6 things I'll be cooking in November: 2 weeknight dinners, 2 comforting side dishes and 2 sweet treats.
1) Smoked Haddock Soup
If you read last month's post about what I was cooking in October, you'll notice that this is the second recipe I've shared with smoked haddock. Smoked haddock is something that I always have in my freezer because it is the perfect ingredient for weeknight cooking: it's quick and simple to cook but the flavour it gives really punches above its weight. On my previous post, I also talked a little bit about sourcing the fish sustainably. I think that most of us these days are pretty tuned in to the importance of eating higher welfare eggs and meat, but when it comes to fish the message is a little less clear and it isn't always easy to make informed choices when you're shopping. I always look out for a blue label on the packaging which says that the fish has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as coming from sustainable fish stocks. I usually purchase my frozen fish fillets in Lidl as it offers a wide range of certified sustainable fish.
This soup has got November written all over it: it's thick, it's warm, it's filling and it's deliciously savoury. It's an easy recipe which makes it excellent for weeknight meals, but it also feels decadent enough to serve as a starter at a dinner party.
2 fillets of smoked haddock (frozen is fine)
1 medium white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 large handful frozen peas or sweetcorn
200ml fish stock/ vegetable stock
salt and pepper
a knob of butter
soft herbs (parsley, coriander, dill or tarragon are best)
To begin, take a small saucepan, filled with water, and put it on the hob to boil. Then take another medium sized saucepan and place it on a medium heat. Add the butter and heat it until it foams, then add the diced onion. Cook the onion over a medium heat, moving them every now and then so that they don't stick and colour, and as you do so, just take a moment to enjoy the most incredible smell that is already filling your kitchen. Surely, there is no better smell than that of onions frying in butter. Add the grated garlic and continue to fry gently for another minute or so.
Add the diced potatoes and then pour over the stock. Bring the heat up to high so that the stock comes to the boil, then turn it down to simmer until the potatoes aren't quite cooked. Cooking time will vary, according to the size of your potatoes, but ten minutes ought to do it.
By now, your water should have come to the boil too. Carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water and boil for 6-7 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove from the heat and drain away the hot water. Turn on the cold tap and let the pan fill with cold water to stop the eggs cooking.
When your potatoes are almost but not quite cooked, pour in the cream and bring it just to a simmer. Then, add the fish and the peas/sweetcorn to the pan, cooking over a gentle heat. After about five minutes (if the fish has been frozen) you should start to see the fish flaking apart. When the flesh flakes easily into the thick creamy sauce, you know that the fish is cooked. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Pour the warm soup into bowls and top with the peeled, halved boiled eggs. Sprinkle over the soft herbs, and perhaps a little dusting of pepper on the runny yolks, then enjoy with crusty bread slathered in salty butter.
2) Mushroom and Kale Lasagne
First of all I must tell you that there is no photo to accompany this recipe because it is a shockingly un-photogenic dish. If I were a more skilled food photographer, no doubt I could assemble a flat lay that would make even this unapologetically brown dish looking just darling. However, when I trialled the recipe, I was far too hungry and it was far too dark and miserable outside to consider even attempting to take a pretty picture.
In short, this veggie comfort food.
150g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
approx 100g kale, stripped from tough stalks and chopped into bitesize pieces (I like the Cavelo Nero variety)
1 glove garlic, sliced thinly
1 spoonful plain flour
a knob of butter
handful dried mushrooms (porcini/ cep)
truffle oil (optional)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200c and boil the kettle.
Before you start to make the sauce, you need to soak the dried mushrooms. This serves a double purpose: it rehydrates the mushroom so that it's edible and creates a umami mushroom stock to add depth to our sauce! Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Leave these to one side whilst you make the rest of the sauce.
Place the butter into a high sided frying pan over a medium heat until it foams. Add the garlic and allow to fry for just a minute before you add the mushrooms. Fry the mushrooms for 5-7 minutes over a medium to low heat, moving regularly so that the garlic doesn't burn. It will look dry and you'll panic and want to add more fat/ liquid, but don't. Stick with it, moving it regularly, turning down the heat if necessary, and continue to cook. Eventually the mushrooms will reach a point where they start to soften and release their juices and everything will loosen up.
When the mushrooms are cooked, add the spoonful of flour and stir it in thoroughly ( I did warn you, this dish isn't a looker). Over a medium heat, begin to add the milk a third at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Once all the milk is incorporated you should have a lovely creamy mushroom sauce however it might look a little thick at this stage - don't panic.
Remove the dried mushrooms from the water and roughly chop them before adding them to the sauce. Pour in the muddy coloured water and stir it into the sauce, like you did with the milk. If it becomes too runny, just let it cook out until it reduces to the desired consistency. Finally, pour in the cream and grate in a good chunk of parmesan. If the sauce is still looking a little thick, you may need to add a little more milk to bring it down. At this point, I like to season the sauce with a little truffle oil to really enhance the mushroom flavour, as well as salt and pepper.
Add the chopped kale and mix thoroughly through the sauce. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes of the hob before assembling the lasagne.
Layer up the lasagne, alternating between the sauce and the pasta, finishing with a layer of sauce on top. Finish off with a generous topping on parmesan and some freshly cracked black pepper before popping it into the oven.
Cook the lasagne for 25-35 minutes, or unit the cheese is golden and the pasta cuts easily with a table knife.
3) Celeriac Gratin
I like dauphinoise potatoes a lot. A lot a lot. It might be love actually. Considering this is the third recipe containing cream (spoiler alert - it's not the last one) it's easy to see why I will never be a size 8... Sometimes I like to mix it up and through other root veggies into the dauphinoise. Welcome, the celeriac gratin.
You need approximately 200g potatoes and 200g celeriac which will feed four, but just scale up and down in order to fill the baking dish that you're using. Warm 300ml milk and 200ml cream (hello friend) on the hob with a glove of garlic, a sprig of thyme and some grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Warm the milk until just below boiling point, then turn off the heat. Thinly slice the celeriac and potato and arrange it in the dish before pouring over the strained creamy mixture. Bake in an oven which has been pre-heated at gas 3/160c for about 45minutes until it's golden brown and looks like heaven in a baking dish.
4) Super Jazzy Kale
We all know kale is a super food. Do you want to know how to make it more super? Add anchovies, garlic and chilli. This kale is lovely alongside some fried eggs for a brunch, or as a side dish to a roast.
Boil or steam the kale as you usually would, until it's tender. Meanwhile, put a glug of olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat. Add 3-4 tinned anchovies into the pan along with a clove or two of thinly slice garlic. Allow the garlic and anchovies to cook slowly until the anchovies break down and create an insane flavoured oil. Add chilli flakes, then add the cooked kale. Sauté the kale in the anchovy, garlic, chilli oil until it is wilted to the point of savoury deliciousness.
5) Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce
I made this dessert for a large event I was catering at the end of October. It looks spectacular and has a very seasonal feel to it, and the best part is that it can all be made ahead.
4 underripe pears
100g caster sugar
slice of orange peel
2 slices of fresh ginger
1 tbsp stem ginger in syrup
125g 60% dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
a big splash of milk
Take a saucepan which is just large enough fit the pears. Add the sugar and spices and fill the pan about 2/3 full with water. Bring the water to the boil then reduce the heat to very low. As you wait for the water to boil, peel the pears and core them. If you have a melon baller then this is apparently the perfect utensil to use for this, but who has one of those? But, most people have measuring spoons for baking and this does exactly the same job.
Add the pears to the water and cover (you want them on the lowest heat you have). Cook the pears for 30 minutes before checking them. The pears should be tender enough for a table knife to slip through the flesh easily. When I made them, they took 50 minutes and could probably have taken another 15 minutes without being too far done. After 30 minutes you should continue to check them regularly because you really don't want them to be too mushy!
Once the pears are tender, spoon them out and allow them to cool a little. The pears can be served straight away or they can be chilled and served at room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce. Heat the cream in a saucepan and add a large splash of milk. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and squeeze in the golden syrup. When the cream is heated to just below boiling point, pour it over the chocolate and stir slowly until the chocolate is completely melted and you have an thick, dark sauce. If it's too thick, add a little more milk until it's the correct consistency.
The sauce will become a set ganache when it cools so to reheat it you can use a microwave or place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.
6) Stem Ginger Biscuits
These biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to the poached pears and sauce above; they're equally as good with a cuppa. Mary Berry is the go to for baking. So these are a very slight adaptation of her Yorkshire Gingernuts where I've added a little stem ginger just for that extra gingery-ness.
To make these biscuits, melt 100g of butter in a sauce pan with 1tbsp golden syrup and 1tbsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger. Finely chop two balls of stem ginger and add it to the buttery syrup. Mix 100g of Demerara and light muscavado sugar with 350g self raising flour, 1tsp bicarb, 1 heaped tbsp ground ginger before beating in an egg. Pour in the butter and syrup, mixing into a dough.
Shape the biscuits into balls the size of walnuts and place them on a baking tray (lined with baking paper). They need to be spaced well apart because they do spread out a lot in the oven. Bake them at gas 3/160c for 15-20 minutes until they are golden and crackled on top.
If you make any of my recipes I'd love to hear about it! Tag me in your pictures or #dottyinthekitchen