Thursday, February 07, 2008

Long Life Food

Normally bought, Tofu can be made at home.
Mix one cup (8 fl.oz) soya bean powder with 4 cups of water and let it soak for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Then put the mixture in a pan, bring it to the boil , continually stirring, then let it simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat and add 4 tblsp lemon juice. Stir until the protein begins to curdle. Once curdled thoroughly, tip into a muslin cloth and hang up to drip as if making cheese. When fully drained it should have formed a firm white curd with little taste. This will keep in the fridge for several days if kept covered with water.

This next dish is a version (or maybe the same) as Woolton Pie, the recipe being an adaptation of one from The Ministry of Food War Cookery Leaflets. Not enoyed at the time, for the folk then- who used to be great meat-eaters - felt deprived in none appeared on their plates. Yet today I have seen something very similar to this recipes in one of the glossy mags as a 'healthy vegetarian pie'. What goes around comes around you might say.
Vegetable Pie with Cheese and Oatmeal Topping:
1 1/2 lb (750g) cooked, mixed root vegetables
2 tblsp chopped parsley
1/2 pint (300ml) vegetable stock*
1 oz (25g) butter, softened
2 oz (50g) mashed potato
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
2 oz (50g) grated cheese
salt and pepper
Put the cooked veggies in a pie dish and sprinkle over the parsley. Add the stock and season to taste.
Mash the butter into the potato, adding a pinch of salt. Mix in the oats, flour and the cheese. Mix to a stiff dough with a little water, and roll the dough out onto a floured board and use to cover the pie, trimming the edges neatly. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about half an hour, or until the pastry is golden. Serve with green vegetables.
*Note: In wartime the vegetable stock would be the water in which the veggies had been cooked. Nowadays we can add a cube or boullion powder to give more flavour.

This is what one might call an 'austerity' recipe, nevertheless a very good one. Worth making in large quantities as they say it keeps well in the fridge (I would suggest best kept with the fat set on top to give a longer lasting life) or freeze without the fat in small containers. Do not season the stock, season the dish in which it is to be used. If you smile sweetly at the butcher you may find you get the marrow bones sawed into chunks and given free. Also ask him to split the feet. In the early days of last century the beef marrow, taken from the centre of cooked bones, was spread on buttered toast and greatly enjoyed by gentlemen.
White Stock:
2 pig's trotters
marrow bones
Put the bones and feet pieces into a pan and cover with water. Bring this slowly to the boil, removing any scum. Refresh with a little more cold water, again removing any scum. When all the scum has been removed, reduce the heat and simmer for 2- 3 hours. When cooked, sieve and pour into a bowl and allow to cool (see recipe below to use the up the meat). The fat can be removed from the jelly if you wish, but keep the container covered and when using, always reboil and allow to cool down to the temperature needed.

Jellied Pig's Feet:
After straining the stock, remove and dice the meat from the trotters. Put into a small basin with some chopped parsley and season with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over enough stock to just cover and leave to set in a cold place. When set, turn out and eat as brawn.

The final recipe today has a hint of times past as it is an American recipe for cookies which, during World War II, were mailed to husbands and sons overseas because the cookies could travel a six-week journey by sea, still arriving moist and flavoursome. They got their name because more often than not, the Germans captured and ate them before they got to their destination. The weights are in US cups, 1 cup = 8 fl.oz by volume.
German Cookies: makes about 5 dozen
4 eggs
1 lb (450g) dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour*
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
pinch salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup water
Beat the eggs and sugar together until creamy, sift the flour before measuring, then sift again with the cinnamon, cloves and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Add the walnuts, mixing well, then spread onto a greased 12" x 18" (30 x 46cm) rimmed baking sheet (or use two smaller baking sheets).
Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 3 for about 20 minutes. Immediately spread a glaze of icing sugar and water over the top. Cool, then cut into small strips.
*All purpose flour has more gluten in than our flour. To make something similar, mix two parts of plain flour to one part of strong plain (bread) flour.