Friday, August 10, 2007

Dishes with a Difference

Today is a mixture of recipes, some healthy, one certainly perhaps not (but delightful to look at). which I hope you will enjoy making and eating (or at least some).

Easy Focaccia: makes one loaf - serves 6
1 x 5oog pkt bread mix
3 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
OR same amount of stoned black olives, chopped
fresh rosemary and thyme
salt and ground black pepper
Put the bread mix into a bowl and add the yeast, oil and recommended amount of water. Mix to a soft dough then turn out and knead on a floured surface for ten minutes (or make the dough in a bread machine), Put the dough to rise for until doubled in size (this could take up to 2 hours), turn out then knead in the tomatoes or olives. Gently roll out the dough to 10" (25cm) diameter then place on an oiled baking tray, tent with foil and again, leave in a warm place to rise again, this time for only half an hour. When risen, push your fingers into the dough to give a dimpled effect then press in small sprigs of herbs. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and drizzle over a little olive oil. Bake for about 40 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 until golden brown.

Sweetcorn, Chive and Parmesan Bread: serves 6
4 fl.oz (120ml) milk
2 eggs
4 tblsp olive oil
8 oz (225g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
5 oz (150g) grated Parmesan
4 tblsp finely chopped chives
1 x 198g can sweetcorn, drained
salt and pepper
Put the milk into a bowl, add the eggs and oil and whisk together. Chop the sweetcorn (or give a short blitz in a food processor. Sift together the flour and baking powder, put into a bowl together with the cheese, chives and sweecorn. Season to taste. Stir in the liquids then pour into a greased and base-lined loaf tin 21 x 11cm (approx 8" x 4 1/2"). Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 45-50 mins. or until cooked. Cool in the tin then turn out and serve in thick slices. Lovely buttered.

Two-way Beetroot: serves 4
This can either be served as a relish, or pureed - as a side-dish or as a soup.
2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
6 cooked beetroot, peeled and sliced
3 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tblsp tomato puree
4 fl.oz (100ml) vegetable stock
2 tblsp creme fraiche or double cream
Put the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Fry gently for no more than five minutes, just enough to flavour the oil, then remove garlic and add the onions. Fry for about 10 minutes until turning golden, then add the beetroot, vinegar and tomato puree. Cook gently for about twenty minutes until thick, sticky and caramelised. At this stage it can be served as a relish. To continue making a beetroot puree, put the mixture into a food processor, pour in the stock and creme fraiche and blitz. Serve as-is or reheat.

Microwave Vegetable Biriyani: serves 4 (V)
9 oz (250g) basmati rice
1 x 400g pack special mix frozen vegetables*
2 tblsp sultanas or raisins
1 pint (600ml) vegetable stock
2 tblsp korma curry paste
handful of roasted cashew nuts
Using a large microwaveable bowl, put in the rice, vegetables and dried fruit. Stir the curry paste into the stock then pour over the contents of the bowl. Cover with cling film, pricking the film to allow steam to get out. Cook on full power (850 watts) for 12 minutes. If your microwave is less wattage, allow 2 minutes longer. Remove from the m.oven, and leave to stand for 5 minutes (it will continue to cook), then remove clingfilm, fluff up the rice with a fork and add the nuts. Serve at once.
* The special mix frozen vegetables usually contain peas, sweetcorn, diced red pepper, finely diced carrot, and chopped green beans. You could part-cook your own (sensible) choice of fresh vegetables than use these instead.

Refreshing Orange and Red Pepper Salad: serves 4
Based on a recipe which contains chunks of cooked chicken, this is still a very good salad to eat if you leave out the meat and instead add cubes of goat's or feta cheese, walnuts or maybe a scattering of cooked (pulse) beans to add protein.
2 oranges
juice of one small lemon
1 red bell pepper
1 Little Gem lettuce
1 bag of watercress, rocket and baby spinach salad leaves
3 tblsp olive oil
chunky pieces of cooked chicken or alternatives
Grate the zest from one lemon and place in a bowl with the olive oil. Cut the peel/pith from the orange and remove the segments (do this over a bowl to catch any juice), then squeeze the orange membrane to extract any remaining juice. Add the lemon juice. Tear the leaves from the base of the lettuce and rip into smaller pieces, then mix with the cress, rocket and spinach leaves. Cut the pepper in half and remove stalk and seeds and cut into thin strips. Add this to the salad, together with the orange segments and meat/alternatives, toss gently to combine. Stir the oil, orange zest, lemon and orange juice together and pour over the salad when ready to serve.

Jewel Studded Refrigerator Cake: makes about 10 slices
1 lb 2 oz (500g) white chocolate
4 oz (100g) mini marshmallows
7 oz (200g) pink Turkish Delight, cut into small cubes
3 oz (75g) pistachio nuts, chopped
2 tblsp golden syrup
Melt the chocolate in a bowl standing over (not touching) simmering water then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon into a 1lb (450g) loaf tin which has been lined with clingfilm. Level the top then place in the fridge for about 4 hours or until solid. Ease out the cake by sliding a knife between the film and the tin then upturn onto a plate, remove film and serve in slices. This will keep in the fridge for several day, covered.