Tag Archives: Side Dish

Baked Fennel with Pecorino

Baked Fennel with Pecorino

Baked Fennel with Pecorino

Until I tried this recipe, I used to think of fennel as strictly a summer vegetable, well, proved wrong again.  I love fennel, even raw in salads, and I’ve always roasted it, but along with other vegetables to add to warm salads mostly.  But there’s something about this way of preparing it that opens a whole other world of possibilities.  For example, this fennel is delicious on the side of roast chicken, and you can cook it while your chicken is in the oven too.  I think it’s something to do with the use of a bit of butter and the cheese – that’s what makes this dish warming in the winter and soothing in the summer.

Baked Fennel with Pecorino

The Recipe

Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Baking Time:  20 minutes
Serves:  4 to 6

Ingredients

About 1.5kg / 3.3lb fennel bulbs (normally this is about 4 or 5) – halved, stalks removed.  Keep back the green feathery frons for dressing.
4 x tbsp unsalted butter
2 x tbsp Niolly Prat (Optional – I only use it if I have it in the house, I don’t go out and buy it specially for this recipe.  You can also use white wine or vermouth, or exclude the alcohol altogether.)
50gr / 1.5oz. freshly grated pecorino cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Baked Fennel with Pecorino

Method

  1. Cook the fennel in a large pan of boiling salted water until softened, but not mushy. This should take about 20 minutes, it depends on the size of your bulbs.
  2. Whilst the fennel is boiling, set your oven to 200°C/400°F and use about a third of the butter to grease a roasting tray.
  3. Once boiled, drain the fennel and then cut each piece lengthways into 2 or 3 thick slices. Lay out in the roasting tray.
  4. Drizzle the Noilly Prat over your fennel (if you’re using it), dot the rest of the butter over and sprinkle the cheese. Give a few grinds of fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt (not too much, the water for your fennel will impart a little salt and pecorino is a salty cheese).
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and butter have become golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle over the fresh fennel frons before serving.

 Tips and Variations

  • An excellent side dish to fish or chicken.

Baked Fennel and Pecorino

Stewed Apple Sauce

Apple Sauce

Stewed Apple Sauce

I can’t imagine a juicy pork chop without some apple sauce on the side.  Or my afternoon yogurt snack without a fresh topping of my apple sauce.  Although I have no idea whether I should call this apple sauce, apple compote or just plain stewed apples, it’s one of those simple little side dishes I make constantly.  It’s hardly even a recipe it’s so very simple and I’m sure once you’ve tried it you’ll never use shop bought apple sauce again.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

5 x medium apples (I like Elstar) peeled, cored and  roughly diced
A little water, about 1 cm / 0.5in.  in the bottom of your pan, just so the apple sauce doesn’t stick.

Method

  1. Place the apples and water into a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil, then allow to simmer until the apples are soft. This takes about 10 minutes or so.  Keep an eye on the apples so they don’t stick or burn, stir occasionally giving them a mash against the side of the pan to check if they are getting soft.
  2. When the mix is soft mash with a fork or a wooden spoon or if you want a really smooth texture, give it a quick whizz up in the liquidizer.

  Tips and Variations

  • The amount of water can depend on the apples, so if you feel it is getting to dry while cooking, just add a little water. Or , if you feel there is too much water, just turn the heat up and let it evaporate as steam.
  • Serve with roast chicken or pork. I love a little on my porridge or with some yogurt as a snack, even on its own.
  • Try using half apples, half pears. If you do this, you can add the pears later, about half way through the cooking time, as they are normally softer and need less cooking.
  • Don’t be tempted to add sugar until the apple sauce has cooled – once you taste it, you’ll more than likely find it doesn’t need any.
  • This sauce keeps in the fridge for up to a week (I often keep it a little longer and it’s fine). You can freeze it also if you wish (even in ice-lolly shapes!)

Amsterdam Private Food Tours

If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.

Apple Sauce

 

Chicory and Leek Pie

Chicory and Leek Pie
Chicory and Leek Pie

The Dutch have many food obsessions and chicory (‘witlof’ in Dutch) is one of them.  I’d never eaten it before I came here, but always seemed to be presented with it at the mother-in-law’s.  It’s her go to vegetable.  She smothers it in Dutch cheese and bakes it in the oven and it’s … well … it’s my mother-in-law’s cooking (you know what I mean).  I wasn’t sure what to make of it in the beginning, even drowned in Gouda it was bitter (or is that the burned bits? – sorry!), I didn’t mind it, but never seemed to get around to cooking with it myself.  Until recently.  I started using it in summer salads, not too much, just to give a background flavour and with some goat’s cheese and a walnut oil dressing, I liked it, so I’m venturing further.  As loathe as I am to say it (again you know what I mean), I am using my mother-in-laws basic chicory swimming in cheese idea and, well, dare I say improving it.

This is really easy to make and is a great side dish to chicken or fish, perfect for when your Dutch mother-in-law comes to dinner.

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Baking Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4 x 6
4 or 5 x sheets of filo pastry (I use 40cm / 16in. x 40cm / 16in.), if frozen, thaw them out first.
3 x tbsp of unsalted butter – melted
3 x leeks, chopped roughly
8 x chicory, chopped roughly
250gr / 9 oz. Fontina cheese
Fresh nutmeg for grating
Salt, black pepper and 1 x tbsp of olive oil

 Method
  1. Set your oven to heat to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. Place the chopped leeks and chicory in a roasting tray with some freshly ground black pepper and a little salt, drizzle over the oil and toss through. It will seem like a lot of vegetables, but the mass will shrink back considerably as it cooks.
  3. Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes or until they brown and soften a little. Take them out after about 15 minutes, stir through so that you get a more even browning and place back in the oven.  When cooked, taste and check if you need more salt.
  4. Grate the fontina cheese from the fridge – if you allow it to come to room temperature it will be difficult to grate as it will get too soft. Sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables and grate about a quarter of the nutmeg evenly over the cheese.
  5. Scrunch and tear your filo pastry and place it loosely over the vegetables and cheese. All the scrunchy edges will give more surface area that will crisp up.
  6. Drizzle the melted butter over the pastry as evenly as you can and place the tray back in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.
 Tips and Variations
  • Remember not to leave your filo lying around as it will dry out very quickly and you won’t be able to use it. If you need time, lay it out and keep it covered with a damp tea towel.
  • Gruyere cheese works really well in this recipe too as does Taleggio.
  • I serve this with fish, chicken or lamb dishes.

Amsterdam Private Food Tours

If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.

Chicory and Leek Pie

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

 

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

So, now that you’ve made your cheese (or maybe you haven’t – don’t worry, I wouldn’t do that to you, there are other options below) here’s a great idea to spice it up.  This is something I ate in Kerala as a starter to a fabulous fish meal at the Bait Restaurant just outside Kovalam.  Some of this cheese, dipped in mint chutney and a cold Kingfisher beer – what better way to start off your curry night? 

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes. 

Serves 4
400gr (just under 1 lb.) of paneer cheese cut into oblongs (about pinky finger sized)
1 x large garlic clove
1 x green chili
1 x tsp nutmeg
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp sunflower oil
Juice of a lime (about 2 x tbsps)
A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
4 x tsps of coriander powder
2 x tsps of cumin powder
8 dried curry leaves (or 4 fresh)
A pinch of salt

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the cheese, in a food processor and whizz up until everything is very fine. Check for salt.
  2. Rub the mix over each piece of your cheese to cover each side as best you can.
  3. Heat a grill pan until it is very hot. Place each piece in the pan turning them every 30 seconds or so to brown each side and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Tips and Variations

  • If you can’t get a hold of paneer cheese try this with halloumi or tofu.
  • Serve with some mint chutney, mango chutney or chili style dip.
  • Great served with a cold beer.

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney:

This is a great little recipe for a curry night.  Something fresh and aromatically spiced to go along with your breads or papadum for dipping.  Super easy too, just whizz everything up and your done.  I ate it every day on my trip to India, they serve it with or at the beginning of it seems, every meal.  In the photo above you can see that I’ve served the mint chutney with some spiced griddled paneer.

This is one of those recipes that you can adjust to your own taste.  You can make it hot and spicy or cool and mild.  Try it as is at first and then go for it.

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
1 or 2 green chili’s
200ml full fat natural yogurt
The fresh mint leaves from about 10 stalks
A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
50gr / 1.7 oz. of fresh ginger, peeled
1 x shallot
2 x tsps coriander powder
3 x tsps cardamom powder
1 x tsp mango powder
2 x tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz up until everything is completely smooth, check for seasoning and flavour balance before serving.

Tips and Variations

  • This is served as a dip with all kinds of breads or cracker style snacks in India.
  • I serve it with some spiced, griddled paneer cheese as a nibble before a curry night.
  • You can use buttermilk or a mix of buttermilk and yogurt for a thinner mix.
  • The amount of chili you use depends on how hot you want your chutney.