What I'm cooking and eating

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chocolate-cranberry cake

I think this is only the third birthday cake I've made for the Swan Whisperer in all the years we've been married!  And the other two were fruitcakes.

For the cake:
4 eggs
The same weight (c. 240 g) of butter/baking fat and sugar.
2 tbs cocoa powder, made up to 240 g with self-raising flour and a pinch of salt
2 tbs very strong black coffee

Cream fat and sugar together; add the eggs one at a time and beat in, add the coffee, and finally fold in the flour/cocoa powder mixture.  Divide into 2 21-cm sponge tins and bake in a moderate oven (Mark 4) for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 

For the cranberry filling:

About 75 g fresh cranberries (you don't need a huge amount)
Juice of 2 oranges (1 if it has made plenty - you want about 4-6 tbs)
2-3 tbs sugar (make it slightly sweeter than if you were making cranberry sauce for the Christmas table)

Put all of the above in a saucepan, put a lid on and cook until all the cranberries have gone "phut" (which is the noise they make as they cook).  Allow to cool.

For the ganache topping:
1 bar Green and Black's Organic dark chocolate
1 large tbs crème fraiche
Any surplus juice from the cranberries

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water (or in a double saucepan, if you have such a thing); stir in cream and juice.

To assemble:

Have the nicer cake, if there is one, on the top.  Spread the other one with the cranberries, then put the second cake on the top, and spread it with the ganache.  Allow to cool thoroughly and keep refrigerated.  Decorate as liked.....


Monday, 24 November 2014

Chicken Hash

I don't quite know what else to call this; I had been going to stir-fry my leftover chicken but then didn't go out so had no stir-fry vegetables (I do like beansprouts and water chestnuts in my stir-fries). So rethink time.....

1 tbs cooking oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 small swede
1 parsnip
1 sweet potato
2 small white potatoes
1/4 butternut squash
1/2 leek
3 cherry tomatoes (obviously you can add more, but this was the end of a punnet) A bit of cabbage 1/2 green pepper
A quantity of cooked chicken
A quantity of left-over gravy

Peel and chop all the vegetables into small pieces, and add the first 7 to a frying pan along with the oil and curry powder. Stir, cover, and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.


Now add the rest of the vegetables and cook for another 15-20 minutes,
and finally add the chopped chicken and gravy, and cook for 10 minutes or until it's piping hot.  Make sure the pan is covered all the time except when you are stirring it or adding more veg, so that they cook in their own steam.  Adjust seasoning, and serve. 

Of course, you can use whatever vegetables you like, and you don't have to use quite so many!  But it was very good, and there is enough left for another meal later in the week.  Meanwhile, I was making stock in the slow cooker!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Victoria Sandwich

I very seldom make sponge cakes.  My old oven wouldn't, and although my new one does quite beautifully, we have managed for over 35 years without eating sponge cake regularly, and I fail to see why we can't go on doing so, or rather, not doing so.  But when asked to contribute a cake for the ice dance club's post-RIDL buffet, I happily volunteered.

I grew up eating these sponge cakes, and have always known how to make them (although I did have to check with my mother, both about flavouring this particular cake with orange, and about how you make butter icing, although in the end I went with the recipe on the side of the packet of icing sugar, using orange juice instead of milk or cream).  They are actually very easy to make, and it was only that they would not rise in my old oven but came out flat and miserable.

I have 21 cm diameter sponge tins, so made this cake with 4 eggs.  If your sponge tins are smaller, use 3 eggs, or even 2.  My grandmother used to make just one layer, so used only one egg.

Weigh your eggs, and then accumulate the same amount of butter (or baking margarine), sugar and self-raising flour.  For 4 eggs, which is what I used, it was 240g, which meant the last 10g of baking marg got used to grease the tin. 

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (an electric mixer is the easiest thing to use for this).  Add in the eggs one at a time, and continue to whisk until they are incorporated.  Now fold in the flour, into which you have added a tiny pinch of salt.  Divide the mixture among your sponge tins, and bake in a moderately hot oven (c gas 5, or 200 C - 180 in a fan oven) until it is cooked, which will take around 25 minutes or so.  If you bake the sponge in one tin, it will take longer, of course.  When it is cooked - when a skewer or very thin knife inserted into the top comes out clean - remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

That's your basic Victoria sandwich.  Mine - pictured - was an orange cake so I added the zest of an orange to the cake mixture, and substituted orange juice for milk in the icing (according to Tate & Lyle's recipe, which was beat 75 g butter until light and fluffy, slowly incorporate 175 g icing sugar, and then as much milk or cream - or orange or lemon juice - as you need).  You can, of course, substitute unsweetened cocoa powder for 25g or so of the flour, and also for some of the icing sugar to make a chocolate cake.  Or for a delicious cake that can be used as pudding, sandwich it together with jam and whipped cream, or fresh fruit and whipped cream.... and sprinkle a little icing sugar on the top through a tea-strainer if you want to make it look "finished".

You can also use this mixture to make a hot pudding, putting jam or cooked fruit in the bottom of the dish and the cake mixture on top, then turn it out and serve hot with cream or custard.  Or both.  You can cook this in the microwave, as, indeed, you can the cake itself, but the texture is Not the Same.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Udon with butternut squash, tomato and feta

Sorry there aren't any photos - wasn't thinking!  But this was seriously delicious.

2 tbsp oil
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 tsp za'atar or rosemary or something similar
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 large clove garlic
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsp home-made pesto (if you happen to have any!)
1 packet udon noodles
1/2 packet feta cheese

 Put the squash into a lidded frying pan with 1 tbsp of the oil (I used stir-fry oil on this one) and the herbs, and cook gently until really soft and squishy and beginning to caramelise.  This takes up to 45 minutes, so if you're in a hurry, do it in the microwave for 5 minutes before transferring to the frying pan.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce by putting the remaining tbsp of oil (I used rapeseed, but olive is also vg), vinegar, crushed garlic and pierced tomatoes into a saucepan, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes, until the juices run.  Put this into a food processor with the pesto, if you have any, or some fresh basil or, if all else fails, some dried marjoram or thyme, and work until smooth.

Cube the feta cheese, and prepare the udon according to the instructions on the packet.

Once the squash is cooked, combine everything in the frying-pan and make sure it is all piping hot.  Serve at once - we weren't sure whether to eat it with chopsticks or a spoon and fork!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Bacon and sweetcorn chowder

I had a couple of corns-on-the-cob that wanted eating, and not very much else in the house.  And the Swan Whisperer has a cold, and I'm recovering from one and now have a bad cough, which is leaving me very drained.  So this was rather comfort food!

1 ½ corns-on-the-cob (it was going to be 2, but there was a Nasty on one of them, so I had to throw half of it out)
1 small tin sweetcorn
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 packet lardons
4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
About 300 ml milk and the same of water (I didn't really measure)
Pepper, and a dash of chilli sherry (use any chilli sauce, or even powdered chilli, but not too much)

Cook the corns-on-the-cob however you usually do - I usually use my microwave steamer.  Let them cool a bit.  Put the lardons in a heavy-based pan, and cook gently.  Add the onions, garlic and potatoes, cover, and let them cook in their own steam for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, put the contents of the tin of sweetcorn into a blender and process with a little milk until smooth.  Cut the corn kernels off the cob with a sharp knife, and add these to the saucepan.  Add the creamed sweetcorn and the rest of the milk.  Top up to a nice amount with water.  Season.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.  I actually did this in two lots, letting it stand for about an hour as I was busy.  This may or may not have improved the flavour!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Minestrone

I have a new cooker! This is a cause for wild excitement, as I have not had one before in all our married life - we started off with a new one (the cooker, the fridge and the bed were the only things we bought new, all those years ago when we were just starting out and money was tight), and had never replaced it. It was still serviceable, although the electronic starter had long since demised, the oven door was difficult to shut and the numbers had all rubbed off the knobs.
But we have bought a new one, and transformed our kitchen, as we had room to put the microwave above it, which has made more room than anybody would think possible.
Another cause for wild excitement is that the oven appears to make sponge cakes! My old oven never did - it made wonderful Dundee cakes, but ask it to cook a sponge and it would produce something like a flat biscuit.  I am still experimenting, as it appears that the oven is very cool and sponge cakes take about twice as long to cook as one would expect, but There Will Be Recipes when I am more confident!

Meanwhile, it seems early in the year for soup, but I have a bad cough, legacy of last week's cold, and wanted something comforting, and as I had seen "soup pasta" in Tesco, I reckoned minestrone was the way to go.  So I googled various recipes, mostly from the BBC Good Food website, looked at what was in the fridge, and came up with this:

Just under 1/2 cup cannellini beans
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion
1 leek
1 parsnip
3 small carrots
½ small swede
3-4 small new potatoes (ordinary ones are fine)
The end of a marrow (substitute a medium courgette)
A few mushrooms, sliced
1 chilli pepper
1 large clove garlic
Some basil leaves
Sloosh tomato paste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
About 75 g small pasta
Vegetable "Stock pot"
2 litres water

Soak the beans overnight, then bring to the boil in fresh water to which you may or may not have added a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.  Boil hard for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Or use a tin, but I personally prefer the texture of fresh-cooked ones.

Meanwhile chop the vegetables very finely.  You might want to use your food processor - I blitzed the chilli, garlic and basil together, then used the coarse grater on everything else except the potatoes, which I chipped, and the mushrooms, which I sliced.

Put the result into a heavy-based large casserole dish with 2 tbs olive oil, stir, cover, and leave to "sweat" on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Then add the tomato paste, tin of tomatoes, 2 litres of water, stock cube, seasonings of whatever takes your fancy (I had some Lebanese spice mix which wanted finished, so I added that), and finally the beans and pasta.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Serve with loads of grated cheese, ideally Parmesan but whatever....

This makes masses, but it will keep for several days in the fridge.

 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Gluten-free cheese scones

An unexpected - and very, very welcome - visit from my sister-in-law and her husband this evening.  And no cake or anything in the house.  So I thought I'd make cheese scones, which are quick and easy - but just as I was standing on the stool looking for the flour, I remembered that my sister-in-law has coeliac disease and wouldn't be able to eat normal scones.  But, of course, neither gram flour nor buckwheat flour has gluten in it.... this might work....

125 g gram flour (besan, chick pea flour)
125 g buckwheat flour
Pinch dry mustard powder or cayenne pepper
50 g butter
125 g strong Cheddar, grated
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice
About 120 ml milk

Rub the butter into the combined flours and baking soda, then stir in the cheese.  Add the lemon juice, and then gradually add the milk until it comes together in a ball (I was using a food processor, as time was off the essence).  Squish it all together, then flatten into a rough disk and bake in a hot oven (Mark 7) for 15 minutes.  Serve at once, with butter.
No, they weren't as good as normal cheese scones would have been, but they were eminently edible!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Mung bean and cauliflower risotto

This was inspired by Clothilde's photo on Facebook from a new restaurant.  I'm sure this wasn't as good as what she was served, but it was nevertheless delicious!

1/2 cup mung beans
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion
About 1/4-1/3 of a large cauliflower
1/2 cup risotto rice
250 ml white wine
500 ml vegetable or chicken stock (if you have home-made chicken stock, use that; if not, use a vegetable Knorr Stock Pot, or Tesco's own brand equivalent which I think is nicer)
About 60g Parmesan cheese

Soak the mung beans for several hours, then change the water,  bring to the boil, and boil hard for 10 minutes.  While this is happening, chop the onion and cauliflower, and sweat in the olive oil.  Add the rice, and stir thoroughly.  Add the drained mung beans, and then the wine.  Season, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time, and then allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes.  Add the stock, bring back to the boil, again stirring all the time, and simmer for a further 10 minutes, perhaps a little longer if it is still very liquid.  Stir in the Parmesan and serve at once.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sandwich fillings and lunchboxes

This post was inspired by a conversation I was having in a group on Facebook, plus the fact that schools in England and Wales are poised to go back this week.  Mind you, Reception and Year 1 get free school dinners now, so the youngest probably won't be taking their own lunches, but still.  Adults like to take sandwiches and wraps, too - and one's own are so much nicer than bought, even if it's nice to buy them occasionally.  Who has time to make their own BLT of a morning?

So you start with the bread.  I tend to always use bought bread for a sandwich, but if you can slice your home-baked loaves thin enough, go for it!  My personal preference is a seeded wholegrain loaf.  Pitta bread or tortilla wraps are nice for a change, too.  Also, now that Lidl do such delicious rolls, baked fresh each day, I'll often go out and buy one specially (Lidl is all of 50 yards away!).  But then, I tend to make my sandwiches when I want them; for lunchboxes, I would find a roll difficult to manage. 

If whatever you are using for a filling doesn't spread readily, you might want to use a little butter (or equivalent, if you're vegan), but if it's something like cream cheese, it doesn't need it. 

I divide sandwiches into two - the main event, as it were, and the garnish.  The garnish is something vegetable - tomatoes, cucumber, sliced peppers, avocado, lettuce, grapes, any or all of the above!  Even banana can be nice, especially with peanut butter (although that is a combination I prefer in a breakfast sandwich).  If you're making your sandwich to take to work, avoid sliced tomatoes and cucumber, as they can make it soggy; use cherry tomatoes instead, and take a hunk of cucumber to eat separately.  Oh, and don't forget pickle (or chutney) with a strong cheese. 

The main event can be all sorts of things - hummus or peanut butter if you want a vegan sandwich, or all sorts of different kinds of cheese, including cream cheese (with or without Marmite) and cottage cheese.  Or egg mayonnaise - I always put chopped spring onions in mine; my mother uses chives to the same effect.  Grated cheese and carrot, bound with a scrap of mayonnaise, works well, too.

I was thinking in the supermarket that you could sprinkle sunflower seeds into your sandwich for extra crunch - Lidl sells them at the checkouts, which I find far, far more tempting than the sweets they've replaced!  Ah well.

For omnivores, of course, there is pate, there is ham, there are all sorts of proprietary sliced meats, or you could use some cold chicken (for instance) if you have some.  Bacon is good, but nicest when eaten freshly cooked, so we save our bacon and avocado sandwiches for the weekend.  Cold sausages work well, too.  And don't forget smoked salmon, which can be bought very cheaply nowadays - with cream cheese and avocado, it is a feast!  Or, if you like tinned fish, you could always mash some up; not sure how well they would travel, though.

If you get sick of sandwiches, as we all do sometimes, there's plenty of other things to take.  Salad is always good - what works best is to put the "nice bits" (chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, scallions, avocados, sunflower seeds, etc) with the dressing into one container and keep the greenery - lettuce, Chinese leaves, baby spinach, rocket, etc - separate, combining them all at the last minute.  You can buy - or make, if you're that way inclined - all sorts of nice bits for protein: falafel, pork pies, quiches, even a Cornish pasty (nicest hotted up, so I hope work has a microwave - if it does, you can take a mug of soup, too; they sell special mugs to take soup in these days.  And if you have a shaming taste, as I do, for ramen noodles.... sometimes I cook those in the microwave and then poach an egg in them, which is lovely!  Not very good for you, mind, but still lovely!

Then there are all sorts of rice salads or couscous salads you can make or buy to eat.  Home-made is often nicer, but I do rather like bought couscous salad!  And sometimes I like a box of (preferably veggie) sushi as part of my lunch!

All very vague and off the top of my head.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Gran's Peach and Orange Conserve

I was making apricot and nectarine jam the other day - the nectarine was to make up the weight, as Someone (who had better be nameless, but wasn't me) had been eating the apricots - when I remembered that my grandmother had made a very delicious peach and orange conserve.  So I emailed my mother to ask for the recipe.  She says that it was her recipe, not Gran's, but either Gran used to make it, or she took ownership of it (she was that kind of person), as I think of it as Gran's.

So this was Mummy's recipe, which I have made today (I did think of taking photos, but no matter how careful you are, making jam is a sticky business and I really don't want a sticky phone), and is delicious:

8 peaches
5 oranges
100 g  blanched almonds
3 lbs sugar (1.36 kg) sugar.  I used 1 kg preserving sugar, then made it up with ordinary granulated.

Peel the peaches (the easiest way to do this is to pour boiling water on them and leave for 1 minute, after which the skins should slip off easily) and then cut into chunks, discarding the stones.
Cut the oranges in half and discard any stones; then puree the whole thing (skin, pith, pulp and all) in a food processor.
Roast the almonds (I used a dry frying pan) and cut into smallish pieces (you can do this while the jam is boiling)

Put fruit and sugar into a preserving pan, and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, and allow to boil until setting-point is reached.  Stir in the almonds, pot, seal and enjoy!

(For Dorian E Gray)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Chicken Stock

I always feel it is a fearful waste of a chicken not to make stock from the bones.  And yesterday we had a chicken, so today:

Bones of a roast or otherwise cooked chicken - remove as much of the meat as you can, and save that to eat another time.
1-2 onions, peeled and quartered
1-2 large carrots, ditto
The green parts (the bits you usually discard) of a leek or two
A stick of celery is traditional, but we don't like the flavour of cooked celery, so we don't use that.
Lots of seasoning - salt, pepper, a couple of cloves, some mushroom ketchup, Worcestershire sauce.... whatever.  I usually add a chicken "Stock pot" gel.
Up to 2 litres boiling water

Put everything in either a slow cooker and cook on auto for about 8 hours (which is what I did) or a pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid, and discard all the solids.  Use in soups, risottos, etc - or you could poach another chicken in it.....

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Nachos

Haven't taken any photos, I'm afraid, but nachos aren't terribly photogenic.  They are, however, delicious.  Quantities are approximate.

1 large packet tortilla chips
60 g cheese - I like the kind with chillies in it for this, but plain is fine, too
1 tbs milk

Melt the cheese and milk together in a saucepan, stirring all the time, and then pour over the chips. 

That's basically it, but to make it a proper meal, serve with any or all of the following:

Guacamole, either bought or home-made*
Sour cream dip
Fresh salsa, again, either bought or home-made.  I made a nectarine/tomato salsa, as follows:

2 large tomatoes
1 red onion
1 nectarine (or peach, of course)
1 chilli pepper 
Bunch of coriander (cilantro)
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel and chop all the vegetables and mix together with the rest of the ingredients.   This is nicer if you make it an hour or so before the meal, to give the flavours a chance to mix.

* Or you could chop the avocado into the fresh salsa, which is what I was going to do, only my avocados weren't ripe, so I popped out and bought some guacamole.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Simple tomato sauce

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes (or quantity to suit you)
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1 tbs each olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, possibly a little oregano or marjoram.

Pierce the cherry tomatoes and put in a saucepan with the other ingredients.
  Cover, and cook gently until the juices run.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and work until smooth.
Bring back to the boil.

Delicious with fresh pasta, and a dollop of pesto on top.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Cucumber Slush

Half fill a blender goblet with ice, add a chunk (about 3 cm) of cucumber, cut slightly smaller, and a sprig of mint if you have it (I didn't).  Cover with chilled water and process until slushy.




 If you don't like cucumber, or don't find this sweet enough, why not try melon?  Or even mango or peach?


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Courgette Tart

This has a bit to do with the recipe in the current Tesco magazine, and a bit to do with David Lebovitz' tomato tart recipe, and a bit of my own invention!

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry (or okay, make your own.  Be like that.  See if I care!  Me, I use ready-rolled).
½ quantity pesto (roughly)
½ tub goats' cream cheese
1 egg
½ roll goats' cheese (Lidl's Petit Chebra is what I tend to use)
1-2 courgettes, cut into thin slices.  I used a gourd-shaped one that was on special offer in Sainsbury's as well as ½ an ordinary one

Spread the pastry out into a baking tray.  Put the pesto, cream cheese and egg into a food processor
and blitz until smooth.


Spread this mixture on to the pastry base, then top with the sliced courgettes and bits of goats' cheese from the log.
Bake in a hottish oven - gas mark 6, 200C (180 C fan) - for 25-30 minutes. 

You can, of course, use tomatoes or other roastable vegetables (butternut squash?) in place of courgette.

I do wish I had discovered earlier how easy it is to put photos on my blogs - you can get them straight from your Android phone!  So if I think of adding my recipe while I am making it, I can photo-blog it.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Dundee Cake

I could have sworn I'd posted my version of this famous classic, but obviously not

200 g prunes, no stones.
150 g demerara sugar + extra for sprinkling
3 eggs
45 ml liquid (see note)
500 g mixed dried fruit ("Cake Fruit" in the supermarket), plus nuts if liked
250 g self-raising flour

Pour boiling water over the prunes and leave to soak for at least an hour (longer if they are very dried!).  Drain, reserving 45 ml of the liquid (see note), and place in bowl of food processor with the eggs, sugar and liquid.  Process until smooth.

Now transfer to a bowl, and fold in the flour and fruit (and nuts, if using).  Place in a greased, 7" cake tin.  Decorate the top with blanched almonds, if liked, and sprinkle with the extra demerara sugar.  Bake in a very low oven (Mark 1, 125 C) for 2½ hours.


Note: Although I usually the prune liquid, you can use more or less any liquid you like: milk, beer, cider, cold tea....  And if you use beer, you get to drink the rest of the bottle, which is always a Good Thing.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Aubergine pasta

One cannot, I find, eat asparagus every day at this time of year, although I do my best! I may post some recipes using asparagus later on. But today I decided to have a break, and make aubergine pasta, which is fairly quick, very easy and delicious.

1 aubergine, diced into ¼" chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp coconut oil (or 1 tbs olive or rapeseed oil)
1/2 tub soft goats' cheese or other cream cheese, as liked (cheese and chives very good, too)
100 g small pasta

Put the aubergine, garlic and oil into a frying-pan that has a lid, season it, and cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down even lower, as low as it will go, while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is cooked, stir it into the aubergine, and then mix in the soft cheese. Stir it through until the cheese has melted and coats everything, and then serve. Yum.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Omelettes, part 2

I don't pretend to make authentic Spanish tortillas or Italian frittatas, but they are very much easier than traditional French omelettes.  Quite apart from anything else, you can keep them waiting, and even eat them cold if you would like (if you get it right - and I find mine tend to fall apart - you can take them on picnics).

The idea of these omelettes is that they are stuffed full of vegetables. They have way more vegetables than eggs. Spanish ones must contain potatoes and onions, but may also contain things like peppers, chorizo (okay, that's not a vegetable, but hey?), tomatoes.... whatever.  Italian ones just contain vegetables.  It's probably not a good idea to use too many vegetables that render a great deal of juice when cooked, although one or two.  But choose a selection of vegetables that you like: onions, peas, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work well), chunks of butternut squash, maybe chopped aubergine or courgette, maybe chunks of carrot or parsnip... maybe a root vegetable omelette would be nice (must try this!).  You might want a green vegetable omelette in the spring - perhaps peas (or mangetout if you can get them that haven't been flown in from Kenya), baby broad beans, broccoli florets, asparagus tips or maybe a green pepper.

Whatever, you chop your vegetables into small pieces, and cook over gentle heat in a lidded frying pan - use cooking oil of some kind.  Stir occasionally, but keep the lid on as much as possible to let the vegetables cook mostly in their own steam.  If you're using frozen vegetables, thaw and slightly cook them in the microwave.  If you're using bacon or chorizo or even mini-sausages, add them and cook them, too.  When the vegetables are cooked, pour on a couple of eggs that you have whisked until they are all one consistency, seasoned, and maybe added some grated cheese to.  Keep the heat low, and keep the lid on the pan.  Cook gently without disturbing it until the eggs are set through.  Cut into wedges and serve - perhaps with bread if you haven't used potatoes (I am incapable of eating anything eggy without some form of carbohydrate, a relic of having grown up in the 1950s!).

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Omelettes, part 1

When you think of an omelette, what comes to mind?  For many of us, it's the iconic French omelette, filled, perhaps, with cheese or mushrooms, or ham.... but perhaps it's an Italian frittata or Spanish tortilla that comes to mind.  They are very different animals, and I like - and can cook - both, so I thought I'd do a post on each.  There is also a soufflĂ© omelette, which is as eggy as the French kind, but cooked more slowly, like the Spanish/Italian kinds....

So for a traditional French omelette.  First of all, you prepare your filling - if it needs cooked, like mushrooms or tomatoes, then you cook it; grate your cheese, chop your ham or herbs.... 

One egg is possible, two ideal and three, frankly greedy!  Whichever you choose, choose a pan to suit, and for these purposes, a heavy cast-iron pan, Le Creuset or a clone thereof, is ideal.  It doesn't want to be too big.

Whisk your eggs until they are all one consistency.  Add salt and pepper.  Now heat your pan, and add a knob of butter.  The pan should be very hot, and the butter will sizzle.  Listen carefully, and as soon as it stops sizzling, pour in your egg.  Using a fish slice or spatula, pull the set bits away from the side, allowing more liquid egg to run underneath.  When it is just not quite set on the top, add your filling, fold it in half using the spatula/fish slice, and tip on to a plate.  Serve immediately with bread (and butter, if liked, and perhaps a salad).

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Easiest pancakes ever!

I used to struggle dreadfully making pancakes, but these days I tend to make galettes au sarassin and we will have a "galette complete" for supper tonight, with eggs, lardons and cheese, and I shall add some mushrooms because I like them and a side salad. Anyway, they are easy enough, but this is even easier, full of protein and very delicious:

 Per pancake:
 c 50-75 ml water
1 heaped tablespoon gram flour.

 Er, that's it!

You can, of course, season this to taste with salt and pepper, maybe some chilli and garlic.... and if you want to make it really lush, add 1/2 tablespoonful of tahini.

Whisk this together thoroughly. Lightly grease a frying-pan, and cook in the usual way, over a medium-hot heat until the top surface looks dry, and then turn it over and cook for a further minute or so.

This is vegan and gluten-free; I have seen it called a "vegan omelette". You can fill it with things like tomatoes and onion, or sliced avocado, or whatever you fancy, really, but it's very nice on its own.

Edited to add: try spreading it with hummus and rolling it up! That is seriously lush....