Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Experimenting

Moving on to the Goode Kitchen, yesterday I decided to get rid of the sadder vegetables in the fridge, and decided to make a soup in a slightly different way to normal. Not feeling well enough to bother with much activity, I just cut the last of the floppy celery into chunks, did the same with one large carrot, peeled and chopped a parsnip, but left in the core, took one large onion out of the basket on the unit, peeled and quartered that, threw the lot in a saucepan and then went back to the fridge to find more oddments. To the pan I added the last of a mixed bag of spinach, watercress and rocket (removing the worst bits), also the rather grubby end of a lettuce (grubby in that it was beginning to go a bit brown where it had been cut - as usually happens when cut with a metal knife). My pots of herbs (parsley, mint and thyme) that had been bought to dress up the kitche (much had been used), were all trimmed to just above soil level and the lot thrown into the pot, stalks and all, along with a handful of lentils.
These were left to simmer for an hour or two, and as simmering does not tend to soften vegetables very much, I raised the heat for a further half hour and then left it to cool slightly before blitzing in the food processor, needing to have two goes as there was quite a panful. The puree I pressed through a sieve, retaining the residue just in case. The resulting - albeit thin - liquid tasted very good, so I put it into a smaller pan to reheat, adding a spoon of beef stock concentrate (but vegetarian bouillon would be as good). Then put back some of the residue from the sieve back into the soup to thicken it, and (shock, horror) a tablespoon of dry tomato soup mix (like cup-a-soups, but you can buy them in jars now). Have to say it really did taste good. Beloved and I ate a huge bowlful each, and then had seconds, using up all the soup. I even added some of the sherry he had poured out for me, which was more of a refinement than an improvement. With a bowlful of vegetable residue still left, I intend mixing that with mashed potato and using it to top a Cottage Pie for supper today.

Today's recipes are a selection of seasonal dishes which can be eaten as snacks, party food, or at any time for that matter. The first being made in four-portion Yorkshire Pudding tin, which would give a size suitable for a starter, or use smaller tartlet tins and make up to a dozen for the buffet table.
Tomato, Pesto and Goat's Cheese Tarts:
6 oz (175g) puff pastry
pesto sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 oz (50g) goat's cheesem sliced into four rings
basil leaves (opt)
balsamic vinegar
Roll out the pastry thinly and cut four circles to fit into the the tin, Bake each at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 8 minutes until well risen and golden.
Remove from the oven, spread a thin layer of pesto over the top of each, on this place the tomatoes, finishing with a circle of cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. If you wish garnish each with a basil leaf an drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar as a glaze. Serve hot with a salad.

Red cabbage is becoming much more popular since the word got around that it is even more nutritionally better for us than the white. So a dish of this, served alongside the turkey, would give a colourful addition to the table. Equally good served with hot or cold meats. But always remember to add the acid when cooking the cabbage otherwise it will turn blue, then nobody will want to eat it.
Christmas Cabbage with Apple: serves 6
1 medium red cabbage
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, chopped
3 eating apples, cored and grated
1 tblsp soft brown sugar
3 tblsp red wine vinegar
5 fl oz (150ml) water
salt and pepper
If necessary, remove any tough outer leaves from the cabbage, and cut the remainder through into quarters, removing the white core from each. Shred the leaves.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onion for 3 minutes, then add the cabbage and apples (leave on the apple skins), stir to combine, then add the remaining ingredients, cover the pan and simmer for one hour until tender. Season to taste.

Although several recipes for flapjacks have been posted throughout the past twelve months, this one has a seasonal flavour and at a pinch, homemade muesli could be used instead of the two main ingredients.
Christmas Flapjack: makes 16
14 oz (400g) mix porridge and jumbo oats
4 oz (100g) mix almonds and Brazil nuts, chopped
5 oz (150g) butter
3 tblsp golden syrup
2 tblsp sunflower oil
14 oz (400g) mincemeat (amount variable)
Mix the oats and nuts together. Put the butter, syrup and oil in a pan and heat gently until melted, then pour over the oat/nut mix and stir until well combined. Spread half over the base of a greased and lined 8"x 8" (20 x 20cm) tin, then spread the mincemeat on top (you could use less mincemeat if you wish), topping with the remaining oat mixture. Press the surface down firmly and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for around 20 minutes or until golden. Mark into bars whilst still warm but leave in the tin to get quite cold before removing and slicing. Store in an airtight tin.