Risotto a la Milanesa

I recently picked up a box of Gallo’s Risotto a la Milanesa, which is risotto with parmesan & saffron.

This is prepared risotto rice to which you only need add water, though you can add butter and parmesan at the end of cooking to add a little bit of luxury and more cheese flavour to the dish.

I usually cook risotto from scratch and I hadn’t really read the box when I picked it up, so thought I was buying plain risotto rice with some saffron included.

What you actually get is a bag of saffron coloured rice which you cook in water for 12 minutes before adding butter and extra cheese.

It’s a really bright yellow, which might put people off, but it was rather tasty. If I can find it again I think I will get another pack. A quick and easy rice dish.

Gluten Free White Chocolate Chip Biscuits

I made some gluten free white chocolate chip biscuits or cookies using my normal recipe which is in this blog post. This is the same recipe that I use to use before I needed to bake a lot of gluten free cakes and biscuits.

Ingredients

      • 1 standard egg.
      • Take the same weight of the egg in cold butter.
      • Twice the same weight of the egg in plain gluten-free flour.
      • Same weight of the egg of sugar.
      • Vanilla essence.
      • Handful of white chocolate drops or chips

Take the flour, and add the cold butter, cut into small cubes. Combine the butter and flour by rubbing the butter into the flour, until there are no lumps and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Then stir in the sugar and the white chocolate chips. You could of course use milk or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.

Add the egg and vanillla essence combine until the biscuit dough is smooth.

How you could take spoonfuls onto a banking sheet, but what I do is wrap the dough in cling film and cool in the fridge for a fair few hours. This firms up the dough, so then you can roll it into a 2cm roll of dough and then slice it into 1cm rounds.

These rounds can the be placed onto a baking sheet or tray.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 180 degrees for about six minutes until the edges are brown. Be careful as they will go from done, to overdone very quickly.

Place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy.

These can also be the basis for homemade rocky road as well.

That time I was in London for tacos

On one of my last visits to London before the lockdown I did pop to Wahaca at Oxford Circus. I have been there quite a few times and have enjoyed the atmosphere and the food.

As we were in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, this was a couple of weeks before the full lockdown, the place was still open. I was a little cautious about going to a restaurant and sitting down with others to eat. With hindsight I probably wouldn’t have gone, but at the time the risk seemed quite low and there was sanitiser available, and I was washing my hands a lot.

Each branch of Wahaca has it’s own charm and style, there are similarities across the different restaurants, but each has an element of individuality.

I was given a warm welcome and there were plenty of seats available. I looked over the menu and decided to go with some old favourites as well as trying out a new dish.

For my first choice, I chose a dish that I have had a fair few times before, which was the crispy cauliflower bites.

crispy buttermilk-battered florets of cauliflower, with roast serrano allioli

These are crispy buttermilk-battered florets of cauliflower, with roast serrano allioli.

These were delicious and lovely and crispy. I enjoyed the allioli which complemented the crispy florets. They are very moreish and tasty,

My other favourite was steak tacos.

chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese, chipotle salsa & avocado

These are two tacos filled with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese, chipotle salsa & avocado. I much preferred these when the grilled cheese was optional, I don’t think the grilled cheese adds much to the dish. The steak was full of flavour and very tender.

The dish I ordered that I hadn’t had before, was the grilled mushroom & cheese tacos

sweet ancho rubbed mushrooms with crispy grilled cheese

These are sweet ancho rubbed mushrooms with crispy grilled cheese. The mushrooms were delicious, again not a fan of the grilled cheese.

I really enjoyed the three dishes which were tasty and delicious. The service was warm, friendly and welcoming, the food arrived quickly and efficiently.

At the time I was planning to come back to London later in March, so didn’t think this was going to be my last lunch in London for a long time. At the time of writing I have no idea when or even if I will be going back to London for work. As we know restaurants are closed and looking unlikely to re-open in the short term. I am though looking forward to the time when I can go back out to eat, but hopefully I will be able to visit Wahaca in the future and have some great food.

Time for some red cabbage

red cabbage
Image by RitaE from Pixabay

The way I cook red cabbage, usually for Christmas, but nice for anytime of year.

Ingredients

knob of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced or chopped
1 x 500g red cabbage, shredded finely using a food processor (white core discarded)
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
splash of Port
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tsp redcurrant or cranberry sauce (optional)

Method

Heat the butter and oil in a large lidded saucepan. When hot, add the onion and fry gently until softened. Stir in the spices. Add the cabbage and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until glossy.

Stir in the sugar, apples and Balsamic vinegar. Cover with a lid and let it cook gently for 30 minutes.

Stir in the redcurrant or cranberry sauce (if using) and cook for a further 10 minutes. If you aren’t using the sauce, taste the cabbage and add a little more sugar if it’s too tart for your taste.

Remembering the squid and langoustine

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market, image by 139904 from Pixabay

Back in January and staying overnight in London, and having had a really nice fish supper at Loch Fyne in Cambridge, I decided that I would take advantage of their January 50% off mains offer and have dinner at their Leadenhall Market site.

Leadenhall Market is an interesting place to visit, reminds me very much of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films. It has lots of painted and polished wood, beautiful windows and is covered with a glass roof. I think I remember reading once that this was the place that inspired J K Rowling when she was writing about Diagon Alley for the Harry Potter books.

I initially had a little trouble finding the branch of Loch Fyne, but after a little search I found it. It was a lot less crowded than the Cambridge branch and there was a lot of space to choose where to sit. I was given a warm welcome and shown to my table. Though the outside of the place has that quaint look of olden tymes that you get with Leadenhall Market the inside was quite fresh and modern.

Having looked at the menu online, I had decided that I would probably go with the turbot. I have seen it cooked on shows like Masterchef Professional and The Great British Menu, but have never bought it cooked it myself, neither have I eaten it at a restaurant either. So I was quite looking forward to it. You can imagine my disappointment when I was told that it was off the menu as they had run out!

In the end I decided I would got for a starter and ordered the sea salt and pepper squid.

Squid

The menu described this being served with sesame seeds and tomato & chilli jam. Of course once you have ordered the menu is removed so I couldn’t check until I got back to the hotel I was staying at to see that there was no jam, I had been served the dish with sliced chilli instead. It isn’t the same and would have ruined the dish if I had eaten that amount of chilli!

This dish was probably described as okay. The coating was crispy, but the squid was a little too chewy. Way too much chilli!

For my main course I chose the grilled scottish langoustines with romesco sauce – sun-dried tomatoes, roast peppers, garlic and almonds.

This was on the Leadenhall menu, but wasn’t on the menu when I was at the Cambridge branch. I’ve always liked langoustine, even though this was a special, I think if the turbot had been on the menu, I would have still chosen the turbot.

I was intrigued how this would be served and this is how it looked, it was a large pile of grilled langoustine.

GRILLED SCOTTISH LANGOUSTINES (N) 29.95 with romesco sauce – sun-dried tomatoes, roast peppers, garlic, almonds

I was quite surprised by the way if was presented. The langoustine had been halved, grilled and then the romesco sauce added on top.

The langoustine was not as tasty as I thought they would be, but I did enjoy the romesco sauce. If anything the langoustine were rather dry and they didn’t have a huge amount of flavour. Though quite a large dish, it wasn’t that filling, well once you eat the langoustine flesh there is still quite a bit of langoustine left. I think I should have ordered some sides, but at the time of ordering I wasn’t that hungry.

The service was excllent, warm and friendly. I enjoyed the meal and think with the 50% off offer it was value for money. I would like to go again, but in the current landscape that may be some time away.

Colourful Gluten Free Cake

This is a tasty but colourful loaf cake.

The recipe is based on the weight of two eggs

Ingredients

      • 3 standard eggs
      • Take the same weight of two of the eggs of soft butter
      • Take the same weight of two of the eggs in caster sugar
      • Take the same weight of two of the eggs in self-raising gluten-free flour
      • Vanilla essence
      • Yellow food colouring
      • Red food colouring
      • Green food colouring

Cream the sugar and butter until you have a smooth consistency.

Beat the eggs, add some vanilla essence. I then added a little yellow food colouring to brighten the cake mixture.

Stir the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar with some of the flour, until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Then fold in the remaining flour until it is combined with the rest of the mixture.

Spoon a third the mixture into one side of a loaf tin. Then separate the remaining mixture into two portions.

With one of the portions, add some red food colouring to the mixture and stir it carefully until you have a nice consistent coloured mixture. With the other portion use green food colouring.

You can of course use whatever colours you like.

Spoon these cake mixture portions into the loaf tin.

I then used a knife to gently swirl the three coloured mixtures together, you’re trying to achieve a swirly effect, not to combine the mix.

The bake the cake in a 180º normal oven or 160º fan oven for 30-35 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Cool and then serve in slices.

More homemade Gluten Free Sausage Rolls

I have used Jus-Rol’s gluten free puff pastry quite a few times now, it is easy to use and works well.

Jus Rol Gluten Free Puff Pastry

It comes as a ready rolled sheet, so using a different method to what I did before, on the short edge I added the filling. I did two kinds of fillings, both using the meat from standard sausages (I removed the skins), but with one I added some diced apple.

Having laid out the filling I rolled the pastry across the filling, that gave me an indication where to cut. I brushed the join with egg and then sealed the join. I then cut them into three rooms, before I  placed them on a baking tray, made slices in the top and  brushed with beaten egg.

This was then baked in a hot oven for around twenty minutes, until they were golden brown.

Homemade Gluten Free Sausage Rolls

They worked very well, the pastry I think it needed to be a bit more flakey, but it was really easy to use and tasted very nice.

Chargrilled Butternut Squash

Last year on a visit to Wahaca in Oxford Circus, I really enjoyed the chargrilled crown prince squash.

I said back then

The squash was grown for Wahaca by Riverford Organic and served with kale & cashew nut mole. I really enjoyed this dish, was full of flavour and very tasty. I think it could have been improved if the squash had been peeled, but the flesh of the squash did come away from the skin despite this. I really liked the chargrilled aspect of the dish and you could taste that in the squash. This dish is advertised as vegan, and I suspect people might avoid it, but if it comes back onto the menu, go for it, it was delicious.

Chargrilled Crown Prince squash grown by Riverford Organic, served with kale & cashew nut mole

With the recent wonderful weather I decided to try and recreate this dish using my own barbecue and some butternut squash.

I brushed the butternut squash with some olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, added some dried herbs and chargrilled it on the barbecue. I started skin side down over the heat and covered with a lid. I wanted to roast it slightly before turning it over and grilling the sides of the squash.

The end result looked like this.

Though I liked the look of the squash, there wasn’t enough flavour for me, I remember the crown prince squash being much tastier.

I think I will try again, but will try and get it to taste better. I am wondering if I should pre-cook in the oven before finishing off on the grill?

Giving cider another go

I am not really a fan of cider, I think it boils down to drinking stupid amounts of Merrydown Cider when I was student in York and not drinking it for a really long time.

I remember in 2006 accidentally ordering and drinking a Magners cider in Edinburgh, I don’t think I finished it.

Now living down in the South West (where everyone seems to drink cider) I have recently decided to give cider another go and looking over the supermarket shelves decided to try out a bottle of Henry Weston Vintage Cider.

Henry Weston Vintage Cider

I really quite enjoyed it, which surprised even me. I enjoyed the dryness of the drink and found it rather refreshing.

Barbecued Salt and Pepper Pork Belly

With the unusual lovely hot weather, my barbecue has been used a lot, and the barbecued meat served with a selection of salads.

One new recipe I have been doing has been going down well and involves using pork belly strips.

Barbecued Salt and Pepper Pork Belly

Take the pork belly and season with salt and pepper, I then sprinkle the pork with chopped fresh coriander, though I have also used dried coriander, along with some lemongrass. Add a little olive oil and leave to marinade. I either buy pork belly without rind, or if no choice remove the rind before marinading and cooking.

I find pork belly general works best with long slow cooking, but I also like it on the barbecue as well. So you could cook the pork slowly in a warm oven, or throw caution to the wind and grill it on the barbecue.

I try and cook it on the barbecue so that it takes it’s time, but doesn’t dry out. One method I have used with a whole chicken also works with the pork belly.

Though you can cook directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the pork is tender and cooked properly. A challenge is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process I use is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill. After the coals have reached cooking temperature, move them to the sides of the barbecue, so that when the pork belly is placed on the grill, it is not over direct heat. This needs to be done with caution as the charcoal will be really hot and I use a tool with a long handle to do this. The pork, after placing on the grill, was then covered, I used a wok lid, but this is where a kettle barbecue comes into its own. This works well with larger pork belly joints as well.