What I'm cooking and eating

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Mushroom Soup

We spent a day and a night with a friend in France recently, and she made the most delicious mushroom soup for lunch.  I was moved to try and emulate it, as it was so good, and this was the result.  Very quick and easy.  Serves 4, unless you are greedy and have all of it, as we did!

1 punnet mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp plain flour or cornflour
500 ml milk
500 ml stock (or water, and then you add a Stock Cube/Stock Pot to it)
A couple of dollops of butter
Salt, pepper, parsley

Slice 2/3 of the mushrooms and fry up in 2/3 of the butter with the peeled and crushed cloves of garlic.  When they are cooked enough to release their juices, sprinkle on the flour or cornflour and stir well, then add the liquids and season, and bring to the boil.  While this is happening, chop the remaining mushrooms finely.

Transfer the soup to a blender, and while it is not in the saucepan, cook the chopped mushrooms in the remaining butter.  Once they have released their juices, pour the soup back on top and bring back to the boil.  Serve at once.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Potato gratin, sort of.

This is definitely not a gratin dauphinois, as that does not have cheese on it, as any foodie will tell you!  Nor, I think, does it contain onions, but only garlic.  But I wanted a warming potato casserole to go with salmon and Brussels sprouts for Sunday dinner, and wanted to play around with spiralising potatoes and onions.

Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4, 180 C.

1 medium onion, which I spiralised on the flat blade of the spiraliser
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 potatoes, spiralised into noodles
The end of a 200 ml pot of creme fraiche, filled up and then refilled with milk (so c 400 ml milk/cream mixture in total)
Salt and pepper, to taste
The end of a packet of grated Emmenthal - probably about a tablespoonful.

Fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes in vegetable oil in a casserole dish that will go on both the top of the stove and in the oven.  Add the potato noodles and stir well.  Season, and stir again.  Now add the milk/cream mixture, and top with the Emmenthal.

Bake for about an hour, until the potatoes are cooked.


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.