Sunday, February 21, 2010

Less of One, More of t'Other

A well-known (and think French Michelin star) chef recently said on TV, "that canned asparagus is worth using as it has a lot more flavour than the fresh", and he uses this when making quiches etc. Myself used these successfully in the past, first removing the spear heads, then blitzing the stems with the eggs and milk/cream to make a well-flavoured quiche 'custard', finally arranging the spear heads on top of the quiche before baking (they sink slightly into the custard so do not burn).
The canned asparagus are also good as a filling for vol-au-vents. Mash the stems and mix into condensed asparagus soup, or if that is now not available, use creme fraiche and more asparagus to give flavour plus seasoning to taste. Use this as a filling for the pastry cases, topping each with the tiny piece from the top of the spear. Asparagus cuppa soup stirred dried into creme fraiche will thicken and give an asparagus flavour (similar to the condensed soup) to which the crushed stems can be added.

Nutritionists recommend 100g (just under 4 oz) of meat is an adequate portion for an adult, and also advise eating meat only a few times a week with a vegetarian meal on alternate days, and bearing this in mind, during the few years this blog has been written, have given many recipes where less than 1 lb of meat (to serve four) is used. Sometimes as little as 8 oz. There are other sources of animal protein - such as eggs, cheese, milk - and a cheese quiche uses all three.

Now the recipes designed to stretch meat that little bit further:
Winter Hot-Pot: serves 3 - 4
2 tsp sunflower or other oil
8 oz (225g) minced beef
1 beef stock cube
1 large onion, cut into wedges
6 oz (175g) carrot. roughly chopped
1 lb (450g) potatoes, cut into chunks
15 fl oz (425ml) hot water
200g (half a can) baked beans (use more if you wish)
dash of Worcestershire or HP sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Put the minced beef into a bowl with the oil and work together with the hands (this helps to prevent the beef sticking together in lumps when frying).
Put the meat into a large pan and fry the meat, quite rapidly, until browned all over. Crumble in the stock cube and mix well. Stir in the vegetables and add the hot water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the baked beans and add brown sauce to taste. Heat through, adding seasoning if necessary.
Serve hot, ladled into individual bowls.

Moroccan Lamb Pilau: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
12 oz (350g) minced lamb
9 oz (250g) long-grain rice (pref. basmati)
18 fl oz (500ml) hot water
1 lamb (or vegetable) tock cube
12 no-soak dried apricots (cut in half)
salt and pepper,
handful toasted flaked almonds
handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (opt)
Fry the onion in the oil over medium heat until softened, then stir in the cinnamon and fry for a minute longer. Raise the heat, add the lamb to the pan and fry until the meat has changed colour, then stir in the rice. Cook/stir for a further minute, then pour in the hot water, crumble in the stock cube, add the apricots and seasoning to taste, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the stock. Add nuts and mint (if using). Serve hot.

Chicken Pasta Bake: serves 4
12 oz (350g) pasta shapes (shells, penne etc)
8 oz (225g) broccoli, chopped into small pieces
2 tblsp olive oil
10 oz (350g) minced raw chicken
6 oz (175g) mushrooms, cut into quarters
4 tblsp tomato paste/puree
100g soft cream cheese (Philly type)
milk if necessary
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) grated cheddar cheee
2 oz (50g) flaked almonds
Put the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water, cook for 6 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook further until the pasta is 'al dente' (just tender with a bit of bite left in the centre)' Drain well, then return to the pan and set to one side.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a wide frying pan, then add the chicken and cook until just beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook/stir for one minute, then add the tomato paste, and the cream cheese. Simmer, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted and the mixture has become a thick sauce (add a little milk if too thick). Season to taste.
Pour this sauce over the pasta and broccoli, stirring very gently until the pasta is coated, then tip into a shallow ovenproof dish.
Mix the grated cheese and almonds together, and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 20 minutes until golden.
Note: If the pasta is kept hot, and the chicken mixture cooked through, after assembly the dish could be browned off under the grill instead of using the oven.

Budget Burgers: serves 4
8 oz (225g) lean minced beef
3 oz (75g) breadcrumbs (pref wholemeal)
3 oz (75g) carrot, grated
1 small onion, grated
salt and pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire or HP sauce
Mix together all the ingredients, then shape into 4 burgers and place on a baking tray. Grill for 4 - 5 minutes on either side until cooked through. Serve in burger buns with salad.
Note: these burgers could also be fried in a pan, or cooked in the oven. The mixture could also be used to make meat balls which could be first fried then cooked on in a tomato sauce and served with pasta.

Pork Chop Melts: serves 4
4 pork chops
salt and pepper
4 - 5 oz grated or crumbled cheese (Stilton is good)
4 good tblsp apple sauce
Season the chops on both sides, and grill under medium heat for 12 - 15 minutes, turning once until just cooked.
Spoon the apple sauce over the chops and cover with the cheese, then return to the grill and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until the cheese has melted and turning brown.
Serve with mashed potatoes and green vegetables. If any cheese had dripped through to the grill pan beneath, the scoop these up and serve these also.

Red Pork in a Pot: serves 4
1 tblsp olive or sunflower oil
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 lb (450g) lean pork, cut into chunks
2 tblsp paprika pepper
half pint (300ml) chicken or vegetable stock
100ml (half a tub) creme fraiche or yogurt (see note)
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Fry gently for 10 - 15 minutes until softened and just beginning to change colour. Stir occasionally.
Add the pork to the pan and cook until browned on all sides, then stir in the paprika pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Cover and cook for half an hour or until the pork is tender. Stir in the creme fraiche and simmer for two minutes. Serve hot with rice and a green vegetable.
N0te: Thick Greek yogurt could be used instead o creme fraiche, but as this may split, stir this in just before serving, just long enough to allow it to get hot.