Thursday, October 04, 2012

Always a Way...

According to my books, fennel is best eaten as soon as possible after harvesting, although it will keep for a few days in the fridge.  So yesterday made B a supper of mixed salad leaves, plus a 'side salad' of apple, shallot and fennel (bulb) cut into slivers (then tossed in lemon juice), to which I added some halved green grapes and one red Peppadew finely chopped.  Bound this with a very little mayo slacked with some of the liquid from the Peppadew jar, then finely chopped some of the fennel fronds and added those.   Took a spoonful to try (cook's always have to taste before serving) and it was very good.
With this was served some salmon that I'd cooked in a foil 'parcel'.  Took a sheet of foil (large enough to wrap loosely round the salmon leaving plenty of air space above), the placed some fennel fronds on the base, a chunk of skinned salmon on top (seasoned with salt and pepper), then put a few slices of lemon on this, topping with more fennel fronds, then folded the parcel, pouring in a tablespoon of white wine before sealing it completely.

Was not sure how long to cook this in the oven but set it at my favourite 180C, 350F, gas 4 and allowed 20 minutes.  I'd already plated up the salad so left B to remove salmon from oven and unwrap.  He said it was perfectly cooked and moist.   He enjoyed the fennel, so will cook the next lot (maybe tonight) to serve as a hot veg with something.   The fronds I can chop finely than put into small containers and freeze.  Used as a herb, fennel has quite a few useful 'medicinal' properties, aiding digestion, preventing flatulence etc.

As you say Eileen, Riverford veggie boxes are probably too much for a person living on their own, even I who do tend to cook larger portions (mainly for B), find that even with the two of us, still have some of the fresh produce lasting more than a week.  However, for the moment am enjoying the chance to try vegetables that have never graced our table before, and looking forward to trying others.

Forgot all about Marmite and cucumber, especially as I have half a cucumber in the fridge that has been there some time (but still firm).  Trouble is, since I've been eating sarnies (and toast) again, my weight is creeping back up, which is annoying as I'd started to lose several pounds now that I'm eating more fibre (mainly veg).  So think I'd better stick to salads with some protein and leave the carbos alone.

Watched a bit more of Hotel GB last night (mainly because there was nothing else worth watching at that time), and was quite impressed how many of the youngsters are really becoming very good at their job.  Some of course are (still) hopeless, but Gordon Ramsay seems to be getting the best out of his lot.
Agree that 'wot's her name' (Mary ???) has a 'floating collar' (and cuffs).  It really irritates me.  That new 'Dragon's Den' woman (the one with those huge padded shoulders that make her look like something out of Star Wars or Dr Who) was in it yesterday.  Kim was (allegedly) ill, so not there.
Not sure if today is the last of the above 'experiment' so might take a peek (if nothing else is on) and see how it ends up.

The main reason I go to Morrison's instead of Aldi Cheesepare is because M's have a scooter that I can use.  Also I really take pleasure in scooting along all the aisles taking a good look at everything the store sells.  More like window shopping than anything else as I might come out with only a couple of containers of milk and 'something' reduced in price.  Doubt that Aldi has the same charm, but if I have a good day (when I can actually managed to walk using my stick) I might manage to get round Aldi (or Lidl), and see what they have.

In the 'old days' we were always able to use milk that had gone sour in the bottle.  Just leave it until it had thickened, then pour it through muslin and hang the 'curds' up to drain, then add salt and use it as curd cheese.   Not sure if this works the same now milk is processed differently, maybe different bacteria or something.   However, as you said CP, milk can be 'caught' when just on the turn by scalding.  Liked your suggestion (yogurt/creme fraiche), and am sure when sweetened could be used to make custard, rice pudding etc.  Also when baking.

You mentioned fear of leaving a chip pan full of hot oil Campfire.  Yes, it really is dangerous if it has only oil in it as when it gets too hot it can burst into flame.  However, when Nigella cooked her chips from cold she did say the advantage was that the oil never got hot enough to be dangerous (when left?).   Once we have put chips into really hot fat, once they have settled they do then continue cooking without the fat getting any hotter, so obviously chips cooked from cold is the safest (and seemingly best) way to do them.   In which case just use a large saucepan, no need for a deep fat fryer.   I have one of these and don't find it any better than using a saucepan other than it has temperature control so it can be safely left with oil heating up in it.

You sound tired Lisa, perhaps it is the time of year (myself having had a few days weariness).  Perhaps we could do with a holiday?  Like away from the family and all its responsibilities.  How lovely it would be to have a job like 'Guy' in Dinners, Diners and Dives (or some such name).  Am getting quite fond of the man, and enjoy his other programme where he cooks at his own home, aided by his two sons.   But what a kitchen?  It looks as though it is outdoors, perhaps sheltered by a canopy, but his swimming pool is only a few paces away, and he has a lovely 'pizza type' open oven on one wall at the end.  
In one of his progs yesterday - was it Philadelphia/Pennsylvania? - he went to a diner that served 'Scrapple'.  I first heard about this when I'd taken myself off for a holiday on a canal (narrow boat) which included tuition on traditional painting (of narrow boats), one of the other holiday makers was an American and he gave me the recipe for said 'Scrapple' (as it was economical), but have forgotten it.
Another recipe I'd like is the one for the cake mixture often mentioned in American cookery progs. The cake called 'Red Velvet'.  This sounds as though it should contain beetroot, but somehow doubt it.  Can anyone let me know more about it?  I can't get Internet at the mo, at least not directly, so can't easily look up anything any more.

Regarding your request for Brussels sprout recipes Les.  My first thought was shred tiny button sprouts finely (using a food processor), then steam these and serve mixed with bits of crispy bacon.
Thanks to Sairy for giving a similar - but different - suggestion.
Below are a few recipes using sprouts, so hope at least one you will find acceptable (and others will too).

Brussels Bhajis: makes 12
2 onions, finely sliced
1 large leek, finely sliced
9 oz (250g) Brussels sprouts, finely shredded
half tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
half tsp each chilli powder and turmeric
salt and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) vegetable stock
9 oz (250g) chickpea (besan/gram) flour
oil for frying
Put the onions, leek and sprouts into a bowl.with the four spices and seasoning to taste, then add the stock.  Using hands, mix together well, then sprinkle in the flour and again mix with the hands.  Form into 12 balls then flatten into 'cakes'.  Sprinkle each with a little more flour, then fry in 1" (2.5cm) depth hot oil (hot enough to crisp a cube of bread in 30 secs) for 6 minutes, urning once, or until crisp and golden..  Fry 4 - 6  at a time to prevent oil cooling down too much, allowing oil to reheat again between batches.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve as a side dish with curry, or as a starter with some mango chutney.

This next recipe is very similar to the 'Bubble and Squeak' that my mum always use to make on Boxing Day to serve with cold turkey (the traditional way to use up leftover sprouts and spuds), but almost any left-over veg could be used either with or without the sprouts.
Sprout Patties: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter
1 tblsp sunflower oil
7 oz (200g) Brussels sprouts, cooked
1 onion
14 oz (400g) mashed potato
salt, pepper
good pinch ground nutmeg
1 tblsp flour
Put half the butter in a pan with half the oil.  Roughly chop the cooked sprouts and add to the pan, stir-frying for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until just turning golden.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the onion and saute (sweat) until softened. 
Put the sprouts and onions into a bowl together with the mashed potatoes, seasoning to taste, and the nutmeg, then mix together.  Form into 8 'patties' (flat cakes), put the flour in a shallow dish and dip each patty into the flour to coat.
Put the remaining butter and oil in the pan and when hot, fry the patties until golden brown and crisp on both sides.

Next recipe is a winter soup that is a good way to use up oddments of veggies that need using up.
Mixed Vegetable Soup: serves 4
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 tblsp curry paste
2 pints (1.2 ltrs) vegetable stock
9 oz (250g) Brussels sprouts, chopped
4 tblsp cream
salt and pepper
Saute the onion and celery in the oil over low heat until softened, then add the potatoes and parsnip. Raise the heat to medium and continue frying for a couple of minutes, then add the curry paste and fry for a further minute before adding the stock.  Stir to combine everything then bring to the boil.  Lower heat, cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the sprouts, bring back to the boil and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes.
Leave soup to cool slightly then put in a blender and whizz until smooth (or use a stick blender directly in the pan).  Reheat and add a little salt if necessary (pepper also if you feel it needs it). Serve hot individual bowls with a swirl of cream on top of each.

Final recipe is a more 'upmarket' way to serve Brussels sprouts with the Christmas turkey (either with the traditional dinner on 'the Day', or with cold turkey (or any cold cuts) on Boxing day.
But don't keep this dish as a 'once a year' serving as its substantial enough to make a great supper for two as it stands, and even eats well when cold (not that there'd be any left as it is so good).
Gratin Supreme of Sprouts: serves 4
1.75lb (800g) Brussels sprouts
2 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 oz (50g) butter
8 fl. oz (250ml) double cream
half tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 oz (50g) breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
Boil or steam sprouts until two-thirds cooked, then drain and slice each into three (or four if large).
Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the sprouts over medium heat until tinged with gold, adding the garlic towards the end.  Stir in cream, nutmeg, and seasoning to taste and bring to the boil. Bubble for 1 minute before transferring to a shallow ovenproof dish.  
Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together and sprinkle over the top of the sprout mixture, then bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes.

Something that might be of interest to those who 'grow their own' Brussels sprouts.  Did you know that sprouts have been cultivated for centuries in the Channel Islands, where they used to dry the canes (stalk) of the sprout plants and use these to make walking sticks? 
So always a way to make use of something, and an old 'skill' worth having a go at methinks.  Who knows, make a few walking sticks and maybe a craft shop would be happy to sell them for you.

With that thought I'll leave you for today, with here at least the rain seems to have now gone and for the moment there is nothing but blue sky and glorious sunshine.  Leaves on some of the trees are now changing colour so soon we will be knee deep in dead leaves.  Thankfully the council tend to clear our street of leaves (lined with chestnut trees) several times a week as they fall, perhaps because most people who live here are elderly and slippery leaves on pavements are a health hazard.

For some reason thought today was Friday, but think it is Thursday (mind you it COULD be Friday - every day is the same to me), anyway coming towards the end of the week.  Next week B and I have our (free) flu jab, so mustn't forget to go for that.
As ever have a messy kitchen to put back in order, so had better get on with it before the mood leaves me.  Already am looking forward to meeting you again tomorrow, so hope you can make it. TTFN.