Monday, November 12, 2007

Let's Go Nuts

For this first recipe I am sticking closely to the recommended ingredients, but there is no reason why you can't use other green vegetables, or a red or yellow pepper if you wish. Likewise, use different herbs. By using the recipe as a guide, choping and changing the ingredients, each time you make the same dish you can give itan entirely new flavour and even appearance.
Peanut Paella: serves 4 (V)
2 tsp groundnut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 oz (75g) peanuts
6 oz (150g) long-grain rice (pref. brown rice)
2 big ribs celery, sliced
8 oz (225g) mix of green veg (beans, courgettes, peas)
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp marjoram/oregano chopped
2 bay leaves
1 pint (570ml) boiling water
1 tblsp soy sauce
3 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and stir in the onion, saute for 5 minutes then add the garlic. When the onions are soft, stir in the peanuts and the rice, stir to coat the grains then cook for five minutes. Next, stir in the celery, the mixed green vegetables, the pepper, cumin seeds and the marjoram, and cook on for a further five minutes.
Tuck in the bay leaves and pour over the boiling water (this amount is based on using brown rice - white may take less), cover and simmer for 30 mins (or 20 if using white rice), or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Stir in the soy sauce, lemon juice, and season to taste. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

This next recipe uses ready-made standard pancakes, but a similar dish could be made using flour tortillas. Just heat each pancake/tortilla before filling.
Tex-Mex Pancakes: serves 4 (V)
8 ready made pancakes (warmed through)
8 oz (225g) string beans, chopped into inch pieces
2 tblsp groundnut oil
1 onion, chopped
half tsp turmeric powder
pinch chilli powder
1 tsp water
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes, drained
4 oz (100g) peanuts
salt and pepper
Boil the bean until tender, then drain and put to one side. Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir in the onion, saute for about five minutes until softened. Mix together the turmeric and chilli powders with the tsp of water to make a paste, then stir this into the onions. Fry for a further 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes and the peanuts.
Simmer for five minutes, add the green beans and when these are heated through, season to taste. Fill each pancake with the mixture and fold into quarters or, instead roll them up. Serve with salad.

American Roll Up: serves 4 - 6 (V)
8 oz (225g) wholemeal flour
1 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
5 fl oz (140ml) tepid water
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb (450g) onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tblsp tomato puree
2 tblsp basil leaves, chopped
4 oz (100g) peanuts, chopped
2 oz (50g) black or green olives, pitted and chopped
3 oz (75g) Cheddar and Mozarella cheese, grated
Mix together the flour, yeast and enough tepid water to make a firm dough. Knead for up to 10 minutes on a floured board until smooth, the place in a greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for half an hour.
While the dough is rising, put the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until softened, then stir in the tomatoes, the tomato puree, basil, peanuts and olives. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the dough is ready, knock back and give it another good knead. Roll out half into a rectangle 11" x 7" (28 x 18cm) and place on a sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper. Spread half the fill over the dough and roll up like a swiss roll. Wrap the paper around it to keep it in shape while you repeat the procedure with the second piece of dough.
Remove the paper, and place the two rolls on a baking sheet and sprinkle over the cheeses. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 25 minutes or until the bread has cooked through and the cheeses melted and golden. Slice diagonally, roughly an inch and a half , and arrange slices in an overlapping ring or oval on a warm serving plate.

This next dish will serve four as a main, or 8 as a starter.
Protein Packed Peppers: (V)
4 bell peppers (pref 2 red, 2 green)
knob of butter
half an ounce (15g) wholemeal flour
5 fl.oz (140ml) milk
4 oz (100g) peanuts
1 large red eating apple, cored, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 shallot or 4 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper
Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and pithy bits, then plunge the peppers into boiling water to blanch for 5 minutes. Drain well, turning them upside down to remove as much water as possible.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour and stir/cook for 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste. Divide and stuff the mixure into the pepper shells and place, stuffed side up, in a shallow ovenproof dish, adding a little water to the base. Cover with foil and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 25 or so minutes. Serve hot.

This next dish is eaten cold and merely a matter of assembling pre-cooked ingredients. The rice can be prepared a day in advance and kept chilled in the fridge. The chicken could be either cooked chicken breasts, or the final pieces of white flesh taken from a roasting chicken before the carcase is used for stock.
Spicy Indian Chicken in a Rice Ring: serves 4
8 oz (225g) long-grain rice
1 pint (570ml) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric
12 oz (350g) cooked chicken, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 spring onions, chopped
1 tsp curry powder or paste
5 fl.oz (140ml) mayonnaise
4 oz (100g) sultanas
4 oz (100g) peanuts
4 oz (100g seedless grapes, halved
Heat the stock, stir in the turmeric and rice and cook until the rice is tender. Drain and pack into a greased ring mould, cover and cool (if making in advance, cool as quickly as possible and keep chilled in the fridge for no longer than 24 hours).
Place the remaining ingredients into a bowl and gently mix together. Unmould the rice ring onto a serving plate and fill the centre with the curried chicken.

Now to a dessert, this time the nuts can be almonds, hazlenuts, or just chopped mixed nuts. Omit the nuts and the basic shortbread can be used as an underlay instead of pastry in Bakewell tart or Almond Slices for instance.
Crunchy Nut Shortbread: (F)
12 oz (350g) plain flour
8 oz (225g) butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 oz (25g) chopped nuts
Mix the flour, butter and sugar together to make a firm dough. Press into a round, shallow, 11" x 7" (27.5 x 17.5cm) lightly greased tin (but use an oblong tin if you prefer to cut the shortbread into fingers). Prick all over with a fork and scatter the nuts on top. Bake for 30 mins at 190C, 375F, gas 5 until golden. Remove from the oven, and while still in the tin, cut into 16 triangles. Leave to firm up, and then carefully remove to a cake airer until cold.
To freeze. Store in plastic containers, placing layers of kitchen paper under and between layers of shortbread (soaks up any butteriness). Keeps for up to 6 months.
To thaw: place shortbread on a serving plate and leave at room temperature for one hour before eating.