Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cooking for One or More

Risi e bisi with chicken: serves 2
4 oz (110g) long grain rice
1 dessp olive or sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cooked chicken breast (or meat substitute fillets)
9 fl.oz (250ml) veg. or chicken stock, hot
2 oz (50g) frozen peas
2 oz (25g) grated hard cheese, pref. Parmesan
Measure the rice and put into a pan with just under twice the measure of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and set to one side. Put the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and fry gently until softened. Shred the chicken. Add the stock to the onions and when simmering, add the peas, chicken and rice. Heat for 2 - 3 minutes stirring to mix everything together. Stir in the cheese. Serve in bowls.

Sticky Onion Make-ahead: (makes 600g) (F)
This is worth making as it will keep for a week in the fridge and can be frozen for several weeks.
Fried onions, given lengthy cooking, will begin to brown (caramelise) and start releasing their natural sugars. Adding a tsp of sugar speeds up this process. Do not fry too quickly and keep the heat no higher than medium (even less), if they begin to catch add a splash of water.
2 oz (50g) butter
12 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
Using the largest frying pan you have, melt the butter then stir in the onions. Cover with a lid (or foil) and cook gently for about 10 minutes until the onions have softened. Remove the lid, sprinkle in the sugar then cook for 12 -20 minutes longer, stirring from time to time, until all the liquid has evaporated. By then the onions should have turned golden and sticky. Spoon into a lidded container and keep chilled. If freezing, divide into 6 batches, one batch will make the following 'meal for two'.

Fast Onion Soup: serves 2
1 batch sticky onions
1 tsp plain flour
15 fl.oz (425g) beef stock (from a cube)
little crushed garlic (opt)
Reheat the onions in a saucepan, add garlic (if using) and cook for 2 mins. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, when thickened check seasoning, adding some if necessary. Pour into bowls. Serve with croutons. Traditionally served topped with toasted cheese.
Tip: It has been known for me to use an oxtail flavoured cup-a-soup instead of using a stock cube. Well, nobody says I am perfect.

Bangers and Mash with sticky onion gravy: serves 2
4 - 6 sausages
1 batch sticky onions
2 tsp plain flour
7 fl.oz (2ooml) beef stock
Worcestershire sauce
mashed potatoes
Fry the sausages in a pan until browned, then remove and keep warm. To the juices in the pan add the onions and the flour and stir for 1 minute then gradually stir in the stock. Simmer for five minutes until smooth. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and serve with the sausages and mashed potatoes.

Chocolate and Marshmallow Pudding: serves 8 (will reheat)
This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe where he uses a basic cake batter (the same weight of eggs, sugar, flour and butter) and adds other ingredients, so a smaller amount could be made by adjusting measurements. Then use a smaller tin, or allow less baking time.
14 oz (400g) butter
14 oz (400g) caster sugar
7 eggs
14 oz (400g) self-raising flour
6 tblsp cocoa
hot water
2 tsp baking powder
1 bag small marshmallows
Make the cake batter in the usual way by creaming together the butter and sugar then adding the eggs and beating until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Blend the cocoa powder with enough hot water to make it runny then add both the flour and the cocoa mixture to the cake batter and mix well, adding a little milk if the mixture is too firm. Stir in the marshmallows then pour the mixture into a large greased shallow dish (a roasting tin would be ideal), and bake for 40 minutes at 18oC, 350F, gas 4.
Serve as-is with ice cream, or - for special occasions - first top the hot pudding with the following sauce THEN add the ice cream
Fudge Sauce:
8 oz (225g) each, butter, dark (70%) chocolate, icing sugar
8 fl.oz (225ml) double cream
Stand a metal bowl over hot water, put in the chocolate, when that is melting add the butter, then stir in the icing sugar and the cream. Whisk together until smooth. Pour this warm sauce over the hot pudding and - another reminder - don't forget the ice cream.