We didn’t really know what to have for dinner, but we also had a lot of random vegetables that we had to eat before they went off. One pepper… another single potato… an aubergine… a fennel… What to do with all these bits and pieces?
The answer, obviously: roast all of them in the oven!
Then we had them with some olive oil (of course), a bit of chorizo and a fried egg (“for protein” 😅). And I made a salad for lunch the following day ✌🏻
Basically any random vegetable that you might have in your fridge, but in our case:
1 red pepper
Pebrella (if you have it) or oregano
A piece of chorizo (optional)
One egg per person (optional)
If you skip the chorizo and eggs, this could be a totally vegan dish. Do as you feel!
Put some water on a pot so we can lightly boil the fennel before roasting it (that way it will be tender). Set the heat to high.
Set the oven to 200C
Cut any ugly bits off the fennel, chopping off the ends and perhaps the outside leaves. Wash off any soil. When the water is boiling, add the fennel to it.
Prepare one or more trays (depending on how many vegetables you want to get rid off), oiling them lightly or perhaps adding some aluminum wrap if you don’t want things to stick to your tray
Peel or wash very thoroughly the potato (sometimes I like to keep the skin), and slice lengthwise. Lightly cut the flat sides so they get better cooked. Then place on the trays.
The aubergine is pretty tedious to peel, so I don’t. Wash it carefully and slice it like the potato, and place on the tray too.
Peel a few garlic cloves, slice them and place them on the aubergine slices. It adds a nice garlicy flavour!
Peel the onion, slice it in four parts and place on the tray.
When the fennel seems to have softened a bit, take it out of the pot, and (slice in 3 or 4 parts, place in tray)
This is our tray of things that will take longer to cook:
Add a bit of olive oil and salt, and place in the oven so it starts cooking.
And now for the tray of delicate things that take less to cook: the tomatoes and pepper.
Wash the pepper and slice longitudinally. Remove any seeds, and place on the tray.
Wash the tomatoes and slice in somehow thick slices (don’t go too thin or they just evaporate down to nothing). Place in the tray, and then add some olive oil to everything, and sprinkle with pebrella or oregano over the tomatoes. And place it in the oven.
Keep an eye on the food as it cooks. Some things take less to cook, so you might need to take a tray out and remove some of the ingredients to prevent things from burning. TIP: If it’s hard to look at the tray underneath because the oven light is on top, you can use your mobile phone’s flashlight function as a “lantern”.
When things are cooked to your liking (e.g. some people prefer the potatoes more done and crispy, others prefer them tender…), arrange them in dishes, ready to serve.
Optional: Right after turning the heat in the oven off, take a piece of chorizo, peel the skin off, slice it in two and place them in the oven to gently warm up while we cook the eggs. This will release its smokiness and soften the fats, so it’ll take a darker colour.
Optional: Fry the eggs, and place on the dishes.
Add some paprika on top of the potatoes. I’m using smoked paprika like the one in this recipe.
And there we go! Ready to eat 😋
We had never roasted fennel before, and this was such a nice surprise. It turns way mellower than when raw, and the aniseed flavour is sort of surfing on top of a gentle wave of sweetness. It conjured visions of walking across fields on a slightly chill, crisp Autumn Sunday morning; muddy boots and all.
You would wonder: can a roasted fennel do ALL THAT to your mind? And my answer is that the only way to find out is to try it by yourself.
We attended this afternoon workshop at their Borough Market baking school a few weeks ago. It was actually my Christmas present, but we have been so busy lately that we could only find time in March to do it!
It was really fun, the teacher was absolutely phenomenal and enthusiastic, and I am really embarrassed to admit that I did not remember her name, but thank you, Teacher!
I was a bit scared about baking because I have tried to bake breads in the past and they always ended up really flat and tough. But the workshop helped me realise what my main issues were:
not enough time or the wrong environment for the yeasts to do their business,
often, the capital sin: adding more flour instead of kneading more when the dough is sticky.
This is authentic Team Work™: my partner prepared and cooked the leeks and potatoes, and I puréed them and prepared the croutons! 😜
Butter, olive oil or coconut oil
Peel the potatoes, trim off the ugly bits in the leeks and possibly remove the outer leaf, as it tends to be quite sad looking. Wash everything thoroughly, to remove soil.
Slice everything in quite small pieces—the smaller, the faster they’ll cook.
Put in a pot with water and lots of pepper.
Bring pot to a boil, and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or an hour (until the potatoes start to break apart).
For the croutons, I used dry bread left overs. Instead of throwing it away, I diced it and saved it in a box. So when I need croutons, I just put them in the pan with a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and fry them, tossing them in the pan until they’ve absorbed the oil (this also makes them not be hard like rocks anymore).
I used a blender to purée the potatoes and leeks, but if you’d prefer a bit more of texture you could use a fork or a potato masher accessory to roughly mash them.
Add butter (or your substitution of choice) to taste, mix well, and correct for salt after the butter is well mixed–specially if the butter is salted! Don’t add salt before. Adding some fat is essential because otherwise this soup can feel quite thin and insipid.
Finally, serve with the croutons. And enjoy!
This is so good for cold days 😃
You can make this vegan if you choose a vegetal oil instead of butter.
It might be interesting to experiment with other spices instead of just pepper: perhaps nutmeg? some moderately hot chilli?
My partner was really excited to experiment with the rice cooker, because it has a soup-making function, so we used that instead. With this method, it takes way longer to cook the soup: 2 hours! and that’s even if we added hot water to start with. But it can be programmed in advance and it has a “keep warm” setting, so it’s nice to find the soup waiting for you when you arrive home.
The fastest option would be to use a pressure cooker, in which case we would be done in about 15 minutes. You’d put everything on the cooker, add water to cover, close the lid, bring to pressure, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, then turn the heat off, wait for the pressure to come down (or release it manually, depending on how hungry you are) so you can open the lid, and then continue from step 5. I so love pressure cookers! 💨😍
I cooked these loosely following this recipe from Felicity Cloake.
Except for the fact that I halved the amounts for the batter, changed the types of flour, and also didn’t use the suggested savoury fillings. Hence the bastardisation 😂
Ingredients (for 3 very generous portions)
For the batter:
50 g strong wholemeal flour
50 g semolina flour (I wanted to get rid of it)
125 g oats, both rolled and whole mixed (I didn’t bother grinding them)
125 ml milk
100 ml almond milk
225 ml water
5 g yeast
Coconut oil (for frying)
For the filling and garnishing:
Preparation (30 min preparing + overnight + 30 min cooking)
Mix the flours and oats together in a bowl
Add the milks and water to a pot and warm it up “to blood temperature”. I used a thermometer to make sure it wouldn’t go past 35 C, as I’m too scared to tip my finger into the pot
Then take a bit of liquid aside into a small container, and mix the yeast there, cover and wait until it gets bubbly when the yeast starts working
Then tip the yeast mix into the pot, dissolve well into the liquid
Pour the liquid into the flours bowl, and mix well
Cover it with cling film, and leave the bowl outside for an hour so the yeast can do its bubbly thing before putting it in the fridge overnight, or put it in the fridge straight away. I actually left it outside for about 4 hours because I was curious as to what would happen.
Next morning the batter will be beautifully bubbly. But we’ll gently mix it before we fry it, to make sure all the oats are distributed evenly.
Thinly slice the fruits we’ll use for the filling. I used a banana and an apple.
Put oil on a pan (I am terrible, so I used coconut oil) and bring to a high heat.
When it’s hot, pour enough batter to form a not-super-thick pancake. Also add a few fruits in.
I feel this batter is quite unlike normal pancake batter, it is less liquid and it gets quite bubbly, which I enjoyed witnessing.
When it looks as if the underneath side is pretty cooked, carefully fold the pancake in half (be careful with the filling not being in the way—it helps if you make sure they’re all in one side only) and lightly squeeze it with the spatula to make sure the batter is well distributed.
You might want to flip the folded oatcake a couple of times until it looks done (magically, they don’t seem to burn as easily as pancakes).
Then remove to a dish, and move on to the next oatcake, until all the batter has been consumed.
I garnished them with some cinnamon, coconut flakes and agave syrup (I’m really terrible, yes).
Sorry to all Staffordshire natives I might have terrorised with this recipe, but we just didn’t have any bacon at home this morning and the shops opened at 12 as it’s a Sunday 💁🏻
But to be quite honest, they were great and they worked nicely with the cold brewed coffee that my partner prepared, so I have zero regrets 😜