Friday, February 01, 2013

Only One Pot to Wash...

Despite the forecast of higher temperatures, it seemed to turn very cold again last night, so was tempted to have an extra few minutes (turned out to be the usual hour) in bed this morning.  Hence a late start to my blog again.  But not too late for me to give a few recipes that today focus on one-pot cooking, not in a slow-cooker, but cooked on the hob.   One-pot/one-pan meals are easy to assemble and cook (often needing little or no attention), and perfect for the colder days.

Before I begin, must reply to comments, and your mention of shopping for a friend Kathryn, sounds a lovely idea for this could be quite fun, trying to find the best for the cheapest price etc.  Almost worth suggesting to a supermarket to employ a 'resident shopper' to help customers get the most for their money, but suppose that would defeat the object of them wishing to sell as much as possible for the highest price.  Mind you, with this recession, the first supermarket to take this idea on board might gain a lot more customers, with the other supermarkets left holding the baby, so to speak.

Thanks for your pasta recipe Noor.  It was interesting to hear about the dual Malaysian 'weekend'. It's always good to hear about life in other lands.  Have you lived there long? Or born there?

There are probably full details about growing loofahs on the Internet Sairy, although myself always prefer to ask (via my blog) as the Internet is so 'impersonal/  As I'm virtually housebound for weeks on end I rarely see anyone (other than Norma the Hair) so cherish the 2 or 3 hours a day 'chatting' to you, and it's good to see how we between us we can often answer questions without any other referral.

Am sure that drinking black cherry juice would help gout Moira, but a QUART?!!  Perhaps taken half a pint at a time during the day, but surely not all at once.  However, have heard that eating black cherries (fresh or dried, and probably also canned) does help gout, so worth a try.  Perhaps also worth planting a black cherry in the garden (there are smaller, patio varieties now), but cover with nets after flowering as the birds will eat the fruit before you get a chance to pick them.

I've never thought to use more egg whites than yolks when making omelettes Pam.  Usually do it the other way round, yolks being so nutritious (more protein), saving the whites to make meringues, macaroons, mousses, soft-scoop ice-cream, etc.
Because the 'whites' are so useful I often do have extra yolks and add these to whole eggs when making quiches, custards, lemon curd, and scrambled eggs.  A yolk can be added when making short-crust pastry.  With a tablespoon of milk an egg yolk can take the place of a whole egg when baking (although whites to help a cake to rise). Yolks can also be used to make mayonnaise (although I tend to always buy this ready-made.  A stir-fry recipe will be given today that uses extra yolks.
(The things that go through my mind as I write.  At this very moment, in my mind, can hear Sunny Anderson saying 'yolks', she pronounces it like 'yollks' (we in the UK miss out the 'l' so it sounds like 'yokes').  Then I am reminded of a chef who also misses out an 'l' but this time in 'salt', where he says something like 'soat'.  But then 'golf' is sometimes said as 'gofe', and Ralph can be called 'Rafe'..  So which of any of these is right. All I can say is I get very irritated when I hear what I believe to be mispronunciations, and why I'm even bothering to mention it I don't know.  It's just that everything that comes into my mind whilst writing my blog, just gets included, and I can't seem to stop doing it.  Sorreee.

On to safer ground.  The recipes.  These today are mainly one-pot (or one-pan), suitable for all-year round eating, but especially good for this time of year when we crave something that is easy to make and comforting to eat.  Beginning with one that can use up extra egg yolks.  You don't need to stick to using the ingredients on the list, instead of bean sprouts you could use mangetout peas, and you could also add other veg (sliced mushrooms, diced bell peppers, sweetcorn...).  With enough added veg (and possibly using more egg) you could make an extra portion (or two).

Stir-fry Scramble: serves 2
1 tblsp sunflower oil
4 oz (100g) cooked prawns
thumb size piece of fresh root ginger, grated
handful of beansprouts
4 spring onions, sliced
2 whole eggs plus 3 yolks, beaten together
1 tblsp soy sauce
Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the prawns for 30 seconds until just beginning to colour, add the ginger, beansprouts and spring onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds more.  Reduce heat and pour in the eggs, leaving them for a few seconds to begin setting, then stir to 'scramble' the eggs into the other ingredients.  When the eggs are cooked, add the soy sauce and fry for a few seconds more.  Serve immediately.

We are now being encouraged to eat 'sustainable' fish, which means cod and haddock (my favourite of the 'chunky' fish, now is not so easily available (and a high price when it is).  We now see fish like 'tilapia', and other lesser known names appearing on the fish counter, and myself have had to resort to buying packs of 'value white fish fillets' (whatever these are) purely because these are only the ones I can now afford.  They seem OK but how I miss cod!  My mother would have thought I was mad, cod being a 'poor man's fish' when I was a nipper.

As fish is nutritionally very good for us (especially oily fish), have found a recipe that makes good use of the 'anonymous' white fish, as the sauce has plenty of flavour.  This is another one-pan dish.
White Fish with Tomato and Thyme: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp light brown soft sugar
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tblsp soy sauce
4 fresh white fish fillets (thawed if frozen)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion for 5 - 8 minutes until lightly browned.  Add the tomatoes and sugar, the thyme leaves and soy sauce, and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then slide the fish fillets into and under the sauce.  Cover the pan and cook gently for 6 - 10 minutes (depending upon the thickness of the fillets) or until the fish flakes easily. 

This next dish has pork as the main ingredient, but having said that, if we reduce the amount of meat and add extra veg, then the meat is a secondary ingredient I suppose.  But whatever, this is a useful way to use pork fillet (not as expensive as you may think) or pork chops (bone and fat trimmed away).  To keep it one-pot only, serve with chunks of crusty bread.  Or with couscous (needs only soaking in boiling water rather than actual 'cooking') or rice (this of course has to be cooked separately although you could use quick-cook microwave rice).  The recipe does not suggest eating this with pasta, but I see absolutely no reason why it shouldn't taste as good as with the other suggestions.
Spiced Pork Ragout: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
12 oz (350g) pork fillet or lean pork, cubed
2 large onions, sliced
1 lb (450g) carrots, thickly sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
half tsp ground cinnamon
2 tblsp tomato puree/paste
4 oz (100g) raisins
16fl oz (450ml) water
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the pork until the surfaces are sealed.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  To the pan add the onions and fry until lightly coloured, then add the carrots and stir in the spices, tomato paste, and the raisins.  Add the water and bring to the boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the carrots are tender.  Add the pork and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes more until the pork is cooked through.  Spoon into a warmed serving dish and scatter the sesame seeds over the top.  Serve with bread, rice, couscous - or pasta.

Although chickens are not the most expensive of meats (unless you choose organic free-range), it still makes sense to make one bird go as far as possible.  Myself prefer to buy whole birds and then portion them myself as - weight for weight - this works out cheaper than if buying the portions packed separately, plus the HUGE bonus of having the carcase to make stock - this then giving even more cooked flesh that can be peeled from the cooked bones (often as much as 8oz - enough for a pie!).
So here is a very seasonal recipe that makes good use of the cheaper joints (thighs, drumsticks, even wings), and although called a 'pie', it uses no pastry. those readers who enjoy dishes with an Italian flavour will just love this one.  Unlike the above it has two stages, first cooking on the hob, then finishing off in the oven.  If your casserole is not too deep, you could instead brown the topping buy placing under a medium grill to complete the cooking.  But make sure the bread doesn't burn..
Roman Chicken with Butternut: serves 4
3 tblsp olive oil
4 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 small butternut squash, flesh cut into 1" (2.5cm) cubes
4 oz (100g) bacon rashers, cubed (lardons)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
5 fl oz (150ml) red wine (pref Italian)
a bare tblsp plain flour
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tblsp redcurrant jelly or cranberry jelly
salt and pepper
1 ciabatta, thinly sliced
2 - 3 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 2 tblsp of the oil in a heatproof casserole and add the chicken, turning it so it is lightly browned all over.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside.  To the casserole add the bacon, butternut and onions, and cook gently for 8 minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute, then return the chicken to the pan with the herbs.  Pour all but 2 tblsp of the wine into the pan and bring to the boil, letting it bubble away for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile blend the flour with the remaining wine until smooth, then add this to the pan with the tomatoes, the chosen jelly, and seasoning to taste.  Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the squash is tender an the chicken cooked through.
Brush one side of the slices of ciabatta with the remaining oil, and removing lid, place the slices on top of the casserole, oil side up, sprinkling over the cheese with a little more black pepper, then place in a pre-heated oven (200C, 400F, gas 6) and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden.

Was about to say that it looks like being another good day, then what do I see - rain spattering on the window again, but at least only for a few minutes.  Blue sky and high clouds are appearing again.

Remember a week ago when I said it had started to snow a few flakes late afternoon.  Then very shortly after stopped?  Normal the Hair was telling me how she took her mother to Morrison's around that time (the supermarket is about 2 miles from where we live as the crow flies) and when she came out to the car there was a good two inches of snow on the roof.  As she lives the opposite side of Morecambe to us, she fared even worse on her return home, barely able to get her car safely up her drive.  We in Bare were obviously at the very edge of the snow cloud. If only it could have drifted another mile to the east,  I would have been thrilled to bits. Obviously not done my good deed for the day to be allowed this gift.  Must try harder!

Cannot believe another weekend is due to start, with the first month of the year disappearing over the horizon.  Our shortest month -  February - begins today, and in the old days this month was called 'February fill-dyke', because this was one of the wetter months of the year, so earnestly hope this will not prove to be true this time round.

For the last few days have laid out some blocks of cheeses to dry out (originally vacuum packed), and today will grate these up - mixed together - to store in the freezer.  Yesterday took a sliver from each of the different varieties and was amazed to find how much more flavour they had after standing at room temperature than when eaten straight from the fridge.  I know we are always told to eat cheese that has been left to come to room temperature, but hadn't left it this long before, and maybe in future I will.  Certainly leaving it uncovered for a few days doesn't seem to have done it any harm other than drying out the surface slightly.

The cheeses I'm grating together are Double Gloucester, Cheddarr, Lancashire, and Red Leicester.  The last time I used this mixture was when making a cheese quiche for B's social club, and was told the flavour was 'gorgeous'.  Other cheeses I could use either with the above or instead of one or the other are: Cheshire, Derby, Gruyere, or Edam.   Certainly a good way to make use of all the different 'oddments' of cheese we may have lurking in our fridge. 
Obviously Parmesan would be another good cheese to add, but as this is expensive, I'd probably add a sprinkle over the top before baking, or make do with just the other 'selection'. 

Nearly noon again, and the sky has become cloudier, so more rain? Let us hope not.  Am roasting the chicken today, making use of the left-overs from tomorrow, but probably turning them into meals that can be frozen, rather than B have chicken every day (which he won't enjoy as much as having a variety of different meats). Also need to make a pan of chicken stock from the carcase as am fast running out of my frozen supply, and when first roasted, the bones give a different (and I think better) flavour to the stock then when a raw carcase is used.  Anyone agree with this?.

First month of 'use it up' is now over, and still have enough in store to keep going for another month, maybe two, just allowing for 'top ups' of the fresh (milk, eggs etc).   Hoped to see some more suggestions for cheap eating on Superscrimpers last night (Freeview channel) but it was nothing but repeats.  This series, good though it is, seems more for the younger generation than us 'wrinklies' who I have to say have heard it all, and done it all before.  Myself find it hard to believe that there are people out there who have never had to 'make do and mend', it's always been part of my life, and probably the same for all readers over the age of 70. 

Did anyone see that lovely programme about dogs last night.  Absolutely wonderful.  Next week Martin Clunes is presenting a programme about working horses - like Shire horses etc. Should be well worth watching.

If you find time to sit down and send me a comment, this would be much appreciated by all readers for everyone spends their 'free' time differently. Some may do their weekly shop, whilst others might take a day off and drive/cycle/walk in the country.  Wish I could find something more interesting to do than stay at home and bake.  But the end result is worth it (according to B). 
See you tomorrow at the usual time?  Don't forget!  TTFN.