Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With You In Mind...

Today am hoping to offer recipes to suit several requests that have arrived over the past few days/weeks.  Firstly though will get my replies to those that came in overnight.

Yes, Kathryn, it's all over, and - because of a 'hint' tweeted by a French chef (in Daily Mail yesterday) - who let on the winner of the GBBO was Ruby (although not actually gave her name but enough details to know exactly who he meant)  sat open-mouthed when the winner was announced, and very pleased I was too. Was that just another media gimmick to get us to watch the final prog of the series?  We will never know.

Previous to the final prog was a showing of snippets from last year's series where in my opinion (not that THAT counts for much) felt that the quality of baking then was much superior to the one in the current series.  The contestants too each had a lot of character, possibly why I managed to stay awake to watch, then only JUST managed to keep awake to watch the following final of this years.
Junior Bake-Off begins next week, I think on CBBC, and what's the betting they do as well as some of this years contestants and without shedding a tear on the way. 

We give a welcome to Maggie Mac.  Her comment about the amount of waste that Tesco dumps each day was enlightening.  It is good to hear from the 'inside' what happens.
An excellent idea to have a 'pensioners' shelf where these 'discards' can be displayed before the shop closes.  Trouble is, most of the large supermarkets are open 24 hours and the end of the day pensioners would probably be tucked up at home in chairs or in bed. 

Good to hear from you again jane.  Your mention of Netto also throwing away a lot of the fresh and out of use-by dated foods proves that most supermarkets do the same.  Not just Tesco.  Many now do give a lot of these 'throw-outs' to charity-run food-kitchens as they can use the food immediately in meals they make for the homeless.  So it's not all bad.   Even so, there is still far too much usable food discarded due entirely to being dated.  There are moves afoot to remove many of these dates and just rely on customers common sense.

When reading your comment Sairy, was reminded that I too do have to discard chicken bones after making stock, but don't really count them as 'food waste'.  If I had an open fire they would have been thrown on that and be burned.  Suppose they could be burned outdoors then crushed to turn into 'bone meal' which is beneficial for the soil.

Thanks for your pumpkin and lamb curry recipe Sairy. It is true that pumpkin flesh does not freeze too well (breaks down when thawed), but when first cubed and roasted, this removes a lot of the liquid and if stirred in at the end of cooking (a curry etc), when frozen it then tends to stay more compact.

How wonderful to have an extra long holiday break up to and after Christmas Sarina.  You could then fit in a Twelfth Night party before your return to work.  If you have your granddaughter with you during this time in the run-up to Christmas, you might together be able to make some decorations for the tree. Iced gingerbread biscuit shapes look good hanging from the branches (you can always cover then with cling-film to keep away the dust), and I particularly like the US way of making strings of popcorn with the occasional cranberry here and there to hang from the branches.  Popping corn is inexpensive (for what you get) as you only need a couple of tablespoons popped in a (big) lidded pan to make almost a bucketful of popcorn.

There recipes today have been choses because of the above comments sent in, but of course will be suitable for all readers.   Those who live alone or wish to make only small amounts will be able to make as per recipe, then divide the cooked dish into individual portions and freeze some.  Or - if freezing is not recommended, then certainly the food will keep in the fridge for 2 - 3 days so can be alternated with other meals.

First recipe is for Pumpkin Curry, and not just vegetarian, but vegan (possibly making it even more economical). As it is a Thai curry, it would not be unusual for the main ingredient (in this instance chickpeas) to be served in a thick curry sauce.  Unfrozen the sauce is thinner as the pumpkin stays cubed.  If frozen - and the pumpkin breaks up - then just mash the pumpkin into the sauce and leave the chickpeas as the solid part.  It doesn't really matter as - apart from appearance - once in the mouth, as B says "it all goes down the same way". 
Because the lemongrass, cardamom and mustard seeds are added whole, these can be left in the dish even when served (as they continue to add flavour) but can be removed and put on the side of the plate if you don't wish to eat them (but they are edible).
The useful thing about this dish is once cooked and cooled it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days or can be frozen for up to 1 month (in individual portions if you wish). 

Pumpkin Curry with Chickpeas: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
3 tblsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
2 onions, finely chopped
2 large lemongrass stalks, bashed flat
6 cardamom pods, cracked
1 tblsp mustard seeds
approx. 1 lb (450g) pumpkin flesh, cubed
9 fl oz (250ml) vegetable stock
1 x 400g can reduced fat coconut milk
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lime
handful fresh mint leaves (if available)
Put the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and stir in the curry paste, onions, lemongrass, cardamom, and mustard seeds.  Fry gently for 2 - 3 minutes then stir in the pumpkin, coating the flesh completely with the sauce, then add the stock and coconut milk.  Bring to the simmer then add the chickpeas.  Continue to simmer until the pumpkin is tender (takes about 10 minutes).  Either serve immediately or cool and store (covered) in the fridge for up to 2 days.  Or freeze for up to one month, defrosting completely before reheating. 
When serving, or after reheating, squeeze the juice of the lime into the curry, scattering over torn mint leaves (opt) as a garnish. 

Next recipe comes under the heading of 'posh nosh', but incredibly easy to make. It's the chestnuts that are the posh bit, and if you are able to collect free edible chestnuts (NOT the horse chestnuts, these are poisonous) and turn these into a puree (that can be frozen to use later in this dish), then this dish should  cost not much more than 'pauper's fare'.
As to whether the completed dessert will freeze, the recipe doesn't say, but as meringue based dishes normally do (as do the other ingredients), it would be worth trying a slice at least. 
As this dessert can be made in advance and kept chilled in the fridge, remove an end slice after rolling up, freeze this, then thaw it several hours later, and if it DOES work, you could then slice, interleave and freeze any left-overs. 

Chestnut and Pumpkin Roulade: serves 6 
3 eggs, separated
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
1 x 250g can unsweetened chestnut puree OR..
..13 oz (375g) peeled chestnuts, finely chopped
2 tblsp Amaretto liqueur (or almond flavouring)
half pint (300ml) double cream
2 tblsp icing sugar
Put the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and whisk until very light and thick, then gently fold in the chestnut puree (or chopped chestnuts). Beat the egg whites until thick then fold this into the yolk and sugar mixture.
Pour into a greased and lined Swiss roll tin (20 x 30cm/ 8" x 12") and bake at 160C, gas 3  for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave for an hour.
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a basin and add the liqueur (or chosen flavouring), then beat until thick (not over-thick, it needs to still be spreadable). 
Take a sheet of greaseproof or parchment paper and sift the icing sugar over this, then turn out the 'roulade' onto the paper. Spread the cream over the surface, then - working from a short end - tightly roll up, using the paper to help hold it together.  Ignore any cracks that may appear - this is to be expected and adds charm to the finished dessert.
If not serving immediately, wrap the roll up in the paper and keep chilled in the fridge.

A couple of days ago B was scoffing about something he'd just read in the paper.  Seems that a well-known (US?) actress had said how she loved to cook, following this by saying she had her own chef.
Said to B that even having her own cook didn't mean she didn't like to make her own supper now and then - after all didn't he enjoy cooking his own stir-fry even though he did have his own chef (me!)?  Think he got the point.

So yesterday B decided he'd have another go at making his supper (twice in seven days, how good is that?), this time poached eggs on toast (something he's not had for years as I'm not very good at making neat poached eggs).  However, as I'd bought a pack of 'Poachets' from Lakeland (but still had not tried them out), suggested B cook his eggs in these (like empty teabags you put in a glass, fill with an egg, then pick up and pop into simmering water).  He said they worked very well indeed.  
The two eggs that B took from my egg rack both had double yolks (and I bet they were the only ones in the whole tray of eggs bought) and after poaching said he thought they needed a little less time than suggested (6 minutes I think it was) but that was possibly because the yolks were slightly smaller than normal.  Thought it worth a mention.

Another miserable day although the forecast is said to improve as the week goes on but with cooler weather coming down from the north.  The south should still stay fairly mild, and all in all we're having a pretty good autumn.  It has been worse, much worse.

A busy day for me tomorrow, and have plenty to do today so will say my farewells until Friday when I will return. Do hope you will be able to join me then, and keep those comments coming. All queries and requests will be given priority on my return.  TTFN.