Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food, Glorious Food,,,,

Had to smile when I read your comment jane, as even when working in an enjoyable job (such as a tea-room or cafe) this is anything but relaxing.  Unless, of course, there are few customers, as this does allow time to chat, but then worry more about not enough money coming in to keep the place afloat, and also worry about what to do with all the bakes and edibles that had been made that might not now be able to be served the next day due to various 'rules and regs.  Or am I just looking on the black side?

Even the 'work' I'm doing now can't be called relaxing, I'm having to spend several hours each day hunting for useful recipes, then adapting them to suit the 'food allocation', also trying some out. I'm continually walking from room to room clutching books, making notes, even when sitting in my chair watching TV read more recipes. take more notes during the adverts.  But as this 'work' is only 'temporary, do find some enjoyment doing it.  If I had to do it all the time, then it might feel different.

It takes years for a quince tree to fruit Lisa, and a medlar tree would also take time.  The medlar fruit has to be left on the tree until it is over-ripe (called 'bletted') before it is fit to use, and only then used cooked.  Don't think the medlar is worth growing.  The quince has a lovely flavour and looks a lot like a large fat pear when grown.  The fruit is very hard and needs cooking where it is then normally added to apples (in pies etc) or can be made into a quince jelly (to be served with cold meat or cheese).
An easier 'quince' to grow is the Japanese Quince, a bush that has orange flowers in spring and small apricot sized yellow fruits in autumn.  These fruits are hard and need cooking, but have a flavour similar to the true quince, and as we used to have a bush in Leeds, and used the fruits (they can be frozen which help soften them as they thaw), this is perhaps the variety you are thinking of having.

The 'pizza rice' dish you mentioned sounded good, and I'd be grateful if you could give me the recipe as I'd like to give it a try.  Or is it just using layers of rice instead of pasta with the filling being any that would be used in a true lasagne (meat or veggie) with the usual sauces?

Sorry to hear your husband has gout Ciao, this can be very VERY painful and not always confined to the big toe.  Have heard that cherries help to cure this - not necessarily fresh, dried cherries can work just as well.  The dried are on sale in the supermarkets.  If you have a garden you could plant a cherry tree? Preferably one of the darker varieties.
Am surprised your OH doesn't care for home-made bread.  Mind you, occasionally I prefer the softer white sliced bread when making (say) egg mayonnaise sarnies.  Have found that when using a bread mix, and making it up with milk, this gives a softer crumb - more like the supermarket 'sliced'. It also helps to keep the bread moist so it doesn't 'stale' so quickly.
Instead of using fresh milk, sometimes I add dried milk to the bread mix and then make it up with water - almost the same thing.
Also covering the bread with a towel as soon as it is out of the oven keeps the crust softer, then putting it into a plastic bag when it has cooled down (but not quite cold) keeping one end of the bag open - this also keeps the crust soft.

We now come to today's recipes which include the remaining five variations using the basic cookie mix given yesterday. The first makes lovely gingerbread mean, but can be any shape you wish, just plain rounds if you like.  Depending upon shape, the mixture may make more (or less) than the amount given.

Ginger Family: makes 40
basic cookie mix
1 tblsp black treacle
1 tsp ground ginger
Blend the treacle and ginger into the cookie mix, chill, then roll out to 1/4" (5mm) thickness.  Using small gingerbread-men cutters, cut out 'people (boys and girls). Bake as 'basic' but for only 8-10 minutes.  If making larger figures or different shapes, the cookies may need a slightly longer cooking.

Cherry Cookies: makes 26
basic cookie mix
1 oz (25g) cornflakes, crushed (or dessic. coconut)
13 glace cherries, halved
Form the basic mix into 26 small balls, then roll each into the crushed cornflakes.   Place on baking sheets, flatten slightly, and press a halved glace cherry, round side p, into the middle of each. Bake as 'basic'.

Almond Choc-bars: makes 24
basic cookie mix
1 oz (25g) cocoa
8 oz (225g) marzipan
1 egg white
halved or flaked almonds
Knead the cookie mix and cocoa together, then roll mixture into a one inch (2.5cm) diam. long sausage.  Roll the marzipan into half inch (1cm) diam. sausage (same length as the chocolate one). 
Lay the marzipan 'sausage' on top of the wider cocoa 'sausage' and press down slightly so the marzipan is held in a 'groove' of chocolate mixture. Brush marzipan with the egg white, then slice the 'sausage' into 2" (5cm) pieces, Press 2 halved or flaked almonds onto the marzipan, then bake as 'basic'.

Coffee 'Creams': makes 20
basic cookie mix
2 tblsp Camp coffee (or 4 tsp coffee essence)
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
6 oz (175g) icing sugar, sifted
Blend  1 tblsp Camp coffee (or 2 tsp coffee essence) into the cooking mix, then form into small balls and place on baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between each as they spread when cooking. Flaten each slightly with a fork.  Bake as 'basic'.
Make a coffee 'filling' by beating the butter with the remaining Camp coffee (or essence), and the icing sugar.   When the cookies are cold, sandwich together with the filling and serve with a dusting of icing sugar over the tops.

Final cookie recipe is orange and cinnamon flavoured, but you could instead use lemon and ground coriander seeds.  Why not make some of each?  If choosing to freeze, ice when thawed (or nearly).
Orange Spiced Cookies: makes 24
basic cookie mix
zest and juice of 1 small orange
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz (75g) icing sugar, sifted
Knead the cookie mix, zest and spice together, then form into balls. Place on baking sheets and flatten with a fork,  Bake as 'basic'. Then leave to get cold.
Mix together 1 tblsp of orange juice with the icing sugar, put into an icing bag, and drizzle the icing -'zig-zag' - fashion, over the top of each cookie.  Leave to set before serving.

This week am enjoying the 'celebrity British Bake-off' on TV, and how pleasing it is to see the good and great fall from their pedestals the minute they attempt to make a cake.  One competitor yesterday seemed to have difficulty just removing the 'bakes' from the oven, even carrying them from one place to another, as every time some slipped from the baking sheet or plate onto the floor. 
The previous day I did enjoy seeing Jo Brand sitting on a pack of butter to 'soften' it.  Must try that.

Here is an easy recipe for cheesecake.  I keep broken digestive (and similar) biscuits in an airtight jar, and jelly in the larder. In the fridge always a can of evaporated milk, a tub or two of 'light' cream cheese, and butter. Hopefully a lemon in the fruit basket (although they do keep longer if wrapped singly in cling film then kept in the fridge (but do have a 'jif' lemon for emergencies - also fresh lemon zest and juice in ice-cube trays in the freezer).  One tip:  cream cheese whips much more easily when left to come to room temperature, so if planning to make this, get the cheese out of the fridge early in the day, or the night before. Evaporated milk whips more thickly when chilled.
If you wish you could use an orange jelly, using the zest and juice of a small orange, and make up the jelly using the (hot) syrup grained from the canned mandarines.
St. Clement's Cheesecake: serves 6
5 oz (150g) digestive biscuits, crushed
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
1 lemon jelly
5 fl oz (150ml) boiling water
zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 oz (175g) cream cheese
1 large (14.5oz/400g) can evaporated milk, chilled
canned mandarin oranges, drained
Mix the biscuit crumbs and melted butter together and press into the base of a loose-bottomed 8" (20cm) cake tin (or deep flan tin).
Dissolve the jelly in the boiling water, then add the zest and juice of the lemon.  Cool, then whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the chilled evaporated milk and whisk again until thick. Pour this over the biscuit base and chill.  Decorate with the drained orange segments.

While I remember, do check any potatoes that you might have stored away in a dark place.  My 'potato bag' holds quite a few small potatoes (bought a month or so ago from Riverford) and also some larger (from the supermarket).  Both are beginning to sprout, although the organic 'smalls' only slightly. I've rubbed off all the shoots and replaced the spuds back in the bag.  Quite safe to use and eat, as long as the spud has not gone soft or the skins turned green.  But check now - leave it too long and the shoot will keep growing and only fit to plant.
I've tried the 'add an apple to the bag to prevent sprouting' but this doesn't work, at least not for me.

That's it for today.  Must now spend an hour or two typing up recipes ready to email to the Foodbank.  Also seek out more recipes, and do some baking for our own use (mainly for B as I'm doing so well with my weight loss have to avoid all the 'naughties'). Could be another busy day.

May be a late morning publish tomorrow as it is Norma the Hair day.  Unless I get up early enough to blog before she comes (unlikely as it's so nice and snug in bed I leave getting up as late as possible).  

Still no snow here, but other parts of the country are snow-bound.  I can't believe what I see when it watch our national news on TV.  Such a small island as ours and we have different weather in different regions. 
Yesterday our living room warmed up to the recommended 21C quite rapidly once the heating was on.  Previously it only just reached that once the  curtains had been closed and the heating was about to switch off (9.00pm).  The 'new' warmth due entirely to the fact that B decided to 'bleed' the radiators and got rid of a lot of trapped air.  Not sure whether this means it will cost us more in fuel to heat the now-full-of-water radiators, or whether the extra heat given off means the thermostat on each radiator cuts off sooner (no doubt Les will let me know).

Whatever your weather, do hope you all keep well and warm and I look forward to chatting to you again tomorrow.  Hope you can join me.  If so - see you then.