Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Sweet Treat Award

Thanks Fiona for giving me this award!!! You are so sweet!!!

So I guess I must pass it along to bloggers I find a treat to read too.... Well I would pass it back to you as you are my must read daily.... along with...

David Hall at Book the Cook
Amanda at Little Foodies
Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen the English version
Joe at Culinary in the Desert
Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking

Happy Halloween everyone!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23rd, 2007

Herman the Sourdough is still going well and each week he is being fed and is changing ever so slightly. Getting more sour tasting and more glutinous. I mainly make rolls using my ole standby recipe for rolls. Which is 1 cup sourdough into breadmachine pan, 1/2 cup milk warmed with some butter(about 2 to 3 tablespoons) one egg, all put into the pan along with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Then what ever flour I have to hand with most of it being strong white bread flour. You need 3 1/2 cups of flour and one packet of yeast. Put on dough setting and when done, shape into rolls and let rest at least 1/2 hour bake at 180 C for 16 minutes. These are the softest and lightest rolls you will ever make. I sometimes add pine nuts, or sunflower seeds to the recipe. It really is a basic recipe you can do so much with.

I attempted to make an apple bread with Herman, but had a bit of a problem of it coming out way too moist. Must add more flour or less Herman. But once the recipe is perfected then I will post it. It wasn't too horrible and had a really nice apple flavour.

Here is another of my fav kitchen gadgets. I picked up this little mandolin at a garage sale back in the US ages ago for about 50cents. I know it is well over 12 years old, because I have lived here for 11 almost now and I had it before coming here. It is still very sharp and I have to make sure Brian doesn't get anywhere near it. Afraid of him cutting himself. But it is very useful in making uniform thin slices. It also has a few other attachments, but this is the one I use the most.

Another can't live without gadgets is my vegetable peeler. I imported it along with some of my other kitchen gadgets when I moved here. And I haven't found one since that comes close to this little workhorse.

And you are probably wondering what I would make with thin slices of potatoes and onions and carrots.... Well how about a good ole Lancashire Hot Pot. Before moving to Britain I had only had Lamb about twice and then I don't think it was lamb, more like mutton. And only on a sandwich much like the kebab shops sell over here. Nothing as nice as the lovely chops in this recipe.
First I layered some potatoes in the bottom of a big casserole pan then went on the lamb chops and a sprinkling of rosemary.

Next cover with carrots and onions.

And a layer of mushrooms and more rosemary.

I don't think the mushrooms are traditional. But they are a nice addition.

Then cover all with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes season with salt and pepper and more rosemary. Dot with butter. Pour over a little stock and cover with a lid and bake at 180 for an hour take off lid and finish baking at 200 for another 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes brown on top.

Here it is served up with a piece of the Herman apple bread. A lovely meal for a chilly autumn day.

Wendy's Tom Yum(ish) soup
I can highly recommend Wendy's recipe for this gorgeous soup!!!! Tom Yum recipe
Mine didn't look as lovely as her's but I bet it tasted as yummy!!! This is definately one I will be making for my Stepson and his partner the next time they come for lunch. I may just have to fix it again today..... It is sooooooo yummy!!!! Thanks Wendy!!!

Autumn Recipes....

As the weather starts to turn cold I get hungry for more seasonal warming comfort foods.
So what do you do with left over roast Chicken.... You make a pie.....

I first parboiled some vegetables; carrots, potatoes, celery and at the last few minutes some peas. Add some onion and mushrooms that have been sauteed and add some chicken stalk and some fresh rosemary, garlic and thyme. Thicken sauce with a little cornstarch slurry and put into pie dish along with big chunks of chicken. Roll out your pastry cover and bake....

Serve with a side salad and you have comfort on a plate!!!

Ugly recipes...... that taste yummy!!!!
Okay you remeber a few blog posts back when I mentioned a recipe using swordfish that just looked so awful that I didn't take a photo..... well here it is.

Swordfish with pesto sauce served on spaghetti
Take two swordfish steaks and pan fry with some sliced onion and covered in pesto... I used a store bought pesto, but you could make your own. Just pan fry till the onions are tender and the fish is cooked to your liking.... Serve onto hot spaghetti with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. And enjoy. Like I said it isn't the prettiest dish to look at, but it is packed full of gorgeous flavours.

Friday, October 05, 2007

October 5th, 2007

Well we have had a busy past couple of weeks here. We went to the farm shop to get some Lamb for our lunch last Saturday and while we were there I bought some lovely local sausages and so wanted to have them and try out Fiona's(Cottage Smallholder) Yorkshire pudding recipe. The puddings came out really light and airy!!! I was having problems with the recipe my step mom gave me ages ago. They just wouldn't rise... But that wasn't a problem with Fiona's recipe....
Yorkshire Puddings recipe

Thanks Fiona!!!!!

Last Saturday's Lunch
Brian's birthday was last Tuesday, so to celebrate his son and partner came for Saturday lunch. I wanted to do something special and something that I hadn't cooked for them before. I hope they are getting used to my experimenting now. I know Brian is after 10 years of marriage. Anyway I decided to go the Indian route this time. So I bought a leg of Lamb from the farm shop. I had to thaw it out as it was frozen. So on day two I started marinating it. I took and trimmed all the fat from the lamb. This in hindsight I think was the wrong thing to do. As it took away all the moisture from the lamb. I will do better next time.
Here is a recipe a friend gave me for
A Leg of Lamb about 1.5 to 1.75 kg
The recipe says to remove as much skin and fat fromt he lamb as possible. I think you need to leave a little bit of the fat on for moisture. This is where I was over zealous.
Prick the leg all over with a fork. Mak a pocket around the bone at the thick end of the leg cutting about 2 inches with a sharp knife. Cut 3 or 4 more pockets into the meat to put the spice rub to flavour the meat. I put the lamb onto a roasting tray so that I could collect the marinade in..... Then transfered it to a large plastic bag. So that it could rest in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours.

Spice mixture for rubbing into the lamb.Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor...
2 inch piece of ginger that has been peeled and chopped
6 peeled garlic cloves
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp roasted cumin seeds **
Seeds from 6 green cardamon pods
8 whole cloves
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp salt
Blend this altogether and then rub all over the lamb and into the pockets

Now for the Marinade....
In the same blender or food processor place 5 oz. ground almonds and 5 fl oz plain yogurt(I used goats milk yogurt as my step son has a dairy intollerance) and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
Whizz together and then stir in another 5 oz. of yogurt. I think I would now put the lamb into the big plastic bag and cover with the marinade. Twist tie bag closed and then squish the marinade into the lamb. Put into a large bowl and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
Take the lamb from the fridge and let set at room temperature at least 1 hour before cooking. Pre-heat your oven to 220C. Put the lamb into a roasting tin and sqeeze out any of the remaining marinade out of the plastic bag over the top of the lamb.
Cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
Reduce your heat to 170C and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 3 hours. (Now this may be a bit long!!!) Remove the foil and cook for another 3o minutes. Put onto a serving dish and keep warm until serving time. Now the recipe goes on to say to make a gravy with the contents of the roasting tray, but there was no way I could make a sauce from what was left it was a chargrilled mass in there.... So not too sure what part of the recipe that they have left out or over did........

The lamb was tender to say the least.... My stepson went to carve it and it just fell to pieces......It was full of flavour but a bit dry..... So I think if I were to make this again I may well cut the cooking time down and not trim all the fat off the leg next time. The leftovers made a really great Sheppards pie!!!
That was the main which I served along with some vegetable curry and a few other Indian recipes. Such as a fruited rice dish and some dahl.

The starters were Vegetable Samosas and Onion Bhajis.

The Samosas are lovely and quite easy to make. I don't make up my own pastry for these I use Phyllo instead. Much quicker and they are a healthier version as I bake mine rather than fry them in oil.
The recipe I use is adapted from The Really Useful Indian Cook Book by Purba Singh
Heat up 2 tsp of vegetable oil or ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat.
Add 1 Tablespoon curry powder, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds, and 2 teaspoons of roasted cumin seeds** and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Finely dice 2 medium sized potatoes and add this along with 125 ml of vegetable stock to the pan, cook stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add 1 carrot finely diced and 125 g frozen peas to the pan next and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 200C. Take one sheet of phyllo (keeping others under a damp tea towel so they don't dry out) and brush it on both sides lightly with some oil. Place about two teaspoonsful of filling onto the dough on one corner. Now fold up into little triangles making sure to cover all the filling with the pastry. Place onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets of pastry. If you like more pastry you can always use two sheets per samosa, but I only use one. You will need two lots of phyllo if you do it this way. Bake for abour 10 to 15 minutes until they are hot and a nice golden brown colour. Enjoy!!!

I have had a request by some friends for my Onion Bhaji recipe... So here goes. It is one of those things I have been trying for ages to perfect and I finally managed it last night.....
This will serve two or one very greedy person. (I know I could have ate the whole lot myself)
First cut onion in half and then into slices.....

Next take 4 Tablespoons of Gram(chickpea)flour and put into a small bowl and to this add the following....1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp chilli powder (I used mild), 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp paprika. Mix it all together...

And then mix into the onions. The moisture from the onions will start already to form the batter. To this add 1 tsp fresh lemon juice..

And start to add a bit of water... a teaspoon at a time and stir.

Keep going till you have a consistency as below.

Some onion will be showing through the batter but it will hold together into a ball it you press it together.

Put a pan of vegetable oil on the heat and making sure it is hot enough for frying.....
Your pan should never be filled over half way with oil. Be very careful when using hot oil and deep frying. You could use one of those deep frying gadgets if you like.

Take a small spoon full or using your fingers form a small ball and drop away from you into the hot oil...

Let it fry a bit before dropping in another. You can possibly cook 3 to 4 together depending on size. Don't let the oil bubble up too high.

Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes each...... Until they are a nice brown colour. Drain on kitchen towel...

Enjoy..... Serve with a wedge of lemon and some shredded lettuce for the true Indian restuarant fare....

** Some tips I have picked up in my adventures of Indian cookery are..... use fresh seeds when possible and dry fry in a frying pan to help release the oils. You just want them to toast a little and not change colour too much. Then using a mortar and pestle grind your own. Cumin seeds are really lovely done this way. Also on the samosas I would heat up the mustard seeds to help release some of the oils.

Another item I read recently is that Chickpea/Gram flour doesn't soak up oil when fried like normal flour does.

Another tip about using Gram flour, don't let it dry on your utensils or pans as this stuff can become like concrete. Wash or rinse straight away.

The same batter as the Bhajis could also be used on other vegetables to make Pakoras. I think I would use a bit more of the flour and more water to get a batter for dipping the vegetables in before frying. Experiment!!! Have fun, Be safe and best of all Enjoy your Adventures too!!!

The grocery store had plums on sale buy one punnet get another free..... so guess who bought two punnets. Brought them home and they have set for a week without getting soft. Brian kept saying they are still hard...... Okay not wanting to let them go to waste I decided to use them for cooking.... The September 2007 issue of Country Kitchen has some lovely recipes for using plums....
These are adapted from Anna Raymounds article Plump For Plums.

First take some nice plums I used about 2 to 3 and chopped up into a small bowl. Slice up some red onion about 1/2 and 1 green chilli deseeded and sliced. Mixed all together with 2 Tablespoons of sugar and zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime. Let set in the fridge for 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile cook some plain basmati rice and pan fry or grill two chicken breasts. Serve the chicken on the bed of rice covered with the plum salsa and serve with a side salad. YUM!!! Definately having this again!!!
And last night I did a pud for Brian and I after supper. I again basically followed Anna's instructions but scaled it down for just two puds rather than one giant pud.

Butter two small ramekins and sprinkle with a combination of cinnamon and sugar.

Destone the plum and chop into dices and fill the prepared ramekins. And add some chopped walnuts in and around the plum pieces. Sprinkle a little sugar over and some cinnamon.

Take about 3 tablespoons plain flour and crumble in some butter about 1 tablespoon. Add a tablespoon of dark brown sugar and about two tablespoons of porridge oats.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with Ice cream and enjoy!!!!

I am really glad I bought two punnets now!!!!!!!!

In the same issue was an article on Walnuts and how they are now considered one of the super foods. Full of Omega 3s and the likes. So I came up with a dish last night using some in the sauce. Not too sure how good this is for you, but it tasted nice....

Pan fry some chicken breasts in a little olive oil along with 1 chopped onion and some sliced celery. Until the chicken is cooked. Add in some roasted chopped walnuts and 1/2 pot of double cream. Then I stirred in some gorganzola cheese and two sliced fresh figs.... Serve over cooked pasta along with some crisp tender french beans and some fresh cherry tomatoes...... Nice comfort eating on a cold evening!!!!!! YUM