Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Flat or 'Fat' bread!

I first decided I needed a griddle pan for making flatbreads. In fact, this is the only thing I use it for, but it still makes it an excellent purchase nonetheless! The only downside is the fact that on its first use, I scratched the new hob :(. I will remember to lift it rather than drag it next time!

So, for a recipe, I used Simon Rimmer's Coriander Flat Bread recipe, and it took me three attempts to finally achieve a desirable result! Not that the first two tries were bad; they tasted like bread, but were on the heavy side! At the first attempt, I was impatient and didn't leave the dough to rise enough, thus, when the bread was cooked, the results was very stodgy. The second attempt rose perfectly and I had high hopes, unfortunately, I didn't roll them out flat enough and though they were light and airy, were rather thick; so thick, in fact, that they were renamed fat-breads!

The third attempt - a bit like the pigs with their houses - worked well! I was patient and the dough rose well. I rolled the pieces out thinly and left them again to prove a little longer before flattening them out again. This time, they were perfect; my trick, apart from patience, was the use the flat side of the griddle. Although husband complained that they "don't have the nice lines on like last time," I suggested that maybe taste and texture were more important than "nice lines!"

Perfect served with Herby Summer Lamb Stew!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Individual Toads in their Holes!

I was so upset to hear the news that Terry was leaving the breakfast show, but then so pleased Chris Evans would replace him: then so upset that I wouldn't get my usual 'music to cook by' on Chris' afternoon show every day - what will I do? Will the quality of my cooking decline without the laughter that goes with it each evening? I don't know, but I do know that Simon Mayo as a replacement won't come close.

On Thirsty Thursdays in the last few weeks, Nigel has been cooking comfort food recipes and it was the turn of the traditional Toad in the Hole: my inspiration and something I've been building up to as, until this week, I had never attempted a homemade Yorkshire Pudd - too afraid of it not rising! But, having looked over several recipes, I decided it didn't matter how I made my batter. Some were egg based with self raising flour, others used just one egg, plain flour and milk. Many combined water with the milk...I just didn't know what to go with, so I began with Delia! I didn't however, use water as I was using skimmed milk so combined the water and milk quantities.

1egg, 75g plain flour, 5fl oz skimmed milk (I know I'm mixing metric and imperial here, but its the way I work!), mix together without lumps! Now, when I'd made this batter I decided it didn't look like I was going to have enough to make 6 puddings, so I made up another batch and mixed it in, but this time I used 1 egg, about 40g self raising flour, 1-2 fl oz water and a pinch of baking powder: yes, you read it right, self raising flour AND baking powder: I was determined! I browned off the sausages in the pan, popped them into individual silicone muffin moulds and added a splash of sunflower oil to each, then put into a hot oven until I couldn't wait any longer. I tipped in the batter mix, put the timer on for 15 mins and went to catch up with Corrie!

Not seeing them was almost distracting me from discovering if Leanne and Peter would ever get together, but then I heard a sizzling noise, so just had to investigate! I nearly screamed when I peered into the oven: not only had they risen, but they'd grown so high they'd 'spat out' the sausages, some of which were now lying strewn across the oven floor! This didn't, however, concern me too much as I was so excited about the Pudds having risen! I even called mum to celebrate!

I served them with Jamie's Onion Gravy and cabbage from the garden with a lump of the herb butter from the salmon recipe! The pudds were soft and spongy at the bottom and crisp and crunchy at the top - perfect! I'll definitely not be afraid to give them another go, and maybe leave out the self-raising flour and baking powder, just to see!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Salmon with sundried tomato butter

Salmon fillets with chorizo, broad beans and new potatoes

I find Sunday mornings one of the nicest parts of the weekend. Sitting drowsily in my dressing gown with toast and homemade jam and a pot or two of fresh coffee, waking up to the day and deciding what I might cook for tea during the week. Inevitably, we sit and watch SFTW and last week there was, again, a very easy and very tasty recipe. It worked perfectly and was the first time I had bothered to make my own flavoured butter, which I have used on garden cabbage since to brighten it up a bit! It even inspired me to consider making a range of the butters and inventing my own, so look out for future posts!

The salmon recipe was really easy, and the husband's always saying we should eat more fish so I knew he'd like it too! I used up old new potatoes, if that's not contradictory, chorizo from the fridge and frozen broad beans from the garden; the best bit was 'popping' the beans from their membranes after having blanched them! A slit and a little push was all that was required! The butter melting on the fish was enough sauce and combined well with the pan juices from oil and chorizo. I served it with bread pots with added sage and chives for an oniony tang. An easy, simple, autumnal supper.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Windfall Spiced Plum Chutney

This is the first year we've been in our house from the minute the Victoria Plums began to ripen, and wow! there are so many we can't keep up! I've looked at a few recipes, and many thanks to the goodshoeday 's 'with knife and fork' blog', which helped me decide what to begin with!

My first adventure was to de-stone the plums. Now, unlike goodshoeday, I don't have a cherry stoner so had to rely on a knife and the ability to miss my thumb while prising the stones out! I decided upon Delia's Spiced Plum Chutney recipe.

3lb plums
1lb apples
3 onions
3 cloves garlic
2 heaped tsp ginger
1lb seedless raisins
1lb soft dark sugar
1lb Demerara sugar
1 pint vinegar
2 tbsp salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1oz allspice berries
1 dsp whole cloves
jam pan
6 jars

Put the spices in a muslin square and tie it tightly with string.
Stone the plums, chop the apples with skins, finely chop the onions and put them all in the pan.
Add the raisins, ginger, sugars, vinegar and crushed garlic to the pan. Sprinkle in the salt and stir well.
Suspend spice bag in the middle of the mixture, making sure it's tied to the handle, just in case!
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 3 hours until the vinegar has almost disappeared. Make sure you remember to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. When you run a spoon over the top of the 'goo' and the vinegar doesn't rush to fill the space, it's done!
I always pour boiling water into the jar and don't empty them til you're about to fill them with the chutney, that way, they'll stay warm. Fill whilst the chutney is still warm.

The plums above were just a few; we collected over 12lb altogether! Lots to do! The next step, according to Delia, is to leave the chutney to mellow for 3 months. Now, I don't have a lot of patience but the chutney is on the tart side at the moment, so I will have to do as I'm told. I'll let you know how it tastes when I open the first jar!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Homegrown Courgette Fritters

After rather a lot of expense recently, I decided we'd try to live out of the fridge-freezer for a week! And we nearly managed it! Meals such as bottom of the fridge omelette, rice salad were commonplace, but, since we have 5 courgette plants, we find ourselves with several on a regular basis so I put together a little fritter recipe. It's really easy and, again, uses stuff you've usually got hanging about.

Put an egg into a bowl and add half a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of paprika - I used smoked chilli! Mix in a little drop of milk, then add plain flour til it's very thick and sticky. To loosen, pour in fizzy water; just enough to loosen it to a thick batter. Add grated courgette, that you've squeezed all the water from, and spring onions if you've got any. Drop spoonfuls of this mixture into a few inches of hot vegetable oil and fry until crispy brown! Serve with sweet chilli dip!

I found a few 'treats' in the freezer. The first were several lumps of unidentifiable meat, which turned out to be pork loin once defrosted. These, I chopped into piece, marinated in cider (a one-off left over can in the fridge), grated apples (from the tree in the garden), sage (also from the garden), and a squeeze of lemon (you know, one of those that's been cut in half and left in the fridge for a few days longer than it should have, but that you can still get just enough juice from!) I popped these onto a wooden skewer, interspersed with onion pieces (also from the garden) and stuck them on the bbq. To serve we had cheesy mash and I reduced the marinating sauce til it went sticky and poured over: Yummy!

I've also used a chorizo sausage for squid (found in the freezer) and chorizo salad, and there's still a pack of mince in the freezer which I think is destined for a cottage pie. Also 4 pork chops, so at least 2 more meals left!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Tried and Tested

Well, the week of cooking and reviewing finished a week ago today, and went, I think, rather well! I've had many comments on the recipes - thanks Janine and Olive! - and people asking for my opinion as to which was the best and tastiest.

So, my final thoughts?

I really enjoyed the week - it certainly got me back into cooking and blogging and inspired me to try new recipes rather than simply stick with what I can already do.
Secondly, all the recipes worked brilliantly, it came in on budget and they did exactly as stated in the magazine.

The one I enjoyed cooking most was the Orzo, Pepper and Feta salad, and it came a close second in the taste stakes too!

But the one overall winner? The one, even when several other people have said how yummy the Tandoori Pork Burgers look, that I found the tastiest was the Summer Lamb Stew. Absolutely delicious. The lemon and parsley added at the end gave it just the right amount of zing and after cooking it again and adding a little more harissa, just the right amount of heat and spice too!

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