food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘cheese’ Category

mushroom, walnut and lentil loaf

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Not in the mood for meat? Here’s a high protein, gluten free loaf that everyone will enjoy.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with baking paper. Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan and add a mirepoix of finely diced onion, celery and carrot in roughly equal portions. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Add 240g (8½ oz) of finely chopped mushrooms. I used Swiss brown mushrooms and added a sprinkling of powdered porcini mushroom for added flavour. Cook until the mushrooms are soft then add 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Continue to cook for a few minutes more before adding ½ a cup of red lentils and 1¼ cups of vegetable stock. Cook over low heat until the lentils are soft and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to col a little. Finally add 150g (5 oz) of crushed walnuts, 100g (3½ oz) of finely ground (instant) oats, 100g (3½ oz) of grated sharp cheddar cheese, 3 lightly beaten eggs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and press it down. Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes until quite firm. Serve with tomato sauce and a fresh green salad.

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zucchini, peppers and chèvre

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Here’s an attractive and impressive way to bring a lovely combination of flavours together.

zucchini-peppers-and-chevre

Place 1 or 2 red peppers either directly over a gas flame or on a barbecue and cook until quite blackened and soft. Remove to an airtight container or plastic bag to cool. Meanwhile slice your zucchinis lengthways into very thin slices (preferably with a mandolin) and wash and chop some fresh mint. When the peppers have cooled, peel the skin off and slice into strips similar in size to the zucchini slices. Oil a round oven or pie dish and arrange the slices of zucchini and peppers starting from the outside and place a generous piece of chèvre into the centre. Drizzle everything with olive oil, sprinkle with the chopped mint and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bake in a hot oven until the zucchini is cooked and browning on the edges.

Written by michelle picker

March 30, 2017 at 5:33 am

burrata and honey panna cotta with candied walnuts

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A lovely delicate cheese and honey flavour pair well with crunchy candied walnuts

burrata-and-honey-panna-cotta

To make the panna cotta pour ¼ of a cup of milk into a small bowl and sprinkle over 7g (¼ oz) of powdered gelatine. Allow it to bloom for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat ½ a cup of cream with ½ a cup of honey until the honey is dissolved. Dissolve the gelatine into the cream and honey mixture, mixing until you have no lumps. Allow the mixture to cool. In a blender or food processor combine 200g (7 oz) of burrata cheese (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with an extra ¾ of a cup of milk and ½ a cup of cream and process until smooth. If you prefer you can substitute crème fraîche, yoghurt or buttermilk for the burrata. Whisk the cooled gelatine mixture into the cheese mixture then strain through a fine sieve into a jug. Pour into 6 ramekins, moulds or glasses (depending on how you wish to serve them) and allow them to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. If you are un-moulding, briefly dip the bottom into hot tap water. To make candied walnuts, heat a fry-pan and add 1 cup of walnut halves, ¼ of a cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all the nuts are coated. Immediately transfer them onto baking paper, separating the nuts. Allow them to cool until crunchy.

Written by michelle picker

March 18, 2017 at 5:55 am

lentils with mushrooms, bacon and sage

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This hearty lentil dish makes a satisfying meal.

lentils-with-mushrooms-bacon-and-sage

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and fry some chopped bacon, onion and celery, some chunky pieces of carrot and some finely diced garlic. When the onion is soft add a little red wine vinegar to deglaze. Add the lentils (I used du Puy lentils) and hot water or stock to cover. Cook until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, adding more liquid if necessary. Meanwhile, in a separate frypan, cook a few pieces of bacon until quite crisp. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool. In the remaining bacon fat fry a generous handful of fresh sage leaves until crisp and set aside. When the lentils are nearly soft add some roughly chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more, seasoning to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crumble the bacon and sage over the top. I served these lentils with Cheesy Leeks à la Oliver and silverbeet (chard) cooked with lemon and walnuts.

lentils-with-silverbeet-and-leks

Written by michelle picker

November 30, 2016 at 5:41 am

broad bean and feta salad

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These lovely young broad beans came fresh from our garden.

broad-bean-and-feta-salad

Steam 450g (1 lb) of fresh broad beans until just tender.  Drain and shock them under cold running water. In a bowl combine the beans with a generous amount of fresh mint, 60 – 80g (2 – 3 oz) of feta cheese and the finely grated or chopped rind of half a lemon. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add 4 times as much olive oil and plenty of freshly ground black pepper then whisk to emulsify. Add this dressing to the beans and toss to combine.

Written by michelle picker

October 25, 2016 at 6:08 am

spanakopita

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A traditional Greek pastry, Spanakopita is made with filo, has a filling of spinach and feta cheese and is normally triangular in shape. Here’s a round version.

spanakopita

First you will need plenty of filo pastry. The bottom and sides should have at least 7 or 8 layers. Grease the bottom of your pie dish and as you lay the pastry sheets in, brush every second one with oil or, if you prefer, a mixture of oil and melted butter. For the filling, wash and dry a large bunch of English spinach. Chop into smaller pieces and cook with some garlic in a little olive oil until just wilted. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine 700g (25 oz) of fresh ricotta cheese with 200g (7 oz) of feta cheese, 2 or 3 eggs, some rigani (oregano) or other herbs of your choice and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Process, then mix with the cooked spinach, a finely chopped bunch of spring onions and some toasted pine nuts. Taste the filling for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Fill the prepared pastry then top with 7 or 8 crumpled sheets of filo pastry. The crumpling will allow more air around the pastry and make it crisper. Brush the top with oil (or oil and butter) and bake in a moderate oven until set and golden brown.

spanakopita-cut

Written by michelle picker

October 7, 2016 at 5:53 am

fine dining and tomatoes

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christian-etienneProvence has the most sunshine in France which is probably why the tomatoes here are so abundant and fragrant. When I dined at Christian Etienne, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Avignon, I was excited to see a 7-course tomato menu.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to photograph the first course, a ceviche of smoked mackerel with a Black Russian tomato sauce and puffed corn. Delicious!

Next, a trio of tartare of tomatoes with basil. The yellow one made with pineapple tomatoes, the red with Beefheart tomatoes and the green with Green Zebra tomatoes. Amazing flavour.

trio-of-tomato-tartare

The third course was a wonderfully prepared fillet of red mullet over an olive and coconut brandade, with cream of salted garlic, tomato foam and cherry tomatoes. I suspect the garnish might have been sprouted black onion seeds.

rouget-barbet

Next, what was called a tomalafel. This was a wonderfully crisp tomato felafel served with a sauce of olive oil, lemon and fresh mint and yes, tomatoes!

tomalafel

The meat course was a perfectly cooked cutlet of local lamb with an amazing jus. It was served on a tomato concasse and with an eggplant caviar and parmesan crumble.

Provencal-lamb

The sixth course which (in my haste) I once again failed to photograph, was a lovely fresh chèvre (goats cheese) from the Drôme region, served with chives and Andes Horn tomato crackers.

And finally, dessert. A Pomme d’Amour (Love Apple) cooked in sugar syrup and served on a pistachio mousse with crispy puffed rice and a tomato coulis……

Pomme-d'Amouraccompanied by a Marmande tomato sorbet and caramelised pistachios.

tomato-sorbet-with-caramelised-pistachios