Monday, September 24, 2007

Counting the Cost

Brunch or Lunch Apple Rarebit: serves 2 (V)
2 thick slices wholemeal bread
6 oz (175g) Wensleydale or Cheddar cheese, grated
couple or more shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard powder (or made mustard)
3 fl.oz (900ml) milk
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 apple, peeled and cored
2 eggs
2 oz (50g) butter
(for non veggies include 4 rashers smoked bacon)
Using a grill, toast the bread on one side only. Mix together the cheese, W.sauce, mustard, milk and pepper to make a smooth paste. Spread this over the untoasted sides of the bread. Cut the apple into four rings. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the apple slices, turning as they start to caramelise. While these are cooking, poach the eggs (these can be done in advance and kept in chilled water then plunged into hot water for one minute to reheat). Put the bread and cheese under the grill, and when golden and bubbling, put onto two warm plates. Place two slices apple over the cheese, and a poached egg on top of each slice.
For non veggies: fry the bacon with the apples, and when serving, place over the apples and under the egg.

In one of Nigella's programmes I saw people dunking crisp biscuits into their drinks. Maybe it was coffee, could have been something stronger. However, you might wish to do the same so here is a recipe to make your own Biscotti - the twice baked biscuit.

Biscotti: makes 24
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
2 oz (50g) whole almonds, blanched
4 oz (115g) caster sugar
1 egg
15ml Grand Marnier liqueur*
finely grated zest of one small orange
6 oz (175g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 oz (40g) polenta (or fine semolina)
2 oz (50g) shelled pistachio nuts
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and cream together. Beat in the egg, liqueur and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder and coriander, stir in the polenta and mix these dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Beat at low speed (or stir) to form a dough. Turn this out onto a floured surface and knead in the nuts. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a sausage shape approx 2" (5cm) wide by 3/4" (2 cm) deep. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 or 4 for half an hour or until just firm. Remove from oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes then cut into 1/2" (1 cm) slices, lay these, cut side down on the baking sheet and return to oven for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the biscotti are crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Note: * any orange flavoured liqueur would do. Why not make your own. A recipe for this was given in an earlier posting, possibly late last year. If you do not wish to add alcohol, then substitute orange juice and more zest.
You could omit the coriander, it is only there for the flavouring, likewise use all almonds and leave out the pistachios. The end result should be much the same in texture but with slightly less flavour.

Some hints and tips which I have collected over the past years:
to dress salads:
Pour salad dressing into a bag, then add the salad leaves, give a good shake and just tip the leaves onto the plate - saves a lot of mess.
to prevent bananas browning:
Put firm, unpeeled bananas into a bowl of iced water. Leave for 10 minutes. These can now be peeled and sliced and should keep up to four hours without browning.
American frosting:
Using a double boiler, or bowl standing over simmering water, put in 6 oz (175g) jam and 3 large egg whites and beat together for about 10 minutes or until it holds its shape when the beaters are lifted. This needs to be used immediately, spread over a sponge cake or whatever, best served at once but should stand for a couple of hours.