Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Laying the Foundations...

With Easter being our next national (almost global) celebration, time to give thought to dishes and treats to serve at that time.  As with so many 'feast's, this was originally pagan - celebrating the start of spring, and starting a new generation etc (hence the eggs and rabbit theme), taken over by the Christian religion as the time of the Crucifixion, that was the same period as the Jewish Passover (this timing always fixed by the phase of the moon).

Seeing a photo of a huge plate of double-yolked eggs in a recent newspaper (double yolks happen at this time of year, mainly laid from young hens who haven't yet got their 'workings' quite right', but great for consumers), where a whole tray of eggs (bought from Tesco it seems) were all 'doubles'.
has prompted me to give recipes today based on eggs, especially as these are a very cheap source of protein.  Hens eggs can range in price from very low cost: 8p-10p each from caged birds up to 40p each (or more at certain times of the year) for organic free-range.
As ever, we should buy the best we can afford, but never feel guilty about buying the cheaper ones if we need to provide less expensive protein for our family when money is very short as - weight for weight - the nutritional value of a cage-laid egg and an organic free-range is virtually the same. There might be a slight difference in richness of flavour, but this would not be noticeable when the eggs are used for baked dishes.

Rarely do I buy the dearest eggs, normally purchasing the 'middle of the road' barn eggs, for it is well-known that when a barn door is left open for hens to go outside,  but as many birds prefer to stay indoors and never put a foot outside, it seems that what we pay for could not necessarily be what really is (seemingly like a lot of things these days!!!).

Think about it: we could be paying higher (free-range) prices for eggs laid by 'barn' hens that have never freely 'ranged', yet their eggs still allowed to be sold as 'from free-range hens'.  All this has been mentioned before, and the moral issue of how hens are kept has to be put aside this time as - for the moment - am only concerned in the nutritional and culinary use of eggs, and the type and price we buy is a personal thing. .
So, for the following recipe, eggs are eggs are eggs, with only the one fact to remember:  'an egg' in any recipe calls for a medium egg (2 oz/50g) unless otherwise stated, and although it doesn't often make a lot of difference if a larger egg is used (although it could do), using an unnecessarily larger egg, this means the end result just costs more than needs be.  Even a few pennies more, over time, soon mounts up.  In my day it used to take 240 pennies to make a £1.  Now it takes only 100.

First recipe is a very impressive way to serve hard-boiled eggs.  Perfect for serving at buffet parties all year round, or make to serve with a summer salad.  Normally, hardboiled eggs don't freeze too well, but with this recipe they do.  The original recipe used condensed 'consomme', and this would be much the same as home-made (or bought) concentrated clarified chicken stock, thick enough to set to a firm jelly when cold..
Either make in one large ring mould, or individual smaller ones.  Can also be made in dariole or ramekin dishes before being turned out.
Creamy Egg Mousse: serves 6 - 8
2 level tsp gelatine
2.5 fl oz (65ml) water
5 fl oz (150ml) thick chicken stock (see above)
6 hard-boiled eggs
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream, lightly whipped
5 fl oz (150ml) mayonnaise
2 level tblsp finely chopped watercress
salt and pepper
watercress and tomato wedges for garnish
Put the water in a small basin and sprinkle the gelatine over the surface.  Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and leave for a few minutes until the gelatine crystals have softened, then stir until dissolved.  Mix in the stock.
Slice the h.b.eggs in half and remove yolks. Finely chop the whites, and then sieve the yolks into a bowl, add the chopped whites, and fold in the cream, mayo, watercress, and seasoning to taste.
Gently stir in the gelatine mixture and pour into a wetted 3/4pt (425ml) ring mould, then place in the fridge until set.
To serve now: stand mould in hot water for a few seconds, then turn out onto a wetted plate (a wetted plate helps anything jellied slide around more easily so it can be centred correctly). Fill centre with sprigs of watercress (large stems removed). Garnish with tomato wedges.
To freeze: wrap, seal and use within 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and follow 'to serve now'.

When making savoury flans (often called 'quiches') the custard is made using eggs and milk, with additions as simple as grated cheese, to the more complicated.  Here are two recipes, the first -despite its low cost - contains a lot of food value by way of eggs/fish.  The second - using vegetables - has more vitamins.  Together they would make perfect partners.  So why not make two and have a slice of each?
Myself do not freeze quiches as I find they tend to thaw out a bit 'soggy', but having said that, the first 'fishy' one is not too bad when frozen as it can be reheated from frozen, or thawed and eaten cold (details for freezing at the end of the recipe).  If you prefer, make one large 'quiche', but they do freeze and thaw better if kept small.  A good idea is to use one of those four-portion Yorkshire pudding tins to make the four flans.
Bought or home-made shortcrust pastry can be used, but for this particular recipe am giving ingredients to make a wholemeal pastry as this is even crispier, so best to use if wishing to freeze.
Sardine and Tomato Flans: makes 4 individual
2 oz (50g) hard margarine
2 oz (50g) lard
8 oz (225g) wholemeal flour
half tsp salt
3 - 4 tblsp water
flan filling:
2 tomatoes, skinned and sliced
2 x 120g cans sardines, drained
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
pinch dried basil (opt)
Make the pastry by rubbing the fats into the flour, add salt and enough water to mix to a stiff dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes before rolling out and lining 4 x 4.5"(11cm) flan tins.
Reserve 4 slices of tomato (best looking ones) and chop the remainder.  Chop up sardines (you can include the bones if you wish, they are full of calcium and quite soft enough to eat). Measure the beaten eggs and make up to 5 fl oz (150ml) with milk.
Divide the chopped tomatoes and sardines between the pastry cases, sprinkle with salt and pepper and basil (if using), then pour over the egg mixture.  Top each with a slice of tomato.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 30 minutes and serve hot or cold with salad.
To freeze: after cooking, cool completely then wrap and seal.  Use within 1 month.  If wishing to be eaten hot, unwrap and reheat from frozen at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 minutes. To be eaten cold, remove wrapping and thaw at room temperature for 4 hours.

This next recipe is basically an ordinary quiche but given a few tweaks to turn it into a more up-market (dare I say 'gourmet'?) version.  Still within our means as most of us should have the makings.  As ever, it's what we do with what we've got, and if we have frozen broccoli, then we could use that instead of the fresh, in which case no need to cook, just thaw and pat off any excess water before using.
Broccoli and Garlic Cheese Flan: serves 4 - 6
12 oz (300g) ready-made shortcrust pastry
1 lb (450g) broccoli florets
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, sliced
small handful parsley, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
7 fl oz (200ml) single cream
salt and pepper
Roll out the pastry to line a 10" (25cm) flan tin.  Press in a cover of kitchen foil and fill with beans (or whatever you use) and bake blind for 10 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4, then remove beans and foil and leave the pastry case to cool (TIP.  If there are any tiny cracks, brush the pastry with beaten egg, or egg white and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to set the egg, this will then prevent any filling oozing out when the flan is cooked).  Before continuing, turn the oven down to a lower temperature: 170C, 325F, gas 3.
Steam the broccoli florets for 5 minutes until cooked through but still crisp (or boil for 5 minutes and drain well OR see above re using frozen broccoli), and set aside.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the mushrooms, then stir in the parsley and the garlic, adding seasoning to taste. 
Place the broccoli florets over the bottom of the pastry case and top with the mushroom mixture, covering this with the grated cheese.  Beat the eggs thorougly with the cream, adding more seasoning, then pour this over the vegetables and bake at the lower temperature for 45 minutes or until set.  Serve warm or cold.  Best not frozen (but can be if you wish).

Although this next recipe uses only two eggs (to serve 4), it could make a good Easter dessert or tea-time treat.  It also gives me a chance to remind readers that our 'protein' for the day doesn't always have to come from meat.  Any dish that contains eggs, (even better: eggs and milk) provide (animal) protein that will allow our bodies to absorb all of any vegetable protein that makes up a much-cheaper-than-meat main course.
Use any shape mould for this dessert as long as it has a volume of around 1.5pts (825ml), a heart-shape would look nice, or use an ordinary square or round tin.  Again this recipe uses ingredients that most of us will have in our larder, well, hopefully anyway.  Use canned peaches if you have no apricots.  Experienced cooks will realise this 'pud' is a basic sandwich cake mix cooked over a layer of fruit (aka 'upside down pudding').  This is another that can be frozen.
Party Pudding: serves 4
2 - 3 tblsp golden syrup
1 x 15oz (425g) can apricot halves, drained
6 glace cherries
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
4 oz (100g) soft margarine
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 level tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
Spoon the syrup onto the base of a greased cake tin (see above for size), and place in evenly the apricots, flat side facing up, and the cherries inbetween.
Mix the remaining (sponge) ingredients together until blended, then spoon this carefully on top of the fruit, gently levelling the surface.  Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 40 - 45 minutes until the cake has risen and cooked through.  Cool before turning out, and can be served whilst still warm or left until cold. Good eaten with cream or custard.
To freeze: cool completely then open-freeze until solid. Wrap and seal.  Use within 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 5 hours before serving (with cream or custard).

A few weeks ago there was a request from a reader to give recipes using aubergines, and although the theme today is dishes containing eggs (as a good protein substitute for meat), this next recipe ticks all the boxes as it is a meatless meal with aubergines as one of the main ingredients, with the protein content provided by eggs, milk, and cheese.   In summer we could make the sauce using 1 lb (450g) skinned and chopped fresh ripe tomatoes, in winter (and even in summer) we could instead use the canned plum tomatoes (these having more flavour than the canned chopped toms, but use either).
As aubergines absorb a lot of oil, drain well on kitchen paper before continuing with the recipe.  Yet another dish that can be frozen.

Penny pinchers, please remember that the inner pale green cauliflower leaves (finely chopped) and the core and stalks (grated) cooked in milk with the rind of Stilton cheese, seasoning to taste, then blitzed together make a wonderful cauliflower soup. 
Cauli and Aubergine Moussaka: serves 4 - 5
1 cauliflower, cut into florets (see above)
half pint (300ml) milk
salt and pepper
12 oz (350g) aubergines
olive oil for frying
1 lb (450g) chopped tomatoes (see above)
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano (or mixed herbs)
1 tblsp tomato paste/puree
2 oz (50g) butter
1 oz (25g) plain flour, pref wholewheat
2 eggs
2 oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Put the cauliflower florets in a pan with the milk, heat until simmering, then poach for 5 minutes. Drain cauliflower over a bowl to retain the milk, making this milk back up to half pt (300ml) with water.  Chop the cauliflower finely, and season well before setting aside.
Make the tomato sauce by putting the fresh chopped (or canned) tomatoes into a pan with the celery, onion, garlic, dried herbs and tomato puree.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, giving an occasional stir, until thick.
Meanwhile make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a pan, stirring in the flour, then cooking for a couple of minutes before gradually whisking in the reserved milk.  Bring back to the simmer, then cook for 5 minutes, remembering to stir now and then.  Remove from heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes then whisk in the eggs and fold in the cheese, adding seasoning to taste.
Slice the aubergines and fry a few at a time in a little hot oil, drain well on kitchen paper, then begin to assemble the dish.
Mix HALF the cheese sauce with the cauliflower and  - using a greased 3pt (1.7ltr) deep baking dish - start layering the aubergines, cauliflower mixture, followed by tomato sauce.  Continue layering finishing with aubergines. Cover with remaining cheese sauce and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 30 minutees.   Serve hot with crusty bread.
To freeze: cool after cooking, cover dish with clingfilm, then wrap in foil (or polybag) seal, and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw overnight, remove wrappings, and reheat at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 30 minutes. Or reheat in the microwave on HIGH for 15 minutes.

Had to give the new Superscrimpers a miss last night as B preferred watching something else (then after a few minutes decided he was too tired and went to bed).  I did switch over but the 'scrimpers' were exchanging clothes for vouchers, and that's not what I'm interested in.  In fact most of what the past series has contained is of little interest to me, suppose a matter of already 'been there, done that'.  Probably the perfect programme for younger folk who haven't had the need to venture into the the Land of Poverty.
Did watch the start of a new series of Ade in Britain.  Do enjoy watching this, and yesterday was able to see the making (and eating) of 'stotties', the North East name for what I call 'baps.

...just had a Tesco delivery (an hour before the texted given time!!!), so decided to publish this - which didn't work as it happened, so am now able to continue and hope it will publish.
Ordered from Tesco as have been asked to do another 'full Indian' meal for the social club in May and Tesco had curry sauces et al on offer, so thought it wise to buy now rather than hope they would be reduced in price in May.  Of course bought other things, mainly all 'needed' such as eggs, cream for B, fresh fruit and veg (am not having a veggie box at the mo as too expensive).  Asked B to get milk from Morrison's as they sell 3 x 4pt containers for £3 total. Tesco's milk was (probably still is) now £1.29 each (£3.83 for 3) so buying from milk from M's saves me 83p.

Am VERY tempted by the Lidl offers on the 'flyers' that came through the letterbox.  A whole cooked lobster for under £6!  B would love that.  Maybe he will pay for it himself.  Lots of other good things, and am trying not to keep looking at them.  With any luck I'll manage not to buy anything.  This time.  But if B IS going to Lidl, then might as well have a couple of iceberg lettuces as they are only 50p each and I eat a lot of lettuce.
Tempted also by the 10-minute pie-making machine Lidl are selling.  Lakeland have the same but dearer (well it LOOKS the same).  Thought, as the social club sell a lot of 'pies and mushy peas' to their club members on sailing days, my home-made pies would be cheaper for them (and have a better quality filling), but B says their 'pies' are bought out, sold in huge oblong tins to be reheated and cut into squares before serving, so think it maybe not worth buying the pie machine after all. B would prefer larger pies anyway.

As I've put the frozen food (prawns, Brussels sprouts, oven chips...) in the freezer, can now continue with replying to comments.
Liked the sound of that 'Choose to Reuse' stall you went to jane. It would make a good name for a new cookbook.  Your choice of handbag sounded lovely, also clever girl to find in a charity shop a scarf that went with it.
Pleased you had a good holiday, and wish I'd been there, I love Scarborough.

Had forgotten about the Anglican rule of fish being served on Fridays Cheesepare, and although my mother had no truck with churches (she said the woment went to the services only to show off their new hats - and maybe some truth in that) we always had a meal with fish every Friday.  Nowadays it never crosses my mind that this is something that many people still do.  Here in the Goode kitchen, fish is served every week, maybe more than once, but the chances of it being on a Friday are fairly small and never deliberate.

Not sure what is happening re the filming that B and our daughter were 'extras'.  I myself did not go with them to Barrow, so I have not seen the Barrow island you mentioned CP.  The only things 'seen' were the maritime museum (more than once), and driving past the massive buildings where they build submarines, this on the way to Roa Island.  I have yet to visit Walney Island (mentioned in N. Last's books).

As to growing lemon trees from pips.  What I did was save the pips when squeezing lemons, then giving them a bit of a wash and planting them almost immediately (or within a day or two) in small pots of compost.  These were each placed in a plastic bag and stood on a shelf that is just over the radiator in our kitchen.  It didn't seem to take too long for the seedlings to show through, and then they were removed to a sunny windowsill, the bag being replaced by half a lemonade bottle to make a 'mini-greenhouse'.   I gave away all but one of my lemons seedlings, and the one kept has well overtaken the avocado, and now nearly 2 foot high.  Not sure whether I should pinch out the tip or let it grow on.  It did throw out a side branch early on, and this has grown too, but no other shoots have appeared.  Can anyone tell me the best way to grow this on so it will (hopefully) produce fruit?

Thanks Janet for reminding me it was 'Rose Veal' (knew it was something to do with pink). In the 'old days', when having a 'Sunday roast' was the norm,  my mother often chose veal in favour of the beef or pork as lamb and veal were considered more a 'summer roast'.  We didn't have it that often as in those days it was always the young calves that were slaughtered, and these were 'seasonal' to spring and summer I believe.  Unlike today there was no frozen meat sold, so even some meats had their 'season', like game meats (venison, game birds etc) today.

Thanks very much for giving your recipe for meat loaf CTMOM.  Am sure it will be useful as a reference to Pam and all our readers.
The texture of some mince can be a bit coarse, and some people prefer it minced twice Pam, but you could also put bought mince into your food processor and break it down further by giving it short pulses.  If you just 'process' it without pulsing, this tends to pulverise the meat down into almost a paste that I have found quite useful when making meat balls etc., as these are then less 'chewy' and more tender.  No reason why a finely textured 'mince' couldn't be used when making meat pies. It all depends upon how you wish the final texture to be, and adding breadcrumbs and other ingredients would help give it more 'body' anyway.

As to the 'felting' of knitwear.  Do remember, some many months (maybe years) ago, a reader telling us about how she felted her knitted fabrics.  Could it gave been Kathryn who seems quite experienced when it comes to things like that?  Believe woollen fabrics 'felt' when they are washed in very hot water (maybe even boiled?).  If anyone can give instructions on 'how to felt', then please let us know.

Thanks Christopher for giving us more information on the Jewish laws and way of life.  When we first moved to Leeds we were in a highly populated Jewish area, but eventually all moved to another estate further out of town.  There were five synagogues within walking distance of where we lived, and on Saturday's the road at the top of ours was full of their 'congregation' walking to one or t'other, and have to say the ladies all wearing their very best hats!   Although not supposed to walk from home to the synagogue, most drove there in big cars (which they hid around corners in the hope the rabbi wouldn't notice).

As I played bridge at the social club at the synagogue (90% of the players being Jewish) I got to know many of them, and they were very friendly. My partner there was Jewish and he often came to our house for lunch, sometimes bringing his own food (because he thought I'd like to taste a traditional Jewish dish, not because he wouldn't eat mine - I was fully informed of what was kosher and what was not, so I always kept to the rules).
The more I learned about the orthodox Jewish laws the more I realised they are almost exactly the same as those of the Islamic religion, they share the same 'root' (Abraham), therefore the same God, so why they hate each other so much I don't know.   Well, I do know the reason, but tend to query even this.  If a 'firstborn son' (born out of wedlock) is pushed aside for the 'second son' (but as he born in wedlock - then called 'the first born') who truly IS the firstborn? The one that comes first in my opinion.  Ancient laws also confirm this, but obviously not our Old Testament.

Now really have to go and sort out my freezers as have pushed the just-delivered frozen food into gaps in drawers and have to add these to my lists so that I remember where they are (am finding making lists of where frozen food is kept is VERY useful and time saving.
Also must put the other foods away in the fridge and larder.

B is supposed to be going to take rubbish to the tip this morning, but earlier the council came to cut down one of the diseased and very tall horse-chestnut trees that grow along our road (others also to come down), and they are leaving all the boughs and bits right across our drive so B cannot get his car out.  Tesco had a job climbing over with the trays of food as well.  Maybe, if he'd come at the correct time (like half an hour later than now) he would have been able to drive right down to our back door (as usually happens).

Another wonderful day after a very cold and frosty night. Whatever the temperature, it is good to see the sun.   Another good series on BBC 2 (think each weekday this week at 6.30pm) about the British winter.  I'm trying to view the scenery as though it was another country, and yesterday some scenes were so beautiful I believed it was filmed in Switzerland or maybe even Canada. This because the filming was in Scotland.  Am waiting to see where English scenery could appear to be other country.

Will meet up with you again tomorrow, that is if you find time to 'visit'.  Do hope so, and so see you then.
p.s. spellcheck not working again and haven't time to scroll down and edit out all the mistakes and typing errors, so aplogies for any you find.