Friday, March 28, 2008

Kiss and Tell

Back to the kitchen and the title for today. K.I.S.S stands, as most of you probably know (but I didn't until yesterday), for Keep it simple, stupid! This I have changed to Keep it simple, Shirley! and will be writing KISS on a card to pin up where I can see it. Simple recipes, simple methods, that was my original aim, but latterly I feel I have given far too much detail about the whys and wherefores. These should still be included, for learner cooks would find them useful, but now these will be put at the bottom of the method, rather than breaking it up by waffling on about them. N0w to the recipes for the day, starting with one taken from 'The Goode Kitchen', including the foreword:

"I like to believe that this recipe originated when Fatima saw the sharing of the loaves and the fishes. It struck her that you can feed a lot on far less than you think. She decided to go one step further and find a use for the leftovers at the bottom of the baskets."
Fatima's Fishcakes: serves 4 (F)
8 slices wholewheat bread, crumbed*
10 fl.oz (300ml) milk
12 oz (350g) fresh white fish, skinned and minced*
half an onion, grated
3 tbslp chopped fresh parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
wholewheat flour*
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until all the liquid has been absorbed. Place in a sieve and press down gently to squeeze out excess milk, then put the bread into a bowl and mix together with the fish, onion, parsley, lemon zest and season with the pepper to taste. Flour your hands thoroughly* and divide the mixture into 12 portions.
Shape each into a round flat cake about half inch (1cm) thick. Place onto a floured plate* until all are done. Chill for half an hour*. They can be frozen at this stage. To cook, heat some oil to half the depth of the cakes, and when hot, place in a few cakes at a time. Fry at medium heat for a few minutes on each side (allow longer if cooking from frozen) until they are crispy and golden and heated through. Drain on kitchen paper, and serve with grilled tomatoes and salad. Also good with chips.
*white bread and white flour could be used instead of the wholewheat, but the brown bread has a better flavour, and is more substantial.
* Flaked smoked haddock could be used instead of the white fish, or even canned fish. When using raw fish, they will take longer to cook through.
* Flouring hands is necessary or the fishcakes will stick to the fingers. Similarly, placing the cakes on a floured plate also prevents them sticking to the plate.
* chilling will firm up fish cakes, making them less likely to break up when being fried. Even if not wishing to freeze for any length of time, often half an hour in the freezer will firm up the cake enough to get the fried coating crusty enough to hold the mixture together. If you wish you can also flour, egg and crumb the frozen fishcakes before frying, this will also help them to hold together.
If any fishcakes break up, why not just mash them together in the pan and cook as one whole thick 'pancake', turning when the underside is golden, this may also break up, but doesn't matter as long as the unfried side gets a chance to hit the heat, so become heated and cooked through.

Pitta Bread: makes 8 (F)
12 oz (350g) strong plain flour (white or brown)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tsp olive oil
approx 8 fl.oz (225ml) warm water
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar. Make a dip in the centre and pour in the oil and enough water to make a soft dough. Turn this out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round, place in an oiled bowl, cover, stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
Gently knock back the dough then divide into 8 portions. Roll each out to a flat oval, approx eighth to quarter inch (3 - 5mm) thick and about 6" (15cm) in length.
Place the ovals on a floured tea-towel, cover and leave to rise at normal room temperature for half an hour.
Put 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending upon size) in the oven to heat as the oven gets to 230C, 450F, gas 8, then place 3 or 4 pitta ovals on the hot baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until puffy and golden.
Serve warm, or wrap in a clean tea-towel*and leave to cool on a cake airer. (They can be frozen when cold but do not let them dry out before packing). Re-heat under a grill when required.
To serve: split open and stuff with a favourite filling. They can also be cut in half, and each half cut into triangles, dried off in the oven and used to dip into - well, dips.
*Covering the pitta bread with a towel helps to keep the steam in, as otherwise they would dry out very rapidly. The same towel method is used when making drop scones.
using a breadmaker:
amend the ingredients above to 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp fast-action yeast, and the full amount of water. Use standard dough setting, then continue as from after the first rising in the bowl.

Chilli Bean Picnic Loaf: serves 8 - 10
1 x 400g (14 oz) red kidney beans
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 oz (100g) mushrooms (pref chestnut), finely chopped
1 tsp chilli powder*
1 x 200g (7oz) can sweetcorn, drained
6 oz (175g) cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz (175g) fresh wholemeal bread crumbs*
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 handful parsley or coriander, chopped
Heat the beans in their juice, and when hot drain, rinse with hot water, and drain again. Put into a bowl and mash while they are still hot. Set aside.
Fry the onion in the oil until softened, add the garlic a couple or so minutes after*. Fry for a further couple of minutes then stir in the mushrooms and saute these until soft (2 - 3 minutes), then stir in the chilli powder. Fry for one more minute then stir in the mixed beans. Remove from the heat, and season to taste. Add the eggs and herbs and mix well.
Spoon into a greased 2lb (900g) loaf tin and smooth the surface level. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top. Remove from oven, leave to stand in the tin for 10 minutes* the turn out onto a cake airer. Can be eaten hot, or sliced when cold. Good with mixed leaf salad and more crusty bread.
*Instead of chilli powder, use 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and garam masala.
* Weigh a slice of bread, then in future recipes you will know how many slices are needed to make up the weight. Normally, not worth removing crusts if you can crumb in a blender or processor.
*garlic can burn easily, so should always be added towards the end of frying the onion, rather than at the beginning.
*leaving contents to rest in the tin before turning out gives them a chance to settle down - as often the moisture, by way of steam, puffs up the ingredients, and turning out immediately means the whole thing could collapse. By cooling slightly, the contents settle , and will become firmer.

Monmouth Pudding: serves 6
8 fl.oz (225ml) milk
8 oz (225g) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 oz (25g) butter, softened
4 oz (100g) jam, any kind*
3 eggs, separated
finely grated zest of 1 lemon or orange*
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
Put the breadcrumbs into a bowl. Put the milk into a pan and the milk until not quite boiling* then pour this over the breadcrumbs. Stir in the butter and chosen citrus zest, and set aside to cool slightly.
Grease a 2 pint (1.2ltr) ovenproof dish and spread the jam over the base. Add the egg yolks to the breadcrumb mixture, and mix well together. Whisk the whites until stiff, beat in the sugar, then fold *this into the crumb mixture and spoon this carefully over the jam. Bake at 140C, 275F, gas 1 for 45 minutes or until the pudding is set and a light golden colour. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving warm, dusted with icing sugar.
*the zest of the citrus fruit depends a lot on which type of jam is chosen. Strawberry or apricot and orange go well together, as do raspberry, blackberry and lemon.
*always fold egg whites into whatever, using a metal spoon and do it as gently as possible to avoid losing air that has been beaten in. Often it is better to start by folding in a tablespoon of beaten egg white, which helps slacken (loosen) the mixture, making it easier to fold in the rest.