Wednesday, June 11, 2014

So What's New?

Most of this morning was spent sorting out a very large cardboard box in which I'd been keeping all the recipes torn from mags etc over many, many years, plus small cookery mags., and other useful culinary hints and tips.   The box was just about overflowing so I thought it was time I sorted through the lot and kept only what was REALLY useful.

The interesting thing was that I seemed to have kept many recipes that were all much the same.  If I had one recipe for Lemon Tart (aka Tarte au Citron), I must have kept 12.  The same with so many other dishes.  What may be new to younger folk is just nothing more than repeat, repeat, repeat of traditional and classic recipes, with a few ethnic ones thrown in (I found five recipes for Singapore Noodles!). 

Like most recipes, there is always a very slight difference between those that have the same name.  This may be slightly different weights/measures, or maybe an extra veg thrown in (or left out). 
So by the end of the morning, the box remained almost full, but this time with the recipes I did not wish to keep.   Don't know why I kept many of them in the first place as they did not come under the 'frugal food' grade that I try to adhere to.

What I also realised (well I knew this already but often forget), was that the recipes I saved all used ingredients that I already had, and still use, so this is something that needs a bit more thought as we are all different when it comes to what we like to eat and what we don't.  I can't expect all readers to keep the ingredients in their larder that I do, so whenever possible I suggest alternatives or substitutions. 

Many times readers have requested recipes for using up certain foods (usually the fresh seasonal), and this helps me - for I know that at least someone will (maybe) be able to make use of the recipes given.  Better that than give a recipe that no-one will ever use.

Today's recipes are based on seasonal products, and with the first  dish, we can adjust the veggies to suit what we have.  By this I mean veggies of the same type,  for instance not substituting spinach for a root vegetable.  Experienced cooks will probably understand without me even having to suggest, but you know me, write a page explaining something when just one short sentence would do.

Even though vegetables are not always as cheap as they should be, there are many 'value bags' of assorted veggies at the moment, and normally there are a few that have reached their 'display by' date to be found on the reduced counters, and - of course - as this is a meatless meal, it HAS to be less expensive that a similar recipe that would contain any of the meats/poultry/fish.
Roasted veggies have a wonderful flavour, so if you haven't roasted any before, then do try this dish. Adding the chickpeas turns this into a substantial dish that would satisfy any appetite.
When cloves of garlic are roasted still in their skins, they lose their strong flavour and once cooked and squeezed the garlic 'innards' end up tasting very sweet.

Roasted Summer Vegetables: serves 4
3 courgettes, thickly sliced
1 aubergine, cut into thick fingers
4 cloves garlic, left whole
2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1 white onion, cut into quarters/eighths
1 red onion, cut into quarters/eighths
2 large baking potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tblsp coriander seeds
4 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
Put the prepared vegetables into a large roasting tin and sprinkle with the coriander seeds, then drizzle over the oil with some salt and pepper.  Toss well together, then spread out into a single layer. Place in a preheated oven 200C, gas 6 and roast for 45 minutes, tossing once or twice until the veggies are tender and starting to brown evenly.
Remove from the oven and place the tin over a low heat on the hob, then add the canned tomatoes and the chickpeas.   Bring to the simmer, stirring gently to mix everything together.  Add more seasoning to taste, then ready to serve.

Next recipe is for rhubarb lovers, and although best made with the young pink rhubarb stems, it can be made through out the growing season.  As the older rhubarb is likely to be greener, this will alter the colour of the preserve, but a little red food colouring could be added if you prefer it to look pink.
Use jam sugar for this as it contains pectin.  Preserving sugar is different - does not contain pectin, but used when a very clear jelly/jam is needed.
Like so many jam recipes (but not all), this uses the same weight of fruit to sugar, the lemon juice helps to make it set, and so if you wish to only make a small amount, as long as you keep the fruit/sugar weight the same, still use the same amount of lemon as given (to help it set even better), and adjust the ginger accordingly.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam: makes 4 lb (4 x 450g) jars
2lb 4oz (1kg) rhubarb (weight after trimming)
2lb 4oz (1kg) jam sugar (see above)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 oz (50g) stem or crystallised ginger, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
Wash the rhubarb under cold running water, then cut into small chunks.  Put into a ceramic or glass bowl (not a metal one), with the jam sugar, lemon zest and juice, and the chopped ginger.  Grate the root ginger over the rhubarb, then stir the lot together.  Cover with a plate, or loosely with cling-film, and set aside for a couple or so hours to allow the sugar to dissolve in the juice.  If you stir the mixture occasionally, this helps to speed up the process.
Tip all the contents of the bowl into a preserving pan, and set over medium heat.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, then raise the heat and bring to the boil, then continue to cook until the rhubarb is really tender and the jam/conserve has reached setting point (this should take about 10-15 minutes).
Remove pan from the heat, and set aside for 4 - 5 minutes before pouring into warm, sterilised jars. Seal immediately, then label and store in a cool place.

Final recipe today I've chosen as practically all the ingredients are foods that we normally have in store (and probably wish to use up).  As I can't make pastry to save my life, the ready-made (as in the recipe) is what I would use, but don't let this stop you making your own short-crust from scratch.
These pasties can be eaten hot, warm, or cold, and made a day ahead if wishing to be taken for a packed lunch or a picnic.  A bonus is that these can be prepared and frozen, and can be baked from frozen.

Think we all know that Marmite is 'we either love it or hate it', and suppose the same applies to the 'Vegemite' that some other countries seem to prefer. If we prefer not to use either, then we could add a different flavouring - maybe some Branston Pickle?  Or something similar, and it goes without saying that we can use any hard cheese, or a mixture.  The stronger the flavour the better. The choice of substitutions I leave up to you.

Cheese and Marmite Pasties: makes 6
1 lb (450g) potatoes, peeled and grated
7 oz (200g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz (100g) fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 eggs
500g pack shortcrust pastry
2 tblsp Marmite (or what you will)
Put the grated potato, cheese, breadcrumbs, shallot and ONE egg into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the salt and a generous amount (to taste) of black pepper, then mix everything together.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to about the thickness of a £1 coin, then cut out 6 circles of pastry, using a saucer as a cutting guide (you may need to re-roll the trimmings to make the sixth circle).
Warm the Marmite in a small pan (or the microwave) adding a splash of water to make it a bit runnier, then brush this over each circle, but leaving an inch border around the edge.
Divide the filling between each, then beat the second egg and brush a little of this around the pastry edges, then bring up 2 sides of the pastry to meet over the middle, crimping them together to make a traditional pasty shape (or if you prefer, fold one side over to make a half-moon shape).  Make sure the edges are sealed well, then place on a baking sheet and chill for half an hour (or leave on tray and wrap in cling-film, then freeze for up to 3 months).
Brush the pasties all over with the remaining egg, and bake for 50mins - 1 hr at 160C, gas 3 until golden brown and crisp (to bake from frozen brush with egg and bake at the same temperature until golden and the filling is piping hot).  Eat warm or cold.

We give a welcome to Heather who lives in Australia.  The temptation is to ask if you have met any of the other readers who live in Oz.  Well, when we went to America and told someone we lived in Yorkshire, they seemed to expect us to know a friend of theirs who lived in Lancashire (as to those in the US this probably seemed like the next street).

And a welcome back to Rhea.  It is not fair of me to keep asking for comments when everyone is so busy. I've almost forgotten what it is to 'have a life', but have to admit that I rarely read blogs, and have never sent a comment to those that I have taken a peek at.  So why should I expect any?

Thanks also to Sarina, and appreciate that you have taken time to send a comment for then I know you are still with us.  When names suddenly disappear I begin to worry,  have their computers broken down?  Are they ill? Or has my blog suddenly become boring? (almost certainly the latter - there is only a certain amount of 'new stuff' I can find to chat about, it's all be said before during the early years of this blog).

Was interested hearing about your 'silver people' Lorna.  Also the Ouija board.  One of the members at the meeting I go to says she and her family (all mediums) used that board, and only safe if prayers were said before use.  I've only used it once, must be about 50 years ago, a couple of friends and myself, and remember driving home in the dark, feeling there was 'something' sitting on the back seat behind me.  Felt quite scared at the time.

Good to hear from you again Sairy and pleased you had a good holiday.  Hope the weather kept fair for you, we have had some good days here over the past weeks, but not all the country has fared so well.

For those of you who are interested, the meeting at the spiritualist church this afternoon was very pleasant.  Only seven of us in total there, and we spent some time discussing various religions, then did some meditation to see if anyone came up with a message for someone.  When asked to give a name if one came to mind there was silence for a while then suddenly I found myself saying 'Beatrice'. Seemed this had a connection to not one, but three members there, although they hadn't had any contact with them for months/years, and as the named person could still be living or 'passed over', they will let me know next week if anything has occurred re that. 

My suggestion that we all hold hands to see if this would help to strengthen any force that we might all have was taken as a splendid suggestion and we will be doing that next week.  Don't think they'd thought of doing that before. 

We were handed a bowl of assorted sea-shells and asked to pick one, hold it in our hands and think of the past when we were at the sea-side.  Have to say my thoughts went to the time when we stayed at Sheringham (Norfolk) where my mum and dad used to rent a house and B and I plus our four children stayed with them for three weeks (B only for one week), and probably the happiest days I can remember.  I used to cry when we had to leave to return home. 
This afternoon, I began to cry when I remembered those days, barely managing to hold back the tears.  It was just as though I'd really returned to those times, and then had to come back to what is now. 
Whatever the spiritualist church is/does, it certainly seems to be awakening parts of my mind that have been sleeping.  Am wondering what will happen next.

Good gracious me, it is after 1.00am on this Wednesday morning, so really have to love you and leave you, even though I feel wide awake and could ramble on for hours.  B is working all day tomorrow, and I've got to finish sorting out the pile of cookery mags/books that I put to one side, and sort out what can go to the charity shop and what I will keep.  Everything else will then be thrown away.

It was very warm this afternoon.  Yet much cooler this evening.  We have had heavy showers between lots of sunshine, and heard that Lancaster even had a tornado yesterday, there was a photo of it on the local TV news.  Don't think it did much damage - if any at all.  The forecast is for better weather, so let us hope we have a few good days so that I can sit outside and get my containers planted up, then enjoy the display over the next few months. 

Back again tomorrow with more news, more recipes, and maybe more rambling.  TTFN.