Sunday, 23 February 2014
One thing which I have come to love living over here in the UK is the cheese. They have beautiful cheeses here . . . Stilton, Caerphilly, Wensleydale . . . Cheddar. Oh boy, the cheddar cheese here is absolutely gorgeous. Not to be beaten anywhere . . .
This was what I thought was cheese when I was a girl. Once a year my mom would get in a brick of Cracker Barrel cheese, usualy Christmas. I was never brave enough to taste it. My palate had been limited by the dull flavours of plastic cheese and anything stronger just frightened me! Oh, all the years I wasted. Once I grew up I began to get a bit braver, but not by very much.
I am so glad that I have gotten a lot braver. I now know what I was missing through all those years.
This is a delightful recipe for twice baked cheese soufflees. If you are afraid of making cheese soufflees don't be. These are a cannot fail dish. Ripped out from a magazine yonks ago in a Doctor's office. Yes, I annoyingly did that, but I didn't have a piece of paper and a pencil to write it down. No excuse I know, but I really really wanted the recipe.
You will thank me for the sacrifice of my integrity once you taste them. These truly are the shizzel! A nice salad on the side and Bob's your Uncle. Best of all, you can make them the day before and then just pop them into the oven about half an hour before you are ready to eat.
*Twice Baked Cheese Souffles*
Makes six servings
These are wonderfully rich and light and so very easy to make. I got the recipe from out of a magazine in the Doctor's waiting office one day (I couldn't begin to tell you which one) and I brought it home and adapted it to our tastes. They have become a firm favourite in my repertoire. Just perfect for when you want a light supper or lunch. You can also make these up to a certain point the day ahead and then just pop them into the oven about 15 or 20 minutes before you eat, so they are a great make ahead for those busy days when you just know you aren't going to have a lot of time to prepare anything!!
300ml whole milk (1 1/4 cup)
1/2 of a small onion, peeled and studded with 1 clove and 1 bay leaf
40g butter, plus more for greasing (scant 3 TBS)
40g plain flour (scant 1/3 cup)
150g of good strong cheddar, grated and divided (1 1/4 cup)
1 TBS coarse grainy mustard
salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
3 large free range eggs, separated
200 ml of double cream (scant cup)
Place the milk in a small pan along with the onion, clove and bay leaf. Bring slowly just to the boil, then remove it from the heat and leave it to infuse for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Take another pan and place it over medium heat. Melt the butter in this, then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring until smooth and completely amalgamated, for about one minute. Remove from the heat. Add the milk in a slow and steady stream, whisking the whole time. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened and just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat.
Stir in 125g (1 cup) of the grated cheese and all of the grainy mustard. Season well with salt and pepper and a good grating of fresh nutmeg. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.
Butter six medium ramekins well and place them into a large shallow roasting tin.
Beat the egg whites until stiff with an electric whisk. Stir about a third of the egg whites into the cheese mixture to help slacken it and then gently fold in the rest. Spoon and divide the mixture evenly into the buttered ramekins. Carefully add boiling water to the roasting tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and then carefully place the roasting tin into the heated oven. (If you have strong oven racks it is probably best to place the roasting tin into the oven first and then add the water) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are well risen and nicely browned on top.**
Remove from the oven and remove from the roasting tin, placing them on a wire rack to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 220*C/425*F. Once they are cooled enough to handle, carefully tip them out onto the palm of your hand, one at a time, and place them, right sides down, into a buttered baking dish large enough to hold all six of them. Season the double cream with some salt and black pepper and spoon it evenly over top of each souffle. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheddar cheese evenly over top. Place back in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are well risen and the cream is bubbling and the cheese is melted and beginning to brown nicely. Serve hot.
**You can complete the recipe to the end of the first baking and put them in a buttered dish, cover them, and then store them in the refrigerator for up to a day ahead before proceeding. Bring them to room temperature before finishing them off as outlined in the recipe.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Some days you don't want to go to a lot of effort in putting together a supper or meal. Yes, there are some days I just open a tin of soup. I can be lazy too . . . and in all honesty, sometimes we are just famished and don't really want to have to wait.
If you have a wee bit of time to spend though, you can't go wrong with a nice pan of Corned Beef Hash, fried up with a couple of really fresh free range eggs. I always keep a tin of corned beef in the cupboard just for this and it's doesn't take a lot of effort to boil a few potatoes.
I uset lots of onions and a bit of grainy mustard for snap. Some seasoning and a bit of butter helps to get the potatoes and beef all crusty . . . and the eggs . . . we like em sunny side up with a bit of a bubbly crispness on the bottom and edges. Heavenly Bliss and simple too.
*Corned Beef Hash and Eggs*
7 ounces tinned corned beef
2 large, free range, very fresh organic eggs
1 rounded teaspoon of grainy mustard
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
10 ounces of floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into half inch cubes
(use a King Edward, Maris Piper or if in America a Russet)
1 1/2 TBS sunflower oil
3 TBS butter, divided
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tomato ketchup to serve
Remove the corned beef from the tin and cut it up into bits using a sharp knife. Scoop them all into a bowl. Combine the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard and pour it over the meat. Give it a good stir to combine. Set aside.
Place the potato cubes into a saucepan with enough boiling water to just cover them. Season with a bit of salt and then cover and simmer for just five minutes. Drain well in a colander and set aside to cool a bit.
Heat a medium skillet with a heavy bottom over medium high heat and add the oil and 1 TBS of the butter. When it is quite hot throw in the onions and toss them around, stirring and cooking them until they begin to soften and brown. Add the potato cubes and continue to cook and brown the onions and potatoes, adding a bit more oil if necessary to help keep the mixture from sticking too much. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. After about 10 minutes or so add the corned beef, continuing to move everything around and cooking it until the beef is completely heated through. Turn the heat down to it's lowest setting and fry the eggs.
Place a medium sized, heavy based frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1 TBS of butter and heat until it starts to foam. Carefully break the two eggs into the foaming butter. Leave them for about 30 seconds or so to get them started, then turn the heat down to medium. Continue to cook the eggs for one to two minutes, basting the tops with some of the fat in the pan from time to time, or until they are as done as you like them. If you are not fond of *sunny side up* eggs, then carefully flip them over once to seal the tops.
Serve the hash divided between the two warm plates with an egg on top of each and plenty of Tomato Ketchup!
Saturday, 1 February 2014
I can remember going to visit my sister at her home in Windsor, Ontario about 30 years ago and she had made the most delicious casserole you could ever want to eat. Zucchini Casserole. It was just fabulous. Of course she gave me the recipe.
It had layers of stuffing on the bottom and the top, and in the middle was a mix of wilted zucchini, onions and carrots, with a mix of cream soup and sour cream. It was fabulous.
It soon became a favourite in our home and it is something I look forward to making every year when the zucchini create a glut in the garden. You will want to use small to medium zucchini for this recipe as they are the nicest.
I have never met anyone who didn't immediately fall in love with it. Enjoy! We sure do!
*Zucchini (Courgette) Casserole*
I love this casserole. It’s my favourite way to cook zucchini when it is coming out my ears. I never tire of it. You can make it totally vegetarian if you substitute the chicken soup with mushroom or celery soup. It tastes just as good!
4 medium zucchini, washed, dried and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tin of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
6 TBS of butter, melted
2 ¼ cups of bread stuffing cubes, OR (in the UK) 2 1/4 cups of lightly crushed seasoned croutons (I like the herb and garlic ones)
Pre-heat the oven to 180° C/350° F. Lightly butter a 1 litre baking dish and set aside.
Heat a large skillet on top of the stove and add a few TBS of water. Add the zucchini and lightly sauté until crispy tender. Add the onion for the last five minutes of cooking so that it gets tender as well. Drain well in a colander. Put the drained vegetables into a large bowl and mix together with the grated carrot. Stir in the cream soup and the sour cream. Season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Toss with the bread stuffing cubes to coat.
Layer half of the buttered crumbs in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the zucchini mixture over top and then layer the rest of the buttered crumbs on top. Cover tightly with tinfoil and then bake it in the heated oven for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the casserole is bubbly and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
When I was growing up in Canada, every Autumn right on up to Christmas, would bring Baked Bean Suppers. These would be held at Church Halls, Volunteer Fire Dept Halls and Community Centers all through the beautiful Annapolis Valley where I lived. There were not too many people who could resist the temptation of a Baked Bean Supper, cooked by all the best cooks in the community.
These were fabulous social occasions and wonderful fund raisers. People got to enjoy a really tasty and filling meal, catch up on all of the local gossip and help to raise funds for local needs all at the same time. They have always been win/win/win situations!
As you can see from the borrowed poster above there would be plenty of delicious food on offer. Oven Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Home Baked Beans, pickles and relishes, home baked brown bread, usually an apple pie or crisp for dessert and plenty of tea and coffee to go around.
Brown Bread is one of those fabulous breads that goes wonderfully with the soups, stews and bakes of colder weather. It's delicious and wholesome . . . and lightly sweetened with molasses and sugar . . . the molasses helping to give it that characteristic golden color and beautiful flavor.
I've never been really good at baking yeast breads myself . . . I don't think I have the kneading power to make it really light and fluffy. My ex husband used to bake all our bread and our kitchen table would dance across the kitchen floor under his ministrations . . . and his bread was lovely.
I can make batter bread though, which is a lot easier and takes no needing. This recipe for Brown Bread is a Batter Bread. You simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl, let it rise, stir it down, pop it into two bread pans, let it rise again and then bake it.
Your reward?? A delicious, nicely textured, wholesome bread that your family will love. And it is perfect with Baked Beans of any kind . . . stews and soups too.
Brown Batter Bread
Makes 2 loaves
A beautiful golden colored bread with a delicious, slightly sweet flavor, and fine crumb. Perfect with soups, stews or baked beans!
2 tsp granulated sugar
125ml of warm water (1/2 cup)
8g of active dry yeast (1/4 oz packet)
300ml of milk (1 1/4 cups)
60ml of molasses (1/4 cup)
50g of granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
115g of butter (1/2 cup)
2 tsp salt
2 large free range eggs, at room temperature
325g of whole wheat flour (2 1/2 cups)
300g of plain flour (3 cups)
2 tsp softened butter to brush on top of baked bread
Stir the first amount of sugar into the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top, and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve the yeast.
Scald the milk in a saucepan. Remove from the stove and stir in the molasses, sugar, butter and salt. Allow the butter to melt, then cool the mixture down to lukewarm. (To scald milk place it in a saucepan and heat just until bubbles appear at the edges.) Stir in the yeast mixture. Pour into a large bowl and then beat in the eggs. Gradually beat in both flours. Cover with a greased piece of cling film and a clean tea towel. Let stand in a warm place for about 1 1/4 hours until doubled in size. Stir the batter down and then divide the batter between 2 well greased loaf tins. cover with the greased cling film and the tea towel again and let rise for 1 hour longer, until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5. Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they sound hollow on the bottom when turned out of the pan. Turn out onto racks to cool, brushing the warm tops with the second amount of butter. Once cold, store tightly covered.
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
I just love this time of year when the hedgerows over here in the UK are filled to overflowing with wild blackberries, or brambles as they are called over here. In September you don't have to go very far to find blackberries, even here in the very urban area in which I live now, the hedgerows are filled with them, and indeed even our own hedge in the back garden as some in it. When we were down south in Kent, surrounded by orchards, there was an abundance of them and we often picked them and froze them for the winter
When I lived on the banks of the Georgian Bay in Southern Ontario a number of years back I often went foraging for Blackberries in the autumn . . . the farmhouse we lived in was very near to the actual bay . . . and the hillside leading down to the bay was covered with these beautiful deep purple beauties. One needed to wear long sleeves and long trousers to pick them to keep from being scratched to death . . . but the rewards was an abundance of blackberry jellies and beautiful blackberry pies such as this fabulous one here, copied down into my Big Blue Binder during those very years . . . a gift from a friend at church, named Pat.
It's my favorite blackberry pie recipe, not the least because it's made with these delicious autumn berries . . . not even because it holds many happy memories for me . . . it isn't even the streusel topping which makes it my favorite . . . I think, it's the combination of all three things.
That can't be bad. Happy memories, beautiful berries, crumbly topping . . . tasty pie.
Streusel Topped Blackberry Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie
You can use store-bought blackberries for this delicious pie if you wish, but I prefer to use the wild ones picked from the bramble hedges. They seem to have so much more flavour, and I suppose the effort one has to make in order to acquire them makes them taste all the better . . .
prepared pie crust to line the bottom of a nine inch pie dish
(ready made or make your own)
1/2 cup of caster sugar
2 1/2 TBS of cornflour
pinch of salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
the juice of 1 lemon
1 pound of fresh blackberries
For the streusal Topping:
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of flour
1 TBS water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter softened
Preheat the oven to 205*C/425*F.
Make the streusal topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl until crumbly. Set aside.
Roll out the pastry to about 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer it to your pie tin. Trim the edges to about a 1/2 inch over hang. Fold this under until even with the rim of the pie dish all around and then flute the edge decoratively.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornflour, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. (I only use un-waxed lemons. Who wants to eat wax. If you don't have un-waxed lemons wash them really well in soapy water to remove the wax coating. I have a micro plane that I used for zesting. It does a lovely job!) Put the blackberries in a bowl and pour this mixture over them, tossing them gently to coat. Try not to crush the berries too much. Let them sit for about fifteen minutes and then, giving them a final gentle toss, pour the whole mixture into the prepared and waiting crust. Sprinkle the top evenly with the streusal mixture. You will most likely have too much, but that's ok. Just freeze what you don't use in a zip lock bag to bring out and use another time. It goes great on muffins, coffee cakes and other things.
Place on a cookie sheet that you have lined with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes until the filling is all bubbly and the streusal all crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving. We like to have it warm with big scoops of cold vanilla ice cream.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Moving out West to Winnipeg, and away from home as a young bride back in the mid 1970's was a real eye opener for me. There were so many new things to see and taste and try. Food that I had never experienced in all my years of growing up, even though . . . we had lived in Manitoba at one point during my childhood. (Gimli, Manitoba for 6 1/2 years) I don't think my parents were really all that adventurous in their eating . . . nor was my mother all that adventurous in her cooking. She was a good cook . . . but she mostly just cooked the same things, over and over again . . . but really well.
One of the first taste sensations I discovered was the humble Pierogi. Pierogi (also spelled perogi, pierogy, perogy, pierógi, pyrohy, pirogi, or pyrogy) are lovely little dumplings with an Eastern European origin, which are boiled in lightly salted water and then either deep fried, or pan fried in butter, and more often than not served up with fried onions, more butter and sour cream. Delicious!!
There are also some sweet versions, but the kind I am talking about here today are the savoury ones . . . and you can find them in a variety of fillings . . . cheese and potato, mushroom, sauerkraut, cabbage, meat, etc. All of them very, very good to eat.
I fell in love with these wonderful little dumplings . . . and when we moved out to Calgary I learned how to make them for myself. My life was never the same . . . because after that, it didn't matter where I moved . . . I knew I could always have these fabulous little beauties to eat.
We had a good friend Esther in Calgary. She was of Hungarian descent and that first Christmas we were there, we had invited her and her husband over for Christmas dinner. She brought pierogi's as her dinner contribution and they were gorgeous. I talked her into teaching me how to make them myself. She was a fab teacher and I have now been making my own now for about 35 years! Thanks Esther!!
They're very easy to make and as good as the store bought ones are . . . homemade ones can never be beat! They're the best! I never make or eat these things without thinking of Esther. She is a great gal, and I am happy to say that we are still in touch after all of these years. Lifelong friends are the best kinds I think!
makes a lot (about 4 to 5 dozen)
This makes a lot, but no worries as they freeze really well and you can never have too many pierogies in the freezer, doncha know!
For the Dough:
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 large free range egg
1 cup water
For the filling:
4 large potatoes
2 TBS butter, softened
1/2 pound of grated strong cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 beaten egg
First make the dough. Mix the flour and salt together. Beat the eggs and the water together. Pour this over the flour and then with oiled hands knead together until smooth. You may think this is never going to come together and be smooth, but patience really comes in handy here. Just keep re-oiling your hands as necessary and kneading. Your patience will be rewarded with a lovely smooth, elastic dough. Once you achieve this, pop a bowl over it (on the counter) and let the dough rest for 1/2 an hour.
To make the filling peel the potatoes, cover with lightly salted water and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, then drain well and mash. Stir in the butter, cheese and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to melt the cheese. You want a smooth flavourful mixture. Once you have the flavour right, (You must taste to test.) then you can beat in the egg. Set aside.
Pinch off walnut sized pieces of the dough (keeping the dough covered in between pinches). Roll each pinch into a ball and then roll with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a thin round. It should be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Take a scant TBS of the potato filling and place it kind of off centre of the dough circle, wet the edges of the dough and then pinch shut to seal in the potato completely. Place onto a baking sheet with is lined with oiled parchment paper. Repeat until you have used up all of the dough and filling. You can let these air dry now, or pop the baking sheet (s) into the freezer until they are frozen solid and then transfer them to sealable bags and leave frozen until you need them.
To cook, bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Also place a large knob of butter into a frying pan and warm it gently until it is just foaming. Keep warm without burning. Drop the pierogies into the boiling water a few at a time and cook until they float to the top of the water, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the foaming butter in the frying pan. Fry them until they are golden on both sides. Repeat this process until you have enough done to feed your family. These are very moreish so you will need a lot!
Keep the fried pierogi's warm in the oven until you are finished frying them. Fried onions and sour cream are musts for serving! (In this house anyways!)
I also like to make a sauerkraut filling from time to time:
3 cups of sauerkraut
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
4 TBS butter
2 TBS sour cream
fine seasalt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Rinse the sauerkraut in warm water until you've really given it a good rinse. Squeeze dry and then chop it very fine. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook until it is tender, without colouring, stirring frequently. Add the sauerkraut and give it a good stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until the kraut is softened and the flavours have really melded. Stir in the sour cream and set aside to cool before proceeding as above. (I like to cover mine and chill it in the refrigerator until it is really cold.)
You can buy pierogi pressed, that come in really handy and work very well at pressing them closed. I've had one for years and it works a charm!
Sunday, 19 August 2012
Smoked Sausage was not something that was a familiar ingredient in my home when I was growing up. I had never even heard of it. I discovered it shortly after I moved out to Western Canada as a young Bride . . .
It was love at first bite. Kielbasa . . . Polish Sausage . . . whatever you call it. It's delicious and it's also a very versatile ingredient to have in your refrigerator or freezer. It comes in very useful and means that you will always have a delicious and quick, if simple, meal ready to hand when you want it.
This is something that I used make every so often for my family through the years. It used things that I always had on hand . . . potatoes, onions . . . smoked sausage, cheese . . . and it went together very quickly, which was a real bonus with 5 growing children and a big house to care for!
Simple, delicious and economical . . . all plus's in a young mum's books! Add to that the fact that my kids loved it, and you had a real winner on your hands.
It's not something I make really often these days . . . let's face it, my aging thighs don't need all those calories . . . and it's probably not the healthiest dish for people to indulge in very often, but as a once in a blue moon treat, and a store cupboard meal, it goes down as a real treat.
It's also very easy to double or halve, which makes it pretty convenient as well.
Oven Roasted Smoked Sausage and Potatoes
An easy and simple meal that is also economical . . . oh, and pretty delicious too!!
1 package of smoked sausage
(Peel if necessary, and slice into rounds)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of grated strong cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Line a large baking tray (with sides) with several sheets of foil, and drizzle with a bit of oil. Spread the oil out over the pan. Set aside.
Put the sausage rounds, onions and potatoes into a large bowl. Drizzle with a couple TBS of olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika and dried thyme. Toss together with your hands until everything is evenly distributed. Pour this out onto the baking tray, and spread it out as much as you can.
Place into the heated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are golden brown and tender. Turn off the oven. Scatter the cheese over top of the cooked meat and potatoes, Pop back into the oven a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.
TIL NEXT TIME!!