Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 28th 2007

I am still in love with my new cooker/stove!!! Still testing it out on all sorts of dishes lately. And some more baking too. Brian has even used it now for the first time to bake his rolls. He does do bread. I think it has something to do with him being a bit of a scientist and he enjoys the experiment of putting the ingredients together like in Chemistry class and then producing something totally different from them. He is very good at baking bread and rolls too!! Now if I could just get him to learn to cook something else occasionally.
I tried to make Pita Bread for the first time and so far they are okay... Must remember to make them a bit thinner. Although they were very nice. And they do have a bit of a pocket. I put the dough in the bread maker and then finished them up by hand and baked in the oven. Still not sure if I should use the fan setting or the traditional setting. Used the fan this time so next time I will try the other one and see what they do. They didn't brown up too much, but then again they don't bake very long at all.

My Friend Linda dropped by last Saturday to see how things were going and to check out the new stove and to try a piece of the lemon cake. She brought me a pressie!!! Some lovely Rhubarb and some broadbeans. Broadbeans are a new vegetable for me as I have never had them before. Didn't grow them back in the US in my vegetable patch so really wasn't too sure what to do with them. So found a recipe in AWT's Weekend cookbook that sounded yummy. Broadbean and Brie salad. The thing I am finding out about broadbeans is there is an extreme amount of waste to them. Too bad I don't live where I can have some chickens or a pig. Then I wouldn't feel so bad. I did price them up at my local grocery store and have found out that fresh are really expensive then the canned ones come in price next and the cheapest is frozen. I still have the canned and frozen ones to try yet.
Well with a prize of fresh broad beans I wanted something that would sort of showcase them, and this salad is a nice recipe for doing just that.

First you must shell your beans out of their pods. Pods went to the compost bin.

Next you pop the beans into boiling water for about a minute or so. Then pop them into cold water to stop the cooking. Now you pop the inside bean out of the leathery skin....

Again the skins went into the compost bin.... And now you have the end result. Some lovely little emerald green tidbits.
To make up the salad.... I put some fresh baby lettuce leaves (from my garden!!!) into a bowl. Then took an advocado and sliced it into chunks, into a separate bowl. Sprinkle in the broadbeans, and in chunks some nice brie... Take juice of 1/2 lemon and squeeze over the bean mixture and some extra virgin olive oil... Salt and pepper to taste.... Put over the salad leaves and sprinkle on some pine nuts. You can toast the pine nuts if you prefer.

This is the base of the salad, other nice additions could be cherry tomatoes sliced in half and I like onion in mine too, spring onions would have been lovely.
Linda says she doesn't like Broad beans as they are rather bitter. Maybe it is the skin that makes them that way as these were so sweet and tender and really tasty!!!

Unlike the broad beans the rhubarb yields are high!! And they are going into the freezer until I can come up with a recipe to do it justice. (Actually haven't made my mind up as to what I want to make.... Rhubarb pie... cake.... crumble.... fool..... oh!!!!! So many choices!!!)


Something I have been wanting to make for ages was Polenta and this looked like a yummy recipe to try as it had another of my favourite ingredients Courgettes/zucchini.
First you start by frying some grated courgettes in a little olive oil... Now I couldn't leave well enough alone so added 1/2 chopped onion, some chopped garlic and some dried oregano.

Next you boil up some stock.... Chicken stock about 3 cups

Once that starts to boil.... Sprinkle in the polenta stirring all the time. (3/4 cup of instant polenta)

I did get into a bit of a hurry and dumped at the last moment..... don't do this.... it Lumps!!!

Cook for about 3 minutes stirring all the time until it gets really thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan a bit.

Take off the heat and add in your courgette mixture. I added in more oregano as it looked like it needed it.

Then place into a square tin that has been buttered.... sprinkle on some grated parmesan. And let set for about 1 hour or longer if you like. In America we make something rather similar but only using the polenta and water and just a touch of salt. Put into a loaf pan and let set over night. Then slice and fry and serve with maple syrup. This is usually served at breakfast with bacon or sausage patties and eggs and is called Cornmeal Mush. One of my fav breakfast treats when we visited Bob Evans. But easy to make yourself.

Once the polenta is set, you can slice it into triangles and fry in some olive oil or brush with oil and grill it.

I made a quick tomato sauce to serve with it. Take a tin(in my case a box) of chopped tomatoes place in a sauce pan with a teaspoon of sugar, some oregano and some chopped onion. Can also add some dried basil, red peppers and some vinegar if you like a more sweet tasting sauce.

Here it is served with the broad bean salad and sprinkled with more freshly grated parmesan cheese. The other dish is some cod, onion, lemon tomatoes in a foil packet with a dash of red wine and some oregano baked in the oven for about 20 minutes. The plates were totatly clean when we finished!!! Bon Appetit!

Zucchini flowers

I have said that one of my fav veggies of all time is Zucchini/courgettes. Coming from America we call them Zucchini and over here in the UK they are called Courgettes. I have seen some cooking shows such as Antonio Carluccio's where he stuffs the flowers with the most amazing cheesey concoctions and then deep frys them. Now coming from a family that deep fried dandelion flowers and knowing the amazing taste of those I thought.... Hmmmmm I would like to try this sometime. But our grocery store is definately lacking in experimental type of ingredients such as courgette flowers. So with my courgette plants growing so well here I thought I might get to try this recipe. Problem is do I go ahead and pick the little vegetables and then miss the meals ahead that take more of the veg for the recipe or do I go ahead and try it.... I then happened upon a blog that has solved my dilemma....
Cook Almost Anything And Haalo
has a recipe for using the male flowers of the plant!!!! Male flower recipe So problem solved!!!!! I used the batter recipe for coating the flowers and frying them. I think possibly next time I may add some cornmeal(polenta) to the flour combination just to get an added crunch. The night before I made a lovely Chicken and risotto recipe. Using some butternut squash in the rissotto. And as always I made too much rissotto.... I love the leftovers for lunch the next day. But this time decided to use it differently. The chicken by the way is grilled with a coating of honey and smoked paprika..... I love Smoked Paprika!!! Well worth trying if you haven't.

Anyway I wanted to use some of the rissotto for stuffing the flowers... So I took a rather large spoonfull of the leftover rissotto and mixed it well with some chopped up goats cheese and a little cream cheese and freshly grated parmesan. The goats cheese I used isn't the soft kind with the rind. More like a cheddar cheese. Then I proceeded to stuff the flowers. I first wash the flowers and took out the stamen like Haalo suggested and then gently stuffed them. Then I dipped them in the batter and deep fried for just a few minutes.

They came out really lovely and golden brown.

I served them with our roast beef dinner, which was well.... not a complete success. But the flowers were a success and I can't wait for my plants to produce some more male flowers!!!

(Have you ever had a day when no matter what the Yorkshire puddings just wouldn't rise???) Other than that the dinner was yummy!!!


Lincairns said...

Wow, tou have been busy!

Broad beans, Yuck! lol. well we had them last night for tea and I just bit one one of them and kinds sucked out he bean in the middle and dropped the leather skin back onto my plate! sounds discusting! lol. but they did taste nice, so broad beans are nice, is you loose that bitter outer skin!

Thanks for the tip Pat.

Linda x

Lincairns said...

oops..... should have previewed that last message before I posted it!

should say; bit one end of the bean and kinda sucked out the bean middle.


Linda x

Pat said...

They are lovely!!!!! See I told you they were nice. Going to have to work on you and your vegetables too I see. :) I did try one with the skin and it is the part that tastes bitter.

Crafty Gardener said...

I'll have to call you the adventurous cook as you are always trying new recipes. Everything looks so delicious.

Pat said...

Linda, I do like trying new things. Especially new ways to cook veggies. Thanks!!!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Pat, I'm loving all the things you're cooking with your new cooker. We had broad beans last night which I love but they were really bitter. Nothing like the sweet tasting ones we grew in the garden. I agree with you about their waste though... I filled our little kitchen compost bin twice over to take out to the garden compost. Anyway, have a great weekend.

Pat said...

Thanks Amanda!!! I am still enjoying using it. We had a bean in the US that I just loved, Lima beans, but they don't seem to be over here. They do take a very long time to grow so that could be the reason. They were similar to broad beans you either love them or hate them. They did have a different taste than other beans.
I have been looking through my French cooking mags and they suggest taking the outer skin off the beans too.

wellunderstood said...

incredible! you have been up to lots of delicious things, it seems. shell beans are not in season yet here, hoping to get some in soon!

Pat said...

Thanks WU, I am enjoying it.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Yes - definitely better with the outer skin taken off. My husband loves them however they are. I can take them or leave them.

Kelly-Jane said...

Wow you really cook some fabulous food Pat!

I love the green in the polenta, I've never made polenta, but it sounds so much better with veg in it!

I have avocados, broadbeans and pinenuts needing using so will give your salad a go!

Pat said...

Hope you like the salad Kelly-Jane. Thanks!! I prefer the polenta with the courgette in it and the onion. Gives it more flavour oh and garlic love garlic here.