Monday, August 11, 2008

Making Do

Here is a way of making double-cream and could prove most useful when we need (or do I mean want?) cream to use when making quiches, ice-cream, etc. The metrics may seem slightly different than usual against the imps. but don't deviate, use one or the other as given. As some microwave ovens 'cook' faster than others, start with the lower time then keep checking.
home-made double cream: makes approx half pint/300ml
6 oz (150g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 fl oz (140ml) milk
Place butter and milk in a small microwave bowl and cook on Full, uncovered for 2 - 3 minutes or until the butter has melted. Pour mixture into a blender and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds, but do this in three bursts of 10 seconds each.
Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge for 2 - 3 hours. Place beater blades in the fridge or freezer to chill. To whip, beat the cream with chilled beaters until thickened, then serve.

Today I leave you with yet another penny-pinching dish. Made with choux pastry - and despite what the critics say - this is very easy to make and with a savoury dish such as this, very little can go wrong. Traditionalists beat the eggs into the flour mixture using a wooden spoon, but a hand electric mixer at lowish speed works just as well. The joy of this recipe is that the meat could be a continental cooked meat (salami, chorizo) or cooked bacon. Even scraps of cooked chicken or other cooked meats could be used. Vegetarians may wish to include a few vegetables instead of meat.
Gourgere Americaine: serves 4 - 6
1 lb (450g) onions, sliced
5 fl.oz (150ml) water
1 oz (25g) butter or margarine
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
3 tblsp plain flour
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) salami or other cooked meat, sliced
4 oz (100g) grated Cheddar (0r other) cheese
choux pastry:
4 oz (100g) margarine
half pint (300ml) water
5 oz (150g) plain flour
4 eggs, beaten with half tsp salt
First make the filling by putting the onions and water into a pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the margarine or butter. Blend the milk with the flour, then add this to the onions and cook for two minutes, season to taste and fold in the chosen meats and cheese. Set to one side.
Make the choux pastry by putting the margarine and water into a saucepan over a low heat until the marg. has melted. Bring to the boil then tip in the flour all at once. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a tight ball and comes away from the sides of the pan. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes then beat in half the eggs, adding the remainder a little at a time. Keep beating until the mixture holds is smooth, glossy and holds its shape.
Spoon the choux pastry around the innder edges if a greased shallow ovenproof dish, then fill the centre with the ready-prepared filling.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 35 minutes or until the pastry is risen, golden and crisp. Serve hot with a green vegetable.

Tip: Once made, the choux pastry can stand for a while before being cooked, just cover the bowl or pan so that a skin does not form on the surface. If you prefer to make a small gougere, use the surplus pastry to pipe into profiteroles or eclairs, or pipe into a largish ring, bake until crisp, split the ring in half horizontally (leave to dry out further in a turned-off oven if you wish) then fill the hollow centre of the rings with whipped sweetened cream, place the top back on the base, sift over icing sugar and you have made a Paris-Breste - a classic French dessert.