25 July 2012

A Gorgeous Summery Lunch made entirely of Leftovers!



~  Menu  ~

Lovely Summery Soup
Croutons
White Wine Spritzer
½ a Pastry Thing with Clotted Cream & Fresh Fruit
Coffee

This lovely summery meal was made entirely of leftovers most of which a lesser woman than I may well have thrown away!  They comprised:

~   A few stalks of asparagus (I’d eaten the tips)
~   Some really old baby leeks that we bought cheap as they were out of date about a month ago (seriously!) which were fine after I pulled off the outer leaves.
~   A mislaid mystery potato which my friend Jenny from Jenny Eatwell's Rhubarb & Ginger thinks is an Apache Potato and I think she is right.
~   Some leftover peas from last night’s dinner.
~   Ham stock after cooking a ham – obviously!
~   The stale end crust off my real man’s loaf of bread (yes we eat different breads most of the time too!)
~   A pastry trimming which I cooked alongside my manly man’s pie for dinner but had no particular plans for it.
~   The last one of my doughnut peaches.
~   Half a punnet of blueberries I stuck in the freezer the other day as I couldn’t think what to do with them. When I thawed them this morning were all mushy and wet.
~   Two days out of date clotted cream.

Even the wine was the very end of a bottle.


Some specifics …

Summery Soup

~   I coarsely chopped the leeks and cooked them as I would onions – see here
~   When they were buttery tender I peeled and sliced the potato and added it to the leeks.
~   I poured enough ham stock to just cover the potato, brought to a boil, turned down the heat, covered and simmered till almost tender.
~   Coarsely chopped the asparagus (discarding the woody ends) and added to the soup for the last few minutes of cooking.
~   When all was tender I mashed it with my grumpy potato masher and then stirred in the peas and enough cream to make a soupy consistency.

I have written an entire ebook of soups using this simple method, from Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Cheese Soup to Cullen Skink to Caribbean Callaloo, 50 recipes plus a bonus one! Also included are instructions for stock making, guidance on adding herbs, spices and other flavourings plus additional recipes for roasted garlic, pepper coulis, frazzled leeks, compound butters and other garnishes and accoutrements.

The idea is that by using the "genius", or at least very clever, recipe and the helpful suggestions in the book you will soon be serving your own spectacular creations.

Croutons – see here for my Crouton Philosophy, in this case I left out the balsamic vinegar.

Lunch Pudding

After making my real man his second pie of the week (!) I had just a small square of leftover, (and yes – bought in) puff pastry so I bunged it in the oven alongside the pie.  No skin off my nose after all!  It has been sitting around for a couple of days and came in handy as a vehicle for my leftover fruits.  The blueberries were terribly mushy so I cooked them with a spoonful of sugar till they burst and then strained them through a nylon sieve.  The peach was just a peach.  The clotted cream tasted fine when I stuck my finger in it.  I am not a great adherent of best before dates except where raw meat is concerned.  And just look at this …



… not bad for Leftovers!  The reason I only had half is that this is the sort of food we both like.



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23 July 2012

Delicious Doughnut Peaches and Mystery Potatoes


~  Menu  ~

Leftover Mashed Potato Gratin
Glass of Red
A Saturn, aka Doughnut, Peach with …
… a drizzle of Homemade Raspberry Vinegar

I seem to have a form of potato blindness and always seem to cook too many.  Usually I just sauté or fry (very similar to sauté) them for the next meal but today, having not only leftover mashed potato but also a small bowl of leftover tender caramelised onions I decided to play with my food a bit.

Mashed Potato Gratin for One

The potato had been mashed with cream and butter, as is only proper, so quite soft. 

1 portion of leftover mashed potato – enough to fill a small dish or ramekin
1 tbsp leftover cooked onions – see The Best Way to Cook Onions
a handful of grated cheese
fresh breadcrumbs or even better, panko

~  Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/170ºC fan/gas 5, give or take a few degrees.
~  If the potato is chilled warm it slightly and stir in the onions -if it is dry add cream or butter or both.
~  Decant into a buttered ovenproof dish. 
~  Mix together the grated cheese (I used lovely Davidstow Cornish Crackler; my favourite cheddar) and some panko crumbs.
~  Bake till hot and bubbling and crispy and golden.

The result was gratifying; a great way of reheating and revitalising leftover mash and I'm sure there are all sorts of delicious leftovers that could advantageously be added.


Lunch Pudding

I bought some doughnut peaches at a car boot sale yesterday but I’m pretty sure they weren’t second hand!  I was disappointed to discover that they are absolutely delicious – the kind of old fashioned sweet juicy peach you have to eat over the sink.  Literally.  This is a shame because I bought them to test recipes for My Forthcoming Book (not it's final title, by the way) but anything other than eating them out of hand would be a waste of their wonderfulness.  For lunch pudding I ate another one and just out of curiosity drizzled it with a little of the raspberry vinegar I made a while ago – it was strange and even moe dribbly but so good I might eat the rest the same way


OK you chaps, gather round  ~  what are these?



I am, of course, fully aware that they are potatoes but what type?  Yet another mystery from Tesco (you may remember the tomato I needed help with).  I even checked the name on the box but, being of a certain age, seem to have forgotten it – I think it started with A.  Any ideas?  I had them sautéed with salmon last night – a nice floury texture with a slightly sweet taste, pretty good really.  


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16 July 2012

Truro twinned with .Qo'noS!


~  Menu  ~

Scrambled Egg Tart with …
Roasted Asparagus and Frazzled Prosciutto
White Wine Spritzer
Lindt’s New Caramel Chocky
Coffee

I’d just like to apologise for any tardiness in blogging – we are having a bit of a sad time here as my 87 year old father in law, who moved in with us a year ago tomorrow, seems to be on his way out.  He is sleeping 20 hours a day and eating hardly a thing.  On the plus side however, I have to say he is perfectly cheerful about the situation!  Anyhoo because of his frailty and the doctor’s prognosis we are having some of the family to visit which at least keeps me busy. 

For lunch today I realised I had run out of bread, or at least the stuff I call bread.  I only panicked for a moment before remembering the pastry leftovers (good old pastry scraps) in the fridge and knocked up a scrambled egg tart.  This wasn’t too extravagant as the oven was on anyway. 

There is not too much to say about this tart because I mentioned roasting asparagus before when eating a similar lunch – here – and frazzling prosciutto here.  Baking blind is not difficult although I might just run through it ...

Baking Blind

This is how to bake an empty pastry case without the pasty puffing up and filling the space where you were hoping to put something yummy.

~   Preheat the oven to 5375ºF/190ºC/170ºC fan/gas 5 give or take a degree or two.  
~   Lightly butter or oil your chosen receptacle.
~   Roll the pastry large enough to fit said receptacle including the sides.
~   Lift the pastry carefully and gently press into the baking container.
~   Chill for a little while if you have time which should result in crisper pastry once cooked.
~   Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork several times.
~   Loosely lay a piece of foil or greaseproof or baking parchment or waxed paper into the pastry case and up the side.
~   Put some raw rice or dried beans or purpose bought baking beans onto the lining; enough to weigh it down.
~   Bake for 20-25 minutes till the edges of the pastry are lightly browned.
~   Remove the foil or paper and the rice or beans and return the pastry to the oven to crisp the base which should take another 5 or 10 minutes.

See here for other info on pastry scraps.



Not so pretty once cut but who’s looking apart from you lot?






Lindt have let me down badly by issuing a new range of chocolate which somehow I feel I should try.  My first test has been on their Luscious Caramel which is exactly as it says on the wrapper. 






Truru a'gas dynnergh 

We went to Truro today (in the rain, obviously) and I was surprised to see that the city has been twinned with what appears to be somewhere on .Qo'noS where, as you probably know, they speak Klingon.




On second thoughts it might be Cornish!


By the way, if you haven't already got your 2 free cookbooks go here and get them now!



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9 July 2012

Mashed Potato Breads and a Great Thing to do with Cheese & Tomatoes!


~  Menu  ~

Boursin topped with Hot Roasted Tomatoes
Mashed Potato Flatbread!
Glass of Red
Amaretti Stuffed Baked Peach with Clotted Cream
Black Coffee

Yesterday I inadvertently made some really good bread out of leftover mashed potato.  The actual making of the dough was completely advertent (ha!) but then something happened, can’t remember what, and I didn’t have time to raise and bake it so put it in the fridge. Later I found it I there (quelle surprise!) and made flatbread as intended and also a small loaf as not intended.


The whole thing arose (no pun intended) due to the fact that I always cook too much potato and was fed up with frying the bloody stuff. When I eventually got round to making the flatbread I gave it a second rise in the warm alongside the remains of the dough in a loaf “tin” then dimpled it with my fingers, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy sea salt.

Mashed Potato Bread

approx 140g leftover mashed potato at room temperature
300ml warm water
1 sachet easy yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
about 300-400g flour – I used normal plan flour and it worked perfectly
1 tsp or so salt – this does depend on how salty the potatoes are

~   Sprinkle the dried yeast onto the warm water and wait a few minutes to prove (ie. start to bubble which proves that the yeast is live)
~   Stir the yeasty water into the mashed potato and then mix in enough flour, together with the salt and olive oil, to make a soft sticky (but not too sticky to work with) dough.
~   Knead (I put mine in my Kenwood mixer but by hand can be very therapeutic!) till smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour as necessary.
~   Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and put in a warm place till risen to twice its size (or in the fridge till you remember it which can be up to 24 hours later).
~   Knock down the dough and give a quick seeing too in the kneading department.
~   Form into whatever loaves you wish – I did a flattened half of the dough onto a baking tray and the put the rest into a greased silicone bread “tin".
~   Put in a warm place till risen again which takes about 30-40 minutes.
~   Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   When the dough is risen do with it what you will in the way of oiling, flouring, seasoning, decorating etc. and bake for about 25-30 minutes till risen and golden and the bottom sounds hollow if you rap it with your knuckles. The flatbread will cook faster than a loaf.
~   Cool on a rack or eat immediately.



I was very surprised at how good this was - the long slow rise produced a great depth of flavour (as, maybe, did the cream and butter in the original mash) but for a few minutes I couldn’t think what to eat with it!  I had to be quick before I finished off the flatbread on its own so I roasted a few tomatoes (the oven was still hot) and poured them over a small amount of Boursin.  This was something I used to do with Mozzarella when I worked at the Tamarind Club in Tortola.  I added the following to the dish description which I think helped it sell:

“WARNING ~ the tomatoes may burst all sweet and juicy in your mouth and make you dribble

For lunch pudding I had Amaretti Stuffed Baked Peach for three reasons …

1.   I had both a peach and some Amaretti,

2    I also had a hypothesis,
3.   I fancied it.

My hypotheses was that whilst there are many complicated and undeniably delicious sounding recipes for this dish using dessert wine and toasted almonds et al, that a perfectly acceptable, to say the least, Amaretti stuffed peach could be achieved quite simply.


Simple Amaretti Stuffed Peach(es)

Ripe peaches
Amaretti
Sugar
Butter


~   Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/170ºC fan/gas 5 ish.
~   Halve the fruit and remove stones.
~   Put the peaches in a shallow buttered ovenproof dish.
~   Crumble Amaretti fairly finely and sprinkle over the peaches making sure to fill the holes left by the stones.
~   Sprinkle with a little sugar and dot with butter.
~   Bake till the peach is tender and the topping crisp, 25 to 30 minutes, and eat with clotted cream if you possibly can or, if not, with ice cream or cream.


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4 July 2012

Beans on Toast à la Mode

~  Menu  ~

Cheesy Beans on Toast
Red Wine
Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Sauce

I have had a very simple lunch today; cheesy beans on toast followed by ice cream and chocolate sauce.  The meal fit all the requirement necessary to qualify as a genuinely sudden lunch and was made of leftovers.

At first I thought I was just going to have cheese on toast but found half a can of white beans in the fridge plus an almost empty jar of my favourite pasta sauce.  Aha!  I heated the two together to make my own “baked beans”.  On toasted artisan granary bread from The Eden Café in St. Austell, topped it with delicious Davidstow Cornish Crackler  and bunged under the grill till melty it was very much like cheesy beans on toast only quite a superior version.


“à la Mode” 

The reason I have called this post “Beans on Toast à la Mode” is because I wanted to address a peculiar linguistic quirk of American chaps; their unusual use of the term “a la mode”.  I have always understood this to be French for “in the manner/style/fashion”, a way of doing things fashionably or perhaps in a way particular to a certain restaurant.  This is the meaning I intend in this post – I served my beans on toast in the style of our house in Cornwall.

Discombobulatingly enough in American “à la Mode” is generally taken to means served with ice cream!  I would have thought that if you wanted to say “with ice cream” in French then something like “avec la crème glacée” (don’t quote me on this) would have done the trick but there you have it.  Once in the Caribbean, for pure divilment, I put Home Smoked Seafood Platter "a la mode” on the menu (with cream cheese, parsley ad vodka ice cream) and watched their funny reactions, bless them. 

Talking of blessing them ...

Happy Fourth of July you guys!!

Very Quick Hot Chocolate Sauce

Speaking of ice cream my lunch pudding was also sudden.  There has been a small amount of leftover condensed milk in the fridge for far longer than there should have been.  As a test for my forthcoming book (work, work, work!) I melted it together with an equal quantity of dark chocolate and ate the resulting sauce over some ice cream – just so that I could fully assess its qualities.  Its qualities were – sweet, rich, lush, deeply chocolatey and it went fudgy and goosome as it cooled on the ice cream which I consider to be a good point.  .


By the way ...



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1 July 2012

Two of my Five a Day ~ Sautéed Grapes & Raspberry Vinegar



Good afternoon and Happy July,

~  Menu  ~

St. Agur with Sautéed Grapes
Nubbly Toast
Secret Red
Vanilla Ice Cream with …
… a Taste of my Raspberry Vinegar

As I mentioned the other day I now have a deadline by which I must have finished the manuscript for my forthcoming book.  I now have the onerous task of testing every recipe and suggestion in the book which is a lot of eating!  Today, for instance, I played with grapes and in addition to seeing how well they freeze and planning more complicated ideas I tried sautéing a few which I left on the bunch so they’d look pretty in this photo.   I’m thinking all the time, me!


I drizzled the grapes with olive oil, seasoned, as one does, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cooked them in a hot frying pan till they just started to show dark spots, shrivel and smell gorgeous.  They were sweet, hot and bursty in the mouth; perfect with the cold and creamy blue cheese and good bread.  These are definitely a keeper.

Having eaten that I felt the onus was on me to continue my experimentation with a small dessert.  A week or two ago I made a batch of raspberry vinegar and I had heard somewhere that it makes a good sauce for ice cream so tried it.


A bit of a surprise at first but whoever said it was good was right.  Mind you I only tested a spoonful as you can see so might have to try some more later just to make sure.



(Rasp) Berry Vinegar



You need a bit of forward planning for this.

1 kg or raspberries (or other berries)
1 ltr white wine vinegar
200g sugar

~   In a plastic, stainless steel or glass bowl (it MUST be non-reactive) crush together the berries and white wine vinegar.  (Or, I’ve just thought, perhaps cider vinegar would be best with blackberries!) 
~   Cover the bowl and leave to steep for 3 days.
~   Set a nylon sieve over a bowl and pour the fruit and juices through.  Allow to sit without disturbing to allow all the vinegar to drip through.
~   Put the juices in a non-reactive pan and add the sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
~   Skim, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
~   Cool completely then pour into sterile jam jar(s) and store in the fridge for 6 months or more!


This vinegar is delicious and I can think of lots more normal things to do with it – vinaigrette for instance or maybe add a sprinkling to fruit salads.  Anyway it brings a touch of summer to this grim, so far, July!


You could halve the vinegar recipe above but if you only have a few leftover raspberries a better idea would be to add them to your Rumpot which no doubt you started a few weeks ago.  If you didn't it’s not too late – see link above for details.  


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