‘Alsatian’ gnocci

I call this post ‘Alsatian’ as I adapted a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen switching out the pasta for gnocchi and making it veggie so I’m not sure how Alsatian it is anymore. In saying that I think you could Anglify it by serving with mash and it would be equally as good. Probably a wise thing to do with the grain prices too. I was reading the Economist (I have to do 40 units (hours) CPD for my accountancy qualification each year and I thought an issue of the Economist would be a cheap way to earn some of these) and I learnt that South-East Asia are some of the only countries not affected by the ‘global’ inflation partly due to the fact that they eat more rice than wheat products. Anyway I went for gnocchi because I had some at my company conference lunch but it was cold so I fancied some cooked gnocchi – we arrived late due to our coach breaking down before it even arrived to pick us up. We then got a replacement coach which was actually more like a school bus for primary (elementary?) aged kids.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pack gnocchi
  • 500g vegetarian meatballs
  • 10g parsley
  • 500ml beef flavoured stock
  • 30g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 4 rashers vegetarian bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 175ml red wine
  • thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the onion and the carrot. Finely chop up the celery. Chop up the veggie bacon.

2.) Heat some oil in a casserole dish then add the meatballs. Fry on all sides until brown and then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.

3.) Add some more oil to the pan and add the carrot, the onions and the celery. Fry for about 7 minutes until everything is soft. Add the bacon and cook for another couple of minutes. In the meantime, chop up the parsley, strip the leaves from the thyme and crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Set the carrot, celery and onion aside with the meatballs.

4.) Melt the butter in the casserole dish then add the flour. Cook the paste down for a couple of minutes. Then gradually add the stock and whisk after each addition. Add the tomato paste and the wine and whisk to dissolve everything.

5.) Add the peppercorns, thyme and half the parsley to the pan, along with the veg, bacon and meatballs. Simmer for 15 minutes.

6.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the parmesan and finely dice the cornichons. Cook the gnocchi according to the packet.

7.) Add the capers, cornichons and rest of the parsley to the pan and stir. Serve with the gnocchi and garnish with some parmesan.

Madeleines

I was having a Eurovision party and I allocated each country performing a number and drew my guests a country at random. I drew France which was admittedly a much simpler option than say Moldova or Armenia of which I know very little of the food culture. I made some Madeleines which I have made many times before as they’re just so pretty and easy to pass around for a little nibble. The recipe is in Rachel Khoo’s book ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and I believe it’s a good one as the madeleines have got their signature bump. This forms by turning the oven off mid-cooking for one minute and lowering the temperature for the rest of the cooking time. Amazingly, these madeleines were not the only success of the night. The UK actually came second in the Eurovision Song Contest which was a great surprise to us all. I’ve got to say that I think it was thoroughly deserved by Sam Ryder and his brilliant song Space Man.

Makes about 30 – 36

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 130g sugar
  • 200g plain flour (+ extra to flour the tin)
  • 10g baking powder
  • 1 lemon
  • 20g honey
  • 60 ml milk
  • 200g butter (+ extra to butter the tin)

Method

1.) Melt the 200g butter in the microwave on blasts of 10 seconds until all done. Mix it with the milk and honey.

2.) Measure out the flour and baking powder into one large bowl. Zest the lemon and add the lemon zest to this bowl.

3.) Crack the eggs into another bowl and add the sugar. Whisk until light and frothy. Add the flour mixture in batches and fold into the eggs until all is incorporated.

4.) Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours.

5.) When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

6.) Melt some butter and brush the madeleine tin with it. Sprinkle over some flour, Shake the tin, best to do this over a bin or a sink. Tap the end to spread the flour evenly.

7.) Add a tbsp of the mixture to each shell.

8.) Bake for 5 minutes then turn off the oven for 1 minute.

9.) Turn the oven back on again but at 160 degrees C and bake for 5 more minutes.

10.) Take out the tin, place on a cooling rack and let cool before attempting to lift out the tin.

Smoked Salmon Souffles

I’ve just been on holiday in Paris and so whilst I was there I found this recipe called Le Souffle that I wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it was full and we couldn’t go but the idea to eat a souffle stuck in my head so it was the first thing I made after I came back from holiday. When I’ve made souffles in the past I tend to go for the cheese ones but this smoked salmon souffle recipe on the BBC Good Food website was lovely and light. I made these in a haphazard way, using the random collection of ramekins I have in my cupboard and they turned out ok. Serve as a starter or a light dinner with salad.

Makes 6

Ingredients

  • 40g butter (plus extra to butter the ramekins)
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 85g cream cheese
  • 2 tsp dill (actually I didn’t have any and they were still good)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g smoked salmon (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Butter 6 ramekins

3.) Chop up the dill and measure out the cream cheese. Zest half the lemon.

4.) Separate the eggs, put the egg whites into a large bowl.

5.) Melt the butter in a saucepan and once it’s melted add the flour. Stir into a paste and cook for 1 minute to cook off the flour taste,

6.) Gradually add the milk and whisk after each addition to get rid of all the lumps. Once all the milk is added, cook for another couple of minutes to thicken the sauce.

7.) Take off the heat and add the cream cheese and dill. Beat to incorporate.

8.) Move the mixture to a bowl to cool quicker.

9.) Whisk up the egg whites into stiff peaks.

10.) Chop up the salmon and add to the cream cheese mix. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest and mix everything.

11.) Half-fill a roasting tin with water.

12.) Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mix.

13.) Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, just below the top. Place the ramekins in the roasting tin.

14.) Bake for 25 minutes or so, until they’ve risen over the top, the egg is set and the top is brown.

15.) Serve with some extra salmon and maybe a dollop of creme fraiche.

Salmon & Leek Quiche

This is another dish I made for my Apprentice viewing ‘party’. There’s a lot of great TV on at the moment and I’ve even got into The Masked Singer. I was absolutely shocked to discover that any of the guys from the band Westlife actually had any talent to the point where I thought they were actually Adam Lambert! Westlife were the scourge of my teenage years being at a girls school. I just used a food processor to do the pastry as I did the pastry on a lunch break and added the filling in later on.

Ingredients

  • 150g butter (block of butter – very cold)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 tbsp ice cold water
  • 2 fillets of salmon
  • 1 leek
  • 10g chives
  • 300g crème fraiche
  • seasoning

Method

1.) Make the pastry by chopping up the butter into small chunks.

2.) Add the butter to the food processor and then the flour. Blitz until breadcrumbs are formed.

3.) Separate the egg and tip in the egg yolk and the water.

4.) Blitz a little more until the pastry has become a ball in the food processor.

5.) Dust a surface with flour and a rolling pin.

6.) Roll out the pastry to about 0.7mm thickness. Roll the pastry up on the rolling pin and transfer over to a 25cm tart tin.

7.) Use a bit of the extra pastry that’s overhanging and roll into a ball. Push the pastry down into the tart tin so it fills all the corners. The pastry will shrink down when baked so this is important.

8.) Roll the rolling pin across the top to cut off the excess pastry.

9.) Cover in cling film and refrigerate.

10.) For the filling, wash and slice up the leeks and cook in a frying pan with a tablespoon of butter until completely soft.

11.) While this is cooking, dice the chives and add to a measuring jug. Pull the skin off the salmon and chop into chunks.

12.) Add the salmon to the pan with the leek and cook, turning around until all sides are pink.

13.) Turn off the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

14.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

15.) Put some parchment paper over the quiche and weigh down with baking beads (you can use rice if you don’t do so much baking)

16.) Bake for 10 minutes then remove the parchment paper and baking beads and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180 degrees C.

17.) In the measuring jug, add the crème fraiche, 4 of the eggs, separate the other two eggs and add the yolks to the measuring jug. Season and give it a good whisk.

18.) Spoon the salmon and leeks over the quiche base.

19.) Pour over the egg mix but not over the top of the pastry.

20.) Bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is golden brown and set in the middle.

Faux Gras

I only tried foie gras once before before becoming pescatarian and though I did enjoy the flavour being that it’s basically a richer form of chicken liver pâte there was always the guilt of the method of production. We tried the foie gras in a French restaurant in Washington DC after explaining to the server that we had reservations over the cruelty and the French owner thinking that we were joking and serving it to us anyway. In the UK, foie gras has actually been banned now so there was at least one good thing to come out of 2021. This is what led the Michelin starred chef Alex Gauthier who is actually vegan himself to create a vegan version of foie gras. Obviously it’s not the same as the real thing but it’s still delicious coupled with Sauternes wine and it really still feels luxurious despite being very simple to make. The original recipe has beetroot purée in it which gives it the similar pink tone of the real stuff. You may want to omit this if you want it to be less reminiscent of meat.

Serves a lot in fact maybe half this recipe if possible

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter (vegan or normal if like me, you’re not vegan)
  • 1 shallot
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 18 button mushrooms (I used 9 normal mushrooms)
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 200g lentils (makes about 400g cooked)
  • 150g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp beetroot purée (I used 3 mini cooked beetroots)

Method

1.) Put the lentils in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked. Drain and place in the food processor.

2.) Peel and finely chop the shallot. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the herbs and finely dice.

3.) Melt the butter in a pan and cook the mushrooms and shallots until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic.

5.) Add the garlic to the pan with the herbs and cook for one minute. Add the cognac and turn off the heat.

6.) Add the contents of the frying pan to the food processor.

7.) Toast the walnuts on a low heat until they’re starting to smell toasted.

8.) Add the walnuts to the food processor, along with the soy sauce and the beetroot. Blitz everything until a smooth paste is formed.

9.) Place into ramekins.

10.) Best served at room temperature with some crackers or bread and ideally some dessert wine.

Chickpea Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is so called as it’s a salad from the city of Nice in France. I don’t believe that this really resembles at all a Niçoise. Ignoring the fact that there is no tuna or hardboiled eggs in it (unsurprising since the recipe is from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’), generally most versions seem to have green beans and new potatoes. Even so, this is a tasty recipe which has elevated the protein packed chickpea to a healthy vegan fish substitute. Maybe what you need if you’ve not managed to distribute all of your Halloween treats. Sadly I didn’t have much of a Halloween this year, it was spoilt by Avanti West Coast rail service who cancelled all trains from London to the North-West after my weekend break to the Big Smoke. The original Candyman will have to wait for another week as I’m determined to see if it’s still as terrifying as it was when I watched it for the first time, at the age of twelve. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself by reading ‘Necropolis: London & it’s Dead’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin (400g chickpeas)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small cornichons (or 4 capers)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig dill
  • handful parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g mixed tomatoes
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 150g podded broad beans (I used frozen edamame beans defrosted in the microwave)
  • 35g pitted Kalamata olives

Method

1.) Make the tuna substitute. Peel the shallot and carrot and roughly chop those and the celery and throw them in a food processor. Add the cornichons. Zest and juice the lemon and add that also. Add the dill and parsley. Blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2.) Add the hummus, drain the chickpeas and add those too. Pulse a few times so everything is combined but there is still some texture.

3.) To make the dressing, peel and grate the garlic and finely chop the basil, setting aside the leaves. In a container of some form, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the basil stems and garlic to infuse with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes and rip up the lettuce. Add to a big bowl with the olives and broad beans.

5.) Toss with the dressing to coat everything and divide between two plates.

6.) Add the chickpea mixture on top and serve.