Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Savoury & Sweet Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday sprung itself on us again yesterday. I thought I better make some pancakes for Hubby, a little treat for him as I never usually bother. I decided it could be a fun idea to bring pancakes into the main supper dish so I concocted the following.

Savoury Pancakes with Turkey & Bechemel Sauce

Pancake Batter - Makes 10-12
1 pt Semi Skimmed Milk
5 oz Plain Flour
2 Eggs

Pancake Filling
250g Turkey Breast, sliced thinly
Half Onion sliced
2 small Peppers, one green one red, halved and sliced
Handful if sliced mushrooms
Half Vegetable stock cube (I use Maggi, the best if you can get hold of them)

Bechemel Sauce
3/4 Pint of Semi skimmed milk
1 Tbs Plain Flour
Small knob of butter
Small handful grated Cheddar cheese

Chopped Parsley
Pepperdew Peppers from Jar.

Make up a batch of pancake batter in blender.
Stir fry in a little oil the Turkey, onions, peppers, mushrooms and crumble in the stock cube, I also added a little shake of cayenne pepper for a kick.

Make the Bechemel, melt the butter in a pan, add flour to make a roux, slowly pour in the milk, keep stirring or it will go lumpy. Grate in a little nutmeg and toss in a handful of cheese.

Remove from heat whilst you make 6 Pancakes.

Take a pancake fill it with the turkey mixture, roll up and place in a baking dish, repeat for all 6.

Pour the bechemel over the top of the pancakes, garnish with chopped parsley and a handful of the wonderfully piquant Pepperdew peppers and the mozzarella ball ripped up.

Bake in oven at 180oc for 15 mins.

Whilst I was making this I thought it was going to be rather heavy and stodgy and was very surprised when it was not! Would have been brilliant with a side salad, but being little piggies, we decided to forgo the salad and finish the whole dish.

Afterwards there was still some batter left so a couple of traditional pancakes with just lemon juice and sugar sprinkled over were called for.

Potted Mackerel

A trip to see Gordon the fishmonger at the weekend saw me skulking away with a bag of Mackerel fillets.

Mackerel is truly my favourite fish, hubby is a bit ambivalent about it though, so I have to make dishes with mackerel when he is not around or in this case, something that lasts a few days and can easily be used for lunch or nibbles. I picked this recipe out from the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall book on Fish, I adapted the dish slightly to suit.

Potted Mackerel

4 Mackerel Fillets
2 Fat Cloves Garlic
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tsp Mace
1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
125g Butter
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
1 Tbs Fresh Chopped Parsley

Put 2 fillets, skin side down in an oiled backing tray, place a clove of garlic and bay leaf on each and then the other fillets on top. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, turning once. When cool enough to handle remove the skin and bones and flake into a bowl. Discard the bay leaves and one of the cloves of garlic.

Add mace, thyme, cayenne, parsley & lemon juice to mackerel and season with S&P.

Take the butter and melt in a pan, add the remianing clove of garlic, finely chopped, the butter will separate into white solids, which will sink to the bottom and clarified butter on top. Pour 2/3rds of the clarified butter over the mackerel, mix gently.

Put the mackerel into small ramekins, press down and pour over the remaining clarified butter.

Leave to cool, then refrigerate. The ramekins will keep in the fridge for several days as long as the butter seal is not broken. Perfect with toast.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

All in One Brunch

With the sun actually out and shining at the weekend, I took the opportunity to get into the garden and do some much need smartening up, so first thing on Saturday I stepped into the garden to sweep, weed, prune and shovel working up a hunger whilst doing so.
For brunch I decided to pick out a recipe from Eats Like a Girl her take on Huevos Rancheros and take it a step further.

All in one Brunch

Couple of handfuls Cherry Tomatoes
Couple of handfuls of diced potatoes
2 Eggs
3 Pork loin chops, sausages would have been good, but I didn't have any.
Cayenne Pepper
Grated Cheese

I halved the tomatoes and put then on an oiled tray to roast in the oven for 20 mins at 180oc. Dried the diced potato on kitchen roll, then popped them into the oven on another oiled tray, seasoned with S&P. After 20-30mins the tomatoes are sticky and reduced and the potatoes crispy and brown. I added them to the same pan and mixed in a little Cayenne to give it a kick. Placed the pork loins on top which I had already pan fried in a little butter, till slightly crispy, only a few minutes on each side. Cracked a couple of eggs over the top and placed the whole lot back into the oven for 5 or so minutes, until the eggs were cooked, also added a handful of grated cheese for extra naughtiness.

The end dish was very satisfiying and delicious and just the thing after the physical work in the garden.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Tagliatelle with Bacon, Sprouts and Cream

Pinched this recipe from Annes Kitchen . A little bit of a treat, I used Tagliatelle instead of Spag and lower fat Elmlea rather than double cream. The Vermouth and Sprout were such an unusual twang taste together - not bad, but the same problem I seem to have with pasta & cream dishes - it ends up too claggy and stodgy. Will have to work on that.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Supreme Sarnie & Celeriac Soup

After the success of the Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms yesterday I decided to turn the leftover mix into a lush sandwich. I added a little mayonnaise and lemon juice to the crab, shrimp and spring onion, dolloped it on a lightly toasted ciabatta roll and added a little leftover salad - Delicious.

I then needed to use up my beloved Celeriac prior to Hubby's return. He cannot bear celery and celeriac is too much like it for him to enjoy, so I have to plan my celeriac fixes when he is not around. Last night I made a Celeriac and Potato Soup

1 Medium Celeriac approx 600g, peeled and cubed
1 Large Onion, finely sliced
2 Medium sized floury potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Lt Chicken or veg stock.
knob of butter
3 sage leaves
2 strips of lemon peel

Melt the butter in pan, gently cook the onions until soft, not coloured. Add the potato and celeriac, pour over the stock add the sage leaves and lemon peel. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. The celeriac should be soft, stir to breakdown the potato and thicken the soup, remove the sage and lemon peel.

This is a lovely soup, the lemon really zings the flavour of the celeriac and makes it taste like a creamy Thai soup with lemongrass. Serve plain or add some grated cheddar to the top.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

As promised I had a salad last night, a plain chopped little gem with cucumber and tomato salad to accompany my equally light Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

Serves 2
1 small can crab meat
1 small can shrimps
3 Spring Onions
4 Portobello Mushrooms
Handful grated cheese, I used Chedder

Clean the mushrooms with dry cloth, rub some butter over the inside and out, place on baking tray. Drain and mix the cans of Crab and Shrimp with the finely chopped spring onions and add a good grind of pepper and add the mixture on to the mushrooms, sprinkle cheese on top and pop into the oven for 15-20mins 200oc.

A very simple but tasty dish, a welcome change from hearty winter dinners. I enjoyed a glass of chilled Vinho Verde with supper, a light, slightly effervescent summery wine, perfect to make me feel as if warm sunny days are just around the corner.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Winter Blues

Blurgh, blah, yukky. Basically that is how I feel at the moment. I am so fed up with the miserable winter weather I desperately need to see some sun, feel a little bit of warmth and not to have to leave home in the dark and arrive back in the dark. I don't think it is helped much by such such depressing news every time I open the newspaper or watch a bulletin - economy, recession, credit not to mention, stabbing, shooting, murder.

I think it all mounts up on a person and slowly drags you down, so I have attached a photo to cheer me of our 2008 summer holiday in Menorca, we were indulging in our favourite pastime of people watching whilst enjoying a long lunch in Cala Fons with a bottle of chilled rose, tapas to nibble on, probably Pulpo Galacia (Octopus on boiled potato with pimenton and olive oil), anchovies in oil and garlic and Ablongdias (meatballs in tomato sauce) with fresh bread to mop up the remaining sauce, followed by a cafe solo (espresso) and a shot of Xorigeur Herb Gin as a digestive before wandering back to the villa for a well earned siesta.

All this doom and gloom has had an effect on my cooking of late, far to much comfort food going, no real enthusiasm for trying new recipes, its all pasta, potatoes and pies at the moment, although the Baked Gnocchi from Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking was delicious, I did feel terrible naughty and stodgy afterwards. Hubby is currently away in Spain for a week, probably another reason for my dour demeanour, but it does mean that all the meals I popped into the freezer are getting used, so that in some way does make me feel slightly virtuous. I have however promised myself a salad tonight!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Broccoli Soup

And now for something a little lighter.

After weeks of heavy food and in line with my 'Make Soup' resolution, I did just that.
Broccoli soup.

1 head broccoli - broken down into small florets
1 onion - chopped
750ml veg stock
250ml milk
Oil for frying

So simple - fry the onion in oil until soft, add the broccoli for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and season well. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 mins until the broccoli is soft. Add the milk and simmer for a few more minutes. Blend till smooth. A tasty soup not too thick, some dollops of blue cheese would have been nice if I had had any, but served with fresh crusty bread was just as good.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Brisket & Beer

Since starting my blog I have noticed that I cook a lot of hearty comfort food and Monday night was no different. I found a recipe here for Pot Roasted Brisket in Beer with Parsnips and Mushrooms.

My eventual dish varied slightly in that I used a smaller joint around 600g, I had no celery or flat mushrooms - using the remainder of the Chestnut mushrooms instead, forgot to add the Dijon mustard - doh! I also only needed to cook the joint, (which managed to unfurl in the pan, but made it easier to carve) for 2 and half hours. I served it with fresh Polish Bread to soak up all the juices. It was pretty delicious and the Brisket was lovely and tender. Hubby has requested this again.

This blog is a good way to remember all the dishes I have tried, as invariably I would forget, it also high lights our eating patterns. Time for something lighter I think - step away from the stodge!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Slow Baked Rabbit with Chorizo & Mushrooms

I have been meaning to attempt more game dishes. Game is something I have not cooked much of and when I have cooked it I have had a few terrible dishes, so my confidence is knocked and I tend to avoid it, but having read the wonderful blog of Hank at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook I am eager to have another go. I took one of the rabbits I bought at the game butcher a couple of weeks ago out of the freezer and had him defrosting overnight then I went and hunted out a recipe I saw on Girl Interrupted Eating for Slow Baked Rabbit with Chorizo & Wild Mushrooms .

Having followed the recipe I popped the dish into the oven and settled down for a wait. The smells coming from the kitchen were wonderful, the sherry and cinnamon were so rich and spicy. Checked the dish after 1 1/2hrs - the rabbit was still rock solid, so back into the oven for a while longer, checked again after 2 hours and still hard bunny. Eventually after three hours with the return of Hubby (he had decided a quick pint at the pub would whet his appitite), I served up the dish at Hubby's request on a bed of rice.

The sauce was so delicious - I am pleased I used the same amount of ingredients for 4 people on the sauce but only used one rabbit, this meant there was still a lot of juice to be soaked up by the rice and took away from the slight disappointment of the rabbit, which was pretty dry and firm, no way this was going to pull away from the bone.

Maybe it was the fact that the rabbit had previously been frozen? maybe I should have altered the timings or temperature? I don't know, but another less that happy experience with game :(

I will not be deterred. I have another bunny in the freezer for which I will find a different recipe and I really want to try Hank's Pheasant Cacciatore . I will try this recipe again, but substitute chicken for rabbit as I will continue to dream about that scrummy sauce.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb and Rosemary Butterbeans

Woke up to a thick layer of snow, hubby decided to risk a trip to work, I decided to take a snow day.
I set the laptop up in the kitchen, logged onto works email and server, added skype so that work mates could contact me and off I went completing the days work, whilst popping a load in the washing machine or cleaning the kitchen windows, which were filthy. I was much more productive than usual, perhaps I could work from home more often.
Being at home meant I could start to slow roast a half shoulder of lamb half way through the afternoon, so we could eat at a reasonable time, but it also meant that I could not go out and get further provisions required for dinner, i.e. potatoes, so a trawled my cupboards and the internet for suggestions and came up with a rather nice recipe for butterbeans.

Slow Roast Lamb

This is a take on a Jamie Oliver recipe.

1 kg Half Shoulder of Lamb - score the skin
Oil, salt and Pepper - rub on lamb
4 sprigs of Rosemary
6 or so unpeeled cloves of garlic

Place half the rosemary and garlic on the bottom of a roasting pan, place the lamb on top and cover with the remainder. Cover in foil and place in an oven at 220oc, immediately turn the heat down to 170oc and cook away for three hours or until the meat can be pulled apart by forks.

Butterbeans and Rosemary

1 400g can butterbeans, drained
Juice of half a lemon
3 sprigs of Rosemary, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Fry the rosemary and garlic in some oil for a couple of mins, add the butterbeans and lemon juice and continue to cook for a few minutes. Once cooked coarsely crush with a fork, adding a little water if it is too dry, serve.

The lamb, was so tender and went well with the butterbeans, which were a good replacement for potatoes, I also added stringless beans to the plate. Did forget to take a photo of the completed dish, so you will have to make do with the straight out of the oven piccy of Lamb.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Faggots, Peas and Mash

I was so pleased at having found a butcher in Uttoxeter that made this old fashioned dish, I could not wait to get them into the oven.

Faggots were very popular in war time cooking as they turned the offal of pork, especially the liver, heart and belly into a delicious feast with very little effort. The offal would be minced then combined with breadcrumbs, plenty of herbs, particularly sage, salt and pepper then moulded into balls and cooked in an onion gravy, but their popularity waned in later years. I think the current economical situation and the rising of frugal cooking could mark their resurgence to popularity.

When I was growing up the manufactured Brain's Faggots would always be a treat. Having never had handmade faggots before I hoped they would live up to my childhood memories. Boy, did they ever and then some!

I decided to place the Faggots into a lidded crock pot and to pour over a caramelised onion gravy I made quickly with a couple of sliced onions fried with a little sugar, till just turning brown on the edges and about 750ml of Oxo beef stock, sprinkled a bit of flour in the sauce to help thicken, then I popped them into the oven (back to behaving itself for the moment) for about an hour as the faggots were so heavy and solid, I thought it would take a while.

They were magnificent when they came out, barely reduced in size with a glossy onion sauce coating, served with piles of creamy mashed potato and frozen peas - just like my childhood, but much, much better. My next task it to make some myself (or cheat and go back to the butcher!). Plenty leftover to freeze as well.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Chicken Chasseur

It snowed pretty much all day on Monday, a little hairy on the trip to work, but Katie handled it well and I realised she had ABS braking which helped greatly. I cannot remember the last time it snowed in Burton and the snow 'stuck' for any period of time and I had forgotten just how beautiful it can be especially when you are back home, with a roaring fire going and a delicious warming comfort meal on the stove.

Chicken Chasseur

4 Chicken Legs - seasoned
200g Chestnut Mushrooms
1 glass Red Wine
800ml Chicken Stock
2 tbs Tomato Puree
1 Onion Chopped
2 cloves Garlic - Crushed
Thyme - I used dried.

Melt some butter and oil in large pan, brown the chicken for about 5 mins.
Remove from the pan and put to one side.
Fry the onion until soft for 5 mins, then add the garlic, for a further minute, toss in the mushrooms for a further 2 mins then add the Thyme and Red Wine, de-glaze the pan then add the tomato puree, this will thicken the liquid, bubble away for a minute.
Add the chicken stock.
Place the chicken legs back on top of the sauce and cover, leave on a low heat for about an hour or until the meat is tender.
Remove the chicken legs and keep warm. Turn the heat up high and reduce the sauce till nice and thick.

I served with crushed new potatoes and cabbage. Plus I had two servings to put into my freezer stock.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Farmers Markets & Spanish Tortilla

Took a trip over the the first Farmers Market of the year in Uttoxeter, Staffs. on Saturday. My first time there and were were pleasantly surprised with what we found. Nothing tremendously exotic, but lots of Great British hearty fayre. We picked up a deliciously sticky Ginger Cake, could not resist the moist Lemon Drizzle Cake, or a couple of sugary Bath Buns or the Olive and Sun Dried Tomato tear and share loaf. We deliberate over the various Scotch Eggs, plumped for the Caramelised Onion and strangely the Black pudding version - which turned out quite tasty.
The veg market in Burton is better, but I did pick up a few bits, then there was a rack of lamb from a local herd for £4. I have never cooked this before and will be scouring the internet to a suitable recipe.
A very fun morning out in the beautiful bright but cold winter sun. Sadly though I fear the credit crunch is having an effect on something that should be better value than supermarkets, people were staying away in droves. Granted, I had never been to Uttoxetter Market before, but the whole town seemed rather quiet. On the way back to the car we popped into a local Butcher who was offering home made Faggots! Cannot wait to get those in the oven.

To go with all our nibbles, I decided to whip up a Spanish Tortilla, great served hot or cold, remarkably simple to make but so tasty, a staple in Spanish Tapas Bars.

Spanish Tortilla

10 oz Potatoes - Waxy are best
1 Medium Onion
5 Large Eggs
Salt & Pepper

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly then dry them off in a tea towel. Halve the onion and slice thinly too, making sure all the layers are separate.

Put into a frying pan with hot oil and make sure the potatoes and onion are well covered in oil, season and add 1-2 tsp Pimenton - to taste, then turn the heat right down and cover. Leave for 20mins to sweat, turning occasionally.

Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl, add the potatoes and onions to the eggs, mix gently making sure they are coated in egg.

I then transferred the mixture into a smaller frying pan, maybe 7" Dia with some heated oil. Turn the heat right down again - I used a heat diffuser and leave to cook uncovered for a further 20-30 mins, occasionally using a palette knife to draw the edges away from the sides to create the typical rounded edge of the Tortilla.
Once there is no more liquid on the surface, use a plate to turn the Tortilla over and put back into the pan to brown the top of the dish, this takes only a few minutes. Turn out and eat hot or if you can leave to cool.
You will see from the picture we could not wait for the dish to cool and I was lucky to get any photos at all!