Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recipes to Please...

Thanks for comments.  Will be putting up some recipes today using bacon as an ingredient Maggie Mac.  Checked the Tesco site and couldn't find any mention of the cheaper packs of bacon, so probably only on sale to in-store customers.
Joy mentions the worthwhile purchase of turkey drumsticks/legs often sold cheaper at this time of year, worth getting  to eat now or to freeze. Sarina also mentions Tesco as a good place to buy turkey legs (£1).  Maybe other stores have equally (or even better) deals, if you know of any, please let us know.

Some many years ago now I was asked to write recipes for one of the smaller mags (it might have been Home and Freezer Digest, or one similar), explaining how to make the most of a chicken, and was able to prove that you could get four good meals from one bird (approx. 3lb in weight).  This didn't include making stock from the carcase.  All meals were to feed four with the exception of one (party terrine) that served up to 10!  The recipes have been given on this blog before but can be repeated if you wish.

Now, even the medical profession agree that there is something about home-made chicken soup (often called 'Jewish Penicillin') that has curative properties, especially good to eat when suffering from a heavy cold or flu. 
Yesterday discovered my recently made batch of chicken stock had gelled well, so didn't really need any further reducing down.  Ladled it out to fill 10 CLEAN cream cheese containers, with a little bit left over that I added more water to and a tomato cuppa soup.  Boy, did it taste good!
The stock is now in the freezer, so should last me a few weeks.

While on the subject of buying 'economically', was sent details of current offers from Donald Russell. There meat is SO good that I wish I could afford to buy it more often.  Far too expensive at full price (at least for my tight budget), but have to say their minced steak is really good value as it is made only from the bits of prime fillet, sirloin, rump, and ribeye beef (the bits that are too small to be sold as steaks.   So, once minced (and when on offer), we get the flavour of the best cuts with the economy of the cheaper.
D.R. are currently offering their minced steak (offer expires 3rd November), and although it says (on the leaflet) "6 packs minced steak (pack weight 440g)...12 servings.  To me that could be ignored.  I would normally never serve more than 4 oz/110g of minced beef per person.  Nutritionally that is adequate, and because minced beef is usually combined with other ingredients, this high quality beef has enough flavour to make you believe you are eating twice as much anyway.
The six packs cost £21 (normally $42), and as this would give 24 portions (cooked in the Goode kitchen) this is less than a £1 per serving, just over if you add the cost of any veggies used.  Not bad considering we would be eating some of the best quality meat on sale.   Even my butcher's mince (which is made from cheaper cuts) is the same price as the D.R. offer. (Details on the website or phone 01467 629666 (offer code: Minced Steak D1538)

Although I do store the D.R. mince in the freezer (where it has a long-shelf-life-date), normally I thaw out 3 packs and then cook the mince overnight in the slow cooker along with some sliced onion, just covering the mince with water (no more, no less).  Leaving it cooking overnight on Low, the mince has then become very tender and - when removed from its 'stock' - breaks up easily with a fork and then I just freeze this as-is to use later in many different dishes (spag. bol, lasagne, chilli con carne, Cottage Pie etc). The 'stock' has taken on a lovely meaty flavour, and this is frozen separately to add to the above dishes, to make gravy, soups etc. 
The raw minced, once thawed, with the addition of grated onion etc, makes beautiful meatballs, burgers or what you will.  The burgers need cooking as 'fresh', the meatballs can be frozen if first cooked through thoroughly.

Right, let's move from beef to bacon.  Have tried to find a few recipes that have bacon as an ingredient, and hope the following might be of interest.

Chunky Leek and Bacon Soup: serves 4
4 leeks, trimmed and thickly sliced
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1.5 ltrs hot chicken stock
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
salt and pepper
7 oz (200g) pasta shapes (any shape)
Put the bacon into a large saucepan and heat gently until the fat is flowing, then add the leeks and raise the heat to medium.  Cook for 5 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the leeks have begun to soften.  Add the stock and rosemary with seasoning to taste, then bring to the boil, reducing heat and simmer for 5 minutes.   Add the pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread (pref. ciabatta).

This next recipe has some similarity to Toad in the Hole, and not a million miles away from a soufflé.  You'll understand when you read the method.  No reason why you can't use 3 slices ham instead of bacon, but as it's bacon that has priority today, bacon is what is being used. Myself find that the dried out oddments of hard cheese (Cheddar, Red Leicester....) when very finely grated, make an excellent and well flavoured substitute for Parmesan (even though this dish does include a coarser grating of Cheddar, no reason why you can't use it twice).

Cheese, Bacon, and Onion Puff: serves 4
5 oz (150g) plain flour
4 large eggs
7 fl oz (200ml) milk
butter (for greasing)
2 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese (see above)
8 rashers cooked streaky bacon, chopped
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
5 oz (150g) Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
Put the flour into a bowl and beat in the eggs until smooth, then gradually beat in the milk, continuing to beat until lump-free (if you have a problem with lumps, drain the mixture through a sieve and work any lumps through using a wooden spoon, then give one final beating).
Using butter, grease a large round ceramic dish, not too tall, and about 9" (23cm) wide, the sprinkle this with the Parmesan.
Stir the bacon, onions, and Cheddar into the batter, folding together until completely combined, then pour this into the prepared dish so that it comes almost to the top.  Bake at 230C, gas 8 for approx. 30 minutes until puffed up and golden.   Take dish to table and serve immediately.

Next is a recipe for French peasant stew that is normally topped with fillets of white fish, duck, chicken... but reading the ingredients for the stew (the base of the dish), feel that this would eat well on its own as it has oodles of flavour and would make a good lunch or supper dish.  What do you think?

Cabbage, Bacon, and Bean Stew: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
5 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Savoy cabbage, shredded
4 tblsp white wine
half pint (300ml) chicken stock
1 x 410g can flagelot beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a large frying pan, and - when starting to sizzle - add the bacon and fry this for a few minutes.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots and continue frying/cooking for 8 - 10 minutes until the softened but not browned.  Stir in the thyme and cabbage, and stir-fry for a few minutes to wilt the cabbage, then add the wine, simmering until this has evaporated (leaves the flavour behind), finally adding the stock, beans and seasoning.   Cover the pan, and continue to simmer gently (you may need to reduce the heat) for 10 minutes, by which time the cabbage should have softened but not over-cooked.
Serve into serving bowls and eat immediately.  If wishing to serve a topping of fish or chicken etc, then keep the stew warm in the pan until the chosen protein is cooked, then portion out placing the fish/chicken....on top.

That's it for today, at least when it comes to bacon recipes.  Have just one more - this for a cake using pumpkin puree because am sure many readers will have plenty of pumpkin to use up, Halloween being this Thursday.
The recipe I found in a recent TV supplement, and have adapted it slightly (which is allowed), especially the method (mine seems simpler), and would use a slightly diluted plain yogurt instead of buttermilk.  As pumpkin puree is very similar to pureed parsnips, beetroot, carrots, courgettes (all used when baking cakes) we could substitute pumpkin (using the complementary spices) in recipes using these veggies.  Could also be used to make American muffins.

The suggested icing for this cake is the juice and zest of one clementine mixed with a little grated ginger and 7oz (200g) sifted icing sugar, but you can leave the cake plain if you wish, or cover with melted chocolate or cream cheese.

Pumpkin Cake: serves 12
10 oz (300g) plain flour
2 tblsp cocoa powder
1 tblsp baking powder
half teaspoon bicarb. of soda
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 fl oz (100ml) buttermilk (see above)
6 oz (175g) pumpkin puree
5 oz (150g) milk (or dark) chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz (150g) butter (pref unsalted)
6 oz (175g) dark brown sugar
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
3 large eggs
Using a little of the butter grease and line a 12 x 25cm loaf tin.
Sift the flour, cocoa, raising agents and cinnamon together into a mixing bowl, then set aside.
Using another bowl (or jug) whisk together the pumpkin puree with the buttermilk, melted chocolate and vanilla.  Set this to one side.
In a larger bowl, cream the remaining butter with the two sugars until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs.  Still beating (lower speed) alternately fold in the flour mix and the buttermilk mix and repeat until everything is mixed together.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake at 170C, gas 3 for one hour or until golden and a skewer (or cocktail stick) inserted into the centre comes out clean.   Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Atrocious weather yesterday over part of England.  We were lucky, and apart from occasional high winds (and not that high), the sun came out, the rain fell during the night, and today it is lovely and sunny.  Still a strong breeze, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.  Am almost feeling guilty that we didn't suffer, and do hope that those readers who caught the worst of the storm are now getting back to normal.  Please let us know you are OK.

Time for me to love you and leave you as have quite a lot to do today (keep saying that and then never do what I should - but can always try).  Hope to be back with you tomorrow esp as I won't be blogging on Thursday (that morning taken up with Norma the Hair, then coffee morning, followed by baking for Halloween.  TTFN.