Monday, October 01, 2007

A Different Approach

Many foods are very similar and one can often be substituted for another. Even cakes, once made, can be turned into another interesting dish. Useful to know when needing to use things up. So today are recipes that have that different approach.

Cannellini Bean Hummous: serves 6 or more as a dip
This is a variation on the chickpea hummous, but as peanut butter is used instead of tahini, it can taste very similar. Because cannellini beans are white they look more like the 'real thing', butterbeans would do instead, or even use pinto beans. It helps to make the dip in a food processor, otherwise chop/puree by hand.
2 spring onions or 1 small shallot
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tblsp peanut butter
2 tblsp olive oil
1 slice bread, soaked in 3 tbsp water
zest of half a lemon
good pinch each ground cumin and coriander.
Blitz the onion and garlic in a food processor, then add the remaining ingredients. Whizz to a puree - the water in the bread should help to lighten the texture, add a little more water if necessary. Spoon into a bowl, sprinkle over a little more cumin, drizzle over a little more oil, and serve with pitta bread, crudites etc.
Tip: instead of canned beans, use home-cooked (which can be stored in the freezer).

Almost Instant Meatballs with Pasta: serves 4
Instead of starting off with minced meat and adding other ingredients, cut the labour by using well flavoured sausages.
1 lb (450g) penne pasta or other shapes
6 thick sausages (beef, pork, or turkey etc)
2 tblsp olive oil
1 bag (250g) baby spinach
salt and pepper
3 tblsp toasted almonds
3 oz (75g) grated Parmesan or Pecorino* cheese
Put the pasta on to cook. Peel the skins from the sausages and break each sausage into four or five pieces, roll each into balls. Heat the oil in a pan and add the sausages, shaking the pan so they cook all over When golden (after about 6 minutes), throw in the spinach and leave to cook in the steam until wilted (2-3 mins). Season to taste, then add the nuts. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and toss well, sprinkling over half the cheese, toss again then serve in individual bowls with the remaining cheese on top.
* Pecorino cheese is very similar to Parmesan, but has a slightly saltier taste. If using this, suggest leaving out salt when seasoning. Walnuts could be used instead of almonds.

Pizza Pies: makes 4 (F)
Similar to a Calzone (folded pizza), these are worth making in bulk so that some can be frozen. Although a packet of pizza mix is used, the pizza dough can be home-made.
1 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
12 oz (350g) lean lamb mince
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz (75g) walnut pieces, finely chopped
handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 x 145g packet of pizza mix
2 large tomatoes, sliced
Put the oil in a pan and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, stir in the cinnamon and fry for one minute more then stir in the lamb mince and fry over a high heat until the lamb is browned. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps of mince. Remove from heat, stir in the nuts and mint. Season to taste.
Prepare the pizza dough according to instructions, but omit the rising stage. Divide into four and form each into a ball then roll out into a teaplate sized circle. Place these on a baking sheet. Divide the meat mixture into four and spoon over the centre of each circle, placing sliced tomatoes on the top of each. Fold the dough over and seal the edges (at this stage they can be frozen. Defrost in the fridge overnight). Cut three slashes in the top of each and bake for 10 -15 minutes at 220C, 425F, gas 7 until the dough is golden brown and the filling cooked through. Serve with Raita and a green salad.
Tip: if you have no fresh mint leaves, stir in a teaspoon of bottled mint sauce. Instead of tomatoes used sliced and lightly fried courgettes.

Herby Scone Wedges: serves 8
A variation on Soda bread, and using baking powder instead of bicarb. this eats particularly well when split and spread with flavoured cream cheeses. If you prefer to use bicarb. then make the scones using thin natural yogurt instead of the milk.
18 oz (500g) plain flour
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp salt
4 oz (100g) butter
10 fl.oz (275ml) milk
2 eggs, beaten
Sift together the dry ingredients, stir in the herbs. Cut the butter (best chilled) into small chunks, add them to the flour and rub together with fingertips until like coarse breadcrumbs. Mix together the milk and the eggs and stir with a knife to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for one minute until the dough is smooth. Shape into a ball (about 6"/15cm wide) and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly and slash the top across four time to make eight wedges. Dust with a little flour and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 25 - 30 minutes until risen and golden. Best eaten fresh with fillings suggested below, but will keep well for a couple of days in an airtight tin.
cream cheese fillings;
to 150g cream cheese and chives add finely diced cucumber
to 150g cream cheese add finely chopped sundried tomatoes and basil
OR...1 tsp Dijon mustard and finely chopped ham
OR...2 tsp tom. ketchup/mayo with finely chopped prawns
OR...flaked canned salmon and finely chopped parsley
all above seasoned with freshly ground black pepper.

Leftover Muffin Trifle: serves 4
As muffins are best eaten on the day of baking, this is a good recipe to use up ones that have gone a little dry. It doesn't really matter which muffins are used (but not savoury ones), as long as the liqueur (which for non-drinkers could be orange juice) complement the flavour.
4 stale chocolate muffins
5 oz (150g) dark chocolate
1 x 142ml whipping cream
5 tblsp coffee liqueur
250g tub mascarpone or cream cheese
Break up the muffins into a bowl and sprinkle over 1 tblsp liqueur. Melt the chocolate in a bowl standing over hot water. Once melted, put to one side. Whip the cream until thick, slowly beating in the remaining liqueur towards the end. Put the mascarpone into a bowl and break up slightly with a fork (if using cream cheese, beat this lightly to soften). Cut the cream into whichever cheese you are using (best done with a whisk or remove the beaters from an electric whisk and use this in the hand as a cutting tool). Drizzle over the chocolate and fold this in to give a ripple effect. Divide half the muffin crumbs between four (pref. glass) serving bowls or tumblers, and spoon over half the chocolate cream mixture. Repeat with more muffin crumbs and a final swirl of the chocolate.

Leftover-Coffee Cake: makes 12 slices
A good way to use up the remains of strong coffee. But could be made from scratch using 3 tblsp boiling water to one of instant coffee. Please note - the recipe gave an incorrect tin size.
4 oz (100g) butter
8 oz (225g) dark brown sugar
3 tblsp espresso coffee
2 tsp baking powder
5 oz (125g) plain flour
Put the butter into a pan over a low heat. When melted, stir in the sugar. Remove from heat and add the coffee and eggs. Sift together the baking powder and the flour and add this to the coffee mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed then pour into a greased and fully lined baking tin (the recipe states 13 x 9 cm - this is far too small, it must have meant inches) and bake at 180c, 350F, gas 4 for 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin. Spread the topping (recipe below) over the cake, dust lightly with the cocoa and leave to set.
cake topping:
284ml tub creme fraiche
10 oz (280g) white chocolate, chopped
4 tsp caster sugar
cocoa powder
Put the chocolate, the sugar in a bowl over simmering water and when beginning to melt, stir in the creme fraiche. When fully blended, leave to cool for 15 minutes then spread over the top of the cake, dusing with the cocoa. Leave to set, then remove cake from the tin and cut into 12 squares.