Monday, October 29, 2007

Nothing in the Cupboard but...

Tip: Don't throw away the ends of the Parmesan/Pecorino cheeses after grating, even the tiniest and hardest amounts left will still give flavour and, when added to something hot, will soften down in a very few minutes and eventually melt.

Now more about Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), which has been around a long time, but only fairly recently sold in this country. Could be called a real super-food as ( like soya beans) it contains all the essential amino acids, not to mention numerous vitamins. With a nutty flavour and chewy texture it can be used as a substitute for pearl barley or rice. But there are other, more interesting ways to use it, so here are some recipes:
Quinoa Cookies: makes about 25
4 tblsp peanut butter
3 oz (75g) butter
7 oz (200g) honey
4 oz (100g) golden syrup
4 1/2 oz (125g) quinoa
5 oz (150g) plain flour
half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 oz (100g) mixed chopped nuts (almonds/cashews(
few drops vanilla extract
Beat together the first four ingredients. Sift together the flour and the bicarb and mix into the beaten mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Put teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to baking trays lined with baking parchment (or Magic Carpet) , leaving room to apread, and bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden. Leave on the trays until cool then s tore in an airtight tin.

As an alternative to porridge, try this fruity version:
Quinoa for Breakfast: serves 2 - 4
9 oz (250g) quinoa
18 fl.oz (500ml) water
2 apples, peeled and sliced
3 oz (75g) dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, apricots etc)
2 tblsp demerara sugar
Put the quinoa and water into a pan and bring to the simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 5 - 6 minuts until the the fruit has softened and the apples turned to a puree. Stir in a little milk or cream. Serve with a drizzle of honey on top.

This next is the type of salad where you could add other ingredients of your choice. Use feta cheese if you are not keen on the suggested.
Quinoa, Goat's cheese and Orange Salad: serves 4
9 oz (250g) quinoa
18 fl.oz (500ml) water
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 - 2 carrots, grated
2 spring onion, finely sliced
1 x 240g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 oz (50g) goat's cheese, crumbled
1 handful freshly chopped parsley
1 tblsp extra v. olive oil pepper
Put the quinoa and water into a pan and bring to the simmer. Cook for 12 - 15 minutes. Drain well and fluff up with a fork, put into a bowl, stir inthe orange zest and juice and leave to cool.
Once cold, add the rest of the ingredients, season with pepper (the cheese is usually salty enough), and stir to mix well.

Fr a muffin recipe full of healthy ingredients (one of which is quinoa) look no further than this:
Banana Muffins: makes 12
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
2 large eggs
5 fl.oz (150ml) plain yogurt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 oz (75g) quinoa (cooked and drained)
pinch salt
6 oz (175g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
Into a bowl put the butter, eggs, yogurt and bananas and whisk together. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and put this into another bowl with the quinoa and sugar. Stir together then add the wet ingredients (from the first bowl) and fold together until just mixed (it is OK if the mixture is a bit lumpy, just make sure there are no dry bits of flour showing). Line a muffin tin with (12) paper cases and spoon in the mixture. Bake for approx 15 -20 minutes at 190c, 375F, gas 5 or until firm on top. Preferably eat while still warmish.
Tip: if you have demerara sugar and a blender, it is always worth whizzing some down to make a brown caster sugar which would be perfect for the above muffins.

Opening up a vacuum pack of beetroot (we always eat this with cold meat platters), there are often a couple or so left which need using up. So - apart from the obvious cheese and beetroot sarnies, here are a couple of recipes to use up the oddments.
Beetroot Salad with Pasta: serves 4
approx 6 oz (175g) cooked beetroot, chopped
9 oz (250g) pasta shapes, cooked and drained
1 apple, peeled and chopped
juice of half a small lemon
1 tblsp olive oil
3 oz (75g) feta or goat's cheese, crumbled
Put everything into a bowl and toss together. Sorted!

For this dish either buy a pack of smoked mackerel or use the canned.
Smoked Mackerel, Watercress and Beetroot Salad: serves 4
1 pack watercress, stems and lower leaves removed
3 -4 smoked mackerel fillets, skinned and flaked
1 x 250g pack cooked beetroot
1 tblsp horseradish sauce
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp olive oil
Share the watercress between four plates and scatter over the flaked fish. Roughly chop the beetroot and place on top. Whisk together the final three ingredients to make a dressing then drizzle this over the salad.

Use up the oddments of watercress from the above dish and make this soup.
Watercress Soup: serves 2
1 tsp butter
1 small onion or leek, sliced
6 oz (175g) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pint (575m) vegetable stock
1 - 2 oz (25-50g) watercress stalks and leaves
3 fl.oz (75ml) milk
freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions or leek, cover and saute for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the stock, cover and simmer for approx. 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Chop the watercress and add this, with the milk, to the pan (to keep its colour it does not need to cook on further). Remove from heat, liquidise (rub the puree through a sieve if you want it really smooth), return to the pan, reheat and season to taste.

Although surplus tomato puree can be frozen, here are some ideas to use up the ends of tubes or the surplus from tins you might have decanted and put in the fridge (other than adding to stews, curries, gravies etc).
Stir-fry Speedy Sauce: Stir together 1 tblsp tomato puree, 2 tblsp soy sauce and 2 tsp honey. Add to stir-fried meat and/or vegetables towards the end of the cooking.

Marie - Rose Seafood Sauce: Stir some tomato puree, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of paprika into some mayonnaise and mix with drained, flaked tuna or defrosted cooked prawns. Use as a sandwich filling or for topping hot jacket potatoes.

Pizza Toasts: Blend tomato puree with a pinch of dried herbs and spread over freshly toasted slices of French bread (or even a pizza base). Top with grated cheese and finish off under the grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling (if you wish you could add other cooked fillings between the tomato and cheese).

Pasta Sauce: Fry one finely diced onion and crushed garlic in a little oil and stir in one tblsp of tomato puree. Add half a tub of creme fraiche and some chopped fresh herbs (of your choice) and heat until bubbling. Season to taste and add to freshly cooked and drained pasta. Frying a little diced chorizo with the onion will make it spicy and utterly gorgeous.

Marinade: Mix together equal measures of tomato puree, brown sugar, wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper and use as a marinade for chicken thighs and drumsticks. Remove excess before roasting, but if you wish this can be used for basting.

Salad dressing: Into a bowl put 2 tsp tomato puree, 6 tblsp olive oil, 2 tbslp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp Dijon mustard. Season to taste and whisk together. Drizzle over green salads.

Often we have a banana whose skin is fast turning mottled and brown and we think it should be binned. Even brown banana flesh should not be discarded as this part is exceptionally sweet and worth using up to make brownies, muffins or banana cake. Here is a recipe which can either be drunk as a smoothie or frozen as an iced lolly.
Banana Mocktail: (F) serves 2
2 bananas, cut into chunks
1 x 14oz (400g) tin/pkt coconut milk
pinch cinnamon
Put everything into a blender and whizz until smooth. Pour into glasses if wishing to drink, or pour into ice lolly containers, place in the lolly sticks and freeze until firm.

This next is a way to use up those oddments of dried fruits that might have been left after making the Christmas Cakes and Mincemeat, or perhaps (like me) a few bits left at the bottom of the packets. Amounts are approximate. When using leftovers it is hardly worth weighing them out. I just sling the lot together.
Syrian Fruit Salad:
2 oz (50g) each of dried prunes, apricots, figs, dates etc
2 tblsp each of raisins, walnut pieces, almonds and pine nuts
cold water
rose water
Put the dried fruits into a bowl, cover with water and leave to steep for a couple of days in the fridge. Then stir in the nuts and rose water just before serving.

So you have a lemon that needs using up, plus the crusts from the ends of a loaf of brown bread, and bruised cooking apples that fell from the tree. You are the lucky one as you have all the makings for this Irish pudding.
Brown Betty:
2 crusts brown bread, crumbed
the same weight of unpeeled cooking apples, chopped
2 oz (50g) gran or demerara sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix everything together and bake in a buttered shallow dish at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for half an hour.