Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Basic Beans with a Tomato Bread Salad

300g dried Borlotti or Cannellini beans, soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
a sprig of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 stick of celery, trimmed
1 small potato, peeled and halved
2 cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
a few sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Drain and wash your soaked beans. Place them in a deep pot and cover with cold water. Throw in your garlic, herb sprigs, bay leaves, celery stick, potato, and tomatoes. Place the beans on the heat and slowly bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 45 min to an hour, depending on your beans, til soft and cooked nicely. Skim if necessary, topping up with boiling water from the kettle if you need to.

When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander, reserving enough of the cooking water to cover them halfway up when put back in the pot. Remove the garlic, herbs, celery, potato, and tomatoes from the beans. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins, and pinch the skin off the tomatoes. Put the garlic tomatoes and potato onto a plate, mash them with a fork and stir back into the beans. Season well with salt and pepper, and pour in three generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of vinegar. Stir in the parsley.

To Serve:
Toast 2 slices of good quality bread, and tear them into rough chunks. Place in a bowl with a handful of chopped tomatoes, some sea salt and freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a swig of good balsamic vinegar. Spoon some of your beans onto a plate, followed by the bread and tomato mixture.

It says to serve it topped with a slice or two of prosciutto and some baby basil leaves, but I didn’t have any.

This was a Jamie at Home recipe. I made it to use up some beans that I had, which is why there are two differant types of beans in there.

The beans themselves were nice. They had a good flavor, but on their own I would have been a bit disappointed. With the tomato bread salad though, they became a really nice home-y and lovely meal.

I only discovered the idea of bread salads this year, I really like them. It’s a great way to bulk up a side dish to a main dish. Also the balsamic vinegar really livened everything up.

Monday, October 29, 2007


For the lemon salt:
Zest of 1 lemon
4Tbsp sea salt

Sunflower oil
800g Potatoes, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked

To make your lemon salt, bash and mix together the lemon zest with the salt in a pestle and mortar or Flavor shaker until the salt is flavored, colored and fine. Place in a dish. Whatever you don’t use can be dried out a stored. If it gets hard, crush it up a bit before putting it into a jar.

Heat 2-3 inches of sunflower oil in a sturdy pan and bring to deep frying temperature. You can do this by using a thermometer, or by placing a small chunk of potato into the cold oil before you begin to heat it. When the potato is floating and a dark golden brown the temperature will have reached 180c/350f and you’re ready to begin frying.
Pat the potatoes dry with some kitchen paper to remove any excess starch. Making sure you’ve got a slotted spoon and a big pile of kitchen paper to one side, carefully place some of your potatoes into the pan of oil (don’t overcrowd) for a couple of minutes till golden brown and crisp. Cook the potatoes like this in batches until they are all used up. Add the rosemary for the last 30 seconds. Remove the chips and rosemary to the kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil, and then dust with the lemon salt. Serve straight away.

This is really just a basic chip recipe, but I had never made chips before, or ever deep fried anything at all. I figured it was about time I got over my fear of it, and these chips, because they are the extra thin kind, looked a bit more fool proof then regular chunky ones, therefore, they make a good jumping off point.

It was so much fun. When you drop them in, the oil goes crazy, it’s all crazy bubbles. I could tell the batch was getting close to done when all the craziness died down. I found that I had to stir them a bit when they first went in, otherwise they would stick together a little, but a moving them around some in the first minute or so made it fine.

The Jamie Oliver twists to it (it was his recipe), were the rosemary, which I thought added a nice smell in the kitchen, but I didn’t really notice it in the flavor, and the lemon salt. Lemon salt ROCKS! I tried a chip when the first batch came out, and it was good, I liked it. Then I added the lemon salt and they became the best chips ever! There was a mountain of them and they all disappeared so fast. I liked them so much that I made them again the next day, and I tried using a sweet potato too. It worked just as well, though it took a bit longer to cook.

Make these chips, and do not forget the lemon salt whatever you do!

Venison casserole

3Tbsp olive oil
1kg casserole venison cut into 3cm cubes
2 onions thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2Tbsp plain flour
350ml beef or vegetable stock
125ml port or red wine
2Tbsp redcurrant jelly
6 Juniper berries, crushed
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg
175g vacuum packed chestnuts (optional)
Salt and pepper
Baked or mashed potatoes to serve.

Preheat to 150c/300f
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the venison in batches if necessary, and cook until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large casserole.
Add the onions and garlic to the frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8 min, or until golden. Transfer to the casserole. Sprinkle the meat in the casserole with the flour and turn to coat evenly.
Gradually add the stock to the frying pan, stirring well and scraping the sediment from the base of the frying pan, then bring to a boil. Transfer to the casserole and stir well, ensuring that the meat is just covered.
Add the port, redcurrant jelly, juniper berries, cinnamon, a little freshly grated nutmeg and the chestnuts, if using. Season well with salt and pepper and stir well. Cover and cook in the center of the oven for 2 - 2.5 hours.
Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning if necessary.
This casserole benefits from being made the day before and reheated. Store in the refrigerator over night.

This one was from a Marks and Spencer cookbook. It was the first time I cooked Venison, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s an interesting meat, so dark, it almost looks like liver, and it had a different feel to it too. The flavor is really rich, which I was expecting, but still it caught me a bit off guard.

This was a very Christmas-y recipe. It had the cinnamon and nutmeg and chestnuts in it, I could totally imagine making this around the holidays.

The flavors were so rich and warm. To be honest, it was a bit overly rich for me. It might be nice to serve it with rice or couscous to break it up a bit. My husband didn’t think it was too rich at all, he appreciated it’s richness, but thought it was just right, so it’s definitely a matter of taste. If you like very rich foods, give this one a try. I don’t know if I’ll make this again, but I’ll be sure to try more things with venison.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chicken in balsamic vinegar with porcini mushrooms & sun dried cherries served with roast garlic potato puree

This picture does not do it justice, there is no way to do it justice, it is too good to be believed!

For the puree:
A whole head of garlic
Olive oil, salt and pepper
1kg floury potatoes, peeled
125g butter
125ml olive oil
125ml double cream

For the braise:
30g dried porcini mushrooms
8 organic chicken thighs, skinned and boned
2tbsp plain flour for coating
125g pancetta or streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4tbsp dried cherries
250ml red wine
125ml chicken stock
4tbsp balsamic vinegar
400g tin of Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
1tsp arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp cold water
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Roast the garlic. Preheat to 180c slice off the top quarter of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Put the garlic on a piece of foil, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap up and bake till soft and squashy, 35-45 min. Take out of the oven and cool slightly before squeezing out the garlic pulp from the papery skins.
To make the stew, begin by soaking the mushrooms in hand-hot water for about half an hour. Lift them out, squeeze as much water as possible out of them and chop finely. Strain the soaking liquid through kitchen paper.
While the porcini are soaking, flour the chicken by putting the flour and a pinch each of salt and pepper into a plastic bag with the chicken pieces and giving the bag a good shake while holding it tightly closed. In a heavy pan over medium heat, fry the pancetta dice until they crisp and release all their fat. Scoop the pancetta out of the pan, set aside, and put the floured chicken pieces in their fat. Fry until lightly golden on all sides, then lift out of the pan and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until soft and yellow, then stir in the dried cherries and porcini, pour in the wine, stock, vinegar and porcini liquid, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min. Now add the tomatoes and return the chicken and pancetta to the pan. Turn the heat down to a mere flicker and cook gently for 40 min when the chicken will be very tender and the flavors fully developed. Correct the seasoning – you may want to add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Lastly stir in the arrowroot mixed with water to thicken the sauce to a nice coating consistency.
Make the puree while the chicken is cooking. Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until cooked. Drain them, and then put them back in the dry pan over low heat to steam out any wateriness. Using either and electric beater, or sheer muscle power, mash the potatoes to a smooth puree. Then beat the butter, oil, cream, garlic and generous seasoning until the puree is really light and fluffy.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have the same comment about cooking. They hear about a cookbook, and they say “oh, I don’t use recipes, I just look around and see what looks good together”. This is admirable in a way. It’s very important to have the confidence to cook like this. It’s what turns cooking into a way to express yourself. The thing is though, if it’s the only way that you cook, then you are really missing out horribly. Lets face it, there are people that study cooking for year and years, just to become great at one specific area of cooking. The great chefs are always looking to each other, and to sources that they find interesting, to learn more, broaden their horizons, and think of new wonderful combinations of food. So what makes the average Joe think that they can’t benefit from a new perspective or idea.

I think this recipe proves that point nicely. How many of us would be walking through the supermarket and think to ourselves, “oh, those porcini would be great with some of those dried cherries, and a good helping of balsamic vinegar”? I know I wouldn’t have, and I would have really missed out too, because this is one of the best dishes I have ever made. This was so good, I couldn’t believe it came from my kitchen. I saved the little bit of left over sauce, so that I could make some more mashed potatoes to eat it with the next day, this was amazing!

I got this recipe from Favourite Recipes Books For Cooks. It is an all time great book.

Neil , if your reading this, thank you again for this book, and try this one if you haven’t yet!

The sauce was so rich and beautiful, and the thin coating of flour on the chicken kept the inside tender and gave the outside a sort of thin layer of slight chewy-ness that added the perfect texture.

It was also the first time I tried dried cherries. They were really nice, and the few that were left over made a lovely little sweet snack the next day.

There are not enough good words for this recipe. All the plates were practically licked clean.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spiced Red lentil soup w/crispy onion garnish

2Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2tsp ground cumin
175g red lentils
1 bay leaf
1tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground turmeric
2tbsp tomato puree
1 liter hot stock or water
salt, black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the Crispy Onions:
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
4tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander, or flat leaf parsley

4tbsp thick yogurt to serve

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 min. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook until the onions smell really garlicky and spicy, about 2 min. Then tip in the lentils, bay, oregano, turmeric, and tomato puree, give it all a good stir, and pour in the hot stock or water. Bring to a boil and simmer steadily, stirring every now and then for about 40 min, until the lentils have collapsed to a thick, smoothish puree. Thin with water if necessary, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is cooking, make the crispy onions. Heat the oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until thoroughly wilted and browned, about 15 min. Stir in the garlic and coriander, and cook for about 5 more min, to crisp the garlic, and toast the coriander.

Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the hot soup. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, then sprinkle with herbs and crispy spiced onion.

This dish was gorgeous!

I was looking for a way to use up some red lentils that I had laying around, and I found this in Favourite Recipes Books For Cooks. This book is so good, I’ve not had a bad recipe from it yet.

The soup it’s self was beautifully flavored, similar to the Mulligatawny soup that we used to get at Indian restaurants in New York (it’s not really the same when you get it in London, it’s also harder to find). The texture was very comforting, and the crispy onion garnish really put it over the top.

When I first started cooking I never used to make the garnish on dishes like this, I was under the impression that it was just for show, but the flavor and texture of the herbed darkened onions are very definitely more then just pretty.

I whole heartedly recommend this recipe, even if you don’t have the lentils laying around.

Pork and pepper goulash

2kg pork shoulder off the bone, in one piece, skin off, fat left on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 fresh red chilies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 generously heaped Tbsp mild smoked paprika, plus a little extra for serving
2tsp ground caraway seeds
a small bunch of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
5 peppers, use a mixture of colors
1X280g jar of grilled peppers, drained peeled and chopped
1x400g tin of good quality plum tomatoes
4tbsp red wine vinegar
400g basmati rice, or long grain rice, washed
1x142ml pot of soured cream
Zest of 1 lemon
A small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat to 180. Get yourself a deep, ovenproof stew pot with a lid and heat it on the hob. Score the fat on the pork in a criss cross pattern all the way through to the meat, then season generously with salt and pepper. Pour a good glug of olive oil into the pot and add the pork, fat side down. Cook for about 15 min on medium heat, to render out the fat, then remove the pork from the pot and put it to one side.
Add the onions, chili, paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram, or oregano, and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Turn the heat down and gently cook the onions for 10 min. Then add the sliced peppers, the grilled peppers, and the tomatoes. Put the pork back into the pot, give everything a little shake, then pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, put the lid on and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.
You’ll know when the meat is cooked as it will be tender and sticky , and it will break up easily when pulled apart with two forks. If it’s not quite there yet, put it back in a while longer.
When the meat is nearly ready, cook the rice in salted, boiling water for 10 min until it’s just undercooked, then drain in a colander reserving some of the cooking water and pouring it back into the pan. Place the colander over the pan on a low heat and put a lid on. Leave to steam dry and cook through for 10 min. This will make the rice lovely and fluffy.
Stir the soured cream, lemon zest and most of the parsley together in a little bowl. When the meat is done, season to taste, break up the meat and serve with the rice and the flavored soured cream, and sprinkled with the parsley.

I have made various different dishes that involved pork and peppers in the past, but this was by far the best. It came from Jamie at Home.

I think that what really does it, is the combination of the paprika, the regular peppers, the chilli peppers, and then the grilled peppers. All the different strengths of peppers are highlighted, and it gives an amazingly well rounded pepper experience.

Also, any time you read that you’ll know when the pork is done because it breaks up easily with a fork, you know you are making something good.

I skipped the rice and served this with some egg noodles. I’m not sure why, but it worked really well.

It’s one of those dishes that takes a long time to cook, but all of the work is up front, then you just go about your business while it sits in the oven. Great for a weekend feast! Try this!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Date filled pastries – Ma-amoul

75g margerine or butter, softened
175gplain flour
1tsp rose water
1tsp orange flower water
4tsp sifted icing sugar, for sprinkling

For the filling
115g stoned dried dates
1/2tsp orange flower water

To make the filling, chop the dates finely. Add 50ml boiling water and the orange flower water, beat the mixture vigorously and leave to cool.
To make the pastries, rub the margerine or butter into the flour. Add the rose and orange flower waters and 3tbsp water and mix it into a firm dough.
Using your hands, shape the pastry dough into about 25 small balls
Preheat the oven to 180c. Press you finger into each ball to make a small container, pressing the sides round and round to make the walls thinner. Put 1/4 tsp of the date mixture into each one and seal by pressing the pastry together.
Arrange the date pastries, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet and prick each one with a fork. Bake for 15-20 min then cool.
Put the cooled pastries on a plate and sprinkle over the icing sugar. Shake lightly to make sure they are all coated.

These were really good. They are interesting because they are cookies, but the dough they use is much more of a pie crust dough then a cookie dough. It means that it isn’t the easiest to work with, and it’s fairly time consuming to make these, but the crispy crusty dough matches this cookie perfectly.

I’ve also been wanting to try orange flower, and rose water for awhile, and this recipe uses both. Orange flower water is way stronger then I expected it to be. It worked really well in taking the edge off the sweetness of the date filling, which means that these are the kind of cookie you could accidentally eat 25 of without realizing because they are not over the top sweet. Actually, the only sugar in the whole recipe is the little bit that you use to dust them with at the end.

I loved these. If you wanted a sugar free cookie, you could omit the sugar dusting and they would still be very good, but I recommend leaving that little bit of sugar in.

Everybody loved these, they were a big hit, and they are really a store cupboard type cookie, as you could have this stuff laying about for whenever you wanted to make them. I would definitely make them again.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Banana and Honey Bread

Use the same basic bread recipe that was used here.
Varied by using:
6 bananas
8Tbsp good runny honey
Optional: 1 handful of almonds, cracked or chopped

Puree your peeled bananas in a blender. Pour into a measuring jug and top up with water till you have 625ml. At stage one of the recipe, use the banana liquid instead of water. Also add half the honey and nuts to dough at this point, then continue as normal.
At stage 5 divide the dough into 10 balls. Pack these next to each other in a flour dusted baking tin, where they will prove together. Before putting in the oven drizzle with the rest of the honey. Bake at 190c/375f for 20 min.

These were Jamie Oliver, so imagine my surprise when they didn’t come out very well. I’d been wanting to make them for a long time, because I love the idea of substituting the liquid in the bread with mashed up bananas, but our bananas always got eaten up before they were ripe enough to use for baking. I finally got a chance the other day, but I messed it up.

Bread making is actually so much easier then people think, but there are a few cardinal rules that you must heed. One is proper rising, and I know that. If you don’t let the bread rise properly, then it will not be good. I don’t know what I was thinking, but the kitchen was cold (no good), and I was short on time (the bread doesn’t care), and I remember thinking that it was really not ready, but I went on with it anyway. The result was really dense kind of hard, and very yeasty tasting rolls. Not what you want to end up with. They were not inedible, but that’s not really good enough is it.

I am sure that the recipe is sound, and I was just being silly, so I am going to try to make this again. I just have to wait for another batch of bananas to avoid my son’s notice long enough to get ripe enough to try again.

In case you are going to try making bread at home, here’s a good tip. Do it on the same day you do laundry. When it comes time for the rising, put the bread in a bowl with cling film over the top (put some oil on the inside of the cling film so the dough doesn’t stick to it). Then put the bowl near the dryer (not on it because you don’t want it to be shaken). The heat, and the cling film will help it rise well and quickly. A cold kitchen is not conducive to good bread.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ruth’s Mom’s Apple Chutney

2lb apples
1/2lb each of pears, tomatoes, and onions
1/2 tsp each of mace, cayenne pepper, pepper, cloves, white pepper, and ground ginger
1/4lb raisins
1/4lb sultanas
2 pints of vinegar
1 tsp salt
2lbs sugar

Chop up fruit very finely.
Add all ingredients except the sugar to a pot and simmer for 2 hours.
Add sugar till completely dissolved, and boil rapidly till the desired consistency.

I got this recipe from my friend Ruth. She made a batch right before I did, and warned me that hers came out a little liquidy, so I took that into account while cooking it. I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do, but after the sugar was all dissolved I let it boil and reduce down with no lid for about 30-45 min. It worked like a charm, the chutney came out nice and thick and has a really beautiful flavor.

This makes a big batch, I used about 4 canning jars to keep it all. Ruth gave me a tip about sealing the jars too. She said that when her mom used to make this she would use lard to seal the jars. You melt it down to a liquid, fill the sterilized jars with the chutney, and then pour on a layer of lard, which will harden into an air tight seal (you put a lid on too obviously). From what I understand, jars sealed this way can last years. I was told that Trex would work too, though it won't harden quite as much, but that’s what I had in the house, so that’s what I used.

This was a really fun process, and the chutney is great! If you are reading this Ruth, Thank you!

Lentil loaf

250g red Lentils
500ml stock
1 bay leaf
15g butter or margerine, softened
2tbsp dried wholemeal breadcrumbs
250g grated mature cheddar (sharp)
1 leek, chopped finely
125g button mushrooms, chopped finely
90g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs beaten lightly
Salt and pepper

Put the lentils, stock and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the lentils have softened. Discard the bay leaf.
Meanwhile, base-line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment. Grease with the butter or margerine and sprinkle with the dried breadcrumbs.
Stir the cheese, leek, mushrooms, fresh breadcrumbs and parsley into the lentils.
Bind the mixture together with the lemon juice and eggs. Season well and spoon into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top and bake in a preheated 190c/375f oven for 1 hour till golden.
Loosen the loaf with a palette knife (spatula) and turn onto a warmed serving plate. Garnish with parsley and serve with roasted vegetables.

There are countless versions of this, the meatless meatloaf. I have a favorite version that I have been making for years that uses brown rice and nuts, but I figured it was time to try a new one.

I’m glad I did, this was a really nice change. It didn’t have the meaty texture that the rice nut loaf has, but the flavor was beautiful. I used a sharp-ish cheddar, and I would recommend doing that because it seems to be where most of the flavor comes from.

The boys wouldn’t touch it at first, but when we finally convinced them to try one bite, they realized that they actually liked it a lot, and they ate their whole servings.

I liked this, and would try it again. It also made me realize that with all the variety of meatless meatloaves out there, I really need to sample some others.

Onion Soup

A good knob of butter
Olive oil
A good handful of fresh sage leaves, 8 leaves reserved for serving
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
5 red onions peeled and sliced
3 large white onions, peeled and sliced
3 banana shallots, peeled and sliced
300g leeks, trimmed washed and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 liters good quality stock
8 slices of good quality stale bread
200g freshly grated Cheddar Cheese
Worcestershire Sauce

Put the butter, 2 glugs of olive oil, the sage and garlic into a thick bottomed, non-stick pan. Stir everything around and add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for 50 min, without coloring the vegetables too much. Remove the lid for the last 20 min. Stir occasionally so that nothing catches on the bottom.
When your onions are lovely and silky, add the stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 min. You can skim the fat off the surface, or leave it there to add flavor.
Preheat the oven or grill to maximum. Toast your bread on both sides. Correct the seasoning of the soup, then ladle it into heatproof bowls and place them onto a baking tray. Tear toasted bread over each bowl to fit it like a lid. Feel free to push or dunk the bread into the soup a bit. Sprinkle with some grated cheddar and drizzle over a little Worcestershire sauce.
Dress your reserved sage leaves with some olive oil and place one on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking tray into the preheated oven or under the grill to melt the cheese till bubbling and golden.

This was from Jamie at Home. It was fun to make because of the cheese under the grill part, the slicing a million or so onions was not quite as much fun, but you could use a food processor to do that part.

This came out really wonderfully, both the soup it’s self, and the fabulous grilled bread and cheese top (which is why I always loved this soup so much when I was younger). Apparently the key is using as many different types of onions as you can get your hands on, for the variety of flavor.

One quick warning though, the leftovers, if you have any, turn a really strange and unappetizing color. I think it’s the red onions that do that. I’d recommend making a half a batch, unless there are a lot of you eating it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rolled shoulder of Lamb with Capers and Anchovies

1 boned shoulder of lamb, about 1.5-2kg
6 anchovy fillets in oil
1Tbsp capers
2 garlic cloves
a small bunch of fresh parsley, stalks removed
1 tsp mustard
a good squeeze of lemon juice
1Tbsp olive oil (from the anchovies if you like)
1 glass of white wine
1 wine glass of water
Freshly ground black pepper

With your biggest knife or mezzaluna, chop the anchovies, capers, garlic and parsley together on a large board till all are well mixed and fairly fine. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with a few twists of black pepper.
Lay your joint skin side down and spread the mixture generously all over the inside of the meat. Roll up the joint and tie it securely with butchers string. Place in a roasting tin, and put in the center of a hot oven 220c. After about half an hour, when the joint should be nicely browned, pour over the wine and water (this will give you a delicious gravy). Turn the oven down to 160c, and cook for a further 30-60 min (15 min per 500g, if it’s over 2kg, then 12 per 500g). Rest for at least 20 min before carving.
You can make a gravy from the juices.

This was really easy. If you are going to make a roast anyway, this is just an extra five minutes. I got this recipe from The The River Cottage Meat Book. This book is amazing, I’ve not ever been disappointed by it.

I didn’t get out to the butcher shop, so I wound up using a pre-rolled joint from the supermarket. It was no problem, I just unrolled it, then rolled it back up again. If I had bought a boned shoulder from a butcher shop it would have been a nicer cut of meat, but this one did just fine.

Just as a side note, I do not have a mezzaluna, but I aspire to own one some day.

This was really easy, and really delicious too. Even the boys loved it, and they usually don’t like lamb.

Potato and Salmon salad

600g new potatoes, washed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
A splash of red wine vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive oil
2Tbsp capers, soaked and drained
1X3cm piece of fresh horseradish, peeled, or grated horseradish from a jar, to taste
150ml crème fraiche
a small dish of fresh dill or fennel tops, roughly chopped
400g sliced smoked salmon

Pick out the larger potatoes and halve them, making them roughly the same size as the small ones. Put all of the potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water. Boil for 15-20 min until the potatoes are just cooked, and drain in a colander.

Put the lemon zest and half the lemon juice into a bowl and add the vinegar. Pour in three times as much extra virgin olive oil as vinegar, and add the capers. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Mix everything well, then add the warm potatoes and toss around till they are well coated

Finely grate the horseradish into a bowl – be confident with the amount you use as you need the heat to go with the salmon and potatoes – and mix it into the crème fraiche with the remaining lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Sprinkle most of the dill or fennel over the cooled potatoes and toss again.

Lay your smoked salmon out on a large platter, and pile the dressed potatoes on top. Dollop over the horseradish crème fraiche, drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle over the rest of the dill or fennel.

This is from Jamie at Home.

Easy to make, so beautiful!

I used horseradish from a jar, because I can’t get it fresh out here. I would say you’ll probably want a little more if it’s jarred, but just taste it as you go. The flavor combination was amazing. I love all the separate parts of this salad, I love potatoes, smoked salmon, dill, and horseradish, so it was a pretty safe bet that I was going to like this.

I served it with some salad greens as well to make a full dinner out if it. It was really lovely.

For the record, the boys liked the salmon, but they just weren’t ready for the horseradish experience. We’ll try it again someday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pasta with Broccoli and Blue Cheese Sauce

300g dried Tagliatelle
250g broccoli, broken into small florets
350g mascarpone cheese
125g blue cheese, chopped
1tbsp chopped fresh oregano
30g butter
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan to serve

Cook the tagliatelle according to the instructions on the packet.
Meanwhile, cook the broccoli florets in a small amount of boiling salted water. Avoid overcooking the broccoli so that it retains it’s color and texture.
Heat the mascarpone and blue cheeses together gently in a large saucepan until they are melted. Stir in the oregano and season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta thoroughly. Return it to the saucepan and add the butter, tossing the tagliatelle to coat it. Drain the broccoli well and add to the pasta with the sauce, tossing gently to mix.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan

This recipe is exactly how you’d expect it to be. Tasty, comforting, rich, and lovely. It tastes similar to an Alfredo sauce, but with a blue cheese bite to it. I got it from a new vegetarian cookbook that someone gave me. I’ll be doing some more recipes from it later this week.

This is another super quick sauce that can be done before your pasta is finished cooking, so it’s also an easy after-work meal. Slightly surprisingly, the boys couldn’t get enough of it. I was worried that the blue cheese would put them off, but they loved it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hot and Sour Rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles

1kg Pork belly, boned, rind removed, cut into 3-4 cm cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Groundnut or vegetable oil
375g medium egg noodles
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
2 punnets of interesting cresses (such as coriander, shiso, or basil cress)
a bunch of coriander
2 limes

For the Marinade:
400g rhubarb
4Tbsp runny honey
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh chillies, halved and deseeded
1 heaped tsp five spice
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

Preheat to 180c/350f
Place the pork pieces in a roasting tray and put to one side. Chuck all the marinade ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste, then pour this all over the pork, adding a large wine glass of water. Mix it all up, then tightly cover the tray with tin foil and place in the preheated oven for about an hour and thirty minutes.

Pick the pieces of pork out of the pan and put to one side. The sauce left in the pan will be tasty and pretty much perfect, but if you feel it needs to be thickened slightly, simmer on a gentle heat for a bit until it is reduced to the consistency of ketchup. Season to taste, adding extra soy sauce if necessary, and put to one side.

Put a pan of salted water on to boil.
Add a good drizzle of oil to a pan or wok. Add your pieces of pork to the wok and fry for a few minutes till crisp and golden. You might need to do this in two batches. At the same time, drop your noodles into boiling water and cook for a few minutes, then drain most of the water away. Divide the noodles into four warmed bowls immediately, while they are still moist.

To finish, spoon over a good amount of the rhubarb sauce. Divide the crispy pork on top, and add a good sprinkling of spring onions, chili, cresses and coriander. Serve with half a lime each.

I had to try this one because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rhubarb recipe that wasn’t a dessert before. Rhubarb is so much fun to have around, it’s so pretty and I always believed that there should be other uses for it. It was also my first opportunity to use my brand new meat cleaver. I’m very excited to have one. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while, and I found one at a good price. It’s really a lot more helpful then I thought it would be, I love it.

So this recipe is from Jamie at Home. It’s not the lowest maintenance recipe in the world, but it is totally worth it. This is so good! The use of rhubarb here is really wonderfully creative. It is all pureed into the sauce, so you don’t see it anywhere, but it adds the greatest tangy-ness to it. The mix of flavors is really amazing. This was my husband’s favorite out of all the Chinese or Chinese style dishes that I’ve made. It’s the tail end of the rhubarb season right now as far as I can tell, but every time it comes back in season, I’ll be pulling out this recipe. I may even grow some myself.

I did the final steps of pulling out the pieces of pork and frying them and reducing the sauce, and it really did add a nice finishing touch, but I think it would be worth trying it without those steps if, like me, those moments right before dinner are a little hectic. Also, I had no interesting cress. I can’t really get that. It would have been nice, but omitting it is not going to kill the dish by any stretch of the imagination.

Linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms

225g chestnut mushrooms
80 ml olive oil
1Tbsp Maldon salt, or 1&1/2 tsp table salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
zest and juice of one lemon
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped to give 1 tsp of leaves
500g linguine
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper

Slice the mushrooms finely, and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, and thyme leaves.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, and drain loosely, retaining some water. Put the pasta in a bowl with the mushroom mixture.
Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before tossing again.

This is so good. It is yet another from Nigella Express. I’m really enjoying this book. They really are all easy to make quick prep dishes, It’s going to totally spoil me.

This is a non-cook pasta sauce, which are really nice sauces to get into, because they are super fast to make, and they tend to have a really fresh clean taste to them. This sauce will probably be ready before your water is even boiling. Ever so slightly longer then popping open a jar, this is the way to go. And the flavors of this one are so refreshing and light tasting. They make a very summery tasting pasta, that is still totally warming and comforting.

If you are missing the sunshine already, and feel in need of a bit of food therapy, try this dish!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Breakfast bars

397g can condensed milk
250g rolled oats (not instant)
75g shredded coconut
100g dried cranberries
125g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
125g natural unsalted peanuts

Preheat to 130c and oil a 23x33x4cm baking tin, or use a throw away foil one.
Warm the condensed milk in a large pan
Meanwhile mix together all the other ingredients, then add the warmed milk and fold to combine. Spread the mixture into the tin and press down to even the surface.
Bake for 1 hour then remove from the oven and cool on a rack for about 15 min before cutting into 16 bars (four across and four down). Let cool completely.

Too easy, really good, last for ages (Up to a week) in a Tupperware container. Some might find it too sweet for breakfast (not me), but they still make excellent and filling snack bars. Seriously, just mix and bake, it’s as easy as instant food.

Thanks Nigella Express.

I used salted peanuts because that’s what I could find, and they were absolutely fine. I also used a baking trick of coating my hands with flour so that I could squash down the mixture into the pan without it sticking too much. Nigella says to use gloves, but if you don’t have any, try the flour trick.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tomato soup

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
A handful of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
Olive oil
6 Tbsp double cream
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
1kg super ripe tomatoes
1.1 liters/2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the onion, garlic, carrot and basil stalks into a large pot with a couple of lugs of olive oil. Cover the pan and simmer gently without coloring for 20 min, stirring every couple of minutes. Whisk together the cream, vinegar and egg yolks in a small bowl and leave to one side. While the veg are simmering, drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins and roughly chop the flesh. Add these to the veg, then pour in the stock and simmer for a further 20 min with the lid on. At this point it’s nice to puree the soup using either a food processor, a liquidizer, or a hand held blender, but be careful, as it will be hot. Once it’s pureed, bring it back to a simmer and season very carefully with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, to enrich the soup and give it a shine and silky texture, whisk in the cream mixture (don’t reboil it after adding the egg yolks or it will scramble) and serve straight away, sprinkled with a few torn up basil leaves if you like.

Any one who has kids knows that in those early school years, you catch every cold that goes around. In the midst of the most recent one, I got a strong craving for some tomato soup. I always find it to be the most comforting when I’m flu-y, and we happened to have a batch of tomatoes that we grew sitting around.

Just as an aside, that makes it sound like I’m a really earthy gardening sort, which is not true. I hope to be someday, and these tomatoes were a first step in that direction. We managed to get some fresh parsley, thyme and we almost had cucumbers, but some roving animal ate them all down to the nubs right when they were about to be ready for picking…

Anyway, I looked to Jamie Oliver, and I found this soup.

I didn’t have any cream, so I used some crème fraiche instead. In such a small amount I didn’t think it would make a big difference.

It was spot on perfect. This was the ideal of tomato soup. This was like a day off to rest, in a bowl. It was just what I needed, and in the future, when ever I have a cold, I am going to have to make a batch of this. My husband said that this soup alone is a good reason to grow more tomatoes next year.

By the way, I only had half the amount of tomatoes needed, and a half batch comes out fine.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Maple Chicken ‘n’ Ribs

12 pork spare ribs
12 chicken thighs
250ml apple juice, as sharp as possible
4 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, halved
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Put the meat into large freezer bags or into a dish.
Add the remaining ingredients, squelching everything together well before sealing the bag, or covering the dish.
Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or up to two days
When it comes time to cook them, preheat to 200c. Pour everything out into one or two large roasting tins, making sure the chicken is skin side up. Place in the oven and cook for about an hour and a quarter.

These were another super easy prep in advance virtually nothing to do on the day of recipe. I tried it because it looked easy and good and I’m always looking for another good sticky sauce for ribs. Also I liked the idea of chicken and ribs all in the same tray. No extra work, but more selection.

These were as dead easy to make as it looked, and the sauce came out wonderfully sticky and flavorful. All good.

Thanks Nigella Express.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turkey with pickles and dill

Bad picture, good food.

5 anchovy fillets
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 small turkey breast fillets (approx 400g total weight), beaten as thinly as possible, each fillet then cut in half
2 Tbsp vermouth
2 gherkins, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh dill

Heat the anchovy fillets and oil in a large, heavy based frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the fillets begin to melt in the pan
Flash fry the turkey in the same pan, cooking a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the meat to a warm serving plate.
Add the vermouth and chopped gherkins, and let the liquid reduce and sizzle for a minute or so.
Pour over the plated turkey and sprinkle with the chopped dill

This is one of the super quick recipes from Nigella Express.

I don’t do a lot of cooking with turkey, and I love gherkins, so I figured I’d give this one a try.

As far as quickness and ease of preparation I have to say, this is amazing. I did the little bit of chopping in advance, just the pickles and such. Which was a good thing, because my youngest had a total episode right when it came time to make dinner. He was having a high need evening, and would not stand for being put down. This was so easy to make that I was able to do it while holding a very heavy, very cranky two year old, and with minimal outside help. How handy is that?

In addition, it was really good! The smell of fresh dill alone is a good reason to make this, and although the idea of a pickle sauce seems a bit weird, it actually comes out really beautifully and not at all over the top.

I am surely going to make this again.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pork and Balsamic Potatoes

I'm listing this under vegetables too, because the potatoes are cooked totally seperately, and they are so good that everyone should try them.

1.5kg medium sized waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
200g butter, cubed
a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, quartered or smashed
5 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
350ml cheap balsamic vinegar

For the pork:
A small bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 Tbsp freshly ground fennel seeds
1.5kg Boneless rolled pork lion, skin off, fat scored in a criss cross pattern
olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
4 bay leaves
2 wine glasses of white wine
extra virgin olive oil

preheat to 200c
Put the potatoes into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 8 min, then drain and return to the pan. Chuff them up a bit by shaking the pan.
To prepare the meat, scatter the rosemary leaves over a large chopping board. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper and the ground fennel seeds. Roll the pork across the board, pressing down hard so all the flavorings stick to it.
Get a large roasting tray that your pork will fit snugly into, and place it over medium high heat, pour in a little olive oil and place the pork in, fat side down, sprinkled with any leftover flavorings from the board. After a few minutes, when it is lightly golden, turn it over and add the garlic cloves, onion, celery, and bay leaves. Place on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven for an hour, basting it halfway through. (For the last 20 min, you may need to cover the pork with a bit of damp greaseproof paper to stop it coloring too much.
Get another roasting tray, into which you can fit all the potatoes on one layer, and heat it on the hob. When hot, pour in a glug of olive oil and add the butter rosemary and garlic. Add the potatoes and toss them in all the flavors. Add the onions and all the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 min on the hob to reduce the balsamic vinegar a little. Place the tray on the top shelf of the oven and cook for around 50 min, removing the tray to toss the onions and potatoes half way through.
After an hour the meat should be cooked. Prick it with a sharp knife, and if the juices run clear, it’s done, if not then put it back in for another 10 –15 min. Let it rest for 10 min before slicing. Pour away most of the fat from the tray, and mask up the garlic and onion. Place the tray over the hob and add the white wine. Simmer till the liquid has reduced by half, scraping all the meaty marmite-y goodness off the bottom to make a tasty little sauce, season if necessary.

This is from the new Jamie Book, Jamie at Home. I wanted to try it as soon as I saw it in the book, but I put it off a bit, then I saw him make it on his tv show, and I had to make it the very next day. It’s the idea of red onions, potatoes, and a half a ton of balsamic vinegar roasted together. What a good idea.

These were just as good as I hoped they would be. They smelled wonderful, they looked wonderful, they tasted incredible, and they were all coated in sticky balsamic loveliness. My husband decided they were his favorite potatoes ever.

The pork was really good too. It came out nicely spiced, and really tender. I enjoyed the pork a lot, but I love the potatoes. I will make these again, any time I find something they might work well with.

It was also really easy to make. I don’t have a roasting tin that can go on the stove top, and also in the oven, so I used the trick of heating up the roasting pan in the oven, while I cooked the vegetables in a frying pan. When it came time to transfer them to the oven, I just poured them into the pre-heated pan. That was fun, because it bubbled up and smelled nice. I use that trick anytime I’m supposed to have a tray that does both.

Try this recipe! Even if you don't eat pork, try these potatoes!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Truffle Torte

25g butter, plus some for greasing
100g ammaretti biscuits
450g dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids)
4Tbsp liquid Glucose
4Tbsp rum
568ml tub of double cream at room temperature
Cocoa Powder to serve

Line a 23cm cake tin with baking parchment, then grease the base and sides with soft butter. Melt the butter in a small pan. Crush the biscuits, mix together with the butter, then spread over the base of the tin.
Break the chocolate into squares, and put them in a heatproof bowl with the liquid glucose and rum. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, then leave it until the chocolate has melted and becomes slightly smooth. Stir then take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, beat the double cream until only very slightly thickened. Fold half into the chocolate mixture, then fold that mixture into the rest of the cream. When blended and smooth, spoon it into the prepared tin. Tap the tin gently to even the mixture out, then cover with cling film and chill overnight.
Just before serving , run a warm knife round the edge to loosen the torte, then remove from the mould. To serve, dust the surface with sifted cocoa powder.

This was over the top. It was just way too much for me. It was really good for what it was, but it’s not my favorite kind of cake.

I have never made a flourless cake before, and I wanted to try one out. I’ve also never used glucose syrup in cooking before, so there were a couple of new things here. I liked the idea of a cake that sets in the fridge overnight instead of baking, because it means no prep at all on the day of. I also chose it because I have a super soft spot for ammeratti biscuits.

Like I said, it was good if you only eat a tiny tiny sliver. Any more then that and you might overdose on chocolate, then again some people like that. Actually, I don’t feel that my cake was a totally accurate representation of the recipe, because I made one small but powerful mistake. I was talking to my son for a minute while I was whipping the cream, and in the instant I looked away, it bypassed “slightly thickened” and went almost all the way to butter. The cream being as thick as it was made this more of a mousse cake consistency then the original soft chocolate pudding-y (that’s pudding in the American sense) one I was looking for.

In the end, if you are a die hard chocoholic, try this cake… just be sure to keep your eye on the cream, and don’t go too heavy on the rum, the alcohol is not being cooked out of it.
This came from Good Food Magazine.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sesame Noodles

For the dressing:
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp garlic oil
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Sweet chili sauce
100g smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp lime juice

For the salad:
125g Mangetout
150g beansprouts, rinsed
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small strips
2 spring onions, finely sliced
550g ready prepared egg noodles
20g sesame seeds
4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients
Put all the salad ingredients except the sesame seeds and the coriander in a bowl.
Pour the dressing over and mix to coat everything well.
Sprinkle with seeds and coriander.

Another from Nigella Express.

These were super easy to make. I did a lot of the prep in advance, chopped the veggies and made the sauce in an empty jar and left it all in the fridge overnight. That way when it came time to eat, all I had to do was empty the veggies, the noodles, and the sauce into a big bowl and mix it up. Great for when you are having people over and you’re short on time.

I made another version of sesame noodles once before, and it was really good too, and could be made from basic store cupboard ingredients, but this one is more substantial as a full meal because of the veggies, they also add a really nice crunch. If I was thinking about it in advance enough to pick up some sprouts and a pepper, I would totally make this version.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Croque Monsieur Bake

6 slices ready sliced multigrain brown bread
75g Dijon mustard
125g (6 slices) of Gruyere slices
70g (3 slices) ham
6 eggs
1tsp maldon salt, or 1/2 tsp table salt
80ml full fat milk
4 Tbsp grated gruyere, emmental, or cheddar
Good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce

Spread each slice of bread with mustard. Make sandwiches by laying the cheese against the mustardy bread, and a slice of ham between them. Cut each sandwich in half to make two triangles.
Squish the sandwich triangles into an ovenproof dish approx 27x21x6cm
Beat together the eggs salt and milk and then pour this over the sandwiches tightly packed in the dish.
Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight
Next morning, preheat to 200c, remove the cling film, sprinkle with the grated cheese and Worcestershire sauce and bake in the oven for 25 min.

This was a total triumph of a breakfast dish. I don’t normally do a breakfast thing, but this was so good that I will definitely do it again. Also it all gets done the night before, so it requires no real waking up to make.

I got this from the new Nigella book Nigella Express.
She’s so good. This took no time at all to put together, and then it just sits in the fridge over night. It really did absorb all the egg too. I thought it would be more of an egg pie, but when I took it out in the morning, in my sleepy state, I was concerned that I had somehow lost all the egg. Then I woke up enough to realize that was silly, and I popped it in the oven. It was sooooooo good. It was all oozy and cheesy and eggy and just said breakfast in the nicest way. I will do this again, many times.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chicken Piccata

1/4 cup flour
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

preheat the oven to 250
Remove the tenders from the chicken breasts and put them aside for another use.
Place a chicken breast half in between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Gently pound the chicken breast with the smooth side of a mallet, or with a rolling pin, or heavy skillet, till it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Season the breasts with salt and pepper, lightly dip both sides of the breast into the flour and shake off the excess.
Heat 1 Tbsp of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook till it is golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over, cover the skillet and cook until they are cooked through, about 1 to 2 min. Can be done in two batches if necessary.
Transfer the breasts to an oven safe platter, tent them loosely with kitchen foil, and place them in the oven to stay warm.
Add the wine to the skillet and using a spoon or spatula, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Let simmer till all but about 1 Tbsp of the wine is evaporated, 1 to 2 min. Add the lemon juice, stock, and capers, and let simmer until the flavors are concentrated, about 1 min.
Add the remaining 2 Tbsp butterand the lemon slices and parsley to the sauce and stir until the butter melts, about 1 min. Remove the chicken breasts from the oven, pour over the sauce and lemon slices, and serve immediately.

This was from Food to Live By. It’s a really good book, it’s in my top favorites list.

This was quite possibly my favorite chicken dish ever. Seriously, this dish rocked my chicken eating world. Try this! Right away!

In addition to being so good that I wanted to eat it every night, it was also really quick and easy to make. It was the first time I ever pounded a chicken breast flat, and that was interesting. I had no idea you could pound it out so big and flat without hurting it. That part took a bit of time, probably more because I have never done it before. The actual cooking took almost no time at all. There is a part about keeping the chicken in a low oven while you make the sauce, and I did do that, but I don’t think it was entirely necessary. The sauce took minutes to make, so unless you have a really cold kitchen there shouldn’t be time for the chicken to get cold. Then again, it’s not as if it’s difficult to do, so why not.

With a dish like this, with such a short cooking time, it’s really important that you have all your ingredients chopped and prepped in advance, then the cooking is a walk in the park.

I will make this over and over and over again. I love it!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Orleans Cole Slaw

1 head of white or savoy cabbage about 1 kg before trimming
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
4 spring onions
200g best-quality store bought mayonnaise
4 Tbsp buttermilk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp apple or cider vinegar
100g pecans, fairly finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim and shred the cabbage
Peel and grate the carrots, and finely slice the celery and spring onions
Whisk together the mayo, buttermilk, maple syrup, and vinegar, and coat the vegetables with it
Season and toss through the chopped nuts.

This is so good. I was never a huge coleslaw fan, but when you are in the mood for it, it can be really satisfying. I figured it couldn’t hurt to know how to make a good one. I tried a couple of recipes that looked nice, and this one was my favorite. It had a sweet creaminess to it that worked really nicely with the pecans. I tried another cole slaw recipe after this one, but it was pointless, my heart already belonged to the New Orleans Cole Slaw. Try this one, it’s from Nigella Express, you’ll see what I mean.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

12 chicken drumsticks
500ml buttermilk
60ml vegetable oil, plus 2X15ml tablespoons
2 cloves garlic, bruised and skins removed
1X15ml Tbsp crushed peppercorns
1X15ml Tbsp Maldon or 1&1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1X15ml Tbsp maple syrup

Place the chicken in a large freezer bag, and add the buttermilk and 60ml oil. Add the garlic, crushed peppercorns, and salt. Sprinkle in ground cumin, and finally, add the syrup, then squish everything around to coat the chicken.
Leave in the fridge overnight, or out of the fridge for at least 30 min and up to 2 hours.
Preheat to 220c. Take the chicken out of the bag, shaking off the excess marinade, and arrange them in a roasting tin lined with foil.
Drizzle the 2 remaining Tbsp of oil over the chicken and roast about 30 min, until brown, even scorched in parts, and juicily cooked through.

So good. So easy. Do it now.

This is from Nigella’s new book Nigella Express.
(buy it! I love it! She’s fabulous!). It’s all time saver recipes, just easy stuff to throw together, and it really is. The recipes look gorgeous, and I always love the things she has to say too.

This is great because you just throw everything in a bag when you have time, then go off and do whatever, and when you are ready, throw it in a tray in the oven. That’s it. Done.

It comes out beautiful and tender and flavorful. I will do this again.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Red Velvet cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Red Velvet Cake: In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

Cream Cheese Frosting: In your food processor, or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and place the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or until it is firm enough to spread.

Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut.

Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) four layer cake.

Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups heavy whipping cream

1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

I’ve never made this type of cake before, but my brother was out here visiting, and it was his birthday, and this is favorite cake, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I looked up a bunch of recipes on line, and I found this one at JoyofBaking.com It looked like the most interesting, partly because the frosting looked better then the others.

The interesting thing about this cake, which I have never seen before is the Baking soda and vinegar combo. All of the recipes for this type of cake had that. It’s a cool thing, you mix the vinegar and baking soda and it fizzes up like crazy, then you mix it in. I’m not sure, but I would be willing to bet that was what gave it such a great lightness, and fabulous texture in general. As for the “red” of the red velvet, it was actually just red food coloring. I was a little disappointed, I thought there would be something special in it that gave it a redness, otherwise, what’s the point? Still this cake rocked. I totally loved it! The frosting looks like it would be a big pain, because it’s in two parts, but it’s really no big deal at all, and you do it in advance too, so it’s totally out of the way, and ready when you need it.

I didn’t do the step where you put it in the freezer and then cut each one in half, I decided to just do a two layer cake instead. There was a little extra frosting, but not enough that any went to waste (there was much frosting tasting).

This was a fun cake to make, and it was really tasty too. I’d do this one again.