Thursday, June 05, 2014

Just a Quickie

Just one comment sent in, this from Hazel.  Think the caramel shortbread you mentioned would be Millionaire's Shortbread.  Haven't the recipe to hand, but sure it can be found on the Internet.  This is something that can be made several days in advance, and a real winner when it comes to party food.

Another suggestions (can also be made a couple of days ahead, is 'sparkling jellies'.  Basically, this is a packet jelly, dissolved in a very little water (I do this in the microwave) then - when it has cooled but not set - made up to just under a pint with sparkling wine.  Champagne (or Baby Cham if they still make it) is lovely with strawberry jelly.   I make this up, then pour it into wine glasses and leave in the fridge to set, a fresh strawberry can be popped on top if you wish. 

Not sure why, but the bubbles don't disappear during the setting time, so every mouthful is quite refreshing.   Another dessert I make is 'cheat's panna cotta'.  Again using a packet jelly, made up with about a quarter of a pint of water, then - when cool - stir in double cream to make just over a pint (for some reason made up to a pint it sets very firmly, and panna cotta should have a decent wobble, so use a little more cream.  If using single cream, then make it up to just one pint.

I normally make this 'cheat's' version using orange jelly and add a couple of teaspoons of Cointreau.  It is very rich, so one pint (or slightly more) should make at least five individual panna cottas, or just make it in one large bowl to serve by the spoonful.

Just thought of profiteroles.  These are really very easy to make (and very cheap), and freeze beautifully (freeze individually, then bag up or put into a box - they will keep well for a couple or so weeks).  I fill mine with whipped cream (beaten with a little icing sugar), before freezing, and then spoon melted chocolate over them when frozen (if this is done rapidly, then they can be returned to the freezer again - the chocolate sets immediately due to the chilled surface).   The profiterole pyramid known as a Croquembouche makes a real centrepiece, but three little profiteroles fitted together with one placed on top (in the middle) makes a good serving for one person. 

Spent a tiring day in the kitchen,  decided to make some quiches and as I do normally, blind-baked the pastry cases before filling with the egg/cheese.  Am realising how ovens differ (no two seem alike) and although our small oven reaches the right temperature (I check using an oven thermometer), the cases took twice as long as normal, as did baking the quiches when filled.  The good side was that the quiches baked well, without getting too brown on top as so often happens when using the top oven (this also set at the correct temperature).  Why there should be a difference in timing and appearance when the temperature is the same I have no idea.  I bet Les would know.

The first quiche was just grated cheese mixed into double cream with seasoning to taste.  The second had the same filling, plus lightly fried bacon placed in the base, and sliced tomatoes placed on top (think this is called a Quiche Lorraine).  Was pleased that the pastry didn't over-brown, due to the peculiarities of the small oven, and maybe this oven will be used in future to bake more.  I'm not satisfied with cakes baked, as they take too long, also the bread isn't quite how it should be (although B seems to prefer it).  Wish the top oven would give me the same results.  The small oven has little more than 8" of head room before whatever is in it hits the grill.

Drizzling rain again today, yet still the window cleaner came - it looked much the same after as before, rain drops all over it.  Made me realise how dirty the conservatory windows are on the inside, and this weekend, once I have all the pot plants placed outdoors (some herbs will be planted in the big window box) I can then have easier access to the windows and hope to get them shining by the start of next week. 

Recipe below is not intended for a party, more as a breakfast dish along with bacon and scrambled eggs, but am pretty sure if the pancakes are made even smaller (like blinis) they could be used as the base for certain canap├ęs.
Ideally, make these using left-over mashed potato (either made with instant or use the 'real thing'). and cooked in the same way as we would when making drop scones (aka Scotch pancakes).

Potato Pancakes: makes 12 - 15
9 oz (250g) cold mashed potato
3 oz (75g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
4 fl oz (125ml) milk
1 rounded tsp finely chopped chives (opt)
1 tsp sunflower oil
knob of butter
crispy bacon and scrambled eggs to serve
Put the mashed potato into a bowl and sieve over the flour and baking powder.  Whisk together the eggs and milk, then add to the potato with the chives (if using). Whisk the batter until smooth.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then add half the oil and a dot of butter.  When hot, start frying the pancakes.  Use a tablespoon of batter for each pancake and cook four at a time.  Cook for about 1 minute or until the underside is golden and bubbles appear on the top and begin to break.
Flip the pancakes over and cook for about half a minute until golden, then remove from pan and lay on a clean kitchen towel (that is lying on a cake airer), cover the cooked pancakes with the spare part of the towel to stop them drying out.
Continue cooking the rest of the pancakes as above, adding a tiny bit of oil and butter to the pan as and when needed.  Placing on and under the towel as each batch is cooked.
Serve with crispy bacon and scrambled egg as a breakfast dish.

Second recipe is a useful on as once prepared they can be frozen to bake later.  Similar to Cornish pasties these can be eaten hot, warm, or left to get cold and are perfect made a day ahead to take with a packed lunch or on a picnic.  Made small-size they make good buffet food. 
Use this recipe as a guide as there are many different fillings we could use (beef, chicken or turkey mince instead of pork, and different vegetables).  Instead of Cheddar cheese use Gruyere or Feta.

Cabbage and Pork Enchiladas: makes 12
12 oz (350g) plain flour
1 egg
2 oz (50g) butter
3 tblsp sunflower oil
pinch of salt
juice of 1 orange
milk for brushing
filling:
1 tblsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
5 oz (150g) minced pork
5 oz (150g) kale, roughly chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 oz (50g) raisins
2 oz (50g) toasted pine nuts
2 tblsp runny honey
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) mature Cheddar, diced
Make the filling first by frying the shallot in the olive oil for a few minutes until softened,  then add the pork and stir-fry for 5 minutes before adding the kale and paprika.  Cover the pan and reduce heat, and leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the pork and kale are both tender.  Stir in the raisins, pine nuts, and honey, then add seasoning to taste before setting aside and leaving to cool.
Meanwhile, make the pastry by placing the flour, egg, butter, sunflower oil, and salt in a food processor, then add the orange juice and whizz together to make a smooth, soft dough.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill for half an hour.
Divide the dough into 12 even portions, shaping each into balls.  Then roll these out to make a 12cm circle.   Stir the cheese into the now cold filling, then divide this between the pastry circles.  Fold each (over) in half to make a half circle that encloses the mixture, crimping the edges together to seal.  These can then be chilled for up to 12 hours before baking, or can be frozen for up to 4 weeks.
Place the empanadas onto a non-stick baking sheet, brushing the surface of the pastry with a little milk, then bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 190C, gas 5 until golden.
Eat freshly baked, or cooled slightly, or left to get cold to eat the next day.

That's it for another day.  Expected this to be a quickie, just a few lines to reply to Hazel, but as always I get carried away once my fingers connect to the keyboard.  Busy day tomorrow - coffee morning, then Norma the Hair, and also want to finish planting out my herbs, maybe even cleaning some windows.  So had better get to bed for as they say 'early to bed, early to rise'.  Not that this is early, again it is after midnight (whatever time the blog shows).  Another week passed all too quickly for me.  Maybe, if I did a little more work, not watched as much TV, and didn't keep nodding off in my chair in the afternoon, the day would seem longer.  Must try it some time.  Until my next blog. TTFN.