Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chinese style BBQ rub

We had a BBQ on Sunday and a rather interesting assortment of food on it.  But these were something I had worked out a rub for earlier on during the day. They are thin pork belly slices with skin on so it crackled :o) It is usual to be able to get a dark red gloopy version dubious looking and to sweet and aniseed flavour from most shops or butchers.  I wanted something similar but not so slap you round the face. so I made up a simple spice rub for the 6 small slices I had I mixed up 

1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
pinch of sea salt flakes
3/4 teaspoon of garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 

rubbed it into the meat and put in a bowl covered for around 3 hours in the fridge.  Next time I might add in a teaspoon of sesame oil just for that extra flavour, but I lost my bottle that day!

They were a very nice addition and will definitely be using this rub again on other things to. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Toad in the hole

Toad in the hole is one of our favourites.  Got to be done with gravy, preferably onion, and if my kids are anything to go by mash potato.  A while ago I was interested and tried a recipe from Jamie Olivers 15 minute meals where he warmed up a frying pain, sizzled some oil and rosemary and added the Yorkshire pudding mix and after a minute or 2 it went into the oven for 10-12 minutes I think it was. Which worked great we loved the additional flavour of rosemary and fast Yorkshire pudding.  So I had to give it a go with sausages to make toad in the hole. 

Preheat oven to around gas mark 6-7 

Add six fat sausages and sizzle in a pan. I did mine about 3/4 cooked.  Browned nicely and a little oil in the bottom of the pan.  The sausages I use tend to not give out much fat so I add a little which helps brown the sausages and grease the pan. 

My pan is not a big pan.  It's about the size of a dinner plate with deep sides.  Made by Viners and most importantly ovenproof.

How I make my Yorkshire pudding batter is put eggs in a measuring jug,  I used 2 eggs here which came up to the 100 ml mark so I added in 100 ml of milk and 100 ml of plain flour and seasoned and whisked up together until lump free.  Given size of pan I should of used 3 eggs but it still did it's job OK with 2. 

Pour the batter over the sausages making sure everything is hot and sizzling as you do so.

  Leave for a minute or two on the hob until the edges go almost frilly or start to set then put in the oven for 15-20 minutes

And you should have a beautifully risen and puffy Yorkshire pudding in a pan with the sausages fully cooked through either peaking out of the batter or almost looking like they are floating on top. Simple meal but family favourite, and certainly not hard as some people think. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Vodka penne

Recently I have seen Donal Skehan on the TV and he is on twitter to.  And am loving his style of cooking.  So much I might of bought a book or two of his.  And very pleased I was I did to.  In one is a recipe for Vodka Penne, which turned out to be as quick as it took for the pasta to cook.  The recipe from the series is up here Although I halved it as just Luke and I home that evening.  So I give you the ingredients as shown on the website and original recipe and will tell you how we got on. Now usually I will have vodka in the house but I had to go and buy some for this as it turned out I had blackberry vodka, skittles flavoured vodka and vanilla vodka.  Now I have plain glorious vodka!

  • 350 g penne
  • 25 g butter
  • 125 g pancetta, or bacon bits
  • 4 tbsp vodka
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve

As usual follow your pasta cooking instructions and in my case was boil in boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes, ours took 12. 

Meanwhile heat your butter on a medium heat and add the bacon pieces and stir and keep and eye on them until they turn golden. This took 4 or 5 minutes which was the longest bit to deal with.

Then add the vodka into the bacon pan and let sizzle for a minute or so ( we don't want to get drunk from it just celebrate its wonderfulness)

Then pour in the cream, tomato puree and parsley.  Stir to bring it all together and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.  Then season to taste.

When your pasta is cooked drain well and stir into the sauce thoroughly. Serve up in warm bowls with a grating of Parmesan and a little more parsley if you like.

Verdict on this was we couldn't place the vodka, and I may of put a little to much cream in, but it did add a something to the dish.  We added a little more pepper and all in all it was a very nice, rich bowl of pasta.  Will be more careful measuring out the cream next time.

I'm having photo problems,  I can put the same pictures on facebook and twitter and they will come out a lot sharper and clearer but now I put them on the blog and they seem to loose sharpness somehow.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Black pudding and duck egg scotch eggs

We were supposed to have a picnic on Sunday, we ended up having it indoors and the trip abandoned for various reasons.  But on Saturday we shopped for our picnic.  And at our local farm shop we found duck eggs and pork sausages containing black pudding.  What a combination huh? 

I made 3 and for this I used
3 duck eggs (boiled for 8 minutes, cooled and peeled)
6 sausages (they weren't that big but good quality so don't shrink much)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 egg beaten
dried breadcrumbs ( I used half a tub out the cupboard as found them and trying to empty cupboards)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and very lightly oil a baking tray

Scotch eggs traditionally are fried but I cannot be doing with the smell of deep frying in the house, it just lingers was to long

place the beaten egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls

squeeze the sausage meat out of their skins or cut along the skins and extract meat and place in a bowl and squidge in the parsley. Divide to mixture into 3 and wet your hands slightly.

Take a third of the meat mix and flatten it our in your palms until it is big enough to wrap around an egg.  Place one of the eggs in the middle and draw up the sides around the egg and mould it round with your hands and sealing the gap and shaping it so it looks like a large meat egg.  Reapeat with the other eggs and then time to get gungy.

Rolls the eggs one at a time in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs pressing them in gently but firmly. I do this with one hand so you have a clean hand for emergencies or passing things to the kids etc

place on your baking tray and I spray a fine mist of oil over them from a spray pump but it doesn't need it but it does help it go a golden brown a bit more I have found.  25 minutes in the oven and then take out of the oven and resist diving in as long as possible

For some reason they looked a bit bald in the photo but they weren't as bad as they look honest!

And an inside view,  it may look as if there is not a lot of meat around the egg.  The truth is the eggs are almost twice the size of the chicken eggs I usually use so believe me when I say there is more sausage there than there looks.

These are excellent warm or cool and great for lunches, picnics or for packed lunches.  So versatile. 

I think the trick to scotch eggs really is to use a decent sausage meat.  I buy sausages from our local butcher or farm shop and they are a high percentage of actual meat and always have a great selection of flavours.  In the farm shops case they are made on site from their own free range animals. I have had some great chats with the butchers and staff there over cooking methods, recipes and what a jacobs ladder is! Always happy to help and I am always pleased with the quality I get there, and they always have something on sale and samples in the shop to eat usually. 

Chicken tikka masala

This recipe got a lot of feedback from pictures posted and people who saw it being cooked so thought I had better blog it as it is probably the new favourite curry in our house for a curry hating Luke. I will give you full amounts here for the recipe but I halved it as was just 2 of us.  Despite the longish list of ingredients it was a surprisingly easy and not to fussy recipe 

it starts with 

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs 
place these in a shallow dish that allows them to be laid out in one layer 

Then blitz or blend together 
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger peeled
juice of one lime 
I red chilli
2 tablespoons or coarsely chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil.

Use this to spread over the chicken, cover and marinate for 2 hours

meanwhile fry 1 chopped red onion in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium low heat until starting to colour and softened. While you are doing this preheat your grill and line with foil for easy cleaning and grill the thighs for a few minutes on each side until slightly scorched in places and nearly cooked.  Marinade needs to be brushed off before grilling but saved

then stir through the onion 
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin

and cook for 2-3 minutes 

Then things start to happen, into the pan add

1 tablespoon tomato puree
300ml cream ( 284 ml tub works to)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
marinade left over from the chicken
bring to the boil, stirring to mix well.

At this point it looks pale and uninteresting, but add in the chicken and spoon over the sauce and baste it and stir a few times while letting it simmer for 5 minutes

It goes from this palish colour

And brightens up to almost luminous.  Season near the end to your liking and serve with rice or Naan bread or whatever you fancy.  I sprinkled with added coriander

This was not Hot spice wise but it was very spicy and punchy with the lemon and lime and gentle warmth from the chilli and spices.  Very good curry for people who like flavour but don't want their socks blown off. The recipe is from Masterchef cookery course Learn to love cooking book. So far everything I have made from there has come out as it said it should and flavours have been amazing. It's not a book full of flash cooking in most cases but more a case of 'normal' ( how I hate the word normal! ) done very well.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Ground cinnamon buns

Yesterday after promising older son the other day I would make these for him I finally got around to them, I was interested in Jo Wheatley's way as they were baked individually and not together.  So worth a whirl I thought after last weeks success with the cheesy bread. 

The bread dough was enriched with milk and butter.  The filling is the dough slathered in melted butter then covered in demerara sugar and ground cinnamon. Cut into 9 and placed in individual muffin holes.  I put the rough ends in to as waste nothing and chefs perks came to mind. 

next few photos are the bottoms obviously.  We preferred to darker gooey ones.  But any of them were delicious.

The icing was simply butter, icing sugar cinnamon and cream cheese.  And was put on while the buns were still warm mmmmmm.

Son came home from work and eventually tried one (he had just eaten before he came home) and announced the icing tasted exactly like Cinnamon Grahams! Big compliment on his behalf believe me.  All in all it seems Jo's recipes are going to become well known in our home and look forward to exploring more of the book. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Sally exploded

Sally, if you haven't already heard is my trusty sourdough starter.  Now She's not had much use lately poor girl. But yesterday evening I fed her and left her on the draining board.  I realised after the school run and close to lunchtime as I was cleaning the kitchen that she was obviously getting a bit fed up and trying to escape.  Must make use of this energetic lady soon. 

Jo Wheatley Home baking

Over the weekend Luke and I usually have a quiet day as he needs a day of calm or the week wears him out.  Sometimes it's a simple day of just reading and lounging around.  Other days may be cuddled up watching films.  Or his favourite is baking with me.  Which is my preference most days to. After a trip to the shops for a few bits with Luke on Thursday we came home with Jo Wheatleys new Home baking book. To keep Luke a bit quiet while I was busy I gave him some post it note style stickers and this is the amount of things he wants to bake from the book! 

I don't want to give the recipes away but we baked cheese share and tear style bread.  Which made 2 generous loaves.  The rolls we filled with a mix of Gruyere ad mozzarella cheese, and the light fluffy bread was gently flavoured with fresh herbs and garlic.As you can see from the next few photos it went just as the book said it would and was really easy.

Ours was a little more brown than the book but it still got an honest to God compliment from my 20 year old son.  Usually I have to ask and I get an 'it's ok' from him while everyone else is being complimentary.  Well in this case he went off with 2 of these still warm rolls and felt the need to text me about they had melted cheese in them and they were great! Well words to that effect I won't give you the actual phrase.  Before the kids had polished off the first rolls they were already asking if I can make these again a lot please. All I can say is I share the kids enthusiasm and these would be great as a side dish for many meals or even taken to a picnic. Great one Jo

In between the bread rising and the stages we made a batch of Oat, Raisin and Pecan cookies from the same book.  Older son doesn't like nuts but I had made one cookies that had no bits in and both boys are happy munchkins and I will be making more variations on this soon. I also took a few round to a friend on Saturday  who liked them to.  So definitely another winner from this book :o)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Vegetable quiche

Once a fortnight I get a fruit and veg box delivered and it feels like Christmas opening the box and discovering what delights are in the box and then spending the rest of the fortnight finding new recipes and ways of cooking things a little different to break the monotony. All good fun for me and healthy eating to, well mostly ;o)  Although I get a fruit and veg box I spied on my travels the first English asparagus of the season while I was out, so rushed home with it to see what else I had to go with it.  After looking as what we had to use up I decided to make a quiche. 

While blind baking some shortcrust pastry in a 20 cm/8 inch tin, I assembled 8 cherry tomatoes and halved,  took the woody ends off the asparagus and blanched in salted water for 2 minutes.took a bag of spinach which i washed then poured the boiling asparagus water over it in a colander and it wilted, drained thoroughly and squeezed it dry and chopped when cool enough to handle.  Grated 1 fat clove of garlic and crumbled 1/4 block of feta cheese. 

I took 3 large eggs which i seasoned and whisked in 2 large tablespoons of creme fraiche. Think ours was low fat, which I used as didn't have any cream. Worked well enough so use what you have on hand. And stirred in the grated/crushed garlic to the egg mixture.

As you see once the pastry was blind baked I put all the veg in best I could, started with the spinach sprinkled over the base, which must be dry or you will get the dreaded soggy bottom! Then the asparagus and fitted the rest over best I could.

Before adding the egg mixture and making sure the oven was at gas mark 4/180 degrees I placed the tin on a baking tin.  My quiche/flan dish is loose bottomed so didn't want to take the risk of anything coming out of the bottom if it leaked.

After 35 minutes it had a slight wobble but not much in the centre and did look a bit more brown than this picture shows but was looking and smelling great

We left this to go just warm before taking it out of the tin and serving it with some new potatoes with mint and a little butter, and a little side salad.  

I was surprised this went down so well as the feta didn't have the usually cheesiness I grew up with in a quiche, but the veg shone through so well I honestly didn't miss it. And will remember this for that last bit of feta in the fridge no one seems to want to eat.