Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dual Food

Yesterday, gave suggestions for more 'basic makes' - 'starter' recipes that can go on to making several other things, and today decided another useful path to take at this time of year was to make 'dual food' - portions of food that can frozen to serve at a buffet party, but that can also be taken out portion by portion when only one or two persons need serving. Useful when wishing to pack something different for a packed lunch. Some of the following recipes will freeze for up to 2 months for optimum flavour, so if able to make and freeze early November, and this should see us through the festive season and beyond.

The first recipe is a useful make when chicken thighs and drumsticks are on offer. Often sold (mixed) in packs of 12, a couple of packs will make enough for an average buffet party. Cook more if you wish, can eat them in the time, and have room in the freezer.
Oriental Chicken Bites: makes 24 (F)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 fl oz (100ml) dark soy sauce
4 fl oz (100ml) sherry
1 oz (25g) cornflour
4 tblsp sesame or sunflower oil
12 chicken drumsticks, skinned
12 chicken thighs, skinned
2 eggs, beaten
2 oz (50g) plain flour
4 oz (100g) sesame seeds
2 tblsp sunflower oil
Put the garlic, soy sauce, sherry, cornflour and oil into a large bowl. Stir to blend, then add chicken joints, making sure each is coated with the marinade. Cover and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight if you wish). Drain off the marinade, and mix half with the beaten egg. Set the remaining marinade to one side.
Toss the chicken first in the flour, then in the egg/marinade mixture, and finally coat in sesame seeds. Place in baking tin and cook with the 2 tblsp oil for 40 - 50 minutes until golden. Keep basting with the reserved marinade to give a crunchy coating. When cooked, leave to cool on a wire tray.
To Freeze: Store in rigid containers, seal, label and use within 2 months.
To Use from Frozen: thaw in fridge for 12 hours, or at room temperature for 6 hours.

This next makes a good lunch-box addition when packed with a small tub (or even ice-cube) of the sauce. However, both have only 1 month recommended freezing time, so allow for this. The original recipe uses boned pork leg, but then goes on to say 'remove all fat and rind', so feel that when using lean meat - such as fillet, the amount could be decreased - and this I have done. If wishing to serve one skewer of pork inside a 'wrap' as part of a packed lunch, freeze some of the Satay Sauce in ice-cube trays, so that one can be thawed to spoon over the Skewered meat.
Pork Satays: makes 25 (F)
2 lb (1 kg) lean pork, cut into 1/2" (1cm) dice
1 onion, grated
2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
1 tsp finely chopped deseeded chilli
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 fl oz (100ml) thick coconut milk
2 tblsp dark soy sauce
1 rounded tsp ground turmeric
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, and stir in the pork, making sure each pieces is coated. Cover and leave in the fridge for 12 hours.l
Thread 6 or 7 pork cubes on a wooden satay stick and place on baking trays. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 - 30 minutes. Then cool. Serve with a bowl of Satay sauce.
peanut sauce:
8 oz (225g) salted peanuts
1 tsp minced fresh root ginger
1 tsp minced chilli
8 fl oz (300ml) thick coconut milk
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz together until creamy.
To Freeze: pack satays and sauce in separate boxes. Seal, label and use within a month.
Thaw both at room temperature for 8 - 10 hours (for packed lunches, overnight in the fridge).

This next recipe is a way to make individual quiches, and although my preference would be to make one large one in a Swiss roll tin, then when baked, could be this into squares before freezing, we could make good use of short-pastry trimmings by rolling out and using to line tart tins (as used when making jam tarts), then open freeze. With care, these can be stacked in a lidded container, and when enough have been collected, returned to the tins to be filled and baked, either to be served freshly made, or returned to the freezer to eat when required.
Mini-Quiches: makes about 3 dozen small quiches
shortcrust pastry to line 36 small tart tins
6 eggs
3/4 pint (425ml) single cream
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 oz (100g) Gruyere cheese, finely grated
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
6 oz (175g) smoked salmon pieces, chopped
Line tartlet tins with pastry.
Whisk together the eggs and the cream, adding seasoning to taste. Mix together the cheeses and divide between half the pastry cases. Do the same with the salmon and parsley. Then carefully pour the egg/cream over to fill the cases.

Bake at 190c, 375F, gas 5 for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden and set. Cool on a wire rack.
To Freeze: For parties, pack into large polyboxes, seal and label. Freeze in smaller amounts if wishing to eat only one or two. Use within 2 months.
To Use from Frozen: Thaw, unwrapped, at room temperature for 2 - 3 hours.

This next is a lovely buffet dish and although normally served in a block to slice at table, there is no reason why the terrine should not be sliced when part frozen, each slice interleaved with baking parchment, clingfilm etc, so once solidly frozen, one or more slices can be removed if wishing to serve one (or taken as part of a packed lunch). The bonus with this dish is that the egg whites can make meringues or soft-scoop ice-cream.
The flour and butter can be worked together and formed into 8 'butter balls', and when these are dropped a few at a time and heated with the milk, this prevents the dreaded lumps forming. Quite a large amount of these 'butter balls' can be made (you could make some today) and kept in the fridge/freezer ready to use, and just add to a sauce or gravy until it is as thick as you wish.
Red and White Terrine: serves up to 15
1.5lb (550g) cod fillet ) or other white fish
1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
4 oz (100g) butter
4 oz (100g) plain flour
1 pint (600ml) milk
salt and pepper
good pinch ground nutmeg
zest of 1 large lemon
8 egg yolks
4 oz (100g) breadcrumbs
4oog can red salmon, bones and skin removed, mashed
Tabasco sauce
4 oz (100g) thinly sliced smoked salmon pieces
Place the white fish, onion and bay leaves in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the simmer, then cover, remove from heat, and leave to stand until cool.
Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and milk, then bring to the simmer, and cook until very thick. Season to taste and add the nutmeg, lemon zest, egg yolks and breadcrumbs.
Drain the fish, remove skin and any bones, and mash well and add to two-thirds of the white sauce. Mix the mashed canned salmon and a few drops of Tabasco into the remaining sauce.
Grease and line a 2lb (900g) loaf tin and layer the fish, starting with half the white mixture, then top this with half the smoked salmon. Cover with the salmon mixture, the remaining smoked salmon and the final layer of white fish. Cover with a piece of buttered paper.
Place loaf tin in a roasting tin, pouring round cold water to come an inch up the sides of the loaf tin. Cook in the centre of the oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until a skewer put into the centre of the fish mousse comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out. Chill before serving.
To Freeze: freeze in tin, then turn out, overwrap, seal and label. Use within 2 months.
to use from Frozen: Thaw, unwrapped, at room temperature for 2 - 3 hours. See above re slicing into portions before freezing solid.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More From Store

Today's recipes continue the theme of 'made from a basic mix', and these I find really useful at this time of year, as with several months of assorted 'festivities' coming up most - when made - can be frozen. Three 'basics' are given, one for a traybake, another for shortbread and the third a 'pound cake'.

Basic Traybake: (F)
6 oz (150g) butter
6 oz (150g) caster sugar
2 large eggs
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
2 tbls milk
Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then alternately beat in the eggs and flour. When thoroughly mixed, beat in sufficient milk to give a soft dropping consistency, then spoon into a greased Swiss Roll tin 11" x 7" (26.5 x 17.5cm) and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 40 minutes until set and firm.
To freeze: pack into rigid containers, seal, label and use within 3 months.

lemon squares: makes 12
Mix together 4 tblsp lemon juice and 4 oz (100g) caster sugar. Bake the basic mix (as above) and while still hot spoon the lemon juice and sugar over the top. Leave to cool before cutting into squares.

apricot and almond squares: makes 12
add 2 oz (100g) chopped no-soak apricots to basic mixture, adding a few drops of almond essence (optional). Sprinkle top with 1 oz (25g) chopped almonds before baking.

ginger and cinnamon bars: makes 16
add 2 tsp ground ginger to the basic mixture. When cold pour over hot fudge icing (recipe following), adding 1 tsp ground cinnamon to the icing sugar before mixing.

chocolate fudge diamonds: makes 12 - 16
using the basic recipe, replace 1 oz (25g) flour with 1 oz (25g) cocoa, then make the traybake up in the normal way. Sandwich together with smooth fudge icing, and top with peaked fudge icing (recipe below) - making double the quantity given - and adding 4 tsp cocoa to 6 oz (150g) icing sugar before mixing. Cut into diamond shapes.

fudge icing:
6 oz (150g) icing sugar
1 tblsp golden syrup
1 tblsp milk
2 oz (50g) butter
Sieve the sugar into a basin. Put the rest of the ingredients into a pan and heat until melted and almost boiling. Pour this onto the icing sugar and stir well. Use at once as smooth fudge icing. For peaked icing, cool then beat until thick. Spread over traybake and swirl into peaks.

Basic Shortbread: (F)
4 oz (100g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) ground rice
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) butter
Mix the dry ingredients together and gradually rub in the butter until the mixture binds together. Place in a 7" (17.5cm) shallow square tin and press down so that it fits. Level the surface and prick the top with a fork. Bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for 35 minutes, then cut into triangles, squares, or fingers.
To freeze: cool, pack, seal and label. Freeze and use within 3 months.

chocolate shortbread:
cook the basic mix, then top with smooth fudge icing (recipe above) adding 4 tsp cocoa to the icing sugar before mixing.

ginger shortbread:
add 1 tsp ground ginger to the dry ingredients. Ice with smooth fudge icing, adding 2 tsp ground ginger to the icing sugar before mixing.

lemon shortbread:
cook the basic mix, then top with smooth fudge icing, adding 1 tsp grated lemon rind, and 4 tsp lemon juice to the heated ingredients.

walnut shortbread:
to the basic mix, add 2 oz (50g) finely chopped walnuts towards the end of mixing.

Pound cake was the name given to a basic cake mix made with equal weights (formally 1 lb of each) of flour, butter, sugar and eggs. This is enough to make the three cakes, suggested today.
Ideally weigh the eggs before making the cake, so that if using larger than normal, the other ingredients can be adjusted, but for general purposes it is expected that a medium egg weighs 2 oz and the following recipe uses that rule of thumb. Just remember that a 250g pack of butter now weighs 9 oz (500g - 18 oz), so if you prefer to use a whole block, then adjust the other weights accordingly.
Basic Pound Cake Mix: makes 3 large or 48 cup cakes
1 lb (450g) butter
1 lb (450g) caster sugar
8 eggs
1 lb (450g) self-raising flour
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if it tends to 'curdle'. Stir in the flour and divide into four portions, then complete using two portions to make one of the following sandwich cakes, and one portion for each of the other two cakes. Or use some or all to make 48 cup cakes.
To freeze: pack un-iced cakes into polybags or rigid containers, seal, lable and freeze. Open-freeze iced cakes, then when solid pack into rigid containers or polybags, seal and label. Use within 3 months.
To use: remove from wrappings and thaw large cakes at room temperature for 4 hours.
Thaw small cakes at room temperature for 1 hour.

lemon sandwich cake:
spoon two portions into 2 x 8" (20cm) greased and floured sandwich tins. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 35 mins. Cool on cake airer and when cold sandwich together with 6 tblsp lemon curd and 5 fl.oz (150ml) whipped double cream. Dust with icing sugar.

coffee and brandy sandwich cake:
into each of two portions of basic cake mix stir 1 tsp instant coffee that has been dissolved in 2 tsp water. Bake as for lemon sandwich cake. When cold, sandwich together and ice the top with brandy butter (6 oz/150g butter creamed with same amount of sieved icing sugar, plus 1 - 2 tblsp brandy - or other chosen spirit/liqueur)

chocolate fruit loaf:
into one portion basic cake mix, stir in 2 oz (50g) sultanas, 1 oz (25g) chopped mixed nuts, and 1 oz (25g) dark chocolate, chopped or grated. Bake in a greased and floured 1 lb (450g) loaf tin at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 1 hour. Leave in tin for five minutes then cool on a cake airer.

chocorange marble ring:
take one portion of the mix and divide this into two. To one half stir in 1 oz (25g) melted chocolate. To the second half stir in 1 tsp grated orange zest and one tblsp orange juice*. Grease a 1 pint (650ml) ring mould and alternately spoon in dollops of the chocolate and orange mixtures. Swirl with a knife to give a marbled effect and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 45 minutes. Turn out onto cake airer. When cold ice with smooth or peaked fudge icing.
* Note, a stronger orange flavour is gained if the juice of an orange is simmered down to the amount required, then left to cool before using, or use a few drops of orange essence blended with water to make up to 1 tblsp.

Cup Cakes:
use the basic cake mixture to make 48 cup cakes, varying the flavours as suggested. Spoon into paper cases and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 minutes.

chocolate cups:
to two portions (that's half) of the basic mixture, stir in 4 oz (100g) melted chocolate. Spoon into 24 paper cases and bake as above.

butterfly cakes:
using the basic mixture (or part) bake plain cup cakes, then when cold, remove a small slice from the top. Cut the slice in half. Pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of the cake and into this wedge the cut pieces to resemble butterfly wings.

coconut cakes:
make plain cup cakes using the basic mixture, then when cool, brush each with warmed apricot jam and roll in desiccated coconut.

fudge cups:
make plain cup cakes, and when cold, remove the centre using a teaspoon to make a hollow. Fill cavity with the beaten fudge icing (see above), and finish with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Man-wiches and Saucy Bits

Time-saving is high on the list of the workers of the world, and buy-rather-than-make seems to make the most sense, especially when it comes to a working lunch.
Several years ago I checked out the packs of sandwiches on sale, took several home and then set about making almost identical ones (only mine contained more chicken etc) and working out the cost. In every case there was at least £1 saving with each pack (one round cut into two triangles) and this included the triangular plastic pack which could be bought at that time. Sandwiches would now cost more as the price of bread has risen, and presumably also the fillings.
So often we never look at the wider picture, and -when it comes to the cost of making our own sarnies - over a working life of 20 years we can expect the savings we can make to be anything from £20,000 to £40,000. Now that is a HECK of a lot of money. On retirement this could pay for a round the world cruise. And a conservatory to return to. All for 'free' if you are prepared to stay the course and keep up the good work.

But when not organised, sandwiches take time to make, and so often it does seem easier to go out and buy them at lunchtime. With this in mind today am giving a selection of sandwiches that will freeze for up to 2 months, be far cheaper than those bought, and also takes only a short time to make enough to last for several days if not weeks.
The suggestions given are for man-sized sarnies, not large, but well-stacked (with a good sarnie the filling should always be twice the thickness of a thin slice of bread). Best to use day-old bread, and the cheaper bread often works well when freezing sarnies.

Spread each slice with softened butter, and make sure it is spread right to the edges. Take one slice, butter side up, top with chosen filling, season to taste, top with another slice (butter side down), then stack and wrap in foil or cling film. Remember to label. When removed from the freezer before leaving for work, at normal temperatures they should be thawed and ready to eat at lunch-time. If working outdoors and the weather is very cold, start off the thawing by leaving in the fridge overnight.

freezable fillings:
blue cheese and walnut:
blend 4 oz (100g) blue cheese with 1 oz (25g) each butter and chopped walnuts.

liver sausage and gherkins:
stir 2 cocktail (or 1 large) chopped gherkin into 4 oz (100g) mashed liver sausage.

cream cheese and prawns:
stir 2 oz (50g) cooked prawns into 4 oz (100g) cream cheese.

beef and horseradish:
slices of roast beef spread with horseradish sauce.

ham with mustard:
slices of cooked ham spread with Dijon, whole-grain, or English mustard.

cream cheese and olives:
slice 1 oz (25g) stuffed olives and mix into 4 oz (100g) cream cheese

sardine and capers:
stir 1 tsp capers into a can of drained and mashed sardines.

scrambled egg and mushroom:
stir 2 oz (50g) raw chopped mushrooms into 4 scrambled eggs.

smoked salmon and cream cheese:
stir 2 oz (50g) chopped smoked salmon in to 4 oz (100g cream cheese) season with black pepper.

egg mayonnaise:
chop 3 hardboiled eggs very finely and mix with 1 - 2 tblsp mayonnaise and a dash of paprika, or a couple of pieces of chopped sundried tomato.

coronation chicken:
mix 4 oz (100g) shredded cooked chicken flesh with 1 oz (25g) sultanas, and bind together with 1 tsp of mild curry paste and 1 tsp mayonnaise.

turkey and tuna:
blitz contents of a well drained can of tuna with 2 tblsp mayonnaise, and mix with at least 4 oz (100g) finely chopped or shredded cooked turkey.

There are many other fillings for sarnies that will freeze - pate for instance, also cheese and pickle (processed cheese freezes better than the hard cheese). Avoid fillings that do not thaw successfully - the foods that contain a lot of water such as tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce etc. These can be packed separately in a box and kept in the fridge overnight ready to take with the sarnies.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Variations on a Theme

Today's recipes are showing different ways of making something that we might expect to serve not just at Christmas meal, but quite often at other times of the year. An added bonus is that some can be prepared one or more days in advance.

Whether needed or not, in the Goode kitchen both roast potatoes and mashed potatoes are served with the turkey. B dislikes mash, but he does like this next recipe. I particularly like it as it can be prepared the day before, then cooked on the day, so is ideal to accompany the roast spuds, and being a bit more 'upmarket' than ordinary mash, good to serve when entertaining, so can be served at any time of the year. Increase the amount according to how many portions you wish to serve.

Good potatoes for both roasting and the following dish are Maris Piper or Desiree.
Dauphinoise Potatoes: serves 4
1 lb (500g) potatoes
12 fl oz (350ml) milk
1 x 284ml tub double cream
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
sprig fresh thyme
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) Gruyere cheese, grated
Peel the potatoes and slice fairly thinly (no larger than thickness of a pound coin).
Put the milk and cream into a pan and heat to the simmer, then add the garlic and herbs, adding seasoning to taste. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Put the sliced potatoes in another pan and strain the creamy milk over, discarding the garlic and herbs, then simmer for 7 - 8 minutes until the slices are just beginning to soften, but still hold their shape.
Using a slotted spoon, layer potatoes to a shallow, ovenproof dish, sprinkling in 2/3rds of the cheese between the layers, then pour the creamy milk over the potatoes and scatter the remaining cheese on the top. Cool, cover and chill in the fridge until needed, then cook at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 15 - 20 minutes until bubbling and golden. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.

For years we have eaten stuffing either made into balls, or from a stuffed turkey, or maybe served in one dish with a little butter on the surface to give a crispy top, and perhaps because of tradition we have never considered making it in any other way.
This next recipe has all the flavour of a stuffing, but the texture of a 'crumble', and this then leads me to considering using it as a topping for a savoury pie instead of using pastry. Certainly a different way to give the Christmas flavour to the bird of your choice.
Herb and Onion Stuffing: serves 8
7 oz (200g) fresh white bread crumbs
5 oz (125g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large sprig each rosemary and thyme
6 fresh sage leaves
grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 oz (50g) flaked almonds, chopped
salt and pepper
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and gently saute the onions for a bout 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and fry a further minute.
Remove leaves from rosemary and thyme and finely chop these with the sage, then add to the pan, frying for a minute to release the flavours, then add the breadcrumbs, stirring until all the butter has been absorbed. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and almonds, adding seasoning to taste, then stir-fry over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the crumbs are browned and crisp. Mix in the fresh parsley and serve in a heated bowl.

Whether for the above recipe, or other uses (bread sauce, burgers etc) a bag of fresh breadcrumbs should always be kept in the freezer, then half the job is done, and also a good way to use up the ends of bread that is just turning stale (stale crumbs soak up more moisture than very fresh ones).
Here is a very traditional recipe with very few ingredients (one being breadcrumbs) that grown men plead for. How is it that something so simple can be so pleasing?
Treacle Tart: serves 4
8 oz (225g) shortcrust pastry
4 oz (100g) soft white breadcrumbs
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
4 tlsp golden syrup
Roll out the pastry and use to line an 8" (20cm) well greased, shallow cake tin. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour into the pastry case.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 25 minutes. Serve with custard.

This next recipe has a double use. It can either be used on a biscuit base to make a type of cheesecake, or eaten as an alternative to the brandy or rum butters we make at Christmas. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days after making.
Boozy Cheesecake Cream: serves 6
4 oz (100g) full-fat soft cheese
1 tblsp caster sugar
4 oz (100g) orange marmalade
2 tsp rum or brandy
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream
Using an electric whisk, beat the soft cheese and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved, then beat in the marmalade. In a separate bowl lightly whip the cream with the chosen spirit. then fold gently into the cheese mixture. Spoon into a serving bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or (covered) for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have a Hearty Party

Garlic bread often finds its way onto a buffet table, and this is a savoury version. The more commonly used French stick will flake on thawing, so if wishing to freeze, use the softer baguettes or bloomers.
Hot and Savoury Slices: allow two slices per person
spicy tomato:
1 loaf (as chosen)
2 level tblsp chilli and tomato relish
3 oz (75g) butter, softened
herby topping:
1 loaf (as chosen)
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tsp lemon juice
2 level tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 level tsp chopped fresh sage
2 level tsp chopped fresh dill
ground black pepper
3 oz (75g) butter, softened
For both loaves, choose the topping, the blend together the ingredients. Make 12 cuts in each loaf, slicing almost through to base. Spread savoury butter on each slice, pushing the loaf back into shape, and wrap in foil so the join is at the top.*
To serve now, bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 25 minutes, then open up the foil to allow the crust to brown, and bake for 5 - 10 minutes more.
To freeze: Prepare the bread up to *, and wrap the preformed and unbaked loaf in foil as given. Freeze and use within 3 months.
To Serve from frozen: bake as "to serve now" allowing 10 minutes extra.

This next is a rice salad that eats really well with cold meats, especially turkey. It freezes well, but add the cheese and apple after thawing. This could be packed into individual containers to take for a packed lunch.
All Good Things Rice Salad: serves 8 - 10
8 oz (225g) brown rice, cooked
4 oz (100g) frozen peas, cooked
4 oz (100g) sweetcorn kernels (cooked if frozen)
1 small onion, finely chopped (opt)
4 oz (100g) chopped walnuts
4 oz (100g) raisins or sultana
4 level tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp creamed horseradish
salt and pepper
to finish:
4 oz (100g) chosen hard cheese, cubed
2 red eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
Put rice, vegetables, nuts and raisins in a large bowl. Blend the mayo with the horseradish cream and add seasoning to taste. Stir this into the rice mixture.*
To serve now, add cheese and apple to the rice salad, and chill.
To Freeze: prepare up to * and bag up or put into a rigid container. Seal and label and use within 3 months.
To Serve from Freezer: Thaw for 3 - 4 hours in the fridge. Complete as from "to serve now".

Quiches are always a party favourite, so here are two fillings, each enough to fill an 11"(25.5cm) flan case with each serve 10 - 12 people. The pastry cases are always best first baked blind, to prevent the base crust going soggy. Then add the chosen filling and bake on. Gruyere is used in the first filling as this melts easily, otherwise choose a firmer, but grated cheese.

Traditionally a quiche is made in a round tin, the party size being 11" in diameter (25.5cm), and with something that large, always best to cut through the centre once cooked (using a scone cutter), this then gives an extra portion, and slices cut round this then are wedge shaped, so no pointed tip to break off - as they do. Alternatively, bake the quiches in an oblong shallow roasting tin, and cut the portions into fingers or squares.
Cheese and Asparagus filling: (F) as a quiche
1 x 350g can asparagus, drained and cut into 1" lengths
5 oz (125g) Gruyere cheese, cubed
3 eggs, beaten
half pint (300ml) milk
salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together until well blended, adding seasoning to taste. Pour into prepared flan case and bake for 40 - 50 minutes at 2ooC, 400F, gas 6 until firm and golden.

Cream Cheese and Spinach filling: (F) as a quiche
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 x 227g (8oz) pack frozen chopped spinach
8 oz (225g) cream cheese
3 eggs, beaten
half pint (300ml) milk
salt and pepper
grating of nutmeg
1 oz (25g) Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion for 1 minutes, then add the spinach and cook until thawed and heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese, a little at a time, until well blended. Remove from heat and beat in the eggs, milk, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Pour into a prepared flan case and sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese. Cook as for previous recipe.
To serve now (preferably still warm), cut into slices and arrange on a plate.
To freeze: open freeze until solid, then wrap in clear film and overwrap in foil. Seal and label and use within 3 months/
To serve from freezer: unwrap and thaw for 4 hours at room temperature. Then from "to serve now".

This next is a cold dip, but sitting round a bonfire with a jacket potato aching to be filled, why not add a dollop of this in the centre of your spud or provide a big bowl of tortilla chips and breadsticks to dip into it as you watch the pretty fireworks. Omit the curry paste if you want a milder version, or why not make a dish of each? Any hard cheese could be used, so a good way to use up the odds and ends.
Spicy Corn Dip: serves 8 - 10
10 oz (275g) Cheddar cheese, grated
3 fl oz (75ml) creme fraiche (or sour cream)
3 fl oz (75ml) mayonnaise
1 shallot, finely chopped (opt)
2 tsp mild curry paste (opt)
pinch salt
1 x 350g (12oz) can sweetcorn kernels, drained
Put everything into a bowl and mix well together. Chill for 1 - 2 hours before serving.
To freeze: put into rigid container after mixing, cover, seal and label. Use within 2 months.
To serve from frozen: thaw 4 hours at room temperature, then beat with a fork. Serve as suggested.

Although the above is used as a cold and quick filling for the hot potatoes, here are a few more suggestions, with the filling mixed with the hot potato flesh to be piled back into the shells to be finished off in the oven. They can be prepared a short time in advance of the final cooking (and also frozen after stuffing. Each filling will be enough to stuff 4 potatoes.
Mexicana filling: (F after stuffing the spuds)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
4 oz (100g) minced steak
3 tblsp tomato and chilli relish
2 oz (50g) grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Fry onion in the hot oil until just beginning to brown. Stir in the minced steak and cook over high heat for 2 minutes until also browned. Stir in the relish and seasoning. Mix with cooked potato flesh and spoon back into the shells. Bake as given below.

Tuna filling: (F after stuffing the spuds)
3 tblsp hot milk
salt and pepper
1 x 218g (7.5 oz) canned tuna, drained and flaked
2 level tlsp chopped fresh parsley
Add hot milk to the potato flesh and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in seasoning to taste, and finally the flaked tuna and parsley. Spoon into potato shells. Bake on as given below.

Cheese 'n Chive filling: (F after stuffing)
1 small pack cream cheese and chives
salt and pepper
Mash the herby cream cheese with potato flesh and season to taste. Spoon into prepared shells and bake on (see below).

to bake/serve/freeze filled potatoes:
place stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 25-30 minutes until heated through and browned. Serve immediately, with a salad such as coleslaw.
To freeze: cool completely after stuffing (but before baking), open-freeze until solid, and bag, seal and label. Use within 2 months.
To serve from freezer: thaw 4 hours at room temperature, unwrap and and complete as "to bake/serve....".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Loafing Around

No brandy or rum is included with this recipe, but you could add a spoonful if you wish at the 'maturing' stage, and before freezing.
Freezer Mincemeat: makes 2.75lb (125kg) (F)
8 oz (225g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chipped
3 fl.oz (75ml) dry cider
1 1/2 lbs (675g) mixed dried fruit
3 oz (75g) shredded suet
1/2 tsp mixed spice
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
8 oz (225g) soft brown sugar
Cook the prepared apples in the cider until soft, then mash to a pulp. Set aside to cool.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a bowl and mix well together, then stir in the cold apple. Pack into freezer boxes or bags and leave in the fridge to 'mature' (allowing the fruit to soak up the juices) for 3 - 4 days, then use to make mince pies and tarts or freeze.
To freeze: seal bags, label and use within 3 months.
To serve: thaw at room temperature 3 - 4 hours, then use as above. After being removed from the freezer, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Now for a savoury loaf for those meat-eaters who wish to cut down their intake. Not strictly vegetarian as a ham-stock cube is used, but 'veggies' could use an alternative stock, maybe one made with Marmite.
Lentil Loaf: serves 6 - 8
8 oz (225g) split red lentils, washed
15 fl oz (425ml) ham stock (made from a cube)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 tblsp sunflower oil
2 eggs
4 oz (100g) nuts, finely ground
1 tblsp wheat bran
1 tblsp tomato puree
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
pinch each salt and pepper
(1 oz/25g Cheddar cheese, grated)
Simmer lentils in the stock until tender and all liquid absorbed.
Gently fry the prepared vegetables in the oil until soft, but do not let them get brown.
Beat remaining ingredients (except the cheese) into the lentils, then fold in the fried vegetables.
Put mixture into a greased 2 lb (900g) loaf tin, and top with the grated cheese. Bake for 50 minutes (or until firm) at 180C, 350F, gas 4.
Serve hot with tomato sauce and jacket potatoes, or cold with salad.
To Freeze: cool in tin, turn out and wrap in foil, seal and use within one month.
To serve from Freezer: if eating cold thaw in wrappings for 4 - 6 hours at room temperature.
Or replace in tin and reheat at 200C etc for 30 - 40 mins or until hot.

Some supermarket breads are now being sold remarkably cheaply. B brought in a loaf the other day, "was 79p, now 37p". Not the best of bread, but certainly not the worst. Bread such as this is very good for making croutons or Melba Toast - the crispy, curled slices of bread served with soup or pate in the top restaurants. To make this remove the crusts from thin slices of white bread, then toast on both sides, split through the middle to make even thinner slices then toast the cut side. If this is bit fiddly, then cut a stale (whole) loaf into very thin slices and dry these off on a tray on the bottom of a turned-out oven until golden and crisp.
Crush any left-over toast to crumbs to make a coating for foods that will be fried, or mix with grated cheese to sprinkle on gratin dishes to make a crisp topping.

Here is a version of Queen's Pudding that makes the most of the cheaper bread, and don't forget there are many versions of the Bread and Butter Pudding that can also be made.
Pomme-Pomme Pudding: serves 4 -5
1 oz (25g) butter
15 fl oz (425ml) milk
3 oz (75g) fresh white breadcrumbs
4 oz (100g) granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 lb (450g) cooking apples, peeled, cored, chopped
2 tblsp water
3 - 4 tblsp blackberry jam or jelly
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
Put the butter in a pan with the milk and heat gently until the butter has melted and the milk ALMOST at boiling point. Remove from heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
Beat 1 oz (25g) of the sugar and the 2 egg yolks into the soaked breadcrumbs and pour this into a lightly buttered 2 pt ( 1.1ltr) shallow baking dish. Bake at 160C, 325F, gas 3 for half an hour until set. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, cook the apples in the water in a covered pan until very soft, then beat to a puree. Stir in the jam/jelly and when melted pour this over the cooled base.
Whisk egg whites until stiff, then whisk in half the remaining sugar, folding in the other half. Spoon this over the top of the apples in the dish, and and bake at the same temperature as above for 15 - 20 minutes or until the topping is golden and crisp. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's a Small World

Here are a three potato based dishes, the first is for an unusual 'fritter' making the most of the seasonal root vegetables.
Down to Earth Fritters: makes 16
1 lb (450g) potatoes, grated
2 medium carrots, grated
1 parsnip, peeled and grated
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp oil
After grating the potatoes, put them in the centre of a clean tea towel, fold and twist ends to wring out as much liquid as you can, then mix the potatoes with the grated carrot and parsnip. Season well, then stir in the eggs.
Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan, and place tablespoons of the mixture in the pan, about 8 at a time.
Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until crisp and brown. Serve hot with grilled meats, fish, salads, or even with sausage, bacon and tomato as a breakfast 'hash brown'.

Sliced 'n Spiced Spuds: serves 6
2 tblsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (more if you wish)
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tblsp sesame seeds
2 lb (900g) large potatoes, cut into 1/4" (5mm) slices
salt and pepper
half tsp cayenne pepper
chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Parboil the sliced potato for 4 minutes, then drain well. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add cumin, mustard and sesame seeds, stirring over high heat until the seeds begin to 'pop'.
Add potato slices, gently moving the slices around and turning until they are crisp and brown on both sides. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Serve on a heated plate, garnishing with the parsley. Serve with grilled meats, chicken etc.

Potato HotPot: serves 4
2 lb (900g) potatoes cut in 1/2" (1cm) slices
4 - 6 rashers rindless bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
sunflower oil
cheese sauce:
15 fl oz (425ml) milk
1 oz (25g) margarine
1 oz (25g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
3 tblsp breadcrumbs
1 oz (25g) grated hard cheese
Boil the potatoes until just tender. Fry bacon and onion in a little oil for 2 minutes, then set aside.
Make the sauce by whisking together the milk, flour, and margarine over a low heat until combined, then continue stirring and heating until thickened and smooth, then stir in the mustard, sauce, herbs and seasoning, preferably adding the cheese at the end (although it can go in at the start if you wish). Cook for one minute.
Starting with potato, place alternate layers of potato, bacon mixture, and sauce in a casserole dish, finishing with a layer of sauce.
Mix the topping ingredients together, and spoon over the top and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour, or until piping hot throughout. Serve with a green salad.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Starts Here

Another set of recipes today - this time meringue. When we save egg whites (look on these as 'free') all we need is 2 oz (50g) caster sugar per egg white. Whip the white until peaked, then whisk in the sugar then spoon out dollops on a baking parchment lined tray and put in a hot oven immediately the heat has been turned off. If left overnight (or at least 8 hours) they should be bone dry the following morning and can then be stored in airtight containers. This 'drying' method rather than cooking, keep the meringues white, when cooked then tend to have a golden colour. I have just finished using the last of meringues made nearly two years ago.

Today's recipe is slightly more complicated in that the meringue is for a 'Pavlova' which is crispy on the outside but more like marshmallow in the centre, so will not store for any length of time in a tin, but will certainly freezel. Do not use the 'drying out' method, just follow the recipe. Do keep in mind that the whites used should come from medium eggs, if using larger eggs, there will be more volume of white so the sugar should be increased slightly. If you have no wine vinegar, then use the clear distilled vinegar, not the brown malt.
Again this is a basic recipe, but variations are also given, plus a variety of toppings. The cream filling can be frozen, but topping should be put on while the Pavlova is thawing.

Pavlova Meringue: serves 4 - 6 (F)
3 egg whites
6 oz (150g) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and on this draw a 7" (18cm) circle.
Whisk egg whites in a large grease-free bowl, and when stiff and peaked, add half the sugar, whisking it in until glossy (do not overbeat or the meringue will turn runny).
Mix together the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence to a smooth paste, and - using a metal spoon - fold this into the meringue with the rest of the sugar. NOTE this is called the 'folding in stage'.
Spoon meringue onto the centre of the circle and use a knife to spread out to fill the circle, but keeping it fairly rough on top. If you wish you can push more meringue to the sides to form a shallow case.
Cook at 140C, 275F, gas 1 for one hour, or until paper can be easily peeled away. Cool on a cake airer, removing paper when completely cold. The meringue will be fragile, and if breaks, when topped with cream, will hold together. It will break when cut anyway.
Spoon 5 fl oz (150ml) whipped double cream over the top of the Pavlova, then cover with chosen fresh fruits or berries. Serve at once.
To Freeze: open freeze cream-filled Pavlova (or just the Pavlova meringue) then pack carefully in a container, seal and use within 3 months.
To serve from Frozen: thaw cream filled Pavlova for 1 hour at room temperature before adding fruit. Top unfilled Pavlova with cream while till frozen, adding fruit, and continue to thaw at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

alternative Pavlova meringue:
Almond: Omit vanilla, and use a few drops of almond essence. Fold 2 oz (50g) ground almonds into the meringue mixture at the 'folding in stage'
Walnut: scatter 2 oz (50g) chopped walnuts, and 2 tsp demerara sugar over Pavlova before cooking.
Choc Chip: fold 2 oz (50g) chocolate chips into meringue at the folding in stage.
Orange: fold in grated zest of 1 large orange at folding in stage.
Rose: omit vanilla and add 1 tsp rose essence or rose water.

suggested toppings:
Banana: mash 1 ripe banana with 1 tblsp lemon juice, fold this into the whipped cream. Fill Pavlova with this after removing from the freezer, and top with sliced bananas, brushed with lemon juice.
Kiwi and Orange: As the cream filled Pavlova is thawing, arrange slices of Kiwi fruit and orange segments over the cream.
Raspberry: fold 8 oz (225g) raspberries into half a pint (300ml) Greek yogurt. Spoon into unfilled Pavlova. This goes extremely well with the rose flavoured meringue (very Posh Nosh). Do not freeze the Pavlova with the yogurt filling.

All type of fruit can cover the cream topped Pavlova, use fruits in season, or canned drained fruits. Even fill or top with scoops of ice-cream or sorbet, with or without fruit/cream.
Plan to make Pavlova when you have saved egg whites, this then means you will then be able to serve an impressive dessert for relatively low cost.
If you wish, make smaller - individual - Pavlovas, rather like the meringue 'nests' that we can buy. Each frozen and then brought out will thaw in about half an hour and can be filled a fruit yogurt and topped with seasonal fruits. A speedy dessert when time is short.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Shape of Things to Come

It is not often I find a recipe that makes it so easy to make loads of other things, but have discovered one first published some 30 years ago and used often to keep our teenagers happy. Luckily I wrote down the recipes, so hope you will love these as much as I did. Using the same Basic Mix - with a few more ingredients - this can be turned into cakes, buns, traybakes, biscuits, cookies, pies... with hardly any effort. Especially when the Basic Mix is made in bulk and stored in the freezer ready to use.

Lard and hard margarine, together with plain flour, make up the Mix. Unusual 'fats' to use when we think of cakes, but they do work and preferably do not substitute other fats for the 'goodies' may not turn out as they should. These fats are used for a reason. In any case hard marg and lard are much cheaper than butter. Own-brand flour can also be bought cheaply.

Ten different recipes are given, each using one or more 'bags' of the Basic Mix, so once the Mix has been made, divide it up into 12 x 12.5oz (340g) bags before storing/freezing and you have enough to make every recipe given. Make half the amount if you wish, for even this will allow for a good variety of baking. Using the full amount and the recipes below expect to get at least 124 portions which is pretty good considering the other ingredients mainly come from the store-cupboard and not expensive anyway.

Several of the recipes are very, VERY easy to make as the ingredients given are just mixed together in one go, and then baked. Apart from one oven temperature set at 200C, the rest of the baking is done at either 190c, or 180C, so when the oven is on, why not bake up another of the recipes at the same time. Once you have made your Mix, you will be dying to start cooking, and with Halloween peering over the horizon, maybe a batch or two of chocolate cookies, or Harvest Buns might be worth making for those Trick or Treaters. Get the Basic Mix in the freezer, then you are halfway there.

Basic Mix: makes 12 x 12.5oz (340g) quantities (F)
6 lbs plain flour (2.7kg)
1 1/2 lb (675g) of hard margarine and same of lard
Sift flour into large bowl and cube the fats. Rub fats into flour until like fine breadcrumbs (this could be done in small amounts using a food processor).
Divide into 12, and bag up, either using some to make up a following recipe or three the same day, freezing the rest, or freeze the lot and do the baking later.
To freeze: bag up in individual quantities (as given above) seal, label and use within 3 months.
Before using, stand at room temperature for 20 - 30 minutes, then use for the chosen recipe.

Apricot Tear 'n Share Buns: makes 10
1 quantity of Basic Mix
1 egg
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) no-soak dried apricots, chopped
2 - 3 glace cherries (pref green) chopped
OR 1 oz 25g) candied peel OR angelica, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) demerara sugar
1 tblsp apricot jam, warmed (use as glaze)
Mix the egg and sugar into the Basic Mix and knead to a soft dough. Roll out onto a floured board to an 8" x 12" (20 x 30cm) rectangle. Mix filling ingredients together (omitting the jam) and sprinkle this over the dough. Roll up from the long side, and cut into 12 slices. Place one in the centre of a greased 7" (18cm) round tin, and fit the remaining slices around this so the tin is full.
Bake at 190C, 375F, Gas 5 for 25 mins. Remove from oven, brush over the warmed jam to glaze, and cool on a cake airer.

Drizzled Ginger Cake: makes 9 portions
1 quantity Basic Mix
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3 tblsp golden syrup
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 oz (50g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tblsp finely chopped stem ginger
ginger syrup, to mix
Beat Basic Mix with the remaining ingredients (but not icing ingredients), and when smooth spoon into a greased base-lined 7" (18cm) square tin. Level the surface. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cake airer.
Make icing, by beating the ginger syrup into the icing sugar and when smooth drizzle this over the cake, sprinkling the chopped ginger on the top before the icing sets. When set, cut into 9 squares.

Coconut and Cherry Cake: cuts into 8 wedges
1 quantity Basic Mix
4 oz (100g) glace cherries, chopped
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tblsp milk
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
Beat all ingredients together until smooth, then spoon into a deep 7" (18cm) round greased and floured cake tin. Level surface and bake at 180C, etc for 35 - 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (a cake tester will change colour). Cool in the tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a cake airer to cool. Slice into wedges to serve.

Citrus Fruit 'Pie': makes up to 8 slices
1 quantity of Basic Mix
cold water
1 orange, peeled and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
2 oz (50g) sultanas
2 oz (50g) chopped dates
2 oz (50g) demerara sugar
beaten egg to glaze
Add enough cold water to Basic Mix to make a smooth pastry dough. Chill for half an hour.
Mix filling ingredients together (omitting the egg). Then roll out pastry to a 14" x 12" (36 x 30cm) rectangle. Trim edges and cut in half lengthways.
Place one half on a greased baking sheet, spoon the filling on top, leaving a half inch border, and dampen this border with water.
Fold remaining pastry in half lengthways (prevent it sticking together either sprinkle with flour before folding, or place a piece of greaseproof paper between the fold), and make diagonal cuts along the folded side to within half an inch of the edges. Open out, removing paper (if using) and place over the filling. Press edges together to seal, 'knocking up' edges to make them crispier. Glaze with beaten egg.
Bake at 190F, etc for 25 mins or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before cooling on a cake airer. Serve sliced, and eats well hot or cold.

Banana Bread: makes a 2 lb (900g) loaf
2 quantities Basic Mix
4 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) chopped walnuts
6 oz (150g) soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp grated nutmeg
Reserve 1 oz (25g) of chopped walnuts, then beat the rest of the ingredients together. When smooth, spoon into a greased and base-lined 2 lb (900g) loaf tin and sprinkle over the reserved nuts.
Bake at 180C, etc for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in tin before turning out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold, spread with butter.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: makes 16
1 quantity Basic Mix
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
4 oz (100g) chocolate chips
Beat all ingredients together, placing tablespoons of the mixture onto greased baking sheets, leaving room to spread. Lightly flatten into 3" rounds using a wet knife.
Bake at 190C etc for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool on the tin for 7 minutes then transfer to a cake airer until cold.

Plum Crumble Cake: makes up to 12 helpings
2 quantities Basic Mix
8 oz (225g) demerara sugar
6 oz (150g) cream cheese (Philly type)
10 oz (275g) plums, stoned and chopped
2 oz (50g) chopped almonds (or other chosen nuts)
Add the sugar to the Basic Mix. Take half and press this into the base of an 8" (20cm) springform tin. Bake at 190C etc for 10 mins, then leave to cool 15 minutes.
Spread cheese over the cooked base, then top this with the plums and nuts. Sprinkle remaining mix over the top, returning to oven and bake for a further 35 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cake airer. Serve sliced, hot or cold, with cream or custard.

Bakewell Traybake: serves 6
1 quantity Basic Mix
cold water
2 tblsp jam
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg
2 tblsp milk
few drops almond essence
2 oz (50g) marzipan to decorate
Take HALF the Basic Mix and mix with cold water to form a smooth pastry dough. Chill for half an hour before rolling out to line a 7" (18cm) square tin. Spread jam over the base.
Make the filling by beating the remaining half of Mix with the rest of the ingredients (except marzipan) and when smooth, spoon over the jam.
Roll out marzipan thinly, and cut into strips, arranging it lattice fashion on top of the filling as a decoration.
Bake at 190C etc for 25 minutes until risen and golden. Serve sliced, hot or cold, with custard or cream.

Candied Fork Biscuits: makes 16
1 quantity Basic Mix
3 oz (75g) chopped candied peel
1 tblsp milk
1 egg
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
beaten egg to glaze
Beat all ingredients (except egg) together, and knead lightly. Form into 16 balls, and place these, well spaced apart, on greased baking sheets (you will need more than 1 sheet). Flatten tops lightly with a fork, and glaze with egg.
Bake at 190C for 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave on the tray/s to cool for 7 minutes before transferring to a cake airer. Can be eaten while still warm or left to get cold.

Harvest Buns: makes 18
1 quantity of Basic Mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
2 egg
4 tblsp milk
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 oz (50g) demerara sugar
Beat the Basic mix with the cinnamon, baking powder, egg, milk and sugar until smooth.
Divide mixture between two greased bun trays, placing slices of apple on top and sprinkling over the demerara sugar.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 - 25 mins until risen and golden. Cool in tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a cake airer to cool completely.

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.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Quick 'Wave...

Although I rarely use the microwave other than for thawing, cooking a jacket potato, heating a jelly in a little water, and re-heating a home-cooked ready meal, the microwave oven can be a very useful piece of kitchen equipment, so today am giving a few hints and tips showing how the microwave can be used in many ways to speed up things for us, other than actual cooking. Timings shown are based on a 650 watt microwave oven.

1) Speed-prove bread dough by placing 1.5 lb (675g) in an oiled polybag. Microwave on Simmer (10%) for 4 mins, or or Defrost (30%) for 1 - 1.25 mins. Stand until doubled in size, then knead, shape and place in microproof loaf tin, cover and microwave again as above. For a crusty loaf, place in a tin after the first proving, and cook in a conventional oven.

2) Fats and sugars attract microwaves and burn easily, so when reheating foods high in these ingredients use a Medium Setting (70%) for less time. Stand 5 minutes to cool, so no risk of burnt mouths.

3) To toast/brown nuts, place 1 oz (25g) shelled nuts in a shallow dish. Cook on High (100%) for 4 - 4.5 mins, stirring once. Stand 5 minutes.

4) To keep microwaved food hot during standing time, cover with foil, shiny side down, as this reflects the heat back into the food.

5) For an almost instant chocolate sauce, microwave a Mars Bar on Medium High (70%) for half to 1.25 mins and pour over ice-cream while still hot.

6) Always keep a cup of water inside the microwave when not using, as this prevents damage to the components if accidentally switched on.

7) When drying herbs or citrus peel in the microwave (place on kitchen paper and microwave on High for approx 3.5 mins) always put a small cup or glass jar full of water in the oven for the above reason.

8) Speed up soaking time for dried fruit by putting 8 oz (225g) into a microproof bowl, covering with water and cooking on High (100%) for 5 mins. Stand for 5 minutes, then cool.

(9) Get more juice from citrus fruits by warming in the m.oven before squeezing. For one fruit, m.wave on High for 15 - 30 seconds. No longer or the fruit may explode.

(10) Toast desiccated coconut by spreading on a microwaveable plate and cook on High for 4 mins, stirring after every minute.

(11) Soften chilled and hard butter by removing any foil wrappers and for 9 oz (250g) cook on Defrost (30%) for 40 - 60 secs. For half that weight 30 - 45 secs.

(12) To blanch 1 lb (450g) vegetables prior to freezing: place prepared veggies in a large dish or boiling bag with NO water or salt added. Cover and cook on High (see timings following) stirring once, then cool rapidly by placing in a colander under running cold water. Drain, dry and open-freeze.
Allow 2 minutes for cauliflower florets, sliced courgettes, broccoli.
Allow 3 minutes for asparagus, sprouts, chopped cabbage, sweetcorn kernels, broad beans.
Allow 4 minutes for chopped celery, sliced runner beans.

(13) To dry bread when needing crumbs, microwave a slice on High for 1.5 - 2 mins, then leave to cool. This can then be crushed into crumbs.

(14) 'Fry' poppadums by lightly brushing them with oil, then placing 4 at a time on kitchen paper, placed on the microwave plate, arranging in a circle. Microwave on High for 45 - 60 secs or until puffy. Stand 2 - 3 minutes to allow them to crisp up.

(15) If fishy smells linger in the microwave after cooking, then put in a cup containing equal quantities of vinegar and hot water. Leave to stand a while and this removes all smells. To clean the oven add half a lemon to a bowl of water and cook on High for five minutes. The steam given off loosens any stains on the oven walls. Just wipe over with a damp cloth.

Myself have found that frozen peas (a serving for two) put into a shallow plastic dish with no added water and microwaved on High for 4 minutes will both defrost and cook them. Stir half-way through.

Also find that putting fresh cauliflower florets in a bag or covered bowl will - without using any water - cook to tenderness in about 8 minutes. This method keeps in all the vitamins. No doubt other vegetables can be cooked in the same way.

When using a a flavoured jelly from a packet, my method is to break up into cubes, place in a glass jug, barely cover with water, then microwave on High for 2 minutes. This dissolves the jelly into the water. After stirring (and making sure all the jelly has dissolved - if not it can be reheated a few seconds longer), then cold water is added to make up to the pint. If wishing to have the jelly set in a short time, use iced water, or use some cold water and add ice cubes to make up the full amount. As ice cubes are stirred in, you feel the jelly beginning to set.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Have our Cake and Eat it Too.

This next dish could be called 'Posh Nosh', yet still made with mainly storecupboard ingredients, and a very good dish to make when we have spare (fresh) white breadcrumbs - although these could come from the freezer - and oddments of hard cheese that can be grated (also could come from the freezer). Spinach is used for the filling, but any dark green vegetable could be used, spring greens, spring cabbage, watercress...Am classing this as vegetarian as it contains no meat, although it does contain eggs, cheese and cream.
If using greaseproof paper instead of the baking parchment, then this needs oiling lightly before adding the mixture.
Fromage Roulade: serves 6 (V)
2 oz (50g) fresh white breadcrumbs
6 oz (150g) Cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, separated
5 fl oz (150ml) single cream
pinch each salt and cayenne pepper
2 tblsp warm water
10 oz (275g) spring greens
half oz (15g) butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg yolks, cream, warm water and seasoning together. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold these into the cheese mixture (this is easier if a tablespoon of beaten egg white is first folded into the cheese to slacken it, then fold in the remaining white).
Spread this mixture evenly over a lined 13" x 9" (32 x 23cm) shallow baking tin that has been lined with backing parchment 2" (5cm) larger all round than the tin. Snip corners and overlap paper so that it forms an upstanding rim around the tin. Secure corners with paperclips if needs be.
Bake in the centre of the oven at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 10 - 15 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from oven but leave the sponge in the tin, covering lightly with a damp tea-cloth. .
While the sponge is cooking, boil the spring greens (or wilt spinach if using) for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then roughly chop and set aside.
When the sponge is out of the oven and covered with a towel, immediately heat the butter in a pan and lightly fry the shallots, until softened, then stir in the garlic. Fry for a further minute, then add the chopped cooked greens to the pan and stir-fry for 3 minutes more until lightly crisp.
Still keeping the sponge covered, turn the tin over so the sponge then lies on the tea towel, peeling away the paper. Spread the filling over the top and roll up from a short end, Swiss Roll fashion. Serve hot with a spicy tomato sauce.

Final recipe today is back to the "have your cake and eat it too" for the intention with this is to eat half as a pudding, while still hot from the oven, leaving the rest to get cold (or then freeze) to be eaten as a cake. As ever, chosen because most of us have already the ingredients, all we need to buy is an orange. We may even have this in our fruit bowl.
Chocolate Orange Squares: makes 12 squares (F)
10 oz (275g) self-raising flour
12 oz (350g) caster sugar
8 oz (225g) soft margarine
4 eggs, beaten
170g can evaporated milk
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 oz (25g) cocoa powder
cake glaze: 4 tblsp orange marmalade and 1 tblsp cold water
Set aside the cocoa powder, orange zest and cake glaze ingredients, then mix the rest of the ingredients together beating with an electric whisk for a few minutes until smooth. Divide the mixture in half.
To one half of the mixture add the cocoa, to the other half add the orange zest, then put alternate spoonfuls of the mixture into a greased and lined 12" x 10" (30 x 25cm) roasting tin.
Smooth the top, then bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 35 - 40 mins or until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out.
Cut cake in half across the middle, then cut into 6 squares and serve hot as a pudding with chocolate sauce.
Bring the marmalade and water to the boil, stirring to blend, then brush this glaze over the remaining cake and cut into six squares. This will keep in an airtight container for 3 days. OR freeze after glazing and cooling. Overwrap or store in a polybox and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours.