27 December 2014

Biggest Leftover-Fest of the Year!

OK chaps, time to stop lying around the place, let’s get to it.


This is the biggest leftover fest of the year; something that I and other food writers always bang on about just after Christmas but, you know, every little helps especially when it comes to help with eating really well!

Here are some ideas ...

~ Turkey ~

Firstly remove all the good usable meat from the turkey and use it in one of the following ways.

~   Turkey Fritters / Rissoles / Cakes – finely chop leftover turkey and mix with leftover mashed potato. Form into cakes and shallow fry till crisp.

~   Turkey Curry but not necessarily as you know it, Jim – see here for a quick, easy and different recipe. 

~   Turkey Sandwiches obviously, with added stuffing and cranberry sauce OR they are good with turkey, cranberry and Brie OR, as in this case, with roasted butternut squash.


Carcass

See here and act appropriately. Then maybe make some ...

Turkey Soup

I like to make this with leeks but onions work well too.

1 large leek or onion
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
2 large potatoes
turkey stock
reserved turkey scraps

~   Toss the leek or onion in the oil in a soup making sized pan over low heat.  Press a butter wrapper or piece of foil directly on top without burning yourself.  Cover the pan and cook gently till very tender.
~   Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and add to the pot.
~   Pour over just enough stock to cover the potatoes, bring to a boil, turn back to a simmer, cover the pot and cook till tender.
~   Mash the potatoes into the broth or you could run through the food processor for a smoother finish.
~   Add some cream if you wish. 
~   Taste, season and only now add the turkey scraps to the hot soup just to heat through.




Gravy

~   This freezes well and, in fact, if you are also freezing some turkey meat it will fare particularly well if you freeze it in the gravy.

~   Stir leftover gravy into the soup above or use it in a turkey pie.

~   If your gravy is particularly delicious (and I trust that it is – if not see here to ensure that it is superb next time you make some) then serve hot as a dipping gravy – maybe alongside the turkey sarnies.




Stuffing

~   Boxing Day Fritters – roll leftover stuffing into balls, flatten and put a spoonful of cranberry sauce in the middle, reform the ball enclosing the cranberry sauce completely. Dip in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and deep fry till hot, crisp and golden. Eat carefully as the cranberry will be very hot OR, if you’re scared of hot sauce, form the stuffing into cakes, fry till crisp and serve with cranberry sauce.

~   Make stuffing balls or sausage shapes and use instead of real sausages in Toad in the Hole. 

~   Add to turkey pies, sandwiches etc.

Bread Sauce

~   Another thing that is good added to turkey sandwiches.

Bread Sauce Stuffed Mushrooms

Remove the stems from large open mushrooms and brush inside and out with oil. Fill with the bread sauce, sprinkle with soft fresh breadcrumbs and bake at 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6 for 15-20 minutes till hot through and the top is crisp and golden. These are extra good drizzled with balsamic glaze.

General Leftovers

~   Christmas Pie – turkey, gravy, stuffing balls, sausage-meat etc. topped with pastry or mash.

~   Bubble and Squeak.  In short fry leftover potatoes together with other leftover veggies in a little oil till hot all through and with a crisp crust.  The secret (not really, you can tell anyone) to this is to let everything sit for a while over the heat before disturbing it to allow the crust form. You could add leftover sausage, turkey, ham, stuffing and/or top with a fried egg.

~   Make an Après Christmas Pizza with all the leftovers! If you feel cheese is needed then Brie is probably your best bet.

Christmas Pud

~   Fry thick slices of leftover Christmas Pudding in butter to reheat luxuriously. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream or, if it is still the season of goodwill, all three.

~   Christmas Pudding Sauce – melt a knob of butter and a spoonful of brown sugar. Stir in crumbled Christmas pudding plus Brandy or Rum to taste and serve with ice cream

~   Make the best Christmas Pudding Ice Cream I know the recipe for which is in my genius no-churn ice cream recipe book;  "Luscious Ice Cream without a Machine". 

Marzipansee here.

Panettone & Stollen

~   These both make very good bread and butter pudding or see here for a wonderful quick way to use Stollen. Actually it doesn't have to be "leftover" Stollen.

~   A couple of days ago I hit upon the most perfect breakfast ever – Stollen gently fried in butter and topped, in this case, with thick brandied cream (although I think other creams such as double or clotted would work well too).

~   Panettone makes good toast.

There are lots and lots more ideas for almost every leftover you can think of in "The Leftovers Handbook" which, like a dog, is not just for Christmas!



Pin It!

21 December 2014

14 Good Ideas for Marzipan Trimmings

I have just marzipanned our Christmas cake and find I have an unseemly amount of trimmings, This doesn't faze me one little bit because there are so many delicious ways to use the leftovers.  In case you find yourself in a similar situation here are my ideas ...

1.   Cook’s Treatthis is your absolute right so feel free to nibble away to your heart’s content.

2.   Stuffed Datesjust remove the stones from dates (if someone hasn’t done it already) and insert a nugget of marzipan.





3.  Balls (excuse me!)

Santa brought these for my real man last year and he loved them so much I think it will become a tradition. Just roll the leftover marzipan into balls and dip in melted chocolate. This also produces some cooks treats during production.





4.   Marzipan Sculptures  if you are of an artistic bent then make marzipan fruits or other “sculptures” and decorate as appropriate. Just look at these, for instance, I might have a go if I get time. 

5.  Sprinkles  bake little pieces or marzipan in a medium oven, say 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4 ish, until crisp, they won’t take long, then crumble over things such as ice cream or Affogato.

6.  Chewy Marzipan Cookies

To be honest this recipe uses a whole pack of marzipan but you could either halve the recipe or buy a pack specially to make them – because they’re worth it.

2 egg whites
70g-90g icings sugar – sifted
pinch salt
500g marzipan – finely chopped or grated
a little more icing sugar

~   Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325°F/140ºC fan/gas 3.
~   Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof or baking parchment and grease lightly.
~   Whisk the egg whites till pretty damn frothy but not so that you have a meringue situation.
~   Slowly whisk in the sugar, salt and marzipan speed up and whisk to a soft sticky dough which is as smooth as poss.  You may need to add more sugar or, if too firm, perhaps a splash of rum; the texture of bought in marzipan seems to vary quite a lot.
~   Scoop into small balls, roll in icing sugar to coat and place well-spaced (4cm or so apart) on the baking trays, they will spread during cooking.
~   Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden round the edge and cracking on the top.



7.   Easy Peasy No Churn Marzipan Ice Cream

200g white marzipan
500ml double cream
50ml Amaretto or brandy
200g condensed milk

~   Coarsely grate the marzipan and then heat gently with the cream till melted.  Cool to completely cold.
~   Whisk together the marzipanned cream and the liqueur to thick.
~   Fold in the condensed milk plus any inclusions.
~   Freeze.

This recipe comes from my genius no-churn ice cream recipe cookbook which also gives loads of useful information and over 100 recipes including how to make the cherry ice cream in the above ice cream sandwich.

8.   Mince Pies   become even richer and deliciouser with a little grated or finely chopped marzipan added to the mix.

9.   Delicious Frangipane Fruit Tart Thingy – sprinkle the pastry base with chopped marzipan before adding the fruit then bake.

10   Fruit Crumbles

This is my basic crumble mix, which is enough to top about 750g fruit to serve 4 people. Cherries are particularly good for this and clotted cream with it.

240g plain flour
160g cold butter or margarine
120g sugar

~   Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Rub together the flour and butter till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
~   
Stir in the sugar (and up to 200g marzipan).
~  
Sprinkle the mixture over raw or cooked fruit in a shallow ovenproof dish.
~   Bake till the fruit is hot (and cooked if using raw) and the crumble is crisp and golden.
~   Serve hot or cold.

11.  Scones – add little flakes of marzipan to the dough together with the butter. If you don’t have a great scone dough recipe I have a genius recipe for them too which also makes great dumplings, doughnuts and all sorts of other things.


12.  Pancakesmy recipe for pancakes is hereWhilst the first side is cooking coarsely grate over some marzipan. This way, when flipped, it will have a chance to soften and go golden without overdoing it.

13. Stollen – I feel I should give a recipe for Stollen here but as I haven’t made it for years ‘n’ years maybe it would be better if you look it up yourself!  Sorry about that!

14.  Save the marzipan till Easter and make Simnel Cake!






Pin It!

9 December 2014

I Agree with Baroness Jenkin ~ a bit!

I agree with Baroness Jenkin that “poor people do not know how to cook”...


... or at least quite a few of them don’t but I’d go further than the Baroness.  I don’t think all rich people know either, nor many of the middling sort of chaps and this is something I’ve been banging on about for some while.

Several years ago I remember some “fact” in the media stating that people (it didn't say how rich they were) can’t cook these days because my generation was the last to learn by watching their mothers do it. I sometimes watched my Mum and probably picked up a few ideas but for the most part I am self-taught and I have to say it was a piece of quite easy and I have written several blog posts on this very subject, such as ...


I am also trying in my very humble way to get some helpful info out there in the form of ebooks – this one is free, the others are just cheap - see them on Amazon for kindle versions or Smashwords for all sorts of formats including pdf.



In an interview by Marks and Spencer, no less, I was asked what had been the inspiration behind my blog and writing. I knew the answer immediately – irritation.  I am amazed, discombobulated and yes, irritated by all the things people don’t know about food, eating, cooking, best before dates and so on.

I often joke that cooking is just cutting things up and making them hot. I realise there is a fair bit more to it than that but cooking really is not at all difficult. I am not suggesting that everyone should learn to cook like … I dunno … Heston Blumenthal or Ottolenghi (or me?!) but it would be time very well invested indeed to learn how to feed yourself quickly, easily, economically, deliciously and to your very own tastes.

I take on board that, as Jack Monroe points out, some homes don’t have cooking facilities other than a microwave and do sympathise (very much) with people in such a situation.  If it was me, though, I would put that microwave through its paces because you actually can cook some pretty good meals in them.  I haven’t written anything on this but lots of people have, a quick search on Amazon for “microwave cooking” revealed 3,221 results. There’s got to be some useful info there and, of course, you can get most of these books from the library so even if you are poor you can afford to read them.



As Baroness Jenkin also said ...

"Life is considerably cheaper if you are able to cook."

... to which I would add that it is also considerably more pleasant and more healthy.

In short, if you like yourself and want to make yourself healthy, happy and maybe a little richer – stop making excuses and get cooking! (Oops I hope I don’t have to resign after saying that!)

I am assembling a collection of useful articles to help with cooking in a Flipboard Magazine entitled "Learn to Cook"! (did you guess?)




Pin It!

7 December 2014

Why Roasting your Veg for Christmas Dinner is Such a Good Idea!

Like everyone we are, of course, stocking up food for Christmas and my real man is, to be frank, going right over the top!  He loves Christmas, mainly because of the food, and he is also a very traditional guy wanting everything his “Mam used to make”. So we not only have cupboards full of nuts and dates and chocolate and marzipan and so, and not only is he making his own trifle (he won’t risk my doing something fancy to it) but Christmas dinner will be, you know, the usual.  In detail ...
Roast Turkey
Homemade Stuffing
Bread Sauce
Sausagemeat
Mashed Potatoes
Veggies
Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
... and possibly Mushy Peas – I haven’t checked with him on this yet!

I, on the other hand, am not a huge meat eater (and turkeys are made of meat) and like excitement and contrast in my meals so roasting my veggies is the go for me.

Roasting vegetables ...

~   Makes them crisp and crunchy,
~   Caramelises their juice in a wonderful way,
~   Intensifies their flavour,
~   Can be seasoned with whatever you fancy – garlic or spice or whatever,
~   Brightens their colours for a fab looking meal,
~   Can be cooked alongside the meat so don’t need much last minute attention.  

The Basics

~   In short you prepare your vegetables, cut them into similar sized pieces, toss with a little olive oil, season to taste and roast at 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6 or thereabouts till crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
~   Don’t overcrowd the pan too much – you need dry heat to crisp the edges, it they are too close together the vegetables will steam.
~   If you want to speed things up a bit cover the dish with foil and cook till the veggies are tender and then remove the foil and perhaps up the heat a little to brown and crispen.

Some ideas ...

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Onion and Chilli

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
chilli flakes to taste (or maybe black pepper instead)
sea salt

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~   Peel the squash, cut in half, discard the seeds and cut the flesh into large dice – about 25mm/1 inch.
~   Peel the onion and cut into slivers.
~   Toss the squash and onion together with the olive oil, chilli flakes and sea salt.
~   Spread in a shallow layer in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes till completely tender and the onion is just starting to char. 
~   Stir occasionally during cooking and if any onions slivers seem to be getting overcooked before the squash is ready set them aside and stir back in at the end.


roasted-butternut-squash

Leftovers are great tossed with pasta or as a pizza topping.

Roasted Carrots

This is a particularly good way to cook little Chantenay carrots. Just follow the basic guidelines above.
roasted-carrots

Click here for some other good ways to use these little darlings, and ...

Honeyed Roasted Parsnips

Same again really but about 10 minutes before they are ready to serve drizzle in a little honey, roll the parsnips in the sticky juices and return to the oven for the final few minutes.  Maple syrup works well too here depending on what you are serving them with.
roasted-parsnips


Or try a mix of your favourite veggies all together, so long as they are similarly sized and inclined to cook in the same amount of time you won’t go far wrong. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, red onion and butternut squash is a pretty and delicious combination.

Root vegetables do roast most marvellous well but so do others veggies, for instance ...

Brussels Sprouts (and Bacon)

roasted-brussel-sprouts
Brussels sprouts often seem to be for display purposes only!  Many people want them on the plate at Christmas but then leave them. Roasting helps them to get eaten. 

Prepare the sprouts as usual, removing any yellowish leaves, halve or quarter if they are large, toss with olive oil, season and roast at the usual temperature shaking from time to time for about 35 to 40 minutes till tender and crusty.  Bacon goes awfully well with these so perhaps fry some bacon strips till crispy (you can do this hours in advance) and toss them with the sprouts for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Black pepper is good too.

Roasted Cauliflower 

This was a revelation to me which I posted about here. The cauliflower was transformed and became sweet, nutty and fascinating. 


roasted-cauliflower

The first time I tried this I sliced the cauli and it does look impressive but florets work well this way too. 


In Other News ...

easy-festive-food-for-a-stress-free-christmas-suzy-bowler
I would, of course, just like to mention my Christmas book!

Catering for Christmas can be time consuming, tiring and a bit stressy, so I thought I’d offer some suggestions to make it quicker, easier, more relaxed and perhaps more impressive!















Pin It!

30 November 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of year ~ no, not that one!

It’s the most wonderful time of year, again.  No, not that one – the time of year when Tesco Head Office fails to comprehend or take on board the severe drop in customers when the season ends and the tourists leave Padstow!  They stock up like maniacs and we pick up so many fabulous bargains that we actually share them with the neighbours!

A lovely find, and something I had not tasted before was these little beauties ...

tesco-sweetfire-beetroot

They are called Sweetfire Baby Beetroot and they are indeed sweet and spicy, in fact I hope the neighbours didn't have too much of a surprise, we didn't realise how hot they are.




So what did I do with this bounty? Firstly I made ...

Beeetroot & Boursin Risotto for 2

1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
200g risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
½ glass of white wine
500ml or so vegetable stock, gently simmering with the lid on
6 Sweetfire baby beetroot
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp or so Boursin (or other cream cheese)

~   Gently cook the onion in the oil or butter in a saucepan till tender.
~   Stir in the garlic and cook a minute or two more.
~   Stir in the rice and continue cooking and stirring for 7–8 minutes until it looks translucent.
~   Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
~   Add a ladleful of hot stock and continue to cook, stirring and staring into space till that too is absorbed. Carry on like this with the stock until the rice is just tender with a little bite in the middle (al dente) and is coated in creamy sauce which will take about 20 minutes. It may not take all the stock or might need a little more, use your judgment.
~   Stir in the beetroot and then the Boursin.
~   Taste and season and stir over the heat just long enough to mingle in the cheese and heat through the beetroot.
~   Serve immediately.

beetroot-and-boursin-risotto

With the leftover risotto (I never seem to finish my dinners!) I made Riso al Salto, or “leftover risotto fritter thing” as it’s known in the UK, for a Sudden Lunch.  Just form the cold risotto (it has to be cold or it won’t work) into a cake and fry in a little olive oil till hot and crisp.

riso-al-salto-recipe

I also made a splendid soup which perfectly complimented our vase of lillies (75p) just another variation on my key soup recipe. 

Sweetfire Beetroot Soup for 2

This is another variation on my Genius Recipe for Soup.

1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small floury potato – peeled and thinly sliced
vegetable stock
6-8 baby beetroot – coarsely chopped

~   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. Remove the foil and discard the foil.
~   Peel and slice the potato and add to the onions.
~   Add just enough stock to cover the potatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid,) and simmer till the potatoes are tender.
~   Stir in the beetroot and cook for 5 more minutes.
~   Purée in a liquidiser, food processor or with a liquidiser on a stick adding more stock (or cream) to make it just how you like it.
~   Taste and season.
~   Serve topped with a little sour cream if you can – it goes really well.


sweetfire-beetroot-soup

After spurning beets for years and years due to having been frightened by them as a child I am now starting to realise that they are not the demon veg I thought they were. This is the second time I’ve had a go with them in just a couple of months. 

In Other News ...

~  A week or two ago, under duress, my real man and I went into a McDonalds for breakfast.  It was his first visit and the only time I went into one before was about 25 years ago when I was showing a friend why I didn’t think it was real food.  At the time I think there was a sign on the wall saying ...

"Now Made with Real Chicken!!"

On this visit I had pancakes with maple syrup – they tasted fine but we ultra-flabby as one would expect, I suppose, as they'd been steaming in a box. My coffee was fine.  My darling had an egg McMuffin which he said tasted OK but was tiny.  Actually I can see that McDonalds are a boon to people on the road who just need to refuel but in recent, unrelated to my visit, discussions on FB I have read of mothers who take their children to McD every morning for breakfast on the way to school.  Is that cos they are poor?  Because if so I’ve got news for them!

mcdonalds-pancakes


~   Generally speaking the weather is still fab in Cornwall and we've been for a lovely wander in the countryside three days in a row. Our primroses and lots of other flowers are blooming and we saw rhododendrons in bud. Is this normal can anyone tell me?







Pin It!

23 November 2014

This has been irritating me for over 20 years!

I’m afraid I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks – sadly there have been not one but two deaths in my real man’s family and we have been both very busy and very sad, also away from home.

As I haven’t cooked much this seems a good opportunity to have a bit of a rant about something that has been irritating me for about 20 years. 

British cooks seem to have a bad rap in the States which I feel to be ironic to say the least and just one of several reasons this is ironic is the prevalence of “recipes" like these in books, magazines and on the web.

Creamy Pineapple Dessert kind of Thing!

1 large can crushed or chunk pineapple with juice
1 large box sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding mix
8 oz cool whip

~   Mix together and chill.

Vanilla pudding mix contains ...
modified food starch, less than 2% of natural and artificial flavour, salt, disodium phosphate and tetrasodiam pyrophosphate, mono and diglyceries, yellow 5, yellow 6, articificial colour, BHA
Cool Whip contains... 
hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skimmed milk, light cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavour, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene
Why not just do this?  

~   Drain the pineapple well.
~   Whisk some double or heavy cream together with a few drops of vanilla extract and sugar to taste. Icing (confectioners) sugar will make for a smooth finish but soft brown sugar will add more flavour.
~   Fold in the pineapple and chill till needed.

Even better use slices of pineapple (fresh or canned in juice), sprinkle with the sugar and bake in a medium oven till caramelising.  Cool, chop and fold into cream whisked with vanilla extract.


Incredible (no kidding!) Melted Ice-Cream Cake

Here is the list of ingredients which is all I need to make my point – you can find the recipe here, on the highly esteemed American Epicurious site.


vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
2 cups melted ice cream, your choice of flavor
3 large eggs
Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

I’m not sure about the above recipe but I have made cake from melted ice cream (you may remember there has been a lot of ice cream in my life) and all I did was mix about 165g self-raising flour into 225g of ice cream (melted). Sometimes I have added something else as appropriate – chocolate chips, fruit, nuts etc.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.

Speaking of plain white cake mix (they have yellow cake mix too) how about this little beauty?


Why not just make a cake?  There’s loads of quick and easy recipes about, like this one from the Beeb.

A “recipe” for Strawberry Fudge 

This contained just two ingredients ...


Candy Melts contain ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whole milk solids, non-fat dry milk solids, emulsifier (E122), salt, artificial vanilla flavour. 
Having read a bit about Candy Melts  it seems that some good white chocolate makes a far superior alternative.

The frosting contains ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, corn starch, color added Including red 40, salt, mono- and diglycerides, modified corn starch, artificial flavor, polysorbate 60, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, citric acid, sodium Citrate
I don’t have an alternative recipe immediately to hand but think I might prefer no fudge to all that stuff!

Beef Casserole

So far all my examples have been for sweet things but savoury dishes suffer from the same perviness. Many American recipes call for a can of chicken (or sometimes mushroom) soup as the liquid  and I can see that this could work depending on what is in the soup, of course – so perhaps not in this case; beef “casserole” with chicken soup in it – incidentally casserole means something different in the US to the UK.

1½ lbs ground beef
8 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
½ an onion
2 canned corn
1 pkg Crispy Crowns (frozen)

Crispy Crowns contain ...
potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, dextrose, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, onions, natural flavoring, corn maltodextrin and autolysed yeast
Anyhoo – that’s enough of that and you get the gist.  I started looking up some of the longer words and read of cancer and liver enlargement, autism and so on – scary. (Actually it’s a useful site to check on unfamiliar ingredients so here’s the link.)
Why, oh why, would anyone make “food” from so many chemicals when real cooking is not that difficult, probably cheaper and you know what’s gone into it? I did see one recipe that boasted “no flour or fancy measuring required, because we’re using cake mix”, so maybe that’s the problem; fear of measuring!  
Luckily we don’t cook this way much in the UK – let’s keep it that way. 
(Click to Tweet)

In Other News ...

~   The Huffington Post (bless their hearts) seem to agree with me on the subject of English cooking!

~   Still lovely weather down here in Cornwall – our primroses are still in flower and this is Charlestown this afternoon.




Pin It!