Issue 96 is out now

By Rosie French and Ellie Grace

14th November 2016

When's it wet and chilly the most logical place to be is the kitchen. Here are some of our favourite comforting dishes

By Rosie French and Ellie Grace

14th November 2016

By Rosie French and Ellie Grace

14th November 2016

TRIO OF WINTER SALADS

BEETROOT WITH FETA AND MINT Serves 6

2 medium uncooked beetroot, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, Pinch of salt, 100g feta cheese, Handful of mint, loosely chopped, Drizzle of olive oil

1 Remove the beetroot leaves, being careful not to cut too close to the bulb, and boil the beets for 45 minutes. Drain, peel and finely slice. 2 Lightly toss the beetroot with the balsamic and a pinch of salt. Crumble over the feta in large chunks and finish with the mint. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

GIANT COUSCOUS, BUTTERNUT AND WALNUT

Giant (or Israeli pearl) couscous is a very quick and useful cupboard staple to throw into soups or salads and has a springy texture totally unlike the sandy grains of standard couscous. If you can’t find it, barley, spelt or orzo pasta are good substitutes. Serves 6

• 1 large butternut squash, seeded and cut into small dice • Long glug of good olive oil • ½ teaspoon chilli powder • 400g giant couscous • Heaped handful of walnut pieces, broken • ½ pomegranate, seeds and juices reserved • ½ lemon • Handful of mint, roughly chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6 and tip the squash into a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and add the chilli powder, using your hands to coat evenly. Roast until softened and crisp at the edges, and allow to cool. 2 Boil the couscous for 5–10

minutes in well-salted water, until al dente. Drain and refresh under a cold tap, drizzling with a little oil to prevent sticking. When the couscous and squash are both cooled, add to a serving bowl and stir once. Add the walnut pieces and deep red pomegranate seeds and juices, then turn gently to combine. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon half through your hands over the salad, dress with olive oil and turn again with the mint. Scoop up with baby gem leaves, radicchio or hot pitta breads.

SEEDED CABBAGE SLAW

The yogurt adds a pleasing tang to the smoky nigella seeds hidden in the cabbage. Serves 6

• ½ head red cabbage, sliced very thinly • ½ head white cabbage, sliced very thinly • 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly • 2 carrots, grated • Handful of sesame seeds, lightly toasted • Handful of black onion or nigella seeds • Handful of mint, chopped • Handful of coriander, chopped For the dressing • 2 tablespoons natural or Greek yogurt • Juice of ½ lemon • Heaped teaspoon of grain mustard • Heaped teaspoon of English mustard • Glug of red or white wine vinegar • Salt and pepper

1 To make the dressing, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, both mustards, vinegar and seasoning. Taste and adjust to suit. It should be pretty punchy. 2 Add the shredded vegetables to a large serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and turn well with a small handful of sesame seeds and black onion seeds. Finish with a scattering of mint and coriander and serve immediately.

A COUPLE OF TARTS

There’s no shame in buying ready-made pastry, especially when you’re short of time. Filo makes an extra crunchy casing for these delicious fillings.

ASPARAGUS, SHALLOT AND FETA TART Serves 8

• 6 sheets filo pastry • Hunk of Parmesan • 6 shallots • Knob of butter • Glug of olive oil • 1 bunch asparagus (approx 250g) • 2 free range eggs • 50ml double cream • 50ml whole milk • 50g feta • Salt and pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Butter and flour a 25cm tart dish and line with the first sheet of filo. Overlap the next sheet at a different angle so all sides of the dish are covered. Grate over some Parmesan and repeat until you have used all 6 sheets.

2 Peel the shallots and cut into quarters, lengthways. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the shallots. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are starting to soften and take on colour. 3 Bend each asparagus spear near the base until it snaps and discard the ends. Slice the spears diagonally into roughly 2.5cm long pieces and add them to the pan for about 2 minutes until a slightly paler green, then turn off the heat. Crack the eggs into a small mixing bowl, add the cream and milk and whisk until combined. 4 Tip the shallots and asparagus into the pastry, pour in the egg mixture and crumble over the feta. Season lightly and bake for 30 minutes until the tart has puffed up and turned golden on top.

LEEK AND GORGONZOLA TART Serves 8

• 6 sheets filo pastry • 6 leeks, washed and trimmed • Knob of butter • Small glass dry white wine (optional) • 3 extra-large handfuls fresh spinach • 75g Gorgonzola • 1 tablespoon cream cheese • Salt and pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line the tart dish as for the Asparagus, Shallot and Feta Tart, omitting the Parmesan. Slice the leeks into fine rings and sweat with seasoning and butter on a low heat until softened (about 5–10 minutes). Add the wine and let it reduce. Add the spinach and, once wilted, stir in the Gorgonzola and cream cheese. Fill the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

A FLOURLESS & FRUITY CHOCOLATE CAKE

This dense, wonderfully moist chocolate cake was a result of a build-up of dried apricots and a lack of flour in the cupboard. Serves 8-10

For the cake • Butter, for greasing • 300g dried apricots • 225ml ginger beer • 1 cinnamon stick • Zest and juice of 1 lemon • 6 free range eggs • 200g ground almonds • 175g golden caster sugar • 30g cocoa • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the topping • 200g dark chocolate • 200ml sour cream or crème fraîche • Zest and juice of 1 clementine • Handful of crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4 and butter a 20cm cake tin. Roughly chop the apricots and put in a pan with the ginger beer, cinnamon stick, lemon zest and juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the apricots have softened and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the cinnamon stick, purée the mixture and leave to cool. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and puréed apricot mixture. Pour into the tin and bake for 45 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, then leave to cool.

2 To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream or crème fraîche and the clementine zest and juice. Spread over the top of the cake using a spatula and top with the chopped crystallised ginger

WHAT TO READ

Kitchen & Co: Colourful Home Cooking Through The Seasons Ellie Grace and Rosie French (Kyle Books 2012)

Rosie French and Ellie Grace are the dynamic duo behind Salad Club (saladclub.co.uk), which began as a food blog in Ellie’s flat. They’ve since opened their flagship restaurant, French and Grace in Brixton, London.

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