Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Year Starts Today!

Crispy Butter Beans: serves 4
2 x 400g cans butter beans
4 oz (100g) garlic flavoured cream cheese (Philly type)
2 tblsp finely chopped chives
5 tblsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp melted butter or sunflower oil
Drain and rinse the butter beans, then put them in a pan and heat through for 3 minutes. Remove a third of the beans and - using a fork - mash until smooth. Put them back into the remaining beans in the pan, with the cream cheese and chives, then heat through. Spoon into a heat-proof dish and sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs, drizzling over the butter/oil, then pop under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until the crumbs are crisp and golden.

Lemon Drizzle Cake as a 'tray-bake' to make it more easily divided into fingers or squares to hand around.
Always pour the topping over a warm cake as the syrup is then absorbed more easily, but never directly from the oven as when the cake is too hot, the syrup just runs to the base making a sticky bottom.
I tend to sift the baking powder with the flour before mixing with the other ingredients, but some cooks just add the b.p. to the bowl separately.

Lemon Drizzle Squares: makes 30
8 oz (225g) butter, softened
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
10 oz (275g) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
4 tblsp milk
zest and juice of 2 lemons
6 oz (175g) granulated sugar
Put the butter, caster sugar, flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the eggs, milk and lemon zest and whisk together for a couple of minutes until well blended. Spoon this batter into a greased and lined tray-bake or Swiss roll tin that has been lined with baking parchment, making sure the parchment is about 2" deep at the sides to hold in the cake as it bakes. Level the surface, then bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 170C, 325F, gas 3 or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the centre. It should also begin to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
While the cake is cooking, mix the lemon juice with the granulated sugar, the sugar won't dissolve completely, but the mixture should be runny. After removing the cake from the oven, allow to cool for five or so minutes, then while still warm, spoon the mixture over the top of the traybake, leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and peeling away the paper. Cut into square (or fingers) to serve.

Final recipe today is again another 'store-cupboard' winner. Instead of using rice to make this risotto, I use pearl barley which gives an extra 'nutty' flavour, with a change of flavour gained using different home-made stock (chicken or vegetable).

Barley and Pea Risotto: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
14 oz (400g) pearl barley
2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
extra boiling water
8 oz (225g)frozen peas
7 oz (200g) cream cheese
2 tblsp finely chopped fresh chives
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and sauter the onions for 4 minutes, then stir in the pearl barley, and a pint of the stock. Cook at a high simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more stock as it becomes absorbed, then adding more (boiling) water if and when necessary. When the barley is nearly tender, and with a little liquid still in the pan, add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave the barley to rest for a couple of minutes, then stir in the cream cheese and chopped chives. Serve immediately.