blog > tag > river cottage
November 1, 2011
How often do you eat something new? Not just a new recipe, but a completely new food that you’ve never had before? I absolutely love trying out new things and have tried a few in Slovakia and Hungary this year, but back home I don’t think I have tasted something new since around this time last year when I had Jerusalem artichokes for the first time. And what a revelation that was. I fell for their unusual rich and earthy taste but as quick as they arrived on the supermarket shelves they seemed to disappear and I’ve been longing for their return.
This year they came from Gav’s dad TJ’s vegetable patch in all their nobly shaped weirdness, particularly this odd little one which gave me quite a shock! Jerusalem artichokes appear to be a confusing little tuber – no relation to artichokes or Jerusalem but actually part of the sunflower family – that scares people off knowing what to do with them. Do you treat them like a potato or a parsnip, raddish or root ginger? Well of course, the choice is yours, but I think they deserve to be treated in their own special way that celebrates the gloriously distinctive rich taste.
So today I’m sharing not so much a recipe, but more of a preparation idea that you can play around with to create a unique vegetarian main or side. It is adapted from the Jerusalem artichoke and nettle gratin recipe from River Cottage Every Day, from which I have reduced the quantity of cream and omitted the nettle tops (or spinach).
Finely peeling and slicing the root, stirring into golden soft onions and cooking with stock and a touch of cream creates a deeply flavourful creamy mush (which I decided not to photograph as it isn't pretty, but please don't let that put you off) that can be turned into a soup, pie, savory crumble or gratin by simply switching the main players in your favourite recipes. I also think it would be a delicious side to roast meat in place of potatoes.
Creamy Jerusalem artichokes
Adapted from River Cottage Everyday
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A knob of butter
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 500g Jerusalem artichokes
- Few sprigs fresh thyme
- 100ml double cream
- 200ml vegetable stock or water
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the onions, garlic and thyme and cook gently until soft and golden, but not browned. Meanwhile, rinse and peel the artichokes, and slice to the thickness of a £1 coin. Add to the onion mix, season with salt and pepper, and pour over stock and cream. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half and the artichokes are tender.
Now the creamy vegetable is ready to use as you like. You could cover with a crumble of oats, crushed nuts, breadcrumbs and grated cheese like the River Cottage recipe, or cover with pastry to turn into a pie. You could add a little more stock or water and blitz with a food processor into a soup, or layer with other root vege like fennel or parsnips and top with cheese to make a gratin. Go on, give this technique a try - I'm so sure you'll love it.
September 19, 2011
Morning lovelies, how was your weekend? Hope you had a good one. We spent Saturday sourcing at an auction and yesterday in the workshop making block mounts. They are looking so great, I can’t wait to share them with you super soon.
We were pretty tired last night and just fancied tucking into pizza in front of Downton Abbey. We had some of our trusty dough left over and decided to try out another recipe from the fall issue of Sweet Paul - pizza with gorgonzola, caremelised onions and avocado.
I’ve never really thought of putting avocado on a pizza before, and I’m not sure why because we have tried most things on pizza and absolutely adore avocados. Paul’s recipe sounded (and looked) delicious and indeed it was. Sweet sticky onions, tart cheese and creamy avocado, what’s not to love?
As I mentioned, I used our usual pizza dough recipe from River Cottage, although I am intrigued to try Paul’s next time with the addition of honey. We didn’t have parsley so opted for rocket, which worked great. It was just the perfect comfort food for a lazy Sunday night in front of the TV and I highly recommend giving it a go. Find the recipe here.
June 17, 2011
You know there are certain foods that people say once you make your own you’ll never go back to buying the pre-made version? Well that’s definitely the deal with pizza for me. Once I realised how easy dough was to make, and how a few select ingredients taste so much nicer than dry heavy overloaded slabs of gloopy cheese (and I lurve cheese!), I find I’d rather go without than opt for the convenience of a supermarket pizza.
But to be honest, homemade can be convenient too. This recipe from Daniel Stevens at River Cottage makes enough dough for eight small individual pizzas, or four medium-sized ones (perfect for two to share), which works great divided and stored sealed in the fridge to use as you need. Perfect.
I love a tomato sauce base, but decided to go for another favourite this week – caramelised onions, which lend a sweet richness to the pizza. Then following Hugh’s tips to keep toppings to three or four flavours, I just added some rosemary leaves and grated Parmesan, and topped with peppery rocket to serve. It's really good - thin, crispy and full of flavour.
Basic pizza dough, by Daniel Stevens at River Cottage
- 250g strong white bread flour
- 250g plain white flour
- 5g powdered dried yeast
- 10g salt
- 325ml warm water
- About 1 tbsp olive oi
- 1 handful flour for dusting
In a bowl, mix the flours, yeast, salt and water to form a sticky dough. Mix in the oil, then turn out on to a clean work surface and knead until smooth and silky. (Alternatively, if you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix the flours, yeast, salt and water on a low speed, add the oil and knead for 10 minutes). Shape into a round, and leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag, until doubled in size.
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
Leaves from a sprig of rosemary
Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat, and add the chopped onion and salt. Sauté slowly until soft and sweet, about 15-20 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until caramelised. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven (and pizza stone or substitute – baking sheet is fine) as high as it will go. Take a lime-sized piece of dough and roll it into a 5mm thick round. Dust the baking sheet or stone with flour, lay the dough on it, spread the onions and use a pastry brush to add any leftover juices from the pan to the crust, top with parmesan, rosemary leaves, and season. Bake until cheese is bubbling and the base has puffed up and is taking on some colour, seven to nine minutes. Scatter with the rocket, and tuck in.
May 31, 2011
Savoury crumble is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and it was exactly what I felt last night after a miserable rainy Bank Holiday Monday. I made a few crumbles over Christmas and they went down a storm with friends and family, which always feels good when a recipe is so simple. The two River Cottage ones are great - roasted pale root vege, and Jerusalem artichoke and nettle (or spinach), so I decided to try a variation this time with courgettes (zucchini) I needed to use up.
I kept the crumble topping very similar - porridge oats, stale bread crust crumbs, crushed unsalted peanuts and a handful of grated strong chedder - but altered the filling to avoid using cream. I made a Béchamel sauce infused with a bay leaf, crushed garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paparika, and added sautéed courgettes with 200g cooked pasta. Then just piled it in an ovenproof dish, topped with the crumble, drizzle of olive oil and baked until bubbling. Delish.
While there's a few individual compotents which take some time to prepare, it is perfect relaxed cooking for a rainy day when you have plenty of time to linger over the stove with a glass of red wine close at hand. We served it as a main course, with a side salad of lettuce, red onion and tomato, with a little spicy pickle on the side. It's so good I'm looking forward to leftovers already!
I love a recipe that has infinite possibilities, and savoury crumble has just that. I imagine a tomato-based filling would be just as good, but if you're going to try it - I'd strongly recommend Hugh's Jerusalem artichoke version, it's unbelievably good.
May 23, 2011
Morning, hope you've had a great weekend. Ours has been fun and very busy with fine tuning the website, but ended with an unfortunate trip to the minor injuries unit last night (long story involving an exploding hot water bottle, but I'm OK!). Baking bread is one of my favourite things to do at the weekend, and I got up early yesterday to make one of my favourites - focaccia. It's really one of the easiest and most impressive types of bread to make, and one I turn to again and again, to take to dinner parties or just enjoy at home.
There's two recipes that I love - this River Cottage one, and this one from food blog, Lottie and Doof. I couldn't decide which to go for, so ended up combining the two - following the River Cottage recipe (which is slightly simpler), then adding sugar to the mix and topping, and replacing olives with black grapes. It was a good move. Seriously good, in fact I should have doubled the recipe because it's almost gone. An amazing combo of sweet and salty, it's equally delicious with cheese and chilled glass of white wine, or alone with a mug of tea. Yum. OK, I'll stop gushing now, just go make it. You won't regret it.
Grape and rosemary focaccia
Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No.3: Bread by Daniel Stevens
500g strong white bread flour
5g powdered yeast
10g fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
325ml warm water
About 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for coating
- A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- A sprinkle of flaky sea salt
- A sprinkle of sugar (demerara works well)
- A couple of rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- A couple of handfuls of seedless black grapes
To knead by hand: mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix it in, then turn the dough out on to a clean, floured work surface. Knead until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes.
Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on a low speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.
Shape the dough into a round and coat with a little extra oil. Leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag.
When it has doubled in size, tip it on to a clean work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking tray, measuring about 26 x 36cm. Press the dough in with your fingers, right into the corners. Now leave to rise, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 250°C/Gas Mark 10, or as high as it will go. When the bread looks puffed up and airy, use your finger tips to poke deep holes across the whole surface, almost to the bottom, and distribute grapes in the holes. Drizzle the top generously (but not swimmingly), and sprinkle with salt, sugar and rosemary.
Bake for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to about 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 10 minutes - keep an eye on the colour, you want a nice golden brown.
Focaccia is best eaten warm, but not hot; leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving, or leave to cool completely.