Sunday, November 04, 2007

Winter Warmers

Today am putting up some warming casserole recipes. Not all contain meat. Some are speedy to do, others can be left to cook in the oven so that whoever does the cooking can go off and do something else. Several recipes make use of cans of condensed soups which are extremely useful - apart from adding to casseroles instead of making a sauce, they can also be used (folding in a little chopped mushroom or chicken) to fill vol-a-vent cases. Beaten with some eggs, the condensed soup can also be used as a quiche filling.

Storecupboard Savoury Casserole: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter
4 tblsp plain flour
8 fl.oz (225mil) milk
salt and pepper
1 x 12 oz (350g) tuna, drained
1 x 175g can evaporated milk
1 x 225g condensed mushroom soup
half pint peas, cooked
1 mug potato crisps, crushed
2 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
2 slices bread, crumbed
1 tblsp melted butter
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour, cook for 2 minutes then add the milk and stir or whisk until the mixture has thickened, this may take a couple of minutes simmering. Season to taste.
Flake the tuna and add to the sauce with the evaporated milk and the condensed soup. Then stir in the peas and crisps. Spoon out into a greased ovenproof casserole. Mix together the bread, cheese and melted butter and spread this on top of the mixture. Bake for approx. half an hour at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden brown on top. Serve with a green salad.

This next dish will take approx. 1 hour in the oven, but could be made in a slowcooker and left all day on the lowest setting. Often you can buy packs of chicken thighs and drumsticks for quite a low price. These are worth repacking, each wrapped separately so they can be frozen, then just use as few or as many as you need.
Chicken Casserole: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
4 or more chicken portions
1 can condensed chicken soup
4 tblsp sherry
2 oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated (opt)
Melt the butter in a pan, add the chicken portions and fry until golden. Place into a casserole dish. Mix together the sherry, condensed soup and any of the buttery juices from the pan. Pour over the chicken, sprinkling over the cheese if using (do not add cheese if cooking in a slow cooker). To oven cook, cover and cook at 180C, 350f, gas 4 for about 1 hour, removing the lid for the last 12 minutes of cooking time. Serve with boiled rice, or what you will.

Ratatouille: serves 3-4 (V)
2 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large aubergine, thinly sliced
1 lb tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 oz courgettes, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
4 fl. oz white wine or water
salt and pepper
pinch sugar
Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the vegetables, one type at a time, cooking fairly rapidly and placing each into a casserole dish when browned. If necessary add more oil. When all the vegetables are in the pot, pour over the wine or water. Season to taste, and sprinkle over the sugar.
Cover the casserole and cook at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about an hour or until the veggies are tender. Check for seasoning and serve hot or cold.

French Lamb Casserole: serves 6
good handful of raisins
2 oz (50g) butter
12 lamb cutlets, fat removed
6 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 lb (1kg) tomatoes, skinned and quartered
5 oz (150g) tomato puree
3 large cooking apples, peeled and quartered
salt and pepper
Soak the raisins in water for a couple of hours, then drain. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and brown the meat evenly on both sides. Put the cutlets into a casserole dish and to the frying pan add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until combined, season to taste, then pour this over the meat, lifting the cutlets slightly to allow the mixture to drain around them. Cover and bake for approx 90 minutes at 180F, 350F, gas 4 or until the meat is tender.

This next is a 'sort of' special in that it does contain some luxury ingredients, but also a way of using up cooked chicken, so it tends to balance out - financially. Again, a casserole which is made mainly from the storecupboard.
"We're Having a Party" Chicken: 4 - 6 servings
8 oz (225g) pasta penne
2 tins asparagus spears
4 oz (100g) butter
4 oz (100g) plain flour
2 pints combined asparagus liquid/chicken stock
salt and pepper
pinch nutmeg
2 tblsp whipped cream
2 tblsp sherry
2 pint measure cooked chicken pieces
stale breadcrumbs
grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta until tender. Drain and set aside. Drain the asparagus, reserving the liquid, and cut into 1" pieces. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and stir for one minute, then add the stock/asparagus liquid, whisking gently until thickened. When boiling, season to taste, adding the nutmeg, cream and sherry.
Place the pasta in a large greased casserole dish, cover with half thesauce and then add the chicken and asparagus on the top, finally covering with the remainder of the sauce. Mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered for approx 1 hour at 180C, 350F gas 4 or until hot and golden on top.

Beef Stew with Orange Dumplings: serves 5-6
1 1/2lb (675g) beef stewing steak
1 tblsp plain flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tblsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 pint (425ml) beef stock
1 onion, chopped
1 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
orange dumplings:
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
2 oz (50g) suet granules
zest and juice of one orange
Cut the meat into 1" cubes. Place into a bag with the flour, salt, pepper, mustard and the sugar and shake well to coat the meat. Then tip this into an ovenproof casserole.
Combine the remaining ingredients (not the dumpling mixture) and pour over the meat. Cover and cook for one hour 180C, 350F, gas 4. Towards the end of that cooking time, make the dumplings by sieving the flour and salt into a bowl, and stirring in the suet. Add the orange zest and enough orange juice/water to make it into a soft dough. Divide into five or six and roll each into a ball. After the hours cooking time, remove lid, place the dumplings on the stew, cover and cook for a further 45 min. to one hour. Serve with vegetables.

Cannot leave you without a dessert, so here is another store-cupboard winner:
Pears with Chocolate Ripple topping: serves 6
1 x 410g can of pear halves
12 sponge fingers
4 tblsp strong black coffee
4 oz (100g) dark chocolate
5 fl.oz (200ml) double cream
3 tblsp Baileys or Irish cream liqueur
5 oz (120g) cream cheese (Philadelphia type)
Drain the pears, reserving the liquid, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Break the sponge fingers into chunks and place in the bottom a bowl together with the pear pieces. Pour over the coffee, tossing everthing together so that the sponge soaks up the liquid, then spoon into 6 individual serving glasses. Melt the chocolate in a bowl which is standing over simmering water. Whisk together the cream, the liqueur, the cheese and approx 2 tbsp pear liquid until the mixture is smooth and thick. In needs to be a dropping-off-the-spoon consistency.
Add the melted chocolate, stirring only once or twice to give a marbled effect. Spoon onto the top of the pears and chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Have an enjoyable day.