Monday, August 04, 2008

One Pot Cookery

Today's title may seem misleading when the first recipes use the 'pot' (a cleaned standard 150ml yogurt pot -flowerpot shaped) as the measure used when preparing the tray-bakes and loaf recipes that are to follow, but it is so simple a way to measure that it has to be tried. As we need to bake in bulk as often as we can, batch-baking is perfect for using this way of measuring and baking, it has been worked out that 120 slices of assorted cakes can be baked in two hours - and all at the same temperature: 180C, 350F, gas 4. Also only two type of baking tin needed - a 2lb loaf tin and a Swiss roll tin.

Firstly the hints and tips:
When filling the yogurt pot tap gently to settle the dry ingredients and level off the surface.
When filling half a pot, no need to worry if not quite accurate with the measurements, slightly below or over won't hurt.
Amounts of fat are based on the normal 250g pack of margarine or butter, but remove from the fridge for at least 15 minutes to soften up slightly before using.

There are two basic mixes given, each followed by several variations. First the cakes.
Basic cake mix:
half a packet of margarine
2 pots of self-raising flour
1 pot caster sugar
2 eggs
4 tblsp milk
Beat all ingredients together until smooth - then continue:

St. Clement's Slice: makes 24 slices
1 batch basic cake mix
1 orange
1 lemon
2 pots icing sugar, sifted
remove the zest from both the lemon and orange, keeping separate. Squeeze the juice from both, and this can be mixed together, but reserve 2 tblsp. Also reserve a little of the lemon zest to sprinkle over the finished cake.
Beat the mixed juice and citrus zest into the basic mix and bake in a greased and base-line 2 lb loaf tin (900g) for one and a quarter to one and a half hours until golden. Cool in the tin. Blend the icing sugar with the reserved juice and spoon over the cake. Sprinkle with the reserved zest. Slice when set.

Chocanana Cake: makes 24 squares
1 batch basic cake mix
1 ripe banana, mashed
half pot grated chocolate
plus 1 full pot of grated chocolate for topping
one eighth of a pack of margarine
2 tblsp water
half pot icing sugar, sifted
Mix the banana and half-pot of chocolate into the basic cake mix. Pour or spoon into a greased and lined 7" x 11" (17.5 x 27cm) Swiss roll tin. Level the surface and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until risen and firm. Remove from tin and cool on a cake airer.
Put the full pot of chocolate into a bowl with the water and marg. and place over a pan of simmering water, when melted, remove from heat and beat in the icing sugar until smooth. Spread this icing over the cake and when set, cut into squares.

Tropical Fruit squares: makes 24 squares
1 batch basic fruit mix
340g can pineapple pieces, drained and chopped
2 pieces preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
2 tblsp ginger syrup
1 pot glace cherries, halved
half pot soft brown sugar
Have ready a greased and lined Swiss roll tin (measurement in above recipe). Scatter the pineapple pieces, ginger, and cherries (these can be sliced after measuring if you wish). Mix the sugar with the ginger syrup and spoon this over the fruit. Place dollops of the basic cake mix over the top of the fruit and level the surface with a knife then bake for 40 - 45 minutes until risen and springy. Turn out onto a cake airer, fruit side up, and cut into slices when cold.

Boozy fruit loaf: cuts into 24 slices
1 batch basic cake mix
2 tblsp rum
2 pots raisins
2 tblsp demerara sugar
Put the raisins in a bowl and pour over the rum. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, then stir the fruit and any remaining rum into the cake mix. Spoon into a greased and base-lined 2 lb (900g) loaf tin and level the surface. Sprinkle the sugar evenly on top. Bake for one and a quarter to one and a half hours until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a cake airerand cool. Slice when completely cold.

Now the turn of the flapjacks:
Basic Flapjack mix:
one pack of margarine
one pot golden syrup
one pot soft brown sugar
6 pots porridge oats
Melt margarine with the syrup and sugar and then stir in the oats and mix well.

Spicy Flapjack: makes 30 squares
1 batch of basic flapjack mix
1 pot chopped mixed nuts
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sesame seeds
Stir nuts and spice into basic mix and spoon into two greased Swiss roll tins. Spread evenly without compressing the mixture. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top and bake for 40. Mark into squares while still warm, then leave to get cold in the tin before removing.

Fruity Flapjack: makes 30 squares
1 batch basic flapjack mix
1 pot ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
1 pot ready-to-eat no-soak apricots, chopped
Stir the prepared fruit into the basic mix then spoon into two tins as above, also following above baking directions.

To freeze the above: after cooling wrap whole cakes in cling-film or in a polybag. Squares and slices should be placed in a polybox, interleaved with greaseproof paper. Seal, label and use within 4 months. To serve: thaw whole cakes for 4 hours at room temperature, slices thaw for 2 - 3 hours.

Now we come to another form of one-pot cookery: The Casserole, and with this again a few hints and tips:
Cook a small amount of food in a small casserole to prevent foods from drying out and losing much flavour. If you have only one casserole, and too much room above the contents, place a sheet of baking parchment over the surface of the food.
To judge the size of the casserole needed, roughly a 1 - 2 pint dish will hold food for 1 to 2 people, a 2 - 3 pint dish serves 2 - 4, and a 3 - 4 1/2 pint large enough to serve 4 - 6.
Make sure the lid is well fitting, if not cover the top of the casserole with foil, large enough to overlap, then place the lid on this, pressing the foil down tightly around the sides of the dish.
Generally, with one-pot cooking, the easiest way to serve is bring the pot to the table and serve from that. This saves extra washing up. But always have a thick mat or stand on which to place the pot to save harming the table top.
To clean a used pot easily, empty it of any food left (do not discard, this can be frozen or made into soup), then fill the pot with cold water and leave to stand for several hours - preferably overnight. The stuck-on food will then be easily removed with a nylon scour. Never use steel wool or it will harm the surface of the pan.
If glass or enamel casseroles become stained with regular use, add a little bleach to the water when soaking.

Not every casserole dish needs a lid, some are shallow and the contents baked uncovered (as with lasagne), but whichever dish is used with the following recipes, they end up being cooked in the one pot. Sadly they are not cooked at my favourite oven temperature (apart from one which is near enough) , but the bonus is cooked at a lower temperature this saves fuel.
Some of the first recipes are for "instant casseroles", using all the naughties, such as packet sauces, soups, even canned vegetables and meat, and although oven cooking is suggested, many will cook/heat just as well using a heavy lidded frying pan on the hob. Well, as I am not a chef, don't expect perfection from me, if a convenience food saves time - worth thinking about.

Bean and Franks: serves 4
8 (canned) frankfurters
2 oz lard or dripping
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 x 450g cans baked beans in tomato sauce
tsp of Worcestershire sauce OR...
...dash of Tabasco sauce
ground black pepper
ready grilled rashers of bacon for serving
Cut the franks into 2" lengths. Melt lard in a heat-proof casserole and saute the onion and pepper until softened. Add the beans, franks and and chosen sauce, pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and cook at 325C, 170F, gas 3 for approx 15 - 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with grilled bacon.

The Ultimate Convenient Casserole: serves 4
1 can braised steak
1 x 275g (10oz) pack frozen mixed veg, thawed
1 pk dehydrated French onion soup
1 tblsp cornflour
15 fl oz (45oml) water
1 vegetable or beef stock cube
2 large potatoes, cooked
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Empty the can of steak into the casserole and cover with the thawed vegetables. Blend the dry soup and cornflour together, stir in the stock (made with the water and stock cube) and pour this over the veg. Slice the potatoes and lay these on top. No need for a lid. Cook at 325C, 170F, gas 3 for half an hour or until the contents are hot and the potatoes are browning nicely. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Ham Rollups: serves 4
8 slices cooked ham (square or oblong in shape)
Dijon mustard
8 slices processed Cheddar cheese
1 can condensed celery soup
2 fl. oz water
Spread ham thinly with mustard and place a slice of cheese on top, roll up and secure with cocktails sticks.
Place the rolls in a single layer in a buttered and shallow ovenproof dish. Mix the soup and water together and pour this over the ham. Cover with foil and bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for approx. half an hour or until heated through. Serve with boiled rice or hot crusty bread.

Quick Chicken Casserole: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter or marg
4 chicken portions
1 can condensed chicken soup
2 fl. oz dry sherry
2 oz (5og) grated Cheddar cheese
Melt butter in a flame-proof casserole and fry chicken until golden brown all over. Mix the chicken soup and sherry together, pour this over the chicken and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover the pot and place in the oven at the usual 170C, 325F, gas 3 and cook for approx 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid for the final 15 minutes of cooking time. Serve as above dish, with rice or bread.
Tip: instead of the sherry use a can of condensed chicken and white wine soup.

Moving on to a few less 'convenient' but still easy and economical casseroles to make using what we already have (if no-one is looking, use instant potato to make the mash).
Cheesey Potato Pie: serves 4
1 pint measure mashed potato
1 oz (25g)plain flour
salt and pepper
4 eggs, separated
15fl oz (425ml) sour cream or creme fraiche
quarter pint measure grated Cheddar cheese
grilled bacon or sausagesfor serving
Mix together the potato and flour together and season to taste. Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the sour cream and beat together, then - reserving 2 tblsp - stir in the grated cheese. Mix potato into the cream mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold a couple or so tablespoons of the white into the potato mixture to slacken, then fold in the rest. Pour into a greased ovenproof casserole and scatter the remaining cheese on the top. Bake, uncovered, for approx 30 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5 until golden brown. Serve immediately with the grilled bacon or sausages.
Tip: if serving with sausages, these could be cooked in the oven at the same time as the casserole.