Nduja and Mozzarella Gozleme

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Screenshot_2016-05-29-22-52-07-1[1] 30/05/2016

Nduja (pronounced en-du-ya) is a spicy spreadable Italian salami. It’s available from delicatessens and specialty grocers. Some supermarkets stock it too. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with finely chopped spicy salami. It has a lovely chilli kick and the oozy mozzarella adds a creamy respite to create a variety of flavours in your mouth.

Gozleme is a Turkish flatbread that is cooked on the griddle. Traditional fillings include minced meat, spinach and white cheese such as feta but I am slightly obsessed with nduja at the moment. Feel free to add what you like.

This is a really simple and tasty recipe that is fairly quick to put together. Making your own dough to encase a warm, spicy, gooey filling is definitely worth the little extra effort.

This recipe makes 6 breads but can easily be divided for fewer.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g plain flour
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 95g Natural Greek-style yoghurt
  • 250ml water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 180 Nduja
  • 240g Grated vintage cheddar
  • 300g Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

METHOD:

  1. Place the flour, oil, yoghurt, water, oregano and salt in a large mixing bowl and knead to combine for 3–4 minutes or until smooth. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2–3 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  2. Place in a large lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat a lightly greased char-grill pan or barbecue to high heat. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Place each portion on a lightly floured surface and roll into 20cm x 28cm ovals.
  4. With the shorter ends facing towards you, spread the bottom half of the ovals with the nduja and sprinkle with the cheddar and mozzarella, leaving a 2cm border. Fold the top half of the dough over and press the edges to seal.
  5. Brush the gozleme with the oil and cook, in batches, for 2–3 minutes or until charred. Turn over and cook for a further 1–2 minutes or until charred and cooked through. Sprinkle with pepper and serve with lemon wedges.
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Speculoos Cheesecake

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Screenshot_2016-05-26-09-28-14-1[1] 26/05/2016

My first guest blog! And it comes courtesy of this wonderful lady…

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It is a bit of a joint effort as we both had a hand in it although I must admit, my role heavily leaned towards taste testing. I don’t always go for cheesecake but I have to say, this is a fantastic and easy recipe that tastes incredible. What are you waiting for? Make it now!

Ingredients:

(Buttery) Biscuit Base:
– 300g Lotus/Biscoff Biscuits
– 150g Butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
– 2x280g Philadelphia Cream Cheese – Full Fat
– 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
– 100g icing sugar
– 300ml Double Cream
– 250g Speculoos/Biscoff Cookie Butter

Method:

1) Blitz both of the biscuits for the base in a food processor until they’re a fine crumb. Mix with the melted butter and press down firmly into an 8″ springform deep cake tin. Alternatively, if you’re like Lissi and you don’t own said springform tin, bung it into a shallow 8” cake tin and find that you have way too much filling and result to pouring the rest into shot glasses to chill. Dunk lotus biscuits into the remaining mix as a snack! Dare I say, I prefer the latter option. Shots of speculoos cheesecake on tap? Err, yes please! Anyway, for the amazing topping/shots/snacks, read on.

2) Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar and cookie butter until smooth – then mix in the double cream and whisk until it’s thick and holds itself completely. You may find this easier with an electric whisk.

3) Spread the mixture evenly over the biscuit base and chill in the fridge for at least 5-6 hours, but preferably overnight.

4) Remove from the tin and decorate how you like, Lissi sprinkled hers with crushed lotus biscuits, and grated white chocolate. Good shout.

5) Store in the fridge – will last 4 days in the fridge, covered… if your will power lasts that long.

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Lighter Lamb Kofta Curry

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Screenshot_2016-05-25-20-52-16-1[1] 25/05/2016

Lamb is one of my absolute favourite meats. It is so full of flavour! It can be slow cooked for hours on end or flash fried in seconds. It is a very versatile meat and very underused in my opinion. It can be bought in many forms that lend themselves to particular types of cooking like many other meats however, lamb does have a tendency to be fatty (which is partly where the amazing flavour comes from). An alternative version of a classic recipe with the calories, salt and fat slashed. Still rich in flavour, this creamy lamb curry is big on fibre, vitamin C, iron and folate  – what’s not to love?

How I made it healthier: To cut down on the fat and saturated fat, I swapped half the mince for lentils – which also increased the 5-a-day. I reduced the amount of salt but boosted the flavour with a variety of spices and other flavourings. I used rapeseed oil for frying (only a small amount) and only half a can of coconut milk with water for added liquid to reduce the fat content.

I have a little confession though; in this particular recipe, I didn’t have any fresh coriander or any herbs in the house for that matter so I used a teaspoon of mint sauce from a jar in the kofta mix and it actually tasted amazing!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 270g packet puy lentils
  • 250g lamb mince (20% Fat)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp medium or hot chilli powder
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2½ cm/1in piece ginger, grated
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander

For the sauce:

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3-4cm/1 ¼-1 ½ in piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp medium to hot chilli powder
  • 8 dried curry leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, halved
  • 1 plump green chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 200g/7oz), roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 200ml reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra to serve
  • garam masala, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment. Tip two-thirds of the lentils into a medium bowl and mash them (the mashed lentils will help bind, the whole ones will add texture). Mix in the whole lentils, lamb, the spices, onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, a good grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt, taking care not to overwork the mixture.
  2. Using slightly damp hands, shape into 18-20 meatballs. Lay the meatballs on the prepared tray, cover with cling film and chill while you prepare the sauce. Can be chilled overnight to develop extra flavour, if you like.      Screenshot_2016-05-25-20-06-00-1[1]
  3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a non-stick frying or sauté pan, and fry the onion and cumin seeds over a medium heat for 6-8 mins until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat slightly to start to brown the onion and stir in the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and curry leaves, stir-frying for a few mins. As the onion browns, stir in the cinnamon stick, green chilli, tomatoes and purée, briefly stirring to soften the tomatoes. Pour in 100ml of the coconut milk, scraping the bottom of the pan to gather up any brown sticky bits, and let it bubble briefly and thicken. Pour in 250ml water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for 15-20 mins to thicken very slightly – but keep checking so it doesn’t reduce too much (add a splash of water if needed). Season with pepper.
  4. While the sauce simmers, uncover the meatballs and cook in the oven for 20 mins until cooked through and starting to brown on top – there is no need to turn them. Remove and pat down with kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat.
  5. Stir the remaining coconut milk into the sauce over a low heat then add the chopped coriander. Sit the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 5 mins on a very gentle simmer to warm through and blend the flavours, then remove the cinnamon stick.
  6. Tip the meatballs into a serving dish or divide between bowls, sprinkle over a little garam masala and the coriander, and serve with rice and/or flatbreads/naans/paratha.

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Cachapas – Venezuelan Corn Pancakes

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Screenshot_2016-05-20-22-06-12-1[1] 22/05/2016

Cachapas are thick, tasty pancakes made from maize (sweetcorn) and served with a slab of white cheese at street stalls all over Venezuela.

Cachapas are an integral part of Venezuela’s culinary history and their origin dates back to pre-Colombian times, when the indigenous population would grind corn with stone pestles and then cook it cachapa-style on clay budares, flat griddle plates. This recipe uses tinned sweetcorn and the sweet juices from the can which is by no means traditional but the sweetness against the salty cheese filling is incredible.

Anybody living outside Venezuela should try this easy to follow recipe which adds an egg and plain flour to the maize and cleverly replaces queso de mano (a soft white Venezuelan cheese) with alternatives such as mozzarella, halloumi or cheddar.

This sweet and savoury treat is best served with cheese or if you’re really going all out, carne mechada and frijoles too. Feel free to put whatever you like in them. I’m pretty sure they would still taste amazing if you filled them with road kill!

Screenshot_2016-05-20-22-02-23-1[1] A portion of carne mechada (see post 21/05/2016) with added taco bean mix. I used this as a substantial filling with halloumi and kale. This combination is by no means traditional but is damn tasty and what I had in the fridge.

Makes 2 big cachapas

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sweetcorn (I used green giant)
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, to taste
  • A small knob of butter and 1 tsp oil for frying
  • Fillings: chorizo, cheddar, mozzarella, halloumi, kale, black beans, avocado, pulled pork, chicken, carne mechada, ham, spinach, peppers etc

Method:

  1. Add the sweetcorn and the liquid from the can, flour, egg and salt into a blender and blend into a fairly smooth, thick puree.
  2. Let the batter stand for about 30 minutes. This allows the flour to thicken the mix.
  3. Add the butter and oil to a frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Ladle half of the mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
  5. Turn with a spatula when the surface bubbles and the bottom is golden brown. Continue cooking until the other side is golden. Keep warm in a warm oven if making multiple cachapas. When ready, serve hot spread with a little butter and a thick slice of mozzarella for a traditional cachapa.

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For Emily’s extreme cachapas:

  1. Fry some slices of halloumi in a dry frying pan until golden on both sides. Set aside and put some kale in the hot pan with a splash of water. The water will sizzle and evaporate and in the process will wilt the kale slightly. Set aside.
  2. Take 1 portion of carne mechada (recipe from 21/05/2016). Mix with taco beans in chilli sauce (optional but I had some that needed using in the fridge) and heat gently in a frying pan.

When hot, Fill one half of each of the cachapas with a generous spoonful of carne mechada and top with the haloumi slices and kale. Fold the cachapas in half and do a happy dance!

 

Carne Mechada – Venezuelan Shredded Beef

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Screenshot_2016-05-21-13-29-16-1[1] 21/05/2016

Shredded beef is a key dish in Latin American cooking, from Cuba’s rather unappetizingly named but utterly delicious “ropa vieja” (“old clothes”) to Venezuela’s national dish Pabellon Criollo, where the beef is typically accompanied by white rice, black beans and slices of fried plantain. It is also used as a filling for empanadas, arepas and cachapas.

The name shredded or pulled beef comes from the long strands you get when you pull the boiled meat apart. The secret to this dish is in the beef and the best cut to buy is skirt which will give you the right kind of strands.

Make sure you keep the water used to boil the meat as it will add extra flavour to the final sauce, which is made in typical Venezuelan style, with a sofrito of onions, bell peppers and garlic that the meat and tomatoes are then added to.

If you are serving as a meal with rice and beans the final simmer should leave some liquid in the sauce but if you want to fill empanadas with your carne mechada, boil until it is nearly dry, stirring regularly to avoid sticking or burning.

I usually make a big batch of this and then portion it up into single freezer portions so I always have some to hand. It is then really simple to add whatever you like to it depending on what you are making. Look out for my Venezuelan cachapas recipe. They are corn pancakes that are the perfect tasty vessel for carne mechada and melted salty cheese!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Half a kilo of beef skirt
  • 1 small onion
  • Half a red pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • Olive oil

Method:
Boil the Beef:

1. Place the beef in a large saucepan with enough water to cover it.
2. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
3. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
4. Set aside the water.
5. Shred the beef into strands with two forks until all the beef is shredded.

Make the sofrito:
6. Chop and dice the onion and bell pepper.
7. Crush or grate the garlic.
8. Heat two spoons of olive oil in a large frying pan.
9. Add onions and when they start to brown add the garlic and the bell peppers, a pinch of salt, some black pepper and a pinch of cumin.
10. Add the shredded beef and stir, allow to brown a little.
11. Add some of the water the beef was boiled in, tomato puree and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
12. Stir frequently as you bring to the boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
13. Serve with rice, plantain and beans or stuff into arepas, cachapas or tortillas.

Enjoy your meal or, as they say in Venezuela, Buen Provecho!

Herby Halloumi Flatbread Parcels

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Screenshot_2016-05-20-10-02-15-1[1] 20/05/2016

These flatbreads are stuffed with salty cheese, garlic, coriander and parsley before being griddled on the barbeque for a brilliant smoky flavour.

Suluguni is a stringy, salty cheese from Georgia; it’s not easy to find (try Russian delis), but it has a special stretchy texture and makes a welcome change from ubiquitous halloumi. I have used halloumi in the image shown which has a wonderful savoury saltiness.

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g suluguni or halloumi cheese, roughly chopped
  • 50g fresh coriander – stalks and leaves
  • 50g parsley – stalks and leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1½ lavash flatbreads, about 30cm x 50cm (or use 6 flour tortillas)
  • Lemon juice to serve

Method:

  1. Put the garlic, cheese and herbs in a food processor and whizz to a paste. Season to taste.
  2. Cut the whole lavash into quarters and cut the half lavash in half to give 6 pieces. Divide the filling among the flatbread pieces or tortillas then fold into parcels. Screenshot_2016-05-20-10-04-30-1[1]
  3. Wrap the parcels individually in lightly oiled foil, pop them on the barbecue and cook for about 10 minutes. The filling will melt inside. Alternatively, heat the foil parcels in a dry frying pan for a few minutes each side or brush the unwrapped breads with sunflower oil and cook in a griddle pan over a high heat or under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.

Oven-Fried Chilli Chicken

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Screenshot_2016-05-17-21-27-33-1[1] 17/05/2016

These delicious joints of chicken are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. They are my idea of perfect sharing food, especially if men and TV are involved. The flavours are clean and simple and the cooking process is easy. I like to serve these fresh from the oven but they are also amazing cold the next day. The green chilli is hot but it is the flavour that is really important here, so scrape out the seeds and cut off the membranes, if you wish, to minimise the heat. You can leave the chilli out altogether if you want and you will still have a fantastic subtly spiced and crispy, succulent treat.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 800g chicken joints, skinned and pricked all over
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 4 slices white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Marinade:

  • 10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 25g garlic, peeled
  • 2­4 green chillies, seeds and membranes removed, if wanted
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

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Method:

  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients into a paste and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the chicken and coat well in the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 225°C. Pour the oil into a foil lined roasting tin large enough to accommodate the chicken in one open layer. Place the pan on a high shelf in the oven to heat up for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the salt, black pepper and cumin powder into the breadcrumbs. Take the chicken out of the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the spicy crumbs, ensuring an even coating on all sides. Dip into the egg and add a second coating of crumbs.
  4. Place the chicken in the oiled roasting tin and cook for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 200°C, turn the chicken over and cook for another 15–25 minutes (depending on the size of the joints) or until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and salad.