Thursday, 27 November 2008

Cauliflower Cheese

Always make more sauce than you think you should, and put more cheese in than you think is sensible.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Magic Pasta!

The colours, in this, are just as gorgeous as the taste, and the textures too. Nothing that new here, just the red-green-white italian holy trinity of spinach & pesto, tomatoes (sundried & fresh) and mozzarella, with hot spaghetti.
I put the spinach and mozzarella in the bowl first so that the hot pasta went straight on top (to start wilting and melting) then tossed in the pesto, tomatoes and a grating of grana padano.
Rocket, watercress and/or fresh basil leaves would also be a superb idea.

Pretty Birthday Cake cooked by Brenda

Standard cake from recipe; adornments (maltesers, frosty fruits ..) from the deep crevices of the imagination.

And thankyou Tim, for sanding my table!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Egg & Chips

The chips were made by cutting taties into wedges, adding a little oil and then roasting in a very hot oven for about 30 minutes or so.

Even though my mum made chips in a proper chip pan when I was a kid, the oven method seems so much easier and the chips, sprinkled with a little sea salt, are just as delicious. And for the full retro effect: tinned processed peas. Yum!!!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Tasmanian Lemon Pie by Tamasin Day Lewis

Tamasin reckons she got this recipe from somewhere in West Ireland, when she was on holiday .. so what the connection with Tasmania is, I have no idea .....

It ends up with a soft, shuddery, spongy top, and a pool of lemon curd type sauce underneath.

Beat 4oz soft butter into 10oz sugar. Mix in 4 egg yolks. Then gradually add, beating well as you go, 400ml milk and 4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour (as much as you can get on the spoon, I mean). Then add the grated rind and juice of two lemons. Finally, in another bowl, whisk up the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the mixture, then transfer it all into a 2 litre buttered ovenproof dish. Bake in the oven at 180c for 25-30 minutes.

Fish Pie

Poach smoked & unsmoked haddock, salmon and some king prawns in milk. Remove from the milk and put into dish. When cool enough, break up gently with fingers. Use the fishy milk to make a white sauce, with butter, wine, and salt & pepper.
If you feel like it, lay some naughty surprise eggs on top of the mixture!
Top with creamy mashed potatoes, and pattern the surface as you like. Add some cheese too.
Bake for about half an hour until its hot and the cheese is bubbly. Await surprised yelps of "hey there's an egg in here!" from your guests ..

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Rock & Roll Pie

Cooking + listening to Metallica = ...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Samosas (sort of)

I based my recipe for these on instructions I found at .. ingredients as follows:
2 potatoes, diced
2 carrots, grated or diced
2 onions, diced
2 cups peas
2 spoons curry paste (I used Pataks madras and it turned out really spicy!)
1 spoon sundried tomato paste
200ml stock
At the end - a generous squeeze of lemon, and plenty of salt.
I also added a sprinkle of fennel seeds and some mustard seeds too.
Soften the veg in a pan with 2 tbsp oil. Fry gently for a bit then add the curry paste, tomato paste and stock. Put the lid on and simmer it all until the veg is all cooked, and there is no excess liquid left.
Take a sheet of ready made puff pastry and divide it into 12 squares. Roll each one out until it is large enough to cut out a circle (I used a 4" diameter bowl to cut round). In goes a spoon of curry, fold it over and seal the edges. Place your little pasties onto a baking sheet - don't forget to grease it!! Bake at 220c for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Banana Bread by Tamasin Day Lewis

More adventures in the summer holiday baking extravaganza..

Monday, 18 August 2008

Millionaire Shortbread

From Nigella's Domestic Goddess book.

Butter, sugar, butter, flour, butter, sweetened condensed milk, butter, syrup, butter and .. chocolate.

Don't forget the butter.

Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers Like You Get in a Greek Taverna

Rainy summer holiday cheer yourself up food.

Hollow out some giant tomatoes & peppers, stand them in a roasting dish and sprinkle with some salt & pep.

Brown a chopped onion, some garlic and add 500g minced lamb. Add cinnamon, sundried tomato paste, and a can of chopped tomatoes. (Some dill or mint would also be good but I didn't have any). Then add 250g rice, some stock and simmer away until the rice is almost cooked. The mixture should then be thick and easy to spoon into the peppers & tomatoes. Pour a little olive oil over, put the lids on and cook in a low oven for an hour and a half.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Thai Green Curry

Based on (ie. nearly the same but not quite .. pea aubergines??) as Tana Ramsay's green curry, cooked on the telly. Recipe from the UKTV Food website!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 tbsp green curry paste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 garlic clove
1 red pepper, diced
1 stalk Lemon grass, roughly chopped into large chunks
2 cm piece Ginger, roughly chopped
800g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, roughly chopped
400ml coconut milk
8 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp dark Soy sauce
1 handful Coriander, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 handful baby pea aubergines
1 lime, juice only
Basmati rice, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a wok and add the curry paste and sugar. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Add the garlic, red pepper, lemon grass and ginger. 2. Brown the chicken thighs in the wok, then stir in the coconut milk, lime leaves, fish sauce, soy sauce and coriander. Place the lid on and allow to simmer under a low heat for 25-30 minutes. 3. Stir in the pea aubergines and cook for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste. 4. Serve the curry with basmati rice and a sprinkling of chopped coriander.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Creamy Rice Pudding with Apricots

Inspired by Nigella's Stovetop Rice Pudding for Emergencies (from Nigella Bites) this is made with risotto rice in a saucepan. I melted butter, added a sprinkle of nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla essence. In with the rice, then keep adding full cream milk, a little sugar, and a couple of splodges of double cream here and there. Cook it slowly and stir very frequently. We ate it with apricots, vanilla ice cream and more cream poured over! (Inset picture - with Nutella)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Stew and lots of Big Fluffy Dumplings

Cheap, old fashioned, British, peasant skippers food. I genuinely believe this has medicinal qualities! Its very plain and homely, and warming and comforting ..

You really can make stew however you like but I like to use proper stewing beef, and lots of root vegetables. This stew is meant to be plain and just taste of the meat and the veg - you could of course make this with garlic, and herbs, and wine, but that would be a different kind of dish altogether. So just go with me on this one!

Over quite a strong flame, heat some oil and fry onion and/or leek, then add the meat and brown it. Add a big spoonful of flour, and stir that in. Let it go brown and start to stick to the pan. Then add a bit of stock, stir well to dislodge all the brown crusty bits. Add chunks of carrots, swede, parsnips and turnip. If you like, a handful of pearl barley. Then pour in some good beef stock, bring up to a simmer and stick it in a gentle oven for four hours.

At the end, taste it to see if you want to add salt or a few gravy granules, which will also thicken it a bit more, and make it nice and brown. Add a handful of peas and then make your dumplings. I used perhaps 2 cups of flour and would normally add about a cup of suet to that - although (shh) funnily enough, today I forgot to put the suet in and they were still great! Add a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, even if you used self raising flour. This is how you get them fluffy and light. Season with salt and pepper, and perhaps some dry mustard powder too. Add water until a soft dough is formed. Drop balls of the dough into the bubbling stew and let it all simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes. They will puff up like clouds, floating on top.

Serve in big bowls, perhaps with some mash and a little blob of horseradish, and eat with a spoon. Mmmm.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Yet Another Sundae .. Yet More Banoffee

Madeira cake, bananas, condensed evaporated milk fudgy stuff from a tin, lots of caramel fudge ice cream, thick cream, and flake ..

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Paella (well, my take ..)

Bit like paella, bit like risotto .. I had to put parmesan cheese on mine! Don't moan at me for not being authentic, but here is what I did, if you are interested. Because it was gorgeous.
Soften a small chopped onion, a pepper, and some crushed garlic in olive oil. After a few minutes, add bits of spicy sausage, (any you like at all, I used sweet chilli ones) and chicken. When that is all cooked on the outside, add about half a tin of chopped tomatoes, and mix them in. Then add paella rice, and mix in.
Put the kettle on, and get a jug. Into the jug, lob a spoonful of turmeric (unless of course you do have saffron), a dollop of sundried tomato paste, and marigold stock powder. Add the boiling water and you have a very delicious stock - add it to the pan. I used a whole 500g bag of rice and it took about 2.5 pints of water, but just keep tasting and testing as you go along. When it looked like there were about 5 minutes to go, I added raw prawns. That was it.
This really is optional, but when it's on the plate, squeeze some lemon over it, and drizzle with olive oil. Finally, grate over fresh parmesan (I apologise to any passing frowning Spanish people), a grind of black pepper, and jump in.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Peach, Apple & Hazelnut Crumble

Put apples & peaches in an ovenproof dish (I used some apples I had cooked myself, with a dash of water and a spoonful of sugar and tinned peaches) then do your topping. Tip some flour into a big mixing bowl, and rub soft butter into it with your fingertips, until it looks like rubble, or sand. You know, like crumble.. Add sugar and taste it to see if it is sweet enough. Then add a small handful of crushed hazelnuts! (I put whole hazelnuts into a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin)
Cook in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, and eat with vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Food III (for a cold snowy Easter): Nigella's Steak & Kidney Pudding

Look at this gorgeous little baby. Recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Easter Food To Get You In The Mood II: Peach Melba Sundaes (I am a sundae bore..)

This is a slightly more modest sundae than usual, due to my being a) quite full really, and b) a bit pissed, when I made it. Anyway.
Get some madiera cake, and chuck some in the bottom of the sundae glass. Stick a knife in to cut it up a bit. Then some soft raspberries. Not traditional for spring I know, but I love them. Squash them into the cake, a little.
Then, some pieces of peach. Then, vanilla ice cream. Then, some really nice raspberry sauce, and on top of that, some thick cream.
And finally ... the obligatory flake.

Easter Food To Get You In The Mood ;-)

Fill a large roasting tin with 2 aubergines, 3 courgettes, 2 red onions, 2 red peppers, a bulb of whole garlic cloves, 3 tins of tomatoes, a tin of tomato puree, about a third of a bottle of red wine, and several generous glugs of olive oil. Season, stir it around and roast in a hot oven until the vegetables are soft, caramelised and most of the liquid has evaporated. Be prepared to wait about two hours for this.
When it is just about done, you can stick a few veggie sausages on top and cook them for a bit. When you know you have about 10 minutes to go, put slices of mozzarella on top too.
To prepare the garlic and chilli bread, mix garlic puree (two generous spoonfuls please) into a block of soft butter. Chop atleast 4 red chillies finely and mix them in. Daub the butter generously into the slits in the bread. Wrap it in foil and give it a good 20 minutes.
Serve with pasta and grate parmesan on top.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Spaghetti Carbonara

This is one of those things which is always pretty revolting, tasteless and gloopy if you buy a ready made version from the supermarket, but is bloody fantastic if you make it yourself. Yummy.

I made this version, for two people. Begin by heating a blob of olive oil in a small pan. If you have the inclination, fry some chopped garlic in the oil first, and remove and chuck it away when it is brown. It makes the oil all garlicky. Then add some chopped bacon or pancetta, and fry it until done. A further optional step here is then to add a generous splash of white wine, and let it boil and bubble away. It leaves another nice flavour behind.

Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti as usual. While it is cooking, get a bowl and mix in it three egg yolks, about half a cup of cream, salt and pepper, and about a handful of grated parmesan cheese. When the spag is done, drain it quick and return to the hot pan, off the heat. Chuck in the bacon and the oil it was sizzling in. Waste no time in adding the egg yolk, cream and cheese mixture. Stir and mix it well, and the heat in the pan should be enough for the sauce to cook and smoothly coat each strand of spaghetti, without overcooking and turning into scrambled egg. Eat it with more cheese and perhaps some black pepper on top. Heaven.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Potato Dauphinoise

Oh blimey. Where have you been all my life? This was genuinely my first casual attempt at this dish, and it was fab. I set the oven to start cooking it before I got in from work, so I was greeted by this potatoey, creamy, garlic-scented waft, as I walked in the door.

Everyone seems to cook this at a different temperature; I did it at 150c, or gas mark 2. I cut 4 medium potatoes into thin slices and put them into the dish, adding salt and pepper over each layer. I then poured about half a pint of a blend of milk and cream, with a teaspoon of garlic paste mixed in, over it all. It was cooked after an hour and 15 minutes.

Cheese is an obvious possibility and would be very nice, but I am absolutely convinced it is not necessary.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Roasted Trout with a Sundried Tomato & Rosemary Crust

Begin with a big fresh trout fillet, and pick out any bones. In a bowl, mix some fresh breadcrumbs, a couple of dollops of sundried tomato paste, and some finely chopped rosemary. Use this to top the fish, then roast it quickly in a hot oven.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Nigella's Greek Lamb Stew with Pasta, and Feta and Oregano Topping

My version did differ in some ways: 1) I used red wine, not white. 2) I left the carrots in, because I like them .. when this was done on Nigella Bites, she fished them out. 3) I added cinnamon because I like it, in Greek dishes. 4) I halved the recipe.

I tried the completely unauthentic but delicious crumbled feta and fresh oregano mixture as a topping - do not consider eating this without it! What a lovely bowlful of steaming, meaty, winey, herby, pastary, cheesey JOY this made.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Traditional English Breakfast, on a Winter Holiday

A dozen raw eggs, in a pan, prior to the addition of salt, pepper, a dash of milk and a nob of butter, waiting to be slowly and softly scrambled. However, if I told you this was alien giant yellow frog spawn, you could believe it, couldn't you.
We also had bits of toast with it, but fried bread is a great possibility. Then we had coffee, croissants and jam for afters. Please note that as my holiday activities centred around walking, cycling and swimming, this level of Famous Five style calorie intake was simply a nourishing, necessary evil.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Banoffee Sundaes

It's hard to get a photo which does these justice, because all the goodness is buried deep below the cream and you have dig down to get it ...
Begin with any kind of cake; plain madeira is ok but a cake on a toffee or fudgey theme is better. Add some toffee or fudge sauce, then slices of banana. Sprinkle over some chocolate buttons. Perhaps some chocolate sauce, at any stage, if you prefer.
When you have layered cake, banana and toffee / fudge in satisfactory proportions, pile on some vanilla ice cream. Finally, big dollops of cream, and shards from a broken flake bar.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Potato, Chickpea & Spinach

This goes very well with the CTM, below.
Cut 4 big potatoes into chunks, and boil them until only just done. Toss them in ginger & garlic paste, salt, and some turmeric.
Heat oil and fry a chopped onion until soft. Add the potato cubes. Fry it and let them go a bit brown and crusty here and there. Then add a tin of drained chickpeas, and cook until they are hot. Add a bag of washed fresh spinach leaves, which you have shredded and chopped.
Cook until it is all done. This is a dry dish, and goes well with a curry with lots of sauce. But you could add tomatoes and/or coconut milk if you wanted.

Chicken Tikka Masala!

Completely superb, a long list of ingredients but simple to do. You need to marinate a load of chunks of chicken first. I made a big potful to feed 6 people, and used 8 or 9 chicken breasts. Then I made a marinade with these ingredients:
300g plain yoghurt
Couple of spoons tomato puree
Big blob garlic puree
Big blob ginger puree
Spoonful of salt
Generous sprinkle of chilli
Couple of spoonfuls tikka powder
Juice of half a lemon
Let the meat sit in this overnight, or all day.
To make the sauce, get a big pan and chop 8 onions. Fry them slowly in oil for about an hour, until they are soft and golden. Then add:
Spoonful of curry paste
Blobs of ginger & garlic puree
Chilli as desired
Stir, and cook a bit more. Then add:
A carton of passata
A tin of coconut milk
About 100g ground almonds
Blitz it all with a stick blender. Add water if it is too thick. Mine was really thick, and it was bubbling and splutters were going about 2 feet into the air, so I had to make it a bit runnier.
Taste, and you will probably need to add salt. I also added a spoonful of sugar. I was considering adding yoghurt and/or cream at this stage but decided these were unnecessary.
It is now time to cook the marinaded meat, like in the picture. Get your oven as hot as you dare. (I had to take my necklace off, because every time I opened the door, it heated the metal up and burned me.. thats how hard and daring I am.) Anyway. Mine was set at 250c. Lay the meat out in a roasting tin. I added some chunks of pepper too. I also added the remains of the marinade to the sauce (which was just ticking over gently with the lid on at this point).
The meat must have roasted for about 15 minutes. I took it out when it started to get charred, as you can see.
Simply transfer the entire contents of the roasting tin into the sauce. You now have Chicken Tikka Masala!

Eat it with rice, onion bhajis, naan bread, a vegetable dish, and some red wine ....

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Pad Thai (sort of)

This was not a serious, planned attempt at Pad Thai, but it did turn out to be bloody lovely. I began with raw king prawns, and I sprinkled them with thai spices from a jar. I stir fried them in oil, and added beansprouts and shredded veg, then a spoonful of peanut butter. Next, in went the noodles, with a shake of soy sauce and then one of those small packages of creamed coconut.
More ginger & garlic would have been superb.
Oh yes! And I put egg in it. There was a great big panful by the end, even though I was aiming to feed two.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Truffles! Two Uses for Good Chocolate

Just in case you have some choccie made with 70% cocoa hanging around, still.

1) Make chocolate sauce. Melt it down gently and don't overheat. Remove from heat as soon as (or marginally before) it has all melted. Gently stir in some cream. The sauce is done. While still warm, spoon it over ice cream, or sundaes, or any passing good-looking gentlemen.

2) Cool any leftover sauce, and use it the next day to make chocolate truffles! It should have a soft, fudgy texture. Use a teaspoon to carve out nuggets and lumps, then roll them in cocoa powder. The shape really does not matter. Pile onto a small dish or plate. Slightly erotic to eat (melting, velvety stickiness, and licking fingers, etc ..)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Chickpea Curry with Paneer

Cooked with paneer cheese I got from Tescos. Curry paste and onion, plenty of tomato, then chickpeas, and cubes of paneer. Cook for a bit, then sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Winter Afternoon Fodder: Cheese, Chutney and Biscuits

Altogether now:
Biscuit, well, cracker. Cheese (brie). Chutney (spicy onion).
Biscuit (digestive). Cheese (cheddar). Pickle (Branston).
Biscuit. Cheese (potted Stilton). Chutney (mango).

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Birthday Cake (for a Banoffee Addict)

I put this together at the request of my banoffee-obsessed son. Essentially, it is banana cake, sandwiched with caramel, (tinned caramelized condensed milk, that is) sliced bananas and whipped cream. The banana cake is gorgeous on its own (as its meant to be) and this is the recipe:

You need:

4oz margarine
10oz sugar (I use soft light brown)
2 eggs
10oz peeled banana (about 4 small ones)
few drops vanilla essence
10oz self raising flour

Heat the oven to 325F, 170c, or gas mark 3.

Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin, but I have also made this in a round tin and this time, in two sandwich tins.
Cream and beat together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mash the bananas and fold them in. Sprinkle in the vanilla, then fold in the flour. That's pretty much it.

The original recipe says, bake in the centre of the oven until brown, so you'll have to keep an eye on it depending on what tins you are using. For this, the two sandwich layers only took 45 minutes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Mark Owen's Cheese Pastas & Tomato Pastas

Only a true TT fan (who has watched and absorbed the original Take That And Party video) will understand the title and significance of this pasta treat, whipped up quick for a visiting veggie.

Pasta. Cheese. Tomatas. Oven.