Saturday, February 21, 2009

Try This for Size

This next recipe is for spicy nibbles, and a good way to wean teenagers from continually tucking into giant packets of crisps, as although crisps are one of the ingredients, cornflakes are the main one, and worth buying the own-brand cheapest to make this.
Cornflake Crunch:
20 oz (600g) cornflakes
6 tblsp pine nuts
4 tblsp finely chopped dates
2 x 25g packs of salted potato crisps, crushed
6 tblsp cashew nuts
2 tblsp sunflower oil
pinch asafoetida (opt)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
10 curry leaves
2 tsp sugar
Mix together the cornflakes, pine nuts, dates, crisps and cashew nuts together. Heat the oil and fry the asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder and curry leaves, then pour this over the cornflakes mixture. Add the sugar and salt to taste and put the lot into a large plastic bag and shake gently to blend all the ingredients and flavours together. This can be stored in an airtight jar for up to three months. Nibble as required.

this tip should have been mentioned before:
Whenever possible steam vegetables instead of boiling them, for vitamin C is water soluble (as is vit.B). An example is that steamed broccoli retains 84% of the vit.C content against 30% when boiled.
When cooking cauliflower it steams itself when placed in a covered container (bowl or bag) in the microwave, and although taking as long as if boiled. If wishing to boil cauliflower, then I cook it in milk and reserve this (as many vitamins have dissolved into it) and use this - with extra chopped cauli leaves and stalk - to make cauliflower soup.

This next dish would be seasonal around June, but a few container-grown seeds, kept in a sheltered place, even on a windowsill could bring it forward a month. Even earlier if frozen vegetables were used. Halloumi cheese has a very long shelf-life (at least a year - and actually keeps longer), so useful to keep in the fridge.
Broad Bean and Pea Shoot Salad: serves 4
12 oz (450g) peas (either fresh or frozen)
1 lb (450g) podded broad beans
large handful pea shoots
large handful baby spinach
1 lb (450g) Halloumi, sliced
handful fresh parsley, chopped
4 fl oz (100ml) olive oil
3 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
salt and pepper
If using fresh peas, cook until tender (thaw frozen peas) and place in a bowl. Cook the broad beans for about 6 minutes (or directions on the bag of frozen beans), then remove the skins and add to the peas. Stir in the pea shoots and spinach leaves.
Heat a griddle or frying pan until very hot and cook the Halloumi for 1 - 2 minutes on each side until golden.
Make the dressing by putting the oil, vinegar,mustard and sugar into a screw-top jar and shake well. Pour into a small saucepan and warm it briefly, add seasoning if you feel it needs it.
Pour the warm dressing over the salad in the bowl, toss well and divide between four plates, placing slices of grilled Halloumi on top. Scatter over the parsley and add a grind of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Penultimate recipe today also uses broad beans (as to whether you choose to remove the inner skin is up to you), but perhaps the best part of this recipe is that the main ingredients is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah as if it really matters), and this is actually a seed rather than a grain, although treated as such when used in cooking. Called a 'wonder food', quinoa is one of those rare 'veggie' foods that is a complete protein food, containing all the essential amino acids and well as fibre and numerous vitamins. It can be used as an alternative to rice, pearl barley, and other similar grains, or even mixed in with them.
Quinoa, Prawn and Broad Bean Risotto: serves 2
1 tblsp olive oil
8 - 10 frozen Tiger Prawns, thawed
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
7 oz (200g) quinoa
hot vegetable stock
3 oz (75g) broad beans, cooked
freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan then fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Stir in the garlic, fry for a further minutes then stir in the quinoa. Add enough hot stock to cover, stir then simmer for approx 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through and the stock almost absorbed. Stir in the cooked beans and the prawns, cover with a clean towel to absorb the steam, then turn out the heat and leave for a few minutes for the prawns to heat through. Season to taste and serve sprinkled with the parsley.

Because of the great food value of quinoa, this final recipe show how it can be used to make muffins so would be particularly good for the children's packed lunch.
Banana and Quinoa Muffins: makes 12
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
2 large eggs
5 fl oz (150ml) plain yogurt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 oz (75g) quinoa
7 fl oz (200ml) water
pinch of salt
6 oz (175g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) caster sugar (pref light brown)
Whisk the melted butter with the eggs, yogurt and bananas. Put the quinoa and the water in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked (follow packet directions for timings). When cooked, drain and fluff up grains with a fork to separate.
Sift the flour with the baking powder into a bowl, add the quinoa and sugar and mix together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed (when making muffins the mixture should still be a bit lumpy just as long as no flour is visible).
Spoon mixture into 12 paper-lined muffin tins and cook at 2ooc, 375F, gas 5 for approx 15 minutes.