Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baked tomatoes with mozzarella, anchovies and breadcrumbs

Serves 4

A great dish as part of a variety of mezzah, the fancy bit of a picnic, or just with salad for a tasty lunch all on its own. Plum tomatoes tend to hold their shape better than the round varieties, but don't let that stop you if round ones are what you have, and if you should have the time and patience, doing this with cherry tomatoes makes a gorgeous little canape moment.

12 plum tomatoes
175g fresh breadcrumbs
8 anchovy fillets
2 large cloves garlic
a good handful of basil leaves
a ball of mozzarella
6 tblsp olive oil

Chop the anchovies, peel and finely chop the garlic and cut the mozzarella into small dice.

Preheat the oven to 220°c/ gas mark 7. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways and scoop the seeds into a sieve over a bowl to drain off most of the water. Place the tomatoes skin-side down in a roasting tin so that they nudge up against one another nice and snug.

Mix the tomato scoopings with the breadcrumbs, anchovies, garlic, basil, mozzarella and two tablespoons of the olive oil.

Season the stuffing lightly with salt and plenty black pepper, and pile the filling into the tomato halves. Pour over the remaining olive oil and bake for 25 minutes until the filling is golden.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Smoked salmon and bacon salad

Serves 2

The one responsible, at the time, of pairing up mushy peas with deep fried fish must have had a screw loose and recieved a torrent of abuse until people actually realised a classic flavour combination had been unearthed. This here is a marriage of flavours that I think you're just going to take my word for and give it a go yourself to discover how good it really is. When I do this at home, I serve this either on hot toast or by doubling up on the lettuce leaves as a big bowl salad.

4 fat rashers of streaky bacon
40g small broad beans, podded
2 slices thick sourdough bread
A couple of good sprigs of parsley
2 little gem lettuces
4 slices smoked salmon

2 tblsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grain mustard

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients (or shaking them in a tightly lidded jam jar)

Grill the bacon till crisp, and cook the beans in salted water till tender - no more than 1 or 2 minutes - then pop them from their skins and while still hot throw them into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.

Meanwhile remove the parsley leaves from their stalks, and give them a rough chop, wash and drain the lettuce.

Lightly toast the bread. Toss the lettuce and parsley in with the broad beans and the dressing.

Pile all the ingredients on the toast and drizzle with any leftover dressing. Eat while the bacon is hot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cold roast beef sandwiches with caramelised garlic and basil sauce

Serves 2

A truly wonderful sandwich where the ultimate addition of dipping the toasted bread in a warm sweet garlic and basil dressing makes all the difference. Now we all have access to properly made artisan breads like sourdough, which is just the thing for this. If you really season the beef well to bring out maximum flavour, you may like to offset this by sharpening the dressing with a touch extra lemon juice or wine vinegar.

4 plump cloves of garlic, sliced in half
100ml olive oil
a good handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tblsp balsamic vinegarsalt
8 slices of interesting bread, sourdough, ciabatta or olive
lemon juice or wine vinegar
8 thin slices of rare, cold roast beef, at room temperature

Sauté the garlic cloves in half the olive oil in a small shallow pan till golden and soft, about 15 minutes.

Shred the basil leaves and put them in the blender with the vinegar and a little salt. Toast the bread lightly.

Pour the soft garlic and its cooking oil with the remaining olive oil into the blender and whizz with the basil and salt.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and either lemon juice or wine vinegar. Spoon the dressing over the toasted bread. Lay the cold roast beef on the toast and eat.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pakistani potato curry

Serves 2

When you really are not sure what to cook, need to prepare a meal in a hurry and have barely a store cupboard to fall back on, potato curry is an answer I bet not many would come up with. As well as a conventional easy supper, I actually feel the very best way to enjoy this is the morning after for breakfast, on toast topped with a fried egg. It is great midnight snack material too, cold from the fridge with hot pita after a few beers doesn't really sound too bad does it? All varieties of potatoes can be used, even new. This is true simple comfort food, made in advance and reheated in the pan on a low heat or in the microwave.

2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large plum tomatoes skinned and chopped
8 red chillies
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
500g potatoes, peeled and diced, or whole new potatoes
chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook until slightly browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, and then stir in the chillies, chilli powder, cumin seeds and salt to taste. Add 125ml water and cook, stirring, until any excess liquid has evaporated.

Add the potatoes together with another 125ml water. Stir well to coat the potatoes with the spice mixture, and then put the lid on the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not breaking up.

Remove the lid and continue cooking until the oil separates out. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Grilled courgettes with tahini dressing

Serves 4

I hear the weather back home is pretty damn fine at the moment, and it is Sunday after all, so I reckon a few barbecues must be in the planning stage. This great little dish is terrific as it is, or served as a side dish with crisp edged lamb chops and a little goats cheese, say, or, best of all, stuffed into flatbread with shreds of charred barbecued lamb.

55ml tahini
55ml water
Juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, grated
Sea salt
450g courgettes, sliced 1cm thick lengthwise
3 tblsp olive or rapeseed oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tblsp fresh mint leaves, shredded

First make the dressing, which is a cinch - just whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt, then set aside.

Brush the courgettes with oil, sprinkle with a little salt and grill over medium coals until lightly charred and tender - about four minutes on each side.

Arrange the courgettes on a plate, drizzle over some of the tahini dressing and a splash or two of oil, a few grinds of pepper, some salt flakes and a sprinkling of mint. Serve immediately.