Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Up With The Lark

Before I even begin mentioning a specific dish, it's worth knowing that 'for our health' the portion of meat (per person per day) is now suggested at 4 oz (100g). In the past we would expect to be served a lot more than that. But as our body does not need it, and meat is expensive, then why eat/pay more? Remember though that this is 'uncooked' weight, and as 30% weight can be lost in the cooking, the portion then becomes 70% 'cooked weight'. This mainly applies to 'roasts' where the liquid in the meat evaporates, so when making a casserole - where all the meat juices are retained - we can get away with using less of the raw. We don't HAVE to, but when using less meat the cheaper the dish becomes. There are cheaper ways of taking in animal protein, so - ideally - on alternate days serve a vegetarian main course meal that includes the cheaper protein: eggs, milk, cheese etc (does a quiche come to mind.
Incidentally, a serving of fish should be half as much again as meat: around 6 oz (175g) per person, and this is much the same whether weighed raw or cooked.

This first recipe is given because it's a type of pizza - this one is called a 'pide', that has a meat topping. To be honest, it's very much a 'storecupboard' recipe as both a pizza mix, and a jar of pizza topping are used, but here this nothing to stop us making both - by now many readers already know how to.
The amount of meat used is far less than the 'normal' serving (mentioned above), and as cheese is also part of this dish, this adds more 'animal' protein.
Personally, I don't worry too much if my protein intake is as much as it should be, as on a 'high protein diet' obviously am eating far more than I need. We have only to look at other countries where their protein intake is lower than ours to know that is is possible to live healthily eating only a little (animal) protein, or do without and live purely on vegetable protein.

Beef, Onion and Cheese Pide: serves 6
1 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
14 oz (400g) minced steak
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 x 145g packs pizza mix (see above)
1 jar pizza topping
7 oz (200g) feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in the pan and fry the garlic for one minute, then stir in the mince and cook/stir for about 10 minutes until it is browned. Add the herbs and seasoning to taste, mix well, and then remove from heat and leave to cool.
Following packet directions make pizza mixes into one batch of dough and roll out into an oblong to fit a parchment lined Swiss roll tin (or a35 x 25cm rectangle and place this on a lined baking sheet).
Spread the pizza topping over the dough, leaving a half-inch border, followed by the minced beef, then bake this for 20 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6. Remove, scatter over the onion, feta cheese and sesame seeds, and return to oven for a further five minutes. Serve immediately (or at least whilst still warm).
Tip: If you don't care for pizzaa where the 'edges' have cooked almost too dried to bite into easily, then brush the rim with oil before baking. The pizza still ends up crisp, but more tender to eat.

We are used to 'marmalade' being made with citrus fruits, although more recently this name has been given to a vegetable type of 'relish', such as 'onion marmalade', that is often made 'to serve' rather than a stored as a 'preserve'.
This next recipe is also a type of 'relish', and although intended to be eaten at breakfast (or brunch, lunch..) with bacon or sausages, it's really good spread on toast - with or without cheese. It also needs to be stored for a few weeks before being eaten, so another preserve that can be made to keep in our larder.
Store this recipe ready for when we have a glut of tomatoes.
Tomato Marmalade: makes 1.2kg
1.2kg ripe tomatoes
2 oranges
2 lemons (unwaxed)
400ml water
800g granuated sugar
Put the tomatoes into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 1 - 2 minutes until the skins begin to split, then drain, peel away and discard skins, then roughly chop the tomatoes and put into a jam pan or large saucepan.
Simmer, uncovered for about 12 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the liquid thick and pulpy.
Cut the fruit in half, and squeeze out the juice, reserving the pips and peel, then tip the juice into another pan, scraping out and adding the flesh from the skins. Roughly chop the skins and put on a square of muslin with the pips, knot the corners to make a bag, and add to the pan with the water. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer, then cook gently for one hour.
Remove bag of peel/pips, squeezing it hard to remove as much juice/pectin as possible, then discard (myself unknot the bag, throw away the peel/pips, wash the muslin to use again - alternatively those little (unused)bags that come with laundry tablets can be used as bags to hold skins, herbs and anything that needs to be dangled in whatever is cooking).
Pour the citrus syrup into the pan of tomatoes and stir in the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, the raise the heat and boil until setting point has been reached. This takes about 15 minutes.
Pour into hot, sterilised jars (use small jars if not intending to eat it regularly), cover and label in the normal way. When cool, store in the larder or kitchen cupboard and keep for at least a month before opening. Once opened store in the fridge.

Being a fan of what I call 'jig-saw' cookery (making one ingredient stretch to two dishes: egg yolk in one the white in another etc), the next recipe could 'combine' with the one above, for the extra citrus peel/pips would be very useful to provide the flavour/pectin needed to make the tomato marmalade.
St.Clement's Surprise Pudding: serves 4
2 grapefruits (pref red/pink)
2 oranges
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 oz (50g) soft margarine
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 oz (50g)self-raising flour
7 fl oz (200ml) semi-skimmed milk
Using a sharp knife, cut away the peel and pith from the grapefruit and oranges, and hold over a dish to catch the juice as you remove the segments from the membrane (the pith/peel can then be used to make candied peel or in the above recipe). Put the segments in the baee of a lightly greased 8" (20cm) square baking dish.
Put the marg, sugar, egg yolks and lemon zest into a bowl and beat until thick and creamy, the mix in the flour, finally beating in the milk. This makes a fairly runny cake batter.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites so soft peaks, then gently fold these into the cake batter. Our this over the citrus segments, then bake in the centre of the oven for 30 - 35 minutes (180C, 350F, gas 4), by which time it should be risen, golden, and firm in the centre. Serve hot. You will then discover the pudding has turned into a light sponge on top, with fruit segments in a sauce beneath.

Having many times mentioned the usefulness of 'Fish Pie Mix' (chunks of anonymous 'white' fish with smoked haddock and salmon) - myself ussing these mainly for Fish Pie, and Fish risotto. However this Oriendtal dish makes good use of any ;white' or salmon 'offcuts' (but don't used smoked fish), and makes a pleasant change for stir-fried beef, chicken or pork. Please don't be put off by the rather long list of ingredients as together these make a wonderful sweet and sour sauce, and so worth making extra to store in the fridge (or freezer) ready to use sooner or later.
Sweet and Sour Chunky Fish: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and 'chunked'
1 inch root ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
7 fl oz (200ml) vegetable stock
1 heaped tsp cornflour
1 x 227 can pineapple chunks
1 - 2 tblsp soy sauce (to taste)
2 tblsp tomato ketchup
2 tblsp red/white wine vinegar
1 - 2 tblsp soft dark brown sugar (to taste)
1 lb (450g) skinless fish 'chunks'
Heat the oil and fry the onion and peppers until softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a couple more minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the cornflour, pineapple juice from the can, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar and 1 tblsp sugar (these can be simmered on their own to make a sweet sour sauce or continue with the recipe by adding the blended ingredients to the stock in the pan. Add more sugar if you wish it sweeter, then add the fish and pineapple. Cover and leave to simmer (as low a heat as possible)for 2 - 3 minutes - by which time the fish should be cooked through), then serve with freshly cooked rice.