Saturday, March 06, 2010

Love Your Larder

What I'm aiming to do is give recipes over the next few weeks that will get us using more of the ingredients that most of us have, but not only this - each recipe can be adapted to use 'something else', for we all have different ideas of what makes good food. Some like spicy, some like creamy. Take an easy recipe then make it your own (using of course, only what you've got).

But even before we get that far, we could start by building up a stock of home-made mixes that save so much time when we wish to make something. We can blitz up flour and butter then keep it chilled (fridge or freezer) ready to make pastry, or by adding sugar and maybe a few oats - turn some of it into a crumble topping. We can also grate cheese and store this ready for many dishes.

With or without a bread-making machine, we can make dough balls and freeze these ready to turn into pitta bread or pizza bases.

The Basic Recipe below is for a scone mix which can be used in mix that can be used - in several different ways. The idea came from a old cookery mag, and have adapted the recipes to fit into my 'challenge'. Bearing in mind the scone mix is similar to pastry mix (using flour and butter although not in the same proportions), so some pastry mix could be used for making the scones if more flour was then added. It is not a bad idea to keep a small notebook and write down variations - such as "to make scone dough, weigh some pastry mix and add half the weight in flour, plus baking powder in proportion".

When making mixes such as this, if wishing to store and perhaps use some to make savoury dishes, omit the sugar and add this when preparing to cook.
Basic Scone Mix: makes 9 scones
12 oz (350g) self-raising flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) natural yogurt
4 tblsp milk (pref full fat)
Blitz the first four ingredients in a food processor. This can then be stored in containers in the fridge or freezer. If making and baking immediately, the sugar can be blitzed with the dry ingredients.
Warm the milk and yogurt together, then mix into the dried scone mix after adding the sugar. Working fast, stir the lot together with a round-ended knife (like a butter knife) and as soon as it has come together, stop. Do not overwork.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and turn sides to middle, kneading just enough to make a smoothish dough. Better to under knead than over. Roll lightly to 1 1/2" (4cm) thick, then dip a scone cutter into flour and stamp out rounds. Push the scraps together and repeat until all the dough has been used up.
Have ready a preheated baking sheet, sprinkle a little flour over this, then place on the scones, brushing tops with egg wash. Bake for 12 minutes at 220C, 425F, gas 7.
These (like any scones) are best eaten warm and certainly the day they are made. Split and eat with jam and clotted cream (or just butter and jam with a squirt of aerosol cream on top - then this is truly a storecupboard feast).
If wishing to make fruit scones, add dried fruit to the flour before adding the 'wets'.

If you wish, you could turn the basic scone dough (omit the sugar) into a savoury Bread. Make the vegetarian version below as it stands, or include snippets of fried bacon or ham. Other herbs could be used. Think Italian and add a few chopped olives, and or sun-dried tomatoes, roll the dough out thinner and dimple the surface with finger tips, tuck in a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. This type of bread can be made using all sorts of tasty ingredients that we have in one or other of our kitchen cupboards and are aching to find a way to use them. To keep this almost 100% storecupboard, used drained and sliced canned new potatoes. Keeping a tube of garlic puree in the larder saves using a fresh clove.

Cheese and Potato Bread: serves 8
2 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 batch Basic Scone dough (no sugar)
8 oz (225g) cooked new potatoes, thinly sliced
1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves (plus extra sprigs)
2 oz (50g) Pecorino cheese (or Parmesan) grated
3 oz (75g) Gruyere or Cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in the pan, stirring in the garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes so the flavour permeates the oil. Set aside.
Place the Scone dough onto a floured surface and roll lightly into a larger rectangle. Scatter over the potatoes, and chopped rosemary with some of the garlic oil. Take the Gruyere cheese and grate half, dicing the rest. Scatter the diced cheese and most of the grated cheese over the (now) oily potatoes, then roll the dough up into a ball, knead a few times, shape into a round and place on a floured baking sheet.
Mark the top with a knife, scoring lightly from side to side to form 8 triangles, then sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and drizzle over the rest of the garlic oil. if you wish stud with a few small sprigs of rosemary.
Bake for 25 minutes at 220C etc until the bread has risen, turned golden and sizzling around the edges. Best eaten freshly baked while still warm.

The final dish using the Scone Mix (although am sure you can think up other ideas to use it) can be eaten as a tea-time treat, or cut larger to serve as a 'pudding', and is a variation of the Apple Strudel. To keep this at cheat's level, make using canned or frozen apples
Scone Strudel: makes 10
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tblsp demerara sugar
4 tblsp butter melted
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 oz (50g) sultanas or raisins
Basic Scone Mix ingredients
1 egg (for glazing)
Mix the half the cinnamon and half the sugar into the butter, then mix this with the apples and sultanas. Add the rest of the cinnamon to the Scone Mix flour then make up the dough as given in Basic Scone Mix.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to 40 x 30 cm (mislaid my measure so not sure what that is in inches). Spread the buttery apples/fruit over the surface then roll up from the long side, tucking the ends under. Cut across into ten pieces (or fewer larger ones) and brush the surface with beaten egg before scattering over the remaining sugar. Take a preheated baking sheet, sift with flour then place the 'Strudel's on this. Bake for 14 or so minutes at 220C until golden and risen. Eat warm with custard, cream or what you will.