Friday, November 16, 2007

Using Leftovers

Keep this next recipe to use when you have some tomatoes that are going soft (but still edible) and some pesto in the fridge that needs using up. And - if you have half a pack of puff pastry that also needs to be used, then you have all the makings with no extra expense and the satisfaction of nothing needed to be thrown away. Although the original recipe specifies using a pack of ready rolled pastry, to then be cut into circles, obviously you can roll out the block pastry and cut that into circles (myself I prefer squares which then leave virtually no trimmings to dispose of).
Tomato Pesto Tart: serves 1 - 2
at least 6 (eight if you can) ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
half a pack of ready-rolled (or block) puff pastry
1 - 2 tblsp pesto
salt and pepper
Dunk the tomatoes into boiling water for 20 seconds, then remove and peel off their skins. Slice in half through their middle and lay out onto baking trays lined with oiled sheets of foil. Brush the cut surfaces with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and then set the temperature to 200C, 400F, gas 6 ready for the pastry.
Roll out and cut one or two circles from the pastry, saucer size (6"/15cm), although as mentioned above, cutting squares is less wasteful of pastry - then brushing one side with plenty of oil place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, oiled side down. Then brush the top surface with oil. When the oven has reached full temperature, cook the pastry on the top shelf for 10 - 15 minutes until brown and starting to rise. Then, using a fish slice, flip the pastry over, so the under-cooked bottom is now on the top. Press down to flatten and cook on for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until risen and golden.
Remove from the oven, flatten again if necessary, and spread the pastry tops with the pesto and cover with the hot tomato halves. Can be eaten hot or cold.

Far be it from me to suggest giving sweets to the children, or I will have the nutritionists and health experts chasing me. However, what is wrong with making a few yourself, knowing they contain no adverse food colourings etc.
Golden Drops:
2 oz (50g) butter
2 tblsp honey
2 oz (50g) gran sugar
1 tsp concentrated orange juice
2 oz (55g) wholemeal flour
Melt the fat (could be done in the microwave) and add to the honey and sugar. Mix well and stir in the orange juice. Sprinkle in the flour and mix together.
Drop small spoonfuls of the mixture onto greased baking sheets, allowing room to spread. Flatten tops slightly with a fork. Bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for 7 - 10 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool for five minutes on the tin, then remove to a cake airer and leave to firm up.

Coconut Barfi:
1 pint ( 670ml) milk
6 oz (170g) desiccated coconut
3 oz (85g) gran sugar
pinch ground cardamon
1 tblsp rosewater
Bring the milk to the boil, then simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, stir from time to time to prevent it boiling over. Stir in the coconut, simmer for a further minute, then add the sugar, cardamon, and rosewater. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes thick and dry, then turn into a shallow dish, smoothing the top. Leave to get completely cold and firm before cutting into squares.

Sesame Crunch Munch:
8 oz (225g) sesame seeds
2 oz (55g) gran sugar
10 oz (285g) honey
Put the seeds into a dry frying pan and toast gently for around 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. When pale golden, remove from the heat and set to one side.
Into a saucepan put the sugar and honey, bring to the boil and stir in the seeds, then boil slowly for about 15 minutes until the mixture reaches hard crack stage* (154C/310F).
Pour onto a greased baking sheet and tip (or use a knife) to spread it thinly, mark into squares and when cool, cut or snap into individual pieces.

*If you have no cooking thermometer you can judge the various temperatures by dropping a little of the syrup into a cup of cold water and seeing what happens to it. As it gets hotter, to the crack stage, the testing can be done by dipping in a fork and lifting it high up and seeing what happens when cold air hits it. Always remove the pan from the heat while testing as once it gets to syrup stage, the temperature can rise very rapidly.
Here is a guide:
smooth: 105C/220F. Sugar clings to fingers in a sticky film.
soft ball: 114C/237F. Syrup can be rolled into a soft ball with the fingers.
firm ball: 119C/247F. Syrup form a firm but pliable ball.
soft crack: 137C/280F. Separates into threads which break easily.
hard crack: 154C, 310F. Separates into hard brittle threads
caramel: 171C, 310F. Sugar goes much darker.

Carrot Balls:
8 oz (225g) gran. sugar
3 tblsp water
1 lb (450g) finely grated carrots
juice of 1 small lemon
1 oz (25g) chopped almonds or pistachio nuts
sugar or nuts for coating
Dissolve the sugar in 2 tblsp of the water. Add the grated carrot and cook gently, without stirring, until the carrots are soft. Add the remaining water and the lemon juice and continue cooking until the mixture has thickend to a firm paste. Stir in the nuts.
Turn the mixture onto a lightly greased tray and leave to cool slightly, then - using wetted hands - form the mixture into small balls and roll these in finely chopped or crushed nuts or sugar. Leave to get cold before eating.

Apricot and Orange Slices:
5 oz (140g) no-soak apricots
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
1 tblsp orange zest
1 tblsp concentrated orange juice
Chop or mince/process the apricots to make a paste then stir in most of the coconut, the orange peel and juice, and mix together thoroughly. Divide into two, and roll each into a sausage shape, then roll these into the remaining coconut. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for serveral hours before cutting into slices and serving.

Concentrated orange juice is mentioned in more than one of the above recipes. At one time you could buy frozen concentrated orange juice, which would normally be thawed and diluted. If not available these days, then use some juice from a carton and measure out double the amount needed and boil it down by half to reduce. This will give a stronger flavour.