Spiced Cucumber Pickle

A quick recipe post for an Instagram follower. I hope you like this one @emmaloulalala – it’s great with a winter cheeseboard.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 75g muscovado sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp kalonji (nigella) seeds

Method:

Sterilise a glass jar by washing it thoroughly and popping it into a hot oven for 10 minutes.

Slice the cucumber in half along its length and scrape out the seeds with a spoon, then finely slice. Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt to draw out some of the moisture.

Mix the other ingredients together in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take the mixture off the heat and add the cucumber.

Fill your jar, pop the lid on and allow it to cool down. Store your pickle in the fridge.

preserved cucumber

Baked Mussels

Beautifully simple, reassuringly rustic and moreish to boot. Here’s my recipe for open-baked mussels that my children can’t get enough of. It’s a reasonably cheap dish that’s definitely crowd-pleasing comfort food, and yet I believe it to be equally worthy of any dinner party.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg mussels
  • Hunk of sourdough (to make breadcrumbs)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Bunch of parsley
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and diced (concasse)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 70g ham, chopped
  • 2 banana shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 125ml white wine (or water)

Method:

  1. Clean and sort through your mussels, removing beards and discarding any open (dead) ones. ready for the pot
  2. Pop the mussels in a pot with a sprinkling of shallot, parsley stalks and the white wine (or water). Cover with a lid and steam the mussels for 4 minutes.
  3. Discard any mussels that didn’t open during cooking.
  4. Remove half of each mussel shell and lay the full halves out on a baking sheet. half shell mussels
  5. Blitz the sourdough bread in a food processor to make a crumb. mix in the rest of the finely diced shallot, crushed garlic, chopped parsley leaves, ham, lemon zest and diced tomato. Add a good glug of olive oil and spoon the mix over the mussels. topped and ready to go
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown. topped mussels baked on the half shell
  7. Serve with french fries and mayonnaise for a glorious experience.

oven baked mussels

Curing Egg Yolks

Sounds crazy right? Fear not, it’s remarkably simple and insanely delicious. In just 4 days you can transform an egg yolk into an umami-heavy delight with the characteristics and texture of Parmesan cheese.

The story starts as always with the freshest, highest quality ingredients you can afford. I normally use medium-size local organic free-range eggs.

Decide how many eggs you’d like to cure and select a dish or tupperware container large enough to house them comfortably without them touching each other. You’ll then need enough salt and sugar to bury them completely.

Separate your eggs and either freeze your whites (albumen) for later use, or make some meringues, omelettes or something useful.

Make yourself a curing mix by combining equal quantities of salt and sugar.  You may want to add in some other flavourings to jazz it up a bit: peppercorns, seaweed, mace, chilli flakes, cloves – whatever takes your fancy.

Put at least a 1cm of the mix in the bottom of your container, use the back of a spoon to make a little indentation for each yolk to sit in, place them in and then cover them all up with the rest of your curing mix.

egg yolk ready to be cured

Pop the lid on or cover your dish with cling film before putting them to bed in your fridge for 4 days.

Carefully remove the yolks and then rinse off any excess cure that sticking to them.

cured egg yolks ready to be rinsed

Next you’ll need to dry them out completely by placing them on a wire rack in a very low oven (50°C) for an hour or two.

drying cured egg yolks in a low oven

Your cured yolks will live happily in a container in the fridge for up to a month.

cured egg yolks

How to use them? Just finely grate them in the same way that you would use Parmesan cheese on pasta, asparagus, whatever you’d like. I just love it over buttered sourdough toast.

cured egg yolk on buttered sourdough

Hummus

This Levantine staple fascinates me as children just can’t seem get enough of it. I’ve met very few younglings that would reject a tub of hummus and crudités – but where does that desire stem from? 

Without doubt it’s most certainly delicious and comforting, but would you expect the same reaction from “hey kids, fancy some chickpea purée?”

Does the foreign sounding name (from the Arabic word for chickpeas) make it more accessible to young minds? Perhaps their former years of puréed baby food developed an unconscious affinity for its texture and appearance? I’ve not come to any conclusions yet, but, in some ways, who cares! Is this the perfect vehicle for delivering nutritious goodness and raw vegetables or what?!?  Hummus is packed with fibre, protein and vitamins. It’s also vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and vegan. Clever little legume. 

It’s ubiquitous in the supermarkets here in the UK, but also remarkably quick, cheap and simple to make at home. You can literally knock hummus up from store cupboard ingredients in a matter of minutes. Beat that.  

Here’s a classic, simple and foolproof recipe for plain hummus.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin chickpeas (400g), rinsed & drained
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of ½ lemon

Method: 

  1. Reserve a few chickpeas for garnish.
  2. Pop the rest of the chickpeas in a food processor with the tahini, garlic, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
  3. Blitz the mixture and add a splash of water if it’s too thick.
  4. Give it a taste and carefully adjust with lemon juice and salt until you’re happy with the balance of flavours.

Of course, you can flavour hummus with all sorts of lovely ingredients: beetroot, roasted onion, paprika, edamame and wasabi, roasted red peppers – the list goes on and on. Given the current season, I’ve recently foraged some wild garlic (Ramsons) from here in the Cotswolds to give it a subtle twist. 

Here’s a link to my Harissa Hummus recipe:  https://foodfitforfelix.com/2016/06/22/harissa-houmous/

.. and there are more ideas over on Jamie’s page thanks to our lovely ambassadors: 

https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/10-twists-simple-houmous/ 

What about dried chickpeas? Is it worth the effort? It must be right? 

garbanzo beans

Dried chickpeas require a little time and love as you can’t eat them raw – they must be soaked overnight in cold water and then simmered for about an hour until tender. The benefit is that they’re even cheaper than the canned variety and you can control the texture by cooking them yourself. Note that they will triple in size once they’re rehydrated.  

To serve, I like to sprinkle over a little spice (paprika, cumin or sumac) and drizzle with a good quality olive oil. Delicious with flatbreads, toasted pitta or breadsticks, freshly cut vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, radish, celery – the choice is yours.

houmous

Hummus will keep for a good few days covered in the fridge.

Chilli Jam

Hot and spicy but like no other chilli sauce, this delightful condiment is curiously both sweet and savoury. Amazing with meat, cheese, whatever; I’ll admit to eating it on toast for a punchy breakfast and even straight from the spoon..

I literally love the stuff.

A glut of red chillies brings a naughty smile to my face as I know what’s coming next. Here’s my quick and easy recipe for a kicking chilli jam.

Ingredients:

  • 8 red chillies
  • 4 Romano red peppers (deseeded)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 750g caster sugar
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 400g passata or finely chopped tomatoes (you could just blend a tin of tomatoes)

Method:

  1. Roughly chop the chillies, peppers, ginger and garlic and then blitz in a food processor.
  2. Pop all of the ingredients into a heavy pan (or jam pan if you have one), stir and bring it up to the boil.
  3. Skim any scum that rises to the surface and then simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring frequently to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. making chilli jam
  4. Once you’re happy with the consistency, pour into sterilised* jars.

Refrigerate after opening.

chilli jam

As always, recipes are only guides – if you like it hotter, pump up the chilli, garlic and ginger. I like to use a mix of chillies to create a depth of flavour and include a birdseye chilli for a nice kick.

 

* to sterilise jars, give them a good wash in hot soapy water and then pop them into a hot oven for 10 minutes (lids too). Alternatively, just run them through a dishwasher cycle.

red chilli