Wednesday, March 06, 2013

What Goes Around, Comes Around...

Started 'work' at 6.00am today, as early to bed last night (due to footie match).  Certainly can do more the earlier I begin my day, not because I have more time, but because I try to do as much as possible in the morning, then take the afternoon more leisurely.  If I start my blog later, then the morning is almost over before I finish.

Yesterday cleared out all the small bags of fresh berries from the freezer (raspberries, strawberries, black and red currants, plus a few blackberries and gooseberries...) and left them overnight to thaw. Managed to gather together 3 lbs of these 'oddments', so with 3 lbs of sugar they should make plenty of pots of mixed fruit jam to last us this year.  When I finished my blog for today it will be a jam making session.
As I was able to buy 3 mangoes (on offer at Tesco) today will also be making mango chutney in the slow cooker as this can carry on cooking whilst I make the jam.  Do they call this 'multi-tasking'?
As the mango chutney is best kept for a month before eating to allow flavours to develop and mellow (it will keep for a year anyway), this will then be ready for the Indian meal at the social club in May.  The earlier I start my preparation for this meal, the easier it will be on the day.

My first job after switching on the comp was to read my emails (some of them being your comments), and had one from the local Foodbank, they would like me to provide them with more recipes and also go to the venue and meet their volunteers on a Friday.  This Friday the repair man is due to come to fit the final parts to the washing machine, so need to be here, but hope to visit the Foodbank next week.  This will give me time to work out more recipes and also make and take some more tray-bakes to cut up and hand out that day to volunteers and 'customers' (and also keep in the Foodbanks freezer for other days).  Am so pleased as I was feeling a bit low due to my belief that I was not being of much use to anyone at the moment. 

Thanks for your comments, it is good to have someone to reply to, and today there are several.
As to testing your Simnel Cake Kathryn, when making another you could do what I do - omit the marzipan and just make the fruit cake.  This is then easier to test when done.  Once the cake is cold, cut it in half and place the rolled marzipan (cut to size) between the two layers, pressing them down firmly, then put more marzipan on top with the eleven balls to represent the 12 Apostles (sans Judas), and then pop this in the oven or under the grill (or whatever the recipe recommends you do) to become tinged with golden brown.  This ends up much the same as though you had baked the marzipan in with the cake.

Our daughter (who lives in Co. Mayo R.I.) visited us recently, she mentioned there were wild sheep roaming the Ox Mountains along with wild goats.  Daughter said in Ireland the farmers can't even sell their fleece, no-one wants them, so probably a lot is thrown away.  If only I had the chance to get these free (or even cheap fleece as sold in this country) I'd be off buying a spinning wheel and all the necessary and turning the fleece into wool.  Then sell this as wool for knitting, or using it myself to knit things to sell.  A perfect time to get the act together while sheep's fleece is so cheap.  Almost certainly these will become expensive again as the wheel turns full circle, for 'what goes around, comes around' they say.  Who knows, perhaps I'll start spinning again.  Anyone got a spinning wheel they don't want?

Fleece could also be 'bought' by barter.  Exchange some pots of home-made preserves, cakes etc, for a fleece or two.  Just loved hearing how Kathryn and her friends did their 'exchanges/bartering'.  It always has been that one person's throw-outs can be another one's needs.  It's being lucky enough to find that person, and if more than one can get involved (as with Kathryn), everyone ends up having what they needed without having to spend any money at all.
If I remember, wasn't it Kathryn who had a go at spinning wool?  If so, is she still continuing?

When Pam mentioned transplanting some of her seedlings, worth mentioning that (as far as aware)beets (beetroot?) and radishes can't be transplanted, should be sown where to be grown and then thinned out. Each beetroot seeds throws up three little plantlets, the two weakest to be removed to let the third grow on.  Radishes can be sown fairly thickly, then thinned out as they grow, with the bonus that young radish and beetroot leaves can be eaten raw as a salad leaf (older radish leaves are a bit 'prickly').

Had to smile when I read how Granny G's grandmother forgot to remove the price tag from her second-hand hat when was worn to church.  How often we do forget to remove price labels.  The labels that I always remove are those stitched at the inside top (usually at the back) of a dress, blouse or jumper, as these tabs often get folded outside when the clothes are pulled over the head.  I do not wish anyone to be able to read what size of clothes I have to wear.  Labels I might leave on just to show off are those that read something like "Reduced from £300 to £30" (as can often happen at a closing down sale, but unfortunately not yet to me).

The theme for recipes today are 'making the most of...'.  Using up what might be discarded, and/or small amounts of meat (or fruit and veg) to make a meal to feed a family (or even when entertaining).

First recipe is based on a Hungarian dish, and is a vegetarian dish. Instead of of the sunflower (or pumpkin) seeds, we could use a smaller amount (2 tsp) of caraway seeds as these really go well with cabbage.  As this dish can be frozen, a useful one to make when we have those dark outer cabbage leaves that are often discarded (but should never be as these have far more vitamin content as the paler inner leaves-  same goes for lettuce or any similar leafy veg, the darker the leaf the more vitamin it has.
Stuffed Hungarian Cabbage: serves 4 (at least)
8 medium sized dark cabbage leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tblsp sunflower oil
4 oz (100g) short-grain rice (pref brown)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 oz (50g) sunflower seeds (see above)
2 oz (50g) sultanas
half tsp dried thyme (or mixed herbs)
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
half pint (300ml) water
2 - 3 tbslp stock (meat or veg - or water)
Blanch cabbage leaves for 3 minutes in boiling water, then drain well and set aside.
Fry the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring in the garlic towards the end, then add remaining ingredients (except the water) and fry for 2 more minutes THEN add the water.
Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 35 - 40 minutes or until the rice is cooked (white rice will take less time),  Add more water if necessary.  Add more seasoning if you feel it needs it.
Place a spoonful of the mixture in each cabbage leaf, then fold sides to middle, and roll up from the stalk end to make a parcel.  Place all rolls, fairly tightly packed together, in a greased baking dish, adding the few tablespoons of stock or water.  Cover, and cook at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 minutes.  Serve hot with soured cream or creme fraiche (or Greek yogurt).
To freeze: cool, then pack in a polybox, seal and label. Use within 3 months. Thaw overnight and reheat at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes.  Note: best not microwaved.

Next recipe makes a few sausages go much further than you think as when combined with carrots you end up with a surprisingly good sauce.  Always use the best sausages you can afford, but as you only need about four to feed up to six, this would hardly break the bank.  If necessary use three sausages and more carrots.  Alternatively use sausagement from the butchers.
Although macaroni is the chosen pasta (and one of the cheapest to buy) we could use a similar shape such as rigatoni, or penne (or any other shape that you might have and wish to use up).  Instead of the pureed tomatoes, we could use a can/pack of passata.
Again a useful dish to make as it will keep in the fridge for up to three days, and can also be frozen.

 'Macaroni with sausagemeat and carrots' doesn't sound particularly appetising (although the dish is very tasty) so, - because like many dishes -  a dish from another country always sounds much more expensive when given its true name, this is what it is:.
Maccheroni con la Salsiccia e le Carote: serves 4 - 6
8 oz (225g) good pork sausages, or sausagemeat
1 tblsp sunflower oil
half oz (15g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 - 4 carrots, grated
1 x 400g (14oz) can of chopped tomatoes, pureed
4 fl oz (100ml) chicken or beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
salt and pepper
12 oz (350g) macaroni (or similar - see above)
3 oz (75g) grated Parmesan (or mature Cheddar)
Remove skins from sausages, then set the meat aside. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and cook the onion until softened, then add the sausagemeat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it fries.  When sausagemeat is lightly browned and like 'grains' of mince, add the carrots and stir-fry for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and dried herbs.  Cover pan, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Check the taste - if the sausages were well seasoned, you may not need to add any pepper or salt.
While the above is simmering, cook pasta as per packet instructions then drain well.  Put back in to the pan then add the hot sausage and carrot 'sauce' and fold together.  The dish can be cooled and kept in the fridge for up to three days and reheated.  Or it can be frozen (wrapped, sealed and eaten within 3 months).  Thaw before reheating.
When ready to serve, either sprinkle over the cheese, or serve this separately for everyone to help themselves.

Next dish is very inexpensive, but nevertheless one that could be served as a starter when entertaining.  Double the quantitites and it would make a delicious main course, and because of its simplicity (and cheapness) worth serving as family fare as well as 'posh nosh'.  Again giving the Italian name for this 'Chicken livers with noodles'. 
When we keep chicken livers in the freezer and pasta in our larder, all we need then for this recipe are some ham scraps (saved from a home-cooked gammon - otherwise use bacon), and the rest of the ingredients we (hopefully) will all have. As ever, use what pasta we have, and although the noodles (tagliatelle) are used, my think that pasta penne or macaroni work even better.  The brandy or sherry give a more 'gourmet touch' to the meal, but could be left out for family fare. I suppose (says she grudgingly).
Make sure not to overcook the livers or they will become tough.
Tagliatelle con Fegatini: serves 4 - 5 as a starter
8 oz (225g) chicken livers
3 tblsp olive oil
1 oz (25g) butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 oz (100g) cooked ham or bacon, diced
1 tblsp chopped fresh sage OR...
...2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp tomato paste
4 fl oz (100ml) chicken stock
3 tblsp brandy (or sherry)
salt and pepper
12 oz (350g) tagliatelle (noodles) see above
3 oz (75g) grated Parmesan or mature Cheddar
5 fl oz (150ml) double or whipping cream (opt extra)
Trim the chicken livers, removing any green bits and fat.  Dry livers throughly on kitchen paper, then cut into small pieces.
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and gently fry the shallots until transparent, then add the ham and sage and continue frying for a further minutes, stirring as you do so.  Add the chicken livers and cook/stir until they have lost their raw colour, then blend the tomato paste with the stock and add this to the pan.  Stir well and cook gently for a few minutes before adding the brandy and seasoning to taste.  Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile cook the pasta as per packet instructions, drain well and put into a warmed serving dish, spoon the sauce over the top (reheat this if necessary), then serve immediately with the cheese sprinkled over.
As an optional extra (worth adding when entertaining) fold the cream into the sauce just before serving (if you feel it needs heating, cook for a couple more minutes, but don't allow to boil).

This week is British National Pie Week, and it seems that our traditional dishes such as Cottage Pie, Shepherd's Pie, and also Fish Pie are not allowed to be called 'pies' because they don't have a pastry topping.  Those who have enough power to their elbow are taking this to parliament to get the law changed so these potato topped dishes can be legally be called pies.  In domestic kitchens we can call them what we wish.  So in the Goode kitchen, pies they will always be.

Cannot leave you today without giving a recipe for one of the above 'pies', and anyone who watched a recent Food and Drink will have seen M.Roux Jnr enthusing about Shepherd's Pie made with the leftovers from the weekend roast lamb "because this gives a much better flavour than when using raw mince" (do agree with this).  So, although the recipe below does use raw lamb mince we could always use minced left-over cooked lamb if we have some to spare.  To keep costs down we could also use leftover cooked vegetables, or freshly but lightly cooked veg (peas, beans, carrots etc) instead of the suggested frozen veg.  Also, instead of swede we could use sweet potatoes or parsnips to mash with our spuds.
This dish is another that can be made then popped into the freezer to eat another day/week/month.
Farmer's Pie: serves 4
1 lb (450g) minced lamb (see above)
1 onion, chopped
1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
9 oz (250g) pack frozen mixed vegetables
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
1 lb (450g) potatoes, cubed
8 oz (225g) swede, peeled and cubed (see above)
1 oz (25g) butter or marg
Dry fry the mince and onion for 5 minutes until browned, then add the tomatoes, frozen (or suggested vegetables, herbs and seasoning to taste.  Cover pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and swede until tender, then drain and mash with the butter (or marg) adding plenty of seasoning.
Place the mince mix into a 2 pt (1.1ltr) heatproof dish and spoon the mashed veg on top, spreading it to cover the surface, but leave 'rough' rather than smooth. Place under a pre-heated grill for 5 minutes until the topping is golden brown.  Serve immediately.
To freeze: leave to get cold then open-freeze until solid. Overwrap, label, and use within 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge, then remove wrappings.  Reheat in oven (190C, 375F, gas 5) for 30 minutes until piping hot. 

Final recipe today is definitely one that should be served at a dinner party because it looks so spectacular.  Yet canny cooks can make this for very little cost if they 'deliberately' save egg whites, and make use of any fresh fruits (or even frozen) fruits that could do with using up, or use one of the suggestions/variations given.  Note that with some of these, different flavourings are used with some when making the meringue, so make your final choice of topping before you start beating those whites.

Unlike normal meringues (dry and crispy), this has a crispy surface and a marshmallow centre due to the added cornflour and vinegar.  Originating in Australia, this dessert has become famous all over the world.  The base (either as - is or cream filled, but no fruit) can be frozen.
Sometimes a large meringue base such as this could crack when the paper is removed.  Not a problem as it can be pushed back into shape and the topping will cover any cracks in the centre, and who cares about those at the edge?  Use one of these cracks to cut the first slice.
A Perfect Party Pavlova: serves 6 - 8
3 egg whites
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
First draw an 8" (20cm) circle on a sheet of baking parchment.  Use this to line a baking sheet.
Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl (making sure it is grease-free) and when the peaks are stiff, add half the sugar, and continue whisking until the meringue is glossy (but don't over whisk or the mixture will go runny). 
Mix together the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla to make a smooth paste, then fold this into the beaten whites with the remaining sugar.  Spoon the meringue in the centre of the circle on the paper, spreading it to fill the circle and making it a bit thicker around the edges than in the centre, as this hollow will then be filled with the cream and fruit..
Bake at 140C, 275F, gas 1 for one hour or until the paper can be easily be peeled away from the sides (the centre will then be dried out).  Cool on a wire rack before removing the paper.  (At this point it can be frozen either as-is or filled with cream. Open freeze until solid then store in a rigid container.  Seal and use within three months - can be kept longer if cream has not been added).  Needs no thawing if just the base is frozen, just add the cream and fruit..  Thaw for 1 hour if cream filled, then finish with the fruit topping.)

To serve: complete the unfilled Pavlova by topping with 5 fl oz (150ml) whipped cream and chosen fruit, or make your choice from one of the following variations:
rose and raspberry:
omit vanilla extract and substitute 1 tsp rose essence when making the meringue. To make the topping fold 8 oz (225g) raspberries (thawed if frozen) into half pint (300ml) Greek yogurt, then spread this over the Pavlova. Decorate with a few whole raspberries if you wish.
scatter 2 oz (50g) chopped walnuts and 2 tsp granulated sugar over the Pavlova base before cooking. When ready to serve, beat 3 oz (75g) cream cheese with 5 fl oz (150ml) soured cream or creme fraiche .  Spread this over the Pavlova and decorate with 2 sliced green and red eating apples, 2 peeled and sliced pears, 6 stoned and sliced apricots or plums, and 4 oz (100g) blackberries (thawed if frozen).
fold 3 tblsp ginger marmalade and 4 oz (100g) no-soak apricots (whole, halved or chopped) into 5 fl oz (150ml) whipped double cream, then spoon this on top of the Pavlova.
toffee and banana:
make the meringue base using soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar.  Puree 1 ripe banana with 1 tblsp lemon juice, then fold into 5 fl oz (150ml) whipped double cream.  Spoon this over the Pavlova then slice a further (firmer) banana, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning, and arrange slices on top.

Despite my intention to finish my blog early today, already it is nearly 10.30am, so have to finish now.  Depending upon time of rising, tomorrow being Hair day, you might find I publish Thursday's blog earlier rather than later.  But if later it should be before noon.  Hope you can join me then. TTFN.