Friday, October 26, 2007

More from the Store

Today's recipes are again mainly using up bits and bobs, but in a way that no-one would notice that they are virtually 'bin-fodder'. Instead turning out to be almost gourmet-on-a-shoestring. We start with a recipe that uses up cauliflower, being reminded of this as yesterday Beloved craved another Cauliflower Cheese, which as you know I make the quick and easy way, using creme fraiche with grated cheese for the sauce (he seems to like it very much indeed).
Being a large cauli there was some left over, so perfect for this next recipe in which one of the original ingredients was a tub of ready-made cheese sauce. When will these manufacturers stop believing we are all helpless? This has been changed into a thick white sauce and follow the method. As ever keep a few oddments of hard cheeses unwrapped in the fridge, and when drying up, grate them down as fine as you can, then box them up ready for use. Use these instead of - or mixed with - Parmesan or Pecorino.
Cauliflower and Walnut Cheesy Souffles: serves 3
1 oz (25g) butter
2 tblsp finely grated Parmesan (or see above)
7 oz (200g) cauliflower florets
12 fl.oz (350ml) ready made white sauce
3 oz (75g) mature Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese
half a tsp mustard powder
half a tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper.
3 eggs, separated
2 oz (50g) walnut pieces, chopped
salt and pepper
Butter three large ramekin dishes and divide the finely grated cheese between them, shaking each to coat the sides. Cook the cauliflower in boiling water until just tender and drain thoroughly (alternatively put the small florets in a plastic bag, leaving the end open, no water needed. Lay this on the microwave turntable and cook on High for about 7 minutes by which time it should be tender).
Grate the 3 oz of cheese fairly coarsely and stir into the white sauce along with the mustard powder and the cayenne. Season well (be generous with the pepper) and carefully stir in the egg yolks followed by the walnuts.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold one tblsp into the cheese mixture to slacken then carefully fold in the remainder. Spoon half into each ramekin, top with the cauliflower, then cover with remaining souffle mix. Run your thumb around the edge of each dish - this helps the souffle to rise up evenly - and put in a pre-heated oven 200C, 400F, gas 6, then once the door is shut, reduce the heat to 180C, 350F, gas 4 and bake for half an hour, by which time the souffles should be golden and slightly wobbly. Cook for an extra five minutes if needed and serve immediately.

For this next dish use a can of those ready-cooked new potatoes, the ends of a lettuce, some need-to-be-used spring onions, and tuna from the storecupboard. The anchovies turn this into posh nosh, but can be omitted. New Potato and Tuna Salad: serves 4
12 oz (350g) new potatoes (fresh cooked or canned/drained)
3 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp green pesto sauce
lemon juice or water
freshly ground black pepper
2 Little Gem lettuce, or half an Iceberg
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and chopped
2 x 185g cans tuna, drained and flaked
4 anchovies (opt)
Mix together the mayo with the pesto, adding a little lemon juice or water to slacken to a pouring consistency. Season to taste with the pepper.
Tear the lettuce apart and put into the bowl with the spring onions. Slice the potatoes and add these to the salad followed by the tuna. Pour over the dressing, toss to coat everything, adding snippets of anchovy if you wish.

Packet stuffing is usually bought around Xmas. Often two sachets to a pack, one gets left at the back of a drawer or cupboard. Here are a couple of interesting ways to use it, either with the Xmas meal, or another occasion.
Bacon wrapped Stuffing Bangers:
Prepare the packet of stuffing as per packet instructions, making it fairly firm (adding an egg if you like). Form into small sausage shapes and wrap each with a rasher of bacon, holding in place with a cocktail stick (you could spear two per stick). Roast for 20 or so minutes (200C etc) until the bacon is crisp.
Stuffing Balls en surprise: (F)
Make a flat circle of stuffing, place a tsp. of cranberry sauce in the centre and work the stuffing round to make a ball. Roast in the oven as above.
Tip: A reminder that stuffing balls (plain or filled) can be made weeks ahead of the Xmas season, to open-freeze and bag up when solid. Thaw out and cooked on the day.

The following makes use of soft cream cheese (Philadelphia or own brand type) which might want using up. Use either the plain or garlic and herb.
Quick Mackerel Pate:
1 can smoked mackerel, drained
1 tsp horseradish sauce
juice of half a lemon
cream cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Mash the mackerel with the horseradish sauce and lemon juice and work in as much cream cheese as you have available, but not more than 3 oz (75g). Season with the pepper to taste.
Jacket Potato Filling and Toasted Melts:
Mash together flaked salmon or tuna with sweetcorn and cream cheese, season with pepper and use to stuff a hot jacket potato. Alternatively, pile the mixture on toast, sprinkle over grated cheese and grill until bubbling.
Quick Pasta Sauce:
Stir the cream cheese (garlic one is best), into hot drained pasta, until melted and coating the pasta.

Again, this next dish makes use of canned fish and potatoes, and other 'oddments' from the fridge or windowsill (by this I mean herbs). A dish both suitable for warmer days or a winter buffet.
Salmon Terrine:
1 medium size can of salmon
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
8 oz (225g) canned new potatoes, drained and sliced
3 oz (75g) finely diced cucumber
1 tblsp finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
2 tblsp mayonnaise,
tomatoes, sliced
lettuce leaves
cucumber slices
Put the drained salmon into a bowl, flake with a fork and add the chopped eggs, diced cucumber, the potatoes and the parsley. Season to taste and stir in the mayonnaise. Press into a greased and lined loaf tin and chill in the fridge for several hours until firm. Place lettuce leaves to cover a plate and turn out the terrine on top. Garnish with slices of cucumber and tomato.

Unsweetened desiccated coconut is one I always keep in store as it can be used in both sweet and savoury (usually curry type) recipes.
Crunchy Topped Orange Coconut Sponge:
4 oz (100g) marg. or butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 eggs
grated rind of one orange
3 tblsp orange juice
for the topping:
2 oz (50g) marg. or butter
2 oz (50g) brown sugar
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
1 tblsp orange juice
Cream the margarine and sugar together until very light an fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and fold in the flour, small amounts at a time, alternating with the orange juice. Spoon into a greased and floured 8" (20cm) sandwich tin. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 4 for 35 - 40 minutes until firm in the centre.
To make the topping, cream everything together and spread on top of the baked cake. Grill under a low heat until golden and crispy. Cool on a cake airer.

With most cakes we almost always have the makings in the storecupboard, but we don't always have the correct size or shape of tins. The following recipe should be cooked in a ring mould, if you don't have one (I bought mine from a jumble sale), place a small metal container covered with foil in the centre of a normal round cake tin (wide end down for ease of removing cake), before greasing and lining the whole tin/container with parchment or greaseproof paper.
Honey Cake: makes 8 - 10 slices (F)
5 oz (140g) self-raising flour
1 oz (25g) cornflour
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) butter, softened
3 oz (85g) runny honey
3 eggs
to make the icing:
4 oz (100g) icing sugar, sieved
1 - 2 tblsp crushed and sieved frozen strawberries
Beat together the butter, sugar and honey until very pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour and the cornflour and fold into the creamed mixture. Spoon into a greased and floured or lined (8 "/20cm dia) ring mould and bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for about 30-35 minutes until risen and firm. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then ease around the edges with a palette knife (carefully removing the centre container if separate from the tin) and turn out onto a cake airer. Leave to cool (it can be frozen at this point). To make the icing, mix the icing sugar and enough pureed strawberries together to make a firmish but runny icing and drizzle this over the cake (best standing on a cake airer over a plate). Leave to set. Place on a cake plate to serve.
This cake will keep in an airtight container, in a cold place for up to a week).

If, like me, you buy cream every week, then all (or almost all) the ingredients for this next dessert you should have in stock. A variation on a Creme Brulee, this can be made up to three days ahead, but really better made the day of serving. The sugar topping can be sprinkled over and either blasted with a cook's blow torch, grilled to caramelise, or follow the easier directions given with this recipe.
Chocoholics Cambridge Cream: serves 4
7 fl.oz (200ml) milk
13 fl.oz (375ml) double cream
half a tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
4 oz (100g) dark chocolate, grated
6-7 tblsp of sugar for the caramel topping
Put the milk, cream and vanilla into a pan and bring to the simmer. Remove from heat, then, using another bowl (one that fits the top of the saucepan just used) whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa. Slowly whisk in the creamy hot milk and keep whisking until thoroughly blended. Stand the bowl over the pan of simmering water (you don't need to wash the pan, just add a couple of inches of boiling water) and cook the custard for about five minutes, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Around that time it should coat the back of the spoon. If not cook for a minute or so longer.
Put four large ramekin dishes in a roasting tray and divide the grated chocolate between them, pressing firmly and as flat as possible, over the base. Pour over the custard trying not to disturb the chocolate, then fill the tray with hot water until half-way up the dishes.
Cook in the oven at 150C, 300F, gas 2 for about 35-40 minutes until set but still wobbly. Check after 30 minutes as some ovens cook faster than others, it is important not to overcook to the stage where they are fully set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool - at this point they can be kept in the fridge for up to three days. To make the topping, put the sugar into a small pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and boil to a golden caramel, then very carefully pour this over the top of the desserts and leave to set.