Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a Difference a Name Makes

At the moment I am enjoying playing around with flavours, in a way making my own 'fusion food'. Most of the time it works, and works well, so here are a few of my favourites:

Hubble Bubble, Spanish Squeak: serves 4
1 small onion, chopped
2 1/2lbs (1kg) potatoes
salt and pepper
1 lb (450g) green or white cabbage
2 oz (50g) butter
5 fl.oz (150ml) nilk
5 oz (150g) chorizo sausage, skinned and chopped
2 tblsp sunflower oil
Peel and boil the potatoes, drain and mash with the butter and milk. Season to taste. Set to one side. Shred the cabbage finely and boil until tender. Drain well and cool. Skin and finely chop the chorizo and fry with the onion until softened. When this is ready, mix together with the potato and cabbage. To cook, heat half the oil in a frying pan then put in the mixture, pressing flat to fill the pan and fry over medium to high heat for about 10 minutes or until brown underneath. Turn out onto a large plate, put the remaining oil in the pan and reheat, then slide the cake back into the pan with the uncooked side under. Fry till golden brown and heated through. Serve with a tomato and green salad.
Tip: Instead of cabbage, use up left-over brussel sprouts or other cooked green vegetables. The mixture can be prepared a day ahead of cooking, just keep covered and chilled in the fridge.

Mexican Adobe (cottage) Pie: serves 6 (F)
4 fl.oz measure cornmeal
2 tsp. soft marg or butter
pinch each of salt and pepper
pinch ground cumin
10 fl.oz (275ml) water
1 lb (450g) minced steak
1 onion, chopped
pinch chilli powder
1 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can sweetcorn (drained)
few green olives, pitted and sliced
Put the cornmeal, cumin, salt, pepper and water into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, stir in the fat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. By then the mixture should be thick. Turn out into an 8" (20cm) baking tin lined with parchment, smooth and leave to get cold.
Put a little oil into a frying pan and cook the beef and the onion until both are tender, stir in the chilli powder, add the bell peppers and the carrot and cook for a further five minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook until just heated through. Spoon mixture into a deep 8" sqare baking dish and cover with the now-firm cornmeal. (if you wish to use a rectangular shallower dish, cut the cornmeal into squares or triangles and scatter these over the top). At this point the dish can be cooled, covered in clingfilm and frozen. To serve from frozen, remove cling film, cover with foil and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for one hour, then remove foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Trying to think up a name as good as 'Surf and Turf' (a fish and meat dish) you might find the following acceptable:
Coops and Drupes: aka Chicken and Plum stir-fry
half a pint (275ml) fruit juice (orange, apple or pineapple)
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tsp arrowroot or cornflour
good pinch each ground ginger and cinnamon
good pinch chilli powder or paprika (opt)
6 mushrooms, sliced
2 tblsp flaked almonds
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 each red, yellow and green bell peppers, cut into strips
6 ripe plums, stoned and chopped
2 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small cubes
Mix together the fruit juice, soy sauce, and spices with the fruit juice. Set aside. Pre-heat a wok. Stir-fry almonds for one minute, then remove. Add the oil and when hot, stir-fry the mushrooms, peppers and plums until crisp-tender. Add the chicken and stir-fry untilin the cooked through (takes about 2 - 3 minutes). Push contents of wok to the sides then pour the fruit sauce in the centre of the pan, stir/cook until thickened then for one minute longer. Finally draw back into the sauce the mixture from the sides. When coated with the sauce, sprinkle over the almonds. Serve on a bed of rice. Makes 4 servings.
Variations: instead of plums use slices of apple or pear.

Tip: Skinless, boneless chicken breasts carry a much heftier price-per-pound than whole chicken. As the bone, skin and fat (not to mention added water in some cheaper birds) equals half the weight of the bird, sometimes it can be cheaper to skin, portion and bone a chicken from scratch. As I read in an article yesterday (and I still can't work out what it is supposed to be saying), "skinless, boneless chicken breasts are not better value unless they cost less than twice as much (does this mean pound per pound?) as a whole bird".

Finally, one to please all:
Fruity Treacle Tart: serves 6 (or makes 12 bars)
4 oz (100g) softened butter
2 oz (50g) soft brown sugar
6 oz (175g) plain flour
2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) no-soak apricots, chopped
1 orange
8 oz (200g) golden syrup
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
Make the base of the tart by beating the butter and sugar then stirring in the flour until it all binds together. Tip and spread this mixture over the base of a 9" (23cm) square tin. Prick with a fork and bake at 160F, 325F, gas 3 for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile put the apples into a pan with the brown sugar, cover with buttered paper (butter side down of course), and cook gently until the apples have collapsed. Remove the paper, add the apricots and cook on for about 15 minutes or until the most of the moisture has evaporated. Whizz to a puree in a blender/processor or rub through a sieve. Increase the oven heat to 190C, 375F, gas 5 and while heating up spread the apple and apricot filling over the top of the shortbread keeping it as level as possible. Grate the zest from the orange and mix into the porridge oats with the syrup and 1-2 tblsp of the orange juice. Spoon this over the top of the filling making sure it goes right to the edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and pale gold on top. Remove from oven, mark into portions (six servings or 12 bars) then serve hot with cream or chill completely before cutting through into bars. Cuts easier if the tart is kept in the fridge overnight.