Friday, July 16, 2010

Taste of Things to Come...

Many of us joint fresh chickens and simmer the carcase with veggies to make stock. From there most of us take time out to pick any remaining flesh from the bones. So here is a recipe for those that bother to do this, and adding some scraps of home-cooked ham turns this dish into something very inexpensive to make. If you haven't pasta noodles (aka tagliatelle) use pasta shapes.

Farmer's Wife's Way with Noodles:
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 oz (100g) button mushrooms, chopped
1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) cooked chicken scraps, chopped if large
4 oz (100g) scraps of cooked ham, chopped
12 oz (350g) noodles
Put the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion for 5 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree, garlic, rosemary and seasoning to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes until thickened, then stir in the chicken and ham and heat through.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water, drain thoroughly, then place in a serving dish and spoon over the chicken and ham 'sauce'. Best served in deep soup bowls and if using small pasta shapes can be eaten using a dessert spoon. Served on plates, use a spoon and fork.

Even 'posh' food can be economical, especially when attractively presented (which makes it look five time more costly), so next time you have surplus lemons, remove some lemon flesh and freeze it. Remove any pith and membranes left in the lemon shells, and freeze the shells. Bag up when frozen and use the shells as containers for the following dish (or perhaps to hold smoked mackerel pate). Otherwise use fresh lemons. To make lemon shelves sit on a plate without toppling, remove a thin slice from the base.
Pauper's Pate for Posh Parties:
1 can sardines in oil, drained
flesh from six lemons
six lemon shells
pinch paprika pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tblsp mayonnaise
1 egg white, stiffly beaten
Put the sardines into a bowl and mash with a fork to a smooth paste. Season with the paprika, pepper and mustard,, the stir in the lemon flesh and mayo. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Fold in the beaten egg white and spoon into the lemon shells. Chill before serving in small bowls - the lemon shells sitting on a bed of shredded lettuce.

Perhaps, due to the inexpensive ingredients, Treacle Tart is becoming one of the now fashionable 'retro' desserts that restaurants are including in their menus. This has always been a favourite pudding, but until now not 'posh' enough to serve in top restaurants. We can thank the Credit Crunch for this.
Although slightly more expensive due to marmalade and lemon juice as ingredients in this tart (normally it would be just syrup and breadcrumbs in a pastry case), if we have marmalade and lemons to hand, then why not make this version which has quite a 'toffee' flavour when eaten, and a lot more upmarket. One to serve to guests perhaps?

Orange Treacle Tart:
12 oz (350g) shortcrust pastry
8 oz (225g) golden syrup
4 oz (100g) orange marmalade
juice of 1 small lemon
8 oz (350g) fresh white breadcrumbs
Roll out the pastry to line an 8" (20cm) sandwich tin or flan ring/dish, and place on a baking sheet.
Put the syrup, marmalade and lemon juice into a bowl and mix well together, then stir in the breadcrumbs until well coated, then spoon the mixture into the pastry case and level the surface.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4, for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

In the few 'blind-tastings' that I've arranged myself over the years, it has always been a cheaper product that ended up is most favoured. Not normally the cheapest, but the ones the highest priced always turned out to be middle of the 'taste' range - or even lower. Worth thinking about.

Even if members of a family refuse point blank to change from their favourite brand, it is always easy to cheat and mix a cheaper product in with it (cornflakes/coffee/baked beans for example) and as long as they see it come from the 'original' pack or jar, they will keep thinking it is 'the real thing'. Every week or so increase the amount of the cheaper product, until half and half, and by then they will have got used to what they eat and still not notice. Increasing it further they may suddenly wonder, but by then as they have eaten so much before, all you have to do is tell them they have done this, and you might just get away with serving only the cheaper product and none of the more expensive.
Mixing half milk and half reconstituted dried milk together and pouring it from a milk bottle (preferably) or jug, everyone believes it is all 'real' milk. Because it still tastes like it. But cheaper. And that is what matters at the moment.