Thursday, 27 March 2014
I've always found recipes, cooking and food very interesting. I've been collecting recipes since I was 7 or 8 and have always found the chemistry of it fascinating. I can be cooking a cake, for instance, and I will start to think and ask myself questions . . .
Questions like, who was the first person that put flour, eggs, fat and sugar together and came up with cake? And why? What inspired them to do so?
I have always found it amazing that, by combining just a few simple ingredients together, you can create something totally edible and wonderfully tasty. . . and that you can then take the same ingredients and put them together in a different way, using a different method and come up with something equally as delicious, but totally different!
For instance . . . you can put together a starch (bread), some cheese and sliced tomatoes, and then, with a bit of seasoning, you have a scrumptious cheese and tomato sandwich . . .
or . . .
change the starch to a pie crust and layer in the tomatoes and cheese, add a bit of onion and herbs, and some mayo . . . and you have a really delicious pie. Make something tasty from those insipid tomatoes you find in the shops in the colder months. This recipe turns a sows ear into a silk purse every time!
*Country Tomato Pie*
This is a really tasty supper dish, just perfect for these summer days when the tomatoes are ripening on the vine fastet than we can get them used up! I also make this in the winter, but I use tinned tomatoes then. I use one tin of chopped tomatoes, and I drain them really well, and then, I squeeze as much moisture out of them as I can.
2 to 3 large tomatoes
1 small bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
1 TBS julliened fresh basil (roll several leaves into a cigar shape and cut crosswise)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I like to use French Mayonnaise)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 partially baked 9 inch wide, deep pie shell
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. If you are using fresh tomatoes, peel. This can be very easily done by cutting a small x with a sharp knife on the bottom. Dip into boiling water and leave for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and plunge into ice water. The skin should now easily slip right off.
Slice the tomatoes into thick slices. Place them in layers into the pastry shell, sprinkling each layer with some spring onions, basil, salt and pepper. Mix together the mayonnaise and the cheese. Spread this mixture over top of the tomatoes. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the filling is nicely browned.
Remove and allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve. Delicious!
This is good . . . very, very good.
I think Chicken Kievs have to be one of the most popular foods with children over here in the UK. The freezer section of most grocery stores are well stocked with little cartons of the same, and you can buy fresh and ready to cook versions as well.
But how really tasty is a piece of ground up chicken that has been reformed around a dab of garlic flavoured fat (is it really butter?) and then rolled in some egg and bread crumbs and fried??? Most end up dry and tasting of nothing but garlic . . . any resemblance to the real thing having been somehow lost in the translation from, what was once a delicious entree, into a pop culture fast food!
Making them from scratch is not really all that hard, and doesn't really take that long. Boned and skinned chicken breasts are wrapped around a delicious pat of frozen seasoned butter and then coated with egg and crumbs.
Fried just until golden brown, these bear no resemblance whatsoever to those pale imitations in the shops. By the time the chicken is done the butter is just melted and will gush out when you cut into it, bathing your noodles or rice, or whatever with a delicious buttery and herby sauce.
It's the real thing . . . Why settle for anything less . . .
This delicious dish hails from Russia back in the time of the great Czars. Chicken breasts wrapped around a delicious garlic butter and then breaded and fried, it is a real family favourite.
4 ounces butter, softened
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp dried tarragon leaves
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast portions
1/2 cup of seasoned flour
2 large eggs, beaten
8 ounces of seasoned dry bread crumbs
oil for frying
In a small bowl, with a rubber scraper, thoroughly mix the butter, parsleyk tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper together. Lay out a piece of foil. Shape the butter mixture into a 3 inch square. Wrap up and freeze until firm.
In the meantime, trim the chicken breasts of any fat and sinew. Place each piece,one at a time, smooth side down on a sheet of cling film. Cover with a second sheet. Very carefully pound the chicken out until it is 1/4 inch thick, being very careful not to break the meat. Cut the frozen butter into 6 equal pats. Place a pat of herb butter in the centre of each piece of chicken. Bring the long sides of the chicken over to cover the butt, folding the ends over and making sure that no butter is showing. Fasten with a toothpick to keep shut.
Roll each chicken piece in some seasoned flour, then dip into the beaten eggs. Roll into the dried bread crumbs, coating evenly. Place on a tray, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
Heat some oil in a large heavy skillet. Once it is hot add the chicken pieces, 3 at a time and cook, turning with tongs, until browned all over. Drain and then place into a warm oven in a large pan that has been lined with some paper towels. Cook the remaining 3 kievs in the same way. Serve hot with some rice or noodles.
Friday, 14 March 2014
An old family favourite in our house are Gingernut cookies.
We have always been mad for ginger, and if you add the treat of dipping half of these tasty cookies
into white chocolate, well . . .
they become even more gorgeous and impossible to resist!
*White Chocolate Dipped Gingernuts*
What’s better than a gingernut biscuit? A white chocolate dipped gingernut biscuit! Bet you can’t eat just one!
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
2 cups plain flour
1 TBS ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 TBS finely minced candied ginger
1 further cup of sugar for rolling
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 tsp butter
Pre-heat oven to 189*C/350*F. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the syrup mixture, mixing in well. Sift together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in, mixing in well. Stir in the candied ginger.
Put the remaining 1 cup of sugar into a bowl. Shape tablespoon’s full of the cookie dough into round balls between the palms of your hand. Drop into the bowl of sugar and coat all over. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until done. (Will look all crackly and be firm to the touch) Remove to racks to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate chips and the butter together. Dip one half of each ginger nut into the melted chocolate shaking off the excess. Place on wire racks covered with parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set and harden.
Sunday, 9 March 2014
This is my oldest son Anthony. Almost thirty-eight years ago he made me a mom for the first time and eight short years ago he made me a grandmother for the first time. He was a delightful little boy and he's a pretty special man, but then I think all my children are special.
This is him with my mom on Halloween, a long time ago. I think he was about 18 months old there and he was just the cutest bunny ever. A lot of water had run under the bridge since then and it's nice to look back and think about his growing up years.
He was my cooking son. He loved to cook (and eat) when he was a lad and he loves to cook (and eat) now. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
This was his favourite breakfast when he was growing up and I dare say he loves them to this day. They started off as silver dollar pancakes, but soon became Anthony's Fly-Off-The-Plate Pancakes because as he always gobbled them up as quickly as I could cook them!
*Anthony’s Favourite Fly-Off-The-Plate Pancakes*
Family size (must mean at least 4 or five people)
This is another real oldie from the Big Blue Binder. In the amount area it only says family size so I take it to mean that means a lot, because I had a rather large family. My Anthony loved these and for good reason. They are quite simply delicious. The addition of sour cream gives them a wonderful tenderness. I always made them silver dollar size when I was making these. I think he liked them that way because he could get a whole one into his mouth at one time, you know how boys are! Break out the butter and Maple Syrup, you’re in for a real taste treat today!
2 cups plain flour
¼ tsp salt
2 TBS white sugar
6 tsp baking powder
2 large free range eggs
2 cups milk
5 TBS sour cream
4 TBS melted butter
Oil for frying
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Put the eggs, milk, sour cream and melted butter into a large beaker and whisk them together well. Make a well in themiddle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients all at once. Whisk together vigorously until they make a smooth batter.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Grease lightly with a little bit of oil, swirling it to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Drop the pancake batter onto the heated pan or griddle in heaping tablespoonfuls. Cook over medium high heat until the surface is coated with small bubbles and the underside is lightly browned before flipping them over to cook and brown the other side. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven while you are cooking the rest, using up all the batter. Serve warm with knobs of ice cold butter on top and sweet lashings of Maple Syrup.
These freeze very well. Just pop them between layers of grease proof paper and pop them into a zip lock baggie. You can then take out as many or as few as you want at any given time, warming them up for a few seconds in the microwave.
Today we are talking about Lemon Cake Pie. Or as it is affectionately known as over here . . . Lemon Delicious Pie. Different name . . . same thing. A rose by any other name.
You know that lemon pudding which, when baked, magically separates into a delicious cake on top and a lovely custard on the bottom . . . this is the same thing . . . except it is in a pie people.
A PIE! Yes . . . a pie. And we all know how much I love pie!!! There is no such thing as a bad pie . . AND this is absolutely gorgeous. I have been dragging this recipe around with me for yonks. It never fails to please anyone who I bake it for.
*Lemon Cake Pie*
Makes one 9 inch pie
One of our favourites. Lemon Cake and Pie together. How much better can life get?
7 ounces granulated sugar
1 TBS butter
3 TBS plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
the finely grated zest and juice of two unwaxed lemons
2 large free range eggs, separated
375ml of milk (1 1/2 cups)
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
Whipped Cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Roll out your pastry, fit it into a 9 inch pie dish, trim and flute. Set aside.
Measure the sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest into a bowl. Rub in the butter until all are completely rubbed together and the mixture resembles sand. Beat in the two egg yolks and the lemon juice. Whisk in the milk. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold these carefully into the mixture. Pour this into the pie dish. Carefully move the pie dish to the heated oven.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned, set with just a little jiggle in the centre and a knife inserted close to the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Cut into slices to serve and top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
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!