Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quick and Easy

Sometimes we just don't have the time or even feel like spending time preparing a meal. So here are one or two recipes that you can make in minutes.

Savoury Bread and Butter Pudding: serves 4
2 oz butter (50g) softened
10 -12 oz (300g) mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
2 -3 shallots OR 1 small leek, cut into small pieces
6 slices slightly stale white bread
4 eggs, beaten
half a pint (300ml) milk
4 oz (110g) Cheddar, Red Leicester or Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
Put half the butter into a frying pan and fry mushrooms and onions (or leek) until just golden.
Remove from heat. Butter the bread with the remainder and sandwich together with the mushroom/onion mixture in a microwaveable dish.
Mix together the eggs, milk, mustard and half the cheese and pour this over the bread. Leave to stand for at least five minutes (the longer the better). Meanwhile pre-heat the grill to high.
Microwave the pudding for 5 minutes then sprinkle over the cheese and pop under the grill for 2 -3 minutes until nice and golden and bubbly.

Glazed Orange, Watercress and Blue Cheese Salad: serves 4
2 large oranges, peeled, pith removed and segmented
four roasted cloves (or use half tsp. of dried cloves)
2 tblsp demerara sugar
good pinch salt (pref. sea or rock salt)
1 small bunch watercress, leaves and short tems only
2 oz (50g) blue cheese, crumbled (Stilton, Danish Blue, etc)
Cut each of the orange segments in half. Put the cloves, sugar and salt into a mortar and grind with a pestle (if you haven't a mortar put them into a small bowl and bash them with the end of a rolling pin). Place the orange pieces on a baking sheet and sprinkle over the spice mixture. Place under a pre-heated grill until the sugar has melted (2-3 mins). Serve on individual plates on a bed of watercress which has been tossed in a little olive oil. Crumble the cheese over each portion and serve at once.

Cheats Quick Fish Chowder: serves 4
8 oz (200g) white fish (skinned), cut into small cubes
1 435g can Scotch Broth or Chunky Vegetable Soup
1/2 pint (300ml) milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 326g can sweetcorn, drained
cooked frozen prawns (thawed) - optional
Put the soup and the milk into a pan and bring to the simmer. Season to taste. Add the fish and cook gently for five minutes. Add the sweetcorn and prawns (if using) and heat through for a further two minutes then serve.
Optional garnishes. Generously butter slices of granary bread and sprinkle with cheese. Grill until bubbling then cut into triangles and pop on top of the chowder.
OR garnish with bacon strips fried to a crisp and crumbled.

Pile High Pudding:
(the secret with this is to have everything ready in the fridge so that you can help yourself)
Fruit jelly
fresh or canned fruit
fruit yogurt
custard (optional)
crumbled trifle sponges (optional)
whipped or thick cream
chopped nuts
Take a tall glass and start building alternate layers from the above list in any order you want right up to the top of the glass. Finish with a big, tall, dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with nuts AND grated chocolate if you wish. A long-handled spoon will be needed to eat all this.

Don't let 'serves four' put you off making any recipe. Just divide amounts by four if cooking for one, or in half if cooking for two. Just have a go, eat and enjoy.