Quick Supper: Smoked Salmon, New Potatoes and Beetroot

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I love cooking but sometimes when I get home from work I just want to make something quickly and unwind – preferably with an episode of “Parks and Recreation” which has only just arrived here on the BBC and is so funny! So that’s where having something you can cook in under 30 minutes and simply cut things that are already edible comes in very handy. Cue new potatoes, a pack of smoked salmon and a pack of boiled beetroot.

I love the colours on this plate: orange, purple and the yellow of the ceramic!

This is a pretty healthy dish but then you can see in the photo below that I dolloped creme fraiche on it! Ha! But look how the white highlights the pink of the beetroot juice!

Takes 20 mins // serves 2

What you need:

400g new potatoes

250g cooked beetroot

200g smoked salmon (oak smoked if possible)

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

a few dollops of creme fraiche (optional)

What you need to do:

1. Wash and cut the new potatoes in half or into three if they are big ones.

2. Boil them until tender and you can stick a knife easily into them.

3. Whilst they are boiling cut the beetroot into bite sized pieces, cut the salmon into strips and place them together in a big bowl with the beautifully purple beetroot juice.

4. Drain the new potatoes and mix them amongst the beetroot and salmon in the bowl.

5. Drizzle a bit of olive oli on top with a touch of salt and pepper.

6. Serve and add a couple of dollops of creme fraiche if desired.

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Happy Shrove Tuesday! Sweetcorn Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Nutmeg Recipe

Sweetcorn Pancake

Have you eaten pancakes today? If pancakes are ever on a menu I dive in. I love them with a simple squeeze of lemon and shaking of sugar to dripping with a melting nutella centre or savoury with goats cheese and tomatoes. Despite being Shrove Tuesday I haven’t actually eaten any today but I made these pancakes with sweetcorn in the mixture recently. I love how versatile pancake mixture is. You can add anything from mashed banana to crushed nuts and eat them with anything too. The possibilities are endless! So, the other day I thought I would make a pancake a little bit like a sweetcorn fritter or patty.

Takes 10 mins to prepare/ 15 to cook/ makes 2 large or 4 small pancakes

What you need:

2 eggs

100ml milk

50g wholewheat flour

A pinch of salt and pepper

200g sweetcorn

A knob of butter

A few dollops of creme fraiche

Freshly ground nutmeg

What you need to do:

1. If you are using frozen sweetcorn cook it for 3 minutes in boiling water.

2. Beat the eggs in a large jug or bowl, add the milk, salt and pepper, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg and stir.

3. Add the flour and stir in well with a fork or a whisk, then add sweetcorn and stir them in well.

4. Put a knob of butter in a frying pan and warm on a medium heat. As it melts, swirl it around so the pan is covered in the butter.

5. Pour or ladle some of the mixture onto the pan. If the sweetcorn is in one pile in the middle gently push them with a fork to spread out more evenly. Cook the pancake for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for two minutes on the other side. Make sure both sides are lightly browned.

6. Remove the pancake once done and repeat with the rest of the mixture.

7. Serve the pancakes in a pile with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.

You might also like Coquina Squash Pancakes.

Sweetcorn Soup

My head always pops up like a meerkat on alert when I hear of or see sweetcorn soup on a menu. I lived in Hong Kong as a child and sweetcorn soup was one of my favourite dishes. On the soup note, on a recent visit to Moro, Exmouth Market EC1R, I had a ridiculously good fava bean soup. Whereas the sweetcorn soup of my childhood was a thininsh one with bits of sweetcorn in it the fava bean soup was of a thick purée like consistency. I wondered if I could make a sweetcorn soup with a similar consistency. The result is certainly thicker (I added cannellini beans to contribute to the texture and add a slightly meaty hint) but not smooth as sweetcorn by nature is a bit bitty rather than the smooth squishy texture of cannellini beans – elegantly put. I think if you have a really good blender it would become more smooth.

Takes 5 mins to prepare // 20 mins to cook // Serves 2

What you need:

Half a white onion

50g butter

500ml boiling water

1 vegetable stock cube or 2 teaspoons of stock powder

50g cannellini beans

300g frozen sweetcorn

4 dessert spoons sour cream

Dried chilli flakes

What you need to do:

1. Chop the white onion into small pieces.

2. Put half the butter in a small pan, add the onions and soften them at a low heat.

3. Boil a kettle and pour 500ml of the boiling water into a jug with the crumbled stock cube. Stir then add to the softened onions.

4. Turn the heat up a little and add the frozen sweetcorn and cannellini beans (I prefer using frozen to tinned sweetcorn as the kernels remain plump and hard).

5. Simmer for about 6 minutes. Take off the heat and pour the sweetcorn and beans with a bit of the stock into a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds.

6. Return the blitzed corn and beans to the pan, add the remaining butter, a dollop of sour cream,  stir and continue cooking for about 3 minutes.

7. Turn off the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Add a drizzle of sour cream on top and a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes.

Speaking of corn there is a very interesting section in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma about just how much corn is present in our lives without even eating it. It’s made into corn syrup which, other than being present in many foods such as soft drinks and even bread, is used to create the glossy sheen on the covers of magazines. If you are interested in where our food comes from and how the food industry has changed our diets this is a very interesting and revealing read.

Propstore, National Theatre cafe, South Bank

 

           

The South Bank is one of my favourite parts of London. Whenever friends visit from abroad I take them for a walk along the river from Borough Market to the collection of cultural hotspots that are the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery. At the moment there are lots of new additions to the area with a Wahaca housed in containers on a concrete level between the Hayward and Royal Festival Hall, an oversized sandpit with rainbow coloured sand by the water and some enormous technicolor fabric sculptures. The National Theatre has set up a great cafe, Propstore, built from parts of sets and scenery and full of props. The sides of the cafe are made from set walls with a transparent covering stretched between them for a roof. The bar has set plans and elevations arranged under the glass and everywhere you look there is a prop from part of a snooker table to an army rucksack, a bicycle, a typewriter and even severed limbs from Frankenstein. All the props have brown paper tags hanging from them labelling which production they are from. There are lights suspended from fragments of mirrors stuck to the roof. It’s such a great idea to reuse relics from productions to make a  quirkily dishevelled but charming spot for a riverfront drink, meal or coffee.

Propstore is open Monday to Thursday from noon to 11pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 2am and on Sunday from noon to 6pm.

Quick Lunch: Roasted Aubergine, Sweet Potato and Green Leaves

There’s a great little restaurant in Islington called The Afghan Kitchen. It has a short and simple menu and is a very casual place to eat with customers sharing tables. They do a dish with roasted aubergine, it is simply sliced in half length ways and put in the oven. I love it like this! So simple and it melts in the mouth. When I work from home I like to make something like this for lunch so yesterday I roasted aubergine and sweet potato for about 30 minutes at 180C and served them with green leaves. Easy and tasty. There’s no need to slather ingredients in sauces, I just drizzled olive oil on top and let the flavours be true to themselves. Goodness, that sounds like a motivational speech for vegetables. I’m sure you know what I mean!!

Quick Lunch: Wholewheat Spaghetti with Sweet Potato and Pea Purée

As you can tell from the title I didn’t make the pasta myself! That would have been a not so quick lunch! If you want to do this recipe and want to make your own spaghetti you can find my spaghetti recipe here. My faithful followers will know that I have a healthy obsession with pea purée. See Pea and Asparagus Risotto, Beetroot and Pea Ravioli and Pea Purée and Camembert Sandwich. Apart from the taste, I love the colour and texture and if you have frozen peas at home and no time to do food shopping it is the easiest thing to whip up, or blitz up!

What you need (serves 2):

100g peas

1 x sweet potato (mine was about 300g)

2 cloves of garlic, sliced into small pieces

120g wholewheat spaghetti

A handful of fennel seeds

What you need to do:

1. Boil a kettle with plenty of water for the pasta and sweet potato.

2. Wash and slice the sweet potato into pieces about 2cm by 2cm. I only skin mine if the skin looks a bit dodgy – by that I mean a bit gnarled and grubby.

3. Boil the sweet potato pieces in a pan of water (from the boiled kettle) for about 8 minutes until they feel quite tender, then drop the peas in and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

4. Whilst they’re boiling put the spaghetti on the hob in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 7 minutes or however long your packet states.

4. Drain the sweet potato and peas but reserve a touch of the water. Pour them with the reserved water into the blender, add the pieces of raw garlic and a few glugs of olive oil. Blend for about 30 seconds or until the ingredients form a purée.

5. Drain the pasta, return it to the pan and pour the sweet potato and pea purée on top. On a gentle heat mix the purée into the pasta with a wooden spoon.

6. Serve on plates with a few fennel seeds sprinkled on top.