Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shape of Things to Come

(type archives in search box at top of page, click on 'search blog' and they will reappear)

Have to keep repeating the above for new readers, or they won't be able to look up past blogs. Sooner or later it will get sorted. Quite a few comments (hooray), so will start by replying to these.

Apologies Stella, gave you the wrong date for the soft-scoop ice-cream recipe, it should have been 31st Dec. '06. The later mention (came with one of my rare photographs) had slightly different proportions of ingredients, but not enough to be concerned about. The December recipe also came with several different flavours.
Worth looking up Dec. 20th (forgot to make a note of the year, try '06) for there you will find three easy desserts that can be made with the ice-cream.

Cheesepare: never thought of using up fallen apples, not the 'June drop' ones anyway as they were no bigger than cherry tomatoes, if that, but it is a very good idea. Will try that next year (if we are still here). Re the oatcakes, there is a recipe for these on 31st Oct '06, and virtually the same as Moira gave in her comment, although I used to use bacon fat or lard, rather than butter.
Have to say I use porridge oats for most recipes although this would be frowned on in Scotland where they treat their oats with more respect. Our porridge oats are rolled oats that have been steam treated to kill off any enzymes that would cause them to go rancid, the Scots prefer their porridge made with untreated (fresh) pin-head oatmeal. That is what my book tells me anyway.
When I buy ingredients for muesli, begin with a basic manufactured muesli mix then add all sorts of other things. Tesco do sell coarser rolled oats, think they are Jordan's. These I buy to include in the muesli and also to add to crumble mix, but they are more expensive than the stores 'own-brand' porridge oats' These I buy because they make a bowl of porridge so darn cheap compared to any other cereal breakfast. If I want oat flour then I whizz them up in the blender or food processor.

Thank you Moira for sending the oatcake recipe, and also for your suggestions for beans. Look forward to trying them.

Missed seeing the programme re sandwiches SweeterRita, but had made a note to watch it later this week when it is on one of the digital channels in the evening - where I think it again clashes with something else I want to watch, so will probably look as per your suggestion. Thanks for that.

You are really selling me the Remoska Janet, it does sound very good indeed and would make a perfect present for someone living in a small apartment or who has to share a kitchen. Suppose it could be used in any room that has an electric plug.
Glad to read that you found your stores kept you going when funds were low. Slowly building up a storecupboard, maybe buying one or two packs or cans at a time, is always a good idea. Foods to keep in store never come with a 'use-by' date, only the 'best-before', and it is known that they can be used for some time after that - like months, years...just as long as they eventually get used of course. Without my stores I would panic. Maybe I look on them as my survival kit.

Today, being 'an early appointment day', this posting may be shorter than normal, but still have plenty of time left. Decided to write about foods in general, but changing their appearance. So often we get used to making something to eat, be it sweet or savoury, and always it looks the same, and nobody really minds about that, but it can sometimes seem to be a bit like the way we (as an individual) can often seem to our families - there but not really noticed. But when we wear a different outfit, and especially if we have our hair done in a different way - they then sit up and really look. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least it made them look twice. Food deserves the same treatment.

My first suggestion is to those that make their own bread. Maybe it is always made in a machine, if so - try making the dough in the machine, then finish baking it in the oven, for this way you can shape it any which way you like. Maybe making one of those old-fashioned cottage loaves that are rarely seen these days, or dividing the dough into three, rolling each into a long sausage then plaiting it. That really looks good and the top can be enhanced by brushing with milk and sprinkling over sesame or poppy seeds before baking. In a mag. my guest brought me there is a savoury version of the plait - just knead crispy bacon bits and crumbled Stilton into the risen dough before plaiting and giving it a second rise.
Another way would be to roll a sausage of brown bread dough and roll this up in white bread dough (or vice versa), put it into a tin (or make a free-form Bloomer loaf), leave to rise for the second time then bake.

In a reply to one of the comments above, mentioned desserts that could be made using home-made (or even bought) ice-cream. Cheap and easy enough to make at home, these do cost a lot more when bought. But if wishing to stay with ice-cream in its 'natural state', we could instead serve three scoops per person, but each a different flavour (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate). Try also rolling scoops of basic vanilla ice-cream in grated chocolate or nuts and return to the freezer ready for serving. Anything for a change.

Even something as inexpensive as jelly can be made more interesting when half a pack each of three different flavours (lemon, orange, lime - or strawberry, blackcurrant, pineapple etc) are be made up and when set, chopped then put into a bowl (keeping the colours separate). Jelly cubes look very sparkly when cut with a wetted knife, like a bowlful of jewels. All you really need with that is a jug of pouring cream.

There will be some of you who feel that all this 'messing about' is not worth the effort. Do you know, I feel just the same when I see someone come out of the hairdressers with a style that looks just as if they have got out of bed. Mine looks exactly like that when I go into the salon. Querying this am told 'it is the fashion'. But we all tend to take time on our own appearance, some take hours (I can get ready in five minutes flat, but then never wear makeup these days), and a man can disappear into his shed 'to get something' and be away for ages. So always there is seems to be time to spare for these activities, and when preparing food we should always save a little of this time to put to good use now and again. Many people will spend happy hours with a favourite hobby, so why not turn cooking into a hobby rather than a chore?

Back to the re-styling: instead of normal sarnies, serve them double-decker as 'club-sandwiches' - just three slices of bread with fillings instead of two. These can be very substantial, and as they take the place of two rounds of sarnies, so we save a slice of bread anyway. Even with a plain two-slice sarnie, one slice could be white bread, the other brown.
For party fare, take one slice of bread (white or brown), remove the crusts (dry these out to use with dips or for making dried crumbs). Roll the bread out as thinly as possible, spread with a little butter, mayo or cream cheese, spread over chosen filling and roll up tightly. Wrap in cling film and chill. Depending upon the filling, these could be frozen ready for a forthcoming party. Fillings could be smoked salmon/cream cheese/brown bread; sandwich spread/white bread; meat and fish pastes/ white or brown bread; ham, chicken, beef/brown or white bread. Do not freeze hardboiled eggs (unless chopped very finely and bound with mayo, or any salad leaves, cucumber etc.

And time is now up so have to leave you for today. Hope some of the above has been useful. Must now try and think up something interesting to write about tomorrow. Seem to have covered just about everything. Heck it is now raining, but then it would do that just as I am about to go out.
Until tomorrow...

Pancakes - savoury or sweet. Do they always have to be yellow-tinged-with-brown? Savoury pancakes can be coloured with tomato puree, or beetroot juice (for red), spinach juice (green), and look much more interesting. Dessert pancakes can have a little cocoa powder sifted with the flour to make chocolate pancakes. A couple or so drops of food colouring (if you still use it, and I do) can also colour the crepes. To save time on the day, ideally make batches of these pancakes, interleave and freeze ready for use (and remember to label).

Even when coating fishcakes, rissoles and the like. Does it always have to be egg and breadcrumbs? No. Egg possibly, but this could be just the white of egg, or only the yolk blended with a little milk (why use a whole egg when one or other part would do ? Use the rest for something else). Instead of the bread, used crushed cornflakes, crushed bran flakes (and almost any cereal that will crush), crushed crisps (endless variety of flavours to choose there), even use cornmeal, semolina, chickpea flour, porridge oats.

Several of the above 'coatings' would also be good added to a savoury crumble topping. With the mention of crumble in mind, a quick way to make is not rub in the butter, but melt it, stir it into the ingredients, saves messy fingers and works just as well.

If wishing to avoid wheat/carbohydrate products, it is possible to give the effect of pasta by thinly slicing ribbons of courgettes, carrots, turnips, etc and cooking them until 'al dente' (courgettes need little more than blanching- the others take longer), and serve these instead of tagliatelle or noodles, with perhaps meatballs or spag.bol meat sauce, or just a sauce of your choice.
For those that can take carbos but allergic to wheat, it should be possible to make pasta using riceflour or cornmeal. Haven't yet tried it but see no reason why it shouldn't work.

Time has caught up with me so will have to finish. Hope that some of the above is of interest and useful. Back tomorrow like the proverbial bad penny. See you then.