Sunday, July 08, 2007

More Food

Some tasty summer dishes:

Chilled Gazpacho: serves 4 (V)
1 lb (450g) ripe (fref. plum) tomatoes, chopped
half a cucumber, chopped
1 small green (bell) pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 meium onion, chopped
1 tbslp white wine vinegar
3 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Put the tomatoes, the chopped cucumber, the pepper and onion into a blender or food processor and whizz until just smooth. Don't overblend. Put into a bowl and stir in the vinegar. Seasn to taste. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

White Gazpacho: serves 4 (V)
2 thick slices stale, white crusty bread
3 cloves garlic, peeled
5 oz (150g) ground almonds
21 fl.oz (800ml) water
2 tblsp sherry vinegar
4 oz (100g) olive oil
salt and pepper
small seedless grapes to garnish (opt)
Soak the bread in a little water until softened then squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Whizz (as in the above recipe) with the garlic, almonds and water until smooth. Season to taste. Chill and leave for at least an hour for flavours to develop. Then stir in most of the olive oil and the vinegar. Check the seasoning and pour into chilled bowls. Float a few grapes on top as garnish and drizzle over the remaining oil.
Tip: home-made crusty bread is by far the best bread to use for this dish - it won't taste as good otherwise.

Herby Chicken Skewers with Peanut Noodles: serves 4 - 6
good handful each of fresh parsley and coriander - chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
juice of one lemon
2 tblsp olive oil
4 chicken breasts
2 packets of (almost instant) dried noodles
1 onion finely chopped,
2 heaped tblsp peanut butter
Excluding the chicken, mix together the herbs, spices, half the lemon juice and the olive oil together in a large bowl. Slice the chicken breasts into four strips lengthways, and add to the bowl, toss well to cover the chicken. Leave, chilled for several hours, if possible overnight. If you are using wooden skewers, soak these in cold water for an hour.
Thread the chicken onto the skewers and and lay on a foil-lined baking tin. Place under a pre-heated grill for 10 - 15 minutes, turning halfway and brushing each side with any remaining marinade. Meanwhile soak some dried noodles in boiling water (these take about four minutes to be ready) drain. In a frying pan lightly fry the onion, then stir in the peanut butter and the remaining lemon juice. When heated through, stir in the noodles until coated with the sauce, pile onto a hot plate and top with the skewered chicken.
Tip: to make a lighter sauce, use half the peanut butter and stir in some creme fraiche or greek yogurt.

Vegetarian Stir-Fried Tofu: serves 4 (V)
1 tblsp vegetable oil (I use sunflower)
1 x 250 pkt Tofu
4 oz (10g) cashew nuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 red (hot) chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
7 oz (200g) pak choi, fennel,chinese leaves or celery
7 oz (200g) beansprouts
few mangetout peas, or string beans
Prepare the crisp vegetables by slicing or dicing. Leave the mangetout as is, cut the beans into chunks.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok. Pull the tofu into pieces and fry for one minute. Add the nuts, garlic and chilli and fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in all the prepared vegetables, cook for a further 2 mins. stirring all the time to heat through. Serve immediately.
Variation: to this you could add other vegetables if you wish, alternatively soak the tofu in some soy sauce blended with a little honey, before frying.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Broad Beans and Peas: serves 4 (V)
Halloumi cheese has an extremely long shelf-life, so always worth keeping a block in the fridge. Grow your own peas, broad beans, spinach and herbs and you have almost all the makings.
14 oz (400g) fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 lb (675g) broad beans (podded)
good handful of pea shoots
same of baby spinach
1 lb 2 oz (500g) Halloumi cheese, sliced
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Italian or French dressing - warmed
Cook the peas until tender, drain but put the cooking liquid back into the pan to cook the beans (saves fuel),
When cooked, remove the inner skins from the beans ('cos they look prettier and taste better). Drain. Mix together the peas and beans and leave to cool slightly. Stir in the pea shoots and the baby spinach leaves.
Heat a griddle (or frying pan) until very hot and cook the Halloumi for 1 -2 minutes on each side until golden. Pour some warm dressing over the salad, toss and serve with the cheese on top. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Tip: If you haven't a griddle pan, heat a skewer and burn lines across the cheese (after your've turned them once in a frying pan) to look as though you have used a griddle. It makes the cheese look a bit more 'interesting'.

Tear 'n Share Bread:
Easily made using a bread machine, it can also be made by hand.
the dough:
1 x 500g packet of white bread mix, including the yeast
10 fl 0z (300ml) warm water (or what the packet suggests)
3 tblsp olive oil
pinch salt
Put the yeast, water, salt and bread mix into the machine (in the order required by the machine), add the oil.
Set to dough programme and start the machine (this can take around 45 minutes to knead and proved the dough. Meanwhile make the filling:
the filling:
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp each fresh thyme leaves, chopped chives and parsley
1 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the filling ingredients together
When the dough is ready, knead on a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle 40.5 cm by 28cm. Spread the filling over the dough and, starting at the long side, roll up like a long sausage roll. Cut this across into nine equal portions and lay these, cut side up, slightly apart (as you would do when making Chelsea Buns) in a 23 cm (I think that is around 9") ungreased tin. Cover lightly with cling-film and leave to stand in a warm place for half an hour or until doubled in size. Meanwhile heat the oven to 230c, 450F, gas 8. Place in the baking tin, close the door and reduce heat to 200C, 400F, gas 6. Bake for half an hour or until golden and firm. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt (the salt is optional). Good eaten whilst still warm.
Variations: alter the filling to your choice - maybe spreading the dough with pesto and covering that with grated cheese before rolling up - then sprinkle the hot rolls with a little oil and grated Parmesan. Try adding finely chopped roasted red peppers to the dough.

Floating Islands: serves 4
1 pint (600ml) milk
3 eggs, separated
3 tblsp sugar
few drops vanilla extract
1 tblsp cocoa powder
flaked almonds (optional)
Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk until starting to thicken, add one tablespoon of the sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Meanwhile, place the milk and vanilla in a large pan, and heat to nearly boiling. Take rounded dessertspoons of the meringue and drop into the hot milk, cook until floating to the top, turn them over and cook on the other side (you will need to do this in batches). Remove meringues with a slotted spoon and drain well (I lay them on a clean tea-cloth). Stir the cocoa into the hot milk with the remaining sugar until dissoved. Slightly beat the egg yolks and add a little of the chocolate milk . Stir well and add the egg mixture to the pan of hot milk and cook over a very low heat until thickened.
Put the cooked 'islands' (the egg whites) into a bowl and pour round the chocolate custard. Decorate with flaked almonds and chill before serving.
Tip: for a speedy version make up a chocolate blancmange mix for the 'custard' and cook the egg whites in simmering water instead of the milk.