Pickled herring, sour cream, apple and onion salad

This is a really super recipe from a neighbor in London many years ago. We used to adore it, and I only found it again recently.
Make sure you serve it very chilled.

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Serves 4 to 6

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup full fat plain yoghurt
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tart apples, (Granny Smith) cut into thin slices
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill weed
2 x 8 oz jars pickled herring, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the sour cream, yoghurt, lemon juice, sugar, sliced onions that have been separated into rings, apple and dill.
Alternate the herring and sour cream mixture in layers in a dish.
Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours at least.
Serve very chilled.

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Best hot, baked Florentine artichoke dip

Here is another winner recipe after researching countless baked spinach-artichoke recipes for a family- friendly holiday appetizer. Hot and bubbling straight from the oven with a lovely crispy topping.

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makes 4 cups and is enough for 8 to 10 people

1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (12 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 heaped cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
3 large garlic cloves, squeezed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 & 1/2 cups French breadcrumbs (homemade)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Drain the spinach, press between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Combine the spinach, artichoke hearts and the next 5 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well.
Spoon into a lightly greased 11″ by 7″ baking dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs and butter, sprinkle over the spinach mixture.
Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with assorted crackers or breadsticks.

Roasted shrimp with garlic and herb sauce

Mark Bittman’s recipes are terrific and often really light and simple. This one is so easy and tasty especially with great bread to mop up the sauce. You cannot put in too much garlic in this recipe.

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6 cloves garlic, peeled
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 cup parsley, leaves and thin stems
2 pounds shrimp, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
4 dried chilies or a few pinches of crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
⅓ cup stock (shrimp, fish or chicken) or white wine or water

Nutritional Information

Preparation

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine garlic and oil in a small food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add scallions and parsley and pulse until mixture is minced. Toss with shrimp, salt, pepper and chilies.
Put shrimp in a large roasting pan. Add liquid and place pan in oven. Roast, stirring once, until mixture is bubbly and hot, and shrimp all pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve.

“Bacon and eggs” truffle infused custards with crispy prosciutto

Most of Thomas Keller’s recipes (of French laundry fame) are too complicated for my short attention span but this one is not too hard and is absolutely life changing.

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8 large eggs (the fresher the better)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
1& 1/2 tbsp truffle oil
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Finishing Touches
1 tbsp chives (finely diced)
1 oz (2-3 slices) prosciutto

Ragout
1/3 c veal or chicken Stock
dash of fish Sauce (or dash of white wine vinegar)
1 tsp unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp truffle oil

A used egg carton

Custards

Prepare the egg shells
With an egg topper or serrated knife, cut off wider end of the egg (make sure cut is low enough that a spoon can fit in the opening.) If cutting with a serrated knife, lay the egg on a towel, and with a steady but gentle sawing motion, cut halfway through width of egg.
Remove knife, turn egg upright, and pop off the top of the egg. Pour 2 of the eggs into a bowl to reserve for the custard, and the others you can save for any other kitchen uses you might have for them. Reserve the paper egg carton. Reserve the shell bodies.
Under running water, using your fingers, carefully remove the membrane from inside the shell bodies. Clean up any loose shell pieces from the edges of the shell cavity, then set aside.

Prepare the Custards
Preheat oven to 275°F

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream and milk. As soon as it reaches a boil, transfer to a blender. Carefully pulsing, slowly build speed of blender to prevent extreme splattering. While blending, add the 2 reserved eggs, truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher that pours well. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then skim foam from top of custard.
Place the shell bodies upright into a reserved egg carton (cut away extra spaces to make carton smaller.) Carefully pour custards into shells, filling about 85% full. (If pitcher is pouring like a bitch, use a funnel to help aim the pours.)
Using a pan that is a least 3 1/2 – 4″ deep, fill about 1″ of hot water into the pan. Place custards (carton and all) into the water, and top off with more water (if necessary) to have water level reach 3/4 ths up the sides of the eggs. Place pan into oven, cover with a lid or baking sheet, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until custards are set. Remove from oven and set aside (They can stay in the warm water for about 2 hours if needed.)

Prepare the Finishing Touches and Ragout
Heat a saute pan over med-high heat, add a touch of oil, and crisp up prosciutto (just like cooking bacon.) Dab on paper towels to remove excess oils, then cut into 1/2″x 2″ pieces (there will be spare tidbits you’ll get to snack on.)
Dice the chives.
Put the stock and fish sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. There should be about 3 tbsp of sauce.

Finishing
Swirl the butter and truffle oil into the reduced stock. Season to taste. Place each egg in a cup, and spoon about 1 tsp of ragout on top of the custards. Add a sprinkling of diced chives, then place a prosciutto crisp in each egg.

Roasted cauliflower steak with capers, pancetta and raisins

Another magical cauliflower recipe.
Don’t have two 12-inch ovenproof skillets? Sear off the cauliflower steaks in two batches, then roast all four steaks on a half-sheet pan, instead of in the two skillets.

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5 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta (5 ounces), diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
2 pinches of sugar
1 large head cauliflower, sliced into 4 thick “steaks”. (Don’t worry if you get several smaller “steaks” instead, it’s hard not to break them up a bit)
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup capers, drained

Put the oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400F.

Cook the pancetta in 1 dry 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off the fat and wipe the skillet clean.

Stir together the raisins and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp salt, and a pinch each of sugar and pepper in 2 x 12-inch skillets over medium-high heat, swirling skillets occasionally, until butter begins to brown.
Add 2 cauliflower steaks to each skillet and lightly season with salt and pepper then cook until the undersides are golden, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the skillets to the oven and roast the cauliflower, without turning, switching the position of the skillets halfway through roasting, until the cauliflower is just tender and the undersides are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness).

While the cauliflower roasts, bring the water just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in the pancetta, capers, and raisins with lemon juice. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter, and stir until incorporated.
Remove from the heat, and season with pepper.
Carefully invert the cauliflower steaks with a spatula onto a platter, and spoon the sauce over them.

Lemongrass prawns with Thai noodle salad

This is a very refreshing Asian-style salad, perfect for a hot day. We have a Kaffir lime tree (well worth having, if you cook a lot of Asian food) but if you can’t buy Kaffir lime leaves, then use some grated  lime rind instead. This is also a great do-ahead recipe if you’re entertaining.

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Serves 8

For Prawns and Noodles:

2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 lb tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
1 (8-oz) package bean thread (cellophane) noodles

For Dressing:

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp red pepper flakes

For Garnish:

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 spring onions, chopped

Directions

For prawns and noodles: Peel outer layer of lemongrass. Cut into very fine crosswise slices and transfer to a large bowl.

In same bowl, combine lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, lime leaf, salt, and pepper. Add prawns and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high, cook prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a plate.

Put noodles in a bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients.

Add noodles and toss, then add prawns. Garnish with chopped cilantro, mint, spring onions, and cilantro sprigs.

Simple, stunning salmon tartare

On a hot day with a glass of champagne or Rose what could be more wonderful than this?

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Serves 4

8 oz fresh boneless wild salmon, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp good quality mayonnaise

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Refrigerate until very cold before serving.