Sunday, 13 December 2015

Jay and Dee’s Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Dee – A good old baked jacket potato must be one of England’s favourite comfort foods.  It’s certainly one of Jay’s and mine, so for that reason, together with the fact that it makes a great lunch or tea for the cold, dark and wet winter, we decided that now would be an ideal time to share our favourite recipe for it.

I avoid using ‘perfect’ and ‘perfection’ when describing food as everyone has their own interpretations of what it entails, so I will instead say that our recipe combines what we consider to be two essential elements when making a baked potato:  A crispy skin and a tasty topping.

The recipe is an amalgamation of two old family recipes:  The crispy skin from mine, I think by way of Delia Smith, and the topping from Jay’s Nanna.  The recipe isn’t difficult, apart from resisting the temptation to start tucking in before it’s finished, and doesn’t include any hard-to-obtain ingredients.  The only exception is the Chip Spice, which can be ordered on line:  American Chip Spice web site  Cajun seasoning or salt with some paprika added can be used instead, or even salt on its own, as it was before we discovered Chip Spice.

The recipe below serves 2

2 large baking potatoes
Rapeseed Oil or Olive Oil
1 tsp Chip Spice
4 Spring Onions, finely sliced
75g Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated
2 rashers smoked bacon, cut into small squares, or 100g smoked bacon lardons

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7
Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork
Coat both potatoes in the oil, then rub in the Chip Spice.  
Lay the potatoes on a sheet of oiled foil and bake them in the oven for 90 minutes.  Stick a skewer in them to check that the skins are crispy on the outside and the flesh soft in the middle.  If they are not, return them to the oven for another 30 minutes and check again.
While the potatoes are baking, heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the bacon.  Fry it until it starts to crisp up, then add the spring onions and cook them until they soften and start to caramelise.
Leave the bacon and onion mixture to cool, then add it to the grated cheese.
When the potatoes are baked, cut them in half, scoop out most of the flesh and stir it into the bacon, cheese and onion mixture.  The filling is now ready to be added back into the skins
Add an equal amount of filling into each skin and place them (filling side face-up) under a hot grill and grill them until the cheese is bubbling and starting to crisp up.

We haven’t tried a meat-free version of this recipe yet, but the bacon could perhaps be replaced with a chopped up small leek.

The finished potatoes make quite a filling meal and need only a little accompaniment such as a few baked beans or, as is shown in our picture, a simple salad of shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #30 – Cumin

Dee – Cumin is a major contender for my favourite spice, so I was very happy that it was January 2015’s featured ingredient.  It originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and has been in use since ancient times so was a perfect choice for a Tasting Jerusalem feature.

It can be used in cooking as toasted or untoasted seeds, or as a ground spice.  It has a strong, savoury perfumed taste but is more versatile than its aroma and taste might suggest.  It is most often used to flavour cheese, bread, salads and several spice blends.

Unsurprisingly it features in many of the recipes in the book and it was difficult choosing just one.  In the end, we selected the Turkey and Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion and Cumin on page 200.  

Turkey and Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion and Cumin
We made this dish before we started the blog and had enjoyed it, so it wasn’t a problem making it again.

The cumin appears as an ingredient in the burger patties.  Only a small amount is used so it is not one of the predominant flavours.  The ingredients for the burger patties are delicately balanced and produce quite a subtle taste, giving the sharp sauce that they are served with free reign.

It was the sauce that was really the star of this dish.  It was fresh, sharp and citrusy, with lemon zest and juice and sumac used to great effect.  It should have contained a mixture of yoghurt and soured cream, but we left the cream out in order to cut down on the calories.  We also left the raw garlic out in order to avoid garlic breath the next day.  Neither of these compromises made the sauce any less tasty and it accompanied the burgers perfectly.
We served the burgers and sauce with the ever-popular Basmati Rice and Orzo and simple fried broccoli garnished with dukkah.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)