Wednesday, June 01, 2011

More Problems!

Having big problems with the computer today. Yesterday it suddenly stopped mid-stream and I had to switch off using the hard-drive. This morning it is taking AGES to move from one action to another, and although - eventually - had two comments arrive in my email box, when clicked on these would not 'open'. Will try again once today's blog is published (if it publishes) and if replies are needed will try to put these up later this morning.

Norma the Hair day today so most of the morning will be taken up, and uncertain what to do if this comp has decided to slow down for good. If I disappear from the screens for a day or two (or week or two) you will know why. Let us hope this is just a blip that recovers all on its own.

This has completely thrown me, for I look to your comments to point me in the direction of the 'topic of the day'. Is the supper I made yesterday worth a mention? Possibly.
As Beloved fancied fish, decided to make a fish risotto. Used up the last couple of 'white fish' fillets from the Value pack, plus one salmon steak (frozen last year), and some small frozen (thawed) prawns. Discovered the arborio rice had been used up, so used 'Italian Rice' instead. Seemed much the same thing.

Made the risotto the usual way, first frying some onion in butter with some diced red pepper, then stirred in the rice. Added a wineglass of white wine and let this simmer down, followed by hot 'fish stock' (this the water the fish had been poached in). When the rice was almost cooked (a good 20 minutes later) added the flaked fish, some frozen (thawed) peas, and some black pepper. Even then it still tasted very bland so added the grated zest and juice of a lemon, finally stirring in the prawns to heat through.

As I'd made a big panful shared this between myself and Beloved and have to say found it very disappointing. Not sure what the problem was - perhaps it was because this time I hadn't used chicken stock, and almost certainly because no smoked haddock was included. The meal was just 'very bland'.
In retrospect feel that a couple or so finely diced Peppadew would have give the meal a bit of 'bite', and perhaps making a Paella instead of risotto (using saffron, paprika etc) would also have been a better choice. Not a lot of difference between the two dishes, but certainly the Spanish version has much more 'oomph'.
Will know next time.

As previous requests have been recipes using grains, rice, pasta and chicken, have discovered a recipe that makes good use of 'leftovers', so takes only 15 minutes to make (once the ingredients have been 'prepped'). Always, ALWAYS, it takes far longer to gather what's needed to make a dish than it usually takes to put the lot together then leave to cook.

Speedy Chicken Supper: serves 4
3 tblsp sunflower oil
2 egg
3 tblsp water
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp curry powder
3 tblsp tomato ketchup
4 oz (100g) frozen peas
12 oz (350g) left-over cooked rice
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken, shredded
4 fl oz (100ml) hot water
soy sauce
Put half the oil in a frying pan, over medium to high heat. Beat the eggs with the water, pour this into the pan and swirl around to make a rough 'pancake', leaving it to set for one minute, then flip over and allow to cook the other side. Remove and put on a plate. Set aside.
Put the remaining oil into the same pan, then stir in the onion and fry for 4 - 5 minutes before stirring in the garlic, curry powder, and ketchup. Cook for one minute then stir in the peas, rice, chicken and hot water.
Simmer for five minutes, then roll up the pancake, slice it across into shreds (looking a bit like noodles) and fold this into the rice with a few drops of soy sauce to taste. Serve immediately.

Next dish again uses cooked chicken, this time with pasta. The 'dressing' (mustard, honey and mayonnaise) is very adaptable. Cream cheese, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt could be used instead of - or with - the mayo. Whole-grain mustard is lovely (always worth having some), but Dijon could be used instead. English mustard is very 'hot', so if using this be sparing. 'Wasabi' is even hotter!
Peppadew could be substituted for the tomato, and a different herb used. Goes without saying almost any pasta shape could be used, although the small shells or bowls make the meal look more attractive than - lets say - macaroni!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Pasta: serves 4
10 oz (300g) pasta shapes (see above)
3 tblsp mayonnaise
1 heaped tsp whole-grain mustard (see above)
1 tsp runny honey
10 oz (300g) cooked chicken, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
small bunch basil leaves, roughly torn
4 tomatoes, halves, seeds removed then chopped
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain again, giving a good shake or three as pasta shapes can trap water Then place into a serving bowl.,
Mix the mayo, mustard and honey together, adding just enough cold water to give the consistency of double cream. Pour this over the pasta and gently mix together, then fold in the chicken, onion, basil and tomatoes. Add seasoning to taste, give one more fold then serve.

One of the simplest suppers that I enjoy making (and eating) is just hot cooked pasta with a few teaspoons of pesto sauce stirred into it, and some Parmesan cheese scattered on top. Normally I buy pesto in jars (because I'm lazy and can't be bothered to make it myself), and the best way to give an opened jar a longer shelf-life is to scrape any pesto stuck to the sides of the jar back down onto any remaining in the bottom, then pour some olive oil to cover the surface - this then keeps the air off and prevents the pesto going mouldy. Of course it won't keep forever, but should keep well for a couple or so weeks and ALWAYS in the fridge.

When wishing to make our own 'pesto', we don't have to stick to the traditional basil, garlic, pine nuts and oil. We can make it with parsley, walnuts, garlic, oil. Or use other herbs, other nuts.
Here is a very simple recipe making pesto with - wait for it - frozen peas! This is great stirred through cooked pasta, and with adding more cooked (whole) peas and grated Parmesan on top is a meal in its own right.

Pea Pesto: serves 4
9 oz (250g) frozen peas
boiling water
5 tblsp olive oil
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 oz (75g) grated Parmesan cheese
juice of 1 small lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Put the peas in a bowl and cover with boiling water, give a stir then drain in a sieve. Put the peas into a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blitz to a paste. Stir this into pasta, or blend with creme fraiche to make a dip.

Now comes the hard bit. Time for me to see if this will publish, and then go back to see if I can read the most recent comments (either via my email or logging on to my site through 'search'). If all goes well, and replies are needed, then will return to edit the replies under this posting. If not - expect me when you see me! Have a nice day.

Good news - have been able (albeit slowly) to retrieve the comments and get back to this site, so will continue with my reply to Urbanfarmgirl who has purchased some frozen Cornish sardines which used to be called pilchards - one traditional dish made with these called 'Stargazy Pie where the heads of the pilchards stuck up through the pastry). Until holidays abroad became common, we thought of sardines only as those tiny fish in tins. But 'proper' sardines ARE larger, pilchards just being our name for the same fish, changed only to Cornish Sardines to appeal to the masses (who probably still think pichards come in tins).

Sardines with Crispy Crumbs: serves 2
4 - 6 sardines, depending upon size
salt and pepper
1 tblsp olive oil
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
thick slice bread, crumbed
1 tsp paprika pepper
handful parsley (pref flat leaf) chopped
lemon wedges
Season the sardines, inside and out, then grill (or barbecue) for five or so minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan, stir in the garlic and fry for one minute, then add the crumbs and paprika. Raise the heat and keep frying, stirring all the time, until the crumbs are crisp, then stir in the parsley.
Serve the sardines with a scattering of the crumbs, and wedges of lemon to squeeze over.

No reason to make cooking more laborious when sardines are best cooked as simply as possible. This next dish is traditionally cooked in Spain in shallow earthenware dishes directly over the fire. The English way is to cook them in a frying pan.

Sardines, Granada-style: serves 3
1 lb (500g) sardines
juice of 1 small lemon
2 tblsp olive oil
5 fl oz (150ml) dry white wine
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful parsley, chopped
Clean and scale the fish but leave the heads on. Place in a frying pan, sprinkle with salt, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until just cooked. Serve hot or cold.

Will seek out more interesting recipes using sardines and hopefully be able to post them up tomorrow. See you then!