Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Town and Country Harvest

Maybe it is because the weather has turned more (seasonally) colder that I'm getting and more into the delights of autumnal cooking. It's been this cold during our summer months but somehow this seems more natural. Also feel it has more to do with the angle of the sun as it shines upon us (or when it does), as if over one day it suddenly decided to dip slightly lower and give us longer shadows. Perhaps it is the angle of sunlight that triggers off a lot of the - again seasonal - animal activity and also plants, rather than the temperature at that time. I certainly feel that 'little something' that I didn't have a week (or so) ago.

Now have my own seasonal activity that calls me. Have mentioned the 'autumn cleaning' and yesterday felt compelled to sort out my wardrobe and gather together clothes for the colder months, packing away the lighter ones. Haven't done that in years, normally wearing much the same winter and summer, just putting on a sweater over my T shirt etc. Does this mean my 'instincts' are telling me we are in for a hard winter? We'll have to wait and see.

Clearing out of books and mags also done, now concentrating on those that are either a 'good read' (not yet read but hope so), and cook books that concentrate on seasonal veggies. This perhaps due as much to our 'veggie box' (the first arriving today), as my 'instincts'.
Had a brochure from Donald Russell yesterday with an offer for Beef Rib Trim, this being one of their cheaper cuts that is so good B insists on me ordering some. Cook slowly (I do this overnight in the slow cooker), it then becomes so tender and makes a lovely 'stock' at the same time. The strips of 'trim' I try to leave whole once cooked, then pack them away with some of the stock to use for casseroles, stir-fries, curries, chilli con carne, meat pies....
Don't really NEED to order more meat as have enough in the freezer to last for months, but don't have any beef rib trim left and so am very, VERY, tempted. First need to make room in the freezer, but as the offer is open until 23rd of this month, might be able to find space (I'll be ordering a double batch of Beef Rib Trim - if I do that is).

Beloved is out early this morning to his new 'job' (he is really enjoying it, and I too love to have the whole day to myself), so want to get today's blog published a.s.a.p so that I'll be around when the veggie box is delivered (our back door bell is out of order and I can't always hear anyone knocking at the door when I'm in here). So today's 'chat' is confined to replying to the couple of comments that came in, plus some recipes.

Was a bit miffed you have been able to see what sounded like the complete series of Gordon Ramsay's new cookery prog Margie. How come Canada gets to see it all and we have only had the first episode (yesterday)? Mind you, although I'm not a lover of Gordon R (due to his foul language), have to say when he shows us how things should be done and 'respectfully', he is a very good teacher. Loved watching the first of his 100 tips, and for the first time now am able to sharpen my kitchen knives correctly (normally I tend to blunt them even more when using the steel due entirely to the angle of knife to steel being wrong). Am looking forward to each of his 'lessons', and hope other readers are also able to watch (got the time wrong yesterday, G.R. is on later in the afternoon, think either 5.00 - or might be 5.30 - on Channel 4).

Also watched two programmes last night, one on school meals, the other about food 'wrappings'. The first showed the problem of too many 'take-away' outlets that had opened near schools (so children would walk out of school during lunch hour and buy their meal there instead of eating a more healthy school meal), plus other 'chat' about quality of school meals.
Unfortunately nodded off during the second programme but hope it will be repeated. Noticed early this morning (around 5.15am but still asleep in bed) there was a programme called 'Make Do and Mend'. If we had a way to record programmes would have been able to watch it. Perhaps have already done so as am sure it was a repeat.

Lucky you Jane to be able to have 'free 'damsons. It is only in this part of the world that they grow in any abundance, although when living in Leicester my parents had a damson tree in the garden.
Because of your good (bought) crop of carrots, am giving a couple more recipes today using this veggie. Carrots keep well enough (at least they do in the veggie drawer in our fridge), as long as not kept in an unopened plastic bag (I tear it open but leave the carrots still inside the bags), but kept open to the air in the drawer they start to dry out and also grow 'hairs' all over them (mini rootlets I think these are).

First recipe is for carrot muffins, and unlike most American muffin recipes these don't need to be eaten the day of making (but even so, best if you can) as they will store in an airtight tin for several days and can also be frozen. Although this recipe makes 'minis', they can be made normal (larger) size, in which case cook them for a few minutes longer.
Carrot Mini-muffins: makes 18
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
half teaspoon ground mixed spice or ginger
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
3 fl oz (75ml) sunflower oil
2 fl oz (50ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
5 oz (125g) carrots, peeled and grated
Line two mini-muffin tins with 18 paper cases. Into a bowl put the flour, chosen spice and sugar. In a jug put the oil, milk and egg. Add the 'wet to the dry' and then add the carrots, Stir to just combine. Don't over mix (it doesn't have to be as smooth as when making a normal cake, but no dry bits of flour should be seen).
Put a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each paper case, then bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 12 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Cool and then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or these can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Now for a savoury dish and enough here to make one good meal and one (or two more) for freezing. Not everyone keeps caraway seeds in their spice rack, but they do add extra flavour. Just omit if you have none (anyone remember eating 'Seed Cake' flavoured with caraway? Used to be quite popular in my youth).
If no Feta cheese, use a similar cheese that will crumble easily, such as Wensleydale. Otherwise just use your favourite hard cheese, grated.
Meatballs and Carrots: serves 8
2 lb (900g) minced pork
5 oz (150g) breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (or to taste)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
1 lb 10oz (750g) carrots, peeled
4 tblsp olive oil
3 onions, grated or blitzed to a paste
finger piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 x 680g bottle/pack passata
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 tblsp sugar
1 x 200g pack feta cheese, crumbled
handful fresh parsley, chopped
Mix 2 oz of the breadcrumbs with the pork, egg, caraway seeds and HALF the cumin. Add some salt and plenty of pepper. Mix well to combine then roll into 30 meatballs. Place these into a non-stick roasting tin with HALF the oil and toss to coat. Halve the carrots lengthways, and if large, cut these across into quarters. Put the remaining half of the oil in another roasting tin with the carrots, and toss these too.
Place both tins in the oven and roast at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 30-40 minutes, giving each tin a shake halfway through.
Meanwhile, fry the onions, ginger and remaining cumin in a little more oil in a large frying pan, stirring constantly, then add the passata, chopped tomatoes, sugar plus a little more salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove both roasting tins from the oven and divide the contents between each (half the meatballs added to the carrots and vice versa). Spoon the tomato sauce over the top.
Set aside the amount you wish to freeze, and allow to cool, then pack and freeze. Use within 3 months.
To finish cooking the remaining meatballs and carrots, first mix the remaining breadcrumbs with the cheese, parsley and some seasoning and sprinkle over the top. Return to the oven and continue baking for a further 20 minutes until piping hot and the cheese melting.

As there has been some interest from readers re coleslaw, the final recipe today is yet another variation. Even with this we could vary the ingredients (use some red cabbage with some white, spring onions as well as (or instead of) the red. Maybe a different herb. You could also include grated apple (as well as or instead of the carrot....), Of course the cheese could be any grated hard cheese of your choice. As this will keep chilled for up to three days, worth making the full amount even if living alone.
The recipe suggests using 1 white cabbage, but these often come in various sizes, and myself tend to buy this by weight (it is often sold pre-cut into portions), so no need to be too exact about the amount you use. Weigh what you have and use less if too much.
The remaining herbs and cheese are added when ready to eat, these can be prepared in advance and left (covered) in a container in the fridge alongside the coleslaw, then use the amount you need according to the portion served.
Cheese 'n Chive Coleslaw: serves 4 - 6
1 white cabbage, approx 14 oz/400g
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 red onion, halved then thinly sliced
3 tblsp mayonnaise
3 tblsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
handful fresh chives, snipped
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) grated Cheddar (or other) cheese
If using a whole cabbage, cut in half and then cut again into quarters. Remove the core and set this aside. Thinly shred the leaves and place into a large mixing bowl. Grate the core and add this to the bowl with the carrot. Mix together the mayo, yogurt and mustard, and snip in most of the chives. Blend together then tip this onto the veggies in the bowl and fold together (preferably with your fingers, clean of course), making sure every bit of the salad is coated with the dressing. Add seasoning to taste. Cover and keep chilled for up to 3 day. When ready to eat, sprinkle with remaining chives and the grated cheese.

That's it for today. If any reader has a glut of fruit/veggies, then bend my ear and I'll be happy to look up a variety of recipes for you to use these up. It really does help to know what YOU want when it comes to me giving suggestions for meals rather than just make my own choice of what to write about. This way I feel more 'useful'.

Off now to have another 'sort out' of Boris to see if I can find some spare room for Beef Rib Trim. With so many little pots of 'not sure what' still shoved behind larger packs of veggies, time for me to clear them out (but not throw away) and turn them into something edible for B's supper (and more likely my supper if not quite sure what they are!!).

Although not much rain is expected this coming week, we will be getting more wind and this will be coming down from the North, so the temperature will be dropping even further. Not that I mind, as always feel as though I have more energy. Enjoy your day, and hope to meet up with you again tomorrow. See you then.