Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Not Yet on Track...

Think it won't be until the weekend before I get myself back on track.  For some reason am finding it hard to get back into my usual routine (what routine?!!).   My Beloved is at a committee meeting this evening, hoping to get back to watch the match, so have grabbed the opportunity to write this blog before he returns - this means there will be yesterday's posted in the early hours of this morning, and one today (meant for tomorrow).

Who cares what day and what time the blogs are written.  Just as long as you get to see them all and don't miss any.l
As always a 'thank you' for your comments, none needing a reply (unless some come in after this has been written).  But as ever always appreciate hearing from those who do write in.

Not sure why, but when I sent in my last order, ordered more packs of jelly (they were on offer), then discovered I'd already got quite a few.  Not a problem, they store well, and - at a pinch - I can break off a cube or two and suck them instead of sweets (telling myself the gelatine is good for my hair and nails). 

A jelly is a very economical dessert, and I've already mentioned how we always had a jelly-mousse every Saturday (one small can of chilled evaporated milk, whisked up and then a just-about-to-set-jelly beaten in.  Made loads.  You can see one on the cover of 'The Goode Kitchen' decorated around the edge with rosettes of cream, with chocolate leaves.

To make chocolate leaves, first melt some chocolate in a bowl standing over (not in) simmering water.  Then take some clean rose leaves (with a small bit of stem still attached), then holding this stem, drag the underside of the leaves across the chocolate, making sure all that side of the leaf is covered (can repeat if you want a thicker leaf), then place them choc-side up onto parchment paper until set.  Then holding the little stem, carefully peel away the leaf.  The protruding veins on the leaf will then show as depressions on the chocolate leaf and they look very impressive.

Another lovely summer dessert is a strawberry jelly made with half red wine and half water (or all red wine if you wish - the Victorian way was to use port).   Then serve with strawberries (my favourite way of serving strawberries is to hull them, then place in a dish with a little red wine and leave to come to room temperature - they taste even better when the weather is really warm).

Strawberries and champagne also go well together, so make up a strawberry jelly with a very small amount of water, and when cool (but not setting), add a sparkling wine (I used to use Babycham) to make it up to nearly a pint.  The bubbles stay in the jelly and give a pleasant 'fizz' when eating it.  Also good served with strawberries.
For special occasions I first put some small strawberries in the base of a large wine glass with just a little jelly, and when set top up with the 'fizzy' jelly.

According to a book re the history of food in England, puddings are unique to this country.  No other country serves a good pud like we do.  Of course other countries do serve desserts that are more elaborate such as gateaux, but nothing like our steamed puddings, suet puddings, fruit pies and the like.
At this time of the year there is nothing better than Summer Pudding when made the correct way, although no doubt it would taste almost as good made as described by Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa).  She makes hers in layers, first the bread, then the fruit, topping this with bread, then more fruit, and continuing up the bowl in as many layers as will fit in, finishing with bread.   Somewhat easier than carefully cutting the bread to fit round the sides of a bowl I suppose.

I've made individual Summer Puddings in teacups (or small pudding bowls), and find they do freeze very well, so on a winter's day this makes (when thawed) a refreshing pudding after a dish of stew.  It would probably also eat well if heated in the microwave (although have never tried this have a vague memory of someone writing in this suggestion).

Have not yet managed to find panko crumbs (is that what they are called - the Japanese version of our dried breadcrumbs).  These are supposed to be crunchier when used as a coating before frying.
However, have found my own oven-dried bread crusts are also super-crunchy when used as above, as are crushed cornflakes, crushed potato crisps, and also crushed cheese biscuits. 

When I've cut the crusts off bread, I dry them as-is, in finger strips.  Once dry I store them in airtight containers, and then can either crush/whizz them to make crumbs, or use them instead of bought bread-sticks or croutons to eat with dips or soups.

Here is a recipe for fish cakes (yes I know I've given recipes for these before, but they are all slightly different) - this one using crushed cream crackers for the coating as they give an especially crispy finish to the cakes.
Goes without saying that we could use any white fish (or salmon, sardines, pilchards...) instead of the cod stated.  In fact - when I made B a fish risotto the other day using 'value' (anonymous) white fish fillets, and wild Alaskan salmon,  after poaching the fish, I removed any skin, and then flaked the fish, keeping them in separate dishes.  Then shut my eyes and moved the dishes around so I didn't know which was which, then ate some of each fish.  Quite honestly I could not tell one from the other, except that the white fish was slightly moister (which I preferred).   Other than the smoky flavour of smoked haddock,  that too I know really doesn't taste that much different.

But I'm rambling on.  Here is the recipe.
Crispy Cod 'n Corn Cakes: makes 8
4 tblsp milk or water
1 lb (450g) cod fillet
1 x 198g can sweetcorn kernels, drained
1 shallot, finely chopped
1.5lb (750g) mashed potatoes
1 oz (25g) butter, softened
salt and pepper
2 eggs
12 cream crackers, crushed to fine crumbs
Put the fish and milk  (or water) into a frying pan and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).  When it flakes easily, remove from heat and set aside until cool, then remove skin and any bones and break the fillets up into flakes.
Put the mashed potato into a bowl, and beat in the butter adding seasoning to taste, then stir in the sweetcorn and the shallot.
Stir the flaked fish into the mash mixture, taking care not to break up the fish too much, then divide into 8 and shape into round, flat cakes.
Beat the eggs lightly with a fork and place in a shallow dish.  Put the cracker crumbs into another dish.  Dip each fishcake first into the egg, covering both sides, then into the crumbs, making sure it is well coated.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes, four at a time, for 3 - 4 minutes until golden and crisp, then carefully turn and cook the other side for the same length of time.
Good served with a salad and tartare sauce, tomato ketchup, or other relish of your choice).

I've still not got around to making hummus properly.  Previously have used peanut butter instead of tahini (my old stock of tahini having separated, never to be blended again, and was YEARS out of date anyway. 
Our daughter managed to buy me some tahini in Lancaster, so really must make as start - I've already got cans of chickpeas, and also dried chickpeas.  However, tahini has uses other than just for hummus as I've discovered when reading a recipe sheet sent with the organic veggie box.  You may wish to try this... suggestion being it is good when drizzled over shredded steamed/stir-fried spring greens.

tahini and lemon dressing:
2 tblsp yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tblsp good olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
Stir the tahini into the yogurt to make a smooth paste, then whisk in the rest of the ingredients with a few tblsp water to give the consistency of pouring cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle over greens.

For those who have gluts of courgettes, here is a cake recipe that is well worth making.  As it gives only metric measurements not easy to convert to the old style lbs and oz, hope you have the right scales.
Chocolate Courgette Tray-bake: makes 10-15 squares
120g softened butter
125ml sunflower oil
100g caster sugar
200g soft brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
130ml milk
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tblsp cocoa powder
450g courgettes, peeled and grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat together the butter, oil, and both sugars until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs and the milk.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa and gently fold this into the wet ingredients. Finally stir in the courgettes and the vanilla, then spoon this into a 20 x 35cm baking tin lined with parchment.
Bake at 190C, gas 5 for 35 - 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Cut into squares while still warm, then leave in the tin to cool before removing.

Not like B to miss a footie match, he still hasn't returned from the club-house, but it is his first year as a committee member, so can hardly leave in the middle of a meeting.  Am just hoping he managed to reclaim my best baking tin that I used to cook the gingerbread that I left in the tin when sending it to the clubhouse.  It seems to have disappeared!!  Told B that if they can't find it they'd have to pay for a new one, good tins are not cheap.

Tesco have offered me another free delivery if I order more than £40 by 20th of this month.  I'll be ready to order by then, so will take advantage.  Think most of the stores are finding ways to keep customers happy. 
Forgot to mention that last time I ordered I chose to buy some 'extra-large, free range' eggs (just so you know I don't always buy the cheapest), intended for my Beloved who occasionally likes to make himself a snack of scrambled eggs on toast, or a fried egg and bacon sarnie. Maybe even an omelette or just plain boiled...with 'soldiers'.

Reminds me of an advert being shown on TV - all about Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals.  They bein by mentioning foods that cook quickly (can't now remember which) but then mention boiling an egg for 6 minutes for a 'runny' egg.  Someone should have told them that boiling an egg for six minutes (if you start them in cold water) and the eggs will end up hard-boiled.  I now always hard-boil (from cold) for just 6 minutes, and this keeps the yolks from going green where they meet the white when kept for a day in the fridge (I shell first, then either put them in a bowl of water, or in a bowl with no water but cover with cling-film).

That is definitely it for today.  If I go on too long you will all get bored.  Next blog may be written during the day, or early/late evening.  I won't know until the time.  So expect me when you see me.
Hope the weather stays fair for you.  We have been lucky at the moment, lots of lovely hot sunshine and just a slight breeze.  Expected to be cloudier and muggier over the next few days, but we should still get some sun.  Not sure about the rest of the country.  Hope the rain misses where you live.  TTFN.