The Best Way To Roast a Pepper

I shall refrain today from gushing about my gorgeous pup and will instead share with you a discovery: the best way to roast a pepper (capsicum).

What’s wrong with the normal ways, I hear you ask.  

Quite a lot actually.  

The most common method of roasting a pepper is to place them whole in a hot oven or over coals.  Undeniably, this creates perfectly cooked, juicy flesh but the post-cooking removal of the seeds makes me swear furiously.  Those sticky little buggers get everywhere! 

Another popular option is to cut the peppers into sections and then roast them.  No seed problems with this method but, more often than not, by the time the skin is charred, the flesh has dried out.  Placing the same slices under a grill has the opposite drawback: the skin chars too quickly leaving the pepper still quite crunchy.   It’s a dilemma.

Or it was, anyway.  I’ve now discovered that combining these latter two methods works an absolute treat.    Juicy flesh, easy peel skin and no sticky seeds.  What more could a pepper lover want? 

Perfect Roasted Peppers

Red, yellow or orange peppers

Olive oil

Salt

  • Cut the peppers into quarters lengthways and remove seeds and white bits.
  • Rub with olive oil and a little salt and place skin down on a baking tray.  Roast for 20 mins in a 190oC oven.
  • Turn the peppers skin up and place under a very hot grill.  Grill until skins are just blistered and blackened.
  • Place hot peppers into a bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave to cool.
  • Peel peppers, discarding skin. 

Suggested uses:

  • Marinate in lemon, garlic and olive oil for an antipasto
  • Add to sandwiches.  The moistness of the peppers means mayo or butter isn’t necessary.
  • Blitz with buttermilk and a little cayenne to create a vibrant sauce.
  • Tossed through pasta.
  • Or my current favourite use: with puy lentils, deseeded tomatoes, roasted aubergine, parsley and a balsalmic/olive oil dressing. 

Spaniel Names and Spectacular Soups

My mind is filled with thoughts of a small black spaniel.  It’s only three more sleeps until I head up to Tain, pop him in my car and take him home with me for ever and ever.  His bed is waiting, his toys are bought, he has his own towels and I’ve even cooked and frozen some small bags of mince to add to his dog food dinners.  All I have to do now is decide on a name.

 

Being a year old, he obviously already has a name but he doesn’t really respond to it.  My dog psychologist friend, Lina tells me changing his name will be absolutely fine and so I’ve been mulling over options.  D is not being helpful about this, continually suggesting names such as Biter and Humper, and so I’d like to know what you guys think of my short list.  Which name out of the following do you like best:

 

 

1.      Marco – This is his current name.  Could just keep it. It’s Italian and it’s fun.

2.      Hamish – Scottish.  Cheesy.  Cheery.

3.      Douglas – Scottish.  Also cheery but with an earnest edge, I think. 

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  :)

 

Now, on to food.  Let me share with you a recipe for an absolutely spectacular soup.  Based heavily on a recipe from the amazing Leith’s Vegetarian Bible, this is a meal I am already looking forward to eating again and again and again.  I served the soup with home-made hummus and crispy baked pita breads.  Dinner this evening felt like a real event.

 

 Lemon Bulgar Soup

1 tblspn olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

0.5 tspn turmeric

1 tspn cumin

1 stalk of lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed then finely chopped

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

0.25 tspn dried chilli flakes

1 litre vegetable stock

75g bulgar wheat

Seasoning

Coriander leaves to serve

  • Gently fry the onion and fennel in the oil until softened. 
  • Add the spices, garlic and lemongrass and cook for another minute.
  • Add the lemon zest, juice, chilli and stock and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 10 mins.
  • Add the bulgar and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Season to taste and serve sprinkled with coriander leaves.

To make the pita bread chips, simply half a bread and cut into quarters so you have 8 thin pieces.  Brush lightly with oil and lightly dust with paprika.  Cook in a 180oC oven for 10 mins until crispy.

Kleftiko

Oooooh, this was a controversial meal.  Being one of my all time favourite meat dishes, I was very excited about making it for D for the first time.  Just knew he’d adore this Greek dish as much as I do.  Except he didn’t.  At all.  And I went in a total huff about it.

For all the reasons I love this dish, D hated it.  The pronounced flavour of the lamb, the fattiness of the cut, the fiddly effort to eat around the bone and the crinkly paper.  I say all of these make a fun and highly tasty, occasional treat.  D disagrees and would rather I’d made shepherd’s pie instead. 

Ach, well.  Can’t win them all!  :)

Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb shank per person

4/5 new potatoes per person

Carrot per person, chopped

Stick of celery per person, chopped

50g pecorino cheese per person, sliced

1/2 a bulb of garlic per person, one clove cut into slivers and the other’s left whole

Thyme sprigs

Seasoning

  • Preheat oven to 170oC.
  • Rub lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  Cut slits into the meat and stuff in some slivers of garlic and thyme sprigs.
  • Pile vegetables, herbs cheese and garlic onto a large double sheet of greaseproof paper.  Place the lamb shank on top then gather the paper up around the package.  Secure tightly with string.
  • Place parcel into a roasting tray and pour in an inch of boiling water.  Cook in the oven for 3 hours topping up the water when needed.
  • Remove from the oven and serve in the paper. 

Kedgeree

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish based on the comfort food of Southern Asia, khichdi.  Traditionally eaten by wealthy Victorians for breakfast, it is now more commonly served at lunch or dinner.  Quite right too, says I.  Though I often have eggs first thing on a Sunday morning, though kippers are always my first choice for breakfast in Scottish hotels and though (having lived in Japan) I’m no stranger to rice in the morning, fish, eggs and rice altogether before noon seems like madness to me. 

No wonder those Victorians were a chubby lot.

Making efforts to avoid said chubbiness, I prepared my kedgeree with much less butter than is usually used and extra green stuff.  The result was a fresher, lighter dish of rice and fish than I’ve previously tasted and I preferred it this way. 

My Lighter Kedgeree

(serves 2)

250g smoked haddock fillets

1 tblspn ghee or butter

1 onion, chopped roughly

100g basmati rice

1-2 tspn medium curry powder (to taste)

75g fresh or frozen peas

2 boiled eggs, chopped

4 spring onions, chopped

Small handful of parsley, chopped

Seasoning 

Lemon wedges

  • Place fish in a large pan and just cover with boiling water.  Simmer very gently for three minutes.  Remove fish from the pan and set aside to cool.  Reserve cooking water.
  • In a seperate pan, fry the onion gently in the ghee until soft.  Stir in the rice and curry powder.  Cook for another minute.
  • Add 150ml of the cooking water to the rice and onion.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 mins.  Add the peas, recover and continue cooking for another 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.  You may need to add a little more of the reserved liquid.
  • Meanwhile, flake the fish and remove any bones.
  • Add the fish to the rice and stir through gently.  You may need to add a little more water to prevent scorching. 
  • Season carefully before serving topped with the boiled eggs and sprinkled with spring onion and parsley.

For those of you who are in a rich and indulgent mood, check out these recipes instead:

Delia’s Buttery Kedgeree

James Martin’s Creamy Kedgeree

Finnish Buns for the Highland Games

 

 Our school’s Highland Games take place tonight.  The kids are high as kites and the corridors are mayhem.  I’m taking a little breather before venturing out again into the partly assembled tents and stalls which are filling up the sport’s field.

Being a slightly more confident baker than last June, my donations to the cake stall this year include Holler’s mum’s fruitcake, Johanna’s grubs, white chocolate & walnut brownies, Scottish Tiffin, lemon poppy seed loaf and various forms of Finnish pulla.

Pulla is a Finnish sweet bread made with cardamon and traditionally eaten with coffee.  It takes many forms and (after making the basic dough) I tried to recreate three: voisilmspullat, korvapuusti and normal pulla.  The latter is a simple braided loaf.  Voisilmapullat means “butter eyed rolls” and is a cardamon bun baked with a butter filled dent in the centre.  Korvapuusti, which means “slapped ear”, are my favourites and are huge spiral cardamon buns filled with a sugary cinnamon butter.

I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve created – it was my first try, afterall – but I won’t post the recipe until I’ve perfected them.  Hopefully later in the summer.  :)