Sunday, June 10, 2007

Light Bites

Today I am popping in some assorted recipes and suggestions for snacks and light dishes, but you can add extra ingredients to make some of the meals more substantial.
Firstly a lunch-box bite that needs no baking but is full of good things:
4 oz (100g) tropical fruit mix or your choice of mixed dried fruits
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
2 oz (100g) rice crispies or similar
3 oz (75) dessicated coconut
2 oz (50g) blanched and toasted almonds, hazlenuts or unsalted peanutes etc
2 oz (50g) seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame - lightly toasted
4 oz (100g) light soft brown sugar
4 fl.oz. (125ml) golden syrup
4 oz (100g) butter
Take a large bowl and into this chop the fruit (using scissors). Add the oats, cereal, coconut, nuts and seeds and mix well. Put the sugar, syrup and butter into a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar and butter have dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and bubble away for about 2 minutes until thickened slightly.
Pour this over the contents of the bowl and mix well until all the contents have been coated.
Spoon into an 8" square tin and press down well to fill the corners. Level the top with a spoon (a cut lemon is perfect for pressing down the contents as it leaves a hint of lemon). Leave to cool and set before cutting.

Goat's Cheese and Garden Vegetable Quiche: serves 6
Use either bought short-crust pastry or make your own in a food processor by whizzing together 8 oz (200g) plain flour, a pinch of salt and 4 oz (100g) butter, chopped. When like breadcrumbs add one egg. Blend to a dough and wrap in clingfilm and chill for half an hour.
Roll out the pastry to fit a deep 24cm flan ring and bake blind for 10 mins at 200C, 400F,
gas 6. Remove foil/paper and baking beans** and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. Leave to cool.
Lower oven temperature slightly and make the filling:
2 1/2 oz (40g) butter
3 oz (75g) courgettes, sliced diagonally
3 0z (75g) runner beans, stringed and sliced
3 oz (75g) peas (can be fresh or frozen)
3 large or 6 small spring onions,
1 1/2 pint (300ml) milk
1 oz (25g) plain flour
2 large or three smaller eggs
110g soft goat's cheese, half sliced, the rest diced or crumbled
4 small tomatoes, sliced
Chop the green parts of the spring onions and finely slice the bulb. Melt the butter in a pan and lightly fry the onions and all the vegetables until just softening - about 5 minutes. Tip in the flour and stir, then add the milk and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and cover with a circle of parchment paper to prevent a skin forming (or just keep stirring) cool for about five minutes.
Beat the eggs into the sauce, add half the cheese (cubed or crumbled) then pour into the pastry case. Lay the remaining slices of cheese on the top alternating with the tomato. Bake for 40 mins at 180C, 375F, gas 5 then cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve with salad.
**Tip: James Martin said when he bakes pastry blind he covers the pastry with foil then fills that with flour instead of baking beans. I tried this the other day and it worked very well indeed. It also gave me the chance of using flour that has been at the back of my cupboard for far too long, normally I would have thrown it out, now I have a use for it.

Tomato Pesto:
Using an airtight container, this pesto is said to keep for up to a month in the fridge as long as it has a covering of olive oil. I would play save and suggest a fortnight. This is great spread on home-made pizzas, or similarly spread on puff pastry before adding the topping then baking. Absolutely lovely stirred into freshly cooked and drained pasta.
Make this quantity once and if you love it (as you will) then why not make lots and freeze the surplus in small batches.
5 oz (140g) sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
5 tblsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
7 springs of fresh thyme, leaves only (alternatively 7 basil leaves)
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and give the lot a blitz. When combined, put into airtight containers, press down and cover with a thin film of oil. Put on the lid and keep in the fridge.