28 March 2012

Sweet potato gratin with peanut butter, chilli and lime

This is a dish for the tail end of winter. The clocks have now changed and we are fully into spring. And how welcome it is. However there's still some chill in the air along with the sun, and evenings are not yet as warm as they might be. Get a load of this extremely rich dish, although I'd be tempted to tone down the amount of cream next time. The full recipe is on the Guardian but you are going to need:

  • sweet potato
  • chilli, garlic
  • cream
  • crunchy peanut butter
  • lime

Slice your potato and mix with cream and the flavourings. Layer up in a bowl and add the peanut butter in little blobs. Finish off layering the dish and bake at gas mark 5 for around 50 minutes. Serve with more lime squeezed on top and (this is essential!) something very plain such as steamed greens (and beetroot salad).

Peanut and chilli is of course a well tested combination. Lime and sweet potatoes might also occur alongside nuts and spice in a Thai curry. So it's perhaps not as unusual combination as it might seem - an Thai accented dish of English comfort food with spice as well as richness. Not an absolute knock-out dish but certainly worth a look. Possibly very satisfying to eat in bed.

20 March 2012

Green pancakes with lime butter

First things first - this is an absolute winner. It's the perfect thing for a weekend brunch or lunch, or in our case a rainy Sunday's film club. Airy, light, spiced pancakes with a pleasingly raw and green taste and a sharp lime and chilli butter. Wondrous. You can find the full version from the Guardian here. Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients - most of them are regular household things that you may have around the house, and you can easily bodge a few bits.

  • butter, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper, chilli flakes, raw garlic for the butter
  • self-raising flour
  • eggs
  • baking powder
  • spinach, green chilli, spring onions
  • milk, egg, butter
  • ground cumin

Make the butter by creaming all of the ingredients needed together. Use common sense as to amounts but  aim for a punchy and strong tasting result with lots of lime. It should look a bit like this...

The correct amounts for the pancakes can be found in the Guardian link. I think you could put even slightly more spinach in the mix. Fresh green chillies give an amazing edge to things and should not be missed, and the egg whites are essential in making a fluffy pancake.

Fry with keenness, speed and vigour. Top with the butter and enjoy. We had these with aubergine soup (to be blogged soon) but you could have with poached eggs, salads, hummus or whatever else.

This is one of the best Ottolenghi recopies I've ever tasted. Don't delay

12 March 2012

Breakfast eggs with sobrasada

It's a self-evident truth that eggs are good for breakfast. It's also clear that pork of all kinds goes well with eggs. This dish joins the dots to make a quick, tasty and pretty damn tasty breakfast/brunch (or indeed lunch or tea).

Sobrasada is a soft, spreadable chorizo somewhat akin to nduja, although made with less evidently dog-food profile pork. I got this one at Brindisa at Borough Market for £4.50 which was ok as it's pretty big. The lady there recommended spreading it on toast or stuffing a chicken with it. I'd imagine it would go sensationally well in a bean based stew with garlic and paprika, or indeed with some shellfish. Funny how spiced pork becomes more seasoning than meat, ready to leand savour and charm to most other foods.

You are going to need -
  • spring onions, peppers and/or mushrooms, tomatoes
  • eggs
  • sobrasada (or nduja or another soft spiced sausage)
  • cumin, dried chilli, olive oil

I'd say spring onions are near essential for this dish. You could use normal onions but spring onions have the edge as they cook so quickly which keeps the food in the ten-minutes-on-a-hangover bracket. Chuck them in a pan with some olive oil, cumin and chilli flakes. Cook for a few minutes. Add a few sweet cherry tomatoes and some chopped red pepper and/or mushroom. Add the sobrasada. Fry all this for a few minutes so the tomatoes have broken down to make a sauce, the peppers are half way to being soft and the meat gives up some of its oil. Crack the eggs in (two each, natch) and leave on a low heat with a lid on the pan.

The lid helps to cook the eggs and you'll end up with a lovely consistency part way between baked and fried. Have some good crusty bread and you're good to go. They are quite slippery when removing from the pan as evidenced by the plate below!

If you fancy making some sobrasada yourself there is a recipie here. I've found that a little goes quite a long way and fully expect mine to last a while. Thick (and yes - unctuous) it is rich, highly flavoured and more versatile than, say, guanciale. Recommended.