Hasselback Potato Gratin
We had this dish the day after Christmas this year.
It’s a great side dish with any meat (we had it with lamb which I sadly forgot to photograph because it was inhaled so quickly I didn’t have the chance to think of it).
It’s also a good excuse to use the mandolin (fun!)
- 85g finely grated Gruyère or comté cheese
- 50g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 to 4 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandolin slicer (7 to 8 medium)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 400f or 200c.
- Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Transfer 1/3 of cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside (this will be your topping at the end).
- Add cream, garlic and thyme to cheese mixture you are still working with. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.
- Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. The potatoes should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. You may not need all the excess liquid.
- Cover dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.
- Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese you set aside earlier, and return to oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.
Beckwith Road Breakfast Strada
This is another Beckwith Rd. classic. Great for feeding a crowd, and even better for those of us that are not morning people (all the prep work is the night before).
When Felix was visiting last year he had it (and liked it!), and he recently compared it to a ‘Quiche’ type dish, which does make sense, it’s got a quichey vibe.
I suppose it could very easily be downgraded in terms of size (this one serves 9), and it’s very adaptable in terms of ingredients. If you don’t find portobello mushrooms just use brown mushrooms.
The version in the picture has a massive amount of hot sauce on it because… let’s be honest hot sauce is delicious and everyone should eat it for breakfast.
- 1 lb (500g) Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms, gills removed
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onions
- ¾ cup milk
- 21 eggs
- Salt & Pepper
- 6 English muffins (ripped into pieces and toasted)
- ¾ cup grated fontina cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned (about 5-10 minutes). Stir it throughout to crumble it. Remove from the skillet and drain. Set aside.
- Wipe out the skillet, then heat the oil again over medium eat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Heat the last teaspoon of oil in the skillet over medium heat, and add the onion, stirring until softened and caramelized, about 5-10 minutes.
- Combine the milk, eggs, and salt & pepper in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
- Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, and spread the English muffins at the bottom.
- Top with the sausage, mushrooms, onion, and fontina cheese. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Uncover the baking dish, sprinkle the parmesan on top, and bake until set 40 minutes- 1 hour.
Spiced Holiday Pecans
These are a Christmas season staple on Beckwith Rd… and it ain’t for nothing.
They are addictive, and delicious, and (comparatively) rather healthy.
The key is to find fragrant rosemary. The other key is not to burn the nuts.
- 2 Tablespoons of butter
- 1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar or honey
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt
- ¼ cup rosemary (just the spikes, ripped off the stalks)
- 1 baking sheet full of pecans, in a single layer
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Arrange the pecans on the baking sheet, and when it comes to heat, pop them in until fragrant (5-10 minutes). Don’t let them burn- stay attentive.
- While the pecans are baking, melt the butter in a pan, and add in the cayenne, honey or brown sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Just before the nuts come out of the oven, chop the rosemary coarsely.
- When the nuts come out of the oven, pour them quickly into a large bowl, toss with the rosemary and the butter mixture.
- Toss quickly to combine fully, and let cool.
Final chapter of the Christmas cookies series: the crowd favourite-florentiner!
Hard to describe, kind of a toffee esque cookie, half dipped in chocolate.
Also the prettiest I think.
- 50g butter
- 125 ml cream
- 100g sliced and skinned almonds
- 125g sugar
- 1 bag vanilla sugar
- 65g flour
- 2 bars of dark chocolate
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pre-heat oven to 180c.
- Combine butter and cream in a frying pan, on low heat until it boils.
- Combine almonds, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, and flour. Once mixed, add to the butter and the cream.
- Keep the dough liquid over a hot water bath as you make the cookies.
- Using two spoons, make tiny lumps onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 20mins at 180c.
- Once golden yellow, take out of the oven, let the cookies cool fully, and prepare the chocolate bath.
- In the same water bath, melt the chocolate bars. One by one, dip the cookies in, and place them on a non-stick surface (such as parchment paper) to harden completely (1-2 hours).
Quick Miso Chicken
This was created in a state of panic, when I arrived at the store and realized I wasn’t going to be able to find any chicken thighs for my baked chicken miso.
I also didn’t marinate it in advance, and I wouldn’t have time to do so.
Threw this together and loved the results. I think that the success lies in the fact that the chicken is cut into bite sized pieces so the miso can tenderize it in even 15-30 minutes.
Such an easy home run for dinner.
Highly recommended on top of the pearl couscous dish (and actually in the photo it’s on top of that).
- 1 tablespoon of tahini
- 3 tablespoons of white miso
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 large chicken breast
- Mix all the ingredients except the chicken together in a bowl.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks, and massage it with the marinade. Let sit for an hour if you have the time, otherwise 30 minutes will do. And in a pinch no time at all is fine as well.
- When ready to eat, sautee the chicken pieces in peanut oil, until crispy and sticky on the outside, and cooked through on the inside.
Thai Coconut Laksa with Squash & Asparagus
We went to the bookstore today, and I had the chance to go through a whole bunch of cookbooks; take them to the other side of the store and sit in a corner on the floor and filter through all the recipes.
This bookstore is horrendously overpriced *ahem* Waterstones, but I did snap a picture of this one recipe from a Jamie Oliver cookbook, and we decided to try it out tonight to help us decide if we want to buy the book later.
It’s a YES!
Although the one disclaimer is that this absolutely did not take 15 minutes. I was slow… but even so- it took about an hour.
- 1 Butternut squash neck or chunk of pumpkin
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
- 1 fresh red chile
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ bunch of spring onions
- 1 heaped teaspoon peanut butter
- 4 dried kaffir lime leaves
- bunch of coriander
- 1 tablespoon each: soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil
- 300g rice noodles
- 600g asparagus
- 1 400g tin of coconut milk
- 3 limes
- Put 800 ml of boiling water on the stove, with the bouillon cube.
- Trim the pumpkin or squash chunk, and grate the flesh. Add it into the water.
- In a food processor or with a hand blender, combine the peeled garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, trimmed spring onions, peanut butter, dried lime leaves, coriander stalks (save the leaves), sesame oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Blitz together until smooth.
- Add this mixture into the water, together with the noodles.
- Trim the asparagus and cut into pieces. Add to the pan, together with the coconut milk. As soon as it boils, taste, correct the seasoning with soy sauce and lime juice, and turn off the heat.
- Serve with fresh coriander leaves & lime wedges.
Toasted Pearl Couscous with Apricots & Pistachios
This comes from what I believe is the first cookbook I ever owned! Gifted to me by my mum, it’s called ‘5 Ingredient Fix’ by Claire Robinson, and it was indeed a good way to get started cooking, as every recipe is no more than 5 ingredients.
This one is a taste explosion, you’d never guess it has only 5 ingredients, and you will love the unusual combination of the nutty toasted couscous with the dried apricots and the pistachios.
It’s just delicious.
To make a full meal out of it I make chicken on the side- Miso chicken (there is another post on this) to be exact. You could go one step further and put it all on a bed of lightly dressed greens.
- A large glug of olive oil
- 2 cups pearl couscous
- ¼ cup roasted shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 ¼ cups hot water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 6 dried apricots chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the couscous and pistachios and cook, stirring, until toasted and light brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn!
- Once toasty, add the curry powder, water, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, stir in the apricots and scallions, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
Don’t be turned off by the green- they look a little extreme but if you are a Japanese Matcha lover, you can’t miss these.
Felix hates them but my colleagues tell me they are delicious so we can only deduce that Felix is not a credible judge in this matter.
Just keep in mind that the dough needs to sit one day in advance (or at least a few hours), but that actually makes them perfect for a dinner because you can make the dough in advance and then bake them up when you are ready to eat.
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons matcha (divided)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey or agave
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 oz white chocolate chopped
- ½ cup white sugar
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and 2 tablespoons of matcha in a bowl and set aside.
- In a different bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Add the egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest, and mix until very pale, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and, with motor running, add the flour mixture; mix until no dry spots remain. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the white chocolate.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and chill at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.
- When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350° F,
- Whisk the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons matcha in a small bowl; set aside.
- Scoop the dough by the scant tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each about 1 inch apart.
- Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until bottoms and edges are barely golden and cooked (top will no longer look wet), 8 to 10 minutes.
- Immediately -- but gently -- toss cookies in the reserved matcha sugar and place on wire racks; let cool. Store cookies airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Mandelsplitter (Chocolate almond drops)
German Christmas cookies part 3: These ones are super easy, and actually don’t require any cooking! They are held together by hardened chocolate, so they are also on the healthier side of Christmas cookies. No flour, no regular sugar.
In fact the only naughty thing in here is the powdered sugar, the rest is arguably healthy.
- 125g splintered almonds
- 150g powdered sugar
- 25g cocoa
- 20g coconut oil
- 2-3 tablespoons of hot water
- Mix the cocoa, powdered sugar, coconut oil, and hot water together. The consistency should not be too liquid (rather on the firm side).
- Add in the almonds, and stir to combine.
- Using two spoons, form tiny lumps, and drop them onto parchment paper.
- Allow to dry and harden for 1-2 hours.
Spitzbuben (Star cookies)
Christmas cookie series: Part II.
Spitzbuben= star cookies.
These are those little jammy sandwiches that give you a lot of flexibility. You can make any shapes you like, and use any jam you like. Although SOME people think they can only be made with apricot jam.
- 300g white flour
- 250g butter
- 125g sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 125g ground almonds
- Mix together the flour, butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almonds (do it with your hands).
- Leave the dough for 1 hour in the fridge.
- After an hour, take the dough out of the fridge, and roll it out with a rolling pin, onto a lightly floured surface.
- Cut into whatever shapes you like, stars, circles, hearts, etc. Lay onto parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes at 180c.
- Take out of the oven, let cool one second, spread with a tiny amount of jam, and then make tiny sandwiches.