Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Melting Chocolate Soufflé

These aren't proper soufflés, but they are easier to make, can be made the day before needed and taste just as nice. If you are making them the day before then after you've poured the mixture into the ramekins, cover them with cling film and refrigerate until you want to cook them.

Ingredients:

  • 140g dark chocolate, broken into individual squares
  • 100g unsalted butter, cut into pieces about the same size as the chocolate
  • a small bit of butter at room temperature to grease the ramekins
  • 4 large eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 90g plain flour

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees if you're cooking them immediate, but don't if you are going to cook them the next day.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl and place it over a saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom.
  3. Heat the water on a low to medium heat, this should melt the chocolate and butter nice and slowly.
  4. While the chocolate is melting, use the small bit of butter to grease 4 ramekin dishes.
  5. Break the 4 large eggs into a separate bowl and add the sugar.
  6. Whisk the egg and sugar mixture until it starts to go nice and foamy. If using a hand whisk this can take a few minutes. You want to get to the point where you can see lots of bubbles all through the mixture, not just on the surface.
  7. By now the chocolate will hopefully have melted. Carefully and slowly stir the chocolate mixture until the melted butter is well mixed in.
  8. Now pour the chocolate into the egg and sugar mixture and whisk carefully until it's an even colour.
  9. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the egg and chocolate mixture and then, again carefully, mix in the flour gently with the whisk.
  10. Divide the mixture between your ramekins. If preparing ahead of time then cover and refrigerate at this point.
  11. When you're ready to eat, remove the cling film and put the ramekins on a baking tray.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes if you haven't used the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes if you have. The time will depend on your oven, so you should really base it on what the dish looks like. You want a cracked and crispy top which has raised about a centimetre or two. Don't overcook them though as then you'll lose the gooey chocolate inside.
  13. Serve immediately and still in the ramekins when they are cooked. Optionally provide some whipped cream with them.
Serves 4.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Carrot and Pepper Stew with Polenta

This is a nice and spicy stew which complements the flavours of the polenta well. You should be able to find polenta in most large supermarkets, it might be called fine corn meal though.
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 sweet pepper, seeds removed and cut into thin strips
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 200g polenta
  • 600ml warm water
  • 30g (vegetarian) Parmigiana (style) cheese, grated
 

Method:

  1. Fry the celery, onion and chilli powder in the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. When the onion starts to soften add the carrots, sweet pepper and tinned tomatoes.
  3. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat so that it's slowly bubbling away. Stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure it's not burning.
  4. In a separate pan put the polenta and warm water and mix well until it's all disolved.
  5. Bring the polenta to a simmer over a medium heat, stiring every minute or so.
  6. Once the polenta starts to bubble turn the heat down to low under it and carry on stirring it every minute or so. Be sure to stir the bottom of the pan well otherwise it'll stick and burn on.
  7. Cook the polenta like this for 10 minutes. It should start to thicken up to the consistency of thick mashed potato.
  8. Remove the polenta from the heat, stir in the grated cheese and season with black pepper if desired.
  9. Everything should be ready to eat now, so divide the polenta between two plates and then put the tomato stew on the plates. Doing it this way prevents the underside of the polenta from soaking up too much of the stew before the plate is served.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sweet and Sour Peanut Noodles

This recipe is inspired by pad thai noodles, but doesn't make use of some of the essential flavours in pad thai, such as tamarind, so it didn't feel right to call it pad thai.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 blocks of fine egg noodles
  • 100g peanuts, not dry roasted
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped (or ground if it's a dried pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 150ml cold water
 

Method:

  1. Put the egg noodles in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak while you prepare the other ingredients so that they soften up.
  2. Put the peanuts inside a polythene bag and then put another bag around that bag. Crush the peanuts by hitting them with a rolling pin or the bottom of a wine bottle. You want them to be fairly finely crushed with quite a bit of fine powder.
  3. Once the peanuts are suitable crushed, mix them with the pepper, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, wine, orange juice and water in a medium sized saucepan.
  4. By now the noodles should hopefully be soft enough to add to the saucepan, but if they aren't then it's not the end of the world if you snap them in half when adding them to the pan.
  5. Heat the saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to bubble. Stir every 5 minutes or so to check it's not sticking.
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has boiled off or been absorbed by the noodles.
  7. Serve garnished with a couple of peanuts and a bit or coriander leaf if you've got any around.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Potato and Kale Stir Fry

The slow cooking of this dish gives the potatoes a lovely golden and flavoursome coating.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 6 or 7 medium size potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 12 leaves of kale, washed, white stem removed and chopped
  • 100g Wensleydale cheese, chopped into 5mm pieces
 

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan with a lid (preferably a wok) over a medium heat and fry the celery for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, stock cube, potato and kale to the pan and stir well.
  3. Reduce the heat a little and place a lid on the pan.
  4. Cook with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to check that it's not sticking or burning.
  5. Stir in the cheese just before serving so it doesn't have time to melt.
  6. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.
 
Serves 2

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Carrot and Noodle Stir Fry

This recipe makes use of 'olive vegetables' which you should be able to find in Chinese supermarkets or in the specialist section of big supermarkets.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 blocks of medium egg noodles
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive vegetables
  • 4 carrots, washed and cut into 3 cm strips
  • 75g baby corn, washed and cut into 3cm strips
  • 100g mange touts, washed
  • small handful of chopped fresh coriander
 

Method:

  1. Heat a pan of water for the noodles.
  2. Cook the noodles for 4 minuts in the water once it's boiling.
  3. Drain the noodles, drizzle a bit of oil over them and then put them aside with a lid on them. It's very important to add a little oil and to place a lid over them, otherwise they'll dry out into a big lump of noodles.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add all the other ingredients other than the fresh coriander. If you can only get dark soy sauce then add it at the end with the coriander so that it doesn't lose it's flavour.
  5. Stir-fry on a high heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Tip the noodles into the wok and stir-fry for another couple of minutes.
  7. Add the coriander and give it one last stir.
  8. Serve into bowls using forks but eat with chopsticks.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Gobi Daal

This is a simple and straight forward curry dish which can be a good way to use up a spare cauliflower.
 

Ingredients:

  • 150g split yellow peas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 onion, roughly cut
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
 

Method:

  1. Drain the yellow split peas and place them in a large saucepan with plenty of water.
  2. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat down to a simmer and add the cauliflower.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Drain the liquid off the peas and cauliflower and put to once side.
  6. Blend the onion, tomato puree, turmeric, cumin and oil in a blender until it's a smooth paste. If it's too dry to blend then add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  7. Fry the onion and spice paste over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the peas and cauliflower to the paste and mix well.
  9. Heat through and then serve with basmati rice.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Potato and Turnip Bake

This dish is quick to prepare and wonderfully filling. The only downside is that it does take a fair bit of forward planning as it needs to be in the oven for about and hour and a half.
 

Ingredients:

  • 140g tomato purée
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 large turnip, peeled, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 thin slices of butter, cut into quarters
  • fresh ground black pepper
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Put the tomato purée and stock cubes into a large jug and pour the boiling water over them.
  3. Mix well until all the tomato and stock is dissolved.
  4. Grease a large roasting dish with high sides with some butter.
  5. Place half the sliced potatoes over the bottom of the dish.
  6. Next sprinkle half the chopped garlic over the potatoes, season with pepper and add the quarters of one of the slices of butter.
  7. Then create a layer using the sliced turnip. Cover the turnip with the rest of the garlic, some pepper and the quarters of another slice of butter.
  8. Finally put a top layer of the remaining potatoes over the top.
  9. Pour the stock and purée mixture all over the dish.
  10. Season with pepper and the last bits of butter. Ddo this after you pour on the stock, otherwise it'll get washed away.
  11. Cover the dish with foil and tuck the foil in at the edges.
  12. Place in the oven for an hour.
  13. Once the hour is up remove the foil and turn the temperature down to 160 degrees.
  14. Bake for a further 30 minutes with the foil off to create a nice crisp top.
 
Serves 2 as a main on it's own or 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Red Wine and Walnut Cabbage

Cabbage cooked in red wine is a common side dish for various meat dishes. The addition of chopped walnuts help to fill this out to a full meal.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 whole red cabbage, cut into quarters and finely sliced
  • 400ml red wine
  • generous seasoning of salt and pepper
  • 125g chopped walnuts
 

Method:

  1. Put the oil, cabbage, red wine and salt and pepper in a large sauce pan and bring to a low simmer.
  2. Simmer on a low heat with a lid on for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  3. Add the malnuts and mix well. If it's starting to look a bit dry then add a bit more wine.
  4. Simmer for a further 30 minutes, checking halfway through to make sure it's not got dry. If it has gone dry then add a bit more wine or water to stop it from burning on the bottom. However you don't want any liquid at the end, so don't add too much.
  5. When the 30 minutes is up, check the cabbage is cooked through and no longer crisp before serving. If it's still got a bit of crunch then simmer it all a bit longer.
  6. Serve with long grain rice.
 
Serves 3 to 4.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Spicy Carrot and Turnip Stew

This is a great one pan dish which can be served on it's own as a hearty meal.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 heaped tsp chilli powder
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 150ml fresh water
  • 1 tin of chick peas, drained
 

Method:

  1. Add the onions, oil and chilli powder to a large sauce pan and fry over a medium heat until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add all the other ingredients apart from the chick peas to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so to stop it burning or sticking.
  4. Add the chick peas and stir in.
  5. Simmer for 5 more minutes and then serve.
 
Serves 2.