What I'm cooking and eating

Monday, 21 November 2016

Dried fruit compote

A winter favourite, infinitely variable.

About 200-250 grammes of dried fruit - you can buy mixes in places like Lidl, or you can use up the ends of packets - prunes, dried apricots, maybe some dried apple, pear or mango.  Also a sprinkle of sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries.

Cover the fruit in boiling water and leave to stand for an hour or so.

Then add a little sugar - it really won't need much, a couple of teaspoons.... but to your taste.  And a teaspoonful of cornflour which you have whisked into a little more water.  And - and this is the Sekrit Ingredient - a teabag.  It doesn't have to be Yorkshire; in fact, this is one of the occasions when a perfumed tea is good.  Earl Grey, or, better still, that Indian spiced tea you can buy that gives me indigestion to drink.  This time, I used an infusion which I like called "Winter Spice Mix" 

This all goes into a saucepan, which you put on the stove (duh), bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or so until the fruit is plumped up and soft.  Taste to adjust the sweetness, discard the teabag, and serve hot or cold with natural yoghurt, cream, custard or even ice-cream.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pelau?

My mother used to make this often in our childhood; she always called it "Pelau", although I am not at all sure this is the correct name.  I called it risotto when I first made it, but then I learnt how to make "proper" risotto, so have reverted to its original name.  And updated the seasoning a bit, too!  You can also make this with chicken; and probably with any leftover cold meat, but I usually use lamb.

1 quantity cold cooked lamb (enough for two people - I can't be specific as to quantities), cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 quantity frozen peas (again, you know your family's appetite!)
1 quantity sultanas or raisins (I used a 70g tub)
1 quantity roasted peanuts
Leftover gravy
Seasoning (I used pepper - no salt, as the peanuts provided that - Worcester sauce and ras el hanout)
1/2 cup by volume uncooked rice (125 ml)

Cook the rice as you normally do, and while this is happening, sweat the onions and garlic in a little cooking oil.  When they start to turn translucent, add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked.  Mix together, and serve, with mango chutney if liked.

If you have leftover vegetables, by all means add them!  And if you don't have any gravy, use a little water and perhaps a "Stock Pot" - I see they do them in lamb now.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Emergency chicken soup

This was made in rather a hurry as my daughter went down with tonsillitis.  I put a great deal of immune-boosting foods in there, and the end result was really rather spicy.... not unpleasant, though, with a spoonful of cream in there to cut the spice!

For the stock:

1 chicken carcase (I bought a cooked chicken from Lidl, and removed all the meat from the bones; we used the meat in salads, sandwiches and suppers, so nothing was wasted)
1 onion
2 carrots
1 parsnip
2.5 litres water
1 chicken "stock pot"
1 chicken bouillon cube

Boil all this up together in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then drain, and discard solids.

For the soup itself

1/2 cup "soup mix"
1 small onion
5 cloves garlic (or more - why not?)
1 chilli pepper
1 cube frozen grated ginger (or use about 25g fresh ginger)
1 leek
1 sweet red pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To serve: spoonful of creme fraiche or sour cream

Soak the "soup mix" (grains, beans and peas) in boiling water with 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda for at least 30 minutes. 
Put the onion, garlic, chilli and fresh ginger (if using) into a food processor with a little water, and blitz until smooth.  Put this mix in to a casserole dish to which you have added a little cooking oil.  If you are using the frozen ginger, put that in, too.  Cook gently with the turmeric until just not raw any more.

Add the stock to this mixture, and put the drained, rinsed soup mix into the empty pressure cooker with 1 litre fresh water and boil for 10 minutes.  When it has come down from pressure, drain and add to the soup with the leek and sweet pepper, which you have chopped very finely.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning - I found this extremely spicy, so am serving it with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream in each bowl to "cut" it.  But it is very good.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Oodles and Oodles of Vegetable Noodles!

I was feeling a bit silly this evening, and it is silly to leave the spiraliser in the cupboard doing nothing. So.....

The following vegetables were chopped, and they were all, except the peppers, peeled:
1 onion
1 clove garlic (actually, this was crushed, but same difference)
1 leek
1 chunk butternut (I would have spiralised this, but it wasn't the straight neck bit but the curvy bit that goes round the seeds, and it didn't want to)
2 tomatoes
1 pointed sweet red pepper
1 chilli pepper

The following were spiralised. If you don't have a spiraliser, of course, you may continue to chop, but I have to say I did like the difference in texture that the spiraliser gave.
1 courgette
2 carrots
1 parsnip
1/2 sweet potato.

 For the baba ghanoush dressing: 
1/2 aubergine, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1 large tbs tahini
1 tbs lemon juice
A little boiling water, to slacken

Put everything into a large sauté pan or casserole dish into which you have put about a tablespoonful of cooking oil. Add the veg as they are ready, so prepare those that take longest to cook first, and stir the result every time you lift the lid. Season to taste - I used salt, pepper, soya sauce and a little chilli sherry. When all the vegetables have been added, leave to cook for a further 15 minutes or so, until everything is cooked to your taste.
Meanwhile, also peel and dice the 1/2 aubergine, and put this in a separate saucepan with the olive oil and crushed garlic. Allow to cook on a low heat until the aubergine is very soft. Transfer to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients, except the hot water.  Process until it stiffens, then add hot water and continue to process until it reaches the desired texture - what I think in cake terms is called a "dropping batter" - it will drip off your spoon, but not too runny.
That is not a very good photo, sorry!  I never pretended to be a food photographer....

When the vegetables are cooked to your liking (I like them more cooked than many people do), stir the baba ghanoush (it isn't quite that, because that requires roasted aubergine, but almost) through the stew, and serve.  It makes enough for four, and I'm debating poaching an egg in the leftovers before I serve them....




One day I shall learn that my phone casts its own shadow when I photograph my plate!!!


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Stuffed vegetables

Returning  from a weekend in Sussex, I was loaded down with produce from my mother's and my brother's gardens, including an overgrown courgette and a very large onion.  Which both, obviously, lent themselves to stuffing. And after a bit of thought and research, I came up with this:

For the filling:

1/2 cup by volume bulghur wheat, soaked in 1 cup by volume boiling water
The inside of the onion, chopped (or, if you are stuffing a pepper, for instance, use a small onion or shallot, and peel and chop it)
A couple of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
A few olives, cut in half (either green or black, but I think black works best)
A sloosh of tomato paste
1/2 pack feta cheese, cubed

Vegetables to stuff - a large onion, cut in half, or vegetable marrow/overgrown courgette with the seeds removed, or a hollowed-out butternut squash (you stuff the hollow where the seeds were), or sweet peppers.... whatever, really.

Fry the chopped onions in a little oil until they are transparent, then add the tomatoes and allow to cook for another few minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, and season to taste (I used pomegranate molasses, ras el hanout, sumac and dried parsley.  But you can use whatever you like.

Transfer the stuffing into the hollow of the vegetables
 and bake in a hottish oven for about an hour, until the base vegetables are cooked. 





Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Noodles and - noodles!

I recently treated myself to a spiralizer - it was a special deal on Amazon, reduced to £10, rude not to, really.  I've been wanting one for ages.

But you know me, I'm not one to eat chopped-up cauliflower and pretend it's rice, or chopped-up courgettes and pretend it's pasta, but what's wrong with mixing them?  So, as I wanted to try to play with the spiralizer, I thought I'd make some vegetable "noodles" and then some home-made ones, and serve them with a bacon, mushroom, tomato and sweetcorn sauce.

Well, it took some experimenting, and I ended up "sharpening" one of the courgettes, but by the time I'd got to the butternut squash, I'd worked out what to do.
I was really rather impressed with myself!

So that was two small courgettes and a chunk of butternut, more-or-less successfully spiralised.

For the sauce:
1 packet lardons (bacon bits), ideally unsmoked
1/2 punnet mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 packet passata (or a tin of crushed tomatoes)
1 small tin sweetcorn
Season with pepper and maybe some chilli sherry - it doesn't need salt.

Fry the bacon until it renders, then add the sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic.  When the mushrooms collapse, add the rest of the ingredients and leave to simmer while you prepare the various noodles.

1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 egg
enough water to make a stiff paste
(if you add too much, add more flour)
Mix to a dough, then press through the larger holes of a potato ricer into a saucepan of boiling salted water. 
In a wok, heat some oil and add the vegetable noodles, stirring all the time.  When the flour noodles come to the boil, allow to cook for one minute and then drain, and add to the rest of the noodles. 
Continue to stir-fry for another minute or two, then divide into two plates and put the sauce on top.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Oeufs Florentine

I am not at all sure this is the correct way to cook oeufs florentine.  In fact, it probably isn't - but who cares, because it's very quick and very easy.  I had planned to take a photograph when I had served it, but it flipped over and all you could see was an unpretty mound of spinach!

I never used to like spinach when I was a child, but I think that, rather like kale, modern cultivars are milder in taste.  But even though it must be fifteen years or so since I discovered that actually, it was edible, I was still a bit wary of it as it seemed to have a taste that overwhelmed everything else on the plate, rather like coriander can if you use too much.  But the baby spinach, sold for use in salads, is also very mild when cooked - yes, it tastes like spinach, of course, and if you don't like that you won't like it, but it doesn't dominate or overpower.  My brother, who has always liked spinach, says he just snips the corner of the bag and shoves the lot in the microwave!  But don't do that if you aren't sure that the spinach has been washed, or it's a good way to get a mouthful of grit!  And, of course, it is also lovely raw, in a salad or sandwich.

1 dollop of butter (about 20g - what Americans would call a teaspoonful, I suppose)
1 large handful baby spinach, washed if necessary
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan - a milk saucepan is ideal - and put the spinach on the top.  Allow it to cook for a minute or two, and stir vigorously to make sure all of it wilts and cooks.  Now lower the heat and break and egg on the top, leaving this to cook (cover the pan, if possible) for several minutes until the white is firm and the yolk as firm as you like it.

Serve on (ideally) a toasted muffin or a slice of toast.  Or not, if you're being low-carb and can digest an egg without bread....