Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Kitchen is Calling.

Don't think it really matters what type of vinegar used when pickling cabbage Chaotic Chris. This pickle was made for centuries using the vinegar of the region, in England usually the basic brown malt. Using the white distilled vinegar usually keeps the red cabbage a good colour. Spiced vinegar is normally used, but spices can be added to ordinary malt vinegar, boil then strain and proceed with the recipe. Normally a small teaspoon of mustard seeds or peppercorns, three cloves, a stick of cinnamon...spices such as these will add the necessary flavour to the vinegar, but if you haven't all of these, use a spoon of allspice, ground black pepper, ground cinnamon, then strain through kitchen paper after boiling.

Ginger is sometimes added when pickling red cabbage to give extra flavour, and you mentioned ginger as being helpful when having a cold or flu. It is also a well known and almost cure for motion sickness. So if travelling by sea (sailing, ferry or liner) take a bag of crystallised ginger with to munch on while you get your sea legs.

Your mention of Spotted Dick being able to be made in the microwave was something I had not heard of Andrea, and as many of us do have microwaves and suet puds are coming back into fashion, it would be much appreciated if you could get the recipe and cooking details and send them to this site so we could all indulge. My B will love you for ever and probably want me to make it for him every day.
There is talk of political correctness rearing its ugly head when it comes to the names of some foods. Spotted Dick maybe renamed 'speckled...something or other'.
We had trouble in our water cistern the other day when it was slow in refilling. Problem was due to the 'spherical rooster' needing a new washer. Rooster was not the first name to come to mind, but this is written before the 9.00pm watershed.

Ciao, sorry to read that your husband also suffers from cellulitis. Unfortunately this can keep recurring (and in my case often does). Initially was in hospital for nearly three weeks being drip-fed with anti-biotics several times a day. After each day a new vein would have to be found as the a.b's were so strong it burnt the veins up. Eventually I ran out of usable veins (one doctor said to me my veins were narrow and tortuous to which I replied you certainly know how to make a girl feel good) and was finally sent home with a months supply of a.b's. A few months later had another flare-up and had to return to hospital luckily for only two nights of drips, and again they had trouble finding a usable vein after the second day. The old veins never return to normal, the body has a way of bypassing them. Since then try to catch the disease in the very early stages and having antib's by prescription this usually gets my leg back to near normal, though the damage was so great it is rarely on show.
This morning the leg is very painful, but not reddened as yesterday, so hope the pills are now drawing the infection together. We shall have to wait and see.

Good luck with your harp Kathryn, the music from a harp sounds so sweet and relaxing, even when just the fingers are drawn lightly across the strings. Have to say your options of Bridge and Canasta are more ME, as have played Bridge for many years, and used to play Canasta before that and loved it, yet very few people play that these days which is a great pity. But when younger, did play the piano.
At the moment it is Cribbage that keeps me going and only play that when my friend is here. Her next visit will be in mid November for a week while my husband is away.

Don't know if any of you watch Jamie Oliver in America (or some such name), rather like Stephen Fry, he is driving across the states, but concentrating on the foods of the region. It is very interesting (at least for me) and this week he went to the Navaho reservation to discover the traditional meals of the Native Americans. In many ways it is very similar to the food made in New Mexico, as they too use the same foods that grow naturally in the area.
This reminded me of a recipe I looked up yesterday, and discovering it was posted on the same day of the month (how strange is that?) a couple of years earlier (7th Oct. '07). This is also a Native American dish but this time from the Choctaw tribe. Called Wandering Dove's Carrot Bread feel that if children still play Cowboys and Indians, this is one 'bread' they would all be craving to sink their teeth into. Hope you introduce it to your own family, even if they are now grown up.

Whether I wish to or not, really MUST get back working in the Goode kitchen. While I was confined to my bed, and also yesterday after I settled into my chair snuggled beneath my cuddle blanket, B was feverishly working at fitting another drawer into the kitchen units. Now we have a drawer wide enough to hold the basket full of cutlery, although unfortunately it is a million miles away from the kitchen sink. It should be under the draining board, but because of badly fitted pipes, no room there. So it may be the cutlery basket will still stay where it is and the drawer used for something else. Whoever designed this kitchen was certainly not a woman. It looks good, but it just doesn't work as well as it should. Not how I wish it would and that is what matters. To me.

Still have beetroot to cook, but at least this is one winter veggie that stores quite well uncooked, so no rush there. In the past have made pickled beetroot, and although it tasted fine, the colour changed and lost its crimson flush, ending up with paler fawnish tinge. What was I doing wrong? Am sure a few readers can let me know the best way to pickle beetroot. Please let me know a.s.a.p.

Around lunchtime yesterday felt like going out as the day was so pleasant, but not well enough to accompany Norris, so settled for B and the car. It was meant to be a short trip, just to Red Bank Farm "could you bring me a mug of soup" I asked B as he went into the cafe for a cup of coffee, I was still feeling chilly, despite the warmth of the car and the day. He came back clutching an ice-cream cornet. "They had just sold the last of the soup" he said.
Wistful thoughts of a cup of hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows floating on top came to my mind but obviously not B's. At least he chose the flavour of ice-cream I love - strawberry, and managed to eat it all without shivering too much.
We drove along a country road leading to the cocklepicking area and parked a while to view another part of the bay. There were no sounds, even the sea was just hanging about, about to ebb. We watched people walking their dogs, and B said, the dogs must think they had died and gone to heaven for they all enjoy themselves leaping around the salt marshes. One dog saw another coming, and it was obvious the glee it felt. Another dog to play with, so nose to nose they 'shook hands', wagged tails and chased each other up and down having a wonderful time.
Although we see many dogs freely running up and down various areas (Heasham Half Moon Bay, Hest Bank, and Red Bank Farm areas being very popular) have yet to see any dogs wanting to fight. Life is too good for them to feel any animosity to anything.

Driving home via the scenic route which involved Carnforth, around the villages near Nether Kellet, and eventually picking up the Lancaster Road, was able to see how lovely the countryside was looking, especially now the trees are changing colour. "This is much gentler than Yorkshire" I said to B "Lancashire seems to have no hard lines, it all looks soft and rounded with plump bits, rather like a beautiful lady, whereas Yorkshire is gaunt, rugged and quite handsome in parts - like a man". Well, there you go, in my eyes Lancashire is now female, Yorkshire is male. With the masculine looking Lakeland area over the Bay, protecting our front and sweeping round to Yorkshire that covers our sides and rear, and no doubt Cheshire has a peak or two on the other side , feel very protected here in Morecambe. Strangely that is exactly the caring feeling the place does have, so maybe there are more things in heaven and earth Horatio....

Not sure about our immediate surroundings - our garden. Still feel it looks more like a jungle, even though beautifully 'landscaped' by earlier owners. The phormiums look like giant spiders lifting first one leg/leaf, then another as though ready to pounce. Yet they are so different to the other shrubs (all are different - this makes the garden interesting to look at) and deep purple in colour where everything else is a millions shades of green, that they should stay. If had to pick the sex of our garden, would say it reminds me of a predatory female with hidden depths forever tapping a branch against our conservatory window (forsythia one end, magnolia the other) to remind me she is there.
Not like me to be so aware of what is around me. Blame it on the 'flu, still think I am a bit feverish with my mind wandering. Have also had the most dreadful, and extremely explicit nightmares since being ill.

The good news is that Beloved has now sorted out the gas boiler and managed to have the central heating on for a short time in the evening, then no further 'burn up' during the night. Such bliss. We never appreciate what we have until something stops us having it.

With my eternal quest for interesting but cheap recipes, am offering a few more. Several of these used ingredients that have been suggested as worth cooking and keeping in the freezer (such as assorted beans of the pulse variety). The vegetables are the basics we normally keep, and the meat could also come from the freezer (thawed), the recipes adaptable enough to change the meat according to what you have, all recipes give suggestions for this.

The first is a Gougere, and a good way to become familiar with making and cooking choux pastry, which is incredibly easy when you follow directions. Minced beef is used with this recipe, but minced chicken would work just as well. Use spices sparingly if not used to them, some like it hot, so they can add more. Make it even cheaper by using less meat (even half the amount) and making up the weight using more of the vegetables.
A couple of cheffy tips when it comes to making the choux pastry. Use strong plain flour if you can as this keep the pastry firm and crisp when cooked, also use half butter and half hard block margarine (like the old Stork), a scientific reason for this, but never bothered to find out what - however it works.
Mexican Gougere: serves 4
1 lb (450g) minced steak
1 large onion, sliced
1 chilli pepper, halved, deseeded, sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 - 2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbslp tomato puree
2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tblsp water
salt and pepper
choux pastry:
5 fl oz (150ml) water
2 oz (50g) butter
a bare 3 oz (75g) sifted flour
1 tsp chilli powder
2 eggs, beaten.
Using a non-stick pan, dry-fry the onions and minced meat for 5 minutes until browned, then add the remaining ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, make the choux pastry by putting the water and fat into a saucepan, heating until the fat has melted then bring to the boil. Immediately tip in the flour and chilli powder, all in one go, remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture holds together in a lump and free from the sides of the pan. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then gradually beat in the eggs until the mixture forms a smooth paste, firm enough to hold its shape but just about ready to drop from the spoon.
Spoon this around the sides of a greased 10" (25.5cm) round ovenproof dish, then carefully spoon the filling into the centre.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown and crisp on the surface. Cover the filling with foil after 20 minutes to avoid it scorching.
Serve immediately.

This next is a Cobbler in other words a casserole with savoury scones overlapping the top. Always worth remembering that anything made with flour is a carbohydrate - so when serving a dish that has pastry, pasta, savoury scones, dumplings...there is no real need to also serve potatoes, although we often do. In these credit crunch times we should try to avoid serving what is not nutritionally necessary. (See Tip below to avoid scone dough and pastry scraps/wastage)

As some of the ingredients in this dish are ready-cooked pulses, these are an added source of protein, so a much smaller amount of meat can be used than shown in this recipe, in which case make up the shortfall by adding onions and other vegetables of choice.
Made with beef, ale adds extra flavour. If using pork, replace the beer with cider, and include some chunks of apple. Use different varieties of beans if you prefer.
Bean and Beef Cobbler: serves 4
1 lb (450g) minced steak
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tblsp flour
5 fl oz (150ml) beef stock
5 fl oz (150ml) stout or ale
1 x 425g (15oz) can butter beans, drained
1 x 425g (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained
salt and pepper.
scone topping:
2 oz (50g) butter or marg
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
Dry-fry the onion and mince for four minutes until starting to brown, then stir in the garlic and fry for a further minute. Sift over the flour, stirring it in, then cook a further minute.
Gently stir in the stock, the chosen beer, and when beginning to thicken, stir in the beans. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, then season to taste.

Meanwhile make the 'cobbles'. Put the flour into a bowl and rub in the fat and mix in remaining ingredients to make a smooth and softish dough. Roll out to half inch (1cm) thick and cut into 1" (2.5cm) rounds.
Put the bean and beef mixture into a 2 pt (1.1lt) casserole and top with a circle of overlapping 'cobbles' around the edge of the dish, leaving the centre open. Glaze the scones with milk, and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 - 25 minutes until the topping is risen and crispy golden. Serve immediately.
Tip: traditionally 'cobblers'/scones are round, but this leaves left-over scraps after cutting (although can be gathered together and separately baked for the cook's 'taster'), and there is no reason why the dough could not be cut into squares/triangles and arranged and overlapped on top of a dish. Vol au vents, also traditionally round, are easier to eat in hand when shaped into rectangles and triangles. When cost-cutting it is wisest to use a sensible approach rather than a traditional one.

Next comes a recipe for meat balls made using pork mince with cheese. Chicken and cheese go well together, as (strangely) does fish, so plenty of choice here as to which meat to choose. The rest of the ingredients seem to sit well with any chosen minced meat, but feel free to alter flavours as you wish. The meatballs and sauce should be frozen separately, then reheated when thawed. Reeheating from frozen using a microwave is also given, and this really shortens the time.
Pork 'n Cheese Balls: serves 4 (F)
1 lb (450g) pork mince
2 oz (50g) fresh breadcrumbs
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
4 oz (100g) Edam cheese, grated
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, and using wetted hands, shape into 16 meatballs. Place in a greased ovenproof dish, cover and cook at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 40 minutes.
To freeze: cool, then pack, seal, label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
To serve: thaw overnight in fridge, place in an ovenproof dish, cover and reheat at 200C etc for 20 minutes then spoon round the hot sauce and serve immediately.
apple sauce: (F)
2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tblsp sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) water
Put all ingredients into a pan, bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.
To freeze: cool, then pack in tubs, seal, label and use within three months.
To serve: thaw overnight, and reheat sauce in a pan and when hot, pour round the cooked meatballs.
To microwave from frozen: cook meatballs on Full for 12 minutes, set aside to rest while reheating sauce from frozen on Full for 5 minutes. Serve both hot.

With this next recipe have halved the original amount of meat and increased the red cabbage and potatoes. This makes for a much cheaper dish, but if you prefer you can increase the meat and decrease the veggies. Or if feeding more than four, at least you know you can keep the meat the same and just add more of the other ingredients. My aim is to keep costs down every which way I can. Vinegar, apple, sugar and cider work perfectly with red cabbage, but not with white cabbage. Luckily this is the season for red, and cheap with it, so go for it.
NOTE: if not intending to freeze, an ordinary heat-proof casserole can be used. If wishing to freeze, an oven and freezer proof casserole should be used. If wishing to cook in the microwave, a microproof casserole should be used. Seems as though a glass Pyrex casserole would cope with all three methods of heating.
Rose Red Hot Pot: serves 4 (F)
8 oz (225g) minced pork (more if you wish)
1 large onion, sliced
1 large cooking apple, peeled and grated
2 lb (1kg) large potatoes
1 1/2lb (675g) red cabbage, shredded
salt and pepper
half pint (300ml) cider
2 tblsp vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Dry-fry the mince and onions for 5 minutes until browned. Stir in the apple, then set aside.
Peel the potatoes, slice thinly and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then drain and pat dry.
Place a quarter of the potato covering the bottom of a 3 pint (1.7lt) freezer and ovenproof casserole dish, and seasoning well between each layer, cover potato with half the cabbage,, then more potato, followed by pork, then repeat layers of potato and cabbage, ending with potato.
Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over. Brush the top layer of potato with a little lard, dripping, butter or oil.
Cover, and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 1 hour and 45 minutes, then uncover and raise heat to 220C, 425F, gas 7 and cook for 15 minutes longer (this helps to brown the potato topping).
To freeze: Cool, overwrap dish, seal and label. Freeze and use within 3 months.
To serve: thaw overnight, unwrap, cover and reheat at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour or until piping hot.
To microwave from frozen: cook on Full for 35 minutes.