Monday, 21 May 2012

delicious, and soon gone

not so elegant, but tasty, easy to make and can be cooked from frozen, here's the recipe

Horses Dovers

Starters, hors d’eouvres, or horses dovers as somebody used to say. It’s a nice start to a meal, not too heavy, if you’re planning three courses, you don’t want anything too heavy. I like mixed salads. I don’t usually have meat, but some salami, or saucisson sec, is also nice.

So here are a couple of pictures of some salads I served up recently. Champignons a la greque, aubergines with parsley, tomato and carrot salad. And beetroot salad, with a mustard dressing.

Roast Chicken, hot and fast

We moved Sunday lunch to suppertime a while ago. I have to reinstate it in the early afternoon if we have people over. It means that the kids mostly make it home for their Sunday meal, However if they arrive and it isn’t roast chicken, complaints fly, even if it’s the fifth week in a row, or the 9th. I’d like to say it’s boring, but since Steve is the roast meister, I can’t. I did teach him… but a long time ago now, and truth be told, he’s better at roasting chicken than me now.

The way I learnt  to roast chicken was to cook it hot and fast. The basic calculation is 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes, so a 3lb chicken takes one hour. The only thing that you put in the bird is seasoning, half a lemon, a bunch of parsley, a bouquet garni and/or some garlic, the outside is usually covered with a trickle of olive oil, pepper and salt. The bird needs basting every 15 minutes, and we usually turn it onto its back at some point, to make sure the cooking is even and the breast doesn’t dry out. The oven needs preheating to the hottest it can go, the chicken goes in for 15 minutes at the top heat, and then you turn the oven down a third, for the rest of the cooking. Once it’s cooked for that length of time, you sit it on a board, cover it with foil and let it sit for at least five minutes, to relax and to let the juices flow.  Then carve.

If you think your oven might not be heating properly, check how well it is cooked, by pushing something sharp (skewer is the best thing) and if the juice comes out clear, the chicken is cooked.

It’s Monday, so pictures will have to wait until next week.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hot chocolate pudding with a fondant centre

This is a rewrite of Gordon Ramsey’s recipe for Chocolate Fondant Pudding, from the Channel 4 programme The F word. I followed this recipe and they were perfect. The chocolate flavour was seriously intense, the gooey centre was seriously gooey and the only problem was that they were a bit too big! Perhaps it would have been better to have just one course before. Hey ho. It took dedication, and a fair bit of greed to finish off those puds.

I’ve done a rewrite, making it slightly less bossy, and, I hope, easier to follow.

Gordon says this amount is enough for 9 puddings, either ramekins or foil cases, but I think the size that would suit the eater best is somewhere a little bigger than a small coffee cup, which would make more. Otherwise the puddings are more suitable for sharing, which is nice. They are delicious with ice cream or crème fraiche, and a short strong coffee.

Preparing the moulds is the fussiest bit of this recipe, but don’t stint on it, otherwise your puddings probably won’t turn out.

A rough calculation, per two pots is 50g each of dark chocolate, butter, sugar and flour, one egg and one egg yolk plus butter and cocoa to line the pots.

To make Hot Chocolate Fondant Puddings
·          50g melted butter, for brushing
·          cocoa powder , for dusting
·          200g good-quality dark chocolate , chopped into small pieces
·          200g butter , in small pieces
·          200g golden caster sugar
·          eggs and 4 yolks
·          200g plain flour


o    Prepare the moulds, brushing them with melted butter and chilling them, once cold do it again,  shaking off excess and rolling cocoa powder around to coat them
o    Melt the butter and broken up chocolate together over a pan of barely simmering water – the bowl must not touch the water, stir the melted chocolate and butter together until it is well mixed, then set it aside
o    Whisk the eggs and egg yolks briskly (I use an electric whisk) adding the sugar in a slow stream. The mixture will thicken, turn pale and bulk up with bubbles, and you’ll see a trail left as you drag the whisk through the mixture
o    Sift the flour onto the eggs and stir it into the mixture quickly
o    Pour the melted chocolate mix into the eggy mixture a little at a time, beating well as you go, until you have a dark chocolatey batter
o    Transfer into a big jug and pour into the pots, almost to the top and chill or freeze the pots

To cook, preheat the oven to 160C – remember cooking times vary according to the size and shape of the container you are using. The puddings are ready when they have a crust that bounces back when you give it a gentle nudge

From frozen – cook for 17 minutes
From chilled – cook for 12 minutes

Friday, 11 May 2012

oven cooked breaded chicken

Schnitzel, southern fried chicken, fish fingers. All breaded food. I thought I'd have a go at a kind-of fried chicken thing. I marinaded chicken pieces, all leg pieces, in milk, lemon juice, paprika, pepper and salt, having boned all but one of the pieces: I got bored. Only the unboned drum stick had skin on it.

So what did I do? I grated two pieces of wholemeal bread and stirred in some garlic pounded with herbs, pepper and salt, and a little bit of mixed spice, mixed herbs, paprika and turmeric.
I beat two eggs.
I prepared some flour with turmeric and paprika as well.
I put the flour mixture, eggs and breadcrumbs in three shallow bowls in a row.
Shaking off the marinade, I rolled each piece of chicken in the flour, then rolled it in the beaten egg, followed by rolling it in breadcrumbs, then laid each piece on some baking parchment. Once all the pieces were double dipped I put them in a hot oven for ten minutes, took them out and turned them over, and put them back into the oven, lowering the heat to a medium heat for another ten minutes.

Result? Pretty good. Nothing left. No comments from picky eater Kitty, although she noticed the yellow from the turmeric. I'll try it again and write it up properly with pictures.

carrot quantities corrected for carrot cake... eek!

Thank you very much to Jenny, who spotted I'd over carrotted the cake in the recipe! the correct quantity of carrots is 3 cups when coarsely grated, or 220g. That is 3 mugfuls, using an average mug.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

stock from double chicken roast + chicken

At the end of a wet Sunday we shared supper with Alex and Derek. We walked our food round to theirs, and had two roast chickens. Alex had made roasties to the usual high quality, I had thrown some cooked new potatoes around in pounded garlic with paprika, lemon and olive oil and let them cook for 15m on the shelf above my chicken. I had carefully removed the drumsticks and set them aside with another set of legs, remaining from the chicken we'd bought to eat just the breast meat. After all, the breast meat being sold on its own cost the same price as a whole chicken. So I roasted a chicken without its drumsticks, adding the chicken wings from the other bird. It was a mismatched puzzle of a roast chicken... because Derek really likes chicken wings, and that way there were six to choose from (remember, they were also roasting a chicken. Fascinating.

The upshot, after the meal was eaten and we waddled home, was that I ended up with three chicken carcasses. There were a couple of legs missing, and a couple of drumsticks (being made into stew soon), but it was still a whole heap of bones. So into the large pot went the bones with a bayleaf, a small bunch of parsley, an onion studded with four whole cloves, a leek, several cloves of garlic, peppercorns, a carrot and some mixed herbs. On top of that went about three litres of water, and then it was all boiled together for around an hour. The result? Stock, lovely gelatinous stock.

Soup follows

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Boiled fruit cake

Trying out a recipe from the Beeb, for boiled fruit cake. The first childminder that looked after Beatrice was not a very talkative woman. Her place was worryingly clean and I ended up finding someone else, she wasn't very cosy. She had an air freshener stuck onto a framed picture of a forest scene. However, on the plus side, she made a fantastic boiled fruit loaf. When I asked her how she made it, she looked at me like I was a nutter. It was not a relationship with mutual understanding. I got on very well with the cake though. This experiment is in tribute to the first mouthful of that cake.

I am using up dried fruit from the cupboard. Currants, a less favoured dried fruit, named after Corinth, as in Raisins de Corinthe, glace cherries, candied peel, sultanas as well as prunes and unsulphured apricots. I was hoping to find some dates at the back of the cupboard, but no.

Here is my edited version of the recipe

round and flat version
70g/4 oz Brown Sugar
125g/8 oz margarine or butter
500g/1lb mixed fruit
2 tsp mixed spice
½ pint (a mugful) Milk

70g/4 oz Glace Cherries, cut in half
eggs, beaten
50g/2 oz chopped walnuts
375g/12 oz Self Raising Flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 160C / Gas 3

Grease two loaf tins, and line the base

1.    Put all the ingredients in the boiled fruit list into a large saucepan, bring to the boil on a low heat, then allow the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes
2.    Add the cherries and nuts stir through
3.    Add the beaten eggs, and mix well
4.    Stir the cinnamon and bicarb into the flour, and fold the flour mixture in thoroughly
5.    Place the mixture in a greased and lined loaf tins and bake for around an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean
6.      Allow to cool and leave plain, or glaze with melted apricot jam

This cake tastes better if you leave it for a couple of days, before eating it.