Tag Archives: Healthy

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers with fresh cheese & pistachio

24 Jul

DSC_0978DSC_0977

And we’re back. It’s been a long time, blog. A lot of recipes as yet unpublished. Anyway.

The sight of zucchini flowers is a little bit exciting. I mean, we know you can’t buy these at your local supermarket. Fair enough. We’d pined after zucchini flowers for long enough to know that this is not widely available. Since we abandoned this blog, we have moved sarf of the Thames to deepest darkest SE14. No more of the organic baby shops, boutiques and gastropubs of Crouch End. Nah, bruv. We’re in Telegraph Hill now. As such, we have ready access to fabulous Brockley Market on a Saturday morning (and Maltby Street – another story), which does a good trade in seasonal and local produce. Among them, famed zucchini flowers (these are four for £2.50)

So when you do manage to get your hands on zucchini flowers, it seems a bit of a sacrilege (although quite delicious) to dunk the sinewy petals into a batter and dump them in the fiery furnaces of a hissing saucepan of  boiling oil . Baking is much more genteel, innit? The result clearly isn’t crispy (there remains bite in the stem and texture in the crushed pistachios), but is so fresh and summery I would say, should fried zucchini flowers meet baked zucchini flowers in a dark alley, and if the two had a grievance with one another, then my money is on baked zucchini flowers. There. I said it.

And it’s quite versatile – the key is a light, fresh cheese as the bulk paired with a sharper cheese. Baking on the tomatoes makes the tomatoes nice and sweet, and turns it into an entire dish (a light supper or starter), as well as preventing the flowers from sticking to the pan. DSC_0975

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers

  • 4 large zucchini flowers
  • 100g mild, soft white cheese (we’ve used both a very, very fresh goats cheese and a salted ricotta)
  • 50g strong sharp cheese (with the fresh goats cheese we paired this with a hard, strong goats; with ricotta it was paired with parmesan)
  • 2 TBSP pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 TBSP thyme leaves (dry – or 1.5TBSP fresh)
  • Pinch of lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 ripe tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Crumble and grate the cheeses into a bowl. Add in the chopped pistachios, minced garlic clove, thyme and lemon zest. This should now be delicious – if not, adjust accordingly.

In stuffing the zucchini flowers you require a delicate hand, but the petals are more robust than you might imagine. With a teaspoon, scoop out the stamen (which conveniently also evicts any bugs convening in the flower). Each flower should be able to hold a good few teaspoons of mixture – larger ones will fit perhaps five or six teaspoons. In these pictures here we had some absolutely tiny flowers, and they still had some space. To close the flowers, hold the tips of all petals together and firmly but gently twist. This should remain closed.

Cut the tomatoes about 5mm thick, and lay out on greased baking tray. Arrange the stuffed zucchini flowers on the tomatoes.

Cover the flowers with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Check, and if nearly done remove foil and bake – uncovered – for a further 5 minutes.

Serve flowers with the tomatoes on which they lay. DSC_0986

Musical accompaniment: The Mynabirds

Estimated cost: £6.50

Fake baked beans

1 Feb

It’s not that often – or cool – that people portending to keep food blogs describe the attempt to recreate the flavours of a canned product a lofty goal. But, if this blog is anything, it is not ‘often’.

So it is that this recipe is an endeavour to recreate the amazingly delicious Turkish/Cypriot giant beans you get in cans. While it does take a few more hours than it would to tug at the ring pull and deposit the gloopy blob of beans from a can into a saucepan, it’s infinitely more rewarding (if you’re the kind of person who finds work a reward). Also, it does happily lack the excess salt, oil and probably E numbers lurking in the packaged versions.

Also, we may not always live in such close proximity to Cypriot grocers, so we need to start developing self sufficiency. These giant beans are such a great, heart warming breakfast dish – all pillowy and comforting in their fillingness.Not sure if our liberal use of smoked paprika stops this from being Cypriot, but it tastes pretty fab.

(I swear we do cook things other than breakfast, it’s just that the light is so much nicer in the daytime.)

Giant Turkish/Greek beans (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 C butter beans (or 2 tins of pre-cooked)
  • 6 C water
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 TBSP chopped dill

You can’t really make this on the morning of your breakfast, unless you use canned beans. If you do, use two cans to make this recipe. If you do, skip the next sentence.

Soak beans in water overnight, then boil in water for about an hour. It’s not a glamorous task, but occasionally skimming the scummy froth (mmm!) off the top of the water will ensure the beans are ‘better for your tummy’.

When beans are nearly cooked (basically edible), drain and return to the pot with chopped tomato, paprika and onion. cook for a further 20 minutes on low heat. Add dill, cook for another two minutes, then remove from heat and add lemon as well as seasoning.

This is perfectly good to have on it’s own with some nice crusty bread, but we quite enjoy it with a side of grilled haloumi (don’t know what happened to this one) and a poached egg. Ripe avocado and rocket would also do very well.

Estimated cost (without egg and haloumi):  £1.50

Musical accompaniment: NPR ‘All Songs Considered’ stream

Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish rye pastries with swiss chard rice filling

20 Dec

Continuing on this Nordic theme for no apparent reason whatsoever, here we  present to you karjalanpiirakka. Or Karelian pies, if you don’t speak Finnish. I don’t profess to speak Finnish, but I have accrued a somewhat surprisingly large Finnish vocabulary in foodstuffs.

These little pastries are often part of a picnic spread or table of breads and snacks. We’re not going to lie here. It’s heavy on the old carbohydrates. But it still isn’t too stodgy – unless you want to follow the traditional recipe which uses a lot more butter in the pastry, in the rice and then dips the whole buggers in butter-water then tops it with a mixture of munavoi – which is a mixture of equal parts egg and butter. Butter.

We served this as a starter with beetroot carpaccio, and it’s likely that we’ll make a bunch for Christmas, chucking a few in the freezer to pull out for when guests come around and we’re too bloated from the previous day’s excess to actually cook anything else.

This rye pastry, though, is quite versatile. We’ve used it as a base for pies, it has a really lovely flavour and texture when rolled out very thin. We used it in a broccoli, cheddar and dill pie which worked really rather brilliantly.

Thin rye pastry (makes enough for about 14 pastries and a small pie)

  • 50g white flour
  • 200g rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g butter chopped
  • 125g fromage frais
  • 85ml water (add more accordingly)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the butter, fromage frais and water. Knead, leaving some chunks of butter in the dough, wrap with cling film and  let rest in the fridge for a little while (this can be left for up to 2 nights in the fridge and still be good, according to our experience).

Remove from fridge and roll out. There will be butter pieces still in this, but laminate the dough – so continuously fold over, then roll out, fold over and roll out until the flattened pastry is even in consistency.

Roll to about 2mm thickness, or as thin as you can get it.

Filling (enough to fill about 14 pastries – or half the above pastry mix as above)

  • 1C pudding rice
  • 1C milk
  • 1C water
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 leaves (not ends of stalks) Swiss chard
  • salt to taste

Cook as though making rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the liquid as been absorbed, add the chopped Swiss chard and stir through.

Dill yoghurt
  • 60ml yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP chopped dill
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • salt to taste

Just mix. That’s it.

Assembly

Use a small saucer or cup (ours was about 8cm in diameter) to cut circles of pastry. In the centre of each circle dob about 2.5 TBSP of rice mix.

To fold the sides in, start at the edge of the circle furthest from you. Using both hands pinch the pastry around the rice mix, fitting tightly.

Cook in the oven at 200C for about 15 minutes, it should be obvious when it’s cooked.

Serve as a snack, as a starter with beetroot carpaccio or salad (one pie per person suffices in our experience) or – if you want to go really Nordic – some munavoi.

Estimated cost:

Musical accompaniment: Spiritualized, Songs from A&E

Beetroot carpaccio

18 Dec

So vegetarian Christmas, eh? Little bit lame, little bit not-so-special, little bit ‘where’s the nut roast’? No, say we. No. Man Woman refuses to eat nut roast, we will not partake in tofurky and we will not be scaling down to pasta.

The ceremony of making ham over hours and stuffing turkeys, actually I’m quite jealous of all that. So this year, our first Christmas staying put in the U of K, we’ve decided to go all out, and go traditional. But not traditional at all, you know. Still, however, in the tradition of tradition in a way. Point is, there is some traditional ingredients and concepts, but an absence of animal parts and their sad vegetarian imitations.

We decided to test the limits of this concept at a recent dinner party (I say dinner ‘party’ but our tiny flat allows us to squeeze just two other people in). At an earlier ‘party’ we’d drunkenly vowed to prepare our guests a Nordic/Finnish feast. There being about 14 actual vegetarian recipes (which are not baked goods) in the now fashionable Finnish repetoire, we realised it’d have to be Finnish in spirit, if not quite yet in reality.

So, thought we, let’s break this down to its elements. Finns like beetroot. Finns like dill. Finns like preserving things in salt.  Beetroot and dill carpaccio was the only logical evolution of these three facts.

This dish, which was served as a part of a starter (recipe soon to follow), would be great as part of a Christmas feast or as a side to creamy or heavy dishes as it’s nice and sharp. Northern European ‘tapas’ anyone? While this time of year up in this hemisphere can mean loads of heavy foods and root vegetables with which Man Woman are still largely unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to, this is a nice way to introduce some seasonal rooty freshness. But also, for our friends back in summertime, this totally works for hot weather too. You can tell it’s Christmas ’cause everybody wins.

So this carpaccio was kinda in homage to the Nordic habit of gravalax and also looked a whole lot like smoked reindeer meat while being notably less gamey. Bonus!

Beetroot carpaccio with horseradish and dill (serves 4 as side)

  • 1/2 large beetroot
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP grated horseradish (we used one from a jar – use less if using fresh horseradish)
  • 4 tsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Slice the beetroot as finely as possible. If you can manage to get a full cross-section, congrats, you’ve been keeping your knives well and you deserve a gold star. Otherwise, shavings (think ham!) are fine too.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and adjust to taste. It should be very acidic.

Lay the beetroot in a shallow dish and cover with the lemon mix. It may be almost like a paste, but so long as you smear and toss it through all the beetroot it’ll be fine.

Chill in the fridge for at least ten minutes.

Estimated cost: £1.20

Musical accompaniment: She and Him, Christmas Album

Cheat’s amazing breakfast (shhh! It’s toast)

25 Oct

This is less a recipe than a ‘serving suggestion’, in all earnestness. Man Woman feels guilty about posting it here because it is so simple. It is, actually, toast. Which is why we’ve had to call it ‘cheat’s amazing breakfast’, because it is pretty amazingly good, and yet it’s stupidly easy to the point of being obvious. But again, in the face of English brunch establishments collective aversion to moving beyond fry-ups and eggs Benedict (which have their place and can be done well and so on and so forth), this almost feels necessary. It’s a straight up copy of a great, fall-back breakfast Woman used to devour at Cafe Sofia in Erskineville, around the corner from Erko Villa, aka her old share house.  It seems a very Sydney breakfast: healthy, easy, care-free and just a little bit pretentious.

Cheat’s breakfast: Mushrooms, tomato and avocado on toast

  • Sourdough
  • 6 mushrooms per person
  • 1 TBSP soy per serve
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed) per serve
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 avocado

Slice mushrooms thinly and throw into small pan with heated olive oil, crushed garlic and a dash of soy sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and glossy.

Now this is embarassing. Cut tomato. Spread avocado on sourdough (or whatever bread you like, in all honesty), top with mushrooms then that tomato. Crack pepper, drizzle lemon and olive oil if you feel so inspired.

Estimated cost (per person): £2.10

Musical accompaniment: Dark, Dark, Dark

Parsley & sumac egg white omlette

18 Jul

This recipe was born out of the detrius of a crema catalana (to be published soon). When faced with half a dozen egg whites and not particularly keen on making anything sweet, one might easily fall into despair. But this little lunch or brekkie item is quite a good’un. I know the mention of an egg white omlette might initially seem like worthy diet food, but packed full of fresh herbs this is rather tasty and totally filling as a lunch.

Parsley and sumac egg white omlette

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 C finely chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP sumac
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 3 TBSP finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C milk

Whisk eggs until white, but not necessarily too foamy and definitely not stiff. Add parsley, herbs, spices, onion and milk.

Heat a small fry pan (about 20cm diameter) and coat in olive oil. Pour egg mix into the pan and cook for a few minutes, until the base appears to be cooked through.

Remove pan from stove top and put under grill, until cooked through. Let cool before removing from pan.

Estimated cost: Given that this was leftovers, I want to say zero. But in more true terms, £1.40

Musical accompaniment: Lyla Ices

Summer spaghetti: Broad beans, spinach and mint

12 Jul

Man Woman will not dwell on the presence or absence of the English summer. It does not, in fact, weigh on our minds at all. No, rather it will often be midday before Man or Woman might even remark, ‘Oh look, dear, it happens to be a miserable shit of a day once again. Ever so glad we migrated.’

For us, as non-natives, part of the goodness of eating seasonally is actually discovering what is in fact seasonal. Broad beans, we understand, are summery even if the skies under which they grow are bleak and seemingly devoid of any sunlight. Moving on, this recipe was the first time we used them and it is pretty good. All can be made while the pasta is boiling and happily exists without the cheese if you want to go dairy-free.

A note here, this recipe quantaties are totally subjective. This amount will get you a nice balance of pasta to veg, but tweak to your tastes.

Broad bean, spinach, mint & hazelnut spaghetti

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 C fresh broad beans (or peas, edame – any fresh green pod-borne things etc)
  • 1 C spinach, chopped
  • 6 or so leaves of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 TBSP hazelnuts (pistachio, pine nuts or even walnuts could also work well)
  • 100g soft goats cheese or feta (optional)
  • Butter/olive oil for frying shallots

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and chuck the spaghetti in. (Really do use wholewheat – it so much tastier).

In a small pan, heat a little butter or olive oil and throw in the shallots and nuts. After a minute or two, add the broadbeans and keep stirring as the spaghetti cooks.

Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, return the spaghetti to the large pot and throw in chopped spinach. Let it wilt a little in the still-hot pot and then mix in the beans, shallots and nuts.

Throw in mint and then serve. Top with goats cheese if you like, and either way drizzle with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Estimated cost: £2.20 without cheese, £4 with cheese

Musical accompaniment: Something classical. We really should start paying more attention to this.

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