crusty bread
  • 2 large rump steaks (or similar)
  • 500g mushrooms
  • 200g shallots
  • horseradish sauce
  • dijon mustard
  • 75g butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

Roughly chop the shallots and mushrooms and fry them in the butter in a pan, when they have significantly reduced in size and set aside. Heat your pan for cooking the steaks. I like them to be medium rare. Meanwhile cut the top off the bread and then hollow out the loaf.

When the steaks are done, push one of them into the bottom of the loaf so that it fills the base. Then spread on all of your mushroom and shallots mixture, then add the next steak on top. Finally add a layer of horseradish sauce to the top of the steak and a layer of dijon on the underside of the “lid”, then place the lid back.

Now it’s time to wrap the loaf up and flatten it under a load of books.

Leave for 6 hours.

Then open and slice it up like a cake. Hope you like it.

Success! I made the American classic, Nestle’s Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. They managed to come out looking pretty good and tasting even better. Unlike some of my other cookies, they didn’t melt into a puddle in my oven.

I made these cookies for my students at the wonderful Fundacion MAPFRE. They’ve been amazing students for almost 2 years; always friendly and smiling, coming to class, asking questions, paying attention, making a real effort. Despite the hours of correcting grammatical errors they made my first job a good job and I love them for it. Thank you to everyone at Fundacion MAPFRE!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks (If you’re in America you can get your hands on some semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I bought some really quality 70% cocoa chocolate bars and cut them into little pieces and I think it tasted better)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Method

First things first, preheat your oven to 375° F.

In a medium sized bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate, larger bowl, with an electric mixer (or if you live in Spain and don’t have a hand mixer, just use a fork) beat together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts. Use a spoon to drop round balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Be careful to space them out as the cookies will expand more than you think.

Allow cookies to bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove cookies and place on cooling wrack or newspaper, which is what my family always puts their cooling cookies on.