Friday, April 04, 2008

Putting it All Together

We begin with a version of a 'classic' potato dish, this time using seasonal purple sprouting broccoli or kale, and also yogurt, which should please a number of readers, with a reminder the easiest, and best way to make mashed potato is first bake the potatoes in their skins, in the microwave. This makes for a much drier potato, and the skins can also be frozen to be later filled with a savoury mash, or brushed with oil, cut into wedges, and baked as chips. Great to use with dips. Although this dish is geared up to use a microwave, the veggies can be cooked in the normal way and reheated under the grill or in the oven (adding garnish after reheating).
Green Colcannon: serves 3 - 4
1 lb (300g) hot, mashed potato
4 oz (100g) p.sprouting broccoli or kale, chopped
2 oz (50g) butter
4 oz (100g) diced swede or parsnip
2 oz (50g) Greek yogurt
6 oz (175g) frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper
chopped nuts (any favourite) for garnish
chopped fresh mint or parsley for garnish
Put the broccoli/kale and swede/parsnip and peas into a heatproof bowl with 4 tblsp water. Cover with clingfilm and pierce with a few holes. Cook on high for 10 minutes or until tender. Put into a processor with the yogurt and give a quick blitz, then fold this into the mashed potato. Season to taste. If no processor, mash the veggies with a little yogurt, then fold in the rest of the yogurt. Pile into a heatproof dish, cover with pierced clingfilm and microwave on high for a further 5 - 8 minutes. Garnish as desired.

tip: when you have an opened bottle of port or wine, pour some into ice-cube trays to freeze away ready for a dish such as this. If you wish to use less alcohol, or no alcohol, add orange juice.
Tipsy Ham, Mushroom and Cranberry Sauce: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
2 oz (50g) butter
8 oz (225g) closed cap mushrooms, halved
4 tblsp port or red wine
2 - 3 tblsp cranberry sauce
5 fl.oz (150ml) hot chicken or vegetable stock
zest and juice of one orange (or 2 satsumas)
dash soy sauce
approx 12 oz (350g) chunky bits of cooked ham
Put the oil and butter in a pan and fry the mushrooms until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the juices in the pan, stir in the chosen wine, then reduce the heat and add the cranberry sauce and orange zest. Stir, and when melted down, add the orange juice and the stock. Raise the heat and boil rapidly until the sauce has thickened slightly. Reduce heat to a simmer, stir in the soy sauce, add the mushrooms, tuck in the ham and heat through for a few minutes. Season with pepper*, and serve hot with rice or potatoes.
*Because soy sauce, and some ham can be salty, no need to include salt as a seasoning.

Nearly always we find we have some cheese in the fridge that needs using up and this recipe is exceptionally speedy to make when we have the cheese ready-grated waiting in the fridge or freezer. This 'cheese spread' can be made up and kept in the fridge for a few days ready to use for that 'instant' snack, so with hungry teenagers, worth making it in bulk for them to help themselves. Always remember that (unless stated in a recipe), it is always best to let chilled products (eggs, cheese etc) come to room temperature before using otherwise flavours and texture never get the chance to blend together. Also when cooking any fully pre-prepared and chilled dish (again, unless otherwise stated), always bring back to room temperature, OR allow an extra 5 - 10 minutes cooking time.
Not Quite a Rarebit: tops 2 - 3 slices
8 oz (225g) cheddar cheese, grated (room temp)
2 tblsp milk, creme fraiche or single cream
pinch salt
1 tsp made mustard OR 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot, grated
3 - 4 thick slices toasting bread
Put the grated cheese into a food processor with the salt, mustard or W.sauce, and the shallot. Blitz together until it is like a thick, spreadable paste. Spread over lightly toasted bread and grill for a few minutes until bubbling hot. Serve immediately.