Sweet Potato Squares

13th November 2015

Sweet Potato SquaresI love sweet potatoes all year long, but especially once the weather turns colder. So sweet, warm, and comforting!

This recipe for Sweet Potato Squares from Yotam Ottolenghi is perfect as a starter, a side, or a main course if paired with a nice salad.

The sweet potatoes are baked in the oven with goat cheese and chili peppers, then topped with a garlicky mixture before serving.

I used organic pastry dough because I was short on time, but if you have time you can also use your favorite dough recipe.

Sweet Potato Squares

Sweet Potato Squares

Sweet Potato Squares

Sweet Potato Squares, makes 4

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/205 C. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 mm thick.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the pastry to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge at least half an hour.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the chili pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.
  4. While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries comes out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

White Asparagus Soup and Spanakopita Quiche

19th April 2015

Soup and quicheI am so happy it’s finally white asparagus season again. In Northern Europe, white asparagus season begins in mid to late April and only lasts until June. Compared to green asparagus, white asparagus is less bitter and more tender. They are so delicious that they’ve been deemed “the royal vegetable”, “white gold”, and “edible ivory”. This time of year I simply cannot get enough!

White asparagus grows away from direct sunlight so that photosynthesis never occurs and they stay white. It’s best to buy white asparagus as fresh as possible – normally you can tell by the ends. If you stick your nail into the bottom, there should be moisture. If it’s dry then they’re not fresh.

There is a bit of preparation that takes place before you can eat them. First you have to peel the woody exterior of the white asparagus. This takes time but it’s worth it! You also have to get rid of the ends. The best way is to break it off with your hands, because it will break naturally at the correct point.

There are many ways to enjoy white asparagus – boiled, steamed, in the oven, and as soup. This post includes my favorite recipe for white asparagus soup and a great accompanying spanakopita (spinach) quiche.

Soup and quiche

Soup and quiche

Soup and quicheWhite Asparagus Soup, serves 2

  1. First peel each asparagus stalk from the tip to the cut end. Chop off the tips and set them aside, then cut the stalks into small pieces.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the shallot for about 5 minutes until translucent – don’t let it brown. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, keeping the tips aside, and sweat them gently with the shallot for another 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock and simmer until the stalks are very tender. This will take 20–30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Blend until very smooth, then pour the soup back into the saucepan.
  4. Bring the soup back to a simmer and add the reserved asparagus tips. Cook gently for about 5 minutes until the asparagus tips are just cooked through.
  5. Mix the crème fraiche and egg yolks in a small bowl. With the pan off the heat, stir this mixture into the soup and continue to stir gently for a couple of minutes until the egg yolks have thickened the soup. Warm through over a very gentle heat, stirring constantly and taking care not to break up the asparagus tips.
  6. Serve the soup garnished with a sprinkling of parsley.

Soup and quiche

Soup and quiche

Soup and quiche

IMG_5196Soup and quicheSpinach Quiche with Oat Crust

Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Finely grind oats and almonds. Combine the oat and almond flours with sea salt in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and ice-cold water. With your hands, work the dry ingredients towards the centre until a dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm, then chill for about 30 minutes.
  2. Press the dough evenly into an 8 inch tart case. Trim the dough flush with the edge of the case. Prick the bottom with a fork and blind bake for about 10 minutes. While the crust is in the oven, prepare the filling.

Filling

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, whisk for 30 seconds, then crumble in the feta cheese. Stir in the oregano, chilli flakes, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the spring onions and garlic and fry for about 3 minutes until golden. Add half of the spinach and a pinch of salt. Stir the spinach gently until it wilts, then add the rest and keep on stirring until wilted. Remove from the heat and pour into the mixing bowl containing the egg and cheese mixture. Stir well until everything is combined.
  3. Spoon the filling into the crust. Bake for about 30 minutes at 170C/325F until the filling is firm and golden. Let it cool for a while before serving.

 

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

25th January 2015

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

I have to admit I first made Spaghetti alla Puttanesca when I found out that it translates into “Whore/Slut/Prostitute’s Spaghetti”. The name is so funny and the sauce is so delicioso!

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca first came to be in the mid-20th century. While Italian housewives woke up early to go the market for fresh ingredients, the ladies of the night had to make do with jarred and canned ingredients. AKA this dish is inexpensive and easy to make.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is deliciously salty, tangy, spicy, and garlicky. I have experimented with different versions of Puttanesca suga (sauce) and my favorite is from My New Roots.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, serves 4

  1. Cook spaghetti according to instructions on package.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on low heat. Add the crushed chili flakes and let steep as the oil warms up. When the oil is hot add the garlic and let fry gently for 1-2 minutes, then add the onion and cook until translucent, 5 minutes or so.
  3. While the onions are cooking, pit the olives by lining several up on a cutting board and smashing them with the flat side of a knife blade. The pits are now easily removed. Roughly chop once or twice.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the oil, stir well, and cover to simmer for as long as you have (minimum 10 minutes). If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Place desired servings of pasta in each bowl. Serve with the sauce on top, and garnish with a few caper berries. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped parsley. Enjoy!