Rumbledethumps

Rumbledethumps is a traditional Scottish dish, made from left over tatties, cabbage and onions. It’s another one of those comfort dishes that can handle all the butter and pepper you can throw at it.

Rumbledethumps is essentially a variation of the Irish colcannon, or the English bubble and squeak. I can remember having plenty of bubble and squeak as a child, with Mum cooking leftover mashed tatties and cabbage in a frying pan. I can’t ever remember anyone calling it Rumbledethumps though, or cooking it in the oven.

I’ve tried in the past to make bubble and squeak in a similar fashion to how I remember Mum making it. We never seem to have leftovers in this house though, so it’s always been from scratch and ended up being a bit disappointing.

As I had some Charlotte potatoes leftover from making the Batata Harra, I decided to used those to make the mash. In a similar fashion to the Clapshot, I simmered the tatties with a bay leaf, a bunch of thyme and some garlic cloves.

Given the choice, I wouldn’t use this variety of tatties to make mash again, as the end result is far too gloopy. You’re much better off with floury tatties like King Edward to make your mash.

Mashing tatties with butter and pepper...

I also decided to use kale, rather than cabbage, mainly as we had a bit bag of it in the fridge, as my wife likes to juice it. Rather than sauté the kale with the onions in some butter, I steamed it over the simmering tatties. This only happened, as I’d totally forgotten about the onion, so ended up quickly frying off a shallot, while everything else sat there ready to go in the oven.

Some grated Red Leicester cheese sprinkled on top, and it was ready for the oven. It just so happened that we had a small amount of this cheese left, so it meant that I could use it all up. This felt a bit more in the spirit of the dish, rather than cracking open a new packet of Cheddar.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating every single last drop of this, even though it could easily have fed two; I was stuffed to the gunwales for hours afterwards. It’s a great comfort food, the tatties and kale go so well together, there’s nothing about it not to like.

Batata Harra

It’s taken ages to finally get round to making this, maybe it’s just because Ottolenghi’s Plenty More didn’t have a photo, but more likely that I’ve just been too busy doing other stuff.

To be honest, a year ago I couldn’t have told you what batata harra was, or where it came from; Wikipedia isn’t exactly replete with information either. It turns out it’s a Lebanese dish and the name translates as spicy potatoes, it’s also pretty damn tasty.

You’re supposed to make it with red pepper, but my wife used the only red pepper we had the evening before, even though I’d ask her to not to; so I had to make do with a yellow one. I’m sure the taste wasn’t affected, but you can really see why a red one is specified, as the yellow one is the same colour as the potatoes, so you loose a lot of visual appeal.

Ottolenghi’s recipe, calls for the oven to be on 240°C, which leads to nice and crispy potatoes, but utterly destroys the crushed garlic and chopped coriander. Never having had batata harra before, I have no idea if this is the desired result or not.

I made half the quantity in the recipe, which was enough as a main course on it’s own. I misread it though and used ½ a teaspoon of homemade chilli flakes, rather than a ¼. By the time I finished, it was like someone had blow torched the inside of my mouth while I took a shower; the sweat was streaming down my head. I know it’s supposed to be spicy potatoes, but I’d definitely use a touch less next time. I couldn’t help thinking that it needed some sort of yogurt or labneh based condiment to take the edge off the heat as well.

One other thing I might change, is the use of the lemon juice. While works really nicely with the other flavours, I do wonder if using barberries would give a similar effect. Mainly as the lemon juice seemed to soak into some of the potatoes and not into others. Having lots of little lemon flavour bombs scattered through out, might mean you get some lemon flavour to the last mouthful.

Clapshot

Clapshot is a traditional Scottish dish, made with mashed neeps and tatties. One of those winter comfort dishes, where it’s almost impossible to overdo the butter and pepper.

Clapshot is, technically, really easy to make, just boil some neeps¹ and tatties², mash with loads of butter and pepper, stir through some chopped chives and away you go. It’s just as easy to get it wrong though, too much turnip can overpower the potato and if the turnip is too wet, it can make the whole lot too sloppy. Like most things, it’s all about finding the balance.

I simmered the potatoes with a bay leaf, some fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and a few halved garlic cloves, similarly, I simmered the turnip in milk, with a bay leaf and some green peppercorns. This was to try and get some extra flavour into what can be two pretty bland vegetables. One thing though, just make sure you simmer the turnip for long enough, especially if you’re going to try and force it though a ricer, as it wouldn’t quite all go through mine; I should probably have used the mouli, rather than the ricer.

Neeps and tatties ready to cook.

I think a ratio of around 3:2, potato to turnip, is probably around where you want to aim. Anymore and it can become a bit too skewed in favour of the turnip, in my opinion. Similarly, about two thirds to three quarters of a 25g bunch of chives is about right, as they can be quite potent when raw. One thing is for sure though, don’t skimp on either the butter, or the ground pepper.

Then crack open some oatcakes, but chunky ones rather than the poor excuses I used here, sit back and stuff your face.

¹ turnip, at least what the Scots call a turnip, sold as swede down South.
² potatoes, preferably floury ones like King Edward.

Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

After watching the final episode of Paul Hollywood’s Bread, I really wanted to make his Savoury Brioche Couronne, but as it’s not vegetarian, I wanted to use a different filling. Step forward Yotam Ottolenghi and his Taleggio and Spinach Roulade from his new book Plenty More.

Making the brioche dough was pretty straight forward and it went into the colder of our two fridges to spend the night. Unlike the brioche that I’d made a couple of weeks before, I put this dough into a large enough container. Even so, it still ballooned enough to touch to the clingfilm that I’d placed over the top of the bowl.

The following morning the dough came out of the fridge a few hours before I knew that I was going to need to bake it. If I’m being honest, I could probably have got it out a little earlier, as the couronne didn’t see to rise that much once it was made. The dough was still quite soft, even though it had been in the fridge all night. The top had formed a little bit of a skin, so I might need to oil it a bit more next time, although it didn’t seem to affect the dough once it had been rolled out.

I had to use quite a bit of flour to stop the dough from sticking to the work surface and the rolling pin. It wasn’t as easy to handle as Paul made it look on the telly either, every time I tried to pick it up to turn it round I nearly put my fingers through it, as it was quite floppy. For some reason I didn’t get my measuring tape out, so I definitely rolled the dough out too large. It was supposed to be a 40cm x 50cm rectangle, but I went over on both dimensions, especially the width. This made the dough a bit on the thin side, which became a problem when it came to rolling up.

I was a bit worried about Yotam’s filling, as you have to slather some crème fraîche over the dough before adding the rest of the fillings. I was a bit worried that this would stop the dough from cooking properly, but given Paul’s recipe calls for four mozzarella balls, which are renown for outputting large amounts of liquid when melted, I figured that a little crème fraîche would be probably be fine. It was.

As I’d made the dough a little on the thin side, rolling it all up meant that the tomatoes and lumps of taleggio wanted to burst through the dough. In retrospect, I could have squished both flat with my hand, before scattering them across the dough. Eventually though, it was all rolled up and rolled out into long thin sausage. As I don’t own a Scottish Scraper, I just used one of my big Global knives to shop down the middle of the dough and split it in two.

When you see Paul twisting the two sausages of dough together on the telly, it looks relatively easy. In reality it wasn’t quite that simple, as the two sausages of dough just weren’t robust enough to be picked up and thrown about like that. You picked up and end and the dough just started to stretch, there was no way it was going to wrap itself into a nice looking twist with just a few flicks of the wrist.

Not to be deterred, I somehow managed to twist the two strands together and form the whole thing into a kind of ring shape. I did struggle trying to join the two ends, as can clearly be seen in the photos. Once it was successfully on a baking sheet, it was put into a polybag and left to rise for about an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a slightly longer prove, as it didn’t seem to have risen that much at all. After a bit of an egg wash, it was into the oven.

While it was cooking, I knocked up a couple of salads to go with it. One was just a simple rocket, olive, tomato and feta affair with a simple white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. The second, was a chicory, mulled pear and taleggio salad, with a honey mustard dressing.

I was a bit unsure about the chicory salad, as it’s not something we really use. As we don’t have a griddle pan we can use on our induction hob, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to char it enough to soften it. I needn’t have worried though, a stinking hot frying pan did the job and the salad was really nice. A perfect use for one of the Kilner jars of mulled pears that didn’t seal.

Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

So what was it like? It was really nice, if maybe a touch on the doughy side, in my opinion. I’m not sure if I thought it was doughy because that’s just what’s like, or if it would have benefited from a longer final prove, or slightly longer in the oven. Never having made one before, it’s hard to know what the outcome is actually supposed to be like.

It appeared to go down well with everyone though and the leftovers I had for the lunch the following day were pretty tasty too. It’s definitely something I would do again, maybe with a slightly longer final prove though.

Nettle Ravioli

Nettle ravioli, with wild garlic pesto...

Nettle ravioli sounded like the next logical step after making garlic pesto. I just wish I hadn’t tried to make it for four adults and two children…

My parent were visiting and as we’d picked a load of wild garlic the day before, I decided to make the nettle ravioli recipe from the River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow book. Partly as I quite fancied making some stuffed pasta, but also due to the fact that it had wild garlic in the filling and the serving suggestion was for wild garlic pesto. Essentially I was going for wild garlic overload.

I didn’t quite follow the recipe when it came to making the pasta dough, as I had a load of egg yolks in the fridge. So I followed the enriched egg pasta recipe from The Geometry of Pasta and added the nettles as it al lcame together. For some reason, half the dough didn’t want to go through the rolling machine, it just fell to bits. The other half went through fine and produced a veritable mountain of vibrant green pasta sheeting.

I could tell straight away that the amount of filling specified in the recipe was never going to fill the amount of pasta sheet I had, let alone all of the pasta sheet that I should have produced. In the end the filling ran out before I’d got through about a third of the pasta sheet. Having said that, I did switch to making mezzaluna (half moon), rather than ravioli in an attempt to speed up the process, as it was supposed to be dinner, but I was running way over time. I also made some tagliatelle with what leftover dough I managed to force through the rollers.

As I’d run over time for making these to feed everyone for dinner, I ended up freezing them and having them for my dinner a few weeks later. They were a touch on the squeaky side and not overly powerful with any of their flavours. I do think they are probably something that is best prepared and eaten fresh, especially to get the proper punch from the wild garlic.

As we have a patch of nettles just out the back of the garden, it’s definitely something I’d like to try again. If I go with the wild garlic filling again, I’ll be making double, maybe even triple quantities. I might have a go at Yvan’s method of making the nettle pasta dough though, as his looked much, much better than mine.

Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic pesto ready to be blitzed...

I missed out on the wild garlic harvest last year, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this year. This wild garlic pesto is dead easy to make and tastes great.

The recipe comes from the River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow, but is essentially just a normal pesto recipe, with the basil and garlic being replaced by wild garlic and the pinenuts by pignuts. Everything goes into the food processor and you whizz it up, adding the oil until till you get the consistency you want.

As I have no idea what a pignut looks like, or where you get one from, so I decided to use hazelnuts instead. You could of course just use pinenuts, but I didn’t have any to hand. What ever you do, don’t use walnuts, their flavour is too much, especially if you roast, or toast them, as the recipe calls for.

The resulting pesto is pretty strong when raw and leaves you with a proper garlic hum. I found that it wasn’t nearly as strong after it had been frozen and the defrosted in the pan while the pasta was draining. Just like any homemade pesto, it’s far, far tastier than any bought from a supermarket and as you can freeze it, there’s no excuse to not make an absolute bucket load.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Yotam Ottolenghi's Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli...

Another Yotam dish that looks amazing in the book, but rarely looks amazing once it’s on the plate.

If you want the squash to have nice sharp edges like in the photo, you’ll need to cut the skin off the squash before you roast it. If you peel the skin off afterwards, the edges will be all rough and uneven. You could try cutting the skin off after you’ve roasted, but you’re not going to get that nice crisp edge you get when you chop a squash before it’s been cooked.

Presentation wise, you’ll need a really big platter, unless you want all the squash slices to be piled on top of each other. Also, if you put all the dressing on top. of the squash, you’ll not be able to see the squash, as there’s quite a lot of it. Similarly, the coriander, if you chop the required amount and sprinkle it on top of the dressing, you’ll not be able to see the dressing.

Other than that, it’s a really tasty dish.

Leek and Goats Cheese Frittata

Leek and Goats Cheese Frittata

Sometime you get an itch that has to be scratched. Once I got it into my head that I wanted a Leek and Goats Cheese Frittata, then that was it, it had to happen.

My wife and I had been in London for a comedy gig at the O2 and had stayed overnight in a nearby hotel. Sitting on the train on the way back the following day, we were discussing what to have for lunch, when I suddenly decided that I wanted a leek and goats frittata. So we popped into Gog Magog Hill Farm Shop, as it’s sort of on the way home from the station, I could pick up a leek and some soft goats cheese, my wife could get one of their Scotch Eggs.

Once we were home, I softened the leek with some butter in one of our small frying pans, before adding three lightly beaten eggs. After mixing it up a bit, I dotted the goats cheese over the top and whacked it in the oven for twenty minutes. Yes, I’m aware that this isn’t quite the traditional way to make a frittata, but it’s quick and easy.

While it was nice to eat, it was missing something. That something being a bit of crunch, or some texture other than soft. As a starting point it was fine, plenty of room for experimenting with differing cheeses and what not. I just need to figure out what else to add to it, so it’s not so one dimensional in the texture department.

Leftovers

Refried bean hash browns...

An attempt at some sort of refried bean hash browns.

Using up leftovers always reminds me of why I follow recipes. Take the photo above as an example, it doesn’t look very appetizing does it? I had some leftovers to use up and as I like potatoes, I decided to have an attempt at some sort of hash browns, with the addition of some leftover beans. I’ve not really attempted hash browns before, as I’m still trying to cook a decent rösti. There appears to be so many different ways to make hash browns, that it feels like it’s just a make it up as you go along type of thing, which isn’t really isn’t my kind of cooking at all.

Having decided to give them a go, I parboiled some tatties and left them to dry out a bit. I then cubed them and added them to a frying pan that had some melted butter and olive oil in it. After a liberal sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika and the addition of the beans, it was just a case of moving everything around the pan to stop it sticking and burning. I paired these with some avocado and sour cream on the side and they were nice enough, in that they filled a hole.

If I do them again, I’ll be using a non-stick frying pan, as then I wont have to stand over it for the entire cooking process to ensure it doesn’t catch. I’ll also parboiled the tatties for a bit longer, as it took awhile for them to cook all the way through. In fact, I might just be best to cook them all the way through the night before and leave them in the fridge, but then that would require some sort of forward planning. I might have to start experimenting a bit more with this kind of thing though, as the variations appear endless.

Chard and Saffron Omelettes

Chard and Saffron Omelettes

I’ve been meaning to post about this Yotam Ottolenghi Chard and Saffron Omelettes recipe for ages. It’s more of an observation than anything else, but possibly the continuation of a rant I started when going on about Maria Elia’s Ginger Beer-Battered Stuffed Tofu with Asian Mushy Peas.

I get quite annoyed when I follow a recipe and what I produce is nothing like the photo in the book. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m following a set of instructions, what they result in, should look like the end result that is displayed in the book. My current annoyance is with fillings, as I’ve absolutely no idea how you’re supposed to fold these omelettes into quarters and keep either the filling inside them, or stop them falling to bits.

I’ve made this recipe more than once and either the omelettes disintegrate the moment you try and fold them, or you can’t fit anywhere near a quarter of the filling into them and then fold them into a quarter. It might just be my overly perfectionist nature, but that really pisses me off.

Other than that, these are plenty tasty, especially when made with chard out of the garden.