Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Counting the Canapes

Decided yesterday to do another 'stock-take' of larder and fridge (freezers yet to be done), and to my suprise - and now pleasure - am finding that there is a lot more shelf space (esp. in the fridge) as I'm now not replacing the stored foods in the larder as these are used (just as long as I have at least one 'back-up'), and the fridge too is now not to be a place to store anything more than a week or so.  All because of my swing to 'eating fresh', and by this I mean REALLY fresh foods.  
Just as long as I can rely on a delivery of a veggie box occasionally, then have no reason to keep 'long-shelf' life veggies in the fridge (or even onion basket) as I used to when ordering only once a month from Tesco, now the fridge has room to breathe, and when I need to 'batch bake' (for the social etc) there will be plenty of 'chill space'. 
When push comes to shove, I can always remove all items from my fridge and put them in a cold box so that the shelves/drawers can hold food that needs to be kept chilled for a 'do'.  This will make it far easier for me as I can't make everything at the last minute. 

Thanks for comments, just one to reply to today (more came in but they are the 'self-promoting' ones with no name other than 'anonymous', some sort of comment that really makes no sense regarding my site, then ending with a link to their site, so always ignore these).
You mention 'Call the Midwife' now able to be seen Margie. Is that the one about the group of girls connected to a church or something?  Set in the late 40s?  If so you will see Miranda Hart (think she arrives in the second episode), she has her own comedy series (called 'Miranda') where she is really, really funny.  Being very tall, and a bit 'awkward', she sends herself up beautfully.
Do you (and readers in the US) get 'Downton Abbey'?  Over here this is THE series to watch.  It is very well cast and acted (especially by Maggie Smith - the Dowager), and very 'English' in the way the gentry used to (and probably still do) live.

Not yet sure of the final choice of canapes, these should be selected by the committee and they will let me know (hopefully by the end of this week), and will let you know and I'll try and remember to photograph them before they go.

Get an ingredient into my head and I'm like a dog with a bone, keep 'gnawing' at it until it's about all used up.  So expect more about Marmite today, and 'gluten-free'.

For those interested in the healthy side of eating, these pasties are a good source of folate and calcium.  They can be frozen (uncooked), and baked from frozen in which case remove from the freezer, place on a baking sheet, brush with egg and bake as given in recipe below  until golden and the centres are piping hot.
Cheese and Marmite Pasties: makes 6
1 lb (450g) potatoes, peeled and grated
7 oz (200g) mature Cheddar, grated
4 oz (100g) soft breadcrumbs (brown or white)
bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 x 500g pack shortcrust pastry
2 tblsp Marmite, plus splash of water
Put the potato, cheese, breadcrumbs, spring onions, ONE egg, the salt and plenty of black pepper, then mix well together to combine.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board (it helps also to flour the rolling pin), rolling it to just thicker than a £1 coin.  Use a saucer to cut out 6 circles of pastry (you may need to re-roll trimmings to make the last one).
Warm the Marmite and water in a small pan (or jug in the microwave) to soften it slightly (don't over heat it), the brush this over each circle, leaving an 1" (2.5cm) border around the edges.
Divide the filling into 6 and place in the centre of each circle.  Beat the remaining egg and brush a little round the borders of the circles, then bring up 2 sides of the pastry to meet over the filling and crimp together to enclose the lot in the traditional 'pasty' shape (or you could - if you wish - fold one side over to the other to form a semi-circle).
Place on a baking sheet and chill whilst the oven heats up (they can be open-frozen at this point, then bagged up, or wrapped in cling film when solid - removing wrapping before baking).
Bake from fresh or frozen at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for 40 - 50 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Eat warm or cold within the next 24 hours.

Here is a gluten-free recipe for Tortilla chips.  Perhaps only of interest to those who need a gluten-free diet, but as I'm sometimes asked to provide gluten-free bread/cakes/biscuits/snacks then am sure this may happen to others when preparing for a party/buffet etc., mainly because it is always cheaper to make from scratch than buy ready-made gluten free products.  All we need is to keep a few g.f. ingredients in store and then we can make/bake not just for those on a diet, but also for ourselves because - like vegetarian or vegan food - EVERYONE can eat these (unless they have a nut or other allergy to one or more of the ingredients in veggie recipes).

Gluten-free Tortilla chips: serves 4
4 oz (100g) gluten-free flour
2 oz (50g) gluten-free fine polenta (cornmeal)
quarter teaspoon xanthum gum
half tsp gl.free baking powder
2 pinches salt
approx 5 fl oz (150ml) warm water
cornflour (for dusting)
oil for frying
chilli powder (for dusting)
Put the first five ingredients into a bowl and mix together.  Stir in enough warm water (you may not need all of it) to make a soft dough.  Remove from bowl and knead well for 2 - 3 minutes on a lightly cornflour-dusted board (to prevent dough sticking to the board).
When ready, dust the board with more cornflour, then divide the dough into 6 pieces.  Working with one piece at a time (keep the rest covered with cling film to prevent drying out), roll out as thinly as possible into a flat circle, then cut into triangles.  Dust off any excess cornflour.  Repeat until all are made, then heat oil in a large pan to 180C/350F - or the heat is right when you drop in a cube of bread which should then turn golden brown in 30 seconds. (you can either deep-fry in a chip pan, or use a deep frying pan, but then keep the oil to a depth of no more than 1" (2.5cm) - safely below the rim level, and of course never leave the pans unattended.
Deep fry the tortilla chips in small batches until crisp on both sides (if using a frying pan you will need to turn the chips) then drain well on kitchen paper.  Dust chips with salt and chilli powder and best served immediately..

I would love to continue chatting, but have reached my 'dead-line'.  Just time for me to say I took the easy way out yesterday and cooked sausage, egg and oven-chips for B's supper, myself having sausages with a salad made from shredded lettuce, fennel and Peppadew.    Not sure yet what I'll be making today, probably a spag.bol or chilli con carne using pre-cooked minced beef (from the freezer).  Today will be 'bottoming' out the kitchen and trying to clear more shelf space for the workload that will fall on my shoulders towards the end of this month.

Tomorrow is Norma the Hair day, and am hoping to write the blog before she arrives at 9.00am but if up too late, then expect me to publish closer to noon.  Also have to go out in the evening to have my flu jab. 

Weather quite good at the moment, but chilly.  Not that I have time to even think about going outdoors my delayed 'spring-clean' (now called 'autum-clean') taking precedence. But am really enjoying being busy (again).  Life in the old dog yet, as they say.

If you are lucky enough to have good weather, then make the most of it if you can. At least when we see the sun shining we are far more likely to feel happy and then walk around with a smile to give to others.   Hope you can join me tomorrow, if so - look forward to meeting up with you again. TTFN.