Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cookery Palette

Yet another photo from the past, but one that shows how small amounts of colourful raw vegetables (crudites) can make a bland-coloured dip (in this case hummous) look appetising.
At the time the photo was taken, I'd just used odds and ends of vegetables in my fridge drawer, and working clockwise from the bright red bell pepper are: strips of toasted crusts from a slice of bread, celery, carrots, green bell pepper, cauliflower, yellow bell pepper, and quartered mushrooms.
Had they been available, sugar snap peas would have been added to the platter (these being firmer than mange tout), and also strips of young courgettes.
You will notice how the peppers have been sliced so they each have a 'hook' (this being the base end of the peppers), as this makes a really good 'scoop' to lift up a good helping of dip. If mushrooms are firm, these too can be held by the stalk and the cap used as a 'spoon'.

The dip above would probably be enough to serve as a 'starter' for four people, yet - as I said - it is just oddments of veggies. About a third used of each colour pepper, one carrot, a few bread crusts, a handful of mushrooms, one 'rib' of celery, and a few cauliflower florets.

Take away the dip, and all the vegetables above could instead be cooked as a 'stir-fry', with or without added meat (chicken, pork) or prawns, and served with rice or noodles.
Or - if you wish - dice the vegetables and cook them in a chicken or vegetable stock to make a chunky (or creamy if blended) soup.
Whatever oddments we have in the 'fresh produce' section of our kitchen, there is more than one way to use these up.

We must get our heads together sometime and just talk foods we used to love and never seem to eat any more.
Then maybe the recipes for these will appear on this site.

Continuing the economy theme, today am offering yet another 'burger' recipe, this time using store-cupboard ingredients ( 'store-cupboard' means all ingredients we normally keep in and around the kitchen). Do not chill the can of corned beef as when kept at room temperature it mashes very easily.
A slight feeling of deja vu with this recipe. If published in an earlier posting, my apologies.
Corned Beefburgers with Cheese: makes 4 - 6
12 oz (350g) corned beef
1 onion
1 egg, beaten
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
grated hard cheese
Put the corned beef in a basin and mash with a fork. Grate the onion over the beef , add the egg and W. sauce, the oats and parsley and mix well together. Add seasoning to taste. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then divide into four or six equal portions and form into burgers.
Fry the burgers in shallow oil for 2 - 3 minutes on each side until golden. Then drain on absorbent paper. Pile grated cheese on top of each burger and pop under a pre-heated grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling, then serve in a split bap, or without the bread - and with salad.

This next recipe is a type of hot savoury shortcake 'sandwich'. Included because only a small amount of the 'expensive' ingredients are used. No doubt readers can adapt this recipe to use different 'fillings', maybe left-over chilli con carne or spag bol meat sauce.
Savoury 'Shortwich':
4 oz (100g) streaky bacon or bacon bits
8 oz (250g) pork sausages
4 oz (100g) button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
2 oz (100g) grated Parmesan cheese
pinch salt
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
4 oz (100g) margarine
5 fl 0z (150ml) milk (approx)
Remove rind from bacon (if any) and cut the rashers/bits into very small pieces. Using a dry pan, fry the bacon bits very gently until the fat begins to flow. Remove skin from sausages and slice the sausagemeat thinly, then stir these into the bacon along with the mushrooms. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes then allow to get completely cold.
Meanwhile, mix the oats, flour and HALF the cheese together, and add the salt and herbs. Rub in the margarine until the mixture is like breadcrumbs, then add just enough milk to make a fairly stiff dough.
Divide dough into two and roll each out on a floured board to form a circle about 8" (20cm) diameter. Place one half in the bottom of a well greased baking tin of the same size (a Victoria sponge tin would be about right), then spread the sausage mixture on top, covering with the second round of dough. Press the edges of the dough together down into the tin to contain the filling.
Brush the top with milk and sprinkle over the remaining cheese, then bake at 180C, 250F, gas 4 for half an hour or so until golden and the dough is cooked.

Here's another recipe that uses 'store-cupboard' ingredients - this time tuna-based, simple to make and quick to cook. If using tuna in oil, the oil can be added to the cheese sauce with the tuna, or if you prefer, add tuna only. Instead of potato crisps, crushed tortilla chips, or crushed cornflakes could be used.
Crispy 'corned' Tuna Bake:
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) flour
half pint (300ml) milk
2 oz (25g) Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
1 x 200g can tuna, drained and flaked
1 x 300g can sweet corn kernels, drained
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 x 25g packs potato crisps
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook for one minute then gradually whisk in the milk and bring to the boil. Stir/whisking all the time to prevent lumps. Simmer for 2 minutes then stir in the cheese, adding seasoning to taste, then stir in the flaked tuna, followed by the sweetcorn.
Line the base and sides of a greased, shallow ovenproof dish, and spoon in the tuna mixture, levelling the surface. Crumble the crisps over the surface. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with salad and slices of crusty bread.