Tag Archives: balsamic vinegar

Red Onion & Rosemary Bread

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I couldn’t decide what kind of bread to make so just made up a basic bread dough while I mulled it over in my mind palace and came up with this bread bad boy. Boom.

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
7g salt
250ml lukewarm water
1 large red onion
1 garlic clove
small handful of rosemary sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soft brown sugar

Method

Begin by making the simple bread dough. In a large bowl, weigh out the flour, salt and yeast – remembering to keep the salt and yeast on opposite sides. Mix in half the water with your hands, add the rest in smaller amounts until you get a soft, workable consistency.

Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until elastic and smooth. Place in a large oiled bowl then place the bowl inside a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-3 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, slice the red onion into your preferred shape (I went for small, thin slices) and gently fry in 1 tbsp olive oil, with a crushed garlic clove and finely chopped rosemary for about 5 minutes, until softened. Throw in the balsamic vinegar and sugar and fry for a further minute.

When the bread has proved, tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and gently knead in the onion mixture. You might need a little more bread flour to offset the extra moisture. When the onion is evenly distributed, roughly shape into a rectangle and place in a deep, rectangular tray. Place the tray in a plastic bag and leave to prove once again in a warm place for around an hour.

Brush with about 1 tbsp olive oil before baking at 180-200°C/360-390°F/gas mark 4-6 for around 20-25 minutes until brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.

Enjoy with cheese, chutney or dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar. Scoffscoffscoff.

Rosemary-Skewered Jacket Potato

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Or alternatively The Most Inventive Thing I’ve Ever Done In The Kitchen. And I didn’t use ginger. I didn’t even use chilli…!

Ingredients

1 baking potato
6-8 stalks of fresh rosemary

Tomato Ragu

1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic glove, finely chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp tomato purée
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7. With a sharp knife, carefully cut slits all the way through the potato in a semi-regular pattern.

Optional: Spread a little rock salt on a plate, wet the skin of the potato and roll in the salt. Apparently this helps draw moisture out of the skin so it gets super-crispy.

Put the baked potato in the microwave on the highest setting for approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove when the potato gives under a little pressure from your hand – but be careful, it will be hot!

Leave the potato to cool on the side. Fetch your rosemary sticks and use a knife to carefully whittle down the ends to sharper points – this makes for easier insertion…*snigger*. Once your potato is cool enough, poke the rosemary stalks through the pre-cut slits until it comes out the other side. If you have any bit sticking way out of the potato, cut them off and save them or insert them in another slit, otherwise they’ll just crisp up in the oven and be horrid. Once done your potato should look something like this:

unbaked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put your potato into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until a nice crispy skin has formed. Be careful, leaving it too long will lead to a dried out interior – I’m sure you all know your ovens best so just cook as you would a normal jacket potato. Meanwhile make up your ragu.

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Sweat for 6 minutes before adding a glug of balsamic vinegar. After a further couple of minutes add your tomatoes, tomato purée, a really good twist of pepper and a good pinch of salt. At this stage I also threw in the “leaves” of rosemary that came from cutting my rosemary stalks. Lower the heat, cover and stir occasionally. If anything starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a drop of water, stir and recover. Cook for approximately 15 minutes then remove the lid and reduce sauce to a really thick, sticky, gooey, gloopy, pan of wonderment.

Remove the potato from the oven – remember hot! Tadaa:

baked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut open gently – you could remove the rosemary stalks if you want to but I chose to leave mine in and eat around them. Slather your potato with lashing of butter and top with the ragu. Simple yet damn delicious.

J

tasty ragu

Sausage & Tomato Pasta

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I’ve been having reservations about posting this since making it the other day. You see, our “About Us” clearly states that we are “Two students, bored with student food” and this, for all intensive purposes is student food. Maybe it should read “Two students, bored with average student food” as I feel that statement is more accurate.

I guess it all depends on your definition of student food, but to me it screams: quick, bland, microwaved (*shudder*). This recipe certainly is one of those things, in fact the only one that’s never a bad thing: it’s quick, approx 30 mins from cupboard to table. And I guess this is what persuaded me to finally post it – most people, student or not, are after quick eats quite often and this is a particularly tasty one. So let’s drop the pretensions and get on with cooking some straightforward, yumm-o food.

Yumm-o.

It’s a word. Deal with it.

Serves 4 comfortably

Ingredients

4 good sausages, cut into bite-size chunks
1-2 onions, sliced into quarter rings
1 red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed/finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
250g pasta (use more if you want to bulk it up)
few handfuls frozen green beans
good glug white wine vinegar
good glug balsamic vinegar
good glug golden syrup
couple of good squeezes of tomato purée
1 bay leaf
handful fresh rosemary, oregano & thyme, all chopped

optional extras: chilli flakes/powder, cumin, basil, peas, sweetcorn…etc!

Method

Heat oil in a large saucepan/deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the golden syrup and brown your sausages. After 5 or so minutes add the onion, then after a further 5 minutes lower the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook for a further couple of minutes.

Pour in the white wine vinegar (say 50ml) and reduce for a few minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes, purée, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano, thyme and a glug of balsamic (say 25ml). Season well. Put the kettle on (3/4 full should be ample) and when boiled add the water to another saucepan before throwing in your pasta. Add plenty of salt and a glug of oil and cook as per instructions on packet. Check hardness every so often – there’s nothing worse than mushy pasta!

Reduce the sauce for 15 minutes, tasting regularly to see if anything needs adjusting. Add the pepper and green beans and continue to cook until both tender (approx. 5 minutes). Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, give a really good stir to coat as much of the pasta as possible. I used fusili (not out of choice, just out of the fact that’s what was in the cupboard – I’m no pasta anorak!) and it works quite well as the thick sauce gets in all the spiral grooves.

Serve, topped with a little cheese, another splash of balsamic and maybe some fresh green herbs of your choosing. Just watch out for that bay leaf!

Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tarts

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OK, I know, I cheated with the pastry. Sorry. But these are perfect for novice bakers who want to make something simple and home-made to impress. These will be a great offering to any festive buffet and they don’t take whole morning to prepare, which leaves plenty of time to concentrate on the piece-de-resistance (or enjoying a festive tipple).

Makes 25-30

Ingredients

1 x 500g pack puff pastry (or equivalent in rough-puff if you want to make your own)
4 small red onions, chopped
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp basil
60g goat’s cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 180*C.

Grease a cupcake tin with some butter and plain flour. Roll out your pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and cut to roughly 7cm circles. Place in the tin and prick the bottoms with a fork. Bake for around ten minutes but do not allow them to brown. Remove from the oven when cooked.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and fry in the oil it on a low heat for 2 minutes. When slightly softened, throw in the balsamic vinegar, sugar and herbs. Allow the sauce to reduce down and the onions should cook a little. Add in about 20mls of water and reduce again. The aim is to soften the onions but not brown them.

When cooked, add a teaspoon of onions to each pastry case. Crumble over a bit of goat’s cheese, brush the pastry with a little milk. Bake in the oven for around 8 minutes until the cheese is soft and a little golden brown.

Spicy Tomato Soup

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Let me start off by saying I’m not really a fan of tomato soup per sé. That may seem a little contradictory given the nature of this recipe, but this soup is far from the thick gloop you get from Heinz and co. It’s light, it’s summery, it sizzles, it puts to shame the tasteless carbon-copy sludge you’ll find in a can. Sure chopping everything up takes a while but this is really easy (cook, add, stir, cook, add, stir, eat) makes a lot and you can freeze whatever you don’t use straight away so in my mind the extra effort is worth it.

P.S. If anyone can think of a snappier/sexier title do let me know!

P.P.S. This is absolutely delicious stone-cold straight from the fridge. Just what you need on the upteenth grey, miserable Welsh day in a row…

Ingredients

1 kilo tomatoes, depipped & roughly chopped
50g butter
3 onions, diced
3 cooked beetroot, roughly chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 small red chillis, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
4 tsp cumin, ground or crushed seeds
2 tsp coriander
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
glug balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Method

Melt 50g butter in a deep pan. Add and sweat the onions, celery and garlic for 5 minutes over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally (that seems to be my favourite phrase) before slugging in a glug of balsamic and continuing to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, chillis, beetroot, coriander and cumin, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Get the mixture to a temperature where it bubbles nicely without spitting molten liquid all over the place and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally (see!).

When the soup is reduced a bit, remove the bay leaves and shuszh up with a hand-shuszher (hand-blender to you). I quite like my soup to have a bit of texture so I didn’t go overboard trying to smooth it out completely. I didn’t sieve it either, hence why I removed the tomato pips at the start. Just seemed like extra stuff to clean up later to me…

Basically reduce to a thickness of your choosing. I left mine at the thinner end of the spectrum but you could continue to boil away for as long as you so wish. Season with salt and pepper and serve ideally with some fresh-baked bread. Not that I did, but hey, I would have if I wasn’t so lazy busy making soup.

J

Savoury Swirls, Two Ways

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So it was my last day at work on Wednesday and as is customary whenever something moderately eventful takes place (birthday, being late, being early, being alive…) it is expected you bring in something edible. Almost always the food tends towards the sweet and absolutely always, unless I’ve had anything to do with it, is shop-bought. But not today, ohhh no!

The recipe for the dough for these delightful savoury snacks is stolen completely from Brendan of The Great British Bake-Off Fame. The fillings, however are entirely my own creation.

I doubled Brendan’s quantity and made a lot (we’re talking tipping the scales at over 100 here) roughly 2 inch diameter by 1 inch high swirls. So I’m going to halve his recipe which should give you approximately 20-24 swirls.

Ingredients

Dough

400g plain flour
10g dried yeast, reactivated
6g salt
50ml olive oil
250ml warm water

Balsamic Red Onion, Cheese & Ham

2 red onions, diced
90g gruyére
30g gouda
30g cheddar
2 slices ham, diced
splash balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt/pepper/’erbs/spices to taste

Pesto, Feta & Sundried Tomato

100g feta, crumbled
50g pesto
8 sundried tomato, chopped
handful fresh basil, ripped
2 tomatoes, grilled & skinned
1 red pepper, grilled & skinned

Method

Dough

In a bowl mix the flour and salt and the oil a few glugs at a time, stirring between each glug to incorporate it. Do the same with the reactivated yeast, stirring in a little at a time and then finally with the water.

**Note: if you are reactivating yeast in water, remember to take away that quantity of water from the 250ml you need to add. It’s 250ml total, not 250ml + reactivated yeast water!**

Drizzle a little oil in the bowl, place the dough in, rolling it around in the oil so as it grows it doesn’t stick to the sides. Put in a warm place – airing cupboards are great – and leave to double in size (approx. 40-60 minutes). Meanwhile make your filling/s.

Balsamic Red Onion, Cheese & Ham

Heat a dash of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the diced onions and sweat for a couple of minutes, before adding a good glug balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sugar/golden syrup, salt, pepper and whichever herbs and spices you fancy (I went for W’s recommendation of rosemary and basil). Continue to sweat for 6-7 more minutes, adding a little water if your pan goes dry. Remember the onions will continue to cook in the oven so leaving them with a little bite left in them is probably a wise move!

Grate all your cheese into a bowl, add the chopped ham, a good few twists of pepper and hey presto your filling is ready

Pesto, Feta & Sundried Tomato

Optional: Removing Pepper & Tomato skins

Cut the pepper and tomatoes into quarters, removing all the pips/liquidy innards. Place under a hot grill, skin side up for a few minutes, until the skin is blackened over the majority of the surface – you may need to manoeuvre them around to achieve this. Once the skin is blackened add them to a sandwich bag, seal and leave to steam for a further few minutes. The skin should start to peel away and you can finish the job with your fingers. It can be a bit tricky and in all honesty I’m not sure whether it’s worth it but I’ve put it up here for you to make your own decisions! Finally chop/rip them up into small chunks.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and add the chopped sundried tomatoes and basil leaves.

Roly-Poly Time

When the dough has doubled in size, remove and place on a floured surface. Flour your rolling pin (it will stick due to the oily nature of the dough) and roll out into a rectangle approx 4mm thick, where the long side is approximately twice that of the short side. Then either:

1. Sprinkle the entire thing with the balsamic red onions, then cheese and ham – aim for a roughly even coverage.

Or

2. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the surface before adding the crumbled feta, sundried tomatoes, basil, and grilled peppers/tomato chunks

Roll up (roll up!) from one long side to the other, slice into rounds 1 inch thick and place on baking paper on an oven tray. Here you can “re-prove” your dough for half an hour back in the warm, or you can just whack them straight in the oven, preheated to 190oC/375oF/gas mark 5 for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. After half an hour take one out, cut it in half and see whether it’s still doughy inside – if so stick back in for a few minutes then check again.

Serve piping hot – they taste pretty good cold but nowhere near as good as straight from the oven. Share amongst friends and work colleagues…or, y’know, scoff the lot y’self.

J(&W a bit)

Balsamic Red Onion, Cheese & Ham

Feta, Pesto, Sundried Tomato & Red Pepper

Onion Tart

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Adapted from my new recipe book which I bought after visiting the RealFood Market in London. This would would work perfectly well with any number of combinations of cheese – go with your gut (or what’s in you fridge*).

I had 20 minutes spare in the morning so I made the pastry and left it in the fridge all day before making the filling. It’s a nice way of dividing up the cooking into more manageable chunks.

*or, like me, get one of your family members to pick up necessary ingredients on their way home from work!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Pastry

200g plain flour
100g butter
2-3 tbsp water
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

Filling

1 large white onion, sliced
1 large leek, sliced
handful of green beans, chopped
3 eggs
250ml cream
100g gruyére, grated
50g mature cheddar, grated
1-2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
several good spoons of savoury chutney
optional: 2 slices ham, sliced (or not if you want this to be vegetarian, though you’ll also be after some vegetarian cheese if that’s the case!)

Method

To make the pastry, sieve the flour (and a little salt) into a mixing bowl and add the butter in chunks. Use your fingers to make “breadcrumbs” before including the garlic and rosemary and several twists of black pepper.  Add the water a little at a time. (I always find it’s better to go slightly wetter with the pastry as too dry will lead to hard to work pastry that cracks easily). Use your hands to combine and knead for about a minute before wrapping in clingfilm and sticking in the fridge for at least half an hour.

When ready to make your tart heat your oven to 180oC/350oF/gas mark 4, roll out your pastry on a floured surface and stick into a deep flan dish (or if you don’t have one, two shallower dishes!). Prick the bottom several times with a fork to allow steam to escape, cover with baking paper and beads if you have them (rice works equally well) and bake for approximately 20 minutes until starting to golden.

Meanwhile, heat a good spoonful of butter in a saucepan and chuck in your leeks. Sweat over a medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the onion and green beans and sweating for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and  reduce the heat to a simmer. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl, stir in the cream, a pinch of salt, plenty of pepper the mustard and 2/3 the grated cheese.

When the pastry case is golden, remove from the oven and spread the base with your chutney of choice. Layer over the onion/leek/bean melange (oohlala) then pour over the cream mixture. Apparently if there’s not enough liquid you should add cream rather than egg as more egg will make it too eggy. Makes sense, really. Scatter the top with the remaining cheese. Set the oven to 200oC/400oF/gas mark 6 and whack back in for 25 minutes. Scatter the top with ham and stick back in for 10-15 minutes, until golden on top.

Remove, serve with salad on a hot summer’s day (or a mediocre autumnal evening). Either way it’ll taste de-lish.

J