30 May 2011

Chicken & Green Chilli Fritters - quick and easy!

~ Menu ~

Chicken & Green Chilli Fritters
White Wine Spritzer

We had a roast chicken for dinner last night.  My manly chap had a leg, a wing, sausage meat, homemade bacon stuffing, my own rich and luxurious bread sauce, new potatoes, cabbage, carrots, green beans, leeks and gravy.  He like eating.  I had a little breast meat, new potatoes and salad with light mayonnaise and I’m not even trying to lose weight!  I’m just crazy, like that!  Also I prefer a lighter sort of meal.

Today we still have most of the chicken left so he is having the same dinner again tonight and so might I, who knows.  For lunch today however I made myself some chicken and green chilli fritters (or cakes) using my “wet bread method”.  Sounds tempting doesn’t it!

There are lots of ways to make fish/chicken/meat cakes; breadcrumbs, potato, a panada (thick béchamel/white sauce) etc. and they are all good in different ways.  Wet bread is good in the way that it is so quick and easy yet makes for a moist middle and a crisp outside. 

Chicken and Green Chilli Fritters – serves 1

I used Tesco’s Mediterranean bread which will add an extra nuance of flavour but use whatever you’ve got.

75 g finely chopped cooked chicken
40g bread soaked in cold water or, even better, cold chicken stock
½ tsp puréed green chilli pickle sludge – see Storecupboard for details  or other hot spicy condiment
1 heaped tsp mayonnaise
olive oil for frying

~   When the bread is completely soaked, 5-10 minutes, use your hands to squeeze it out as dryly as possible. 
~   Mix the squozen bread with the rest of the ingredients.
~   Taste and season but chilli pickle being so ace I doubt it needs anything else.
~   Form into 2 cakes and flatten to little rounds.
~   No need to coat in flour just shallow fry in a little olive oil till crisp on both sides.



As you can see I ate this with a few leaves and also with some chicken skin that I had crisped up in the oven to make a pretty, pretty delicious and unhealthy garnish.  Kind of makes up for last night.  I also partook of a spritzer as one does.



In other news it is, as you know, a bank holiday weekend and mostly the weather has acted accordingly.  Nevertheless there are an inordinate number of people camping here despite the difficulties …



I don’t know if you can even make out this picture of people putting their tent up or maybe taking it down or perhaps just ripping the damn thing to shreds so they needn't go camping again.  Sometimes I wonder why people bother but then I think if I lived in a city (and I am a Londoner so know what its like) I would probably be glad of a stint in Cornwall whatever the weather.   Anyhoo the sun is coming out now.

Also ...


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26 May 2011

Paul Ainsworth’s Lovely Restaurant – “No. 6”



Yesterday my dining companion Carol and I  lunched at No. 6 which is Paul Ainsworth’s restaurant in Padstow.  You probably know that Paul is the South West’s finalist for The Great British Menu and no wonder – he’s brilliant.

I ordered

“goose liver parfait ~ monbazillac jelly ~ pumpkin seed toast”

… as they put it.   My companion who is quite an eatist ordered a slow cooked veal chop with asparagus, boiled egg bearnaise and chips in dripping.

Whilst our food was being prepared we were given a basket of warm bread (including a spicy roll flavoured with ras al hanout ) and the kitchen, bless them, sent us each a shot glass of wonderful ultra smooth asparagus soup the like of which I have never tasted before. 


My appropriately named parfait was just as I remembered it from my last visit (I've been thinking about it ever since!); the very essence of goose liver, so light, so smooth, so savoury with a perfect smidge of sweet wine jelly on top and lovely crunchy nubbly toast to go with it.  On the waiter’s recommendation I drank a glass of Monbazillac which, despite being a dessert wine, was absolutely the right thing to do.  



Carol had a glass of Malbec with her veal and grinned a lot.  Sadly for her she was so full she was unable to indulge in dessert.  I was OK and had a wedge of dark chocolate tart; a crisp biscuit base, deep, rich chocolate mousse filling and a spoonful of orange flecked cream.  Paul Ainsworth really does seem to be a master of the superbly rich and gooey!

Although this is seriously excellent food the menu is fun and accessible – on a previous visit I ate a coffee dessert spiked with space dust (popping candy) which was served with the “fairground doughnuts” which were part of Paul’s Taste of the Fairground dessert on Great British Menu.  The prices are not cheap, and nor should they be, there is a tempting special lunch offer of 2 courses for £15 or 3 courses for £20 but my mind was set on the goose liver.  Padstow has many really good eating places but if you only eat in one for Gawd’s sake make it No. 6!

Padstow was very crowded even though judging by the rest of Cornwall there aren’t many visitors around but I did get a glimpse of the estuary …


PS -  Vegetarian Living Magazine's July Edition is out with my Ice Cream Article in it.  Yippee!

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24 May 2011

Frittata di Pasta Recipe, Stan over the Road's Chilli Oil and Chef's Coffee

~ Menu ~

Frittata di Pasta
Bit of Salad
Glass of Red Wine

Last night I fell back on an old store-cupboard favourite – penne pasta with a 50:50 mixtures of Tesco’s Finest Whole Cherry Tomato & Chill Sauce and Boursin – a really delicious meal for no work!  When cooking professionally I just cooked a load of pasta, sold out and cooked some more without getting too much into the niceties of weight of pasta per person.  Now pasta for one or two looks ridiculously inadequate so of course I cooked too much and couldn’t eat it.

For lunch I thought “what the hey” as one does and made myself a Frittata di Pasta or Leftover Pasta Omelette as it’s sometimes called.  This is not as uninspiring as it might sound although it does, of course, depend on what you sauced your pasta with last night.

Frittata di Pasta for One

The leftover pasta shouldn’t be too saucy or it will make the dish fall apart.

1 large egg
half a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan
50g or so cold leftover pasta with some of its sauce still clinging to it
15ml butter

~   Preheat the grill.
~   Whisk together the egg and Parmesan and then stir in the pasta.
~   Melt the butter in a non stick frying pan and when foamy tip in the pasta mix to form an egg and pasta pancake.
~   Cook till the bottom is firm and then slip it under the grill to cook the top.

That’s it and here’s a picture …

frittata-di-pasta-suzy-bowler

I’ve just thought - whilst I’m here I might as well mention yesterday’s lunch.  When cheffing at the Tamarind Club I often put the following dish on the menu ...


It was great; soft sweet squishy tomatoes, creamy melting cheese and zingy hot oil with, of course, some crispy chargrilled bread (we used to get seriously fabulous bread from the college bakery at that time) to soak up the wonderful juices.  Stan over the Road was, and still is, a pretty English girl who also has a much more feminine name; Abigail.   Anyhoo, in her spare time she made a seemingly constant stream of chilli oil (just because she could, I suppose) and kept us stocked up at all times.  I was very grateful, used the delicious stuff in all sorts of dishes and made a feature of it in several.

I don’t eat a lot when I am cooking but on a double shift I would get a bit peckish and, if I had time, would sometimes indulge in a little chargrilled bread drizzled with Stan’s chilli oil and sprinkled with freshly shredded Gran Padano.  The girls I worked with in the kitchen would tease me - “White people, dey fonny!”  - but I really enjoyed it washed down with a cup of “chef’s coffee”. 

So yesterday when a bit stumped about lunch I suddenly remembered a little bottle of chilli oil in the cupboard (not Stan’s as it happens – Uncle Roy’s, whoever he is) and decided to recreate this “meal” for old times’ sake and because I like it. 

cheese-on-toast

“Chef’s coffee” is really red wine in a coffee cup so that it’s not too obvious that one is indulging at work. 

Having said that I have worked in places where drinking is not so much frowned upon as compulsory!  Many a time I’ve been slaving away with a whole string of orders up when one of the wait staff have rushed in with a tray of Tequila Slammers (or Margaritas or, worst of all, Jagermeister – yuk) for the kitchen and the only way to cope is to down the stuff and get back to work.




  
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21 May 2011

How to make Rumtopf aka Rumpot – a brilliant use of summer fruits.

~  Menu ~

Roasted Garlic Hummus
Lightly Pickled Cucumber
Balsamic Glaze
Toasted Ciabatta
Sparkling Water but …
… followed by a glass of Rumtopf

You may remember in my last post, when reviewing The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit I was reminded by her recipe for Coffee Orange Liqueur* that I had Rumptopf and Cherry Bounce somewhere in the cellar of our caravan.

Well I have found the Rumtopf and it is Delicious!  It’s been hidden away for almost a year and I thought it might have gone mouldy or evaporated but it’s great.
rumtop recipe

So, it being The Time of Summer Fruits again, here’s how to make it!

Rumtopf aka Rumpot


The first stage of this recipe must be started at least two months before you want to drink it but the good news is you can do something else whilst you are waiting. Often this was used, by patient German people, as a way of storing summer fruits for Christmas.

I have seen recipes using all sorts of fruits but I think lovely soft summer fruits are best; strawberries, cherries, peaches, raspberries, plums, apricots, loganberries, redcurrants etc.


fruits to use for rumpot

(For the benefit of friends in the Caribbean I do think mango might work well in this, particularly if using rum).  

~   Select a glass or ceramic jar with a really good seal – I used a Kilner jar – and make sure it is clean and dry.
~   As fruits come into season, so starting with strawberries, de-stem them and wash and dry thoroughly.
~   Weigh the fruits and put into you jar then add half their weight in sugar.
~   Cover with dark rum or brandy (in which case I believe you will have a Brandytopf) to a depth of half an inch. It is essential that all of the fruit is always submerged so place a small saucer or similar directly on top of it to stop any random pieces floating to the surface.
~   Cover tightly and store in a cook dark place till the next fruit comes along.
~   With the second and all subsequent additions repeat the procedure topping up with the spirit and reseal.

A few points …

­ ~    Always use perfect fruit – no bruises, no overripe or under ripe fruit, just perfect.
­ ~    Don’t stir when adding additional fruits, just layer up.
­  ~   At the end of the summer, after the last fruity addition, forget about it for really nice surprise later on.

The resulting liqueur makes a truly delicious sipping liquor, the fruit is powerful but a little over vanilla ice cream is good. 


Cherry Bounce 


This is exactly the same sort of thing but using just cherries and brandy. I can't find mine - must have drunk it!


no-churn-cherry-ice-cream



Rumpot and Cherry Bounce both make superb ice cream using the genius no-churn recipe in my book Luscious Ice Creams without a Machine  (the ebook is less than the price of a carton of ice cream and is on special offer just now, an utter bargain!)


So far as lunch is concerned I have fallen back, so to speak, on Hummus. I usually have the makings available just in case I don’t have a good idea – the hummus recipe plus lots of ideas and variations here.  I ate it with my lightly pickled cucumber, balsamic glaze (which I always have in the cupboard) and lovely toasted ciabatta.  


hummus and pickled cucumber

A week or so ago we bought a cucumber for 10p and, as is my way with cucumbers, I pickled it.

Lightly Picked Cucumber

1 cucumber
salt
150ml white vinegar – I use cider vinegar
3 tsp light brown sugar or to taste
a sprinkling of chilli flakes - optional

~   Top and tail the cucumber and then cut in half lengthways.
~   Remove the seeds – the easy way to do this is to score a line with a sharp knife either side of the strip of seeds then using a sharp teaspoon (!) scrape the seeds out.
~   Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can and put into a nylon sieve suspended over a bowl
~   Salt generously tossing the slices to make sure they all get some and leave for an hour or more.
~   Drain away the juice then turn the slices into the empty bowl and rinse well with cold water.
~   Re-drain.
~   Stir together the vinegar and the sugar to dissolve the sugar.  Add the chilli flakes if using.
~   Stir in the cucumbers, put in an airtight jar or container, cover and chill till needed.

This keeps a good long while in the fridge.  

After eating up all my hummus like a good girl I drank the glass of rumtopf left after taking the above photo.  It's a hard life.

rumtopf

Cheers!

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17 May 2011

Yorkshire Pudding Recipe, Cherry Clafouti + Review of a Great Cookbook


"The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit 

Book review first - its a goodie!



The other day I went really crazy and bought myself a copy of "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit which I have wanted to read for a while now.  It’s a brilliant book and rather on the unusual side. It has no pictures and what recipes it has (200 or so really unusual ones) are hidden in the body of the text making it even more fascinating to read.

Ms Segnit has taken 99 different foods and sorted them into 16 groups according to similarity of flavours. The groupings themselves are interesting, not as one would expect salty, sweet, bitter etc. but rather Marine which runs into Brine & Salt, or Woodland leading on to Fresh Fruity. The groups themselves are arranged in a wheel and therefore go full circle. Tricky to explain actually so here’s the wheel- work it out for yourself!




The book starts on a very pleasing note; chocolate which is under the heading Roasted along with coffee and peanut. She pairs chocolate not only with the usual complimentary tastes such vanilla, orange, ginger and chilli (bugger! – now I’m craving some Lindt Chilli Choc) but also with black pudding (citing an Italian blood sausage containing chocolate and cream) or with goat’s cheese.  She even suggests adding a few squares if chocolate to a cheese-board and who I am to say her nay?  It’s all very interesting and thought provoking.

The book itself is a thick hardback more suited to reading in bed than using in the kitchen but this is not a criticism, rather the contrary; it is difficult to put down in fact.  Niki Sengit’s writing is easy going and conversational peppered (no pun intended but I’m pleased to see it here) with fascinating facts and yummy sounding recipes.  The recipe for Coffee Orange Liqueur* is really tempting although as it is supposed to rest for 44 days before drinking I cannot report on it now. In fact there are so many ideas I want to try I’ve started a list …

~   Peanut and Carrot Slaw ~   An inauthentic (her word, not mine) Pork and Peanut noodly recipe ~   Chicken and Bell Peppers which sounds Very Interesting Indeed, not to mention simple
~   Scotch eggs made with black pudding
… and so on and on, the above are just from the first few pages!

“The Flavour Thesaurus” by Niki Segnit which I thoroughly recommend was published in hardcover by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC in June 2010 and here are the relevant numbers … ISBN-10: 0747599777, ISBN-13: 978-0747599777


So this has been my bedtime reading for a few days now; it is fascinating and so full of interest and humour it will probably merit a second read. When I do get round to taking the book into the kitchen (who am I kidding – it’s all of 2 feet from the bed!) and cooking from it I’ll let you know how it goes. Speaking of which …


My darling brought home a bag of half price cherries yesterday and they were perfect. So perfect that we ate almost all of them after dinner - just like that!



You may recognize the above photo because it is one I have recycled from an earlier post (economical or what!) as I was charging my camera battery when he produced the cherries.
As we were scoffing them I remembered that when I reviewed Stevie Parle’s book "Real Food from Near & Far" a couple of weeks ago I promised to try his Cherry Clafouti recipe so managed to hold back on 11 cherries. These, of course, were hardly enough for any self respecting clafouti so I added a couple of plums to the dish. As you probably know Clafouti is a kind of sweet fruity Yorkshire pudding with a French name.  I have never made one but have always been a dab hand at a Yorkshire.




… so decided to follow Mr. Parle’s guidelines concerning the fruit but make my own batter with some sugar in it.

My Basic Yorkshire Pudding – makes 5-6 individual puds so serves 2

Three important things about making Yorkshires …

  1. You MUST use plain flour and no raising agent or it won’t work!  Strange but true.
  2. Make the batter at lease an hour before you need it
  3. The oil in the pan must be seriously hot before you add the batter.
 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
a little salt
1 large-ish egg
a little milk

~   Beat together the flour, salt and the egg till smooth.
~   Whisk in enough milk to make a runny batter, as runny as runny double cream.
~   When ready to cook preheat the oven to (400˚F/200˚C/180˚C Fan/Gas 6)
~   Put a tsp of oil into each little muffin hole in a muffin pan for individual yorkies or a little more oil in one dish and put in the oven for a few minutes till hot.
~   Pour the batter into the pan and immediately put in the oven.
~   Do NOT open the door for about 10 minutes and even then do it with caution.
~   They are ready when seriously puffed up and golden but sadly they do tend to go down a bit once out the oven.

For the clafouti I added a tablespoon of sugar to the batter.  Stevie Parle said to add 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp of sugar to 500g fruit and to roast in the oven for 10 minutes and then pour the batter over.  So that is what I did.  See here for Roasted Windfall Clafouti plus some other ideas for sweetened batter.

It was so much nicer than either of us expected!  My real man felt that Yorkshire pud should have meat with or in it and I thought the batter might be too heavy for the fragile fruit.  We were both pleasantly wrong.

*Which reminds me that I have both Rumptopf and Cherry Bounce maturing somewhere in the cellar of this very caravan.



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14 May 2011

Maple Sugar Toast, Cinnamon Toast & Other Delicious Variations

~  Breakfast Menu ~

3 slices of Maple Toast
A Good Strong Coffee

When I was last in Tortola my dear friend, Mrs. Gweenie the Canadian, gave me some Maple Sugar to play with. If you like maple syrup, and surely you must, then you'll love maple sugar.  Apart from spooning it straight out of the box and eating it I had my first real play today.

maple-sugar

It is a well known fact that Cinnamon Toast is yummy.  

Cinnamon Toast


Just grill sliced bread on both sides till golden, generously butter the toast right out to the edges and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (ground cinnamon to sugar in the ratio 1:3 or to taste) then pop back under the grill till bubbling and smelling delicious. 

In my time I have also experimented with ...

~  Vanilla Toast with vanilla sugar (which is made by leaving a vanilla pod in a container of sugar for a week or two - see here for lots info of on lovely vanilla
~  Mocha Toast add ½ tsp cocoa and ¼ tsp crushed coffee granules to 2 tbsp sugar
~  Salted Caramel Toast - use plain sugar on the buttered toast, caramelise under the grill and then (food fashionista or what!) sprinkle with a little crunchy sea salt.

cinnamon-toast

Today I made Maple Toast, obviously …


how-to-make-cinnamon-toast

I just wanted to share that with you, it wasn't lunch but it was sudden. 


Incidentally Padstow woods are looking particularly dingly at the moment …

padstow-cornwall





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8 May 2011

Two Sweet Potato Recipes in one Bowl!


Looking through the fridge today I found some middle aged sweet potatoes, some of them turning grumpy, and remembered an old favourite I haven’t had for a while ...

Spicy Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup serves at least 2


As you can see the coriander is optional.  I like it a lot but some people say it tastes like bed bugs - what mysterious lives they must lead.

1 med onions – thinly sliced
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small floury baking potato
1 large pink fleshed sweet potatoes
1 tsp Thai red curry paste or to taste
1 can coconut milk – do not shake; in fact try to keep it still for as long as poss before opening
a small bunch of fresh coriander

~   Heat the olive oil and toss together with the onions till they are coated.
~   Turn down the heat, cover the onions completely with a pieces of foil, pressing down onto the surface of the onions.
~   Put a lid on the pan and cook very gently till they are completely and utterly tender and are starting to caramelise a little.
~   Stir the curry paste into the onions and cook for a few minutes till it smells delicious and fragrant and looks a bit separated and oily.
~   Peel and slice the potatoes and add to the onions.
~   Open the coconut milk carefully, pour off the thick cream at the top of the can and set aside for later in the recipe.
~   Pour the coconut water over the potatoes to just cover them, augmenting with a little ordinary water or stock if necessary.
~   Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and cook till tender.
~   Process or liquidise the soup together with the reserved coconut cream.
~   Season to taste and stir in the chopped fresh coriander if using.
sweet-potato-and-coconut-soup-recipe
This soup is gorgeous topped, as in my picture, with the eponymous …


Crunchy, Spicy, Salty Frazzled Sweet Potatoes


fried-sweet-potato
Pinterest friendly image
for easy reference!
These are extremely nibbly by nature and delicious even without any soup whatsoever.

1 good firm orange fleshed sweet potato
enough vegetable oil to deep fry *** see end of post for something important!
salt

~   Peel the sweet potato, discard the peel and then just continue peeling till you have a pile of thin strips of sweet potato.
~   Fry these in enough hot oil to cover for a minute or two till crisp and turning a little darker, watch carefully; the sugar in them means they turn colour quickly..  
~   Lift out of the oil with tongs or similar and drain on paper towel.
~   Toss with a little salt and maybe, if you fancy it, a smidgen of cayenne pepper.


Soup ~ Key Recipe


This soup is based, as are most of my soups, on my genius recipe about which I have written a book, Soup (almost) the Only Recipe you will Ever Need!


soup-recipe-cookbook

Read all about it here.


fruit-juice-spritzer


Plum Juice Spritzer

Whilst making this lovely lunch for myself I also made a plum crumble for our pud tonight and found myself with a little too much juice so … I  topped it up with some fizzy water, took a pretty picture and then had it as a sort of liquid dessert.


*** IMPORTANT - If you don’t have a deep fryer and are using a saucepan with oil in it NEVER, EVER, EVER fill the pan more than one-third with oil or you may have a disaster.




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