Saturday, December 19, 2009

One Man's Meat is Another Man's...?

Recently there was a comment from someone who had made a chocolate fondant in the microwave, and not turning out quite as it should. So, with the school holidays now starting, here is a chocolate pudding recipe that SHOULD work, and with a few variations to the ingredients, will also make a lemon pudding.
Speedy Chocolate Pudding: serves 4
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) butter, softened
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
1 oz (25g) cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz (25g) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
4 tblsp ready-made hot chocolate sauce
Mix together the sugar, butter, flour, cocoa, eggs and vanilla together until creamy, then fold in the chocolate pieces. Spoon into a microwavable baking dish, and microwave on High for 3 minutes, turning the dish halfway through the cooking time, and by then the cake should be risen and set all the way through. Leave to stand for one minute before pouring over the hot chocolate sauce. Serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream.
Lemon Pudding: omit the cocoa and add zest of 1 lemon then continue with the recipe as above. Once the baking is completed, while the pudding is resting, instead of chocolate sauce, heat 4 tblsp lemon curd in the microwave for 30 seconds and pour this over the top of the pud. As before, serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream.

In the run up to Christmas, we often try to use up oddments in the freezer to give us room for the festive foods. So here is a recipe that adds flavour to those smaller joints of chicken we may wish to use up.

But before I give this, was very interested in the first few minutes of The One Show last night (for those who missed it, it may be on IPlayer). This covered foods bought for the Christmas Meal, and was glad to see the presenter showing us mis-shapen carrots that were just as tasty as their perfect cousins, but far cheaper being sold as Second Grade.
They then compared turkey. One costing £70 as against a very much cheaper frozen bird from the supermarket. As a nutritionist said, possibly a slight difference in flavour, but absolutely no nutritional difference.
The presenter, a well-known cookery critic, then took the ultimate test. He was put into a room, lit only by a red light, so no difference could be seen with any food served (all of which had been prepared to look exactly the same). Two plates containing the Christmas meal were passed through a hatch, and the presenter began to eat. First tasting carrots from the first plate, and then from the second. Same with the turkey.
At the end of the tasting session, very little difference could be found, but one seemed to have slightly better flavours, so this was deemed the plate containing the expensive foods. But this was not the case as it happened to be the one filled with the cheapest. Just goes to show that we often pay more when it really isn't necessary.

Usually it pays to joint our own chickens, rather than buying the joints separately. Sometimes it is possible to buy packs of drumsticks and thighs on offer, and these are sometimes worth buying and freezing away. Always unwrap a pack and wrap the joints either in pairs or separately, this way only what is needed is thawed out.
Citrus Chicken: serves 4
8 chicken portions (thighs, drumsticks, wings)
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 rounded tblsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tblsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp paprika pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper
Put the orange zest and juice into a large bowl, add the sugar, ketchup, pepper, ginger and seasoning to taste. Mix well to make a marinade.
Stab the chicken joints in several places with the tip of a knife or a fork, then place them in the marinade, turning them so they are coated. Cover and leave in a cool place for 2 hours or preferable overnight, if possible turning the chicken joints once or twice during this time to allow the marinade to penetrate every stab wound.
To cook, place the joints on a roasting tin, spooning over a little of the marinade, and roast at 200C, 375F, gas 6 for 40 - 45 minutes until tender and golden. If you wish, during this time, a little more marinade can be spooned over.
These can be served any way you wish, either with salad and new potatoes, or with roast potatoes or roasted vegetables (cook these in the oven at the same time). Or with rice or couscous according to your personal tastes.