Thursday, October 11, 2007

Warmer Dishes for Cooler Days

Recipes today are 'warmer-uppers' geared to a hint of what's to come, weather-wise, although we have had some balmy days recently.
Eat the following as a chunky chowder, or puree to make a smoother soup.
Cauliflower and Smoked Haddock Soup: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
black, white, paprika or cayenne pepper
3 1/2 pints (2ltrs) hot vegetable stock
1 lb (450g) smoked haddock
9 oz (250g) floury potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
Using a large saucepan, melt the butter then add the onions, celery and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Season with the pepper of your choice. Cover, and leave to cook for a further five minutes. Meanwhile poach the haddock in the hot stock for 3 minutes, then remove fish and place to one side. Add the potatoes to the pan of vegetables, cook for one minute more then pour in the hot stock, raising the heat to a good simmering level, half-cover the pan and cook on for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender (at this point it can be cooled slightly and blended to a puree). Skin and flake the fish, removing any bones, and add to the pan (or puree), and simmer until piping hot. Check the seasoning and serve at once.
Tip: to cut down the cost, use less fish and include a small can of sweetcorn.

This next recipe gave one 3 lb roasted chicken as the main ingredient, stripping the hot flesh from the bones. Far too much to serve just two I thought, so suggest next time you roast a chicken, use the spare meat from the drumsticks, underpart, winglets and as much of the breast as you can filch, and use to make this. The bonus is - it will freeze. Instead of one dishful, why not make individual ones?
Chicken, Leek and Herb Pie: serves 2 adults (F)
freshly cooked chicken (as much as you can spare)
18 fl.oz (500ml) chicken stock
2 oz (50g) butter
2 leeks, washed and sliced
2 tblsp plain flour
zest of 1 lemon
handful parsley, chopped
3 tblsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper
9 oz (250g) puff pastry (from a bought block)
milk to glaze
Put chunks of the chicken meat into a 1 litre pie dish. Melt the butter in a pan and fry the leeks until beginning to soften. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Gradually stirring in the stock and cook until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest, the parsley and creme fraiche. Season to taste. Pour this leek sauce over the chicken and leave to cool*. Roll out the pastry to 2" (5cm) larger than the pie dish. Dampen the edges of the dish and lay on the pastry, tucking under the surplus to make a double edge thickness. Press all round the edge with a fork to seal (at this point it can be frozen - defrost overnight then bake as usual). Brush surface with milk then bake for a good half hour at 200C, 400F, gas 6.
Note: *the recipe uses hot sauce poured over freshly cooked hot chicken. NOT a good idea to pour hot sauce over previously saved COLD chicken. If cold chicken is to be used, then let the sauce get cold before spooning over, and allowing five minutes longer to heat through thoroughly, tenting the pastry with foil once it has turned golden and then reducing the heat slightly.

Now a recipe for muffins that, for once, will keep happily in an airtight container for up to two days. The sparkling water (or why not lemonade) gives that 'light as a feather' texture.
Blackberry and Apple Muffins: makes 8
12 oz (350g) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
4 oz (100g) butter, melted
124ml carton sour cream*
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
5 oz (150g) blackberries
2 eating apples, peeled, cored, chopped
6 tblsp sparkling water, lemonade etc
demerara sugar for sprinkling
Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar and stir in the butter, cream, eggs and lemon zest. Fold in just enough to combine. Don't over mix. Carefully stir in the fruits and finally the sparkling drink.
Spoon into paper muffin cases sitting in a muffin tin - they should be nearly full - sprinkle generously with the demerara and bake for 25 -30 mins at 200C, 400F, gas 6. Best served just warm. If storing (in a cool place), reheat in the microwave on High for 20 seconds.
Note: using a sparkling drink to bind the mixture opens the door to discovering up all sorts of variations. How about using pineapple as the fruit and ginger ale as the binder? I leave the research to you. Could be fun.
* sour cream, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, fromage frais, all should be able to be substituted for each other, or can be combined to use up the ends of cartons.

The proper name for these is Sticky Toffee Cupcakes but I could not resist using my alternative name for the original pudding which was posted towards the end of last year I believe. Early on anyway.
Ticket Office Cupcakes: makes about a dozen.
1 oz (25g) sultanas
1 oz (25g) no-soak apricots
1 oz (25g) dates, stoned
1 tsp baking powder
5 oz (150g) self-raising flour
1 oz (25g) muscovado sugar*
1 tblsp golden syrup*
1 egg
1 oz (25g) butter, melted
5 fl.oz (150ml) hot water
for the topping:
2 oz (50g) each butter, caster sugar, plain chocolate
3 fl.oz (75ml) double cream
Using a food processor whizz together the fruits, baking powder and just a little flour to prevent them sticking together. No food processor? Then just chop together finely.
Put the fruit mixture into a bowl with the sugar, syrup and melted butter and fold together. Then add the very hot water, the remaining flour and whisk together.
Divide the mixture between 12 paper cake cases (best to use two cases per cake to give added strength unless able to stand in a muffin tin or something similar). Bake for 15 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6. While the cakes are cooking, make the topping by putting the ingredients into a saucepan and heating until dissolved, then bubble away for a bit until slightly thicker and darkened in colour. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven, cool slightly then spoon over the topping. If the cakes have risen too high, then ease away the paper cases from the top of each cake so surplus topping has somewhere to drain into. Pity to waste any slithering over the sides.
Note: if not dark muscovado sugar, then use demerara or granulated and black treacle instead of golden syrup. If not black treacle, than suggest buying some for the season for its use is coming up.

GypsyToasts, luxury style: serves 2
1 egg
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
1 oz (25g) sugar
2 slices fruit bread, pannetone or just brioche
1 oz (25g) butter
pinch cinnamon
2 tblsp apricot compote (or jam)
2 tblsp flaked almonds, toasted
Beat the egg with the milk and 1 tsp sugar and pour into a shallow dish. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture to coat each side.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and when hot, fry the dipped bread for 3 mins on each side until golden. Remove each to a warmed serving plate, sprinkle over the cinnamon and remaining sugar and top with a spoonful of warmed compote (it doesn't have to be apricot, use another if you wish), and finish with a sprinkle of toasted almonds.