Friday, 25 March 2016

Octopus, Avocado, Butter Bean Salad with a chili garlic dressing.

I purchase a whole octopus, reduced from Morrisons a couple of weeks ago. I prefer octopus's cousin squid and have only ate octopus twice (in Tenerife) prior to this rather impulsive purchase. In fact, I think I brought the octopus because I felt sorry for it, as my local Morrisons shop had several packets of pitiful looking octopus that were reduced to £1.20 (bargain or what) that needed to be purchased or it would be thrown away. Not one for wasting or passing up a bargain, I purchased a packet of octopus and stored away my new found bargain in the freezer. I was toying on what to cook, when I remembered that the fantastic A Lot On Her Plate cookery book by Rosie Birkett featured several octopus recipes. I decide on this recipe. The octopus does require some preparation work, but the results are great, tender, chewy and flavoursome, this made a great mid-week lunch (although I suspect would make a light evening meal. As you will see from the photographs, I was lacking on the butter beans, but it was great without it, but I have included the authentic recipe without my amendments for ease.
Here is how my Octopus, Avocado Salad with a chill garlic dressing. 

1 Octopus
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 red birds eye chillies, halved
5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
3 slices of lemon
few sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stemmed
1 bay leaf
3 black peppercorns

handful of cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of white pepper
400g butter beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and cubed.

First you need to tenderise the octopus. You can do this very easily by freezing it a couple of days before you cook it, and then defrosting it. Or you can buy it frozen and then defrost. You may also need to remove the eyes. Do this by cutting around and under them with a very sharp knife and popping them and the attached cartilage out. When you cut out there eyes you can then press the hard break (the creatures mouth) out of the centre cavity where the legs join together. Clean any gunk from the cavities with kitchen paper, and rinse the octopus under cold water in the sink for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, ask your fishmonger to clean and prep the octopus for you.

Place 6 tablespoons of the olive oil with the octopus, chillies, garlic, lemon slices, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns in a large pot or casserole, give it a shake, and cover tightly with a lid. Slowly bring it up to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. At this point check for tenderness, prodding a skewer or cocktail stick into the fattest part of the octopus. If the octopus falls off the skewer easily with little resistance rather than sticking to it, it's done. If it clings to the skewer, cook it for a further 10-15 minutes, or until there's no resistance.
While the octopus is cooking, toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt, the rosemary and vinegar and set aside.
Once it's cooked until tender, transfer the octopus from the casserole to a plate. Allow it to cool and then, if you like, peel of the dark skin and cut into chunks. To make the chili garlic dressing, place the softened garlic and cooked chillies that were cooked with the octopus in a mini-chopper with about 5 tablespoons of the purple cooking liquor from the pot and blitz until you have a creamy, emulsified sauce. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and white pepper, and blitz again.
To assemble the salad, mix the beans with the onion, parsley, avocado and marinated tomatoes , and arrange on the plate. Top the octopus, and drizzle with the dressing.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

My Favourite Cookbooks of 2015 plus Christmas Giveaway #4

This is a post that I have been looking forward to for many months. In fact, it's my first post where I am sharing my favourite cookbooks in a year. Cookbooks are very close to my heart, not least because it really opened my eyes to the diversity of cooking when I was a student, but also with every dish created, a memory of your own is created. It seems that almost everyone has wrote a cookbook  this year from celebrity chefs, bloggers and TV presenters. But, what makes a good cookbook for me is not just one which the recipes work (this is of course incredibly important), but also where there is real passion shown across each page and a story. I love a good food story, I want to know why you have decided to include this recipe in your cook book, what makes it work and whats the history behind this. There has been a bumper collection of cookery books this year, one of the perks of being a blogger is that I am often sent cookbooks to review. I also treat myself every pay day to a cookbook or three. Oh and when I go abroad, I always have to buy a cookbook from that country. Needless to say, I have a ridiculously growing collection of cookbooks. But this year there has been some gems, beautiful food writing, inventive and colourful recipes and most importantly dishes that taste sublime. So without further ado, here are my favourite cookbooks of 2015 (in no particular order).

The Picnic Cookbook
I love the idea (and in a ideal world I would spend my spare time) of having a picnic, but this something I rarely do. But why is this one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, entitled The Picnic Cookbook, considering I don't really do picnics: I love how Laura Mason has revolutionised the concept of picnic, of which many think involves sandwiches. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history of picnics from the Victorian era to today. For every occasion, there is a picnic dish to prepare and eat with loved ones. I also loved the recipes which incorporated world foods such as the delicious Cypriot feast and also Koftas and Naans. The photographs are simply stunning and the food looks mouthwatering. 

A Lot on Her Plate
Rosie Birkett is one of the UK most exciting voices in food. I knew that she would be releasing a book as I follow Rosie on social media. There was extensive of media coverage upon her book release back in April. What makes this cookbook and become one of my favourite this year, is that her recipes are incredibly inventive, versatile and comforting. In an era were a lot are focusing on "clean eating", Rosie shows the reader how to make wholesome, fulfilling and inspiring dishes. I also like her frugal/flush approach, showing that good food can be eaten whatever your budget may be. Rosie's book also shares her story and her food experiences from a child up until now. As shared in my review post, this a cookery book for the seasoned cook and one to stretch your imagination. Of all the books in this round up, this is the one that I have cooked the most from.

Vanilla Table
Perhaps it's my naivety or not really understanding the power of vanilla, but I was positively astounded with the versatility of vanilla. It helps that this cookery book is elegant in design and the photographs are stunning. Prior to this book, I have primarily used vanilla in sweet baking. However, with 9 chapters from starters to drinks, to brunch and to snacks, vanilla can be included in every meal, any time of the day. I love reading Natasha' love affair of Vanilla, alongside the chefs contributions to this cookbook manual. The Spiced Lime Smoothie that I made is one which I have revisited on many occasions, alongside many of the brunch recipes. 

I'm sure the debut book for Olia Hercules will be featured on many cook book round up posts this month. Olia has shared the cuisine of her culture and heritage which is shared through her evocative food writing. Ukranian food is not something that is, well, exactly popular in the UK, but in Mamushka, the diversity of recipes eaten across the Ukraine and beyond are beautifully shared. I love the vibrant and exotic recipes and you will be pleased to know that the majority of the ingredients can be found in supermarkets. From the Georgian Garlicky Poussins to the Prague Cake or the Pork Ribs and Dumplings, I wanted to bookmark every recipe and I'm sure you will too.

Caribbean Modern
A round up would not be complete without a Carribean cookbook, I always like to read recipes from other Caribbean islands. This one, by Shivi Ramoutar showcasing lighter, brighter and colourful recipes. I loved the inclusion of many Trinidadian recipes, the accessible recipes, the easy to follow recipes. Above all, I've made a number of recipes, all of which tasted delicious. I loved the bag baked sea bass with black bean salsa. 

The lovely people at Octopus Books and Pavillion books are giving one reader a copy of Mamushka and a copy of The Picnic Cookbook. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below.
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Sunday, 20 September 2015

A Lot On Her Plate by Rosie Birkett plus giveaway

I only discovered Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot On Her Plate via Instragram (don't you just love social media sites). I have been salivating over her colourful, hearty and seasonal dishes which are regularly posted on her social media sites. With critical acclaim over her imaginative and seasonal dishes found in her debut book A Lot On Her Plate, which I recently purchased at the beginning of Summer. I was instantly impressed with Rosie's thorough knowledge of food, not just about recipes but about sustainable meats, how to shop, getting to know your local suppliers, how to make ingredients stretch and also economical ways to revamp dishes, alongside basic ingredients and their uses. Rosie also shares what are her culinary essentials in her kitchen and others that are useful but not so essential.
For me, this book is one of my favourite books of 2015 due to the imaginative, creative and delicious recipes for the advanced cook. In my opinion, this is not a cookbook for beginner cooks, instead it's for the more advanced cook for those that want a little wow on your plate. So far, I've cooked a few dishes from this book: Baba Ganoush, Coconut and Almond Granola and Bavette and Chips, which is my personal favourite so far. Rosie writes with such passion and enthusiasm that it's easy to quickly fall in love with this book. A Lot On Her Plate also includes stunning and mouthwatering photography (which makes me hungry), alongside cute and quirky illustrations. I also love this book as it's introduced me to a wave of new ingredients such as siracha (type of chili sauce), migtias (a Mexican fried dish) and to my local Asian supermarket to stock up on frozen octopus. 

Bavette and Chips (my way, with fried plantains)

Bavette and Chips

Coconut and Almond Granola. 

Baba Gnash

The chapters are split into the following:
  • Breakfast and Brunch, I love a good breakfast so the majority of recipes appeal to me, but my favourite so far is: Cod's roe & sweetcorn fritters with avocado & siracha, Coconut and Almond Granola, Guacamole bread with fried eggs & chipotle salsa and Becy's migitas
  • Starters and Small Plates: delicious recipes to try incude: Crispy sesame-crusted tuna tacos with mango salsa, Bavette carpaccio with fried capers & mustard mayo, Chili crab cocktail tartlets and Keema Pau.
  • Snacks and Sides: stand out recipes include Baba Ganoush and Baby Potato and Rosemary Pizzas. 
  • Bigger Plates and Supper Suppers"Mushroom Ragu with truffled polenta, Bavette and Chips with Bottarga Butter and Grilled Baby Gem, Pan Roasted Pollock with lettuce, bacon and clams and Kale and Almond Pesto Linguine.
  • Feasts for Friends: delicious recipes to try include: Chicken, mushroom and tarragon cassoulet, maple brazed pigs cheeks with apple, roasted hazelnuts and parmesan polenta and home-style porchetta.
  • Salad and Vegetables: recipes to try include: fig, rocket & gorgonzola salad with toasted almonds and maple dressing, mum's seafood orzo salad and panzanella.
  • Dessert and Drinks: one of my favourite chapter recipes include: salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake, lychee & hazelnut pavlova, black cherry brûlée and peanut butter ice-cream. 
The lovely people at Hardie Grant are giving one lucky reader of Food Glorious Food a copy of A Lot On Her Plate. Continue to scroll down to enter via Rafflecopter.

Recipe for Bavette and Chips with Bottarga Butter and Grilled Baby Gem.
Serves 2

500g (1lb 2 oz) bavette steak
20g bottarga (or 8 best-quality anchovy fillets, minced)
50g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the sauce
grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
800ml vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil
3 sprigs rosemary, leaved picked and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for greasing
1 head of baby gem lettuce, cleaned and cut in half
50ml chicken stock or water.

Take the steak out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it, to bring it up to room temperature
To make the bottarga butter, finely grate the bottarga into a bowl, add the 50g of butter and lemon zest , and mash together thoroughly. Place 3 layers of cling film on a work's surface, spoon the butter into the middle of it, and tightly roll, twisting the ends so you have a cling film-coated sausage of butter. Place in the freezer to set.
To make the chips, dry the potato pieces with kitchen paper, and, if using a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 190C / 375 F/ Gas Mark 5. Fry the chips in two batches for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown and soft on the inside. Drain them on kitchen paper and toss with fresh rosemary and sea salt. Lay on a roasting tray and keep in a warmed oven (100C/215F/Gas 1/2) until you are ready to dish up, blasting them on a high heat for a few minutes, just before you serve. If you don't have a deep-fat fryer, toss the chips with plenty of olive oil, salt and rosemary, and roast them in one layer in a preheated oven at 180C (350F/Gas Mark 4) for 35-40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until crisp and golden on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Season the steak thoroughly with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a greased heavy-based frying pan until stinking hot. Put the steak in the pan it should sizzle immediately) and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side for medium rare or 5-7 minutes for well done. Transfer to a chopping board (but keep the steak pan) cover loosely with foil and leave to rest. Remove the bottarga butter from the freezer and put two plates in the oven to warm.
Brush the cut sides of the baby gem halves with olive oil and place them face down in the steak pan, over a medium heat. Leave for 2 minutes then pout over the chicken stock or water to deglaze, add a knob of butter, and pour the lemon juice. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until wilted and caramelised on the cut side but still retaining the shape.
Slice the rested steak into thin slivers, against the grain and divide between the warmed plates along along with any juices that might have escaped. Cut the end off the bottarga butter sausage and cur 2 x 5 mm (1/4) thick rounds of the butter  for each steak, making sure to peel the cling film off the outside. Place the butter directly onto the steak and serve with the chips and baby gem.

To enter via the rafflecopter, follow the below instructions:
  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the site and join using Google friend connector. This is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT. 
  • For additional entries, subscribe to my Youtube channel, follow me on Instragram, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 20.09.15 - 18.10.15
  • Winners will need to respond in 5 working days. 
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway. 
  • Hardie Grant books will dispatch the winners copy. 
Disclaimer: A Lot on Her Plate was a personal purchase, Hardie Grant books have kindly offered to host a giveaway.
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