Monday, September 01, 2008

Cook's Choice

This recipe uses ingredients that we have both in the cupboard and freezer, and although the recipe originated in the US and uses 'a can of mixed vegetables' have converted this to it around a pint measure of chopped onion, diced carrot, peas, green beans, and sweetcorn which will then cook on in the liquid. Add the peas towards the end when adding the fish, so they stay a lovely green colour.
Fisherman's 'Meal in a Bowl' Soup: serves 4
16 fl.oz (450ml) chicken stock
1 x 410g can chopped tomatoes
1 pint measure veg (see above)
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Tabasco sauce
8 oz (225g) fresh or frozen cod or haddock fillets
If the fish is frozen, thaw. Remove skin from fish and cut into 1" chunks. Set aside.
Into a pan put the chicken stock, tomatoes, vegetables, celery, garlic and bring to the simmer. Cook gently until the vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes). Add a few drops of Tabasco according to taste. Stir in the fish and return to the simmer, pour the peas on the top, cover and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve in individual bowls with chunks of crusty bread.

With meat, vegetables and pastry, this 'pasty' is a complete meal in itself, and a hungry teenage lad might just manage to eat one turnover all by himself. If not two.
Turkey Turnovers: makes 2 turnovers, serves 4
1 lb (450g) cold cooked turkey, minced or finely chopped
1 large onion, sliced and fried
1 tblsp sunflower oil
8 oz (225g) chopped (canned) tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 tblsp raisins or sultanas
1 tsp curry powder or paste
salt and pepper
half tsp ground cumin
shortcrust pastry (enough to roll into two 9" rounds)
1 egg, beaten
Fry the onions in the oil until softened, then stir in the curry powder and cumin, fry for one minute more then stir in the tomatoes, pepper, carrot and raisins, adding seasoning to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes then stir in the cooked mince. Raise the heat and boil until just about all of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally to prevent contents of the pan burning. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut into two 9" circles. Spread half the filling over one half of each of the pastry, leaving the edge clear. Moisten edges with water, then fold the uncovered part of the pastry circle over the filling and seal and crimp the edges. Brush the tops of the turnovers with beaten egg and cut a couple or so slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot, cutting each turnover in half to make four portions.

If a hungry teenage girl, then massive turnovers might not be so enticing, however a few dainty nibbles would not go amiss, and the following recipe is good for the occasional snack or made in bulk to serve with drinks or at a full-blown buffet party. For ease, roll the pastry and cut the circles in advance, then freeze away until ready to be baked, and even this baking can be done a couple or so days in advance for the pastry keeps well in an airtight tin, especially if salt has been put over the base of the tin, covered with kitchen paper, and the 'biscuit bases' layered above. The salt will absorb any moisture in the tin and so the pastry remains crisp. Works well when storing vol-au-vents. As the amounts are in even figures this makes it easy to reduce to making half or even quarter the amount.
Italian Bites: makes 24
1 x 350g pack puff pastry
2 oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
pesto sauce (from a jar)
8 oz (226g) feta cheese, crumbled
12 - 24 cherry tomatoes
handful of flat-leaf parsley
pitted and halved black olives
Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 10p coin. Then cut out 24 circles using a small cutter (top of a sherry glass approx 6cm). Chill for half an hour. Place pastry bases onto ungreased baking sheet, prick surface through with a fork and bake at 200c, 400F, gas 6 for around 20 minutes until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool (see above re storing cooked puff pastry).
To serve: put the feta in a bowl with enough pesto to mash into a thick paste. Slice the tomatoes in half, or 0 if large enough into four slices. Spoon a little of the pesto mix on top of each of the biscuits and top with a couple of slices of tomato. Garnish each with a wee sprig of parsley. Arrange on a serving platter with a few black olives sprinkled around. - or if you wish tuck a halved black olive alongside one tomato half on top of the feta paste.

Another recipe that can make the most of the season's offerings or maybe odds and ends in the fridge that need using up - is this quiche. The vegetables are given as a guide, but others (within reason) could be used, and feta cheese or something similar - such as crumbled Wensleydale or goat's cheese. When it comes to cheeses, almost any could be used, just crumble the softer cheeses and grate the harder ones. Writing as I think, remember that Stilton and walnuts go together, and so do walnuts and spinach, so a quiche could be made using these. Use the following recipe as a guide - then make your choice of what to include, and go for it!
Gardener's Quiche: serves 6
9" (23cm) pastry case, baked blind
2 oz (50g) butter
2 small courgettes, sliced diagonally
2 oz (50g) runner or string beans, sliced
3 oz (75g) fresh (or frozen and thawed ) peas
3 spring onions, finely sliced, including green tops)
half pint (300ml) milk
1 oz (25g) plain flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs,beaten
4 oz (100g) feta or goat's cheese, sliced or crumbled
2 tomatoes, sliced
Keep the cooked pastry case in its tin (preferably loose-based). Make the filling by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stirring in the courgettes, beans and onions until beginning to soften. If using fresh peas add these also. When the veggies have softened, stir in the flour then add the milk, stirring continuously until a smooth sauce. Season to taste. If using thawed frozen peas, add them now. Remove from heat and leave to cool, stirring from time to time to prevent a skin forming (or cover surface with a fitted circle of greaseproof or parchment paper). After five minutes cooling, stir in the eggs and half the cheese. Pour into the pastry case, scattering remaining cheese on top and placing tomatoes around the sides. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 40 minutes and allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Serve with a green salad.