Monday, October 22, 2007

Unusual Combinations

Today I am putting up recipes which in some ways are a little bit more unusual, giving you the opportunity to put on thinking caps and come up with some variations of your own.

The first recipe is one for a soup which not only makes use of oddments in the storecupboard, fridge and freezer, but also has unusual croutons (see also the footnote).
Pea, Lettuce and Pesto Soup: serves 4
1 lb (450g) frozen peas
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 3/4 pints (1ltr) hot water
end of a lettuce, finely shredded
2 tblsp green pesto
1 x 300pk fish fingers*
Put the peas and potato into a pan with the hot water and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Using a slotted spoon remove about a third of the peas and potatoes and set to one side. To the pan add the lettuce and cook for a further four minutes then cool slightly and blitz in a processor or blender until smooth. Return to the pan. Place over a low heat and add the saved vegetables, reheat and stir in the pesto.
Grill the fish fingers until cooked and golden, then cut into chunks. Serve the soup in individual bowls scatterin over the fish 'croutons'.
Note:* Salmon goes well with peas, so why not make your own fish croutons using canned (or even fresh) salmon, just egg and crumb the chunks and fry until heated through and crisp.

Nowadays, so many grains are on the market that one can be substituted for another, so in this dish either rice, millet, pearl barley, or quinoa can be used, or a mixture of some or all - but if doing so, take note of their individual cooking times and start with the one that takes the longest (possibly the barley), and add the rest accordingly.
Spicy Vegetable Broth with Grains: serves 4
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tblsp mild curry paste
1 tblsp water
1 1/4 pints (850ml) milk
1 lb (500g) mixed vegetables*, diced
6 oz (175g) grain of your choice (see above)
Into a pan put the onion, curry paste and water, stir, cover and gently simmer for five minutes. Pour in the milk, and - when hot but not boiling, add the vegetables and chosen grain, and cook until all are tender (if necessary add grain first, then vegetables according to which takes the longest to cook). Serve with crusty bread.
Note: The mixed vegetables can be from a frozen pack, or dice up your own using a mixture of carrots, celery, potato, parsnip, squash, string beans etc.

For an apple pudding with a difference, look no further than this. A seasonal dish, perfect for autumn days. With a top layer of cake, followed by apples in a caramel sauce, there seems to be no reason why it wouldn't work just as well with pears.
Toffee Apple Surprise Pudding: serves 6
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
5 oz (140g) self-raising flour
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
7 fl.oz (200ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
for the topping:
5 oz (140g) dark brown sugar
250ml boiling water
2 oz (50g) walnuts, pecans or almonds, chopped (opt)
Put the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl mix together the milk, egg and butter, when well blended, stir into the flour mixture. Arrange the apples in a shallow dish, spoon over the cake batter, making sure the apples are covered, smoothing the top with a knife. For the topping, put the sugar into a bowl, pour over the boiling water, stir to dissolve, and pour this over the top of the pudding, scattering on the nuts. Bake for about 40 mins at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until the pudding has risen and the top golden. Use a large spoon to serve so that you scoop up the sauce which has now settled at the bottom. Serve with - here I give you a choice -: creme fraiche, double cream, custard, ice-cream or Greek yogurt.

With Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas coming up, this is something different for the small fry and something I loved to dip into when also tiny (if I ever was). The important thing to remember is that everything used in this recipe should be perfectly dry. Once made, it will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container.
Lemon Sherbet Fizz: fills 6 - 12 cones
zest 12 lemons
few drops pure lemon oil or essence
6 tblsp icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment and spread over the lemon zest making sure it is in an even layer. Dry this out in an oven 110C, 225F, gas 1/4 for about 12 - 15 minutes, then remove, and leave on the tin to cool completely. Put this into a small blender or use a pestle and mortar and grind with the lemon oil/essence to a fine powder. Tip into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together wellm grinding down further if you wish. Keep in an airtight container until ready to serve, preferably in paper cones. For dipping, use liquorice sticks or chunks of fruit (banana, kiwi, mandarin segments, apple wedges, pinapple cubes etc. If using cocktail sticks to spear the fruit, cut off the pointed ends for extra safety, but don't leave small children eating alone and collect the sticks once used. )

Crunchy Sugared Walnuts: serves 6 - 8
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 tblsp water
4 oz (100g) walnut halves
2 tblsp caster sugar
Put the caster sugar into a pan with the water and heat until the sugar has dissolved then boil over a high heat until turning golden. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts, and the extra caster sugar. Working at speed, place the walnuts individually onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving spaces between, and leave to set. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.