Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In the Nation's Interest

We begin with lemon-barley water, a healthy drink with no additives, use less sugar if you wish, or a sugar substitute if you prefer. The advantage of this is that after cooking, the barley itself can be added to a casserole or soup, so it has a dual use - and the barley can be frozen if not needed then and there. Poured over ice cubes this makes a most refreshing drink, and if some of the ice-cubes are made from frozen lemon juice, this will make the drink much more lemony.
Lemon Barley Water:
3 oz (75g) pearl barley
1 1/2 pints (900ml) water
2 lemons
4 tblsp caster sugar
ice cubes
Put the water and barley into a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the rind from the lemon in big strips, removing any pith and put into a jug. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and add this to the rind with the sugar. Strain the barley into a jug, cool slightly, then pour this over the lemon juice/rind/sugar. Stir and leave in a cool place for several hours then strain into another jug and keep in the fridge until needed (use within 2 days). Put a handful of ice cubes into tall glasses and pour over the barley water to serve.
To transport: put well chilled lemon barley water into in a vacuum flask, but do not include ice cubes.

One useful storecupboard 'product' is Camp Coffee. This has been around since I was a child, probably when my parents were children, but an excellent product for flavouring. To make iced coffee, just stir the amount of Camp into cold milk until the flavour you wish, then chill.
Use Camp coffee for flavouring cakes, biscuits, ice-creams, blancmanges and custards. Or just use as it was meant to be used: to make a cup of coffee (with milk preferably). Made with some evaporated milk the coffee will taste even better. Mixing chocolate (cocoa) and coffee together makes a 'mocha', again a flavouring in its own right for all the above, including drinks. Camp, being concentrated, would need diluting down to drinking strength for most recipes.

This recipe is perfect for the barbecue, but also could be prepared in advance, wrapped and frozen to be cooked later in the oven, rather in the same way as stuffed apples wrapped in pastry (apple dumplings) can be frozen to bake later. Vary the fruit as you wish. Try mincemeat and grated marzipan as a filling.
Baked Fruity Apples: makes 6
6 cooking apples
2 oz (50g) sultanas
2 oz )50g) no-soak apricots, chopped
1 oz (25g) preserved stem ginger, chopped
2 oz (50g) demerara sugar
3 oz (75g) butter
Core the apples, but leave on the peel. Mix the fruit and the sugar and stuff the apples with this mixture. Butter fairly thickly, six squares of aluminium foil, stand an apple in the centre of each and securely wrap the foil around the apple. Then cover with another layer of foil. To barbecue: stand the apples directly on the hot coals, and cook for about 20 minutes, turning the apples around from time to time. To serve, open up the foil and leave the apples standing in the foil 'cups' to hold the juices.

This next recipe today is my own concoction - suitable certainly if camping, but equally as good as a packed lunch or part of a picnic hamper.
Breakfast in a Bun: serves 4
4 large sausages
2 large eggs
1 tblsp water
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 rashers bacon (optional)
salt and pepper
4 oblong bread rolls
brown sauce, optional
Split the sausages in half lengthways and grill or fry on both sides until cooked - if using bacon, cook this next until crisp. Beat the eggs and cook as one large omelette in the fat already in the pan. Leave to cool. Split the bread rolls lengthways, almost in half, spread both cut sides with a little brown sauce (or butter if you prefer). Cut the omelette into four, tuck each piece into a bread roll with two split sausages, bacon and tomato, season to taste. Fold over top of bun and wrap tightly in greaseproof paper, foil or secure with a cocktail stick. Then read to munch. Can be eaten warm or cold.
Variation: the eggs could be scrambled instead of cooked as an omelette. Instead of bacon, cut strips of cheese and sandwich these with the tomato between two sausage halves. If preferring a vegetarian version omit the bacon and sausages and make a well flavoured cheese , mushroom and herb omelette, tuck this into the bread with tomato and some green salad leaves.

Final recipe today is a chilled cauliflower souffle. Well, almost a souffle as it starts off like one, but then by omitting the eggs, and adding other ingredients, it ends up as a chilled summer mousse with no danger of collapsing as it is brought to the table. Cauliflower is very good for us, as is its cousin: broccoli. So why not make it with broccoli instead. Or use both, making two mixtures then folding them together to give a ripple effect or spoon together to make blocks of colour. Never let it be said that cauliflower can look or taste boring.
Normally I put the cauli florets in a plastic bag, fold over the top and cook on Full in the microwave for about 7 minutes, or until as tender as needed. This keeps in all the flavour.
Cauliflower Mousse: serves 6
12 oz cauliflower florets (or 1 small cauli)
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp plain flour
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar or Gruyere cheese
1 tsp gelatine
6 tblsp chicken stock
6 tblsp double or whipping cream
salt and pepper
Cook the cauliflower until tender, then drain and rub through a coarse sieve or food mill, or blitz in a food processer until a coarse puree. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatine on top of the hot stock and leave to stand.
Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook for one minute then whisk in the milk and cook over gentle heat until thickened. Season to taste. Add the cheese and cauliflower. Whip the cream and set this to one side.
Stir the gelatine into the stock and when fully dissolved, stir this into the cauliflower sauce and leave to cool. Keep checking and when just about to set, fold in the whipped cream. Pour into the serving bowl and leave in the fridge until set. Good served with cold meats and salads.