Hands up who loves potatoes? Mashed, baked, roasted – they are the basis of Winter life, really. And here is another baked potato dish. Potatoes are sliced and baked with garlic and rosemary till tender and with a crisp top. What could be more Wintery?
Over the years of my blogging (since 1995), there have been a number of recipes that have been stolen dozens if not hundreds of times. My Dal Makhani was the most used by others, and surprisingly, this recipe for Potato, Spinach and Feta Pie too. You can still find exact reproductions if you look, and in some places small alterations have been made.
This is the original version of the recipe – well, almost. Over the years I have added turmeric to the mixture. The original recipe appeared on my first blog, called Food Matters, no longer in existence, in 1998, so it truly is a retro recipe. The pie is still as terrific today as it was then.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can see more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.
A long time ago I fell in love with Gratin dishes when I was working in Nancy in France. There was an art theatre there that often showed films in English, so I was a regular visitor. Close by, maybe even next door, was a little cafe that served only gratin style dishes. It was very convenient to have a meal and then pop next door to the theatre, so it became routine for me to visit. It was so good, I still remember it fondly, especially its Poire Belle Helene Dessert.
We have a number of gratin dishes here as a result of that little cafe, and today it is a Fennel Gratin made utterly delicious with feta and honey. The recipe comes from Ilva Berreta, food photographer and former food blogger. I miss her blog, it was full of the most delightful stories and recipes.
Similar dishes include Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Potatoes and Cheddar Gratin, Gratinéed Sweet Potato, and Pasta Bake with Cheddar and Cheese.
Ottolenghi’s book, Nopi, has an undeserved reputation of being to chefy, too difficult for a home kitchen. While that is sort of true for some recipes, there are also so many dishes in this book that are either simple to make, or can be adjusted to suit your kitchen and pantry.
This recipe falls into the first category. It is just roasted carrots, but the mixture that the carrots are tossed in makes all the difference. Quite divine. We ate a plateful each.
For this dish I did three things differently. I used some Quince Honey that I made earlier this year – quite divine in its own right. I layered white and black pepper in the dish – using both in dishes is my current obsession, as it gives layered peppery flavours. And thirdly, our garlic cloves here are large and fat and luscious, so I avoid mincing or dicing them. They have a right to be present in the dish, front and foremost. So I slice them whenever I use them, but you could also use them whole.
Baked chickpeas are a delicious, easy and healthy snack. You can snack on them straight from the pan, or throw them into salads, on top of pasta or scattered over a thick wintery soup. Eat them sitting in the garden in the sunshine. Take them in your backpack on long walks. Bring them to a picnic. Take a small container to the gym. Bring in your bento box to the office for lunch. Nibble when you have the pre-dinner munchies. Or snack on them late at night while watching TV.
I first baked spicy chickpeas way back in 2008, and they have been a firm favourite in our household. But recently we made a variation of the recipe. Rather than using canned or ordinary cooked chickpeas, we have soaked and cooked the chickpeas in turmeric water. It adds a lovely colour to the chickpeas and a turmeric tang to the flavour. Turmeric chickpeas are all across the internet, and we have done a small experiment with them to test the flavours, visual appeal and health impact. If you are interested, you can read more about the wonders of Turmeric.
The recipe for Spicy Baked Chickpeas is one that works well with the Turmeric Chickpeas.
Elizabeth David has a lovely recipe for gratineed fennel that is a simple and refreshing dish. It’s a dish that bakes fennel with cheese, and of course, butter. This dish can also be cooked in a covered BBQ.
We adore fennel, as you can tell by our recipes. It can be eaten raw, steamed, sauteed, grilled, BBQ’d, baked and gratineed. It can be cooked on it’s own, or combined with other ingredients. You can make soups, salads and sides. One of the easiest salads to make is to shave a fennel bulb and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. I dare you to make this and not eat the whole bowl by yourself, it is so delicious.
Carrots and Parsnips are a classic combo in English cooking and they do go well together. Two roots, side by side, creamy white and rich orange, they certainly are a picture.
In this dish the two vegetables are grated, sweated in butter, mixed with cream and topped with breadcrumbs and cheese. So English! But so very good too as an accompaniment to a main meal, or on its own with some flatbreads for a late supper.
Baked Feta is a perfect mezza dish, served with crackers or flatbread. Flavoursome, soft, mouth watering, the baked feta is aromatic and elicits sounds of approval from your friends at your shared table. It is the sort of dish that you can make at the last minute – your friends arrive unexpectedly at meal time, as they do.
Or it is a great snack, mid afternoon, with a pot of mint tea. And it goes really well on Summery days when the BBQ is lit and people are milling around, nibbling, while the salads are made and the vegetable kebabs are cooking. We have also had it on a Winter’s day as we sit around the fire, reading, writing and chatting. Best of all, it is a perfect Summer Holidays dish, when no-one wants to cook much at all.
This recipe is a mish-mash of Italian and Greek. Definitely Mediterranean.
I do love those dishes you can do in under 10 mins, or if you are throwing them in the oven and they don’t take any effort, under 20 mins. We are all busy women, right? Doing a hundred things, with responsibilities for a hundred more. Between running my business, doing my “giving back” community volunteering work, running a house and large garden, cooking my heart out, grabbing coffees with friends – well, life is always full. Days are long, tummies get hungry (especially mine) and dinner is demanded on the table, like, NOW.
Right now, life is busier than it has been, and so the focus is on more of the dishes that are wonderful-without-effort. For example, I’ve been known to put on a pot of pasta (to eat with olive oil, black pepper and pecorino), throw these asparagus in the oven, cook some Quick Zucchini and Garlic, and serve all with slices of crusty bread, to great family applause. All done in 15 mins if you turn the oven on when you come through the door, and before while you open some great wine to sip while cooking and chatting. Then for dessert – fruit and soft cheeses. Done.
You have to have these types of dishes. Some days you want to spend 3 hours on a meal. On other days you want a decent meal between the time you get in from work, and the time you rush out to meet the girls from the book club.
It is late winter and the fennel in my green grocer is still both superb and cheap. Today we bake it with lemon and herbs. It is served with a lovely creamy sauce, almost like aoli, but made with cream. As we are vegetarians, we don’t cook with eggs, so this dressing of pouring cream, seasoning and lemon juice, beaten till it thickens, is a perfect substitute. You should try it! Different flavourings can be added as needed.
Today, we caramelised some cumquats to serve with the fennel. The caramelisation deepens the cumquat flavours and as they are abundantly in season we are using them in place of lemons in many dishes.
Are you after similar recipes? Try Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Florentine Fennel with Parmesan, Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Orange and Garlic, Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella, and Fennel a la Grecque.