As much as anything this is a ‘reminder to self’! There are so many wonderful vegetables available in the middle of summer that with or without a recipe we should grab and use them. Here is a perfect example of that – we had a few extra tomatoes and French beans from the garden. We had also bought a few more peppers than normal as they had been on offer so they were abundant too. So this ‘Grab some Veg’ dish (more…)
Having played with our Aubergine/Gnocchi and Parmigiana bake we have also played with a number of variations over the last year or so. One of the best has moved it a little closer to a puttanesca sauce with anchovies, capers and olives, and for us at least, only a little chilli!
The preparation of the dish is exactly the same as for the Aubergine/Gnocchi Parmigiana bake. Firstly the aubergine was cut into decent size chunks. We were short of aubergine and so added a little courgette which works well too. These were then sautéed in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour. (We often choose to include the peppers in this dish and if so add them at this point. The dish does work well without then too). Set these to one side.
We added some finely chopped onion to the pan to soften in a little olive oil. Once it had started to take on some colour the chopped garlic was added and cooked a little more. If you are using fresh or dried chilli, then add it at this stage and stir through the mix.
A can of chopped tomatoes was added and warmed through and then the pan was taken off the heat and the anchovies stirred in. As it is stirred through the anchovies completely break up and thickens the sauce. The pan was put back on the heat and some black olives and capers were tossed in and allowed to cook through for a couple of minutes. This is a good time to test and adjust the sauce base as necessary.
Now to build the dish. The roasted aubergines, (the peppers if including them) and the gnocchi were added to the sauce and left to bubble for 10-15 mins. The sauce was stirred occasionally in the first 5 mins to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed. Normally, at this stage, this would be the time to transfer to an ovenproof dish. As we were already cooking in the Tefal Ingenio pans with the removable handles, this was going to be our ovenproof dish.
Once the gnocchi were starting to soften and the sauce had thickened we stirred through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scattered the torn chunks of mozzarella on the top. We usually add a little grated parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella. It adds a contrasting texture and colour as well as a little more crunch to the topping.
We have cooked this inside on the hob and on the Big Green Egg, both work well. This was being cooked on the Egg and so the vents were closed and the cheese allowed to melt for a minute or two.
Whether cooking in a domestic kitchen or on the Big Green Egg the dish often needs to be finished under a domestic grill as a ‘crozzled top’ is the one thing the BGE doesn’t do well unless the EGG diameter is a lot greater than that of your pan.
The dish can be put under the grill in the kitchen to finish off the top – but more recently we have been finishing these off in our Gozney Pizza oven. Either way just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!
This is a dish that always tastes better if you let it cool for at least 15 minutes after cooking. So ………
Just take a drink ……. make a green salad………….
………………… give it a go!
Aubergine and gnocchi puttanesca bake
A combination of roasted Aubergines, puttanesca sauce and gnocchi - a perfect and simple bake
- 1 Aubergine cut into decent size chunks.
- Olive oil for sautéing
- 1 Red pepper, deseeded and chopped - optional
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Garlic clove chopped
- 400g tin of tomatoes
- Salt and pepper.
- 250g gnocchi
- Handfull of pitted black olives
- Capers 2Tbs
- Salted Anchovy fillets 5-6
- A little finely chopped fresh chilli or a few chilli flakes
- Fresh or dried oregano and thyme
- 125g mozzarella
- Grated parmesan (optional)
- Step 1 Cut the aubergine into chunks, around 3 cm in most directions. Sauté in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour. Add the chopped peppers if using them and cook for a few minutes more. Set both the peppers and aubergine to one side.
- Step 2 Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and soften in a little olive oil. Once it takes on some colour add the chopped garlic, the chilli, and cook for a few minutes more.
- Step 3 Add the tinned tomatoes and allow to cook through for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the anchovy fillets until they break up and thicken the sauce
- Step 4 Put the pan back on the heat and add the capers and black olives. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 Add the roasted aubergines, pepper and the gnocchi and leave the sauce to bubble for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi will soften and the the sauce thicken.
- Step 6 Transfer to an ovenproof dish, stir through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scatter torn chunks of mozzarella on the top. At this point you can also add a little grated parmesan cheese.
- Step 7 Allow to continue cooking till the cheese melts and starts to colour. If needed transfer to a domestic grill for a couple of minutes to finish off the top – just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!
- Step 8 Let the dish cool for at least 15 minutes after cooking. Serve with a green salad
Over the last few years when travelling in Tuscany I have been tempted on a few occasions to buy and cook a rabbit, Italian style. Only having the Mini BGE with us I have been reluctant, as casseroling on a 10 inch Kamado never seemed quite possible (I have not found a casserole dish small enough to fit – yet!!)! As we can’t travel to Tuscany at the moment, it does mean we have access to a greater range of BGEs at home. All we needed therefore was the rabbit and a recipe or 2 to play with!! Today we had both – so here we go!
The recipe is based on one of Anna Del Conte’s recipes from her classic book The Gastronomy of Italy (a birthday present for my last ‘significant’ birthday). Del Conte’s recipe was itself based on a classic from La Cucina d’Ora – a ‘tome and a half’ with more than 1500 classic regional recipes, published in corporation with the Accademia Italiana della Cucina. A variation of the recipe also appears in ‘La Cuchina – The regional cooking of Italy’ in the section from Piedmont in the Northwest of Italy (but without the anchovies!).
The BGE was set up for direct cooking and allowed to stabilise at around 180C. Whilst waiting we portioned the rabbit into the 4 limbs – the loin was also portioned into 4 pieces (there are lots of You Tube videos demonstrating this, or you can ask your butcher).
In many ways it would be easier to cook this dish in the large BGE as you could have 2 pans on the heat at the same time. Despite this we elected to cook on the MiniMax just to see how it would go. If you can cook it on a small BGE, you can always cook it in a larger one!
Half the butter and a similar volume of olive oil was added with the rosemary. The hot oil quickly absorbs the essential oils from the rosemary.
The Bay leaf and the rabbit pieces were added and the rabbit browned on all sides. When all were nicely brown add the stock and cook for around 20 minutes. The casserole was moved from the BGE, the cooking continuing with the stored heat from the pan.
A second pan was put in the MiniMax to heat up. The remaining butter and a similar volume of olive oil was added to the pan with the anchovy fillets. The anchovies quickly become a mush which thickens the oil. This is just the time to add the garlic and the pepper strips. The original recipe uses yellow peppers – but we had red ones, and I think they look great! They were seasoned with pepper, but not salt as the anchovies were already salty. The peppers were cooked for around 5 minutes then the vinegar was added and stirred through. They were then cooked for a further 10 minutes until they softened a little, stirring regularly.
The pepper mixture was added to the casserole with the rabbit and the casserole was returned to the BGE. The air vents were shut back to allow the temperature to fall a little. The dish was cooked for another 30 minutes turning the pieces 2 or three times in this period. (You could probably reduce this to around 20 minutes with a farmed rabbit).
All that was left to do was to plate up. We sat the rabbit on a small piece of sourdough to absorb the rich sauce and served with steamed broccoli. We served one large hind leg and a piece of loin each and saved the rest for a second rabbit dish which we will publish soon.
…………………………………. do give it a go!
Footnote: Most of today’s chicken recipes started their lives as rabbit recipes – so in a ‘turn about’ this recipe would work well with chicken instead of rabbit!!
A whole rabbit is enough for 4 people – but as there are just 2 of us we used the second part of this casseroles the basis of another simple dish – link here
Italian rabbit with red peppers
A great roasted and casseroled rabbit dish from the heart of Italy cooked with red peppers and enriched with anchovies - an Italian classic
- One rabbit (about 1Kg)
- 5 tbs olive oil
- 50g butter
- 1 tbs rosemary leaves
- 1 Bay leaf
- 100 ml of stock
- 6-8 canned anchovies fillets
- 2 garlic clove - chopped
- 3 red peppers deseeded and cut into strips
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and allowed to stabilise at around 180C. Whilst waiting portion the rabbit into the 4 limbs and portion the loin into 2 or 4 pieces – or get your butcher to do this
- Step 2 Add half the butter and a similar volume of oil to a casserole dish and add the rosemary. Cook for a minute to allow the oils to absorb the rosemary essential oils. Add the Bayleaf and the rabbit pieces. Brown the rabbit well on all sides then add the stock and cook for around 20 minutes before removing the pan from the EGG.
- Step 3 Add a second pan to the BGE and heat. Add the remaining butter and oil along with the anchovy fillets. The anchovies quickly become a mush which thickens the oil. Add the garlic and the pepper strips. Season with pepper, but not salt as the anchovies were already salty. Cook for around 5 minutes then add the vinegar and stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes until they soften a little, stirring regularly.
- Step 4 Add the pepper mixture to the casserole with the rabbit and return the casserole to the BGE. Close the air vents to a small opening to allow the temperature to fall a little. Cook for a further 30 minutes turning the pieces 2 or three times in this period. (You could probably reduce this to around 20 minutes with a farmed rabbit). Check the seasoning and see if any salt in particular is required
- Step 5 Plate up the dish – it is worth sitting the rabbit on a small piece of bread to absorb the rich sauce
If cooking during the pandemic has taught me anything it has to be about simple innovation using ingredients you have to hand. Similarly, it is about using one dish/recipe as the basis for another similar, but distinctively different dish.
This dish is a good example of that. The primary recipe (here) used the 2 rear legs and a little of the rabbit loin for the main dish for 2 people. This left some fantastic sauce, and some great cooked peppers, and a smaller portion of the rabbit. Obviously we could have just eaten it again as a slightly less opulent dish. Instead we gave it a little (frugal) twist. This made it go further, but more importantly gave it a different character and the feeling of a ‘new dish’! The idea was very simple; bring the meat and the sauce up to serving temperature, loosen the sauce slightly with a little stock, and then cook some gnocchi in the sauce.
And really it was as simple as that. It had been a lovely afternoon and we had been making stock from the rabbit carcass on the Big Green Egg. The rabbit and sauce still in its original casserole from 2 days earlier was put on the EGG and allowed to thoroughly warm through. A good ladleful of the rabbit stock was added and stirred through the sauce. The pan had been warming for a good 20 minutes and we had tested that the meat was above the minimal safe core temperature for reheated food (The minimum legally accepted temperature for reheating of food is 75C in England and Wales and 82C in Scotland). The gnocchi was added and stirred into the sauce and allowed to cook. Our gnocchi on this occasion were not home made. They normally require around 3 minutes cooking in boiling water – but when cooked in a sauce like this I tend to leave them a little longer. They certainly come to no harm and contribute a little to the thickening of the sauce.
All that was then left to do was to plate up with our chosen accompaniments.
…………….. on this occasion we served the dish with spiced cabbage and purple and green sprouting broccoli. The gnocchi gave a lovely rich oppulence to an already fantastic tasting sauce and complimented the rest of the dish perfectly!
……………….. do give it a go!
Rabbit, peppers and gnocchi
A simple way of taking the leftovers of a previous casserole, making it go just a little farther with a different 'taste twist'
- The remains of a rabbit and pepper casserole cooked earlier (would work with many other casseroles too)
- Ladle of good stock
- 150g gnocchi
- Step 1 Bring the remains of the old casserole up to temperature till the meat reaches a safe core temperature.
- Step 2 Add a generous ladle of good stock
- Step 3 Add the gnocchi and cook for 5-6 minutes
- Step 4 Serve with your choice of vegetables
This cook is based on a recipe from Boxxfresh, a UK company supplying really great fresh fruit and vegetables. They described Mole (pronounced ‘mo-lay’) as the ‘quintessential chilli sauce native to Mexico’. It apparently literally means ’everyday sauce’! As such it is ladled over nachos, tacos, enchiladas, burritos or served on rice. The recipe takes care to mimic what so many of us think of a “Chilli” meaning Chilli con Carne. But this is a plant based dish or one of the plant-centric dishes we are cooking more and more. So whilst mimicking this classic meat based dish it uses chopped mushrooms to recreate some of the texture of minced beef and does so very well. It returns to its origins in South America with tomatoes, black beans, dark chocolate, chillies and cinnamon spices to create what they describe as ‘deep soulful flavours that will have you reaching for seconds!’
We have used Boxxfresh (no links) to supply most of the plant based food we have eaten during the first 12 months of the covid pandemic. Together with supplying fantastic products they are actively helping and encouraging people to make more of, and more with fruit and vegetables. This recipe started out as one of the many on their site (see here) with just a few little adjustments for cooking it on the Big Green Egg
The Big Green Egg was lit and allowed to heat up to around 180C. Whilst the temperature settled we blitzed the mushrooms in the food processor, being carful not to process it too far. The whole thing could be cooked directly in a Dutch Oven but I prefer to use a wide shallow handle free pan to start things off. The mushrooms were gently fried off in olive oil in this pan until softened. These were then set aside.
As the food processor had already been used we also blitzed the onions and then cooked in the same pan as we had the mushrooms. After a minute or so the chopped garlic was added. We have also come to add the red pepper (which we use instead of the chilli in the original recipe) at this stage. This was softened with the onions. (We have also done them separately and added them back in when the mushrooms were added back – but this is just easier).
The onions were cooked until translucent at which point the spice mix was then stirred through and cooked for another minute or so.
The platesetter was put in place to move the BGE to indirect cooking. A small chunk of oak was added to the charcoal to add to the smoky flavours developed in the second part of the cook.
The onion, garlic, pepper and spice mix was transferred to a Dutch oven together with the 2 tins of beans. This was then put into the EGG and allowed to warm through. Once warmed, the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, tamari, vinegar and wine were all added to the pot and gently mixed together. The whole dish was brought to a very gentle simmer without the lid to cook off the alcohol and allow the liquids to reduce a little.
Finally, the mushrooms, (the sautéed peppers if you choose to cook them separately), chocolate and maple syrup were added and stirred through the dish. As you will see from the picture we had slightly misjudged the volume of the ingredients. The pan was very full to say the least. Normally we would have cooked this for around 90 minutes or so at around 150-160C. Because the pan was so full we cooked at around 110C instead. This proved to be a great decision!
At 110C we ended up with a very slow cook taking around 5hrs. During this time the volume reduced, though only a little, and the colour deepened. More importantly the taste took on a really complex richness, more than we have had before. It will be ‘low and slow’ for this dish from now on!
Served with a baked potato, rice, nachos or tortilla chips – you really can’t go wrong!!
…………. do give it a go!!
Chilli sin Carne - a plant-centric version of a classic
A superb plant centric version of a classic chilli con carne!
- Main Iingredents
- 250g of mushrooms
- 2 red onions or 3 shallots
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1 Red pepper (could substitute with 1/2 or 1 whole chilli)
- 2 tins of black beans of kidney beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp Tamari
- 1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 1 large glass red wine
- 10g of dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A little water if required
- For the spicing
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika ( smoked of you have it )
- 1 tsp oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to season
- Step 1 This can be cooked inside on the hob and oven – or on the BGE – or a combination of both. When the weather isn’t great we sometimes do the first part in the kitchen on the hob
- Step 2 Light the Big Green Egg and allow it to heat up to around 180C.
- Step 3 Blitz the mushrooms in the food processor Leave them coarse)
- Step 4 Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil until coloured and softened, either directly in a dutch oven or in a handless pan (if working on the BGE). Set aside.
- Step 5 Blitz the onions and cook in the same pan as the mushrooms. After a minute or so add the chopped garlic after a couple of minutes more add the red pepper and softened with the onions. When the onions are translucent add the spice mix and stir through for another minute or so.
- Step 6 Add the platesetter to the BGE and add some smoking wood to the charcoal
- Step 7 Transfer the onion, garlic, pepper and spice mix to a Dutch oven (if not already using the Dutch oven)together with the 2 tins of beans. Place on the EGG and allow to warm through. Then add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, tamari, vinegar and wine to the pot and stir through. Bring to a very gentle simmer without the lid to cook off the alcohol and allow the liquids to reduce a little.
- Step 8 Finally, add the mushrooms, chocolate and maple syrup and stir through the dish. Cook at around 110C for at least 3hrs (or at 180C for 90m
- Step 9 Serve with a baked potato, rice, nachos or tortilla chips
We have probably done a greater variety of cooking this year as we have largely been confined to home during the Covid pandemic in 2020. I have intended to use the time to do more writing for the site – but in the end we have cooked more and written less!!
One thing we have been doing is (more…)
We have been playing around with a few meat free dishes, such as our slow roasted caramelised fennel dish and our roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and toasted flax seeds. But although we like vegetarian food our experience is limited. Finding the book “Charred” by Genevieve Taylor seemed like a great opportunity (more…)