Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Questions and Answers and more...

Spring Risotto:
1 large onion, diced
2 - 3 carrots, diced
2 0z (50g) butter
4 os (110g) mushrooms, chopped
1 tblsp. chopped parsley
12 oz (350g) rice
3 pints (1.8 lts) stock (depending upon the rice)
4 oz (110g) grated cheese
(other vegetables such as peas, chopped string beans, green soya beans, sweetcorn, can be used . Also asparagus tips, or their substitute - bracken shoots!). Add a clove of garlic if you wish.
Put the butter into a pan and gently saute the onion and carrots for 5 minutes, adding garlic if you wish.
Add the mushrooms and parsley and continue cooking for a further 3 minutes. Remove the clove of garlic (if using) and stir in the rice until well coated with the butter. Pour on a halfpint of boiling stock and simmer until absorbed. Keep stirring in small amounts of boiling stock , adding more as each is absorbed. When the rice is cooked but the risotto is creamy rather than dry add an ounce of the cheese. Let the risotto stand for a minute or two before serving with the rest of the cheese.

Bobotie: An economical version of a South African dish.
1 lb (500g) cooked lamb, minced
1 oz (25g) butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 dessp. curry powder
1 slice bread
1 dessp. chutney
2 eggs.
Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onions and garlic. When softened stir in the curry powder and fry for a further 2 -3 minutes. Add the minced cooked meat. Soak the bread in some water, squeexe it out and add to the pan with the chutney, working both in with a fork. Beat up one egg with a tblsp. stock and stir into the mixture in the pan. Season to taste and spoon into a well-buttered pie dish. Beat the final egg and pour this over the top of the mixture. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for half an hour.
Note: This recipe uses cold meat, minced. Alternatively you could use fresh lamb mince and then cook this before proceeding with the recipe.

Cheats Cock-a-leekie Soup:
Make this when you have several chicken carcases to boil down for stock. Remove any flesh from the bones and use this for the soup along with some of the stock.
8 oz (225g) or more of cooked chicken bits
3 oz (75g) bacon bits
1 lb (5oog) leeks
4 oz (110g) cooked prunes
Chop the leeks, discarding the green tops and add to a saucepan. Cover with chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Add the chicken flesh, bacon bits and the prunes and continue simmering for a further 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Tip: Don't throw out the green bits from the leeks. Shred finely and use in stir fries or make an inspired table decoration by removing the white part to use in above recipe, then make very narrow cuts from the top down to within an inch and a half (4cm) of the base. Plunge this, head down, into a deep bowl of iced water. After a while the 'fronds' will curl back and look like an exotic plant.
Using your finger, push the inside of the leek up from the base end and tweak up the segments from the top as they appear. This will make it grow taller and taller and makes a great centrepiece for a buffet table.

Leek and Potato Soup:
The Romans believed that leeks improve the voice, so the story goes that Nero, needing rich, clear tones for his orations and singing, demanded leek soup to be served to him every day.
8 oz (225g) leeks
1 oz (25g) butter
1 3/4 pints (1 litre) chicken stock
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
chopped parsley
Trim off the green part of the leeks and thinly slice the white part. Add the butter to a pan and when melted, lightly fry the leeks for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the potatoes and sommer gently until the potatoes are very tender. Season to taste. Can be eaten as is, or blitzed in a food processor or blender for a few seconds. Garnished with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.
Note: For a vegetarian version use water or water/milk instead of stock and just before serving swirl in a little cream.

My Dad used to love eating Fig Roll biscuits, and if you enjoy them too, why not make your own. The addition of grated chocolate may seem unusual but it really is worth including. The lemon flavoured pastry is also made in an unusual way. Make, taste and admit they are gorgeous. Even I think so andI don't normally like Fig Rolls.
Figgy Rolls: makes 28
there are two parts to this - the filling (which will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge) and the pastry.
Note: a mixed pack of large dried fruits saves buying a pack of each, but you must include dried figs if you want to make these, otherwise call them something else.
8 oz (225g) mixed large dried fruits: apricots, apples, pears, FIGS, and dates etc.
2 oz (50g) candied peel
4 tblsp. runny honey
2 oz (50g) grated dark chocolate
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mince or process the dried fruits and candied peel. Blend in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Or keep covered in a container in the fridge (see above).
2 oz (50g) softened butter
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp grated lemon rind
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and lemon rind. Stir in the flour and knead lightly to a smooth dough. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Divide both the filling and the pastry into two. Roll out the first piece of pastry into an oblong measuring 13" x 6" (33 x 16cm) . Roll one filling into a tube 13" (33cm) long. Place this on the pastry and roll up as you would when making sausage rolls. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.
Place both rolls onto a greased and floured baking sheet and flatten slightly with the rolling pin. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5 until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the oven and, while still warm, slice into 1" (2.3 cm) portions. Cool on a wire rack.
Tip: Cutting after baking prevents the filling from oozing out and gives a much neater effect.