Friday, December 19, 2008

A Little of What you Fancy...

Starting with a recipe for bagels, and these - unlike most breads - are 'twice-cooked', first poached in water, then finished off in the oven.
Bagels: makes 12
8 oz (225g) strong white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (225g) strong plain wholemeal flour
1 sachet (7g) easy-blend dried yeast
1 tblsp caster sugar
2 tblsp sunflower oil
approx half pint (300ml) warm water
1 tblsp granulated sugar
milk for glazing
poppy seeds, sesame seeds or caraway seeds (opt)
Sift the white flour with the salt into a large bowl, then stir in the wholemeal flour, yeast and caster sugar. Make a well in the centre then add the oil and enough water to mix to a soft dough.
Knead dough on a lightly floured board until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Knock back the dough on a floured board, then divide into 12 equal portions. Shape each into a ball, then using the floured end of a wooden spoon (or your little finger) make a hole through the centre of each ball, pulling the dough outwards slightly to form rings. It is important to make sure the holes are big enough, for they will close slightly as they are rising and also cooking.
Place bagels on a couple of greased baking sheets, cover and leave to rise again for half an hour - or until doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200c, 400F, gas 6, and also heat a large pan of water until simmering (a deep but wide frying pan would do), then stir in the granulated sugar. When this has dissolved, carefully place 3 or 4 bagels in the water and poach for about 3 minutes, turning once. Remove from the water, drain well, then place back on the baking sheets. Repeat until all bagels have been poached. Brush each with a little milk and sprinkle the tops with the seeds if using.
Bake at above temperature for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on a cake airer. Cut in half to serve, either warm or cold.

This next recipe uses cooked fresh salmon, but could also be made using canned salmon (as so much cheaper), and this together with soft cheese and smoked salmon - plus a bit of seasoning - makes a salmon mousse that can either be served as made in ramekin dishes, or turned out onto a small plate. Great for serving as a 'starter' as it needs chilling for a few hours and preferably overnight. Instead of using wine to poach the salmon, flavour the water with lemon juice (some of the poaching water is used as an ingredient), or if using canned salmon, add a little lemon juice in place of the poaching liquid. If no dill, use chopped fresh parsley or dried dill or even a smidgin of horseradish sauce would give it a bit of a lift.
Salmon Mousse: serves 4
9 oz (250g) salmon fillet, poached in a little water/white wine
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
ground black pepper
5 oz (150g) soft (philly type) cheese
7 oz (200g) smoked salmon
lemon wedges
Flake the cooked/canned salmon into a bowl. Add 2 fl oz (50ml) of the poaching liquid, the soft cheese and the chosen herbs. Mix well together. Line four ramekin-sized dishes with the smoked salmon, leaving enough salmon to over-hang the sides. Spoon in the salmon mixture and fold the overhanging salmon back to cover the surface. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. Serve in the dish or turned out onto a small plate. Can be served with lightly toasted wholemeal or granary bread, or flatbread.

Now we come to the recipe for sausage rolls made with lamb. The recipes states it makes 8, but much depends upon the size of the 'sausages' and pastry. Sometimes it is easier to make one long sausage roll (whatever the filling) and then cut this up AFTER baking into the sizes you wish. On the other hand you may prefer to make lots of smaller ones. The choice is yours.
Shepherd's Rolls:
1.2 lb (500g) lamb mince
1 good handful fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tblsp mint sauce
salt and pepper
7 oz (200g) puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Thoroughly mix together the lamb, chopped mint and mint sauce, adding seasoning to taste. Divide the mixture into eight portions and roll each into a sausage shape.
Roll out the pastry, fairly thinly, and divide this also into eight oblongs, each slightly longer than each sausage, and wide enough to go twice round.
Brush the pastry with the egg, then place a 'sausage' on each sheet, folding the pastry round and making sure the edge is sealed. Using a floured rolling pin, lightly roll over the top of the pastry to flatten the 'sausage rolls', then seal the ends by coating the pastry with egg and pressings the ends together with a fork.
Make a few slits across the top, then bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 20 - 30 minutes until golden.

Cheese and Mushroom Bread Pudding: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
10 oz (300g) mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 small leek, washed and cut into small pieces
6 slices white bread
pinch dried herbs
4 eggs, beaten
7 fl oz (200ml) milk
4 oz (100g) Gruyere cheese
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Heat half the butter in a frying pan then fry the mushrooms until golden (takes 2 - 3 minutes). Stir in the leek and dried herbs and set to one side.
Spread remaining butter on one side only of each slice of bread and cut slices in half (oblongs or triangles). Arrange the bread in a greased bowl in alternate slices with the mushroom and leeks mixture.
Put the eggs, milk and mustard into a bowl and beat together, then stir in half the cheese. Pour this over the bread and leave to stand for half an hour (or longer).
to microwave: microwave the pudding on Full for 4 - 5 minutes, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese and place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese is bubbling and browning.
to oven cook: sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the 'pudding' and bake at 200F, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour or until cooked. If you prefer more of a creamy 'souffle' texture, bake in a bain marie at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for up to one hour.

Because, over the past few days, have been chatting about chicken, slow cookers etc, today am including a nourishing - yet economical recipe - that makes use of those chicken winglets that I so love to collect up and freeze. Not only that, it gives instructions for cooking in a pressure cooker OR in an ordinary saucepan.
The lentils, rich in iron and Vit.B, give this broth its thickness, and unlike other pulses, do not require soaking before cooking. Because the chicken winglets are small, they can be cooked from frozen, but if using a larger chicken joints such as a drumsticks or thighs, these should be thawed first.
Chicken and Lentil Broth: to serve four
1 tblsp sunflower oil
4 chicken winglets
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
4 oz (100g) split red lentils
1 1/2pt (750ml) water
1 bay leaf
half pint (300ml) milk
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in an open pressure cooker or large saucepan. Fry the chicken wings until golden, then add the onion, carrot, celery and bacon. Lower heat and fry gently for about 7 minutes or until most of the oil has been absorbed.
Wash the lentils in a sieve, under cold running water, then add these to the pan with the measured water, a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil.
to pressure cook: cover pan and gook at high (15lb) pressure for 15 minutes.
to hob-top cook: cover saucepan and simmer the broth for 40 - 45 minutes or until lentils have cooked down and thickened the liquid and the vegetables are tender.
to serve both: remove chicken wings and discard skin and bones. Remove the bay leaf. Shred the chicken flesh and add this back into the broth. Stir in the milk and reheat, adding more seasoning if required. Serve hot.

Young children (right up to teenage) often wish they could have the same to drink as the adults. So here is an alcohol-free mulled wine that would also be perfect for those adults who will be driving.
Mulled Grape Juice: fills 8 mugs
1 large orange, sliced
3 pints (1.7lts) grape juice (red or white)
6 - 8 tblsp honey or demerara sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
Slice the orange and stud the end rind pieces each with 5 cloves. Put these and the remaining orange slices (cut in half) into a large pan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat VERY gently, making sure the sugar has dissolved, and as soon as the surface simmers and little bubbles appear at the edge, remove from the heat (note this must not be allowed to boil). Pour the mulled juice into mugs or heat-proof glasses and serve steaming hot, adding a slice of orange to each mug.