Kale and coriander pancakes with avocado butter and roasted tomato

kalepancakes

It was Pancake Day yesterday. This post was supposed to go up then. But you, know, life happened (and I may just have forgotten to update WordPress in ages, rendering it unusable). But boy, did I get busy with the pancake pan. I did this smoked haddock pancake with frazzled leeks and lemony creme fraiche recipe for Fish On Friday – an amazing new fish website, and I also made these little beauties for breakfast – mostly because I wanted to feel better about eating pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner (dinner was the talented Uyen Luu’s Banh Xeo – thanks Uyen!)

Here’s my recipe – yes, sorry, another kale one, but it’s tasty, I promise! – for an alternative, and wonderfully healthy Pancake Day dish. The pancakes themselves are stuffed full of goodness in the form of very finely chopped kale, with the slow-roasted tomatoes lending a richness and acidity. The creamy, perky avocado butter is made with tahini and is dangerously addictive. Make too much and then smear it on hot toasted sourdough. Or just eat it with your fingers like I do!

Pans

Kale pancakes with avocado butter and roasted tomato 
Makes two big stacks of pancakes

For the avocado butter
Half a very ripe avocado
1 Tbspn tahini
Pinch of red chilli flakes
Tbspn lemon juice or more to taste
Half a shallot, peeled
Pinch of salt and a good grind of freshly milled black pepper

For the kale pancakes
85g plain flour
15g rye flour
Half tsp baking powder
Tsp garlic powder
Tsp cumin powder
Lime zest
Tsp Maldon sea salt and a good grind of freshly milled black pepper

100ml milk
1 beaten egg
1 tbspn olive oil
Two big leaves of kale, destemmed and blitzed in a food processor until VERY finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, blitzed until very finely chopped
15ml cold water
Rapeseed oil, for frying

For the slow roasted tomato
1 large tomato, sliced into rounds
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt and pepper
A sprig of thyme

Preheat your oven to 160. On a greased baking tray or enamel plate, place your tomato. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until it’s softened and slightly shriveled.

Toms

While they’re roasting, you can make your pancake batter. Put your flour, baking powder, the lime zest, spices and salt and pepper into a mixing bowl. Combine the beaten egg, olive oil, chopped kale and coriander in another bowl or jug. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk with a fork or balloon whisk, until you have a batter, adding the water to loosen it – you want it about the consistency of double cream. Leave to rest while you make the avocado butter.

Blitz your shallot in a food processor until finely chopped. Scoop the flesh of your avocado into the food processor and add the tahini, lemon juice, chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a smooth paste – it should be the consistency of whipped butter. Scrape out of the food processor and into a bowl.

Now it’s time to make the pancakes. Dig out your best non-stick pan (I love the ceramic coated ones) and a silicone brush. Pour about a tablespoon of rapeseed oil onto a small plate and brush your pan with the oil. Heat the pan up over a high heat and then spoon about half a ladleful of the pancake mixture into your pan. Swizzle to evenly distribute the mixture – you’re aiming for small, thick pancakes rather than traditional thin, large ones. Cook for two-to-three minutes and then shake the pan. If the pancake comes away from the bottom easily, flip it over and cook on the other side for another two minutes, until golden. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven – which should be turned off but still warm from cooking the tomatoes. Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture, divide the pancakes between two plates and serve topped with the tomatoes and avocado butter.

Kale me now: kale and almond pesto recipe

While Jackie Stallone has said that the secret to her – err – longevity is eating a bag of spinach a day, I’ve got to admit I’m more of a kale girl.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bang on about all the reasons I love kale – you can read that here in this food trends piece I did recently for the Independent.

But I will say this – as you might have guessed from my Instagram and Twitter feeds, I eat a lot of our green (and sometimes red) curly leaved friend. Me and Elly Pear (who started the – initially tongue-in-cheek – #100wayswithkale tag on instagram) are forever swapping ideas, and I just never seem get bored of it.

I always had it growing up, as a nice robust green often as a side to a slow braise or beef stew, but it was my time in Vancouver that really converted me to this hearty, wholesome green. It was EVERYWHERE, and in a city where ingredients were very expensive, it was one of the most affordable and available ingredients. I really like it with my poached egg in the morning, or, in summer, blitzed up into a smoothie with banana, ginger and coconut water. It’s so fricking good for you!

Photo: Kale smoothie time. So West Coast right now.

A bag of kale goes a long way too, and doesn’t wither in the fridge like spinach or broccoli. I know I sound a bit like shrimp-obsessed Bubba in Forrest Gump, but you can steam it, roast it into wonderfully crisp chips, saute it in a little bit of olive oil, use it to bulk-out and health-up various soups, stews and salads, and even make it into a tasty pesto to slather on spaghetti.

It’s fair to say there’s going to be the odd kale recipe in my forthcoming cookbook ‘Fresh: 80 new recipes from market to table’, which, very excitingly, is being published by the amazing Hardie Grant next spring, but for now, here’s my recipe for kale and almond pesto for you to be getting on with. It’s delicious, super-simple to whizz up, economical, and will completely negate any guilt you might feel (you shouldn’t) about eating a big old bowl of pasta…

Kale and almond pesto
Makes a small jar of pesto for smothering on toasted sourdough, gallettes, fish, steak or for stirring into spaghetti

60g/three big handfuls of washed curly kale, stems removed and discarded
Large handful basil
Large handful parsley
three spring onions, roughly chopped
four cloves of garlic
40g sliced/flaked almonds
25g of grated parmesan – the best you can find
Large pinch of red chilli flakes
4 tbspn extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
Good grind of black pepper
Large pinch of sea salt
1 tbspn lemon juice
75g spaghetti

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Add the spring onions and garlic once it boils and cook for three minutes, until they’re soft. Add the kale and cook for about 40 seconds, until it’s bright green and floppy – could be less. Don’t overcook it as it will lose that lovely bright green colour.

Lift out the kale with a slotted spoon and put it onto a plate. Lift our the garlic and spring onion and blitz them in a food processor with the almonds. Add the parsley, basil and chilli flakes and blitz again. Squeeze the excess water out of the kale and add that to the food processor too, blitzing, followed by the lemon juice and zest, Parmesan and 4 tbspn of the olive oil. Season with black pepper and salt to taste, and stir. Store your pesto in a clean jar and drizzle with olive oil to seal in the freshness.

You can cook your pasta in the same water. When the spaghetti is al dente – do not overcook- it will take five or six minutes, drain, reserving a splash of the pasta water. Stir in generous tablespoons of the pesto and cooking water and top with freshly ground black pepper.

A winter’s feast: slow roasted rosemary lamb shoulder, Jansson’s Temptation and kale salad

When it’s getting dark at 4pm, you know it’s time to start feasting. I had some friends round last weekend and I wanted to spoil them with cosy home-cooked dishes that would warm their cockles and make them feel sated and happy. Because I knew I had a tough week ahead of me, and because I wanted to have fun, dammit, I settled on a roast for the main course. I wanted something I could whack in the oven and leave to its own devices, which in this case was a nice fatty British lamb shoulder, covered in rosemary and garlic and slow cooked for four hours (180°C) with some peeled carrots and onions.

The starters, or perhaps ‘nibbles’ is more apt, were two things I got out of the Polpo cookbook; rough chopped chicken liver pate and walnut and rocket pesto – both things that could be easily made in advance and slathered onto some toasted sourdough (from Wild Caper, natch) on the night. I added chopped tarragon to the pate recipe because I bloody love tarragon with chicken, and I used Courvoisier rather than port and brandy, because it’s what I had to hand. It worked well, but next time I might be a bit more generous with the cognac…

With the lamb I served two sides inspired from my travels and recent meals. I did a take on Jansson’s temptation, an amazingly comforting Swedish dish which is basically dauphinois without the garlic and with the genius addition of anchovies, which as you know, go ever so well with fatty lamb. I had this recently with my Chateaubriand at the new Hawksmoor Air Street, and have been thinking about it ever since!

I adapted my recipe from one I found in Delicious magazine. I added in thyme, even though authenticity dictates rosemary, because I had some to hand and I always think thyme and caramelised onions are lovely together. I also added in the zest of a lemon to give it a fresh lift.


Jansson’s Tempation
Takes about an hour and a half including prep, serves 4-6 as a side 

2 white onions, finely sliced
25g unsalted butter, halved
5 medium waxy potatoes, finely sliced as you would for Dauphinois
300ml double cream, seasoned with white pepper and a pinch of salt (no more because of the anchovies)
1 and a half cans of good quality anchovy fillets in olive oil
The leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme, or rosemary
The zest of half a lemon

While you’re slicing all the ingredients, preheat the oven to 180°C. Drain the anchovies, pouring the oil into a frying pan, add half the butter and heat until the butter has dissolved into the oil. Then add the onions and make sure you’re cooking them over a very low heat, until they’re sweet and melty but not charred – should take about 20 mins. Near the end, add in the thyme and cook it with the onions for about five minutes.  When the onions are sweet and translucent, remove from the heat and set aside.

Butter a deep baking dish or tin with the rest of the butter and layer half of the potatoes in it. Pour over the onions and then place the anchovies evenly spaced on top. Place the remainder of the potatoes on top and pour over half of the seasoned cream and lemon zest. Bake for about 30 minutes, then add the remaining cream and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the top has caramelised and the potatoes are cooked through.

The other side was a kale salad: because kale is in season right now, and I wanted something fresh and sort of healthy to go with the guilt of the lamb and JT. It’s based on a raw Tuscan kale salad I had in Nashville (the yanks are really good at kale) at a place called Tavern, which was so delicious and texturally interesting with all the nuts and raisins I couldn’t stop eating it. I’m pretty sure the Tavern version didn’t have chilli in it, but where I can I like to add a bit of fire to salads.

Raw kale salad with toasted almonds and sultanas
Takes about 20 minutes, serves 6 or more as a side dish

400g curly kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
Two good handfuls of sultanas
Two good handfuls of sliced almonds
The juice of one lemon
50ml nice extra virgin olive oil
50g Parmesan, finely grated
Red chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C. While you do this, whizz the kale up until it’s fine like tabbouleh. I did this in two batches to get an even chop. Then lay the sliced almonds onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until they’re starting to go golden.

Mix the lemon and olive oil until it’s emulsified. Put the kale into a large mixing bowl, add the sultanas, chilli flakes, Parmesan, and when they’ve cooled, the almonds. Mix it all up nicely using a spatula or good metal spoon. Pour over the dressing and give it one more stir.

To finish off the meal, we had a delicious hunk of Gorgonzola DOP which was kindly sent to me by Gorgonzola, which we ate with some rather interesting Sav Birch Sap wine, which was given to me by the Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren at a recent meal he hosted in London.

Dessert was treacle tart. I had this very one a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s house and they kindly passed on the recipe, which is Heston, though I used April Bloomfield’s brilliant grated sweet pastry recipe for the case! I served it with clotted cream.  These guys enjoyed it. Or at least looked like they did: