Saturday, April 14, 2007

Creative Cooking

A mention of TVP (textured vegetable protein) reminded me of many years ago when I used it a great deal. I didn't realise it was still sold other than in a those 'Beanfeast' products (these I do use use occasionally, mainly to make a small amount of meat go a lot further especially when making Bolognese meat sauce and Chilli con Carne ). Almost always I include a little 'real' meat as then the TVP is almost undetectable. Even without using meat I find the abovementioned product good, although I tend to add a beef stock cube or some Bovril to give a more meaty flavour to the Bolognese variety, and more red beans to the Chilli one. All the other flavours needed for the dish are included in the product, so if you haven't yet tried them, worth having a go. It is not necessary to use a whole packet at a time, just use some, fold up the packet tightly and it will keep for a week or so, or keep it in the freezer for a longer time.
With the basic TVP granules that I used to use, as they are 'dry goods' .I would keep these in airtight jars on my open shelves. Nowadays I am sure 'how to store' will be written up on the pack.

Browsing through my bread recipe book I saw a picture - for 'Pinwheels' which looked really worth making. Perusing the ingredients, I saw it didn't even use yeast, or bread flour which was a bit of a cheat I thought in a book of that type, but on second thoughts a very useful recipe to keep, use and experiment with different fillings. Here is one version:
Ham, Spinach and Cheese Rollups.
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
2 oz (55g) butter, diced
approx 5 fl oz milk
Dijon mustard
3 oz (85g) cooked lean ham, diced
1 oz baby spinach leaves, shredded
3 oz (85g) cheddar cheese, grated
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt then rub in the butter. Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough. On a floured board, knead the dough lightly then roll out to an oblong 12"x 9" (30 x 23cm). Over this spread a very thin layer of the mustard.
In a bowl mix together the ham, spinach and cheese and season with a little pepper. Sprinkle this mixture over the dough then working from the long side of the dough, roll up tightly. Trim off the ends neatly then slice the roll into about 14 pieces.
Place onto lightly greased baking sheets, about an inch apart, and bake at 220C. 425F, Gas 7 for 10 - 16 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a cake airer and serve warm or cold.
Tips: baking sheets tend to warp if the oven is over 200C, so you could roll each slice slightly thinner and cook at the lower temperature. Or - if using a fan oven, 200C would be the right temperature to use.
To the basic dough mixture add some fresh or dried herbs for flavour. Instead of mustard, smear the dough with tomato puree or green pesto, instead of ham use some finely diced chorizo sausage, instead of cheddar use gruyere, red Leicester or parmesan. Fried onions, diced olives, Feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil.....Think of the basic dough as a pizza base and spread over your favourite pizza toppings (finely chopped), then roll up and slice.
If you add a little sugar and cinnamon to the basic dough you could experiment with chopped dried fruits (apricots, soaked-in-rum sultanas, dates, candied peel...) or just spread with any left-over mincement to make - sort of - flat Chelsea buns.

The following recipe/method I saw demonstrated on a cookery prog. Again it is one that can be used in many ways by just experimenting with different fillings. Start with a pack of ready-rolled puff pastry.
When laid out flat this pastry should be very thin and an oblong shape. Place the pastry with the long sides pointing left to right then make two even cuts from top to bottom making three even slices.
Take one slice and spread some tomato paste (or thick pizza sauce) over the top half of the slice leaving half-an-inch of pastry clear at the edges. Top the sauce with a slice of ham, then top this with grated cheese. Dampen the sides of the pastry then fold the bottom half up to cover the contents and firmly press the edges together. You should now have a square packet. Make a couple of slits in the top and continue in the same way with the other two slices. Have ready a hot oven (200c) and a hot baking sheet (place this in the oven from the start so that it heats up to the same temperature - this will ensure the pastry starts cooking from the bottom as well as at the top). Place the pastry parcels on the hot sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is deep golden brown. Remove, allow to cool slightly as the contents will be very hot, and serve with a green salad.
Tip: to make smaller ones, cut each pre-cut strip into two (which will make a square) then put a little of the above filling in the centre of each, dampen edges and fold into triangles. Bake as for the larger ones.