Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow joke

Apologies for the lack of posting on this blog for a while - We've been snowed in for the last five days. As a result I've not been able to get any ingredients!

Normal service will resume - once the white stuff takes a short break!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Bun, de Bun bun BUN!

The advantages of long Sundays at home...

This recipe has been lifted from one of those booklets you pick up in the super market. Not quite sure why it appealed - possibly the use of yeast and the need to fit it around other cooking exploits. Anyhow, you can pick up the whole recipe at Waitrose.

A few tips for success though:

  • Don't leave the initial yeast mixture more than 2 hours.
  • Expect to get very messy
  • When inserting the paper into your muffin moulds, use clean fingers, or, as you can see from the picture, you get crap all over them
  • Use lots of vanilla sugar on the top

This recipe isn't the quickest, or the easiest, but the results are worthwhile. I'll attempt them again, this time with the points above taken into account!


Friday, 30 January 2009

Tomato heaven

OK, so it's not big, clever or particularly fussy, but trust me, it tastes great and takes little effort. I love this tomato ragu, to which this weekend I will be adding additional ingredients for a tomatoey (is that a word?) feast.

How do make it - a breeze.

First, the ingredients:

Around a kilo of tomatoes. The riper the better, preferably picked fresh!
A bunch of basil
some salt and pepper
Olive oil

Really, that's all you need...

Bung the oven on at around 150C. slice the tomatoes into quarters and place them in a roasting tin of some description. Drizzle some oil on to the tomatoes, season with the salt an pepper and bung in the oven for around an hour, or until they look like they've been reasonably well roasted.

Take them out of the oven, chuck them into a food processor with the basil and whizz, until it goes relatively smooth. If the ragu isn't runny enough for your liking, add a little water of chicken stock.

You can then tip this all into a bowl and use it as a base for hundreds of other dishes. Or of course you can freeze the stuff in batches for another day.

It's seriously good...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

My winter warmer

Oh, sloe gin. It warms where other spirits will never reach. An amazing transformation given how unpleasant the sloes are to eat without being steeped in gin. This is my 2004 vintage, the sloes picked from a blackthorn bush by my parents chicken house. They were a little small but needed to be picked before the birds got to them.

Traditionally you're supposed to wait until the first frost before picking the berries, but a couple of hours in the freezer does the same job and means you can get on with making your brew much sooner.

I'm trying to find my recipe - it's knocking around the kitchen somewhere and I'll post it once found. The basics are pretty easy though.

Pop the sloes into a sealable and sterile jar, add large amounts of sugar and the cheapest gin you can find. Store in a dark cool place for a minimum of three months, swirling the jar around each day for the first week to ensure the sugar has fully dissolved.

I reckon you can leave the sloes in the mix for up to a year, dramatically enhancing the flavour. Others favour removing the berries after a maximum of six months. To be honest, as with all these things, it's down to personal preference.

Enjoy... Preferably in a hip flask, outside on a cold crisp day.

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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Requiring a dose of summer

It's been a rather hectic weekend what with one thing and another. So hectic in fact that I forgot to take any pictures of Sunday lunch - Oxtail casserole with spicy parsnip mash and buttered cabbage. A shame really, as it went down bloody well.

I did however remember to snap a shot of pudding. This is gooseberry & elderflower ice cream with damson and sloe gin coulis and cracked sugar. I'm pretty pleased with the result, especially as the coulis came from a bottle in the back of the cupboard. I think my mother-in-law brought it round a while ago and I'd forgotten it was there until a recent clear out brought it to light.

The ice cream combines a basic custard with a good slug of elderflower cordial (found in the freezer from a batch I made last year), around 300g of frozen gooseberries from the local farm shop and just under half a pint of double cream, whipped into stiff peaks. I let it chill right down before mixing it all together and putting it into the ice cream maker.

I chucked far too much mix into the frozen bowl, but it seems to have frozen fine.

The coulis comes from Chatsworth preserves and is marvellous. I can't see it being too difficult to make your own and I have a quantity of 2004 vintage sloe gin in the cabinet to use so may make my own attempt this summer, when I can get my hands on some damsons.

the cracked sugar is simplicity itself. Take some caster sugar, bung it in a frying pan and put in on a medium heat. Wait until the sugar has melted and turned golden brown, without touching it. Tip onto baking parchment, let cool and then break it. The only thing to remember here is that stirring the sugar turns it cloudy, so leave it well alone.

So, one good pudding and an opportunity missed. All in all, not a bad Sunday!

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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Fishy cakes

I knocked these up this evening using some left over mashed potato and cabbage from the Sunday roast. With the addition of a little poached salmon and some chopped chives these little babies appeared.

So simple, so affordable, so quick and so tasty.

A quick run through the ingredients:

About 4 large potatoes worth of left over mash
About half a savoy cabbage - shredded (and left over)
One large fillet of salmon, poached in milk, flaked and left to cool.
A small bunch of chives
Loads of salt and pepper
A little plain flour

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and form into small cakes. Roll in a little flour. heat a frying pan and add a little oil. Fry the cakes for up to 3 minutes each side until nicely coloured.

Enjoy with a little sweet chilli sauce.

It really couldn't be easier.

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Thursday, 15 January 2009

Salt and sweet

I've always loved the tang that salt brings to sweet food, so when I saw a recipe for sea salt chocolate fudge brownies I had to have a go.

These little babies are immense, offsetting the excessive richness of the chocolate with salted peanuts and salted fudge. The chopped fudge melts into the brownie mix during cooking, leaving little craters on the surface. Do not put you finger into the crater straight out of the oven....

The next step is to make the salted fudge myself, no mean feat given my previous fudge engineering escapades. If I ever get any readers, maybe someone could help with some tips!

Trying again

So, a blog. Not something I’ve managed to maintain in the past. I’ve always started with great ambition and felt pangs of guilt as the flow of precious words fizzled and died in a matter of days.
However, I suspect much of my inability to persevere has been down to the subject matter - not always the best choice.

I type in hope that a record of my culinary forays may have more longevity and at least, more interest to any potential audience. I’m not aiming for haute-cuisine here. Just a dollop of what I like and a dash of occasional inspiration.


I'm a Prawn again Christian

New Years Eve calls for some effort - especially if you have no intention of seeing midnight in jostling for postion in a crowded bar.

Great mates and passable food is always preferable. And of course, starting with the culinary equivalent of the Ford Mondeo. Safe and reliable, but with a little punch on the inside.
To my mind, use the best mayo (or make your own if you can be arsed) and add more tabasco than you think decent.
The basic recipe is known, but here's what I used in the marie-Rose Sauce:
1 jar vary good quality mayonnaise
A small squirt of tomato puree (the sauce wants to be dainty pink, not jordanesque)
Worcester sauce
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Mix all the ingrdients together, adding to the mayonnaise until you have something that is acceptable to your palate. I like lots of Tabasco, other like it heavier on the Worcester sauce.