Friday, 17 May 2013
Firstly, I am interested to see who arrives on this blog entry because of googling and then becoming disappointed when the pictures here are not the ones they are after. Secondly, a tart with its top on in this instance is a pie and having already blogged here and here about the gloriousness of cheese and onion encased in pastry, I decided to go with something which is a little lacking on the pastry front but is nonetheless amazingly tasty.
In these straightened times I think a quiche/flan/tart is a good use of reasonably staple ingredients to whip up a meal. It's hearty enough so you don't miss the meat and once you've got the ratio of eggs to cream to filling correct then you can put all manner of sad looking vegetables into it. Not that the onions on this occasion were sad; though they did make me cry for totally different reasons.
Those who have read some of my more tarty posts will know I have a penchant for a tin of baked beans with a tart and it is a peculiarity that I have happily passed onto my children. Despite the excellent credentials of this tart, taken from Richard Corrigan's 'The Clatter of Forks and Spoons', I have not let the presence of a Michelin star dissuade me from getting out the tin opener. However, what I will say is I am also captivated by the serving suggestion from the recipe, that is "some nice piquant Spanish olives, or even a spoonful of tapenade and some crusty bread it makes a great summer supper". Sounds amazing. Just need the sun now and maybe a cheeky glass of chilled Pinot Grigio or something. Yum.
Onion Tart taken from 'The Clatter of forks and Spoons' by Richard Corrigan
Makes a 21cm tart, serving Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad twice
For the pastry:
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
For the filling:
4 large onions
2 tbsp olive oil
a handful of marjoram (I used two teaspoons of dried thyme)
6 eggs plus an extra for eggwashing the pastry
250g aged mature cheddar
Peel, halve and slice the onion thinly. Put the butter and the olive oil into a heavy bottomed casserole or suitable pot and add the onions, season and allow them to cook on a low heat for about an hour. Ultimately the onions should be very soft and translucent, but not coloured.
Add the majoram (thyme) about five minutes before the end of cooking. Once cooked, allow the onions to cool and the herbs to infuse.
Whilst the onions are cooking and cooling, make the pastry. Rub the fat and the flours together with the salt, or blitz in the food processor. until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the egg yolks and a tablespoon or two of ice cold water (you may need a tablespoon more) and allow the mixture to come together. Form the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes but more like 30.
Heat the oven to 160c/Gas 3.
Roll the pastry out onto a floured board big enough to line a prepared a 21cm diameter loose bottomed flan tin with 3cm sides if possible.
Press the pastry gently into the tin, taking care not to stretch the pastry. If it cracks, just press it together again. Leave the edges over hanging if you like to compensate for shrinkage.
Bake the pastry case blind for about 45 minutes, then remove the foil/paper/beans and bake for another five minutes, until the pastry is dry. Brush the whole of the inside of the pastry with eggwash.
Turn the oven upto 180c.
Bit full maybe...
By this time, your onions should be cool. Beat the eggs and cream together, stir in the cheese and season. Mix with the cooled onions then pour the mixture into the flan case. Return it carefully to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so then lower the temperature to 160c for another 40 minutes, until the top is pale golden but with the faintest quiver in the centre.
Remove form the oven and leave to cool for an hour or so until the filling sets further.
When cooled, trim the edges if you left the pastry overhanging and push the tart out of the flan tin and slide it onto a board or serving dish.
Cut into slices and serve
with baked beans
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
This is lovely. I know I wouldn't be blogging it if it was awful but I have to say for something that really is kinda quite rustic and homely, it could look really quite pretty, piled up here at my unsubtle attempt at fine dining. I think what I was trying to illustrate was the fact that this tastes as good as it can look. I don't generally pile it high; I tend to plonk it on plates and hurl it in the general direction of the dining table, but this is my Michelin moment. I am smug that something this good looking could come from my kitchen.
I took inspiration from various sources (not least a Stephen Terry recipe I found which involved the roasting of cod with chorizo; something I would adore, but other members of this household would be horrified by - delusional people) but I liked the fact that instead of just the lovely, but oft put together pairing of chicken and chorizo, the addition of a few spuds turned this into something a bit more robust and wonderfully 'carby'. Life would be grim without potatoes.
I sent Lola and Finn off to pick some ramps (otherwise known as wild garlic) rich grows in abundance near their school. I always look forward to Spring when the verdant leaves appear and the aromatic, heady perfume of garlic fills the air as the
gales breeze rustles amongst the leaves and the pretty white flowers. It isn't a necessary ingredient - and you could replace it with some wilted spinach which behaves in a very similar way. I think it's an iron rich addition to a dish which already satisfies body and soul.
Lola and Finn gave a thumbs up to this. I should probably say at this point that I made sure they didn't get very much wild garlic in their stew. Finn especially would have dismissed it totally out of hand because of the presence of something 'green'. It appears I am still some years away from getting him to eat broccoli willingly...
Roast chicken breast with chorizo and potato stew.
Four chicken breasts (I used fillets so Lola and Finn got smaller portions)
salt and pepper
For the stew:
20/30 jersey royal or waxy small potatoes, quartered
250 g chorizo, diced into ½ cm pieces
aAlittle olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
150 ml chicken stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small bunch wild garlic, leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180c. and put on a frying pan or pot onto a high heat.
Coat the chicken in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place into the hot pan and cook until the underside is nicely browned. Once browned, transfer to an ovenproof dish, brown side up and place in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Test with the tip of a knife if you are unsure.
Meanwhile. Make the potato stew. Fry off the chorizo in a little olive oil (I used the frying pan I had just browned the chicken in) until it renders its paprika coloured oil and the pieces are starting to crispen a little. Remove to a plate.
Put the halved potatoes into the same pan and saute until they begin to colour and are partly cooked. Once cooked, remove to a plate with the chorizo.
If you have a lot of oil at this point, pour some away but ensure you have a tablespoon left in the frying pan.
Add the diced onion to the pan and saute until becoming translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly, taking care not to burn it.
Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Allow the stock to reduce by half and add the tinned tomatoes. Stir well, and add a little salt and pepper.
Return the chorizo and potato to the pan. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10/15 minutes or so or until it starts to reduce and thicken a little. At this point add the wild garlic and stir it through the mixture, allowing it to wilt. Taste for seasoning. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so and then keep warm if your chicken is not quite ready.
When your chicken is cooked, allow it to rest for a few minutes.
To serve, place the stew on a plate or into a bowl, and if you're feeling faffy, place the chicken breast on top.
Friday, 10 May 2013
Oh, how have I neglected my little blog of late. April has been almost devoid of food musings due to the double distraction of 'spring cleaning and decluttering' (kinda good) and marking A level coursework (not so good) and whilst I still have an attic full of (Phill's) stuff that needs to be acquainted with the tip, the coursework is done and dusted and I can indulge in something more gratifying and therapeutic.
So, therapeutic. I have already talked about the therapeutic and frankly nurturing qualities of making bread. From the 10 minutes of kneading in which you can take out all your irritations, to the prove, to the knock back, to the smell of baking bread and the tap of a hollow bottom, making and baking bread is good not only for bingo wings but it is good for you. Totally.
And it was great to bake bread for this month's random recipe challenge hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen. The randomness proved a bit difficult as I have two (mostly) bread books and then I have lots of books with the odd loaf knocking around in them, so to save myself from going mad I picked the one I have never cooked anything out of and opened the book:
The book: Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
And here we are: Coconut Milk Bread.
What can I tell you about this loaf. Well, it didn't seem to rise a tremendous amount on the first proving but after being knocked back and put into tins it did seem to get its act together. The bread tastes amazing. There will be some kind of scientific reasoning that means that the ingredients combine to create the best crusts ever, or else I maybe left it in too long, but if you are a crusts girl (or boy) like me, you will not be disappointed. And the texture and taste is 'filling' but with a creamy and slight saltiness that is just so, so good. I took advantage of the cook's perk of slicing a piece whilst still warm and slathering it in some butter. It was at that time I realised that a life without bread would be, frankly, crap.
So, here you go. the recipe.
Coconut Milk Bread taken from Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
Makes (450g/1lb) two loaves
My adaptations in red
750g strong white flour
2 1/2 tsp easy blend (active dry) yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
100g butter, melted and cooled slightly
350ml lukewarm coconut milk (Note: I added my coconut milk straight from the tin into the melted butter to cool the butter and make the coconut milk lukewarm, if that makes any sense!)
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine the ingredients and then knead weither by hand or with a dough hook in a mixer until the dough becomes smooth and supple.
Bring together into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until it is doubled in size. (Took about an hour and a half for me)
Knock back the dough and and knead lightly until smooth again. Divide into two portions, roll with your hands into a ball type shape and place into prepared loaf tins, seam side down. Cover both loaves and leave to rise once again until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. To test, remove the loaves from the tins, tap on the bottom and top and they should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Sooooooo good for you and your soul! Pork Meatballs in Chunky Tomato and Mediterranean Vegetable Sauce.
Meatballs. A staple in this house, not least because is usually involves spaghetti (thumbs up from the Lola and Finn jury) are therapeutic to make (thumbs up from me) and because they happen to be ready soon after Phill comes through the door after being at the business end of a pretty underwhelming day (...just about has the energy to raise thumb to anything). Not that this is the place for it, but isn't it funny that in some industries, the higher one climbs, the more inept one becomes (or maybe they were always inept, but were good at shifting their ineptitude onto others...)
Anyway, before I end up weirdly politicising meatballs (?) let me return to meatballs as a conduit for joy, for good ingredients cooked well, for dinners around the table, digging in, chatting about anything and everything, a glass of red wine maybe, a scrape of Parmesan. Sun's out, life IS good! A slow walk past the 'chuck outs' in my local supermarket (a weekly 'thing' of mine) further reinforced the fact that the people in my area do not know what to do with pork, unless it is a chop, because I have lost count of the pork fillets/pork mince/pork belly I have acquired at a knock down price. At varying times my freezer is chocka with bits of pig. This week, organic pork mince and lots of it! In the trolley it went!
This recipe is a hotchpotch of stuff from my freezer, fridge and cupboard. I won't say store cupboard necessarily, but most of the ingredients are possibly somewhere in your kitchen. It's a pretty flexible recipe, in terms of the sauce at least. You might need to be a bit more exact when it comes to making the meatballs, so they don't fall apart. But the result was pretty pleasing. I was watching Masterchef in the week where the finalists were cooking with Mamma Agata at her cooking school in Italy with a myriad of simple ingredients, herbs, vegetables and the results looked so amazing! I can only hope that one day I could cook in such a way but for now, this is where I am at.
Pork Meatballs in Chunky Tomato and Mediterranean Vegetable Sauce
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad, and one other
500g pork mince
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
4 slices of stale bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs
1 large egg
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 large onion, diced
a selection of vegetables, such as peppers, courgettes, aubergines cut into chunks (actually, I used some of a bag of frozen Mediterranean vegetables and some frozen peppers which I had in the freezer. I used a large handful of each bag, so I would eyeball it at about 300g of chopped vegetables)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
About 300ml of chicken stock
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Serve with pasta of your choice.
Firstly make the meatballs. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hand, or else pulse the ingredients in a food processor, taking care not to overwork.
Before shaping the whole mixture into balls, take a little and fry it (or taste it if the idea doesn't bother you) to check that you have seasoned the mixture enough. If you need more, add more.
Once you are happy with the seasoning, using damp hands form the mixture into balls. Put on a baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. In a suitable pan, fry off the onion until it becomes translucent then add the vegetables and saute briefly. If you use frozen like I did, you will need to cook longer to allow the water to evaporate.
Add the tomatoes (puree and tinned) and stir to combine, then add the chicken stock and the sugar. add some seasoning now but be prepared to add more once the sauce has reduced.
Put the meatballs into the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
While the meatballs are cooking, allow the sauce to simmer for about 15/20 minutes until it has perceptibly reduced and thickened. At the end of this time, check and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Once the meatballs are browned and cooked through, take them out of the oven, add them to the thickened sauce and stir them through carefully so as not to break them.
Serve the meatballs and sauce over cooked pasta with some Parmesan and a little basil garnish.
Friday, 26 April 2013
Yes, I could make my own curry paste. I have made my own curry paste in the past and it was pretty good, but, fundamentally I am a) lazy and b) busy, and if you are either or both of those and you like Thai curry then here is the answer to what you can cook of an evening when you crash through the door with a selection of children/marking/ a loathing of the fact it's raining again, yadda yadda yadda.
One of the things I really like about this curry is its greenness. Despite dumping a tin of coconut milk into the mix you can't help but think that with such verdancy will be doing you the absolute power of good. The original recipe calls for soya beans which when I first started making this curry years ago, my supermarket didn't stock, so I subbed broad beans for the only reason that they look a bit like soya beans and because I absolutely adore them. I don't really care if soya beans are the greatest things in the world, I will not be changing.
So this is from Nigella Lawson's 'Nigella Express'. Not my first foray into this particular book it has to be said, for I am definitely not averse to employing the odd short cut to create something that tastes really quite good. And this tastes really quite good.
Not unsurprisingly Lola and Finn are really not keen. When I make this, it is because Lola and Finn have already eaten, or I will have given in to a clamouring for pasta. I aim to please.
Curry in a Hurry (Thai Green Curry), adapted from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
My adaptions in red
2 tablespoons wok oil (I use sesame oil)
3 tablespoons spring onions (finely chopped)
3 - 4 tablespoons green Thai curry paste
1 kilogramme chicken thigh fillets (cut into strips about 4 x 2cm)
1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
250 ml boiling boiling water
chicken stock concentrate or cube
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
185 g Frozen peas
200 g Frozen soya beans (I use broad beans)
150 g Frozen fine beans
3 tablespoons fresh coriander (chopped)
Heat the wok oil in a large saucepan that owns a lid, drop in the spring onions and cook, stirring for a minute or two, then add the curry paste.
Add the chicken pieces and keep turning over heat for 2 minutes, before adding the coconut milk, stock (i.e. the water plus stock concentrate or cube) and fish sauce, then the frozen peas and soya beans.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the frozen fine beans to the mix and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Serve with rice or noodles, sprinkling the coriander over as you do so. Put out a plate of lime wedges for people to squeeze over as they eat.