Friday, 29 June 2012

Leeky Welsh Rarebit

This is a slightly more complex version of cheese on toast. The leeks add a good flavour and texture to the topping.

Ingredients:

  • 2 leeks, washed, tops and ends remove and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 250ml hot water
  • 300g cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Fry the leeks in the oil in a large sauce pan until soft. This will probably take between 5 and 10 minutes over a medium heat.
  2. Toast the slices of bread in a toaster while the leeks cook.
  3. Once the leeks are cooked, add the water and stock cube to the leek mixture and bring to a simmer.
  4. Turn the grill on to high.
  5. Find a deep oven proof dish and place the slices of toast on the bottom of it.
  6. Add the grated cheese to the leek and stock mixture and stir until it's all melted.
  7. Pour the melted cheese mixture over the slices of toast and spread out so that the toast is well covered.
  8. Place under the grill and cook until the cheese on top is nicely browned.
  9. Serve immediately so that it's all still warm.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Frying Pan Spaghetti with Olives

This is a quick and easy dish that only takes about 12 minutes to make. I first heard about cooking pasta in a little water and then using the starchy water as a sauce here. As well as being quick and simple, it also is rather tasty, so I think I'll be doing variations of this in the future.

Ingredients:

  • 250g spaghetti
  • 600ml cold water
  • 75g grated hard cheese
  • 1/2 tsp ground blackpepper (or to taste)
  • 15 green olives, cut in half
  • 2 tsp capers

Method:

  1. Put the spaghetti into a frying pan, breaking it in half using your hands as you do. Doing the breaking over the pan allows it to catch any bits which fly off as it snap.
  2. Add the cold water and bring the pan to the boil over a high heat.
  3. As the water heats up you'll need to stir the pasta every so often to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom.
  4. Reduce to a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Continue to stir every couple of minutes while the pasta cooks. This makes sure it doesn't stick to itself or the bottom of the pan. When it starts to get softer make sure to mix the strands around so they aren't all in a line.
  6. Take the pan off the heat once the pasta is soft and cooked.
  7. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix well and serve.

Serves 2.

Friday, 22 June 2012

One Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Usually when cooking macaroni and cheese I will make the cheese sauce separately from the pasta and combine them at the end. This recipe saves on washing up by cooking the pasta with the cheese sauce, also allowing the starch from the pasta to thicken the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 300g macaroni
  • 750ml milk
  • 25g butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 250g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 25g cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp mustard power

Method:

  1. Put the macaroni, milk, butter, plain flour and 1 tsp of the mustart powder into a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring almost constantly while you do, to allow the flour to dissolve.
  3. Cook over a medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it sticking on the bottom.
  4. When the sauce is nice and thick and the pasta has gone soft, mix in the 250g of grated cheese, stirring until it's all melted in.
  5. On a plate combine the breadcrumbs, remaining cheese and mustard powder and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta in cheese sauce.
  6. Place under a grill on high and grill until the top is nicely toasted. Make sure not to get the saucepan handle under the grill if it's a plastic handle!
  7. Serve with a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half.

Serves 3.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Aubergine Involtini

This dish takes a bit of time to make, but can be prepared ahead of time and then baked in the oven when it's time to eat, so is ideal for dinner parties.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small carrots or potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large aubergines, washed
  • 200g feta, finely chopped
  • 125g soft goat's cheese, roughly cut
  • 100g shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 25g grated Parmigiana cheese or vegetarian equivalent
  • 1 slice of bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 50g grated mozzarella cheese

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the oil in a saucepan until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes and chopped carrots/potatoes and about 250ml of water.
  3. Bring to a simmer and then simmer for at least 20 minutes, but longer doesn't really matter. Just stir it every 5 minutes or so to check it's not burning.
  4. While the sauce simmers away, cut the top and bottom off the aubergines.
  5. Very carefully slice the aubergine along it's edge to create thin slices.
  6. Use a griddle or a frying pan on a medium to high heat to cook the aubergine for a few minutes on each side. A griddle is best as it gives the appearence of lines, but that's purely to look nice. Once cooked, set aside on a plate to cool. Unless you have a large pan you'll need to cook these a few at a time.
  7. Combine the feta, goat's cheese, pistachio nuts, Parmigiana and breadcrumbs in a large bowl and mix until it's an even mixture.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  9. Carefully take a slice of the aubergine and place about a teaspoon of the cheese and nut mixture into one end. Roll up the rest of the auberinge around the cheese and then place in a large and deep oven proof dish.
  10. Repeat for all of the other aubergine slices, arranging them along the bottom of the dish.
  11. By now the tomato sauce should be nicely cooked, so pour it over the top of the aubergine rolls, making sure to cover all of them with a bit of sauce.
  12. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and then place in the oven.
  13. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.
  14. Serve with a soft Italian bread, such as focaccia.
Serves 4.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Aubergine Explosion

After hearing about the bacon explosion I wanted to try my hand at a vegetarian version of it. I thought for a while about it and decided that woven aubergine was the best choice of materials. You'll also need a mandoline to slice to the aubergine thinly enough for this recipe to work. The aubergine strips you weave to make the outside of this dish don't need to be single long pieces. As long as you slice it thinly enough then they should hold together reasonably well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 large aubergine
  • some olive oil for greasing of foil

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms, dried tarragon and a couple of tbsp of water.
  3. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent it from burning.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  5. Wash the aubergine and remove the top and bottom of each one.
  6. Use the mandoline on a fairly thick setting to slice the aubergine into about 1mm thick slices. Any leftover or malformed pieces of aubergine can be finely chopped and added to the mushroom mixture.
  7. Place a large sheet of kitchen foil on a baking tray and grease it with olive oil.
  8. Weave the slices of aubergine in regular columns and rows on the baking tray. You want each row to alternated in going under and over the columns it crosses and visa versa.
  9. Spread the cooked mushroom mixture over the woven auberinge.
  10. Carefully roll up the aubergine by lifting the foil. Use the foil to wrap it up tightly.
  11. You should now have a large sausage shaped lump of aubergine and mushroom wrapped in foil.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Carefully unwrap from the foil before serving and serve with bread or pasta.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Cabbage and Peanut Stew

The combination of cabbage and peanuts might seem a strange one, but the flavours, combined with the sweetness added by the tiny bit of sugar, work well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pointed cabbage, washed, core removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or peanut oil
  • 150g roasted peanuts (not dry roasted)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinger
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 300ml vegetable stock or water and a stock cube
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 cm pieces

Method:

  1. Put the onion, cabbage and oil into a large saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring every so often.
  2. After about 5 to 10 minutes the cabbage and onion should be starting to soften.
  3. Add all the other ingredients to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent it from burning on the bottom. If it starts to look a bit dry don't be afraid to add a bit of water.
  5. Serve in bowls.

Serves 2.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Paneer Rogan Curry

You can make your own paneer cheese for this recipe, or you can use a block of paneer picked up from the cheese section in most large supermarkets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • about 400g of paneer cheese, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander leaf
  • 1 or 2 dried chillies, finely chopped
  • 8 tomatoes, washed and cut into quarters
  • 4 tbsp water

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the oil in a pan for a couple of minutes over a medium heat.
  2. Add the paneer blocks and stir every minute or so until the onion has softened, probably about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  4. Continue to fry, stirring every minute or so to prevent burning for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Once the tomatoes have started to soften and fall apart a bit then the dish is ready.
  6. Serve with Basmati rice or naan bread.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Fresh Paneer Cheese

I've made paneer cheese previously, but was always disappointed by how little came out from 6 pints of milk. I then heard that you can use a combination of cream and milk powder to make a more concentrated milk like substance which produces a considerably higher cheese yield.

Ingredients:

  • 300ml double cream
  • 400g skimmed milk powder
  • 3 litres of water
  • 4 to 8 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Place the cream, milk powder and water into a saucepan.
  2. Heat the mixture up to almost boiling, stirring often to make sure all the milk powder dissolves and it doesn't burn on the bottom. I'd recommend using a medium to high heat.
  3. When the super-concentrated milk is almost, but not quite, boiling then it's ready to add the lemon juice. I believe the required temperature is above 85 degrees Celsius, but below 100 degrees, if it's too hot or cold the proteins and fats won't combine correctly. However I've never measured the temperature exactly, I just do it by sight when I start to see the surface moving as if it's near the boil.
  4. When you've decided it's hot enough, remove from the heat and add about 4 tbsp of the lemon juice and stir well.
  5. After about 20 seconds you should see the milk separating out into the curds and whey. If nothing has happened then add a tbsp or more of lemon juice.
  6. Repeat the stiring and addition of more lemon juice until it has separated nicely into a mostly clear whey and lumps of curds.
  7. Use a cheese cloth (or fine tea towel) to strain the whey from the curds. I would recommend freezing the whey in ice cube trays and then using a couple of cubes as a replacement to vegetable stock in soups.
  8. Put the curds into a cheese press, or if you've not got that then you can try to bunch up the cloth and twist it to press the whey into a tight ball.
  9. Compress the curds using a heavy book or two (or the mechanism provided by your cheese press) and leave to set for 30 minutes. Make sure it's in a bowl as a fair bit of extra whey will come off it.
  10. Once it's pressed, remove the cheese from the cloth/teatowel and refrigerate, using it within a few days.
Makes about 400g to 500g of cheese, easily enough for using in a dish for 4 people.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Split Pea and Avocado Tacos

After hearing about the trick of using an inverted muffin tin to prop up tortillas while baking them to make crisp taco shells I had to give it a go. I've still not worked out how to eat them gracefully, but the crisp shell does go nicely with the soft filling.

Ingredients:

  • 160g dried split peas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
  • 4 soft tortilla
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 leek, washed, top and tail removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 30g cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Drain the soaked split peas and put them in a saucepan.
  3. Cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil on a high heat.
  4. Boil on a rolling boil for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat so that it's just a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Use an upside-down muffin tin to hold the tortillas in a taco shape and bake them in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp them up.
  6. While the peas are simmering and the tortillas are crisping up, fry the onions and leek in the sunflower oil in a deep frying pan or wok.
  7. When the onions have softened, add the cumin, paprika, coriander, pepper and lemon juice to them.
  8. Stir the spiced onion mixture well and fry for a couple more minutes on a medium heat.
  9. Don't forget to take the tortillas out of the oven!
  10. Once the peas are cooked, drain them and add them to the onions.
  11. Turn the heat under the onion and pea mixture up to a medium level and make sure it's all heated through.
  12. Add the chopped avocados and mix well. Leave for a minute to heat through, but not too long as then the avocados pieces will start to fall apart.
  13. Arrange the crisp tortillas on a plate and fill with the avocado and split pea mixture.
  14. Top the tacos with the grated cheese.
  15. Serve with some tomato salsa in a bowl for people to add as desired.

Serves 2.