Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Long and the Short of It

This dish is something that my Beloved used to love when we first got our own home. At that time - lacking any knowledge of cookery - it was possibly the only tasty snack I was able to make, not sure what it was called, possibly just Ham and Pineapple on toast, for 'Melt' - as a name - had not been thought up in those days.
Ham and Pineapple Melt: serves 1
1 wholemeal muffin, split in half
2 slices ham
2 pineapple rings, drained of juice
grated mature Cheddar
Worcestershire sauce
Lightly toast the muffins. Top each with a slice of ham, followed by the pineapple ring and cover with a small handful of the grated cheese. Place on a baking tray and grill for 3 - 4 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Adding a splash of W.sauce before serving gives extra zing. Eat as-is or with a green salad.

Pasta has many shapes and sizes, so this next recipe is one geared up to using left-over pasta, and also makes use of the apples that are in season at the moment. Instead of using canned beans, would be using up oddments of a variety of home-cooked beans I have in the freezer.
Mixed Bean Pasta Pot: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1 x 410g can chopped tomatoes
half tsp dried mixed herbs
1 x 300ml carton passata
1 x 290g can mixed beans. drained
3 tblsp red or green pesto
11 0z (300g) left-over cooked pasta
Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion until softened. Stir in the apple and cook for a couple of minutes or until the apple has softened. Stir in the tomatoes, dried herbs and mixed beans. Bring to the simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the pesto and pasta. Mix well. Cook until the pasta has heated through then serve in individual bowls with crusty bread.

Finishing today with two recipes using pastry, the first being a savoury pastry that would be ideal for quiches. Cheddar Pastry Crust: enough for a 10" (24 cm) flan tin
6 oz (175g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) mature cheddar, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
Blitz the flour, butter and cheddar in a food processor until like breadcrumbs, the add the egg, give a quick blitz to form it into a ball. Wrap with clingfilm and chill.
To use, roll out on a floured board to the size to fit a 10" flan tin. Chill again for 10 minutes then line the case with baking parchments and fill with baking beans (or whatever you use) and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 15 minutes, then remove paper and beans and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and it is ready to fill with what you will.

For the final and second recipe using pastry, this is for 'Baklava' made with bought filo pastry, and as it will keep for several days after making, could be worth making as a last-minute addition to that Christmas Hamper that I know so many of you are making as presents.
Grecian Baklava: serves 6 - 8
1 lb (450g) sugar
half pint (250ml) water
1 tblsp lemon juice
5 tblsp rosewater
9 oz (250g) butter, melted
9 oz (250g) pack filo pastry
7 oz (200g) chopped almonds
4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
2 oz (50g) sugar
First make the syrup by putting the sugar and water in a pan over a low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, raise the heat and gradually bring the syrup to the boil. Boil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Do not boil it too long or it will turn darker and caramelise. Cool, then stir in the lemon juice and rosewater.
To assemble the Baklava, brush some melted butter over a 9" x 12" (23 x 30cm) shallow tin. Carefully separate the filo sheets place half of them in layers into the tin, brushing each layer with butter as they are placed in. Mix together the almonds, spices and the sugar and spread this over the filo, then top with the remaining sheets, again each layer brushed with butter, giving the top filo a more generous covering of butter. Using a very sharp knife, score a diamond pattern across the surface, then place the tin in a pre-heated oven 180C, 350F, gas 4, and bake for half an hour. Increase heat to 220C, 425F, gas 7 and bake for a further 6 - 9 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the oven and immediately pour over the cooled syrup. Leave to soak for at least an hour (all day is even better) before cutting and serving from the tin.