Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Ways with Traditional Recipes

As always, thanks for comments sent in. As to the difference between a stew and a casserole Kadeeae, have myself always believed that a stew was cooked on the hob in a pan and a casserole cooked inside the oven. With a stew, the meat would first be cooked until tender and the vegetables either cooked and served separately, or could then be added to the pot and cooked along with the meat as with Irish Stew (trad. cooked on top of the stove).
Meat cooked in a slow-cooker would be counted as 'stewed', as normally vegetables (other than onions) are not usually added as they need a higher heat to become tender.

Nowadays, after first browning the meat in a frying pan, it is then normally transferred to a casserole dish along with prepared veggies at the same time along with any liquid called for and then cooked on in the oven. Also the gravy with this tends to end up thicker than when cooking as a stew.
Have to say I cook a lot of 'casseroles' in a deep lidded frying pan using the hob rather than the oven. so rather a grey area as to what name to call it, but because it is complete in itself to my mind it is nearer a 'casserole' than a 'stew', and in any case sounds more appetising.

Definitely will be decorating my computer for Xmas, and maybe will put a small tree on the windowsill and you could all dangle prettily from there if you wish during the festive period. Which one of you will choose to be the fairy on the top? Definately not me, for the moment I 'sat down' the tree would be squashed flat, along with the rest of you.

Was very disappointed to read that Campbells condensed soups seem not to be around any more Cheesepare. Even when firms sell out to another, often the original name of the product is kept. We would be amazed at how many well-known brand names are now 'owned' by just one major company. However, if bought out by another firm and the name changed, let us hope the condensed soups on sale are still of the same quality.

The cookery prog you mentioned CP, this was probably on a digi channel as these are repeats of the originals first shown on ITV and called Cooks Challenge or similar name. For readers who have not watched, two chefs compete against each other each weekday, a different pair each week. They cook three dishes, the first their own choice of a dish that cooks in in 5 minutes, a different celebrity each day having a taste of all the dishes cooked and giving their opinion as to the best. The chefs second challenge is to cook a dish (one portion only) on a set budget (this changes every day and can be anything from 50p to £3.50p), although four items can also be used from the storecupboard for no extra charge, and again this dish is tested by the celeb.
Finally a dish has to be made using an ingredient the celeb wishes them to use. This could be anything from asparagus to scallops and the chefs make their own choice of which dish to make and serve. After the five days, the chef with the most points wins the week. A good programme to watch as it both helps with the timing and budgeting of a meal, and entertaining because of how competitive the chefs are with each other. Some can really sulk when losing.

Not sure about the courgette CP. Doubt the lemon juice would 'cook' it, as this seems only to happen with proteins (fish etc). Expect the lemon would be to add flavour to an otherwise rather tasteless vegetable. Also much depends upon the age of the courgette. Really young ones, freshly picked, are lovely raw (myself use them cut into strips to eat with dips). Possibly, as the programme seen was a repeat, the courgettes were in season. At the present time, shop bought courgettes are probably imported or if a variety able to be grown locally in hothouses this might make them slightly more bitter in flavour.
If you like the idea of raw courgette marinaded in lemon juice, but the lemon flavour is too strong, you could always rinse the ribbons and pat dry before serving them. Another way to serve is lightly sear the courgette ribbons on a griddle pan, and then sprinkle over lemon juice.
Today am giving some traditional Latin dishes that have a new slant. To get the authentic flavour try to use an Italian lager (such as Birra Moretti). If not able to buy this, use a mild lager of any make.

Most risottos are made in a similar way. One may use chicken stock to cook the rice, another water. both with or without and white wine. This recipe uses lager which gives a clean sharp edge to the dish that complements its richness. Parmesan cheese can vary in quality, so choose the Parmesan sold as Parmigiano Reggiano.
Beer Risotto: serves 4
2 onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
2 tblsp butter
4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (450g) risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
1 pint mild Italian lager
2.5 pints hot vegetable stock
1 tblsp each finely chopped fresh parsley and thyme
8 oz (225g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see above)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the prepared vegetables in a heavy based pan with the butter and oil. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened but not browned (takes about 10 minutes).
Add the rice and stir/cook for a few minutes so that the rice is coated by the oils, and turns translucent. Then pour in the beer and simmer until it has just evaporated.
Stir in one ladle of the hot stock, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is creamy, then keep adding stock - one ladle at a time - until the rice is tender (this takes between 20 - 30 minutes) and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Note that a risotto should be creamy, and not too dry.
Sprinkle the cheese and herbs over the risotto and add seasoning to taste, stir to blend then serve immediately.

A very simple antipasto dish is slices of beef tomatoes alternating with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves. This is a hot version, and makes a really good 'starter' (one I must add to my menu). Make your own basil oil by blitzing together 2 handfuls of basil leaves with 2 tblsp of good olive oil.
Grilled Vegetable Towers: makes 4
2 large yellow peppers, deseeded and quartered
1 large aubergine, sliced across into rounds
2 large beef tomatoes, sliced across into rounds
2 balls smoked mozzarella, sliced
salt and pepper
basil oil
Put the peppers and aubergines under a hot grill (or use a griddle pan) until just cooked. Then assemble the 'towers' by putting the four largest slices of tomato onto a greased baking sheet, top with an aubergine round, cover this with peppers, then repeat, using the smaller rounds towards the top to prevent the tower toppling over. Finish off with the cheese and season to taste.
Bake at 190C, gas 5 for 10 - 12 minutes until the cheese has melted. Carefully remove each to an individual serving plate, spooning a little basil oil over the top, and serve with a little frissee or rocket leaves at the side.

This Italian dish uses an unusual beer and radicchio sauce that is served with pasta. Ideally cook fresh egg tagliatelle or other fresh pasta, but at a pinch (remember that freshly made pasta weighs heavier than dried pasta) any dried pasta of your choice could be cooked and served with the 'sauce'. Once we decrease the quality of an ingredient we also lessen the quality of the dish, so whenever possible buy the best you can according to the recipe.
Pasta with Beer Sauce: serves 4
4 tblsp olive oil
1 large red onion. finely chopped
2 handfuls radicchio leaves, finely shredded
8 fl oz (225ml) mild Italian lager
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
8 fl oz (225ml) chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb (450g) fresh egg tagliatelle
2 oz (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper
Put the oil into a large pan over medium heat, then when hot add the onion and stir/cook for 5 minutes. Add the radicchio leaves and cook/stir for a further five minutes, then raise the heat and add the beer, boiling this until evaporated, then stir in the balsamic vinegar and season to taste. Add the stock and cook for about 5 minutes or until the 'sauce' has become creamy and thick.
Meanwhile, using a different pan, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, then drain well. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine, adding more seasoning if needed. Top with the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Final recipe today is for an English fruit pie where the pastry is made in a completely different way than normal. Ideal for cooks (like myself) who find it difficult to make good pastry. Any fruits could be used instead of the one given.
Rhubarb Pie: serves 8 - 12
8 oz (225g) butter
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
2 eggs
12 oz (350g) plain flour
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and soft. Then add the eggs and beat together for several minutes. Reduce speed and beat in the flour. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of floured greaseproof paper, shape into a round, flattening the top, wrap up and chill for at least an hour. Removed from fridge too soon and the pastry is difficult to handle.
When ready to use, roll out to eighth of an inch (3mm) in thickness and use two thirds to line a 22cm square tin (2.5cm deep) and add the filling (see below).
1.5lb (700g) rhubarb, cut into 1/2" chunks
9 oz (250g) caster sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
beaten egg for brushing pastry
caster sugar for sprinkling
and whipped cream to serve
When the tin has been lined with pastry, put in layers of rhubarb and sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry (rolling out the reserved piece) sealing the edges and using pastry trimmings to decorate the lid. Brush with egg wash and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender (check after half an hour as ovens vary, and also cover the pastry with a tent of foil, shiny side up, if the pastry is browning before the rhubarb is cooked).
When ready, remove from oven but leave in the tin for five or so minutes to cool slightly, then cut into squares, sprinkle each with caster sugar, and serve with cream.