Friday, 30 March 2012

Turnip Pasta

Turnips have a bad reputation as being a very dull vegetable, but it's a reputation they don't deserve as this recipe shows. The subtle flavours of the turnip work very well with the sharp lemon and gentle pasta flavours.
 

Ingredients:

  • 3 small turnips or one large turnip, top and tail removed and coarsely grated
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 250g dried pasta
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g hard Italian cheese, finely grated
 

Method:

  1. Put on a large pan of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Add the turnip, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into a large frying pan or wok and stir fry on a medium to high heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as described in the instructions on the packet.
  4. Add the caster sugar to the turnip and continue to stir fry the turnip while the pasta cooks.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked drain it and add it to the cooked turnip mixture.
  6. Add the grated cheese to the pasta and turnip mixture and stir well until the heat has melted all the cheese.
  7. Serve immediately.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Carrot Coconut Curry

The coconut milk adds a wonderful creamy richness to this curry.
 

Ingredients:

  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 2 chillies, dried or fresh, finely chopped
  • 5 tomatoes, cut into quarters
 

Method:

  1. Put the carrot, onion, ginger, turmeric, coconut milk and chillies into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and leave for a couple of minutes to heat through.
  4. Serve with Basmati rice.
 
Serves 2.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Apple Crumble

When I last cooked this crumble I had a quick check and discovered that I'd never written up a recipe for such a classic dish. Shocked by this I immediately wrote up this traditional pudding.
 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large cooking apples (about 1.5kg), peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 80g raisins
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp (100ml) water
  • 75g butter at room temperature
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g dark or unrefined caster sugar
  • 50g oats
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Put the apple, raisins, 100g caster sugar, nutmeg and 6 tbsp water in a large saucepan.
  3. Heat the large saucepan over a low heat and cover the pan.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 3 or 4 minutes to make sure the apple cooks evenly.
  5. While that's cooking get a large mixing bowl and add the butter and plain flour to it.
  6. Use your fingertips to rub the flour into the butter. This melts the butter and breaks it up, allowing it to mix with the flour. When the mixture has no lumps of butter and looks like fine breadcrumbs then you've done it enough.
  7. Stir in the dark sugar and oats into the flour and butter and mix well.
  8. Once the apple is cooked place it into a large oven proof dish and then carefully sprinkle the crumble topping over the top of it.
  9. Gently press down the crumble topping, but not too hard as you want it to be slightly airy still.
  10. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and starting to brown.
  11. Serve on its own or with lashings of custard.
 
Serves 4.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Butter Cabbage Curry

This isn't at all related to the kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), but kimchi was my inspiration to try the cabbage and chill combination in a curry.
 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp powdered turmeric
  • 1 chilli, roughly chopped (I used a dried one, but a fresh chilli would work)
  • 1 pointed cabbage, quartered and cut into 1cm wide strips (discard the hard core of the cabbage)
  • 35g butter, cut into cubes
 

Method:

  1. Put the garlic, onion, stock cube, ginger, fenugreek, turmeric and chilli in a blender with a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
  2. Blend the spices and onion into a smooth paste.
  3. Put this smooth paste into a large pan like a wok and fry over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage and 400ml cold water.
  5. Simmer on a medium to low heat for 20 minutes with a lid on the pan. Stir every couple of minutes to stop it sticking.
  6. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Continue to stir frequently.
  7. When the cabbage is nice and soft remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cubes of butter.
  8. Serve with some rice on the side.
 
Serves 2 to 3.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Tofu Noodle Stir-fry

This is a straightforward stir-fry which is nice and quick to make, although it's best if you can leave it to marinade for a few hours.
 

Ingredients:

  • 400g block of firm tofu, drained
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp white wine
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 blocks of fine egg noodles
 

Method:

  1. Wrap some kitchen towel around the tofu and place it on a chopping board.
  2. Place another chopping board on top of the tofu and put something heavy on it, such as a thick book.
  3. Leave the tofu to press for at least 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the onion, garlic, vinegar, wine, soy sauce and half the oil.
  5. Once a fair amount of water has been pressed out of the tofu, cut it into 1 to 2cm pieces.
  6. Add to the bowl with the onion and mix well (but carefully so as not to break up the tofu.
  7. Cover and put in the fridge to marinade for a few hours if possible.
  8. When it's time to eat, put on a pan of water to boil for the noodles.
  9. When the water is boiling, add the noodles to it and cook them for 3 minutes.
  10. While the noodles are cooking heat a wok up and start to stir fry the tofu on a high heat. Stir it frequently to make sure the pieces get cooked evenly.
  11. Once the 3 minutes is up for the noodles remove them from the heat and drain them. Now add the remaining tablespoon of sunflower oil to the noodles and mix well. Place to one side with a lid on the pan. This is the best way I've found to getting the noodles to be in a state where it's easier to mix them with the other stir fried food. I have no idea why, but leaving them to rest with a thin coating of oil really helps (just doing one or the other doesn't work nearly as well).
  12. Continue to stir fry the tofu until it starts to be nicely browned. This will probably take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the water content of the tofu.
  13. Add the noodles to the wok and mix everything together well. Give it about 30 seconds to heat the noodles up again.
  14. Divide between plates or bowls and serve.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Pear and Chocolate Pie

I really wanted to try making a chocolate pie, but I couldn't decide on what else to put in the pie. Someone suggested making a Poires Belle Helene pie, so I did.
 

Ingredients:

  • 6 conference pears, peeled, cored and vertically cut into eights
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 4 cardamom pods, squeeze them lightly so as to crack their case
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 175g flour
  • 75g sunflower oil
  • 50ml water
 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
  2. Place the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom pods, sugar and 200ml water in a medium size saucepan and heat on a low heat and stir until the sugar is all dissolved.
  3. Add the pears to the sugar syrup and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. While the pears simmer put the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a different pan of boiling water and allow them to melt.
  5. Make the pastry by adding the sunflowr oil to the flour in a large bowl as you wait for the pears to poach and the chocolate to melt.
  6. Once the oil is well mixed into the flour add the 50ml water and mix with a knife until a ball of pasty forms.
  7. By now the chocolate will hopefully have melted. Give it a good stir to combine everything and then remove it from the heat.
  8. Once the pears are done find a large oven proof dish.
  9. Use a spoon to put half the pears spread over the bottom of the oven proof dish.
  10. Next pour the chocolate over the pears.
  11. Carefully layer the rest of the pears over the chocolate.
  12. Pour about half the remaining syrup from the pears over the top of the pears.
  13. Roll out the pastry into a shape to cover the oven proof dish and use it to make a pie lid.
  14. Poke a couple of holes in the pastry and then place it in the oven on a baking tray (to catch any leaks).
  15. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  16. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
 
Serves 4.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Crispy Potato Covered Halloumi

I heard about the idea of using potatoes to coat things from a cookery blog that I read. Their recipe used them to cover cod. It looked very appealing to me so I set about creating a similar dish, but using halloumi cheese. To better compliment the flavours in halloumi I went for mint over dill and it worked very well.
 

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium size potatoes, peeled
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 40g bunch of fresh mint
  • juice and zest from one lemon
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 250g block of halloumi cheese
 

Method:

  1. Use the slicing blade of a cheese grater to slice the potatoes as thinly as you can.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  3. Carefully cook the potato slices in the frying pan giving them 4 minutes each. You're aiming to soften them up but not cook them entirely. Depending on the size of your frying pan you will need to do this in 4 or 5 batches as you don't want them stacked on top of each other in the frying pan.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to cool and drain on some kitchen towel.
  5. Put the mint, lemon juice and plain flour in a blender and blend into a smooth batter.
  6. Carefully cut the halloumi down the middle so that it forms two large steak sized pieces.
  7. On a chopping board lay out a layer of potato slices so that they are all overlapping and just a bit larger than the halloumi slices.
  8. Spread the mint and lemon batter over the potatoes and place a slice of halloumi on it.
  9. Spread another layer of mint on top of the halloumi slice and then cover with another layer of interlocking potato slices.
  10. Repeat the process to create a second stack of potato coated halloumi.
  11. Heat the oil in the frying pan up to a medium temperature again and fry the coated halloumi on each side until the potatoes are nicely crisped. This will take about 7 to 12 minutes per side, depending on how much you cooked the potatoes at the start.
  12. Serve with a green leaf salad dressed with a balsamic vinegar dressing.
 
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Microwave Poached Eggs

I got this recipe off the house-mate of a friend, called Pascal, so it's also known as Eggs ala Pascal. It's a fool proof way of making poached eggs.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • two cups, half full of cold water
  • ground black pepper
 

Method:

  1. Carefully break one egg into each of the cups.
  2. Make sure that the water level is the same in each cup, if they're very different then carefully add a bit more water using a spoon.
  3. Place in the microwave and microwave for 3 minutes.
  4. However, stick by the microwave. At some point between 1 and 2 minutes you'll start to hear pops from the microwave.
  5. When you hear the first pop, stop the microwave immediately. If you don't stop the microwave then you'll at best get over cooked eggs, at worse the yolk might explode!
  6. Use a spoon to carefully remove the poached eggs from the cups.
  7. Serve on toast with a lightly dressed salad on the side, with salad cream or ketchup to taste.
 
Serves 1 to 2.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Ancient Egyptian Date Bread

I have no idea how authentic to ancient Egypt this recipe is because I first heard about it at school when I was 8 years old. I wrote it down and remember really wanting to make it at the time. However I never did. I was looking through some papers at my parents home a few weeks ago and discovered this recipe written down in my 8 year old hand, so I had to give it a go.

Apart from the lack of sand and small stones, it might be similar to some bread from the reign of Mentuhotep.
 

Ingredients:

  • 350g strong brown bread flour
  • 190ml cold water
  • 20 dates, stoned and cut in half
 

Method:

  1. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the cold water.
  2. Mix a bit with the blade of a knife, but only enough so that there's no visibly dry flour left but it's a bit lumpy.
  3. Add the dates and mix more with the knife.
  4. Use your hands to kneed the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  7. Oil a baking tray with a bit of olive oil.
  8. Divide the dough into eighths.
  9. Use your palms to roll each eighth into a ball.
  10. Press the ball flat so that it's less than a centimetre tall and then use your finger tips to form it into a triangular shape. You want the edges to be slightly thicker than the center, but this should happen naturally as you work it into a triangular shape.
  11. Place on the baking tray with at least half a centimetre between each one.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Serve hot or cold.
 
Makes 8 small bread triangles.