Category Archives: Recipes
Three Recipes for Dandelion
It really wasn’t my intension to post another recipe this month, let alone another soup recipe. But with the lowered air pollution due to the enclosure, we are currently experiencing, the cleaner air quality has brought glorious weather and a bounty of flowers and foliage ripe for the picking.
Foraging is a favourite pastime of mine. I need little excuse for long walks with basket and secateurs in hand, heading to wherever the pickings are riches: wilder areas in parks, small woodland enclosures have there place for the urban forager in the absence of rolling fields, forests and hedgerows.
Our bodies, and especially our livers, yearn to cleans themselves at this time of year, and nature provides us with the foods to do just that. And so, in the spirit of replenishment, detoxification and self-care, this months post brings three simple recipes to bring forth your inner wildling and assist your body’s natural spring detox.
It almost seems too perfect that the humble dandelion, considered a pesky weed by some, should be so abundant in springtime just when our bodies need their cleansing and replenishing powers after long winters of starchy foods and inactivity. Dandelions have a long list of nutritional properties: vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K. And minerals in the form of iron, boron, calcium, silicon, magnesium and potassium. Plus amino and essential fatty acids. It has been used for centuries across many cultures for its healing potential; as a liver tonic, to stimulate bile production aiding the digestion of fats in the diet, and a stimulant for a sluggish immune system.
Folklore is rich with positive dandelion tales. In Medieval times dandelion flowers were woven into wedding bouquets to bring good fortune to the newlyweds; a charming Medieval childhood game was to hold a dandelion flower under the chin to foretell if the child would grow up to become wealthy. The stronger the glow, the more prosperous they would become. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, dandelions were a symbol of love, wishes, faithfulness, divination and represented the sun. Dandelions were also considered an excellent natural barometer; the feathery pappus hairs which close when they detect moisture in the air were used to predict the onset of bad weather.
As a food, everything about this plant can be eaten from root to flower. In French cuisine, leaves are used in a salad called Salade de Pissenlit (the French word for dandelion is Pissenlit because of its diuretic properties), and a dandelion vinaigrette is considered a delicacy. During the first and second world wars when coffee and other commodities were scarce, dandelion roots were used as a coffee substitute. And, of course, let’s not forget dandelion flower fritters.
These are only a few of the almost endless uses for this little gem of a weed whose appearance is as welcome as the spring sun. Disdained by many, yet giving of-itself in a multitude of ways.
You Will Need
2 Generous Handfuls Dandelion Leaves (young leaves are best)
1 White Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Celery Sticks
1/2 Litre Vegetable Stock
Rind from Parmesan Cheese (Optional)
Knob of Butter or 1tbs Olive Oil
Zest of 1 Lemon
Handful Dandelion Petals (reserve a few petals or a whole flowerhead to garnish)
Handful Dandelion Buds
Salt and Pepper
Clean the dandelion leaves and flowers in a bowl of cold water and about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Drain in a colander, then spread out onto a clean tea towel removing any unwanted bits.
Have a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water ready. Chop the dandelion leaves, blanch them in the boiling water for a minute or two, then plunge into the ice water. Drain then set aside.
Next chop the onion, garlic and celery, and sauté in a large pan with your chosen oil. Cook until the celery has softened slightly. Add the stock, then the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30-35 minutes, occasionally stirring, until all ingredients are soft. Once cooked, remove the Parmesan rind, adjust the seasoning, then remove from the heat and blend the soup with a stick blender. Garnish with the reserved flowerhead or petals.
Dandelion Petal Butter
This vibrantly golden butter melts beautifully over boiled new potatoes or spring vegetables.
You Will Need
125g unsalted grass-fed Butter (at room temperature)
Sea Salt Flakes
14 Flower Heads (inner petals only)
In a mixing bowl, add the butter and petals, whip together with a wooden spoon, and salt to taste. Keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.
Dandelion Flower Tea
Dandelion flowers contain antioxidants, and is naturally high vitamin A which is beneficial for eye health, it alleviates headaches, backaches and menstrual pain. And, in Korean folk medicine, dandelion flowers are used to improve blood circulation, skin infections and oedema.
You Will Need
2 Generous Handfuls Dandelion Flower Heads
1 Litre Boiling Water
2 tbs Honey
Mint Leaves (Optional)
Place the flower heads (and mint if using) in a large heatproof bowl or jar, pour over boiling water, cover and leave to steep for 20-25 minutes. Strain the tea through a sieve, transfer to a sterilised container, add honey to sweeten and store in the fridge. The tea is delicious warm with a slice of lemon or cold over ice.
Soup recipe inspiration: The Art of Edible Flowers by Rebecca Sullivan.
French Roasted Garlic Soup | Recipe
While this current pandemic sweeps the globe, we are being forced, in some ways, to take stock of our day-to-day. Grappling with a new lack of freedom and movement, new routines in our lives, in surreal situations akin only to Hollywood movies. It brings into stark reality the fleetingness of our lives, and how precious time with our loved ones truly is.
My hope through all of this is that we become more compassionate. Not only with people with we interact with daily, but that we have more compassion for people who live in countries that experience restrictions, fear and uncertainty which we are now temporarily living through as a never-ending occupation.
Staying at home with our families, eating out less and cooking in the home more, has for me at least, encouraged me to be more diligent with the ingredients I have available, be more creative, resourceful and keep things a little more basic.
This recipe uses ingredients you are likely to have to hand on any given day: garlic, onions, herbs and broth. Garlic, especially, is highly nutritions with potent health-giving anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. A simple soup, greater than the sum of its parts.
This is a very challenging time for many people. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you all the very best of health.
You Will Need
2 Large Garlic bulbs
3 Banana Shallots
1 tsp each Fresh Oregano & Thyme Leaves
1 Ltr Vegetable Stock
Small Bunch Parsley
Knob of Butter
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat the oven at 180°C.
Break the garlic bulbs apart but keep the skin of each clove intact. Retain two cloves and spread the remainder out on to a baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly roasted.
Remove from the oven, and when they are cool enough to handle peel away the skins. Then set them aside.
Peel and chop the shallots, plus one of the garlic cloves retained earlier, put into a large heavy-based saucepan or casserole with the butter. Fry gently over med-high heat until lightly cooked but not brown.
Add the oregano and thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and fry for a further three minutes or so before adding the stock and roasted garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. At this point, you might like to taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat allowing the soup to cool for a minute or two. With a stick blender, blend the soup until reasonably smooth.
Thinly slice the remaining garlic clove, and in a dry frying pan over a medium heat brown the garlic slices. Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the garlic slice and chopped parsley leaves.
You can serve the lovely soup with toasted baguette (or any leftover bread that’s gone a little dry) and parsley butter which easy to put together. Take about a quarter of a stick of butter at room temperature, stir in a tablespoon or two of chopped parsley leaves, mix well, then spread on the toast nice and thick. Delicious!
Schinken und Ei Flammkuchen
This tasty ham and egg pizza-like tart is something we always have at Elli’s Snackeria, a water-side cafe we like to visit when on the Baltic island of Fehmarn, a short drive from Hamburg, close to the Danish border.
The saltiness of the ham and creaminess of the crème fraîche make a delicious combo and a very welcome lunch or snack. It also takes only 12 minutes to bake, so it’s a perfect quick and easy weekend lunch.
You will need
1 Sheet of Flammkuchen Pastry 85g approx. (substitute with puff pastry if Flammkuchen Pastry is not available)
1 Small White Onion
Grated White Cheese 50g
Schinken 50g thinly sliced (or other cured ham)
1 Hard Boiled Egg
Crème Fraîche 75g
1/2 tsp Dried Wild Oregano
Salt and coarsely milled Black Pepper
Chopped Coriander Leaves and Chives or Thyme Sprigs to Garnish (Optional)
Preheat the oven 200 degrees Celsius or equivalent.
Slice the onion and gently fry until translucent then set aside to cool slightly. Place the pastry on a lined baking sheet and spread the creme fraiche over evenly leaving a little space around the edges. Place the onions evenly over the creme fraiche, followed by the grated cheese, then the ham. Slice the boiled egg using an egg slicer or sharp knife, then place them over the ham. Season with salt, pepper and dried oregano then drizzle over with a little olive oil before popping in a preheated oven. Bake for 12 minutes.
To serve, sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and serve with a green salad.
Rosemary Infused Chocolate Mendiants
Like most people, when it comes to cooking with herbs, I generally stick to the tried and true. A bit of mint with spring peas or scattered over buttered new potatoes, a dash of dill over fish, and roast lamb wouldn’t be the same without a generous bunch of rosemary.
But lately, I’ve been playing with these herbs in sweet treats too; chamomile custard tarts, minty ice cream, and chocolate Mendiants, infused with hint of voluptuous rosemary will pique the tastebuds with intrigue.
Mendiants are a traditional French confection; chocolate disks which are studded with dried fruits and nuts representing the 4 monastic orders.
Try these little gems this holiday season to offer your guests at gatherings, or make them as lovely edible gifts. Happy holidays!
You Will Need
100g of Mild Flavour Dark Chocolate
5 Sprigs of Rosemary Plus 1 Extra for Decoration
Toasted Pine nuts – approx 24
1 Sheet Edible Silver (optional)
Begin by toasting the pine nuts in a moderate oven for 2-3 minutes until just golden.
Put a small amount of water into a Bain Marie (or small saucepan with a tight-fitting bowl), place it over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, place 2/3 in the bowl and gently melt. Take five rosemary sprigs, use the back of a wooden spoon to lightly bruise and put the sprigs into the melted chocolate. Infuse for 2-3 minutes before removing the Bain Marie from the heat.
Press the rosemary into the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much of the chocolate as possible. You can then discard the rosemary. Add the rest of the chocolate, stirring gently as it begins to melt, then leave it to cool for a minute or two.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface, drop a teaspoon full of chocolate for each disk onto the paper leaving a 3-4 cm space in-between. Decorate with rosemary leaves, pine nuts and small pieces of edible silver, and allow them to cool for about 20 minutes. I usually pop mine in the fridge for a few minutes, which gives the mendiants a little snap when you bite into them.
100g chocolate makes 10-12 Mendiants.
Another chocolate recipe you might also like to try.
An Asian inspired Salad
with a Wasabi Mirin Dressing
This sumptuous salad has been a favourite in my home with family and friends this summer. It is light and exotically fruity with a hint of spice from the threads of Julienne ginger intertwined among fresh herbs and cooling cucumber. I serve this salad with grilled Ahi tuna gently marinated in sesame oil and Chinese five-spice, grilled limes, wasabi mayonnaise, and perhaps jasmine rice. Hope you enjoy it too!
You will need
For the Salad
a generous handful each of fresh coriander leaves, mint leaves and Thai basil leaves
1 mini cucumber
1 green onion
1/2 ripe but fairly firm mango
1 heap tbs of peanuts
For the Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Wasabi paste
First, mix all of the dressing ingredients together thoroughly and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse. Take the coriander, mint and Thai basil and gently pull the leaves from the stems and roughly chop. Now the onion. Cut into thirds then cut lengthways into thin Julienne strips. Thinly slice the cucumber and a long piece of ginger, a mandible works best for this, then slice the ginger into Julienne strips. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the mango and cut the flesh into thin slices. Arrange the salad ingredients on serving plates, spoon the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
This was a meal I had when I first arrived on the Zanzibar archipelago. And although it is quite a simple dish, it was a very welcoming lunch after a long flight from Germany. You could call this dish a Tanzanian version of egg and chips; but eating this while looking out across white sandy beaches and crystal blue seas under glorious sunshine, gives these rudimentary ingredients a different character altogether.
This dish is very popular all over Zanzibar, and indeed mainland Tanzania. Eggs and fried potatoes are the base ingredients, but occasionally finely chopped red peppers and onions are added for a bit of variety.
For my version, I’m substituting the usual yellow potatoes with sweet potatoes, and garnish with fresh coriander and Thai basil, herbs which are used in abundance across the islands in a variety of dishes. The use of these delicious herbs teases out the sweetness of the potatoes, and also adds a hint of complexity to the flavour.
Although its a very simple dish, I’m sure you will find it incredibly satisfying and, of course, it’s really easy to make.
You will need
1 medium sweet potato
4 large eggs
2 spring onions
a handful each of Thai basil & fresh coriander leaves
2 tbs sunflower oil
black pepper & sea salt to season
Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees celsius.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into thin chips. Place in a bowl of cold salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat the chips dry with paper towel, place them evenly on a baking tray, and brush with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When they are done, set aside and pre-heat your grill or broiler.
Chop the spring onions, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork. Take a few basil and coriander leaves, roughly chop and fold into the eggs. In a heavy based frying pan (20 inches in diameter or so) add the remaining oil, and over a med-high heat fry the spring onions until tender but don’t brown. Add the sweet potato chips to the pan in a single layer, then pour over the eggs leaving it to settle. When the eggs start to set around the outside of the pan, place it under the grill for just a minute or two.
Garnish with the remainder of the herbs, and serve with a chopped salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and drizzle with a little oil and a squeeze of lime juice.
I’m not sure whether or not this recipe can technically be called Ladoo–Indian sweet snacks made from dried fruit, nuts or Gram flour–as the method I’m using doesn’t involve cooking with condensed milk or ghee.
Instead, I’m using orange juice to bind the ingredients together, and a splash of Cointreau to give these snacks a bit of boozy zing. Simply omit the Cointreau if you are making them for children, it takes nothing away from the deliciously zesty, marzipan flavours. They also make quick and easy edible gifts for the holidays.
You Will Need
150g Almond Meal
5 tsp Fine White Sugar
3 tsp Cointreau
1 Small Orange – Juice & Zest
4 tbs Desiccated Coconut
2 tbs Confectioners/Icing Sugar
Put the almond meal, white sugar and zest of half the orange in a bowl and mix well. Next, add the Cointreau and a tablespoon of the orange juice and combine. Add another tablespoon of orange juice and start forming into a ball. If you need to add a little more juice do so slowly adding a little at a time, so as not to make the mixture too wet.
Spread the desiccated coconut and confectioners/icing sugar onto a plate (leave a little extra for dusting). Take a tablespoon of the Ladoo mixture, squeeze together to form a paste, then roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Roll the ball around in the coconut covering completely. Repeat the process until you have 10-12 Ladoo. Dust with a little extra confectioners sugar just before serving.
Simply double-up on all of the ingredients to make more. The Ladoo will keep in the fridge, covered, for about a week.
Here’s a seasonal punch recipe you might also enjoy.
Creamy Chestnut Soup with Mushroom Croutons & Fried Sage Leaves
Although I’ve been living here in Hamburg for a couple of years now, I find that I rarely cook German recipes.
German cuisine, much like British, gets a pretty bad rap. And that’s a real shame, because there is a tantalising selection of traditional German dishes just itching to be discovered: Labskaus, Spätzle, Veal Schnitzel, and, of course, Sauerkraut, whose health benefits are equal to that of the popular Kimchi, are better known German foods, and are as tasty as any of the more popular cuisines.
Chestnuts are also included in traditional German cooking. Often foraged during the cooler months, these versatile brown gems – which were introduced into Germany by the Romans along with grapes and asparagus – are an integral part of traditional German home cooking, Hausmanskost. Roasted as a snack in winter, served with Brussels sprouts or braised red cabbage, made into jams, ground into flour for baking (try my Chestnut flour Walnut bread) and, added to stews and soups.
This is my interpretation of the traditional German chestnut soup. It’s comforting and incredibly simple to make. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken, and you will create an equally delicious vegetarian version. Guten Appetit!
You Will Need
1 Can Chestnuts Drained – 280g or there about
1 Celery Stick – Chopped
1 Shallot – Chopped
2 Portobello Mushrooms – Chopped, half for the soup, half for croutons
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed – 1 for soup, 1 for croutons
12 Sage Leaves – 4 Chopped for the Soup, the remainder left whole for frying
300ml Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 tsp – Celery Salt
1/2 tsp – Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp – Ground Nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
100ml Cooking Cream
Heat a large heavy based pan over a med-high heat, then add a generous glug of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot, celery and 1 crushed clove of garlic to the pan, cook until softened but not browned. Add half of the chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more before adding the chopped sage leaves, nutmeg, celery salt and pepper. Add the chestnuts and combine them with the other ingredients and cook for a few minutes more. Next add the broth, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes to allow all of the flavours to infuse. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and set aside to cool for a minute or two, before blending thoroughly with a stick blender.
Put 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil into a heated frying pan, add the remainder of the garlic and mushrooms, and fry over a highish heat until the mushrooms are dark golden brown and slightly crispy. Set aside.
Pop a clean pan over a high heat, add a generous amount of olive oil, when the oil is hot fry the sage leaves. This will only take a minute or two.
Ladle the soup into four individual bowls, and carefully spoon on the mushroom croutons. Serve with the fried sage leaves and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg.
This past summer has been long, hot and extremely humid here in Hamburg. So much so, that I have found myself brooding for cooler evenings and the chorus of rich autumn colours that beckon cosy and comforting food. Which brings me to this recipe.
Whilst browsing the food stalls of Budapest‘s great market hall – Nagyvásárcsarnok – the oldest and largest market in the city, I came across this savoury strudel nestled among the more well known sweet strudel flavours of apple and sour cherry. I know a savoury cabbage strudel doesn’t immediately look or sound as appealing as the sweet varieties, but surprisingly it tastes really good.
Strudel has a long history in Hungary dating back, it is believed, to the Habsburg empire. The traditional filo-like dough used for strudel has a high gluten content which gives it enough stretch to allow it to be rolled out super thin, a technique borrowed by the Turks.
There are numerous filling options for strudel; from meat to plum to Quark (German for cream) to hazelnuts and poppy seeds. And here is my interpretation of one of Hungary’s best-known foods. Instead of filo pastry, I’m using shortcrust pastry ready bought for ease. And, although it’s not necessarily associated with one season or another, as far as I’m aware, it seems to fit the autumn menu quite nicely. Jó étvágyat!
You Will Need
Savoy Cabbage Finely Shredded 400g
Medium Onion finely chopped
1 Sheet Shortcrust or Puff Pastry
Caraway Seeds 1tsp
White Pepper 1-2 pinch
Hungarian Sweet Paprika 1 pinch
Salt for season
Butter 50g approx.
Pre heat oven to 160 Degrees Celsius.
Finely shred the cabbage removing any firmer pieces and place in a pan of salted water. Par boil until just tender, but don’t over cook. Drain in a colander removing as much water as possible and set aside. Place most of the butter in a large non stick frying pan (put a little aside to glaze the pastry), add the onion, paprika, caraway seeds and a pinch or 2 of white pepper according to your taste. Saute over a low-medium heat for a minute or 2 before adding the shredded cabbage. Thoroughly combine the ingredients, cook until the cabbage is tender then set aside to cool a little.
Gentling melt the remainder of the butter, lay the pastry out on baking paper and brush around the edges with melted butter. Put the cabbage mix on the first 1/3 of the pastry, and using the baking paper to assist, roll away from you ensuring the strudel is evenly rolled. Cut away any excess pastry. Place the baking paper and strudel on a baking tray, brush all over with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. After baking allow the strudel to cool little. Cut in to thickish slices and serve with sour cream.
The unusually hot weather has brought with it an abundance of flowers and foliage already this year, so a bit of foraging seemed like a very pleasurable thing to do to make use of this bounty. Elderflowers are one of my favourite foods for ‘wild’ cooking, and as the season seems to be drawing to an end, this week may be the last chance to make use of the delicious blooms. This is another simple and tasting recipe that is quick to prepare and makes a lovely snack or dessert.
You will need
20 Elderflower Blossoms
1 Cup Rice Flour plus extra
2 Cup Sunflower Oil
1 Cup Ice water
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar for dusting (Optional)
Trim away the leaves, leaving a short stem on each flower head, then bathe the flowers in cold water to remove any bugs. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before frying.
Pop the extra flour into a bowl, you will need this to coat the flowers before dipping them into the batter. In a large bowl add the cup of flour, egg, baking powder, salt and combine with a balloon whisk. Then slowly add the ice water making sure the batter has no lumps.
Heat the oil until it is nice and hot (about 190 degrees). Take a flower head, coat in flour and then dip into the batter gently shaking off the excess. Drop into the hot oil and fry for a minute or two until lightly golden. Place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil and repeat with the rest of the flowers.
Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar and cream.