September 7, 2011

Inspired by Ottolenghi’s french beans, hazelnut & orange salad


Have I mentioned that amongst the cookbooks I have, one of the most valued ones is Ottolenghi, The Cookbook…along with his younger brother Plenty! :) I think there’s not one recipe from the book I’m not inspired by. Everything is so vibrant, the ingredient combinations are fantastic, the looks so appetising and colourful. For anyone who doesn’t know it I strongly recommend you flick through its pages just to get a feel of his philosophy of cooking. I got to know it through this post on Delicious Days featuring the almighty aubergine (probably my favourite ingredient) and decided to buy the book after a look at a few recipes. When it arrived and had a quick look at it…I didn’t know where to start, I wanted to have a go at everything!!!Still haven’t got around to visiting the “restaurants” but just to say that I just want to go to London to visit Ottolenghi! So, when I do get to do so, I will definately share the experience, which I am sure will live up to the expectations!


Anyway, about this salad…this year Linguini decided to have a go at planting quite a few vegetables: various tomato varieties, courgette, butternut squash (from the seeds of one we ate and loved), peas and beans. Some have grown beautifully, others not quite as well! It’s such a pity after all the time and care that went into them, to watch how most of the beautiful pea plants after flowering begin to wilt irreversibly from a sun overdose. They are picky, those ones…we did get to try a few pods (five to be exact!)and they were just like candy, straight from the pod. The beans have done so-so, began growing at incredible speed and then some made it through, others weren’t so lucky. But we did get to pick 3 or 4 handfuls of them…

The moment I got the first one, I knew I had to try this salad, which from the moment I saw it I knew I’d love. And like every other recipe I have tried, it was just a perfect match of ingredients! The crunchy very lightly cooked fresh beans with the earthy flavour of the nuts and it’s oil and the citrus punch of the orange rind. All plainly seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and maldon salt…simple yet perfect. The original recipe also includes mangetout, which I love (I would have added them lightly sautéed rather than boiled) but having just Linguini’s tender beans at hand, I didn’t miss them. So, I’ve repeated the salad, with the last handful of beans, the late ones the plant still offered us, for you…and for us to enjoy again!Hope you like it too!


French beans, hazelnut and orange rind salad (adapted from Ottolenghi)

400g of french beans

50g of hazelnuts

the rind of 1/4 of a large orange  (more or less to taste)

1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)

hazelnut oil* and olive oil (about half of each) to season to taste

freshly ground black pepper

maldon salt or another fleur de sel, ideally

(the original recipe also includes mangetout and some chives, which I skipped)

*This is the oil I used, From Percheron Frères, a fantastic brand, if you can find it.

judias 2

So, this salad is as simple as lightly boiling the beans (you can leave them whole or slice in two if you like them smaller) in plenty of unsalted water for about 3-5minutes,(more or less depending on how large the beans are) just enough time to retain a crunch and to plonge them in iced or running cold tap water to keep their vibrant green colour. Once cool, drain and dry.

For the hazelnuts, since I tried these unshelled hazelnuts from a trip to Asturias and realised the flavour and how well they keep, I do not buy shelled ones. So, that’s the only bit of work…worthwhile I find. So, just shell them and roast them in the oven, when ready, they peel very easily. Let them cool before mixing with the other ingredients.

Remove the orange peel in long thin strips (trying not to get any of the white skin, as it is bitter) or cutting it off before slicing finely.


Finally, just mix, season with the oils, salt and pepper to taste and serve! If you are not going to serve right away, it’s best to keep the ingredients separate, so the hazelnuts retain their crunch, or at least to avoid seasoning until the last minute.

Con appétit!!!!


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September 1, 2011

Rosemary rösti crust…A healthy & tasty alternative to a pastry based quiche


I’ve taken this month off, the truth is that I still feel “off”, someone close to us has passed away and it has shattered our world. I cannot remember having truly dealt with this sort of grief before…memories, many of which I was anaware of have striked me, to make me reconsider attitudes, priorities, to live in order to not regret. I don’t want time to slowly wash away these feelings, to wipe those ideas as our everyday race engulfs us in its maelstrom. But, I’m also literally out of breath, I have difficulty breathing from this whirlpool of emotions. Nothing time won’t heal, but I need time, so I’m taking it slowly…

Anyway, I meant to publish this quiche a few weeks back which is when I first tried it and fell in love with the possibility of substituting the usual “pâté brisée” used as a pastry base for most quiches and tarts with this flavourful, cheaper, healthier and quicker alternative!!I was browsing through food photographs by Con Poulos when I came across one of quiche that caught my attention for the rustic look of the crust that linked to this recipe site. I read about the shredded potato crust and though I love röstis it hadn’t occurred to me to use it as a quiche base!

I decided to give it a try with the belief that although tasty, the cream base would pour through the base (which honestly wouldn’t matter much as you can even make quiches without a crust -call them flans or puddings- but in this case it would get soggy rather than the nice crunchy contrast). I sticked with the recipe main filling ingredients, that is mushrooms and spinach, because I had liked the looks, but of course you can change them to whatever is in season or you like, like cherry tomatoes, bacon & onion, roasted rep peppers and goat cheese, the possibilities are endless and up to you. I just changed the cream base to one more to my liking (the original recipe was low-fat…I’m not so concerned in making it such) and made the rösti base my way, skipping the chopped onion part to make it quicker, not adding any cornflour but using floury potatoes instead for a crisper but lighter result and adding some garlic and fresh romesary to flavour the potatoes…that went beautifully with the mushroom filling, I find.

So, here it is, I hope you give the crust a try, because it is an excellent approach to making quiches, add to it any flavourings available to you according to the time you want to spend to make it. For a quick rösti crust, just spice it with something that goes well with your filling, fresh herbs (I’d love to try sage, for instance with a ricotta and spinach tart…like traditional raviolis!)or dried ones, some pastes (like red pepper paste), slowly fried onion and bacon…Pick one, you won’t regret it!

Spinach & mushroom quiche with rosemary & garlic rösti crust

For the crust:

aprox 450g  peeled floury potatoes

1-2 tbsp of olive oil

3-4 whole garlic cloves

some fresh rosemary, finely sliced

salt and fresly ground pepper, to taste

For the filling:

150g of cream (or up to 200g if it fits your mould)

2 eggs

more salt & pepper to taste

50g or more of a cheese that melts ( I used Arzúa Ulloa, which I’m addicted to)

200g of mushrooms (I used portobello, but if you have a tastier variety, even better!)

250g of fresh (baby) spinach

some more sprigs of rosemary


Begin by grating the peeled potatoes with a coarse grind


Season them to taste with the salt & freshly ground pepper and the finely  chopped up rosemary (if you choose to use it)


Preheat lightly a 26-28cm skillet (if you haven’t got one, in any case I’d go bigger, to make sure you get at least 2-3cm sides on a 22cm quiche mould.

Add the bit of olive oil and add the seasoned grated potatoes together with the garlic cloves lightly smashed to release their aroma & flavour.

Give it a few turns to flavour the potato and soften (cook) it lightly and spread it evenly over the base and remember to remove the garlic cloves :)

rosti quiche 1

It is IMPERATIVE, that your pan is non-stick, or at least very helpful, as the cooked potato pancake will slide off easily, otherwise you may go through hell!!So, if it isn’t I suggest you cure it with some salt so the potato doesn’t stick

Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until you get a light golden colour on the bottom and invert over the greased (with olive oil) quiche pan. I lined it with some parchment (just in case) but it would have come out without a problem).


Bake for about 15 minutes on a 180ºC (fan-assisted)  preheated oven to get again a golden colour (lighter to how you like it). Take into account, that it will need about 15 minutes more with the filling to cook, so if left to the colour you like blind baked, it will get too dark later.

Meanwhile prepare your filling ingredients, in this case, sauté the spinach in batches in a drizzle of oil, remove excess water by pressing against a strainer and season as instructed here.

Sautée the chopped mushrooms, with some more garlic cloves and rosemary if you like over high heat with little olive oil. Again, just remember to remove them once finished.


And mix the eggs and the cream and set aside to season just before filling.

When the crust is ready, assemble it, adding some of the greated cheese in the bottom to impermeabilise the crust a bit and distributing the rest of the ingredients to finally pour in the seasoned quiche cream mix almost up to the rim.

IMG_0485 IMG_0491


Bake until set, which will probably take 15 more minutes. If you like a paler look to the top, simply lower the temperature to 150ºC and just cook longer until set.

Ready to enjoy! Let cool or serve inmediately!


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