Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hoping to Please

The first of today's recipes uses chunks of cooked ham, making an ideal 'salad' for serving at a buffet either indoors al fresco, and substantial enough to make a meal for one (reduce amounts by four) it that's all you need.
Devilled Ham and Pineapple Salad: serves 4
8 oz (225g) pasta penne, cooked
5 fl oz (150ml) natural or Greek yogurt
1 tblsp cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard (pref wholegrain)
half tsp caster or icing sugar
1 - 2 tblsp mango chutney
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) cooked ham, cut into chunks
1 x 200g can pineapple chunks, drained
1 rib celery, chopped
half green or red bell pepper, diced
1 tblsp flaked and toasted almonds
Drain then rinse the cooked pasta, then drain it well again and put into a bowl.
Make a dressing by mixing together the yogurt, mustard, sugar, and chutney together, adding seasoning to taste, then add this to the pasta and toss gently together. Fold in the ham, pineapple, celery and pepper, the put into a serving dish and sprinkle over the toasted almonds. Good served with crusty bread.

Next recipe uses ham (this time pref smoked but not essential) with pulses. As you know, with me beans are beans are beans, so we can make a choice of which type of bean (but not baked beans due to their sauce) to use, and this is will be dictated by what we already have on our shelf.
This time the dressing has a number of ingredients, but worth it. All too often we tend to stick to using either mayo or the more 'runny' French or Italian (oil and vinegar) dressings, and miss out on those (such as below) that really do add the necessary to boost ingredients that haven't much flavour on their own. So every time you make a salad, experiment with a new dressing.

You will notice I've suggested using icing sugar (caster sugar normally given in recipes) as this dissolves instantly, which makes the dressing less 'gritty'.
Smoked Ham and Bean Salad; serves 4
1 carrot, diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 x 426g cans beans (see above) drained
4 oz (100g) smoked ham, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 tbslp light olive oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 dessertsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp mustard (pref wholegrain)
few drops soy sauce
half tsp caster or icing sugar
few drops Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste
Steam or boil the carrot until tender. Drain and put into a bowl with the onion, then leave to cool. Rinse the drained beans, drain again and add to the bowl with the ham and tomato
Make a dressing by combining the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, whisking to mix them well together, then pour some or all of this over the ham and bean salad, toss to combine, then serve.

Spicy Three Bean Salad: serves 6
1 x 425g can red kidney beans
1 x 425g can haricot beans
1 x 425 can black-eyed or pinto beans
1 x 425g can chickpeas
half a red bell pepper, seeded/diced
half a green bell pepper, seeded/diced
6 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp tomato ketchup
2 tblsp olive oil (pref extra virgin)
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch salt
few drop hot pepper sauce (Tabasco etc)
Drain the beans and chickpeas and rinse well. Drain again, removing any excess water, then put into a bowl with the prepared peppers, radishes and most of the spring onion (reserving some of the green).
Make the dressing by putting the remaining ingredients into a bowl and mixing thoroughly, then pour this over the bean salad, gently folding the lot together so all the beans are coated with the dressing.
Cover bowl with lid or cling-film and place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour (pref longer)then garnishwith the reserved green onion shoots sprinkled on top prior to serving.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hamming it Up!

Now to the burger recipes. The first uses minced lamb and is packed with flavour due to the herbs. As well as making 'burgers' or 'patties', this mixture could also be formed into 'sausages' to slide onto a skewer to cook on a barbie, or under the grill.
Lamb 'burgers': serves 4
1 lb (450g) lamb mince
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
1 egg
1 tblsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tblsp chopped fresh mint
1 tsp grated lemon zest
half tsp dried oregano/marjoram
1 clove garlic, crushed
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and - using clean hands - mix well together, then form into four 'patties' and fry, grill or barbecue until cooked through.

Pork burgers: serves 4
1 lb (450g) pork mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 spring onions, chopped finely
1 small red chilli, chopped finely (opt)
1 egg
2 tblsp barbecue sauce
1 slice stale bread, crumbed
Put everything into a bowl and mix well together. Shape into four 'patties, and cook in an oiled frying pan until cooked through.

Might as well include a chicken burger - this one with an Asian flavour, and the mixture could also form meat balls or koftas.
Oriental Chicken burgers: serves 4
1 lb (450g) chicken (or turkey) mince
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 egg
3 oz (75g)stale breadcrumbs
1 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, chopped
As with above burgers, put all the ingredients into a bowl, and using hands, mix well together, then form into four 'patties'. Cook in an oiled frying pan for about 15 minutes, turning once, until thoroughly cooked.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Enjpy the Moment

A recipe that can use chunks of ham. Although Jersey Royals are in season, no reason why canned new potatoes could not be used (Tesco's have some at 22p can for quite a large can, and although not quite as good a freshly boiled spuds, not that bad either). Instead of green beans ( use the frozen ones), frozen peas or fresh mange tout could be used instead. Instead of using spinach, rocket, watercress,young beetroot leaves, lettuce leaves or any other salad leaves could be used.
Instead of making the dressing with the spices shown, a little dry (or made) mustard could be used instead.
Ham and New Potato Salad:serves 4
8 oz (225g) new potatoea, cut in half if large
3 oz (75g) string beans (cut in pieces)
3 oz (75g) young spinach leaves
3 spring onions OR 1 shallot, finely chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 oz (50g) piece of cooked ham, cut into strips
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz (50g) shelled hazlenuts or walnuts
4 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
Boil the potatoes until just tender (or heat the canned ones). Meanwhile cook the beans in lightly salted water for 2 - 3 minutes. Then drain both potatoes and beans and put into a wide salad bowl with the onions and chosen leaves.
Cut the hard-boiled eggs into quarters and arrange on top with the ham, then drizzle over lemon juice and season to taste.
Make a dressing by first roughly chopping the nuts, then putting them into a frying pan with the oil and spices and cook until the nuts turn golden (if using walnuts they will be brown already, just allow a few minutes 'frying time'). Then pour this hot dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

Variation: Instead of using potatoes, use a 400g can of mixed beans and pulses (or make up your own mixture of beans). No need to heat, just drain, rinse and drain again then prepare salad as above.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Making the Most Of...

Am giving a recipe to make the Turkish equivalent to 'our' burger-in-a-bun, making own our 'buns' as per the method given earlier in this blog. Much depends upon the size of the 'baps' made, you may need an extra or to to hold the meat mixture.
Turkish Burgers: serves 4
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 oz (225g) minced lamb
1 tblsp tomato paste
half tsp paprika pepper (or chilli powder)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Turkish 'pides' (see above)
1 oz (25g) mozzarella cheese, finely grated
1 - 2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
Put the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion until softened, then stir in the garlic and cook for a minute more. Stir in the spices, followed by the minced lamb and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat is cooked.
Split the Turkish 'baps' in half and place bottom halves on a baking sheet. Top with mince mixture and sprinkle with cheese and mint. Cover with bread tops and bake (uncovered) for about 10 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until bread is crisp. Cut each into half and serve.

For more 'British burger' that can be served as above, you might like to try this variation that has a lot more going for it than a 'basic burger'. A good way of using up cheese that, well 'needs using up'.
The Tastiest Burger Ever!: makes AT LEAST 4
3 oz (75g) Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
2 oz (50g) creme fraiche/yogurt or sour cream
12 oz (350g)minced steak
4 oz (100g) minced pork (or sausage meat)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tsp barbecue sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 oz (50g) sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
4 'hamburger' buns
rocket leaves
Blitz/process half the cheese with the creme fraiche until smooth, put into a bowl and add the remaining cheese.
In another bowl mix together the meat and pork mince with the onion, tomato and both the sauces, then shape into four 'burgers'. Fry in a lightly oiled pan until brown on both sides (turning at least once, twice or thrice) until cooked through.
Half the buns, toasting the cut side under the grill, remove and spread with a little of the blue cheese 'spread', top with rocket leaves, a burger on top and finally a good dollop of 'cheese spread'. Cover with the bun top and hope you have a large enough mouth to eat without resorting to cutting in half with a knife!,em>

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cost of Cooking

These are GOOD!
If only salted butter is available, then reduce the salt by half:
Easy Nachos: makes 48 - 60
9 oz (250g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp unsalted butter
4 fl oz (100ml) semi-skimmed milk, warmed
oil for frying
paprika pepper
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub with the fingers to make coarse 'breadcrumbs'. Stir in the milk using a knife, then form into a ball, cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Removed dough and cut into 12 even pieces. Taking each, roll out on a floured board to a circle (about tea plate size) then cut into triangles (four or five from each circle). Shallow fry in hot oil for 3 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle a little paprika over. Best served soon after making. Not sure if they will keep in an airtight container.

This reminds me of poppadums I used to fry - using the bought 'discs'. Discovered that once cooked (they take only a few seconds to expand and become crisp), after draining on kitchen paper, these would stay crisp for several days when stored in layers (each between a sheet of kitchen paper)in a large lidded tin (I used one of those huge tins of sweets (Quality Street) etc, that we used to buy to last the whole family (all 16) over Christmas. Always do save 'tins'. Sweet tins, biscuit tins etc., as have found - when lined correctly - they can double up as cake tins. Also (naturally) can be used as storage tins, and the large round tins work really well to keep a delicate gateaux. Just stand the cake on the lid and put the base over it, just making sure you stick a note to the base (now facing upwards) that "this tin should not be turned the right way up"!

These fish fingers can be made with a mixture of fish if you wish (salmon, white fish, smoked fish). Crusty Fish Fingers: serves 4
2 lbs (1kg) ling (or similar) fillets
2 tblsp chopped fresh chives or parsley
1 tsp curry powder
3 oz (75g) plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tblsp milk
3 oz (75g) fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
oil for frying
Remove skin from fish, also any bones that might be there, and coarsely chop the flesh, put into the bowl of a food processor with the herbs and curry powder, and 'pulse' until ground down to almost a paste.
Line a tray with baking parchment and spoon out the fish mix onto this, spreading evenly to the thickness of a finger, then chill for an hour to firm up before cutting into 16 even-sized slices.
Get three dishes ready, one holding the flour, the next with the egg and milk mixed together, the third with the crumbs and coconut mixed together.
Carefully remove each 'fish finger' using a fish slice, dust each overall with flour, then dip into the egg mix, followed by a dip into the crumb/coconut mix. If you wish double dip by dipping again into egg then the crumbs to give a crispier coating.
Shallow fry the fingers in hot oil (do this in batches to avoid cooling the fat down too much)until golden and cooked through, turning once. Drain on kitchen paper.
These are good served with a crisp green salad, and oven chips. Or what you will.

Next time you wish to have a go at making fish cakes, try this next for size. Unlike our traditional version that uses half and half fish to mashed potato, these oriental 'cakes' contain no spuds. The advantage of these is that they can be made a day ahead, covered and chilled before cooking, or frozen for up to month.
Thai Curried Fish Cakes: makes 24
2 lbs (1kg)white fish fillets
1 egg
2 tsp finely choppped fresh coriander
3 tsp sugar
4 oz (100g) red curry paste
4 oz (100g) green string beans, sliced thinly
oil for frying
As with the above recipe, prepare the fish then blend with the egg, coriander and curry paste until smooth. Put into a bowl with the beans and mix well.
Taking a rounded tablespoon of the mixture roll into a ball, flatten slightly, then repeat with the remaining mixture.
Normally these would be deep fried, but can be shallow fried if turned once the base has crisped up, and then possibly turned again to make sure the balls have cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper. Good served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

The mention of sweet chilli sauce reminds me that this would another way to use the liquid from the jar of Peppadew. It tastes much like a clear chilli sauce anywat but without any colour, and with only a hint of 'capsicum/pepper' so a dash of tomato ketchup and a few drops of Tabasco might make it more like the 'real thing'. Much cheaper anyway, and - from my viewpoint - as long as something home-made tastes as good as the bought, then why spend more?

Here is yet another recipe for fishcakes that use 'wot we've got'. At least storecupboard ingredients, and (hopefully) a courgette grown in the garden. Most of us have a carrot and can of fish (salmon or tuna), and the other ingredients are also 'storecupboard'. If you haven't carrot, use grated parsnip, if no courgette use grated butternut squash.
Normally the bones are removed from the canned salmon before using, but myself prefer to mash them up and combine them in the dish as they contain a good amount of calcium and are perfectly edible. But if you don't wish for the bit of 'crunch' they give, leave them out
Fish Croquettes: serves 2
1 medium potato, cooked and mashed
1 x 105g can salmon or other canned fish, drained
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp finely grated carrot
2 tblsp finely grated courgette
2 tblsp finely grated Cheddar cheese
black pepper
2 tblsp plain flour
2 tblsp olive oil
lemon wedges to serve
Mix the potato, salmon, carrot, courgette and cheese together with a grinding of pepper to taste, then taking a tablespoon at a time, form into thick 'sausages' (aka croquettes). Toss in flour, shaking away the excess, then heat the oil in a small frying pan, cook the croquettes in batches, turning occasionally, until browned all over. Serve with lemon wedges, and a crisp salad. Or again - with what you will.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Vive la Difference"!

The recipe today uses one chicken breast, and makes 12 'bites', so a worthy 'dish' to make either for buffet parties, or for 'nibbles' to eat whilst watching TV. As ever, reduce the amounts of pesto/cheese if you wish to economise. Left-over shreds of cooked ham from a roast chicken can be used instead of cooking a breast from scratch.
Potato 'Pizzettas': makes 12
1 chicken breast fillet (approx 7 oz/200g)
little cooking oil
1 lb (450g) potatoes, peeled
2 oz (50g) butter, melted
2 oz (40g) bottled pesto
3 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 oz (50g) grated Mozzarella cheese
1 oz (25g) grated Parmesan cheese
few fresh basil leaves

Put a little oil into a small frying pan and gently fry the chicken until cooked through, then slice thinly.
Coarsely grate the potato into a bowl, cover with cold water and leave for 5 minutes, then drain well and either squeeze potato with hands to remove excess water, and pat dry, or place in the centre of a clean tea towel, then pull corners together, twist and 'wring out' the spuds to removed as much liquid as possible.
Put potato into clean bowl, pour over melted butter and mix well together.
Using a 6.5cm (don't know what that is in inches)scone cutter, place this on an oven tray that has first been lined with baking parchment, then press 1 tblsp of the buttered and grated potato inside, pressing down firmly. Carefully remove the cutter, and repeat all over the tray - leaving about 2cm (?) between each disc.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes, then flip each disc over with a fish slice or palette knife, and bake for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, spread each dish with s little pesto (to taste), top with chicken and slices of mushroom, sprinkle top with a mixture of the cheeses, then return to oven and bake for a further 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbling. Garnish each disc with a basil leaf before serving. Best eaten hot/warm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bean Cuisine

This first dish requires no cooking, and makes a perfect meal for a warm summer's day. Myself like to add a bit more 'green' to this dish, so would add some short pieces of cooked string beans or peas.
Tuna Salad with Beans and Red Onion: serves 4
1 can haricot or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 can tuna in oil, drained
6 oz (175g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
6 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp tarragon or white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch caster sugar (opt)
salt and pepper

Put the beans (canned and green if using)in a bowl with the onions and half the chopped parsley, adding seasoning to taste. Flake the tuna and set aside.
Make a dressing by mixing together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic and whisk together. Add seasoning to taste, plus lemon zest, juice and sugar, and mix again, then add half of this dressing to the bean salad and toss before folding in the tuna and halved tomatoes.
Serve in one bowl or on individual plates, drizzling over the remaining dressing and sprinkling over the reserved parsley. Serve immediately at room temperature, with a green salad and warm crusty bread.

This next recipe starts as 'the basic' with suggestions as to how more flavours can be added (but only if you can afford - or even like - the suggestions). On its own its pretty tasty, so improve only as far as you wish.
White Beans in a Spicy Dressing: serves 3 - 4
1 lb (450g) tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch sugar
1 x 400g can cannellini (or other) beans, drained
salt and pepper
3 tblso olive oil
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 tblsp wine or cider vinegar
fresh parsley for garnish
pitta bread for serving

Put the chopped tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic and sugar into a bowl and toss together, then fold in the drained beans and seasoning to taste.
Mix together the oil, lemon zest and juice and the vinegar, then pour this over the bean salad, and toss everything together lightly.
To allow flavours to develop, cover the bowl with a plate or cling-film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Serve with chopped fresh parsley and wedges of pitta bread.

Variation: As above, use mixed beans and add stoned black/green olives, quartered hard-boiled eggs and anchovy fillets (or canned and drained sardines).

Here is a recipe for a really tasty soup. Make extra and freeze the surplus.
Spicy Red Lentil Soup: serves 6
2 tblsp olive or sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
half teaspoon chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (or seeds)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp tomato paste
9 oz (225g) red lentils
3 pints (1.75ltrs)chicken stock
salt and pepper
finely chopped red onion, parsley
and lemon wedges for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion, and spices for a few minutes, the stir in the garlic and fry for a further minutes, then add the carrot. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes before adding the sugar, tomato paste and lentils. Stir together then pour into the chicken stock, giving another good stir, then bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are very soft and breaking up.
If the soup is thicker than you wish, thin down slightly with a little water, then add seasoning to taste. Serve immediately as-is, but if wishing for a really smooth soup, then blitz with a wand blender or in a liquidiser. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped onion and parsley, and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the lot.

Final recipe today is another useful one for the weekend, as the bean and beef 'filling' can be made a day ahead, covered and stored in the fridge. The 'burritos' must be assembled just before serving. Greek yogurt could be used instead of the sour cream.
Bean and Beef Burritos: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
12 oz(350g) minced steak
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar
1 x 300g can red kidney beans, drained
1 9" (23cm) flour tortillas
4 oz (100g) grated Cheddar cheese
2 - 3 tblsp sour cream/creme fraiche

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the minced beef, making sure the 'grains' are broken up to avoid 'clumps', and fry until cooked through (about 10 minutes if best steak mince is used, up to half an hour for the cheaper mince). Stir in the chilli powder, the canned tomatoes, sugar and red beans, then simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture has thickened. (Note: adding a heaped tsp of tomato paste helps to thicken more rapidly.
To make the 'Burritos', spread the filling over the tortillas, rolling to enclose filling, and secure each with a wooden cocktail stick/toothpick.
Place on an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for about 10 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until heated through. If using freshly cooked and warm filling this shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes, if using cold filling, allow extra time, tenting with foil half-way through to prevent the tortillas drying out and the cheese burning.
Serve Burritos topped with sour cream and a green salad. A guacamole (avocado) dressing goes well with these.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easy When You Know How...

Yesterday, Beloved brought home an article he had read in a newspaper he had found(Daily Mirror:dated 8th April 2011), as he thought it would be of interest to me. It was! The newspaper had asked a lady to see if she could feed her family (two adults and one 18 year old son) for a week, spending no more than £20!
Giving a day-by-day account of what was cooked, the lady managed (how well depends on what side of the fence you are standing), and although every day there were complaints such as "It's taking two hours a day to feed three people", and " looks and tastes great, but has taken two hours and used every pan in the house", and "There's nothing convenient about cooking on a budget, no wonder previous generations of women stayed home (to do)cooking - they had no choice", by day Seven, at least the lady admitted "This budget has trained me to be more imaginative, because I can't nip out to top up my cupboards....I can't wait to go shopping but...I've learned a lot from this experience and realised you can save a fortune".

Whether useful or not (most of us would have chosen to buy different things), the shopping list was given, and the purchases made were:
Baking potatoes 2 for £1 (£1.85p); 2 carrots 24p; cabbage 65p; 2 onions 27p; butternut squash £1.18p; frozen veg mix £1.00; sweetcorn 32p; baked beans 37p; tin of spinach 53p; chickpeas 99p; lentils 88p; 2 tins tomatoes 62p; plums £1.00p.
Penne pasta 20p; long grain rice 59p; plain flour 52p; butter 98p.
Eggs 58p; strong Cheddar £1.52p; and free range chicken pieces £3.50p.
Total spent £19.98p.

There were a few storecupboard items used and these were not costed: cooking oil,yeast, milk, herbs, spices and sugar. Milk alone would have taken the total to over £20, and why keep yeast when she normally never made bread? But then - thank goodness - we are all different in the way we like to cook and what we like to eat, so who am I to criticise? What did concern me was that the lady made the whole process of living on a tight budget more like hard work than anything else, with not a lot to show for it at the end. We need to inspire people to start cooking again, not keep telling them of all the time and labour it takes. and of course EVERYTHING takes time when we first start to learn. When babies, first finding our feet, we would stand and tumble, stand again and tumble again, but keep persevering until we managed to walk. Ever after that we never gave it another thought. Here are some useful sites for both novice and experienced cooks: (credit crunch meal planner)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making It More Difficult.

Our welcome to Woozy, with group hugs from us all. Hope you continue reading this blog Woozy, and also refer to the earlier postings where many more hints and tips can be unearthed. Sad to say some of the early postings for some months are now missing, due to me 'chatting' for too long on a daily basis. Blogger seems now to limit the amount of words that fit into each month, so by the end of the month, something has to give!
The amount of cooking done in the Goode kitchen is about the same as anyone else who 'home-cooks', just enjoy chatting about food and sharing interesting recipes that have been discovered over the years. Don't make every one at the time written about, but normally have done/will do.
If there is anything you wish to know about Woozy, you have only to ask and I will endeavour to give the answer the following day. Just be aware I don't know everything, but have enough 'research' books to help me along the way.

Although your doctor's surgery is some distance from you Les, is there not a pharmacy/chemist closer to home? My 'scrips' always arrive with the repeat prescription for the next lot, and this I just give to the chemist and he fax's the surgery so the doc can confirm, and then makes the month's supply up for me. There is no need for me to go to the docs unless checks have to be made.

Regarding the Living Below the Line challenge, there was a comment from an Anonymous who said the idea was not to cost only the amount of food used (eg part of a can or packet) but have only £1 to spend per day and this has to cover the full cost of anything bought (be it packet or can or otherwise) - then make do with that.
This of course makes the challenge more difficult but still feasible, especially as the first couple of days could be really frugal, thus leaving money left over to buy more things as the week goes by.
It's far easier if we are allowed to spend £5 at the start (even better £10 for two)even though this does mean we have to limit ourselves within this amount and not trot off into the larder to add a pennyworth of flour etc to what we are making. Having to go 'shopping' each day and spend no more than a £1 each time, can seem nigh impossible, but in all honesty, it requires only a little more thought. Let's take the worse case scenario. Having nothing in the cupboard but a £1 coin and from there start filling both the shelves and our tum.
Start with the best value: buying a bag of porridge (will last longer than a week, so already the shelf is beginning to be less empty) and a cheap can of beans (half a can on toast will be enough for two lunches), buy the cheapest loaf of bread (maybe having to search for this but both supermarkets AND bakers sell 'out of date bread' REALLY cheaply), and a bag of vegetable 'bits' (our butcher/greengrocer practically give these away), and already we have enough for one bowl of breakfast porridge, and a good amount of vegetable soup (thickened with more porridge oats to make a satisfying meal eaten)with more bread), all for well under £1. Maybe enough money left to buy one banana. This means we still would have porridge oats, half a can of beans, soup and bread left over for another day, hopefully a few pennies saved and another £1 to spend the next day. Where - with thought, even more nutritional food can be bought for a £1. Let's say this is enough to buy half a dozen cheap eggs, and perhaps a pack of bacon bits,pack of chicken livers, or can of pilchards, plus some 'greens', and (hopefully) a 'free' chicken carcase (or two) from the butcher, and the meals then become even more tasty and nutritional, still within the £1 a day budget.

Perhaps this seems more simplistic than it really is, although experience has proved to me it can be done, for myself have had to live of what can be found 'for free', in the early days of marriage, when money was almost non-existent, and with three small children to feed, it was a matter of finding ways or going under.
In those days it was before supermarkets came on the scene, and the smaller stores were always very helpful when they knew money is hard to come buy. In the past was never ashamed to say that we had only a small budget, and in those days when food was sold 'cut from the block' and not so much much was pre-packed, our grocer used to save the cheese rinds and bacon scraps to give me each week, the greengrocer sold me veggies very cheaply on a Saturday that wouldn't keep over the weekend. The fishmonger sold me trimmings and fish heads 'for the cat' (only we didn't have a cat) and these made good pies and fish stock/soup.
Later, when things were easier, still was able to buy bacon scraps from the butcher, get free ham bones from the supermarket, and fish for the cat!

Even today, the old style food markets always drop prices of their fresh produce later on a Saturday afternoon, as they would rather get a few pence for odds and ends than have to throw food away. So, even without taking on the £1 a day challenge, it would help all of us if as many readers as possible would 'shop around' and see what is there for the asking (don't think of it as begging, we are all asked to try and prevent the mountain of food waste that is getting thrown away each week/day/hour/minute!). Ask YOUR butcher if he can supply customers with free (or very cheap)beef bones and chicken carcases. Can you get fish heads and fish hones from your fish monger (or even supermarket fresh fish counter)? Does a greengrocer drop some prices late on a Saturday? And what is the best day or time to find the best reductions on any 'fresh' produce in a supermarket?

Was a bit disappointed yesterday with the TV Make Do and Mend. It was the foodie bit that interested me most (naturally),and this time the chef made a couple of ladies some fish risotto in the microwave. Not sure what he was trying to prove - missed the first bit of chat, but believe said girls used to buy their fish risotto as a 'ready-meal' to be heated up in the microwave. So he showed them how easy it was to make it themselves.
At the end of the programme the three presenters showed how much money they had saved that day (one still working on fitting a DIY bathroom, the second saved quite an amount of money buying clothes and handbag from a charity shop, and the chef admitted he had saved no money, as the risotto cost the same as if bought 'ready-made', "but it was home-made, with no additives" (and myself feel the portions were larger anyway, so this has to mean 'more for your money').

Nearly came to blows with B yesterday when I asked him what time he wanted supper. It had to be either 5.30 or (grudgingly) 6.00pm. He didn't want it earlier, and there was me wanting to watch an hour long cookery prog from 5.00 - 6-00. Then I brightened and said "it's OK, I can jump it forward an hour and watch it from 6-00 to 7.00, but then that meant B would miss the news, so another glum face from my Lord and Master. In the end prepared everything - part cooking the potatoes and shredded cabbage (steaming over the spuds), cut lamb's liver into strips and tossed these in flour, part-fried rashers of bacon. Then went and saw the start of the cookery prog. Apparently one cook was making a "Morecambe Bay Paella", so as we live in Morecambe, the making of this was one not to be missed, so somehow or other managed to dash into the kitchen when the ads were on, get the meal ready and on the table while the (TV) starters were being prepared and cooked, and managed to get B's supper on the table (admittedly a bit early, at 5.18pm)and back in time to sit and watch the 'mains' prepared and cooked. The fish may have come from the Morecambe Bay area, but cannot see me getting out my fishing line and nets to catch cod, lobsters, and dredge for mussels. No mention of Morecambe Bay shrimps or cockles, which surprised me. One of the judges could find no fish in the paella in his portion, only seemed to get a plateful of rice, so that was a bit of a failure all round. At least with my own 'prep', managed to get B's meal on the supper in a very few minutes, that's one good thing about liver, it cooks very rapidly. The spuds and cabbage were still warm and when tossed in the bacon fat and 'liver scrapings' from the pans (I used two frying pans - one for bacon, one for liver)B's meal ended up both hot and very flavoursome. As had made a lot, asked B to leave some for me, and he kindly left me three tiny bits of liver, half the cabbage and a few potatoes, plus half a rasher of bacon (had cooked 8 rashers in all). But then he knows I don't eat much these days - or is he just plain greedy?)

Yesterday bought my little greenhouse. Half depth one, but adequate for my needs. Already erected and just fits across the chimney breast that sticks out into the garden, and adjacent to an outside water tap which is very useful. As it faces due west, already the sun is beginning to hit the side of the greenhouse, and by noon the sun will be angling inside, and later in the afternoon gets the full force of the sun. We had a larger (plastic) one in Leeds, and this also faced the same direction, although - due to the shadows from other houses - not always getting the full force of the sun, and in this grew some splendid tomatoes.
What we did do wrong was leave the plastic cover on all winter, and after three years this suddenly rotted, leaving tiny holes all over the top, only noticeable when I looked outside and wondered how snow could have fallen on the floor of the green house when it was covered. So now will be removing the cover each winter, and replacing again in the spring.
The greenhouse has two removable shelves on each side, and full height at the back, so will be able to grow different types of tomatoes in there. Perhaps readers who have similar greenhouses could let me know what else is worth growing in there.

The conservatory is almost bursting at the seams with the various boxes and pots full of plants grown from seeds, many already being transplanted to larger containers. Herbs sown are growing very well, and the little bay tree bought has already doubled in side due to new growth (and being put in a larger pot). This will eventually be planted in a much larger pot and left outdoors to grow until the frosts, the brought closer to the house and either protected by the back door or brought inside for the winter months.

When the grocery delivery arrived some days ago, one of my purchases was a 'Value pack of mushrooms' (750g for £1.79), these working out cheaper (weight for weight) than purchasing lesser amounts. Normally these are the bog-standard white mushrooms, sometimes in varying sizes, sometimes all much the same size, barely open and very fresh. Occasionally - as this last time - the mushrooms sent are the 'chestnuts' normally dearer as sold as such, but in the 'value' pack the same weight and price. These chestnut mushrooms are far superior to the whites and also seem to keep better in the fridge. When fried, because of the closer texture of their 'flesh', (they seem to have few gills and a lot more 'flesh' that the whites) they soak up less fat, and also taste better (and have more 'mouth appeal').
So today am giving a recipe using said mushrooms (although ordinary 'whites' could be used)and - hoping that readers keep the same ingredients in store that I do (and by now you should have a good idea of what these are) this is another dish that can be made from 'what we've already got'. Goes without saying we are free to use different fresh herbs according to what we are growing, even using a lesser amount of dried herbs if that's all we have.

Low-fat Mushrooms with Rice: serves 4
7 oz (200g) long-grain rice (pref basmati)
3 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tblsp chopped fresh rosemary (see above)
8 oz (225g) chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
handful of frozen peas, thawed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
half pint (300ml) vegetable stock
Put the rice into a sieve and rinse under the cold tap, then - whilst still wet - put into a bowl with 1 tblsp of the oil, give it a stir then, cover and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion until softened, then add the mushrooms and chosen herb and stir-fry for a couple of moments, then add the prepared rice, peppers, tomatoes and stock. Cover and cook for about 20 or so minutes until the rice is tender, and the liquid absorbed, adding the thawed peas a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time.
If you wish, after the initial frying of all the ingredients, they can be tipped into an ovenproof casserole, lid place on and then baked in the oven for half an hour until the rice is tender). Either way check after 15 minutes, adding a little more stock if you feel it is necessary (some rice/mushrooms absorb more liquid than others).

This next dish, although almost a meal in itself, is nevertheless a 'chunky' soup that has few main ingredients (and all storecupboard ones), the flavours coming from the spices used. I suppose ground ginger could be fried with the other spices if fresh ginger is not available, but it's not as good. Always remember that when using peas in any dish, these should always be added towards the end of the cooking time as they change colour to khaki when cooked too long. Many 'green' veggies (beans included) are best cooked for the shortest time possible if their colour is to be retained.

Spicy Chickpea Soup: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tblsp garam masala or curry powder
1.5 pints (850ml) vegetable stock
2 carrots, diced
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
4 oz (100g) string beans, chopped (or peas)
Put the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes until beginning to soften, then stir in the garlic, ginger and garam masala. Fry for a further two minutes to release the spicy flavours, then add the stock and carrots. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender, then add the chickpeas.
If you wish for a thickish soup with still some chunks left, then give the soup a quick whizz with a stick blender for a couple of minutes, or blitz half the soup in a blender or food processor before putting back into the pan. Finally stir in the beans (or peas if using), simmer for 3 minutes to allow these to cook, then serve in individual bowls with a chunk of crusty 'artisan' bread.

Final recipe today is one based on the 'ready-prepared'. Sooner or later we home-cooks have some cold meat available, and together with other 'store-cupboard ingredients' we can rustle up a dish that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, make and serve. As ever, if needs arise, use less meat (cut into thinner strips it looks more) and use more beans. Instead of roast red bell pepper (sold in jars, but we could roast a fresh pepper on a griddle pan) we could instead use sun-dried tomatoes.
This dish is ideal to serve with salad to eat 'al fresco' when we enjoy this lovely weather over the Easter holiday.

Chilli Beef Wraps: serves 4
2 tsp light olive (or sunflower) oil
approx 12 oz(350g) cooked beef, cut into strips
1 onion (pref red) finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
half tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chilli powder (or cayenne pepper)
1 x 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
roasted and skinned red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper8 flour tortillas, warmed
creme fraiche or sour cream
chopped fresh mint
Put the oil in a large frying pan and - cooking over medium to high heat - add the onion, green pepper, cumin and chilli powder and stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes,then reduce heat and add the strips of cooked beef. Heat through for a couple of minutes, than add the tomatoes, beans, and roasted pepper. Once thoroughly heated through, stir in the Worcestershire sauce adding seasoning to taste.
When ready to serve, heat the tortillas as per packet instructions, stack on a plate covered with a towel to keep the tortillas both warm and prevent them drying out, serve the meat/bean mixture in a warm serving bowl, and further bowls of creme fraiche/sour cream, and chopped mint so that everyone can take a tortilla, fill with the beef/bean mix, top with a spoon of creme/cream and sprinkle over mint before wrapping up and eating in the hand.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fishy Business

The first recipe uses canned red kidney beans, and a stores 'own-brand' can be really cheap. Dried beans can work out even cheaper when a whole pack is soaked overnight, cooked and then frozen in small amounts to use as we wish.
As well as the beans, stale bread (crumbed) is another 'almost freebie' ingredient, and the herbs can be either coriander or basil. Use the cheapest canned chopped tomatoes (or use home-grown), and for the 'icing on the cake' bake your own burger buns, grow your own mixed salad leaves, and make a dressing from your home-made yogurt. Meals can't get better than that!

Tex-Mex Burgers: makes 6
2 x 400g cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz (100g) breadcrumbs
1 - 2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
handful fresh coriander or basil leaves, chopped
1 egg
2 tblsp chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
Put the beans into a bowl and - using a fork or potato masher - roughly mash them up. Stir in the breadcrumbs, chilli powder, chopped herbs, the egg and the tomatoes, adding seasoning to taste, then mix well together. Divide the mixture into six, and using wetted hands, form them into balls, then flatten into burger shapes (Note: at this point they can be frozen). To cook, put on a greased baking sheet, then grill for 5 minutes on each side until crisp and golden. (To cook from frozen, bake in the oven for 20 or so minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6, until heated through). Serve in split buns that have been spread with a dollop of yogurt, topping each burger with salad leaves and more yogurt before clapping the bread 'lid' on top. Or serve alone with salad and perhaps oven chips.

For an easy pudding - more a method than a recipe - take ready-made pancakes and spread each with chocolate spread (aka Nutella)following with a layer of ripe mashed banana, then fold in half, then half again (to make triangles), slip each into a frying pan containing a little melted butter and orange juice and heat through before serving. Alternatively spread a few pancakes with the chocolate, a few more with banana, then layer one on top of the other to make a stack. Place on a plate, cover with a tent of foil and heat through in the oven for a few minutes before serving, cut into wedges like a cake.P,/>

This next recipe makes use of vegetables that most of us have around the kitchen at any one time. It can also use up the left-over chopped tomatoes that needed to be used up once the can had been opened for the burger recipe today.
Veggie and Lentil Soup: serves 4
1 tsp butter
3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
5 oz (150g) carrots, diced
7 oz (200g) peeled potatoes, diced
5 oz (150g) red lentils
1 can (or part of - see above) chopped tomatoes
1.3 pints (800ml hot vegetable stock
1 tblsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (opt)
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the oil, then add the onion, celery, carrot and potato and stir to coat the veggies in the oils. Cover and cook over the lowest heat for 10 minutes, giving the occasional stir. Then add the lentils, tomatoes, stock and thyme (if using), raising the heat slightly, then when boiling half cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, then add seasoning to taste. Replace the lid - this time on fully - and reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for a further 20 - 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. More stock/water may need to be added if the soup is becoming too thick.
If you prefer chunky soup, eat as-is, or if you prefer smooth, then blitz the soup in a blender or food processor to a puree, and return to the pan to reheat.

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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It Was Ever Thus!

Hot Cross Buns:makes 12
1 x 500g pack White Bread Mix
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 tblsp mixed spice
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
9 fl oz (250ml) milk, slightly warmed
1 egg, beaten
8 oz (225g) dried mixed fruit
2 oz (50g) candied peel
4 oz (100g)plain flour
6 tblsp water
honey or golden syrup to glaze
Put the bread mix into a bowl with the sugar and spice and mix well together, then make a well in the centre. Mix the butter in with the milk,stir in the egg and tip this into the well in the flour. Stir together with a knife until a dough is formed, then using the hands, gather this together into a ball and top onto a lightly floured board, kneading for five minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, covering with a cloth, and leave in a warm place for the dough to rise until doubled in size (this can take anything from 30 minutes to one hour).
When the dough has risen, punch it down with the knuckles to get rid of the air(this is called 'knocking back', and then put the dough on a floured surface and roll it out (or flatten with hands) to make a rectangle (A3 size). Mix the dried fruit and peel together, and sprinkle this over the dough, then roll up from one end, then fold in half and knead until the fruit has been taken up evenly throughout the dough.
Either form the dough into an oblong and put this in a greased and floured loaf tin, or form the dough into 12 even sized lumps and shaped these into balls. Place these on a greased and floured baking sheet, allowing room for them to spread.
Whichever way of baking is chosen, both need covering with a damp cloth or oiled cling film and again put into a warm place until risen.
If wishing to put the traditional cross on each bun (and maybe also on a loaf)stir the water into the flour to make a soft paste. Put this into a freezer bag and cut off one corner so it can be used as a piping bag, then pipe a cross on each bun after they have risen, but be sure not to knock back the dough or it will collapse again.
Bake the buns for 20 - 25 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6, or for 45 - 50 minutes if making a loaf. Warm honey or syrup in a pan until runny, then brush this over the tops of the cook and hot buns, then allow to cool slightly (or completely) before splitting and spreading with butter.

Iced Buns:makes 20
1 x 500g pack White Bread Mix
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg
250 - 300ml water, lukewarm
9 oz (250g) icing sugar
Mix the bread mix and sugar together, and add the egg and enough water to make a soft dough (more easily done in a food processor or mixer than by hand). Knead on a floured surface for about 5 - 10 minutes (or use a machine with a dough hook) until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (could take one hour). Knock back with the knuckles, the divide into 20 even pieces, keeping them covered with a towel or cling film to stop the surface drying out. Shape each piece into a thick sausage, place on a greased baking tray and cover with a towel or oiled film, and leave them in a warm place again to rise until doubled in size. Remove cover and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 8 - 10 minutes until golden, then remove and cool on a cake airer.
If wishing to ice the buns, mix the icing sugar with a little water. It needs to be fairly stiff yet able to be spread easily, then leave to set.

Other ways of using bread mix is to use the dough to make pizza bases, or some of the dough could be used to make buns, the rest to make pizzas or pitta bread. Myself often save a bit of surplus dough, roll it into a ball, place it in a bag and freeze it. This thaws rapidly and can be used (when the oven is on for something else) to bake into a couple of pitta breads, or a good handful of bread sticks, and can also be used - rolled thinly - instead of pastry (but used in the same way) to make Pasties - these being the Italian version of our Cornish Pastie, but with a different filling (according to our choice) and which they call 'Calzone'.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Health and Wealth

The first recipe today is for pastry. In many ways it resembles a scone mix, but when rolled out really thinly and used to line a flan dish etc, it gives a good crispy texture. This pastry could also be used to top a pie or to make a pizza base.
Use as-is for savoury dishes, but add a couple of teaspoons of sugar if wishing to use for sweet dishes. Yogurt Pastry:for a 9!(23cm)flan
6 oz (175g) plain flour
pinch salt
1 oz (25g) butter, chilled and diced
4 oz (100g) natural yogurt
4 tblsp milk
Put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl and rub together with the fingers until like crumbs. Mix the milk and yogurt together, then tip this into the dry mix and stir with a round-ended knife to bring the lot together. Dust hands with flour and gently gather the mixture into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface.
Roll the pastry out thinly, wide enough to line a 9" (23cm)fluted flan tin, and lay the pastry in the tin, pressing the dough into the flutes at the side (if your tin has flutes that is). If the dough is sticky, keep dusting hands with flour. It is important not to overwork the pastry.
Spoon the chosen filling into the flan, then bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 25 - 30 minutes, until the filling is cooked. Best eaten freshly baked.

The next recipe is a 'sweet treat' - basically a sponge cake cut into squares and each then covered in jam, marmalade, or lemon curd before being tossed in desiccated coconut: traditionally called 'Lamingtons'. Lamingtons: makes 15
9 oz (250g) butter, softened
9 oz (250g) self-raising flour
9 oz (250g) caster sugar
quarter tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
5 fl oz (150ml) natural yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz (150g) desiccated coconut
jam or lemon curd
Put the butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, yogurt and vanilla into one large bowl and beat together with an electric whisk until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined 20 x 30cm deep baking or roasting tin, and bake for 25 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dlean. Leave in the tin for five minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
When cooled, trim away any crusty edges, and then cut the slab into 15 x 5cm squares (approx size). If using jam, warm this first, and - if necessary - sieve to remove any pieces of fruit. Tip the coconut onto a tray, and brush top and sides of each square with the jam or lemon curd, and dip into the coconut. You can also coat the base of each cake with coconut as well if you wish in the same way, but you will need to allow more coconut.
After coating, the cakes will store for at least a day in an airtight container, and the sponge cake (without the jam/coconut) can be well wrapped then frozen for up to a month to assemble later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Name of the Game

This is a pickle that eats well with cold meats. As the flavour improves with storage,it should be left a month before opening.

Cauliflower Pickle: makes about 1 pint
1 medium cauliflower (700g approx)
1 green bell pepper
8 oz (225g) French beans
8 oz small button onions
8 oz courgettes
5 oz (175g) salt
3 pints (1.7ltrs)cold water
1 pint (500ml) spiced pickling vinegar
Cut the cauliflower into small florets, remove seeds from pepper and cut this into chunks, cut courgettes into wedges, top and tail beans and chop into small chunks, and remove skins from onions.
Layer the vegetables with the salt in a non-metallic bowl, and pour over the water, placing a plate over the veggies to keep them under the liquid. Then leave in a cool place overnight.
Next day rinse the vegetables well to remove the salt, and pat dry with kitchen paper, then put into a pan with the vinegar, bring to the boil, simmer for one minute, then remove from heat and immediately place into warm, sterilised jars making sure the vegetables are completely covered by the vinegar. Seal with a vinegar proof lid and store for at least one month before eating.

Always seeking new ways to use up something, came across an original idea to use up both a loaf past its best (rather dry) and the scrapings from a jar of Marmite. All you do is mix the Marmite with a little melted butter, spread this on slices of the bread (in other words just make an open Marmite sarnie), cut into squares or triangles, and place on the top of a beef casserole for the last half hour or so of cooking. If the dish is then covered, the slices end up a bit like flat dumplings, if the dish is left uncovered, the topping then becomes a crisp topping. No need to make a casserole to try this - just prepare the bread/Marmite, then freeze away until needed. Alternatively, make a proper Marmite sarnie, then blitz into crumbs, and bag these up to scatter over the top of a casserole or even a meat pie instead of using pastry.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Proof of the Pudding...

Cauliflower Pilaff: serves 4
1 cauliflower
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 - 2 tblsp mild/medium curry paste
7 oz (200g) basmati rice
3 oz (75g) peas
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can green or red lentils
1 1/2 pints (900ml) veg. stock
Break the cauliflower into small even-sized florets and blanch in boiling water for 2minutes then drain well.
Put the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion over low heat until softened, then raise the heat to medium and then add the cauliflower, giving it a few minutes stir-fry to colour it slightly. Stir in the curry paste, cook for a minute to release its flavour, then stir in the rice. Once this is coated with the spiced oil in the pan, add the remaining ingredients (but keep back a quarter of a pint of the stock), give everything one more quick stir, then clap on a lid and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, if the mixture begins to appear dry, add the remaining stock. When rice is tender, most of the stock should have been absorbed, but the pilaff should still remain moist.
Although this is a meat-free dish, some diced cooked lamb or chicken could be added towards the end of the cooking.

Cauliflower Pie: serves 4
1 cauliflower
4 oz (100g) broccoli
1 carrot,diced
2 baking potatoes
4 oz (100g) peas
salt and pepper
1 tsp mustard powder (or made mustard)
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, grated
14 fl oz (400ml) white sauce
melted butter
Break the cauliflower and broccoli into small to medium sized florets. Peel potatoes and cut these into quarter inch thick slices. Put the potatoes into a pan of boiling water, place a steamer over the top to hold the other veg, and boil until the potatoes are just tender (takes about five minutes).
Drain potatoes, and reserve one half. Place the spuds and all the other veg in an ovenproof dish, adding seasoning to taste.
To the white sauce, add the mustard and two-thirds of the Cheddar, then pour this over the veggies, stirring so the sauce coats all the veggies, then level the surface as much as possible before overlapping the remaining sliced potato on top. Brush the surface with melted butter, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, then bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes until the top is golden. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Morning After...

The name for my version of this cheese topping/spread is 'Ploughman's Rarebit',and if I had any, would have also included a grated pickled onion. The recipe uses 'a dash of brown ale', but having none used 'a dash of B's lager' (he having already opened a can to slake his thirst). The suggestion was served the grilled 'rarebit' with pickle, but a spoon of this (mashed up)could instead be included as an 'ingredient'.

Ploughman's Rarebit:
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) plain flour
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
6 oz (175g) grated Cheddar cheese
1 tsp made mustard
2 egg yolks
dash Worcestershire sauce
dash lager (or brown ale)
salt and pepper
Melt the butter, stir in the flour and then slowly add the milk, whisking to remove lumps, then beat in the egg yolks. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, then stir in the remaining ingredients, adding seasoning to taste. Beat everything together until smooth, then place in bowl, cover and when cool keep in the fridge.
To use: cut thick slices of fresh bread, and spread one side with a thick layer of the 'rarebit', and grill until the topping is hot and bubbling. Serve with pickle.
Alternatively, spread the pickle on the bread before topping with the spread and grilling.