Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More Uses For...

Thanks for the comments sent in, one in particular I'd like to refer to - this from Granny G who is enjoying Paul Hollywood's afternoon series.  Myself saw him making the Koulibiac (Russian Fish Pie) but silly me didn't take too much notice of how he made it as I'd already written up an economic version in The Goode Kitchen (shown below), and it is another dish where just about everything included can be pre-cooked/prepared to assemble being finishing off in the oven, so a perfect way to use up selected 'left-overs', and sometimes worth cooking extra for this dish (my term being 'planned leftovers).

Don't know how it happened, but last weekend B came to me and said "did you know your cookery book is in the bowl in the (kitchen) sink?"  He found it under the frying pan that had been put in to soak, so of course the book was completely sodden, and ended up having to be chucked away.  Fortunately I do have another copy (sans cover), which is falling to bits, but do have all the (many loose) pages, and was able to look up the Koulibiac recipe.

I'm adapted my original recipe as my original suggestion was to use a mixture of flaked cooked fish according to what we have, but traditionally Koulibiac is made from salmon, and so now I'm making it with canned salmon (often on offer). But if you have fresh cooked salmon, then use that.  Did hear Paul say something like it was made with 'just salmon, rice and eggs', but my version (and I try to keep as close to a traditional recipe as possible) also uses vegetables, these too can be cooked left-overs.  A good recipe to use up mushrooms, and hard-boiled eggs will keep well (in water) in the fridge for a couple of days.

We are always warned about not storing cooked rice as it can produce a type of bacteria that is not killed by reheating.  However, saw a cook on TV recently saying as long as we chill rice down immediately after cooking, we can then freeze it.   So when cooking rice for a meal (and once cooked it will keep hot for many minutes under cover) we could remove some, cool it under running cold water, drain well and pat very dry (or waft it with a piece of cardboard to cool it down), then place in the fridge to get completely cold, then bag up (in small bags) and freeze.   Normally I don't do this, but if I was planning to make a Koulibiac, would chill some rice and keep in the fridge for a couple of days before use.  As we also start with cold rice when making Chinese Fried Rice, then the above is a useful tip.

Here is the updated version of the Goode Koulibiac, and I'm including the 'chat' that comes at the start of many of my recipes in the book.  It explains about using different fish, but note that I have now changed the ingredient list re the fish.

"The very traditional Russian fish pie should be made with salmon, but my peasant version works perfectly well with a mixture of less expensive fish (my suggestion at the time was to use a mixture of flaked, cooked fish such as cod, haddock, tinned mackerel etc..).
Basically, Koulibiac is made from a mixture of fresh chopped vegetables, rice, hard-boiled eggs, herbs and fish, but between you and me it works just as well using left-overs as it's all got to be cooked and cooled before assembling.  You don't need to bother with exact amounts - I just play it by ear - but allow roughly 2 - 3 oz (50 - 70g) fish and half a hard-boiled egg per person.

canned salmon, flaked
cooked and diced onions, celery, carrots
a few mushrooms, cooked or raw, chopped
cooked rice (see above)
fresh parsley, chopped
hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
enough shortcrust pastry to wrap it all up
melted butter
Combine all the ingredients except the pastry and butter.  Roll out half the pastry, brush with some of the melted butter, pile on the filling and drizzle a little more melted butter over the top.  Cover with remaining pastry, seal the edges, make one or two slits on the top (brush with butter if you wish) and bake at 180C, gas 4 for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.   Serve hot with a sharp sauce and a green salad.

At the time did suggest serving the above with a Mustard sauce, but now would prefer to use something like horseradish sauce that I've blended with a little mayo or yogurt, or tartare sauce (and I admit to buying both sauces ready-made sold in jars.  Can't be perfect all the time.

Another very economical dessert to make is Treacle Tart - this using up stale bread, and again I would blitz up end crusts if that's the only bread I have left.  No real need to give the recipe, but can give it later if you wish. Basically a mixture of breadcrumbs and golden syrup, the flavour 'lifted' with the inclusion of grated lemon zest (and lemon juice unless you want to use that for something else).  Piled into a blind-baked pastry case,  it is incredibly sweet so only small portions need be serve - in other words a little goes a long way.  Possibly one of the cheapest desserts we can make today (esp when we buy a stores own-brand syrup), but it still remains high on the dessert list of what a top restaurant might be serving this week. And just think of how much they would charge!!

Here is a traditional Swedish dish that is ideal for using left-overs, especially the ends of a joint of beef/lamb (which we could freeze ready for a dish such as this), and instead of cooked ham, we can use cooked bacon (from economy packs).  When I'd no home-cooked beef, then I would chop up a can of corned beef and use that instead.  The English version of this dish serves a fried egg on top instead of the raw yolk, but the traditional way gives us four egg whites to do things with, and that is VERY useful.  Meringues aren't cheap to buy but cost VERY little to make considering how many we can get from a couple of 'free' whites and around 10p of sugar.  As meringues can dry off in a cooling oven, no fuel costs to add either.

Pytt i Panna:  serves 4
4 - 5 medium potatoes, raw or cooked
1 oz (25g) butter
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
8 oz (225g) cold cooked beef or lamb, diced
4 oz (100g) cooked ham, diced OR...
...cooked bacon bits
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
4 egg yolks (see above)
If using raw potatoes, peel and cut them into small dice.  Cover in cold water as they are prepared. Drain and dry in a tea towel. If using cooked potatoes, slice and dice these.
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and add the prepared potatoes.  Cook for about 15 minutes if raw, or until golden if pre-cooked.   Remove from pan - using a slotted spoon so the fat remains in the pan - and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the onions to the pan, reducing the tem and fry until transparent, then add the diced meats and cook for a further 10 minutes, turning everything to brown on all sides.  Stir in the potatoes and when these are heated through add seasoning to taste. 
Traditionally, this is then served in individual hot bowls, making a well in the centre of each, placing in a raw egg yolk in its half-shell.  Each person can then tip the yolk into the hot meal and stir it in to cook slightly. 
Alternatively, while the meal is still in the large frying pan, make four wells in the mixture, put an egg yolk in each and cook for a little longer to 'poach' the eggs before dividing the meal into four (one egg in each portion) then serving.  Or - as mentioned above - fry whole eggs and serve one with each bowlful. 

Doubt there are many people today who make custard from scratch  - and by this I mean using eggs, milk/cream, sugar etc.  Custard from scratch today would turn our thoughts to using custard powder with milk and sugar, and this because there are so many 'convenience' custards that we could buy that would save us the trouble.  On the supermarket shelves are sachets of custard 'mix' that only need stirring into boiling water, canned custard, cartons of custard, even 'fresh custard' we can buy, I've even seen aerosol cans of custard. 

Custard powder is one of the first ever convenience foods, so we have got used to thinking it isn't one - if you know what I mean.  One of the first manufacturers was Monk and Glass (anyone remember that), the 'Monk' part being related to Bob Monkhouse.  Today we can buy stores own-brand custard powder (I've tried several and disliked them all), but my favourite will always be Bird's custard powder.
Often I make a whole pint of custard (serve hot with pies, or used cold on top of trifles - under the final layer of cream), and now there are only two of us, often have half a pint of thick custard (I always end up making it too thick) that needs an interesting way to use up.  Here is a favourite recipe that our children used to enjoy.  Forgive me for again including the 'chat' that was published with the original recipe (again from The Goode Kitchen).

Here is a recipe for a dish with a name that literally means 'fried milk', but known in our family as 'lecherous pancakes!'  It's an unusual way of making custard into a pudding into its own right or of using up any leftover thick custard or blancmange.

Leche Frita: serves 4
Make up a custard using 3/4pint (425ml) milk instead of a full pint, though keeping to the 'pint' quantities of custard powder and sugar.  Pour into a shallow dish and allow to get cold. Keep chilled for several hours until VERY FIRM.  Cut into 1.25" (3cm) squares using a knife dipped in hot water.

custard (as above)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 oz (50g) fine fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) butter
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 tblsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Dip the custard squares into the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs.  Place on kitchen paper until ready to cook. 
Melt the butter and oil together in a large frying pan placed over medium heat.  When hot, add the coated custard squares a few at a time and fry them for a couple of minutes until golden on the underside, then turn - using a fish slice - and brown the other side for 2 minutes.  Place on a heated plate, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, and serve at once.

As the following recipe was on the same page as the above, and a slightly different version of my 'jelly and evap. mousse' suggestions given the other day, thought I'd give this on in full.  The footnote at the end of the recipe suggests "instead of using evaporated milk, we could beat cold custard into the just-setting jelly".  Not a million miles away from my cheat's panna cotta where I stir cold unwhipped double cream into a jelly that has been made with a small amount of water, making it up to just over a pint with the cream.

Jelly Mousse: serves 4 - 6
1 pkt jelly
half pint (275ml) water
quarter pint (150ml) fresh fruit puree
1 small tin evaporated milk, chilled
Make up the jelly with the water and stir in the fruit puree. Leave in a cool place until just beginning to set.  Whip the evaporated meilk until thick and beat in the jelly.  Pour into a glass serving bowl (or individual bowls) and leave in a cool place to set.

Sorting out the bag of apples given to me a couple of days ago (to use for the apple crumble), gave up counting once I'd reached 100!!  The apples are mainly all small, so it's going to take quite a time to peel and core them all if I have to do them by hand.  Do hope I can find my apple peeling/coring gadget.  But that's in the future, the meal not until 23rd of this month.

Am desperately trying to make space in my freezer/s, and next time I start handling the frozen foods must wear gloves.  Even though I'd only removed four packs of frozen meat, placed them in a dish to allow them to thaw, the thumb on my right hand lost all the feeling, I got quite scared - had I got frost-bite?  Tried sucking my thumb (and how that took me back to my childhood), but it was some time before the feeling returned and then that was very painful for a bit. Just shows how we have to be careful when handling foods kept at very low temperatures (- 20 or even lower in my freezers).  Wearing mittens doesn't really help as the fingertips could still touch the ice.

Our lovely acer is now beginning to shed its lovely bright copper leaves, so soon the garden will be wearing its winter clothes.  Luckily we have a quite a few evergreens in the garden, so it never looks completely bare.  Not that I spend much time looking out during the winter months.  Unless of course it is snowing those lovely large flakes when I would then sit in the window as I LOVE watching the flakes slowly drift down.  Just as they did in the good old days.  Recent snowfall in winters seems to be more like someone 'up there' sifting snow through a sieve.  Hardly visible at all. Until it settles, then it is more slippery than crunchy.

Time waits for no man, so must stop rambling on if I intend doing anything useful at all today.  Almost certainly will not be blogging tomorrow (early hair apt plus coffee...) but intend returing again on Friday.  Even so, don't wait to send in comments, the more I get the more pleasure you give me.  All will be replied to - so if you want a special recipe, or have a query, you know all you have to do is ask.  Until we meet again - TTFN.