Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lazy Days, Busy Days...

For the first time I am writing two posts on one day. It is now late evening onTuesday- ten o'clock to be precise. So ignore any time or date that may appear on the posting, as this will be a draft and published tomorrow (Wednesday) as per usual (with recipes and so forth added on the day).
Round about the time of the salmonella scare everyone stopped making home-made mayonnaise with raw eggs, and instead went back to using old recipe using hard boiled eggs. The original recipe used cream, some the more recent ones changes the cream to fromage fraise.
Here is my version.
Home-made Mayonnaise:
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 tblsp cold water
salt and white pepper
5 fl.oz creme fraiche (or cream, or fromage frais/yogurt etc)
half a tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
3 - 4 teaspoons white (pref. wine) vinegar
Put the yolks into a small bowl with the water and using a pestle, or the end of a wooden spoon, mash together until like a paste. Season with a pinch each of salt and white pepper, and stir in the mustard (if using) and the creme fraiche. When quite smooth, stir in the vinegar. Don't be concerned if it is a bit runny, cover and place in the fridge for a couple or so hours and it will have firmed up. Covered it will keep for 2 - 3 days in the fridge.

Chocolate Pretzels: makes 25
4 oz (100g) unsalted butter, softened
2 oz (50g) sugar
1 oz (25g) cocoa
2 1/2 tblsp hot water
8 oz (225g) plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Dissolve the cocoa in the hot water, then let it cool to room temperature before beating into the creamed mixture. Then first beat in half the flour, then beat in the rest, finally beating in the egg and the vanilla. Shape the dough into a cylinder about 7" x 2" (18 x 5 cm), wrap in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for half an hour until firm.
Slice the dough into 1/2" rounds and roll each between palms to make a rope about 14" long and 1/4" dia. Shape each rope into a pretzel shape (details below) and place 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 189C, 350F, gas 4 for about 10 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool on a cake airer before glazing.
Glaze pretzels with the following:
6 tblsp milk
5 oz (220g) sugar
2 oz (50g) milk chocolate
2 oz (50g) bitter (dark 70% plus) chocolate
6 oz (175g) golden syrup
1 scant tsp butter
Put all the ingredients except the butter into a small heavy pan (or a bowl over simmering water) and stir/cook until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate melted. Stir in the butter and remove from heat. Leave to cool until lukewarm then dip each pretzel, one at a time, into the glaze to coat thoroughly. Dry for at least 15 minutes on a cake airer over waxed paper.
to shape pretzels:
drape the 14" rope into a loop with the ends crossed about halfway up. Then take the ends and cross back over left to the right or vice versa (in other words, not back to where it was, in the other direction) so that there is a twist in the middle (like half a knot) then spread the ends apart to just about the width of the loop. Take the top of the loop and bring it back down to lie over the straight ends, near to the tips. Then pinch the tips to the loop to secure.

Yesterday I sampled some fromage frais for the first time and was sadly disappointed. It just seemed a sloppy version of creme fraiche and not even pleasant, but could - I suppose - be used for raita, dips or with other, firmer cream cheeses. My cheesecake book, which has just been noticed when I looked for another, gives this info which might be of use:
Curd Cheese: a medium-fat soft cheese, with a maximum moisture content of 70% and a mellow, slightly acid flavour. Excellent used in quiches, cheesecakes, dips and spreads. Does not have a long shelf life.
Cottage Cheese: a low-fat curd cheese with a clean, mild flavour and a soft, granular texture, making it suitable for babies. Combines well with many foods including salads, fruit, vegetables and biscuits. Also used in cheesecakes.
Cream Cheese: has a high fat content with a rich creamy flavour ideal for spreading on biscuits and bread. Blend with equal amounts of curd cheese for best results in cooked dishes.
There is no mention of fromage frais or Quark, which is another soft cheese alternative.

A request for marinades led me on to my 'Sauces and Marinades' booklet. Strangely there are few marinades dealing specifically which chicken, but the book gives quite a bit of useful info which gives us a chance to invent our own:
"The primary purpose of a marinade is to tenderise and add flavour to meats before they are cooked. Often leftover marinade can be used to make a basis for brown sauce and a beer marinade is good in a stew (just remember that raw meat has been soaking in it so a case of use it or lose it. Or freeze it?).
A marinade mixture always contains acid - wine, vinegar or lemon/lime juice - this tenderises and penetrates into the meat fibres. With this are combined all sorts of vegetables, herbs and spices, the more the merrier, plus a small amount of oil to keep the meat moist.
Combinations depend upon the food: fish is good with lemon, olive oil and herbs. Beef can take juniper, mustard and beer.
Marinating can be done at room temperature for quick results but only advisable for a few hours at most. Best to marinate in the fridge where the marinade will act more slowly and thoroughly. Timing depends upon the food and its size. Thinly sliced raw fish will be flavoured and slightly 'cooked' by the citrus juice and ready in an hour or two. Loin of pork could be left for up to 3 days in the fridge for a mellow flavour.
When marinating, completely cover the food with the marinade and all sorts of ingenious receptacles can be devised, such as packing everything together in a small plastic bag. The important thing is to remember to avoid using metal containers because of the acid content of the marinade".
(I love this next bit...) "A marinade has many functions including disguise. Transforming pork into wild boar, and lamb into venison by soaking several days in a wine marinade is a well-known restaurant ruse. Once cooked and sliced it is said that even a connoisseur can have trouble distinguishing genuine game from fake." Have to admit that I have cooked chicken in the juices and gravy left over from cooking a pheasant, and it really did taste more like game bird than the real thing.

Dry Marinade: for roast or grilled chicken
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf, crushed
6 peppercorns, crushed
2 tblsp sea or rock salt
Pile all the ingredients together and chop, chop, chop until reduced down to almost a paste. Spread this over the surfaces of the meat and leave for one hour only (due to the salt content it should not be left longer). Scrape off and discard before cooking.

White Devil Marinade: enough for one jointed chicken
4 fl.oz (120ml) olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
12 black peppercorns
1 tsp crushed dried red chillies (optional)
Crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar (or strong plastic bag - in which case base with a rolling pin or heavy frying pan (think of the person you hate the most and enjoy the bashing - cooking can be so theraputic) - then add to the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the chicken pieces and marinate for 1 - 3 hours. Wipe the joints dry before grilling. Season joints with salt and pepper and while cooking, baste several times with the marinade.

Oriental Barbeque Sauce: enough for 2 chickens/5 lb (2.25kg) meat
2 fl.oz (60ml) black treacle
2 fl.oz (60ml) soy sauce (pref. dark)
juice of one lemon
1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and crushed
2 fl.oz (60ml) water
2 fl.oz (60ml) oil
Put everything, except the oil, into a small pan and heat until the treacle has dissolved. Simmer until thick and glossy (takes about five or so minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in the oil.
Turn this into a sweet and sour sauce by substituting 2 oz (60g) brown sugar and 2 fl.oz (60ml) sherry for the treacle.
Brush over pork chops, spare ribs, ham steaks and chicken joints before grilling or roasting, baste off and on with any surplus marinade.