Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cook's Companions

This next makes a good meal for a cold day, and unlike some suet dishes, is cooked in the oven and not steamed. Having said that, if you prefer - wrap the roll in foil and steam for an hour and a half.
Bacon Roly-Poly;
8 oz (225g) bacon oddments, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, sliced (opt)
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
3 oz (75g) suet
chopped fresh parsley
Gently heat the bacon in a pan until the fat runs free (add a little oil if short on fat), stir in the onions and fry until the onions are softened. Add mushrooms if using. When cooked, remove from the heat and set aside whilst making the pastry.
Mix the flour, suet and salt together with just enough water to mix to a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board into an oblong, spreading the bacon/onion mixture over, but leaving half an inch clear pastry at the sides. Sprinkle over the parsley.
Dampen edges all round, roll up tightly and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for one hour and serve it hot with a well flavoured tomato sauce (not ketchup - more a herby type of passata).

the whole world, so many 'basic' foods are very alike, maybe using a different flour or fat, often no fat - just flour and water. Flatbreads are a perfect example: corn tortillas, wheat tortillas, chapatis, all very similar, as are the yeasty pitta and naan flatbreads. So it is with the larger breads: focaccia, ciabatta, bloomers, farmhouse loaves, 'artisan' breads, and the smaller muffins, crumpets, pikelets... we can almost play around with ingredients and turn up with something that has not yet been 'invented'. Even our beloved Yorkshire Pudding can turn up in several guises: Popovers in the US, Toad in the Hole over here, and Clafouti (with cherries) in France. Cooking can be great fun once we understand how the recipes work, and in many cases how similar they really are.

The following recipe is a classic. As normally 2 eggs per person are used when making an omelette, this would obviously serve more, and as this should be served flat and not folded, would need cutting into wedges to serve. As this omelette contains fish, salt can be omitted.
Omelette Arnold Bennet:
5 oz (150g) cooked smoked haddock
6 eggs
2 tblsp grated cheese
2 tblsp cream
Remove the skin and any bones from the cooked fish and flake the flesh. Beat the eggs and add them to the fish together with half the cheese. Season with a pinch of pepper.
Melt a knob of butter in an omelette pan and when beginning to froth, pour in the egg mixture, tipping the pan so that the egg covers the base, also shaking so that the fish is fairly evenly spread. Cook until the underneath is golden and set, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and pop under a hot grill until the top is creamy and just setting and the cheese is melting. Slide onto a warm plate and serve.

This next is very similar to a Spanish Omelette, but whereas that is made with vegetables and cooked in a similar way to the above recipe, this version 'scrambles' the eggs. A useful dish in that quite an assortment of quick-to-cook veggies can be used, but as the pleasure of this dish comes from the colours, try to include something red and something green (could be red peppers, green peppers, peas, tomatoes...)
1 large onion, sliced
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp oil
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepepr
4 - 6 eggs (according to size)
Put the butter and oil into a pan and place over moderate heat. Stir in the onion and cook gently until softened. Stir in the pepper, tomatoes and parsley and season to taste. Beat the eggs and pour over the veggies then - using a fork - keep stirring it all together until the eggs are cooked. Serve immediately.