One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?
Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:
- 200g spinach
- 125g risotto rice
- small onion (finely chopped)
- 20g butter
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 40g parmesan (grated)
- black pepper to taste
- oil (to brush the cake tin)
- 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs
Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.
Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.
Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.
Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).
Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.
More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.
- 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 35g butter
- Black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
- 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
- 125g mozzarella ball
- A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
- 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs
Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.
Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.
Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
I had most of a bunch of John Hurd’s excellent watercress leftover so I made this pesto. Based on a recipe from watercress.co.uk – it serves four people with pasta, and according to the recipe, freezes well. So half of it is now in the freezer, and I shall discover if really does freeze well when I use it! I used my Cuisinart Mini-processor to make this (or you could just chop the watercress really finely, using a sharp knife and the grind the almonds and garlic with a pestle and mortar, and then mix all the ingredients together):
- 1 bunch watercress (wash thoroughly)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 20 almonds (blanched)
- 50ml olive oil
- 50g finely grated parmesan
- Black pepper and a fairly generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Puree the watercress, garlic and almonds (blanched by steeping in boiling water for about a minute and the peeling away the skins – they have a better flavour than pre-blanched, flaked or ground almonds) in a processor. Add the oil and the parmesan and process until well blended. Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Served here with pasta.
This is based on a recipe in the February 2015 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. For 2 people:
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms
- 130ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot (or equivalent amount of onion – finely chopped)
- 130g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- Leaves picked from 4 thyme sprigs
- 1.5 tbsp port
- 1 tbsp ricotta
- 4 large leaves of filo pastry
- Extra olive oil for brushing the pastry
- 15g grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp brandy
- Black pepper to taste
Place the dried porcini in a small bowl, and pour on the boiling water. Cover, and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Then drain and squeeze the porcini, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini.
Gently heat the oil in a pan, and cook the shallot for 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and the porcini, and cook (covered) over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat, add the port, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool and stir in the ricotta.
Cut the filo pastry sheets in half widthways, and store under a damp cloth.
Layer the sheets of pastry into two lots of four, brushing each sheet with olive oil. Divide the mushroom mixture in half, and arrange each portion on a pile of pastry. Wrap each portion in the pastry, tucking in the edges, and place on a baking tray, so that the edges are underneath. Brush with oil and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cook in the oven at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile boil the liquid from the porcini until it has reduced by 2/3rds. Stir in the cream and brandy, and heat to just below boiling point, and season with black pepper.
Serve with the porcini sauce.
This makes a generous amount for 2, or smaller portions for 3 people when served with pasta:
- 20 walnut halves
- 1 clove of garlic (peeled)
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 100g shredded kale (tough stalks removed)
- 30g parmesan (grated)
- Black pepper to taste
Grind the walnuts in a food processor. Add the garlic, olive oil, kale and parmesan. Process until fully combined to a paste. Season with black pepper.
Add to hot cooked pasta, and stir over a gentle heat, until hot. Serve.
This is based on a recipe in ‘Muffins scones and breads’ in the Austrailan Women’s Weekly cookbook series. There is enough for 6 as an accompaniment to soup or salad. It’s fairly quick to make as it requires only one rising.
- 1&1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 220ml warm (blood heat) water
- 150g strong plain flour
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 35g Italian hard cheese (this is the ‘cheap version‘ of parmesan), finely grated
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small red onion (finely sliced)
- Sea salt
Mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml of the warm water. Cover, and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it starts to ferment.
Meanwhile sift the flours together into a large mixing bowl. When the yeast is ready, warm the flour briefly in the microwave (say, 20 seconds on high).
Mix the cheese and herbs into the flour, add the yeast mixture and 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and a further 100g of the water. Mix to a soft, but manageable, dough. If too dry add further water (if too wet, knead in some more flour). Knead for about 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough and place it so that it covers a baking tray (I used one 30cm square). Cover and leave in a warm place to rise (until it has doubled in depth).
Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 8). Spread the onion slices over the top, and sprinkle with sea salt and the remaining olive oil.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Pleace on a wire rack to cool.
This recipe has been adapted from one which appeared in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 May 2014. Enough for 2 (maybe 3 with a salad):
- 200g plain flour
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- 100g water
- 70g walnuts (chopped) – hazel nuts could also be used
- A small bunch of parsley (chopped)
- 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50g parmesan (grated)
Thoroughly mix (preferably with an electric whisk) the flour and eggs in a large bowl. Then add half the water and carry on mixing. The batter should drip, but not be too thin (ie it should drip, but very slowly). Slowly add more of the water until the batter is the right consistency.
Mix the nuts, parsley, garlic, oil and parmesan in a large bowl and set aside.
Using a very large pot/saucepan, heat about 5 litres of water to boiling point. The batter needs to be dripped into the boiling water in fine strands. I used a ‘potato ricer’. If you use one of these you need to make sure that the surface with the holes (through which you push the batter) is perfectly horizontal, otherwise the individual strands will stick together. You could also use a colander.
Cook the batter in three batches. The spaetzle, resembling short, irregular noodles, quickly rise to the top. At this point remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add to the nut mix.