Lettuce cups with red pepper lentil balls

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Vibrant colours, bright flavour hits and warm spicy notes – all combined in these wonderful Turkish red pepper & lentil balls served on emerald green baby romaine lettuce. Turkish mercimekli köfte make a fabulous appetizer for a crowd, great finger food for a party, brilliant brunch fare or vegetarian meal and look stunning while being super easy to prepare and assemble. In the interest of stability when served as finger food I’d go back to its original shape of a small köfte, an oblong loaf shape, rather then the admittedly prettier balls which only pretend to remain stationary but suddenly start to roll on the lettuce like a fast spinning roulette ball Continue reading

cauliflower fritters, spicy carrot salad & lime sauce

These are fantastic fritters and the original recipe is by Sami Tamimi’s mother who according to the introduction made them once a week for the children. Is there a better recommendation? I stumbled upon this recipe to cope with a ton of baked cauliflower – my favourite way to eat it since I had roasted cauliflower with cumin a few years ago and recently baked cauliflower with brown butter crumbs – and needed a way to rework the last remnants of cauliflower.

Preferably, fritters for me should have some bite, so I adapted the recipe to use almost double the amount of cauliflower given in the recipe, baked it & chopped it into smaller pieces rather than cook & mash it, fiddled with the spices, too. The fragrant & zingy lime sauce is a great condiment to balance the spice-laden fritters and I have thrown in my quick spicy carrot salad for a boost of extra colour and to offer another texture for a complete supper.

Cauliflower fritters with spicy carrot salad & lime yoghurt
makes 2-3 generous portions, adapted from Ottolenghi. The cookbook.

½ head of cauliflower (ca. 250g)
olive oil
60g plain flour (optional: mix in a little chickpea flour)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ garlic clove, finely minced
1 shallot, minced
2 eggs
sunflower oil for frying

2 large carrots
3 tablespoons yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons harissa
1 teaspoon lime juice
olive oil
salt & pepper

150g yoghurt (the recipe recommends Greek, I had ordinary organic 3.5%)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
zest of ½ lime
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F). Cut the cauliflower into pieces (ranging from the size of a lime to that of a walnut, reserve the rubble), toss in a baking dish with a little olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) until some pieces have golden brown & crispy edges. Throw in the tiny pieces after about 15 minutes. Leave to cool, then chop into smallish pieces, don’t mush.

For the carrot salad: Cut the carrots into thin strips using a mandolin or a grater. Mix with yoghurt, harissa, a few drops of lime juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Leave for the flavours to mingle and prepare the other stuff. Before serving check the seasoning again.

Lime sauce: Mix yoghurt, coriander, lime zest & juice, olive oil and season. The sauce should have quite a zing to it.

Fritters: Whisk the flour with the spices, add garlic, shallot, parsley and stir in the eggs for a homogenous batter, then the cauliflower. Heat the sunflower oil (1.5 cm depth is recommended) in a pan over high heat and carefully drop about 1 heaped tablespoon of cauliflower mixture for each fritter into the oil. Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain of excess oil and serve with the carrot salad & lime sauce.

Auf deutsch:
Blumenkohlpuffer mit scharfem Möhrensalat & Limettensauce
für 2-3 Portionen, adaptiert von Ottolenghi. The cookbook.

½ Blumenkohlkopf (ca. 250g)
Olivenöl
60g Mehl (man kann auch ein wenig Kichererbsenmehl darunter mischen)
1 TL gemahlener Kreuzkümmel
¼ TL Zimt
¼ TL Kurkuma
¼ TL Cayenne
Salz & Pfeffer
2 EL gehackte großblätterige Petersilie
½ Knoblauchzehe, fein gehackt
1 Schalotte, fein gehackt
2 Eier
Sonnenblumenöl zum Ausbacken

2 große Möhren
3 EL Joghurt
1-2 TL Harissa
1 TL Limettensaft
Olivenöl
Salz & Pfeffer

150g Joghurt (empfohlen ist griechischer Joghurt, ich hatte 3,5% Bio Joghurt da)
2 EL gehackter Koriander
geriebene Schale von ½ (Bio) Limette
1-2 EL Limettensaft
1 EL Olivenöl
Salz & Pfeffer

Backofen auf 200°C vorheizen.
Blumenkohl in Stücken schneiden (ungefähr von der Größe einer Limette bis zu einer Walnuss), mit wenig Olivenöl in einer Auflaufform vermischen und für 30 Minuten backen bis die Röschen krosse, goldbraune Ecken haben. Von Zeit zu Zeit den Blumenkohl wenden. Die kleinen Krümel aufbewahren und nach ca. 15 Minuten ebenfalls hinzugeben und mitbacken. Abkühlen lassen.

Für den Möhrensalat die Möhren mit einer Mandoline oder einer Reibe in dünne Streifchen schneiden, mit Joghurt, Harissa, Limettensaft, Öl mischen und mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen. Eine Weile ruhen lassen, vor dem Servieren nochmals abschmecken.

Für die Limettensauce den Joghurt mit Koriander, Limettenschalen und –saft, Olivenöl verrühren und mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen.

Für die Puffer den Blumenkohl in kleinere Stückchen hacken, aber nicht zu klein. Das Mehl mit den Gewürzen vermischen, Zwiebel, Knoblauch, Petersilie hinzugeben und mit den Eiern zu einem dicklichen Ausbackteig verrühren, dann den Blumenkohl hineingeben. Das Sonnenblumenöl in einer Pfanne erhitzen (ca. 1,5 cm tief) und pro Puffer vorsichtig einen gehäuften Esslöffel Masse in das Öl träufeln und bei starker Hitze ca. 2-3 Minuten von jeder Seite zu goldbraunen Puffern backen. Auf Küchenpapier das überschüssige Öl abtropfen lassen und mit Möhrensalat und Limettensauce servieren.

Sonoma chicken salad

Sonoma chicken salad by the james kitchen
Sonoma chicken salad, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

 

And what to do with all the chicken leftovers? If you haven’t got any, you might want to cook an extra chicken (or grill some breasts) just for this chicken salad. I do not know anything about the origin of the name, several other recipes by this moniker use grapes which is quite logic since Sonoma is of course the beautiful wine country in California. Anyway, we used to buy the salad at Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods has a different version though for me the honey is a bit much) when we used to live in the Bay Area and the name stuck.

Sweet cranberries and pecans add a taste of the States, savoury celery brings crunch and the admittedly rich but tart & fruity dressing unites all of these flavours. Great with a few raw vegetables on the side to pick at, it unfolds its potential as prime picnic fare. Especially, when served with soft, dark malted bread and all the California sights at your doorstep to choose for lovely picnic spots (not that I ever took food into the big National Parks, the idea of wild bears ripping the roof of the car like the lid of a tin of sardines freaked me out quite a bit…).

Since we are about 5681.515 miles away right now we had to come up with our own recipe for this salad to transport us back to the balmy weather (Sunnyvale, says it all, I think), the toasted-wood smell of Redwood trees & the crescendo of strong waves crashing onto the beach at Half Moon Bay and our favourite, less crowded spot at Montara. As I said, this is great picnic fare and if you are in the area, here are a few suggestions for hikes & great scenic drives.

If you are further away (something like 5681.515 miles but who is counting), pack your hamper, crank up the underfloor heating and unfold your blanket. That this salad goes very well with a lovely white wine from Sonoma goes without saying.

 

Sonoma chicken salad
serves 6
The measurements are a little on the vague side here since most of the ingredients are to your own preferences and it is best to find your own mix: if you prefer pecans to cranberries, add more of those and fewer of these. My advice is though to go for roughly the same quantities with a little more chicken and celery.

Cold leftover chicken or cold grilled chicken breasts (around 450g or 1 lb)
2 handfuls dried cranberries, unsweetened
pineapple juice
3-4 celery ribs, diced
2-3 handfuls whole pecans
½ cup (ca. 120ml) mayonnaise (add less or more to taste or substitute a part by sour cream or yoghurt, if you want to make it a little less rich)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
salt & pepper

Macerate the cranberries in pineapple juice for about 20 to 30 minutes until they have plumped up a little. Keep the juice for the dressing. Pick over the carcass of your leftover chicken or chop the grilled breasts into bite-sized pieces. Add them to a bowl along with the cranberries, celery and pecans. Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, cider vinegar (see if you need a little less or more depending on the kind of mayonnaise you are using, the sauce should have a tart apple-y taste), some of the reserved pineapple juice, poppy seeds and season with salt & pepper. You want to have quite a runny dressing for the chicken and other ingredients will suck up quite a lot of liquid while the salad rests. Mix with the chicken & co. and let the salad rest for about 1 to 2 hours for the flavours to meld & mingle. Adjust the seasoning and add some more pineapple juice if necessary. There is of course a lot of tasting required while the salad rests, naturally.

 

Auf deutsch: Sonoma Hühnchensalat
für 6 Personen, lecker für ein Picknick im Freien oder auch im Wohnzimmer.
Die Mengen der Zutaten variieren, man kann die Mischung nach eigenem Geschmack gestalten, so z.B. wenn man lieber Pekannüsse als Cranberries mag, nimmt man davon mehr und vom anderen weniger. Ich versuche ungefähr nach Augenmaß gleiche Mengen zu nehmen, aber ein wenig mehr Huhn und Bleichsellerie hinzuzugeben.

Kaltes Hühnchen oder gegrillte Hühnchenbrust (ca. 450g)
2 Handvoll getrocknete Cranberries, ungesüßt wenn möglich
Ananassaft
3-4 Stangen Bleichsellerie, in Würfel geschnitten
2-3 Handvoll ganze Pekannüsse
½ Tasse (120ml) gute Mayonnaise (weniger oder mehr nach Geschmack, man kann auch einen Teil durch saure Sahne oder Yoghurt ersetzen um das Dressing etwas weniger reichhaltig zu machen, ich würde keine light-Produkte verwenden)
1 EL Apfelessig
2 EL Mohnsamen
Salz & Pfeffer

Die getrockneten Cranberries für ca. 20 bis 30 Minuten in Ananassaft einweichen, den Saft aufbewahren. Hühnerfleisch von der Karkasse ablösen falls Sie etwas vom Brathähnchen oder Suppenhuhn übrighaben oder die gegrillte Hünchenbrust in mundgerechte Stückchen schneiden und zusammen mit dem Bleichsellerie, den Cranberries und den Pekannüssen in eine Schüssel geben. Aus der Mayonnaise, dem Essig (mehr oder weniger Essig hinzugeben je nachdem was für eine Mayonnaise verwendet wird, das Dressing sollte schon etwas Apfelgeschmack und Säure haben), etwas von dem Ananassaft, dem Mohn sowie Salz & Pfeffer eine relativ flüssige Salatsauce herstellen, da die Zutaten einige Flüssigkeit aufsaugen werden. Die Sauce mit Huhn & Co. mischen und für ca. 1-2 Stunden ruhen lassen, damit sich die verschiedenen Geschmäcker miteinander verbinden können. Dann abschmecken und wenn erforderlich noch etwas mehr Ananassaft hinzugeben. Natürlich ist es absolut notwendig, daß der Salat während der Ruhezeit regelmäßig probiert wird – dies nur falls Sie jemand fragt.

 

salmon fish cakes

salmon fish cakes by the james kitchen
salmon fish cakes, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Make leftovers for Fish cakes. As I said before, we always use any leftover white fish or salmon for fish cakes and you should plan an extra portion for some to be made for supper or freezing during the next 5 days. They can be easily frozen for an instant and hardly-any-work lunch supper, too and are absolutely delicious. This salmon-dill version with mustard and a little cheddar (you can leave the cheese out without any problems) which we made a few weeks ago is a great one.

Salmon-dill fish cakes
makes 4 servings

200g (7 oz) salmon, steamed or baked (best to make one extra portion of saumon en papillote for this)
about 150g (a little more than 5 oz) potatoes, mashed
chopped fresh dill (to taste)
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon English mustard powder (Coleman’s)
1 pinch paprika
salt & white pepper
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon plain flour
a handful of coarsely grated cheddar
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (half of this for the fish cakes, the other half for dredging)
flour
breadcrumbs
oil

Carefully break the salmon into pieces, do not mash them up totally. Press the potatoes through a ricer (or use mashed potatoes) and add along with the dill, mustards, mustard powder, paprika, salt & pepper, breadcrumbs, flour, cheddar and half of the beaten egg & milk. Mix all together until combined, form little cakes about the size of small apricots and flatten them a little bit. Place on a sheet and let them rest for about 10-30 minutes in the fridge while you clear up and prepare the dredging station. Turn each fish cake in the flour, then the egg and lastly in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes for about 5 minutes over medium heat and about 2 on the other side. Serve with a crispy salad and a yoghurt-mustard dressing and more dill. Pickled gherkins or cucumbers, too.

To freeze: make the cakes up to the point where they are covered in flour and place the naked but floured cakes in a single layer on a sheet, cover with cling film (plastic/ceran wrap) and freeze individually so that they do not cling together, afterwards they can be placed in a freezer bag.

Cook from frozen: Take as many out as you need for dinner, preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F), dust the frozen cakes with a little more flour, dredge in an egg mixed with the milk (obviously you will need a new egg here) and breadcrumbs and fry these in a skillet with a little oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side to a light brown colour. Place on a baking sheet covered in parchment or kitchen roll (kitchen towel) to absorb some of the surplus oil and warm for 20-30 minutes, turning the cakes over once. Leaving them in a little longer if you need to is not a problem.

salmon: saumon en papillote

Happy New Year!
What a splendid time we all had and so many great meals that there’s plenty of posts awaiting and lots of fresh air & walking to do – resolutions and all that.

Sadly I am the only one in our house who loves fish & seafood with a passion, so unfortunately it is not so often on the menu. As the legend goes my husband was born with the doctor tucking into a mighty portion of fish & chips, which in my book should have had some fish-loving impact. Unfortunately it seems to have caused an adverse reaction to the fish but he can’t pass chips without splashing them with malt vinegar. Anyway, these days non-too-fishy fishes have been accepted & even liked and that is something.

This salmon is a favourite and one of the most brilliant ways of cooking any fish: thick slices resting on a bed of vegetables are steamed slowly in white wine & aromatics and thus it will be juicy and lightly fragrant. Plus, these parchment parcels look extremely pretty and can be filled with about anything to accompany the fish like sugar or snow peas. Once the parchment parcels are sealed and stashed in the oven the work is done, save for some rice to be quickly cooked and some spinach to be wilted. Tadaa!

A note about the portion size: a 200g-220g slice of salmon is enough for us two since we have lots of vegetables to go with the dinner and sometimes a starter, most people calculate 150g (about 5 oz) per person.

Make leftovers for Fish cakes: We always use any leftover white fish or salmon for fish cakes and you should plan an extra portion for some to be made during the next week + they can be frozen for an instant and no work supper, too and are absolutely delicious.

Salmon en papillote
serves two + second portion for fish cakes in the week

two 200g-220g (7-7½ oz) pieces of salmon (from the thicker middle, without skin)
1 big carrot, cut into julienne
½ leek, cut into julienne
a few dill fronds
2 thin lemon slices
salt & pepper
a generous dash white wine per parcel

a small knob of butter per parcel

Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Take a large piece of parchment paper that could be folded into a pouch containing the salmon, about the size of a sheet of paper. Put the carrot & leek juliennes onto the paper (in the lower third), season with salt & pepper, then place the salmon on top of the vegetables like a trivet, cover with the lemon slices & dill, top with a knob of butter and season again. Turn the paper over and fold the small sides a few times to form the pouch. Pour the white wine into the pouch and close the last opening, seal with a few staples.

Bake for about 20 minutes and serve en papillote to be cut open at the table. There will be a little sauce left in the paper pouches and wonderful soft leeks and carrots, the fish absolutely juicy and perfectly cooked.

Chicken chile verde

Chicken chile verde by the james kitchen
Chicken chile verde, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Not the prettiest of pictures I admit and I am happy to have a very good reason to cook this again very soon – just for the picture, you know, but this is such a tasty dish that it would be a shame to wait since it will be a good thing to use up turkey leftovers, too. I might be wrong but there might be a time in the near future where plenty of those will be available and this you do not want to miss out on.

When we lived in California we used to buy a chicken chile verde from Trader Joe’s and loved it so much that back here – where no TJ’s exists – we needed to make our own and after a few trials & fiddles we had our own chicken chile verde: it is even better, fresher and dead easy to make. It is best to cook the whole amount even if you are just two people, freeze the rest and you’ll have more ready to go when you need a quick fix.

I buy the whole chicken (to make sure it is not so much tempered with, at least free-range, long-lived, traceable and so on, no Frankenbird), roast it one day and use the leftovers for salads, chicken Fricassée (with loooots of capers for me)… and surely this chicken chile verde. If you start from the beginning then either roast a chicken along side something else (if you have the oven on already, might just squeeze a chicken in) or cook one  in this sort of mexicanized court bouillon (recipe below).

Not be too missionary & evangelical about it but I really recommend a whole chicken with bones & dark meat from free-range, long-lived birds (that is the healthy part with all the omega 3 & 6) for a proper chicken taste and succulent meat as opposed to the rather reduced one-dimensional taste of only breast meat. If you are squeamish about a whole bird use chicken pieces by all means, although there is a lot of flavour coming from the carcass and little tasty bits & pieces of meat that you are missing out on. Like the Oyster or Pfaffenschnittchen (the best piece for the priest…), in French it is adequately called Sot-l’y-laisse – “A foul who leaves this behind”.

Chicken chile verde
for about 6 portions

1 cold roast chicken or 1 cooked chicken (see below) or leftovers from the previous roast chicken dinner, picked and torn into not too little pieces
1 large tin / can (790g or 28 oz) of tomatillos (about 12)
3 cooked or broiled garlic cloves (I use the ones from my roast chicken or the cooked chicken)
1 small tin (220g or 110g drained weight) of sliced Poblano peppers, reserve a few and chop
2 jalapeño chiles, seeds removed, chopped
1 bunch of coriander / cilantro, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
½ l (2 cups) good chicken stock (or use some of the chicken cooking liquid, check for saltiness though)
1-2 whole cloves (Nelken)
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt & pepper
green Tabasco (if you need more spice)

Either roast a chicken (rubbed in olive oil, stuffed with two bay leaves & at least three garlic cloves – though why so stingy, they are the best to eat with the chicken – and seasoned with salt, pepper & dried thyme) in the oven at 200°C or 400° F for about 1 hour and leave to cool OR make the chicken one day for dinner and use the leftovers for this OR get a cold rotisserie chicken. Pick the meat of the bones and tear into bite-sized shreds (as for Fricassée).

Place the drained tomatillos, soft garlic cloves, most of the sliced Poblano peppers, jalapeños & coriander in a blender or food processor and chop with quick pulses to a chunky purée. Sweat the chopped onions in a little olive oil until translucent, add the chopped garlic cloves and stir for a scant minute to cook these, too. Add the chicken pieces, the tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, cloves and dried oregano. Let the whole thing cook on a low flame for a while (minimum 10 minutes or much longer until you need it) – this is mainly to get the flavours to mingle and to reduce the liquid in the sauce to a nice saucy consistency. Season with salt & freshly ground pepper and if you like green Tabasco.

Serve with rice and I think green vegetables of your choice, we have snow peas or broccoli or something along those lines with it.

Cooked chicken for chicken chile verde:

1 whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, quartered (no need to peel)
1-2 celery stalks, halved
a few coriander stalks (use the leaves for something else)
one or two or a few parsley stalks
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
10 (1 teaspoon) whole black peppercorns
1 small dried chili (peperoncino, piquin etc.)
1 tablespoon salt

If you have a large stock pot leave the chicken whole otherwise cut it into quarters and put it along with the other ingredients into the pot. Cover with water and bring over high heat to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook it for about one hour. Remove the chicken from the bouillon and leave to cool. Take of all the meat when it is cool enough to handle and shred into bite-sized bits.