Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Do I Bother?

Depending upon the size of the potato used, these 'jackets' can be served to accompany a family meal, made a good 'light supper', or - when using really small potatoes - are great to include in a buffet. Best eaten while still warm (they don't need to be hot) these can be prepared in advance, baked and then kept warm in the cooling oven. If using smaller (new) potatoes, break or chop the broccoli down into really small 'florets', Other vegetables/cheeses can be used.
Stuffed Jackets: serves 4 when using large spuds
4 large baking potatoes
10 oz (300g) broccoli florets
1 tblsp wholegrain mustard
1 egg, beaten
5 oz (150g) grated Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Microwave the potatoes on High for 15 or so minutes, until tender, meanwhile steaming the prepared broccoli for a few minutes until also tender (but not collapsed).
Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before cutting them in half lengthways, then scoop most of the flesh into a bowl (leaving a smidgin still stuck to the skin).
Mash the flesh with a fork, then stir in the mustard, egg, broccoli and most of the cheese, adding seasoning to taste. Pile this mixture back into the potato skins, place on a baking sheet, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of each spud (they can then be covered and left to rest if not wishing to cook immediately), then bake for 15 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until the tops are crispy golden.

Next dish is a great way to use up stale bread, and not intended to be eaten as a dish in its own right, more as an accompaniment to salads (particularly tomato based ones) as it adds great texture.
Crunchy Crumbed Pasta: serves 4
4 oz (100g) stale bread
zest of 2 lemons
handful parsley
2 oz (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblsp oil
1 tblsp butter
14 oz (400g) pasta (any shapes)
Put the bread, lemon zest, parsley, cheese and garlic into a food processor and blitz together. Alternatively crumb the bread by hand, chop the parsley, and then mix the lot together.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan, and then fry the crumbed mixture, continually stirring until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile cook the pasta as per packet instructions, drain well, add the crumbs, toss/mix together and serve with salad.

Although this next dish is intended to be a 'family' dish and served hot, like most rice and veggie dishes, it should eat well cold. My suggestion with any dish such as this, always leave a little left over and sample it when cold so that you know how it will taste. One tip that should always be followed. Any dish that uses butter (or a 'solid' fat) makes the food feel 'claggy' in the mouth when cold, due to the butter 're-setting'. Using only oil makes it much more palatable.
Rice and Mushroom Risotto: serves 4
7 oz (200g) long-grain rice, pref Basmati
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
9 oz (250g) chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 red bell peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
15 fl oz (425ml) vegetable stock
chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Rinse and drain rice. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until softened, then stir in the rosemary and mushrooms. Fry for 3 minutes then stir in the rice, making sure it is coated with the oil in the pan before adding the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and seasoning.
Bring to the boil, stir once then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Season to taste and scatter the parsley over when serving.