Monday, April 30, 2007

Ginger Rice Salad

This doesn’t look like much, but it was really wonderful

1 large green apple
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper
Slices of lemon and paprika for garnish

Peel, core and dice the apple, place all ingredients in a bowl , and mix together. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and chill.

I got this from a book called The Vegetarian Cookbook by Anna Lee. I picked it up at a thrift store for one pound because I was fascinated by how utterly and completely outdated it was, but also with the understanding that every cookbook seems to have at least one good recipe in it. This was it. This actually made me want to try other recipes from it’s so-seventies-it-hurts selection.

We took this with us for a picnic lunch, and it was filling, but light and had a great mix of flavors. The dressing has curry powder like in a Waldorf salad, so it matches up well with the sweetness of the apple, and the sweet/hot of the crystallized ginger, and it all took away from the harshness that brown rice can sometimes have. I’m making some later for my husband to take to work for lunch, and I’m going to try using yogurt (we get the super thick Greek style) instead of mayo. I think it will work just as well.

Good stuff! Go Seventies!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Marmalade Souffles

I know that I said I was cutting out sugary desserts, but this one has no fat, no sugar, no sweetener… it’s practically not a dessert at all, it’s practically breakfast if you think about it. Egg whites and sugar free marmalade, great way to start the day.

You'll need 6 ramekins, two inches deep, base diameter of 2.5 inches, top diameter of three inches, lightly greased, and a baking tray

6oz/175g Thick cut sugar free orange marmalade
5 large egg whites
1/2 tsp unsalted butter for greasing

Preheat to 350f/180c

First, have the egg whites ready in a totally grease free bowl.
Place the marmalade in another bowl, and using a fork, whisk it around to break up any lumps. After that add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and use an electric hand whisk to whisk until stiff peaks form. Now take a large kitchen spoon and fold one spoonful of the egg into the marmalade to slacken the mixture, then quickly fold in the rest a spoonful at a time. Next, divide the mixture between the ramekins piling it up as high as possible – it won’t collapse.
Place them on the baking tray on the center shelf of the oven, and cook for 10-12 minutes, or till the tops are nice and brown. Serve immediately, but don’t worry, they hold up extremely well.

I think this was Delia Smith, but I am not 100 percent sure.

This really is as easy as all that. No kidding. My advice is, do pile it super high, because it seems to brown better on top if it’s higher. You will not believe this dessert. It has no sugar, I found a great marmalade that is sweetened with a little grape juice only, nothing unnatural, and I swear to you, it comes out tasting sweet as candy. It’s almost too sweet, but it’s not. It’s light and fluffy and tasty and foamy and so much fun. We’re sort of dieting right now, so only sugar free desserts, and even those are only for the weekend, so it has to be really good. This was.

Vegetable Tagine with almond & Chickpea Couscous.

So we’re on a bit of a diet now. We are in between houseguests, so we figured nothing crazy, just cut out the sugary desserts. More veg, less meat and bread… it doesn’t have to mean bleak horribleness.
This for instance, totally rocked!

400g pack of shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite sized chunks
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
450ml/16 fl oz strong flavored veg stock
12 small pitted prunes
2 tsp clear honey
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
3 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped mint, plus extra for sprinkling
For the couscous
250g/9oz couscous
1tbsp harissa (Moroccan chilli paste)
400g can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
Handful toasted and flaked almonds

Fry the shallots in the oil for 5 minutes, till soft and brown. Add the squash and spices, and stir for 1 min. Pour in the stock, season well, then add the prunes and honey. Cover and simmer for 8 min. Add the peppers and cook for 8-10 minutes until just tender. Stir in the coriander and mint.
Pour 400ml boiling water over the couscous in a bowl, then stir in the harissa with 1/2 tsp salt. Tip in the chickpeas, then cover and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and serve with the tagine, flaked almonds, and extra mint.

Note: If you tip the shallots into a bowl, pour over some boiling water, and leave them for 10 minutes, when you drain them the skin will peel away easily, without stinging your eyes.

That’s a really good tip by the way, it totally worked.

This is one of the really good ones from Good Food Magazine. This was a great combination of flavors. I doubled the cinnamon and ginger like I always do, and for me that was the perfect amount. This had a really complex flavor without being at all overwhelming. Also, even though the couscous had Harissa in it, it wasn’t nearly as spicy as I thought it would be. I made a batch of plain couscous for the boys, but in the end I think it was unnecessary. The couscous on it’s own was kind of blah, but it worked perfectly with the tagine.

This is a definite keeper, and my little one loved it too. He ate everything except two of the red pepper pieces. My older son ate his too, after a bit of protest, but the protest had more to do with being three, then with the actual food. Big success!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spiced Dough Balls

Everything is kind of suck-y lately, but I'll have good stuff tomorrow, I promise.

100g butter, softened
150g mature cheddar, grated
150g self-raising flour
1 rounded tsp mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper
Pinch sea salt
2 medium eggs, beaten

Beat together the softened butter and the grated cheese until well blended. Add all the dry ingredients and mix well.
Gradually add the eggs to form a dough, and roll into marble sized balls using floured hands. If the dough seems too wet, just add a little more flour.
Place on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-15 min at 180c/350f

These were from a funny novelty cookbook called The Colman’s Mustard Cookbook (it’s all recipes with mustard). I’m definitely not giving up on this book, because it has some really good looking recipes in it. This just wasn’t a great one to start with. They were ok, but I was expecting them to have more of a kick. They were basically just dough-y balls with the after taste of mustard.

I might try to make them again someday with better cheese, and more mustard, and without the image of pizza shop dough balls in my mind, because that’s a completely different kind of dough and I know that I just couldn’t help wanting them to be that anyway.

Houmous Mash

I don’t even have a picture of this one. My husband said I have to blog it though because it’s a great story involving triumph over adversity… and yummy houmous.

2x400g cans of chickpeas
50g/2oz feta
1 tbsp oil

Tip the chick peas into a sieve, and pour over boiling water to warm them, then whiz them in a food processor with the feta and the oil. Add a few drops of water to loosen if necessary, then season to taste.

From Good Food Magazine. Sometimes their recipes are so good it’s amazing… this was NOT one of those times!!!! This came out so bad, I was actually shocked. I was going to serve it with some left over sausages, and was kind of out of time, so in the end I just made it into an enormous batch of houmous. You can never have too much Houmous in the house.

Bad recipe, saved only by ignoring it completely.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Raisin bread

500g/1lb2oz strong white flour
2tsp salt
7g sachet easy blend yeast (2tsp)
140g/5oz raisins
125ml/4oz milk
1 egg
2tbsp orange marmalade
1tbsp sugar

Put the flour in a mixing bowl with the salt yeast and raisins. Measure the milk and warm water into a jug. Break in the egg and whisk everything together with the fork. Pour the eggy liquid into the bowl of flour and spoon in the marmalade. Knead the dough and leave to prove.
Grease a loaf tin. Flatten the dough out a little into a round disc. Then roll it up roughly like a carpet so that you get a puffy sausage shape. Place the dough sausage in the loaf tin – it should come about halfway up the sides. Cover with cling film, or a tea towel, and leave to rise for 20-25 minutes
Preheat the oven to 220c place the tin in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190c for another 10 min. Turn the bread out of it’s tin and tap the base to see if it feels hollow. If not, put the loaf directly on the hot oven shelf for 10 minutes to color the sides and bottom.
To finish, make a glaze. Put 1tbsp sugar in a small pan with 2 tbsp water. Switch the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon till the until the sugar has dissolved to make a syrup. Let it simmer for 1 min, then switch off the heat. Let the bread cool on a wire rack, then brush the top and sides with the warm syrup. It will shine beautifully.

This was from Good Food Magazine. This bread was so good. It had the perfect texture, which may or may not have to do with rolling it like a sausage before the second raise, but that sure was fun. At first I was going to leave off the glaze, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. It made a great bread into an - oh my god this is fabulous- bread. This one looked good, tasted good, and made amazing raisin toast the next day. Also, if your kids are like mine, then they won’t eat the crust, which is the only part that has sugar, so it’s ok for them too.

Quick Springtime pasta

Blah, but read on... I felt bad about two blah recipes in a row, so I added in my absolute favorite tomato sauce for all time ever. Also I've just been dying for an excuse to post it even though I make it all the time.

Quick Springtime pasta (the ok sauce, scroll down for the other)
1tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
400g/14oz spaghetti
290g jar of artichoke hearts, cut into bite sized pieces
Handful freshly grated parmesan
Handful parsley, chopped

Heat the oil and tip in the garlic and cook for 1 min until lightly colored. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, then stir in the basil. Bring up to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to gently simmer for 10 min. Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti according to the pack instructions.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving a little of the cooking liquid, and return the pasta to the pan. Add the artichokes to the tomato sauce until heated through, then pour it over the spaghetti. Stir in a little parmesan, most of the chopped parsley and a splash of the cooking water if the sauce looks dry. Serve immediately with the remaining parmesan and parsley sprinkled over.

This was from Good Food Magazine. There was nothing at all wrong with it, but I found it kind of bland. I loved the artichokes, but other then that it was nothing to sing about.

If you want a really unbelievably amazing perfect tomato sauce that is cooked in less then the time it takes to cook the pasta, and can be made with all ingredients that you can keep around in the house, try Jamie Oliver’sPuttanesca:

455g/1lb linguine
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2-3 small dried chilllies, crumbled
1tsp dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
2x400g tins of tomatoes drained and chopped
2 handfuls of black olives, destoned
1 handful capers, soaked in water and drained
12 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
1 good handful fresh basil (When I don’t have this around, I skip it, the sauce is still amazing, but do use it if you can)

Cook pasta according to packet
Fry garlic, chillies and oregano in oil till slightly softened, add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add olives capers and anchovies and cook 4 - 5 minutes more.
Toss with pasta, tear basil over, and test seasoning.

I like to throw some grated parmesan on top too.

Seriously, try this sauce, and you will never use jar sauce again.

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash

Kind of blah actually

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 really large carrots (500g/1lb 2oz in total), cut into sugar cube size pieces
2tbsp chopped thyme
200ml/7oz red wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 vegetable stock cubes
410g can of green lentils
950g/ 2 lb 2oz sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
25g/1oz butter
85g/3oz grated mature vegetarian cheddar
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion till golden. Add the carrots and all but a sprinkling of thyme. Pour in the wine, 150ml water, and the tomatoes, then sprinkle in the stock cubes and simmer for 10 min. Tip in the can of lentils, including their juice, then cover and simmer for another 10 min until the carrots still have a bit of bite, and the lentils are pulpy.
Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes for 15 mins till tender, drain well, and mash with butter, and season to taste. Pile the lentil mixture into a pie dish, spoon the mash on top, then sprinkle over the cheese and remaining thyme (you can cover and chill at this point or keep frozen for up to a month). Heat oven to 190c cook for 20 mins if cooking straight away, or 40 mins from chilled, until golden and hot all the way through. Serve with broccoli.

From Good Food Magazine. This was a bit disappointing. It’s not so much that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t special. There’s this certain flavor that I’ve always thought of as “The Vegetarian Entrée” taste. It’s kind of hard to explain, but back in college, where Vegetarian cafés were very in, often times all their food tasted alike. It was really good, but it was pretty much all the same too. That was “the vegetarian entrée flavor” I think it has something to do with the combination of lentils and tomato cooked in wine. Also, the flavor of the sweet potatoes was totally drowned out.

This was a perfectly fine dinner, but it didn’t blow me away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Broccoli Terrine

500g/1lb broccoli florets
Salt and black pepper
15g/ 1/2 oz gelatine powder
125m/4oz milk
1 egg yolk
pinch of grated nutmeg
125ml/4oz double cream
Oil for greasing

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Drain well reserving 75ml/2.5oz of the cooking liquid into a small bowl.
Leave the cooking liquid to cool slightly, then sprinkle the geletin evenly over the top. Leave to stand for 3 min or until the geletin becomes spongy. Put the bowl into a pan of gently simmering water for 3 minutes or until the geletin has dissolved.
Put the milk and egg yolk into a small saucepan and beat together. Heat gently stirring, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Leave to cool slightly.
Reserve a few broccoli florets for garnish. Roughly chop half the broccoli, and puree the remainder with the milk and egg mixture in a food processor until smooth. Pour the pureed broccoli mixture into a large bowl, and add the chopped broccoli, geletin mixture, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and mix together.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks, then fold into the broccoli mixture. Oil the loaf tin, and pour in the broccoli mixture, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
Turn out and cut into slices

From Mary Berry’s complete cookbook

I mentioned this recipe earlier when I made the Sesame Blancmanges . I was looking for unlikely jello flavors, and broccoli definitely won the prize. This dish was not simple to make. Actually, there was no part of it that was especially difficult to do, it’s just that there were so many parts. It uses a lot of dishes. That said, it was interesting for me to make. I’ve not made a terrine before, and there are so many different kinds out there to make. I will absolutely be dabbling in terrine making in the future. They are great because you can fully prepare them ahead if someone is coming over for dinner, and they're really fun.
This one was good too. It tasted like creamy broccoli, which, I guess, it is. The chunks of broccoli gave it a really nice texture too, all very cool and light.
Great fun, though a lot of fuss for broccoli.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chicken Casserole with Coriander Dumplings

8-12 chicken portions
1 litre chicken stock
4 celery sticks, halved
2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
2 red onions cut into wedges
4 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
1 celeriac, finely diced
1 bay leaf
Few thyme sprigs
1 lemongrass stalk
Knob of fresh root ginger, bruised
Sea salt and pepper.

Coriander dumplings:
250g plain flour
100g shredded suet
3 tbsp chopped coriander

Put the chicken in a large oval casserole, add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and bring back to a simmer. Add the herbs, ginger and plenty of seasoning. Cover and simmer very gently for about 40 min until the chicken is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool (this can be done a day in advance)
Skim off any fat from the surface of the casserole. Lift out the chicken pieces, and remove the meat from bone, discarding the skin, then return to the pan and check the seasoning.
Mix the flour, suet and coriander together in a bowl, adding enough cold water to form a pliable dough. Shape into small dumplings.
Reheat the casserole, and when the liquid comes to a boil, drop in the dumplings. Lower the heat, recover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the dumplings are doubled in size and fluffy. Discard the ginger and herbs.

I don’t actually know where this recipe comes from. I have a bunch of old photocopies of recipes that have no identification on them, this was one of those.
This recipe filled the house with such a warm and comforting smell. It was like the food embodiment of getting tucked into bed. Warm and cozy and safe and good.
It takes a little time because you have to let it cool halfway through, but it’s not terribly labor intensive, so if you are going to be around the house anyway, it’s no big deal to make.
It’s not a terribly fancy or guest impressive dish to make, but if you are feeling out of sorts, if you have a cold, or you’re a bit down, I bet this would help you feel better.
Also, dumplings are dead easy, and they rock! My youngest son (Two next month) ate about 6 of them.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sardine Pate

2x125g (4oz) cans of sardines in oil, drained, bones removed
125g(4oz) butter, softened
125g(4oz) low fat soft cheese (cream cheese)
3tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper
Lemon twists and parsley sprigs for garnish

Puree sardines, butter, soft cheese, and lemon juice in a food processor till almost smooth, Add pepper and more lemon juice to taste.
Divide between 8 small ramekins, or one large bowl, and level the surface. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Serve chilled.

This one is from Mary Berry’s Complete cookbook. I don’t know how many people there are out there that like sardines, but if you are one of them (and you know who you are), you absolutely must try this!
Sardines Rock! If you are not fond of “fishy tasting” recipes, stay away from this one at all costs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Parmesan Grissini

Don’t they take a pretty picture?

These are from a book called ”Made in Italy Food & Stories” by Giorgio Locatelli. This is a beautiful book, you should take a look at it. This is the first thing that I have made from it, but I am quite sure there will be many more recipes from it in the future.

(makes about 25)
50g unsalted butter
200g whole milk
10g fresh yeast
375g strong white bread flour, or Italian “00” flour
3 generous tbsp grated parmesan
10g fine salt

Preheat the oven to 230
Melt the butter in a pan, add the milk and heat gently till it is warm to the touch, then whisk in the yeast.
Put the flour, Parmesan, and salt in a bowl, then add a little of the milk mixture at a time, mixing it well and kneading it.
Turn the dough on to a clean work surface, and dimple it with a method called “colomba”
Spread the dough out into a rough rectangle by pressing down with the tips of your fingers (like you would for a foccia), stretching and dimpling the dough at the same time, to create pockets of air that can be trapped. Fold the top third down to the center and dimple it lightly again, then fold up the bottom third over the top and dimple again, then turn the dough 45 degrees and repeat the process.
Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 30 min.
Repeat the dimpling process, cover again, and leave for another 30 min
Cut the dough in half lengthways, flour your work surface and roll each piece out into a big rectangle. Cut the dough across it’s width into strips about 1 cm wide.
Roll each strip with your fingertips, starting at the center and moving outwards, stretching the dough slightly as you go. Press each end lightly with your thumb to make an “ear” shape, lay on a non-stick baking sheet, and leave to rest for 10 min.
Turn the oven down to 180c, and bake for 10-15 min until crisp and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

These were fun, and the boys loved them. The technique he uses really works, they came out really air-y and crispy. Some of them were rolled a little too thick, and those were a bit more bread-y in the middle (as opposed to breadstick-y), but they were all really nice.
It seems a little weird to me to make your own bread sticks, but I guess I just never thought about it. It’s kind of like making your own crackers, it just doesn’t occur to you. Still, I’m glad I tried these. I think that I would make these again too, now that I know how much fun homemade breadsticks are. Just not regularly.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Upside-down Pear and Ginger Cake

This cake takes a horrible picture, and it’s kind of a pain, but it’s well worth it.

100g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
200g plain white flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For pear Base:
100g butter
4 large firm pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1cm slices
1tbsp lemon juice
180g caster sugar
50g stem ginger, finely chopped (ginger that has been preserved in a sweet syrup)
2tbsp ginger syrup from the stem ginger.

Preheat to 180c/350f, and line the sides and bottom of a springform cake tin with buttered greaseproof paper.
To make the pear base:
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Toss the pears in the lemon juice, then add to the butter, and cook gently for about 3 min, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Add the sugar, ginger and syrup and cook for a further 4 min, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon, and arrange at the bottom of the cake tin. Turn up the heat and boil the remaining liquid for about 5 min till a light caramel starts to form. Pour the caramel over the pears and put to one side.
To make the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt over, then gently fold in. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture with a large metal spoon or spatula.

Pour the mixture over the pears, and smooth the surface. Bake for 40 min on a middle shelf, till a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave in it’s tin for 5 min before inverting onto a plate, and unclipping and removing the tin.
Serve warm.

I toyed with renaming this one as “the aggressive ball of rage cake”, but in the end I decided that it was not the cake’s fault, so much as the cookbook’s. The cake it’s self is quite wonderful, but there are a few things that the recipe should have mentioned.

First of all, be sure to wrap the outside of the cake tin with kitchen foil. The syrup leaks out a bit. Actually somewhat more then a bit. It leaked on the counter, on the floor, onto the baking tray I put under it, and still onto the bottom of the oven. It was a leak fest.

Also, something should be said about the consistency of the batter. Usually when you whip up eggs like that, it then involves gently folding them into a batter trying to keep the air in them etc. The mixture that you are adding the eggs into in this recipe, is the consistency of especially hard cookie dough. I actually broke my spatula in two mixing it. The egg just loosens it up. A little warning about that would have been nice.

Also, it says to check it with a toothpick, or cake tester, but it has a wet syrup top, so you have to be really careful to get it in enough to do a real test, but not so much that you touch the wet part (which starts sooner then you would think).

A funny note about this cake, it’s from a cook book called “Cooking Without fuss”, but to date, I believe it to be one of the fussiest things I’ve made.

Now, all of that said, I have to admit that this cake was really quite amazingly good. The day after left-overs were just as good too. I slightly increased the ground ginger and cinnamon, cuz I always do. It was like the perfect soft gingerbread, but with lovely pear compote-ish goodness.

It’s saying a lot about the quality of this cake, when I say that I forgave it, even though I have to buy oven cleaner now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sesame Blancmange with Sweetened Compote of Adzuki Beans

For the blancmange:
4oz/110g sesame seeds
1 pint/570ml whole milk
5oz/150ml water
1.5oz/40g golden caster sugar
one sachet of powdered gelatine (11g)

For the compote:
4oz/110g adzuki beans, pre-soaked in 1 pint of water, soaking liquid reserved
3oz/75g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Place the beans and their soaking liquid in a medium sized saucepan over medium to high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 min, then turn the heat down. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 min, topping with more water if necessary. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and make this up to 10oz/450ml, using cold water.
Return the liquid and the beans to the pan and add half the sugar. Stir to dissolve and continue to simmer for 10 min, this time without a lid. Then add the remaining sugar and salt and simmer till you have a nice syrupy consistency, about 15-20 min. Then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan for about 1 or 2 min, then remove them to a plate to cool. Bring the milk to a boil and add the sesame seeds, remove from heat and leave to infuse until it is completely cool.
Put the water and sugar into a pan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar, boil for a min, then remove from heat and sprinkle in the gelatine powder, stirring until it is completely dissolved.
Now strain the sesame seeds and milk through a fine sieve into a large jug. When you have strained the milk through, press the seeds to extract the last bit of milk.
Add the gelatine mixture to the milk, whisking to combine thoroughly , then pour into four individual mini pudding basins, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge to set.

This was interesting. I had never used gelatin before, so that was totally new to me. It’s fun. I want to make more things into unlikely jello. I found a recipe for using gelatin with broccoli which I am definitely going to try.
This had a really subtle flavor to it. The sesame seeds added the kind of taste that’s really more of a scent, and the fact that it was a milk gelatin made it seem kind of creamy or something. It took a really long time to set completely, but once it did it was just lovely. The compote that goes with it is fabulous! It reminds me of the Chinese pastries that I used to get. It’s really sweet, but not cloyingly so, and the texture of the beans makes it unusual. I really like the compote. I plan on finding other things I can make from it.

Unfortunately I’m not sure where this recipe came from, as it’s just an un-labeled photo copy. I think it might have been from a Delia Smith book, but I don’t know that for sure. I though it would be a fun dessert to have with sushi (which I made again without the over dose of wasabi). It did compliment it really well, and though I plan to find many more fun things to do with gelatin, and with adzuki bean compote, I don’t know that I would make this again. So many desserts in this world, so little time.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hot Pretzels

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 c. milk, scalded, cooled to lukewarm
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 to 4 c. all-purpose flour
2 qts. water
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. water
Coarse salt

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in milk, sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

2. Turn dough onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up and cover. Let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour.

3. Turn onto lightly floured board. Roll into rectangle, 18 x 10 inches. Cut lengthwise into 10 strips, 1 inch wide. Roll strip of dough on lightly floured board with palms of hands until rounded and about 20 inches long. Holding ends of strip, form loop. Twist dough twice at top of loop. Bring ends down and fasten at opposite sides to form pretzel shape. Repeat with all strips. Let rise uncovered on floured board 30 minutes.

4. Heat water in 4-quart Dutch oven to boiling last 10 minutes of rising process. Add baking soda. Transfer pretzels, one at a time, into boiling water solution using large slotted spoon. Boil until dough feels firm but sticky, about 1 minute. Lift out with slotted spoon, allowing water to drain off. Place on well-greased foil-covered baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix beaten egg and water. Brush pretzels lightly with egg mixture; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Bake until crust is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer immediately to wire rack. Makes 10.

TIP: Soft pretzels taste best when they are served hot, right from the oven.

Another on the list of foods from my native land that I miss terribly, and so have decided to learn to cook myself.

I love hot pretzels, big soft hot pretzels with tons of salt, and I prefer them with a bit of mustard too. I looked around at a bunch of recipes, and it seems to me that the big difference between a salt bagel and a pretzel, is it’s shape. No wonder I love them so. I decided to go with this recipe from because it had a little extra sugar in the dough, and milk too. I thought that would help to balance out the copious amounts of salt that they have.

They came out really good. They were smaller then the ones we used to get in New York, but the texture was good. It’s amazing what boiling bread dough will do.

I recommend that you brush the salt back off of the ones for babies, as it is a bit much for them, but these disappeared so fast, it was shocking

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Thank you Kevin, for recommending this one!

Olive oil for frying
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced 2 pounds ground beef or ground round
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup green olives chopped (optional) or 1/4 cup capers (optional)
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in a large frying pan. Fry about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened, then add the ground beef. Mash ingredients into the frying meat.

Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and oregano and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add olives and raisins and simmer 5 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Kevin, who’s been reading the blog recommended this food, as well as this recipe from . It’s a Cuban recipe, and on the web site they say that you could serve it with rice and beans if you’d like. I was going to do that, but I forgot to soak the beans the night before.

I will tell you this, and Kevin told me too, it says that the olives and raisins are optional, but they are NOT! They are very important. I tasted it before and after adding them. Before, well, let’s just say I thought I was going to have to have words with Kevin, but then I tasted it after and oh my god! So good! (I won’t doubt you again). I also added a little of the brine from the olives (again, a tip from Kevin), and I increased the spice, but then I usually do, especially when it comes to cinnamon and clove.

This was really good on it’s own, or with some rice, or would be wonderful as a filling. Kevin used it as a pie filling with some brown sugar on top of the crust. I also saw one book that recommended it as a filling for batter dipped, fried green bell peppers. I bet it would be wonderful for all of those things, I only had a tiny bit left over, and I just ate it for breakfast. Weird breakfast I know, but still tasty.

The spices, even increased, were subtle, and the sweet/salty of the raisins and olives really made it special. My older son mostly just picked out and ate all of the raisins and olives, but my younger son ate it all in great big handfuls. Thumbs up from all around. Really good use for ground beef!

Cheese and Olive Bites

175g/6oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
90g/3oz plain flour
15g/1/2 oz butter, plus extra for greasing
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
20 pimento stuffed green olives
Optional - Cayenne pepper and parsley sprigs to garnish

Work the cheese, flour, butter, paprika, and mustard powder in a food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Turn out and work into a dough, you may need to add a bit of water.
Take a thumb sized piece of the dough mixture, flatten it, and wrap it around the olives.
Butter a baking tray, add the wrapped olives, and bake at 200c/400f for 15 minutes, till golden. Let cool slightly, serve warm or cold.

These are from Mary Berry’s complete cookbook . I love little bite sized food, and I love cheese and olives, so I figured I better try this one.

These were so much fun. I would not recommend them to anyone looking for serious food, but if you like trashy cocktail party type food, then definitely try this one.

The picture had them coming out perfectly round, but that’s really not the case. They get entirely flat on their bottoms, but I don’t see how that could be avoided. The dough is so full of cheesy-ness that you can’t help eating many of them. The boys inhaled them, and so did us grown-ups.

Friday, April 13, 2007



We made sushi! We actually made sushi! It was so cool!

I totally understand how becoming a great sushi chef is all about great artistry and would take a lifetime to perfect… but if you want something better then the pre-made sushi that you can usually get in supermarkets these days, it’s so unbelievably easy!

You have to get sushi rice, but you can get that in a lot of supermarkets these days. What you really need to do is follow the directions on the packet, because different brands will differ slightly in how they need to be prepared. In addition to sushi rice, you will need Mirin, and rice wine vinegar (also widely available in supermarkets these days), mixed with some sugar and salt.

One tip is after it’s cooked, as you mix the rice with the liquid mixture, have someone fan it to cool it down (just using a bit of cardboard or something).

You’ll want a sushi rolling mat too, and of coarse the sea weed for the rolls (again, supermarket)

So you take your mat and lay the sea weed down on top of it. Cover 2/3 of the sea weed with the rice. DIP YOUR HANDS IN SOME WATER WITH VINEGAR IN IT TO KEEP THE RICE FROM STICKING!!! SO IMPORTANT!!! Then add a line of filling across it, slightly off center (towards you, not the rice-less end of the sea weed). Then use the mat to help you roll it up like a cigarette, you even wet the ends a bit to help it stick. Wrap the roll in cling wrap and leave it in the fridge till you are ready to serve it, this helps it stay well formed. When the time comes, cut them into slices (I made each roll into 6 pieces) and arrange them nicely.

I also made some that were not rolls. I don’t know if I can get sushi quality fish, and I certainly didn’t want to risk it, so I used smoked salmon instead. Take a small pan and line it with cling film, and put a thick layer of the rice in the bottom, smoothing it well. Place this in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. When you are ready to use it, take it out and turn it upside down onto a cutting board or plate. Remove the cling film, and cut the rice into squares, then cut the salmon into squares that you can drape over it.

That’s the basic gist of it. The rest is coming up with whatever ingredients you want to have in yours. I made a cucumber roll, and one with crab meat and cucumber. One really odd one with anchovy and cream cheese (actually really good), and one with smoked salmon and cream cheese and chives. I also used some pickled ginger on top of some of them.

One really important thing though. I know that in some sushi places, some of the different varieties have some wasabi (hot Japanese mustard) right in them. Please don't try this at home!!!! It’s really hard to gage how much wasabi you would want. You can taste a little of it, but somehow, it doesn’t translate. Some of ours were almost inedible for the wasabi, and that was a real shame because they were soo good otherwise.

This is something everyone should try! It’s so much fun to do, and it’s so very tasty, and it makes you feel very creative and impressive. I’m going to try again, without wasabi (you can always put it right in the soy sauce for dipping, much better idea). Next time I’m going to try some avacado, and I just got hold of some sweet pickled garlic that I think would be fun.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Green Goddess and a really good salad

2 anchovy fillets or 2tsp anchovy paste
2 small cloves of garlic, peeled
2 scallions, including white and 3 inches of green, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
1tbsp fresh cilantro (or 1tsp dried)
1tbsp fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
1tbsp fresh tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
2tbsp tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream ( I used thick Greek style yogurt instead)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients except the sour cream, mayo and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the sour cream and mayo and run the machine till the dressing is smooth. Season with pepper to taste, running the machine to combine.
Transfer to a clean container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (can last up to a week)

This is from the book Food to Live By and it can be eaten as a dip, or thinned out and used as a dressing. I tried both and they were both wonderful. It has such a fresh and summery taste with all those herbs, and the smell was lovely too. I only switched up the sour cream for yogurt because it was what I had in the house.

This is just a perfect, summer-day-sitting-in-the-yard-with-friends food.

Here’s the salad I made with it…

The other day I had a similar salad at a café, and I wanted to recreate it. The original salad had blue cheese dressing instead of the green goddess, and regular onions, instead of red. Also the cheese guy was out of Stilton, so he gave us another cheese that was very similar, but orange colored)

Here’s what I used to make three huge dinner salads:

1 yellow pepper cut into rings and grilled
1/2 red onion cut into rings and grilled
4 slices of bacon, cooked (that’s British bacon, use more if you are using American)
Stilton(-ish) cheese
A few handfuls of walnuts, toasted
Left over green goddess dressing (I recommend blue cheese if you are not making green goddess)
Mixed salad greens

I used a griddle pan to grill the onion and pepper. I didn’t turn them over and it took somewhere between five and ten minutes to get them to go black on the bottom (which is what I wanted).

All I will say about this salad is that the combination of stilton, bacon and walnuts is not to be missed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Banana maple walnut muffins

"Nuffins" are my three year old's favorite.

Butter, for greasing the muffin cups (unless using liners)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (not regular whole wheat flour)
1&1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1&1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat to 375f, and butter or line your cupcake tin
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Add bananas, and stir to combine.
Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, and stir till just combined. Fold in the walnuts. Do Not Over mix.
Fill the muffin cups almost to the top. Bake 20 – 30 minutes using the toothpick test. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Well, I think I finally cracked it. I’ve had some trouble in the past with the muffins. Historically, they don’t rise very well, and the texture is a bit off. These, however, came out lovely, tall, and ever so tasty.

I got these from the book Food to Live By. Another home run for this book. We all loved these.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Festive Ham

More Hot Ham Water...

3.5kg gammon
2 litres cranberry juice
2 litres apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 onions, halved but not peeled
1 tbsp allspice berries

For the glaze:
Approx 30 cloves to stud the ham
4tbsp cranberry jelly, or 6tbsp cranberry sauce
1tbsp runny honey
1tbsp English mustard powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Put the gammon into a pot and cover with cold water and bring to a boil, then immediately drain and rinse in a colander (or leave in cold water and soak overnight).
Rinse the saucepan and put the gammon back in and add all of the ham ingredients (not the glaze ingredient). If the fruit juice doesn’t cover the ham, add some water. Bring the pan to a boil and cook at a fast simmer for about 3.5 to 4 hours. Partially cover with a lid if the ham is sticking out at all getting dry.
Once it’s cooked remove it from the pot and let it cool till you can touch it. Cut and peel off the rind, and trim some of the fat, leaving only a little. Preheat the oven to 220c. Score the fat into diamond shapes, and stud the points of the diamonds with a clove.
Heat the remaining glaze ingredients, till the jelly (or sauce) melts, and it forms a smooth glaze. Let it bubble till it gets syrupy. It needs to be thick enough so it doesn’t run off the ham as you cook it.
Sit the ham on a piece of foil in a roasting tin. Pour the glaze over the ham so all the scored fat is covered, and cook for 15 minutes.
If you want you can let it cool completely after the boiling, but then you’ll need to bake for about 40 minutes (from room temperature) at 180c, with a quick blast of high heat at the end.

This was from theNigella Lawson book “Feast”. I decided to make it for our Easter dinner, because it looked like a fun way to make a ham. It was.

I will warn you that you should take a close look at your biggest pot before you try this one. Mine is huge, and was still a little too small. Next weekend we are going out to a specialty store to buy the biggest pot ever, so that I can make this again someday.

This was easy, and gorgeous. The long time boiling in the sweet fruit juice really cut back the saltiness of the ham in a beautiful way, and the glaze was so good that it was hard not to just eat pieces of fat off the top.

The leftover ham was so good, that I couldn’t bring myself to make anything out of it, I had to just eat it cold with nothing added.

Hot Cross Buns

For the dough:
150ml milk
50g butter
zest of 1 orange
1 clove
2 cardamom pods
400g bread flour (has to be strong bread flour, not regular)
1 packet easy blend yeast (7g)
125g mixed dried fruit
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 egg

For the egg wash:
1 egg, beaten with a little milk

For the crosses on the buns:
3tbsp plain flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
2tbsp water

For the sugar glaze
1 tbsp sugar
1tbsp boiling water

Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom till the butter melts, then remove from heat and leave to infuse.
Measure the flour, yeast, and dried fruit into a bowl, and add the spices. When the infused milk cools to blood temperature, take out the cardamom pods, and beat in the egg and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients.
Knead till you have a silky elastic dough, form into a ball and place in a buttered bowl covered with cling film. Leave to prove overnight in the fridge (or for an hour to an hour and a half in a warm place).
Preheat to 220c. Take the dough out of the fridge and bring back to room temp. Punch down and knead till elastic again, then break the dough into 16 pieces. Sit them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, snug together but not touching. Using the back of a knife, score the tops of the buns with a cross, and leave to prove for about 45 minutes.
Brush the buns with egg wash, then using a teaspoon dribble the flour, sugar, water mix into two lines in the indents of the cross. Bake for 15-20 minutes. When they come out of the oven, mix the sugar and boiling water and brush it onto each bun to make them shiny and sweet.

These were also in theNigella Lawson book “Feast”. They seemed so complicated at first, but they are not any more difficult then any other bread. And they are really festive and yummy.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about hot cross buns. I seem to like them in theory more then in practice, but I keep trying them periodically, and these are probably my favorite so far. They got rave reviews even though I forgot to add the egg to the dough…oops.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Honeycomb Cannelloni

Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for grating
500g/1lb 2oz good quality cannelloni tubes
olive oil

for the sauce
a small handful of dried porcini
150ml /5.5oz olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely diced
1 large red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 leek, trimmed, outer leaves discarded, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
5 portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
5x400g tins of tomatoes
a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

for the spinach
680g/1&1/2 lb fresh spinach
nutmeg for grating

for a quick white sauce
285ml/1/2 pint single cream
500ml/ 17.5 oz crème fraiche
4 good quality anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
handful of grated parmesan cheese

First find a pan that will hold all your cannelloni, snugly, standing up.

Preheat to 190c/375f
Make your sauce:
Put the porcini in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a pan and add the oil, carrots, celery, onion, and leek. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and portebello. Remove the porcini from the bowl and add to the pan, and cook for another 5 minutes. Strain the porcini liquid into the pot with a wineglass of water. Allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes, and chopped basil stalks, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for up to 45 minutes, then tear in the basil leaves.

Prepare spinach:
Throw the spinach in a pan with a splash of oil , stir and leave it to wilt down. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.

White sauce:
Mix together all white sauce ingredients, and check the seasoning.

Get your baking dish and spoon in about 1/2 inch of the cheese sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and top with the spinach. Ladle in half of your sauce then press the cannelloni tubes down into the sauce. The sauce should come about halfway up the tubes. Spoon over the rest of the sauce, smoothing it down the holes. Pour over the remaining cheese sauce, then sprinkle over some parmesan, drizzle with oil and bake for 45 minutes.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I have been looking at for a while, but just hadn’t gotten around to. I finally tried it the other day and it was excellent. I had thought that the fact that all the cannelloni tubes were standing up was really just kind of funny, and would make me laugh when I did it, and these things are true, but it’s also a lot easier. Anyone who has ever tried to hand stuff a cannelloni tube without breaking it can attest to that.

It’s also different because most of the cannelloni I have had in the past was stuffed with cheese, but these are stuffed with the sauce, which is practically all vegetables (by the way, be sure to mince your vegetables really small or they won’t easily fit into the tubes). In the end it makes them somewhat lighter, and quite a bit healthier I would think.

The combinations of flavors are really wonderful. The cheese sauce is not overpowering, it just blends well, and the spinach layer not only really fills out the dish, but it also meant I didn’t need to make a side green veg to go with it.

The only down side to this dish is that it’s a bit hard to serve without mangling. Not as hard as I thought it would be, but hard enough that it looks a lot prettier in the pot then out. On the other hand, even if you mash it up and smoosh it all together, it will still be delicious!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Waldorf Salad

1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt or sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1tsp grated lime zest
2tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp honey or sugar
1 unpeeled apple, cut into 1/3 inch dice (1 cup)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup pecans, or walnuts, toasted
5 oz, about 6 cups baby spinach or mixed greens

Place the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime zest and juice, curry powder and honey in a small glass or ceramic bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the apple, celery, raisins, grapes, and nuts in a large bowl. Add half the yogurt dressing and stir to combine. Just before serving, add the salad leaves and toss to combine. If the salad is too dry add more dressing.

Any left over dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

This recipe is from Food to Live By. I have to say, this book continues to impress me. This salad is really good. I have never really been a fan of fruit in my green salad, but the mix of flavors and textures works so well here. I think it's because it's not just a green salad with some raisins thrown on, but an almost half and half balance between the greens and the other stuff. Also, the dressing really pulls it together well. I wouldn't have thought that curry would go well in a dressing, but it's really mellow, and it blends everything really nicely.

I had not ever had a waldorf salad before, but I was told that this was an especially good one. I'm looking forward to trying out more and more salads as the weather gets nicer and nicer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fruit loaf

This bread is HUGE! This is a picture of a half eaten quarter of a slice, just to give you an idea of scale.

Basic loaf:
30g/1oz/3X7g sachets dried yeast
30g/1oz honey (or sugar)
625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
1kg/just over 2lbs strong bread flour
30g/1oz salt
Some extra flour for dusting

Fruit mixture:
A pinch of ground cinnamon
1 clove, ground
200g/7oz dried apricots
100g/3&3/4 oz dried dates
200g/7oz raisins
Place the fruit mixture into a food processor and chop very finely.

Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in the tepid water.
Mix the flour and salt, making a well in the middle and pouring in the yeast mixture. Mix together adding in the fruit mixture and forming a dough. Knead for about 5 minutes.
Flour the top of the dough make it into a roundish shape and place it onto a baking tray. Score the top and leave to prove till it doubles in size (probably about 40 minutes). You want a warmish place, and you can cover with cling film to speed the process.
Knock the air out and pack it into a greased and floured bread tin. It should just under fill the tin. Leave it to prove again till it doubles again, then bake at 200c/400f for 50 minutes, remove from the tin and put back into the oven for a final 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

I've been looking into fruit breads lately. So many of them are more cake then bread and I wanted one that would be good for breakfast, or snacks, and wouldn't make the kids nuts with sugar. I found this one in a Jamie Oliver book, and as I trust him implicitly, I went with it.

So glad I found it! SO GOOD! This is great because it uses honey as a sweetner, and although it seems like a lot of honey, if you take the size of the bread into consideration, it's practically none. From the recipe alone it didn't look like it would have all that much flavor, but it was amazing! The spices make the bread all light brown and perfume-y and the bits of fruit are just the perfect amount of sweetness. The crust is really nice too, sort of chewy. This bread is good for everything, breakfast, snack, dessert, whatever. It's just so good that it doesn't need anything on it, although it's amazing with cream cheese too.

I fully and wholeheartedly recommend this bread!

Easy Almond Cake

This is a total cheat because I didn't actually make it. My mom is visiting right now, and she loves cake. She saw this one in the Nigella Lawson book "How to be a Domestic Goddess" and had to try it. It was made in my kitchen, and I was there watching, but I can't actually take the credit.

250g softened butter
250g softened marzipan
150g caster sugar
1/4 tsp almond essence
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs
150g self raising flour

25cm springform tube pan, or patterned ring mould, buttered and floured.

Preheat to 170c/325f
Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in a food processor with the sugar. Process till combined and pretty well smooth. Add the almond essence and the vanilla extract and process again. Add the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time. Tip the flour down the funnel, processing again, and then pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 50 min, but check from 40. When the cake looks golden and a cake tester comes out clean-ish, remove from the oven and cool before turning out.

I know it sounds like this would be overly sweet, with the marzipan and all, but it's really not. It's truely a beautiful thing. It has the consistancy of a pound cake, but really really almond-y. It really was super easy too, and not just because it wasn't me making it. It also kept well and was just as good if not better the next day.

Good Cake!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Chicken Paprikash

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch strips
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2tbsp butter
2tbsp olive oil
1 medium size yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1tbsp minced fresh garlic
2tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
2tbsp flour
1/4 tsp hot Hungarian paprika (optional)
coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)

Keeping the thigh and breast meat separate, season the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
Heat the butter and oil, and add the thigh meat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Then add the breast meat and continue stirring frequently till cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the skillet and soften, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Add the stock and increase the heat to bring to a boil then reduce back to low. Add the chicken with any juices, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a bowl whisk together the sour cream and the flour, and add to the chicken stirring to blend. Cook over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, 3-5 minutes. Do not let the sauce boil or the cream will separate.
Add the hot paprika if using, season to taste and garnish with parsley.

I served this with some wide flat type noodles.

This recipe is all about the quality of your paprika. Without a good one, it's basically going to be just some chicken and onions. I used a really nice smoked sweet paprika and it was really wonderful. I left off the optional hot paprika at the end because of the boys, but I would recommend using it. I think it would make what was a good and super comforting dish, into an amazing and really deeply flavored dish.

This was from a book called Food to Live By, and it was, as with everything I've tried from this book, really exceptional. My youngest loved it so much I had to include a picture of him enjoying it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Filled Focaccia

aka... crazy mutant bread of goodness

For the bread:
9oz/250g strong white bread flour
1tsp easy blend dried yeast
5oz/150ml water
1dsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1tsp salt

For the filling:
Anything you have in the house. I had:

This was a real recipe, but it didn’t really work for me. I was supposed to have a bread maker, which I don’t, and I was supposed to have things like Parma ham, which is pricey, so I kind of took the idea and ran with it.

I mixed the dry ingredients and added in the wet ones and kneaded for about 5 minutes or so, basically till it felt good and springy and compact.

I let it rise once, then cut it in half. I rolled out the bottom as large as I could, and laid it out on a baking sheet. I covered the dough completely with slices of ham, grated the cheese and sprinkled it over the top, then threw on a few torn up olives (they were the black oil cured kind). I rolled out the other piece of dough so that it would cover it all, and after covering it I pinched the ends together so nothing would leak out.

I let it rise for about half an hour, though it didn’t really. Then I poked my fingers into it’s surface to make the classic focaccia look, threw some sliced tomatoes and salt, and the rest of the olives over the top and tossed it into the oven at 200c/400f for 20-25minutes.

It came out like a funny mutant pizza bread thing, but boy was it tasty! For some reason the whole center of it inflated in the oven, though no other part of it did. As It was cooling it sort of fell back to a normal looking thing, but by then we were so distracted by eating it, that who cared?

Because it didn’t rise as it should have, I suppose technically this was a failure, but it was really tasty, and even my older son had many pieces. I’m going to make this again next time I need an easy to transport picnic type food.

Next time I will probably make a bigger dough though, as this one had to be rolled pretty thin.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Hey, sorry I’ve been out of commission for the last couple of days, but I’m all better now, and I have bagels for you!

1kg strong white flour, plus more for kneading
1tbsp salt
7g easy blend yeast, or 15g fresh yeast
2tbsp sugar
1tbsp veg oil, plus more for greasing
500ml warm water, plus more as needed
2tbsp malt or sugar for poaching bagels

Combine flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the sugar and oil to the water. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the liquid. Mix together then knead, adding as much flour as you can. You want this to be a very dry dough. It will be very stiff and hard work, and will take at least 10 minutes.
Form into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turning to coat, then cove with clingfilm and leave to rise about an hour. Punch down and give a good knead, then divide into 3 pieces. Roll each into a rope, then cut into five pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then back into a rope, then curl around to form a ring, pinching the ends together. Sit the bagels on a sheet, cover and leave for about 20 minutes, till they are puffy.
Preheat to 240c, or as high as your oven will go. Boil a pot of water and add the sugar or malt once it is boiling. Drop a couple of bagels at a time into the boiling water for a minute, turning them over halfway through (use two spatulas). Then bake for 10-15 minutes till golden brown.

These are Nigella’s bagels.

These are not in celebration of Passover, as they would be completely inappropriate considering they are leavened and all, but at least they are the right ethnic background. I was going to do some Passover food, but again, was out of commission for a bit.

More importantly though, holiday or not, these are so much fun to make and wonderful and tasty and all things good!

They are not the best bagels I’ve ever had, because I am a New Yorker, so that would be a tall order, but they are really good, and I will make them again and again, and that is saying a lot.

She wasn’t kidding when she said the dough would be tough. This dough is not your friend. It was actually a work out getting it kneaded, but then all the rolling and shaping and boiling were so much fun they totally made up for it. We made some with toppings. After the boiling before the baking. I made a couple of seed covered ones, and a few salt (coarse sea salt), because they are my all time favorite.

My older son (3 years old) got to help and he did really well. He rolled them into ropes and shaped them with little to no help, and they came out great.

Seriously, this is another that is a fun group activity and a great food too!