Saturday, May 21, 2011

Food, Glorious Food...

Cheese and Raisin Dip: serves 6
8 oz (225g) cream cheese (Philly type, can be low-fat)
2 oz (50g) Stilton or other blue cheese, grated
2 oz (50g) raisins, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Beat the cheeses together, then fold in the remaining ingredients, making sure all are well combined. Spoon into a serving dish, cover and chill. Serve with crudites, bread sticks etc.

Sweet Corn 'Dipper': serves 4 - 6
8 oz (225g) cream cheese
3 fl oz (75ml) creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
2 tblsp grated onion
2 tblsp chopped chives
2 tblsp diced red bell pepper
2 tblsp chopped black olives
1 tblsp lemon juice
1 x 340gg can (or 12 oz cooked) sweetcorn kernels, drained
salt and pepper to taste
Beat the cheese and yogurt together, then mix in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Spoon into the serving dish, cover and chill for several hours. Serve with savoury biscuits, crudites etc.

Green Herby Pate: serves 6
8 oz (225g) baby spinach leaves
2 lb (1kg) courgettes, grated
1 tblsp salt
2 oz (50g) butter
4 eggs
half pint (300ml) double cream
2 tablsp whole grain mustard
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
ground black pepper to taste
Wash the spinach, give a shake to remove excess water, but allow some water to still cling to the leaves. Place in a pan, cover and heat for 2 minutes to 'steam' and wilt the spinach, then drain thoroughly (if using older spinach removed stems). Line a 2 lb loaf tin first with baking parchment, then with the spinach (covering the base and sides with the leaves). Reserve a few to put on the top.
Meanwhile, place the courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over the salt, leaving it to drain for half an hour. Then rinse away the salt, and pat the courgette dry with a kitchen towel.
Melt the butter in pan, add the courgettes and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat and set aside.
Beat the eggs with the cream, mustard and parsley, the fold in the courgettes, adding pepper to taste. Pour into the prepared tin, cover with any remaining spinach leaves (opt), then with foil, and place in a roasting tin with hot water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf tin.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for one hour fifteen minutes or until the pate is firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a serving dish to be sliced and served with toast.

Bramley Pasties: makes 5 - 6
4 oz (100g) potato, peeled and grated
6 oz (175g) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tblsp grated onion
6 oz (175g) grated (vegetarian?) Cheddar cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
half tsp dried thyme
2 tblsp creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb (450g) wholewheat pastry
Excluding the pastry, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Divide the pastry into 5 or 6 equal pieces (or depending upon the size you want the findshed pasties to be) and roll out thinly into circles.
Divide the filling between each of the rounds, dampen the edges with water and lift up to meet at the top and pinch together to make a firm seal.
Place on a baking tray (if you wish glaze with beaten egg/milk) and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 25 minutes or until golden. Can be served hot, warm or cold..

Salad in a Pocket: makes 8
4 pitta breads (pref whole-wheat)
6 oz (175g) white cabbage, finely shredded OR...
...use shredded iceberg lettuce
2 carrots, grated
4 oz (100g) toasted peanuts or cashew nuts
4 oz (100g) raisins
1 oz (25g) sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
4 tblsp mayonnaise or salad cream
1 tblsp oil
2 tsp vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the pitta breads in half and open each to make a pocket. Mix together the cabbage/letuce, carrots, peanuts/cashews, raisins and seeds together. Blend the mayo/s.cream wth the oil, vinegar and seasoning, then add to the vegetable mixture and toss together to coat. Pile into the pitta pockets and tuck together into a wide bowl for everyone to help themselves.

Spicy Meatless Kebabs: serves 4
2 tblsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ribs celery, very finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
8 oz (225g) red lentils
2 tblsp tomato puree
1 tblsp mild curry paste
1 pint (600gml) vegetable stock or water
1 oz (25g) wholewheat breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) walnuts, finely chopped
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
Raita to serve (Greek yogurt with grated cucumber)
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, celery and carrot for five minutes, then stir in the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes until softened, then add the garlic, celery and carrot and fry for a further five minutes. Stir in the lentils, tomato puree, curry paste and stock and simmer for about an hour, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick and no excess liquid is visible.
Fold in the breadcrumbs, walnuts, parsley, egg and seasoning to taste.. Leave to cool then divide into 8, shaping each round soaked wooden skewers (or use metal skewers) to make sausage shapes. Place under a hot grill and cook for 4 - 5 minutes, turning frequently. Best served hot or warm with Raita spooned over the kebabs.

. One really attractive way to serve fresh fruit is to save/freeze all halved orange shells, trim any flesh or membrane from the peel (but the pith can stay), then store in the freezer to use at party time.
Fill each shell with a selection of fresh fruit: one orange segment, one slice of apple (skin left on), a cube of pineapple, a strawberry, maybe a couple of blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. A melon ball could be included. These can be filled and kept chilled in the fridge, sliced banana added when ready to serve (or it will turn brown/soften). A dusting of icing sugar on top (opt), and a tiny two-pronged fork (used for spearing olives) is all that is needed to spear the fruits from the shell as you hold it in your hand.

Other uses for citrus shells are fill lemon shells with a fish pate (sardine, smoked mackerel etc), or for another 'dessert' fill each half shell (grapefruit, lemon or orange) with a citrus jelly (made using just over half the amount of recommended water - to give a stronger set). Once firmly set, cut the 'cups' in half or even into three, and arrange on a plate. To eat, just pick up and eat directly from the shell. No need to use a spoon.
Doesn't really matter what shell is used for what flavoured jelly (orange, lemon, tangerine, lime...) but stick to the citrus flavours, and not the strawberry, cherry etc, although pineapple is acceptable.