Friday, 30 January 2009

Bread Sauce



I love bread sauce, but it seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent years. It's a great addition to any roast and is also fantastic re-heated the next day to have with the leftovers. It's best made the day before so the flavours can infuse properly.

Ingredients:



  • 500ml milk

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half

  • 20 whole cloves

  • 10 peppercorns

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 50g butter, chopped

  • 110g white breadcrumbs, best made from a couple days old stale loaf

  • 3 tbsp double cream





Method:



  1. Put the milk in a pan and start to heat it on a gentle heat.

  2. Push the cloves into the onion half.

  3. Place the butter, onion with cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf into the milk.

  4. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

  5. Remove the onion, peppercorns and bayleaf. Don't worry if you can't find all the cloves or peppercorns, they'll just add texture to the sauce!

  6. Stir in the breadcrumbs and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce gets really thick.

  7. Place the onion and bay leaf back into the sauce and put in the fridge overnight.

  8. Just before you need the bread sauce, remove the onion and bay leaf and stir in the cream.

  9. Reheat on a medium heat, stirring regularly. Alternatively reheat in the microwave on full power for 5 minutes.



Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Crispy Roast Potatoes and Parsnips



Making great roast potatoes is a great skill. It took me over three years to master, but hopefully this recipe will allow you to make them perfect first time.

Ingredients:



  • 400g Potatoes, Maris Piper, DesirĂ©e or King Edwards are good

  • 400g Parsnips

  • 80g Sunflower Oil




Method:



  1. Put on a big pot of water to boil, do not add salt.

  2. Divide the oil between two roasting tins (or add it to one big roasting tin if you have one) and put them in an oven set at 220 degrees. If you're in any doubt about if one roasting tin is large enough then you probably need a second one. You need to be able to put the potatoes and parsnips in the tin with a bit of space around them.

  3. Peel and chop the potatoes and parsnips into 'reasonable' sized chunks. I'd recommend having them at most an inch thick.

  4. When the water is boiling put the potatoes and parsnips into it.

  5. Let the potatoes and parsnips cook for 10 minutes. Start timing as soon as they go in, otherwise you might overcook them.

  6. Drain the potatoes and parsnips and then with the lid on the pan shake the pan around. This should fluff up the outside of the potatoes and parsnips, which is key to getting a good crisp roast outside.

  7. Take the roasting tin(s) out of the oven one at a time. Place them over a hob which is on (to keep the oil hot) and carefully place the potatoes and parsnips in it.

  8. Turn the potatoes and parsnips in the tin to make sure they get a good coating of oil. They should be sizzling nicely as the very hot oil seals their outside.

  9. Roast for 50 minutes, turning the vegetables after 25 minutes and swapping over the shelves that the roasting tins are on if you have two.

  10. Serve immediately.



Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Sage and Onion Stuffing



No roast is complete without a nice lump of stuffing. This is my favorite type of stuffing, and it's so easy to make.

Ingredients:



  • 30g butter

  • 3 onions, finely chopped (I like the colour of red onions)

  • 200g (8 thick slices or so) of breadcrumbs

  • 3 tbsp fresh or dried sage

  • 1 egg





Method:



  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan.

  2. Add the onion and gently fry with the lid on (sweating the onions).

  3. When the onions are nice and soft add the breadcrumbs and sage and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat.

  4. Beat the egg separately and then stir into the breadcrumb and onion mixture.

  5. Press the mixture into a pre-buttered oven proof dish, making sure the center is higher than the edges.

  6. Either place the stuffing in an oven at between 180 degrees and 220 degrees for 30 minutes or microwave for 10 minutes then wait 5 minutes, then microwave for another 10 minutes. Oven is best as it makes the top nice and crispy.



Serves 4.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Chinese Tea Eggs



These are really impressive looking boiled eggs.

Ingredients:



  • 6 eggs

  • 2 star anise seed pods

  • 2 tbsp (or tea bags) of black tea

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 4 tsp salt

  • 4 tsp sugar

  • 8 pepper corns

  • 1 stick (or 1 tsp ground) cinnamon





Method:



  1. Boil a pan of water.

  2. Place the eggs in the pan of water for 4 minutes.

  3. Remove the eggs from the water and cool under a cold tap.

  4. Use the back of a knife or spoon to crack the partly boiled eggs all over.

  5. Place the eggs back into the pan of the water with all the other ingredients. Stir well.

  6. Simmer for 2 hours.




Friday, 16 January 2009

Jam Puffs



These are really simple pastries, but they look amazing. Just don't let anyone see you've used pre-rolled puff pastry and they'll be impressed.

Ingredients:



  • 1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry

  • 1 jar of jam




Method:



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.

  2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and wait 30 minutes.

  3. Roll out the pastry and use a pastry cutter to cut out circles about an inch and a half across.

  4. Place the circles onto a baking tray and place into the oven.

  5. After 10 minutes remove the baking tray from the oven and using a blunt round instrument poke holes in the middle of the now puffed up circles.

  6. Fill these wholes with a spoon of jam.

  7. Place back in the oven for 15 minutes.



Serve immediately, but warn people that they've very hot.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Spicy Carrot and Cabbage



Ingredients:



  • 400g Carrot

  • Half medium sized cabbage

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 bird's eye chili




Method:



  1. Chop the cabbage into 5mm strips and slice the carrot into small slices.

  2. Finely chop the chili.

  3. Heat the oil in a wok on a medium heat until it starts to smoke.

  4. Put the cabbage, carrots and chili into the wok.

  5. Fry the vegetables, stirring every couple of minutes until they are slightly cooked, but still crispy. This will probably take about 10 to 15 minutes.



Friday, 9 January 2009

Smoked Tofu Tortilla



Ingredients:



  • 1 block of smoked tofu

  • 100g shredded or grated cheese

  • 1 jar of pickled chilis

  • 8 tortillas




Method:



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease an oven proof dish with oil or butter.

  2. Slice the smoked tofu into quarted cm slices.

  3. Fill a tortilla with a couple of slices of smoked tofu, one eight of the cheese and a few of the chilis and fold it in half and place it at one end of the oven proof dish.

  4. Repeat the above step for the 7 remaining tortillas.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted nicely.






Serves 2 to 3.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Goat's Cheese and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Courgettes



Ingredients:



  • 8 courgettes, washed and cut in half down the middle

  • 150g goats cheese

  • 150g cream cheese

  • 50g sundried tomatoes, finely sliced and chopped

  • 1 tsp. basil, finely chopped or dried

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • Black pepper and salt to taste

  • A couple of teaspoons of olive oil





Method:



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees. Use the olive oil to grease one or two large baking dishes to place the courgettes in later on.

  2. Use a teaspoon to carefully carve out the seedy bit from inside the courgettes. Discard the seedy bits (or save them for a soup).

  3. Mix the cheeses, the basil, garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper in a bowl.

  4. Place the courgettes skin down in the oven proof dishes and fill with the cheese mixture.

  5. Cover the dishes with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the cheese is a bit toasted.

  7. Serve with roast potatoes






Serves 4.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Easy Vegetable Pie



This pie is a great way of using up any vegetables you have left over that need using. Experiment with which vegetables you use.

Ingredients:



  • 10g butter

  • 3 courgettes, washed and thinly sliced

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 3 carrots, washed and thinly sliced

  • 3 spring onions, washed and chopped

  • 8 teaspoons of instant vegetable gravy

  • 1 roll of ready made puff pastry




Method:



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a large dish (should be able to hold 1 to 2 liters) for the pie.
  2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok.

  3. Put the vegetables in the frying pan and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle in the vegetable gravy and add 500ml of water.

  5. Simmer the vegetables for 5 minutes.

  6. Pour the vegetable mixture into the greased dish and cover with the ready made pastry. Use left over pastry to decorate the pie and piece the pastry with a knife tip.

  7. Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.



Serves 4.