Wednesday, December 31, 2008
#88 Christmas Pudding: Part 2, #102 Brandy Butter
To make brandy butter (or hard sauce, as it used to be called), cream 4 ounces of butter, when you've done that, beat in 4 ounces of icing sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of brandy, some freshly grated nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon juice, if you like. Allow to set in the fridge. Make this in advance - I made it a few days before the big day.
#88 Richard Boston's Guinness Christmas Pudding - 3.5/10. Pretty disappointing this pudding was. It tasted really good, but was extremely stodgy and soft. I think I'll use half breadcrumbs, half flour next time.
#102 Brandy Butter - 6.5/10. Nice, but very rich indeed. Think I prefer good old custard.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
#101 Parsley and Lemon Stuffing
Begin by cutting the crusts off a large white loaf of bread and blitz it in a food processor until it becomes crumbs. Lay the crumbs on a large baking tray and allow them to dry out in a cool oven – you don’t want them to brown so 80ºC will be enough. Weight out 8 ounces of the crumbs (freeze the rest) and put in a large bowl and mix in the zest of two lemons and the juice of one, a bunch of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of chopped thyme, a teaspoon of dried marjoram, 8 ounces of creamed butter, 3 eggs and a good seasoning. Mix the ingredients with your hands and stuff the main cavity of the turkey with it. You probably won’t use it all, so freeze the rest in balls so you can put them in the cavity of chickens for your Sunday Roast.
#101 Parsley and Lemon Stuffing – 7/10. A nice fresh and light tasting stuffing. I reckon it’ll go better with chicken than with turkey.
#100 Roast Turkey
The first thing to do is to remove the giblets and stuff the bird. You can stuff the cavity or the neck end, it doesn’t really matter. Next, calculate the cooking time of the turkey: 30 minutes per kilo if it’s below 7 kilos (15 lbs). If you are cooking a monster, add an extra 20 minutes per kilo after that. You must include the weight of any stuffing you’ve used too. Put the turkey on its side on a rack in a roasting pan and smear it all over with 6 ounces of slightly salted butter. Cover with a double layer of foil and cook at 190ºC for the appropriate time. Just under halfway through the cooking time, turn the bird onto its other side, and then in the final half an hour, put it on its back and remove the foil so it can brown nicely. Season with salt and pepper. Baste it a few times, if you like. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before you carve it. In fact, we left it for about an hour and it was still juicy and hot, so don’t feel you have to rush or anything. Skim off the fat from the juices in the pan, then make your gravy by boiling up the juices with a quarter of a pint of dry white wine and thicken with flour or gravy browning. Add enough hot vegetable stock to achieve the right thickness.
#100 Roast Turkey - 9.5/10. I love Christmas dinner, so I’m really glad that I did the turkey for the 100th recipe. This is a foolproof methods for doing your Christmas/Thanksgiving bird; succulent, tasty, not in the slightest dry. Bloody marvellous.
Monday, December 29, 2008
A Christmas Nosh Up
Saturday, December 20, 2008
#99 Baked Carp
Serves at least 6…
Choose a carp weighing around 3 pounds and ask the fishmonger to scale, gut and clean the fish* (and cut the head off, if you’re squeamish about these things). When you get home wash the carp in 6 tablespoons of vinegar dissolved in 4 pints of water. (Not sure why, may be to get rid of the slime – several freshwater fish produce slime). Whilst it’s draining, select a baking dish that will fit the fish snugly (to achieve this I unfortunately had to cut the head off). Smear the bottom of the dish with 6 ounces of butter and lay the fish on top. Season with salt and pepper, and add a quarter teaspoon each of mace, nutmeg and cloves, a bouquet garni (I did parsley stalks, bay and some pared lemon rind), a generous teaspoon of anchovy sauce and a chopped onion. Top up with dry white wine, so that the carp is almost covered. Cover with foil and bake at 200ºC for 40 to 50 minutes.
When done, put it on a serving dish and strain the cooking juices into a heavy based pan. Bring to the boil and allow to reduce slightly. Mash 2 ounces of butter with a tablespoon of flour and drop knobs of the mixture gradually whilst whisking to thicken. Once thickened, season with salt and pepper, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little cream. Pour some sauce over the carp, and serve the rest in a sauceboat.
FYI: If you're concerned as the potential damage to stocks of carp by this sudden increase of demand, the common carp is either farmed these days, or lakes are stocked with them. In fact they are considered a bit of an evasive species, so tuck in ladies and gents.
#99 Baked Carp – 7.5/10. I really liked this dish; I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I’ve not really eaten freshwater fish much (except for salmon, which I don’t like). I was very surprised at it’s subtly fishy and oddly gamey flavour. The very English mace-laced sauce was lovely. If you get the chance to lay your hands on one over Christmas, get it bought, though I’m not sure I’d replace my turkey with it!
*If you are lucky enough to have a fish with roe inside, ask the fishmonger to keep it aside, as you can make a stuffing with it – I didn’t get any, but it’s the look of the draw. Obviously I can’t comment on it’s loveliness, but have a go and tell me about it: Start by softening a small onion in butter. Meanwhile, mix an ounce of breadcrumbs with some milk to turn them to a paste. Mix the onions in along with the chopped roe, a tablespoon of chopped green herbs, a teaspoon of grated lemon rind and ½ teaspoon of anchovy essence. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stuff the fish with the mixture and sew it up.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
These measures make loads of Cawl – enough for 6 to 8 people.
Start off by browning your meat in some beef dripping; you need pounds altogether, either beef brisket of shin of beef, but best is to use one pound of beef and a pound of smoked hock, gammon or bacon. I went for brisket and a giant piece of smoked bacon. When browned, put in a large saucepan or stockpot. Next, brown 2 sliced onions and 3 carrots, parsnip, turnips or some swede cut into chunks; a mixture is best. Once they are browned, add them to the meat and cover with cold water, add salt and two stalks of chopped celery. Bring to the boil slowly, skimming off any scum that may rise to the surface. Add a bouquet garni (I used parsley, thyme and bay), sea salt and pepper to season, turn to a very low heat and simmer for at least three hours. I actually did all this the day before, so that we didn’t have to wait very long to eat when we got back.
About half an hour before you want to eat, add a pound of small potatoes (or larger ones cut up), and ten minutes before add a small white or green cabbage that has been sliced. When the potatoes are cooked the soup is ready. Finely slice 2 or 3 leeks and sprinkle them on top of the soup; the heat of the soup will cook them. Remove the joints and slice them up, putting some of each kind in each bowl, along with some of the veg and stock.
#98 Cawl – 7/10. A delicious, warming and beautifully clear soup. The meat was falling apart and the smoked bacon gave the whole thing a really delicious flavour. Definitely one of the best soups so far. This will become a staple winter dish, I think.
Monday, December 8, 2008
#97 Welsh Light Cakes
Beat together 6 rounded tablespoons of plain flour, 2 of sugar and 3 of soured cream along with a pinch of salt and 3 eggs until smooth. Next, mix together ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and a rounded tablespoon of cream of tartare with 4 tablespoons of water. Quickly add it to the batter and stir in enough milk or buttermilk to make a batter that’s “not too thick” – a tricky one when you’ve no frame of reference; I think the consistency of thick double cream.
Now heat up a frying pan or griddle and add a little oil. Coat the pan and pour off any excess. Ladle a small amount in the centre of the pan to make small pancakes. Don’t swirl them around like crepes, they should be thick. After a minute or two flip it over and cook for another minute. Pile them up on a plate, spreading each one with butter. Serve in wedges with something nice and sweet – maple syrup or, as we used, golden syrup.
#97 Welsh Light Cakes or Pancakes - 9/10. Officially my favourite pancake. I know you can make crepes with normal average store-cupboard ingredients, but these are something special. Light, fluffy and slightly sour in taste, they went perfectly with the sweet golden syrup. Whenever anyone stays over, these will be made for breakfast every time. Me and Charlotte liked them so much we made seconds! Oink!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
#96 Apple Pie
Start off by peeling, coring and slicing a pound of cooking apples and 8 ounces of Cox Orange Pippins. Arrange these in a pie dish, mounding it up in the centre, sprinkling sugar as you go. Try the apples before you add the sugar; you don’t want it too sweet. Roll out 8 ounces of shortcrust pastry. Cut a strip off pastry and glue it to around the edge of the dish with water. Brush this pastry with more water and press the rest of the rolled-out pastry onto it. Brush the lid with water, sprinkle with sugar and make a couple of slits in theb centre so that the steam can escape. Bake at 220ºC for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190ºC for another 30 minutes. Check with a knife that the apples are soft before you take it out though. Serve with double cream.
#96 Apple Pie 7/10. I love pie! This one is super-quick and easy. I’ve had better in the past, but they also require a lot more work. This is deffo the best way if you want to make one quickly.
Monday, December 1, 2008
#95 Stewed Hare with Forcemeat Balls
FYI: please don’t all go out and order a hare from your butchers – they have had a decline in recent decades. I only bought mine because it just happened to be at the game stall. Check out the Hare Preservation Trust website for more details.
The trickiest part of this dish is the preparation of the hare itself; unless you have a good butcher who’ll joint it for you, you’ll have to do it yourself. I’m not going to go through how to do it here, but here’s a link to the River Cottage guide to jointing a rabbit, which is the same principle. I have to say: make sure you invest in sturdy knives, including a meat cleaver, otherwise it’ll be very tricky to do. Also keep any blood and the liver for thickening the stew with later. (Also, don’t tell anyone about that bit, as it may be one step too far for some folk.)
Once jointed, turn the pieces of hare in plenty of seasoned flour and brown them well along with one chopped onion and 8 ounces of chopped streaky bacon in 3 ounces of lard (yes, you COULD use oil, but what’s the point in that!?) in a large stockpot or casserole. Add a teaspoon of chopped thyme, a tablespoon of chopped parsley and half a bay leaf to the pot along with enough stock to just cover everything; use either game stock or beef stock, I used half-and-half of each. Charlotte and I added the heart too; seemed silly to waster it since we were using the liver and blood too. Let the whole thing simmer gently until the meat comes away from the bone easily – around 2 or 3 hours. Now add 6 tablespoons of port and a large tablespoon or two of redcurrant jelly along with some salt and pepper and the dish is done! Use a tablespoon of flour slaked with some hot stew liquor to thicken the stew, or use the blood and mashed liver. Don’t let it boil if using blood, as it will curdle not unlike egg yolks in over-cooked custard. Charlotte and I spent a while removing bones from the meat though, so people didn’t have to worry about bones.
Now that’s done, make the forcemeat balls (named forcemeat as you are making a small amount of meat go very far – peasant food, innit?). In a bowl mix together 4 ounces of fresh breadcrumbs, 2 ounces of chopped suet, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of thyme, the grated rind of half a lemon, 2 ounces of finely chopped bacon, a large egg and some salt and pepper. Form the mixture into balls of around an inch in diameter and fry them until golden in more (yes, more!) lard.
I served it all up with boiled potatoes and peas.
#95 Stewed Hare with Forcemeat Balls – 7/10. The more game I eat, the more I feel I’ve been missing out! I’m always slightly tentative about game, but this is another corker! The stew was rich and thick; hare is very gamy, but the port and redcurrant jelly helped cut through it. Given the chance, I’ll be cooking the remaining hare recipes. The surprise star though was the forcemeat balls – Grigson suggests making them for soups, so if you don’t fancy the hare, make the meatballs! The heart tasted surprisingly nice too...
#94 'To Make Mince Pies'
Jane Grigson gives instructions on how to make them. She says to use shortcrust pastry rather than puff pastry (unless you are eating them warm). I made pastry with half butter, half lard; I prefer it as it is more crisp and 'short'. Whichever way you do it remember the flour:fat ratio is 2:1. Roll out pastry thinly and cut circles out with a scone-cutter to line small tart tins. Place a small teaspoon inside – don’t overdo it though, the fresh suet expands. Seal the top with another circle of pastry, gluing it on with some egg white. Make a cross in the middle and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes at 220ºC. Serve warm or cold.
#94 ‘To Make Mince Pies’ – 8/10. I really like the mincemeat. The meat is totally undetectable; but it, the fresh suet and the grated apple make the resulting pie-innards succulent and tasty, it’s not overly sweet either, which is good because you can eat more of them! Good old Mrs Beeton, where would we be without her! It’s been a while since I’ve had homemade mince pie and it brought back a lot of memories for me making them with my Mum. I am definitely getting in the Christmas spirit!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Beat 3 egg yolks with a whisk along with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (English is way too strong for this) and a dash of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. When they start to thicken slowly add ½ pint of groundnut or olive oil (I actually used both at a ratio of about 4:1). Add the oil drop by drop as you whisk at first. If you’re wrist begins to ache take a little rest. You can be braver with the oil as you get to the half way mark. When all is added, season with salt and pepper and extra lemon or vinegar if needed. Easy!
FYI: No-one is really sure of the origin of the name – there are two theories; first, says Larousse Gastronomique, is that it is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg. Or it came from mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, famous for taking the time to eat his chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques. What a trouper. I prefer the second story.
#93 Mayonnaise – 6/10. Not disappointed as such, but unprepared, I think the right word might be. Home-made mayonnaise is absolutely nothing like shop-bought. They are incomparable. This mayonnaise was rich and slightly bitter in flavour and not good when I dipped my finger in to check for seasoning. However, when I tried it out on my favourite sandwich – mature Cheddar, picked beetroot and mayonnaise, I changed my mind and thought it was very good. I just think I’m too used to the bland old Hellman’s to be a convert…Is that wrong?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
#92 Smoked Trout
Make a horseradish cream with lightly whipped double cream and fresh or creamed horseradish to taste, plus a little sugar and lemon juice. Serve a fillet of trout per person, with a buttered slice of brown bread, a lemon wedge and some of the horseradish cream on the side.
FYI: if you buy fresh horseradish, don’t grate and freeze it to use later. I used frozen for this and there was absolutely no taste it. I have no idea why! I recommend you use creamed horseradish for this as you won’t need much of it.
#92 Smoked Trout - 7.5/10. Very tasty indeed; a pleasing cross somewhere between smoked mackerel and salmon. Everything went so very well together – the bread, lemon and cream. It’s a shame the cream didn’t taste of horseradish! Oh well, you live and learn – everyday’s a school day…
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Merchant of Hoghton
We arrived slightly hungover from the night before and were immediately impressed – lots of stall selling absolutely everything! The range of meat and game was excellent, as was the cheeses, veg, pies, cakes and everything you could ever wish for.
For my 35 notes I came away with:
1. Smoked trout fillets
2. A hare
3. A brace of partridge
4. Smoked, cured streaky bacon
5. Pigeon and pea pie
6. Mutton pie
7. Corned beef pie
8. Chocolate-covered crystallised ginger
9. Banana Tea Loaf
10. Chocolate cake
Not bad I reckon. I’m particularly interested in the hare – there are a few recipes in English Food, and I’m thinking about cooking it as the 100th dish as it is fast approaching and I need something unusual and impressive. I was going to do an elaborate Victorian pheasant dish, but you need pheasant giblets and you need to order those apparently. The hand-raised mutton pie was the pie-highlight for me, I have to say, and it has gotten me enthused to cook some mutton dishes too.
Choosing my game.
We also had an ace laugh which is just what I needed, the best bit being me and Charlotte tasting some extra-mature Lancashire blue cheese…
Charlotte: This is really good.
Me: Really creamy, nice after taste. It tastes a bit like sick; but in a good way.
Charlotte: Yeah, not your own sick.
Charlotte: Err..like somebody else’s….?
Ange's Celtic aggression comes out at the mere weilding of sprouts.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
#91 Spicy Prawns
BTW: if you don’t, buy some spices in – they’re cheap as long as you don’t buy Schwartz spices; they are ridiculously overpriced. Go to an Asian supermarket. If you live in Manchester, Unicorn sells good value, organic spices. Also, buy your spices whole and grind them as you need them – the flavour is much better. Use a pestle and mortar, or as I do, a coffee grinder.
Peel (if you need to) and devein 8 ounces of raw tiger prawns. To devein, cut down the back of the prawn and remove the black vein running along its length. (FYI: it isn’t a vein, but the digestive tract and the black is the mud and God-knows-what else they’ve scoffed). Make a spice mix of ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ a teaspoon of ground cumin, a ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger and a pinch of cayenne pepper, plus some salt. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and fry two chopped cloves of garlic. When they start to turn golden add the spice mix and fry for a minute. This is very important when cooking any spice – you need to fry them in oil at the start, otherwise they taste bland and raw. Add the prawns and fry for another two minutes, stirring them around so they get evenly cooked. Lastly, throw in a good few tablespoons of coriander leaves and cook for one more minute. Serve immediately.
Grigson says to serve with crusty bread or with saffron rice garnished with toasted pine kernels and fried onion slices. I went for the latter as you can see. To make saffron rice, you need to sprinkle in ¼ teaspoon of saffron strands to the rice when it is cooking. Use Basmati rice, fry it in oil for a minute before adding boiling water and some salt. The ratio by volume of rice:water is 1:2. Add the water, stir once, cover, and leave it on the lowest possible flame until all the water has been absorbed. Let it stand for a few minutes and fluff up with a fork. Perfect rice, every time!
FYI: I usually don't eat prawns, but have fallen off the wagon recently. If you eat alot of them, try and cut down. Those that are fished are trawled up with huge trawlers that kill everything in their path. For every tonne of prawns fished, ten tonnes of sea life dies. If you buy farmed, it is not much better; most farms are built on mangrove swamps - a habitat we are already losing at a rate of knots. When I'm done cooking the Grigson recipes with prawns, I'm going only have prawns at special treats.
#91 Spicy Prawns – 7/10. Very tasty and quick to do. Brilliant if you can’t be bothered cooking but want something proper. The prawns were ready in the time it took to cook the rice. The oily spices were just right – very intense, but didn’t mask the subtle flavour of the prawns. The saffron rice helped this thing along with it’s slightly musky-sweet flavour. Of course, this is even easier if you just have it with bread. Great stuff!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
#90 Sussex Pond Pudding
Start off by liberally buttering a 2 ½ pint pudding basin. Then make the suet pastry (the easiest pastry to make): Mix together 8 ounces of self-raising flour with four of chopped, fresh suet (you can, of course use the packet kind – even the vegetarian suet if you like, but fresh definitely give the best flavour, and it’s a lot cheaper!). Using a knife mix in enough half-and-half water/milk mixture to make a soft, but not tacky dough (about half a pint-ish). Roll this out into a large circle and cut-out a quarter. Pick up the dough and line the basin with it and press down the edges so that there will be no leakage. Next, cut up around three ounces of unsalted butter and place it in the bottom of the basin and pour over the same of sugar. Then, spear a large, unwaxed lemon several times with a skewer – this is very important, there will be no lemon sauce otherwise! Place the lemon on top of the butter and sugar and using equal amounts of more butter and sugar fill in any gaps around the lemon. With the remaining pastry roll out a circle and make a lid, again pressing down the edges to make a seal – use water as a glue. Steam for 3 to 4 hours. Turn it out and make sure everyone gets a bit of lemon – it should be soft enough to eat.
#90 Sussex Pond Pudding – 9.5/10. Absolutely divine! The centre turns into a sort of lemon curd, and the suet pastry goes beautifully crisp, golden and crunchy. Butters and I did chicken out of eating the lemon skin, but the lemon centre was a lovely sour-sweet mush. Is it the best suet pudding? Possibly. We should all try and make an effort and bring this sort of food back – it’s cheap, easy and gorgeous (you are what you eat, after all!). It's proper Sunday lunch fair, but goes well with the Thai food I made for Butters and me due to the lemoniness.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
#89 Steamed Ginger Pudding
Start off by buttering a one pint pudding bowl. Then, cream together 3 ounces of butter with two of sugar, beat in a large egg, 4 ounces of self-raising flour, 4 ounces of chopped stem ginger, along with a tablespoon of ginger syrup from the jar and ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger. The dough should be quite soft, so if not add a little milk to loosen it up slightly. Put in the pudding basin and cover well (if you don’t have a plastic one with lid, use a sheet of foil with a pleat in it, secured with an elastic band). Steam this for two hours. I put it on just before I started making the main.
Turn the pudding out onto a plate if you like – always impressive. Serve with custard, cream, or with this sherry sauce given by Griggers (leave out the sherry and you get a thin, frothy custard sauce):
Whisk together two large egg yolks, half a tablespoon of sugar and ¼ pint of sherry in a bowl or basin. Place the basin over a pan of just-simmering water and whisk until the sauce thickens and becomes frothy, adding the cream slowly as you go. Unlike custard, this can’t be made in advance so make sure your guests don’t mind you disappearing for 10 minutes between courses.
#89 Steamed Ginger Pudding – 7/10. I fooking LOVE puddings. Plus a ginger pudding really is an English classic, and now that it’s autumn, there shall be many more. Really they all score at least 9 for me, but I reckon there are better ones to come, such as – in many people’s opinion – the ultimate: Sussex Pond Pudding. I may do that one next. The sherry sauce was odd though, the strong sherry flavour didn’t drown out the ginger flavour of the pudding, but I think I would’ve preferred good old custard, so I give that a 5/10 – nice, but won’t make it again…
But, all-in-all the evening was a total success, and Butters and I had an ace evening. I am planning the next one already...
Friday, October 31, 2008
#88 Richard Boston's Guinness Christmas Pudding
The recipe is not unlike that for the mincemeat; it’s just a question of mixing everything together in the order given. Use your hands to mix it up – it’s a lot easier than using a wooden spoon. Also, you can’t over-stir it, so get everyone in to give it mix. If I remember rightly, to get good luck, thirteen people have to mix it clockwise with their spoon and make a wish before you steam it (if you believe in that sort of stuff). Dry ingredients first: 10 ounces of fresh breadcrumbs, 8 of soft brown sugar, 8 of currants, 10 of chopped raisins, 8 of sultanas, 2 of dried mixed peel, 10 of shredded suet (the packet kind!), plus ½ teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of mixed spice. Now mix in the grated zest of a lemon, a dessertspoon of lemon juice, 2 large, beaten eggs, ¼ pint of milk and a 300ml bottle of Guinness. Divide this between your pudding basins, that have been well-buttered (I’ve bought some of those plastic ones with proper lids so you don’t to bother with foil tops covered with tea towels, etc.). Add a sixpence if you want. Now for the first steaming…If you can fit them in one, then steam for 7 ½ hours – yes you heard me – SEVEN-AND-A-HALF!! If not, a bit of guess-work is required – did the 2 pint ones for four hours, and the 1 pint for three. Don’t know if it’s worked, we will just have to find out on Christmas Day! To store them, either keep them covered in a cool place or freeze them.
Yes I know they look bad in this state,
but they looked like proper puds when I'd done cooking 'em.
FYI: like mincemeat, the Christmas Pud was created as way of preserving meat, and the earliest recipe goes back to 1420, but it wasn't until the Victorians turned it into a proper dessert, did it become the familiar round shape topped with brandt butter, holly and flaming brandy. The stirring and steaming, traditionally occurred on 'Stir-Up Sunday', which was the first Sunday of Advent.BTW in case you were wondering, Richard Boston was a food writer for The Guardian newspaper.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
#87 Mrs Beeton's Traditional Mincemeat
The amounts are quite big in the recipe, so I’m giving you what I did which is half of Good Lady Beeton’s instructions:
Mix together 8 ounces of seedless raisins, 12 ounces of currants, 6 ounces of minced, lean rump steak, 12 ounces of fresh, chopped suet, 8 ounces of dark brown sugar, 1 ½ ounces of dried mixed peel, ¼ grated nutmeg, 12 ounces of apples that have been peeled, cored, and grated and the zest and juice of half a lemon. When all has been incorporated, mix in 2 ½ fluid ounces of brandy. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars. (To sterilise jars, place jars and lids in oven set to 110°C for 35 minutes). This recipe made enough for four big jars. Leave for at least two weeks…
FYI: Mincemeat recipes go back as far as the Fifteenth Century, and pretty much any meat was used for mincemeat - Sixteenth Century recipes use heart or mutton and bone marrow instead of suet. It's probably one of the few surviving Elizabethan dishes still made today.
…to be continued.
#86 Walnut Cake
For the cake:
Cream together 5 ounces of butter with 6 ounces of sugar; beat in 2 beaten eggs, then 8 ounces of sifted self-raising flour, 3 ounces of coarsely chopped walnuts and 4 dessertspoons of milk. Lastly, add half a teaspoon of vanilla essence (or use vanilla sugar instead of normal sugar). Line an 8 inch cake tin, add the mixture and bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours at 180°C. Test with a skewer, and when ready turn out onto a cake rack and allow to cool.
For the icing:
A bit tricky this bit…Stir a ¼ of a pint of water and a pound of sugar lumps in a pan under a low heat until the sugar gas dissolved. Raise the heat and add a generous pinch of cream of tartar. Boil the syrup until it has reached the soft-ball stage which is 120°C; easy if you have a sugar thermometer, which I don’t. Alternatively, as it boils, carefully remove a teaspoon-full of syrup and drop it into small cold water. Fish out the blob of sugar, and if it is soft but can form a ball between your fingers, you are done. You mustn’t stir the syrup as it boils; this reduces the temperature, causing the sugar to crystallise, resulting in total disaster. It takes a few minutes, so in the meantime, whisk two egg whites until stiff in an electric mixer, and when the syrup is ready pour it into the egg whites with the electric mixer on full-whack. Keep mixing until it has nearly set and then add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. You should have a lovely smooth meringue icing. Spread this over the cooled cake with a palette knife and decorate with some walnut halves.
It is very important to wait until the icing has nearly set – I didn’t and it went everywhere!
Not a wedding hat, but in fact, a cake.
#86 Walnut Cake – 6.5/10. Certainly an above-average cake as far as walnut cakes go. Not normally a big fan really. I think it may have been nicer with some coffee-flavoured butter cream instead of the posh icing, but that’s just me.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
#85 Caramelised Cox's Orange Pippins
I love Cox’s Orange Pippins; they’re my second favourite apple after the russet. You can’t beat an English apple in autumn. I don’t really buy them the rest of the year when they’re not in season and all you can buy are shipped over from France or whatever. I think they’ve had a resurgence over the last couple of years as I’ve spotted both varieties in supermarkets. If you can’t get hold of Cox’s Orange Pippins, I suppose you could use any eating apple, but these are the best eaters for cooking with.
Peel and core one apple per person top and tail them and cut into three thickish rounds. Fry the apples on a low to medium heat in butter until they start picking up a faint golden colour. Whilst that’s happening make some cinnamon sugar; one tablespoon of sugar to one teaspoon of cinnamon. I found that this was enough for two apples, but you put on whatever amount you like. When the apples are ready, sprinkle over the sugar. Keep the apples turning over every 30 seconds or so and you should magically end up with a nice sweet glaze covering them. It’s important not to have the heat too high, so be careful. Serve them immediately with a dollop of clotted cream. Piece of piss!
#85 Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins: 8/10. Sweet, sticky, fattening and delicious. Also, it’s one of your five fresh fruit and veg portions for the day. It’s a no-lose situation. Bravo Griggers; you’ve done it again, lady!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
#84 Shepherd's Pie
Chop a large onion and three cloves of garlic and stew them until soft in 3 tablespoons of oil. Raise the heat under the hob and add a pound of minced beef (or lamb), stir until browned. Next add a tablespoon of tomato puree, a ¼ of a pint of white wine, and ¼ of a pint of beef stock, keeping a few tablespoons in reserve. Slake 3 heaped teaspoons of cornflour in the reserved stock and add this to the beef. Season well with salt, and very well with pepper. I don’t understand it when people say that they don’t add salt when they’re cooking; it just all tastes so bland. Plus I don’t add anywhere near as must as the pre-made supermarket meals. Rant over. Simmer this for about 10 minutes and spoon off any surplus fat. Whilst simmering, boil 2 to 2 ½ pounds of potatoes (Grigson says boil them in their skins, but I skim-read the recipe and didn’t spot that sentence and peeled mine). Mash the spuds with 3 ounces of butter and up to ½ pint of milk (depending upon how sloppy you like it). Season the potato well too, readers. Pour the meat into a casserole dish and pile on the potatoes. Run a fork through the top so as to add texture to the spuds and so they crisp up nicely. Sprinkle over an ounce of grated Cheddar and a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC, and then turn the oven down to 180ºC and bake for a further 45 minutes.
#84 Shepherd’s Pie 8.5/10. The secret ingredient of a Shepherd’s Pie, it seems, is white wine. It enriches the whole thing without making it too rich, as red wine would do. It’s a bit frivolous, I know, but you could swap the wine for more stock if you liked.
Monday, October 20, 2008
#83 Almond Fingers
The recipe is in two stages: First of all you need to make a sweet pastry for the base. Cream together 4 ounces of softened butter and 3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar. Next, beat in an egg, then a tablespoon of lemon juice, and 8 ounces of plain flour. Wrap the pastry in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour, or the freezer for 20 minutes if rushed for time, as I was. Roll out the pastry into a lined 7 x 11 inch Swiss roll tin. Don’t worry if it breaks up – sugary pastry always does – just fill in any holes with spare bits. Lastly, spread a thin layer of apricot jam over the pastry and phase one is complete!
Now make the filling: Cream together 5 ounces of softened butter with the same weight of vanilla sugar (make your own), beat in 2 eggs, then a heaped tablespoon of flour, 4 ounces of ground almonds and lastly, 2 tablespoons of dark rum. Spread this evenly over the sweet pastry and sprinkle over 2 ounces of slivered almonds. Bake at 180ºC for 35-40 minutes.
#83 Almond Fingers. 7.5/10. Jane was right; much better than any bought nonsense. The whole remains very moist, almost like a cookie. I feel that I was a bit too tipsy to appreciate it, I hear Stuart was still eating them a couple of days after, so they can’t have been bad.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Makes four servings:
First of all make some Yorkshire pudding batter. I usually do this by eye, but followed Grigger’s measurements which do turn out well. Mix 8 ounces of plain flour with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and break 3 eggs into it. Make up a pint of half-milk, half-water and add about a third of it to the flour and eggs. Whisk this into a thick paste – adding only some of the liquid at the beginning should prevent lumps. Keep adding the liquid until the batter is the consistency of double cream. Leave to rest.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220ºC and then brown a pound of sausages in an ounce of lard in a frying pan; you’re not cooking them through, just getting two decent brown stripes along their lengths. Strain the fat into a large roasting pan and pour a thin layer of batter and bake in the oven until set – about 5 minutes. Place the sausages on top of the set batter and pour over the rest. Bake for 35 minutes. The batter should rise up and be a nice golden brown. Serve with some veg and onion gravy.
#82 Toad-in-the-Hole: 9/10. I love this kind of food. Can’t go wrong with this kind of food. If for some reason you have never had it before, simply go and make it right now. You have a recipe. It’s very easy. The only thing I ask is that you buy good sausages and make onion gravy to go with it, otherwise it’s just not the same.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
#81 Northumbrian Wholemeal Scones
I have no idea what make these scones particularly Northumbrian. Ideas anyone?
Here’s what to do…
Makes about 12 scones.
Mix 1 ½ pounds of stone-ground wholemeal flour with a teaspoon of salt, rub in 2 ounces of chilled lard (I used hands here rather than the mixer for a change) and make a well in the middle. Mix ¼ pint of milk with ¼ pint of boiling water and pour about a teacup full of it into dish or small bowl and stir in a tablespoon of golden syrup. Fork in an ounce of fresh yeast into the syrup mixture and allow it to froth up. This is much quicker than the dried stuff, it took only 10 minutes in my cold kitchen! Tip it into the flour along with the rest of the water-milk mixture. Be careful though, don’t add it all at once; you need a ‘soft but not sloppy dough’ says Griggers. I actually needed a little more. Put some clingfilm over the top of the bowl so it doesn’t dry out and let the Sacchromyces do its work until the dough as doubled in size. Roll out the dough, keeping it fairly thick, and cut out rounds with a scone cutter. Place scones on a baking tray, cover again and allow to prove. When they’ve risen again, brush them with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes at 220ºC.
#81 Northumbrian Wholemeal Scones – 7/10. Griggers suggests eating them hot with butter and honey. And so right she is. Bloody marvellous. They are just as good as normal scones. They’re not sweet, but a lovely malty flavour instead. I also had some the next day for a quick tea – split two and grilled them with cheese on. I’ve frozen the rest to keep me in a constant supply.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
#80 Oxtail Soup
I got the oxtails from W H Frost in Chorlton – a very good butcher. I chatted to the man briefly and he mentioned that he could pretty much get anything I want in as long as I order it in plenty of time. Good man! The butcher in Levenshulme is good for the basics, but it’s nice to see there’s somewhere I can get the weird and (not so) wonderful stuff.
I would recommend to giving it a try. If you’re not used to strange cuts or offal, then this is the place to start. It’s not particularly gory and the meat is pleasantly beefy. However, you need to start it the day before you want to eat it.
The day before:
Start off by removing any surplus fat from the tail that the butcher didn’t quite get rid of. Chop three stalks of celery, stud an onion with three cloves and slice a small turnip and a carrot. Next, melt 2 ounces of butter in a large pan and brown the meat and vegetables. This takes about 10 minutes as there’s quite a lot of stuff in the pan. Don’t be coy; have the heat quite high, as you don’t want the vegetables to stew. Give a stir now and again. Meanwhile make a bouquet garni – I used 2 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme some parsley stalk (all fresh, but kept in the freezer). When sufficiently browned, add the bouquet along with 4 pints of water and a teaspoon of peppercorns and season with salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently until the meat is coming away from the bones. This took around four hours. Strain the beefy stock you have created into a bowl and allow to cool. You can discard the veg, but I ate them! The final job is to pick the meat from the bones and plop the meaty chunks back into the soup. Refrigerate the soup over night.
On the day:
Much easier! You’ve done the hard work. Using a spoon, skim off the fat that has risen to the surface and solidified. Reheat the soup to simmering point and add 5 tablespoons of port. This makes all the difference. Don’t dare miss it out. Check the seasoning, you can be pretty bold I reckon. If it is not beefy enough, cheat as I did and add a small amount of stock concentrate.
#80 Oxtail Soup – 7.5/10. Even though I cheated, it is still a beautiful soup. The simple combination of a well-flavoured stock, chunky beef and the sweet port wine is addictive!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
#79 Carrot and Hazelnut Cake
A favourite of the group is carrot cake, and there is a recipe in English Food – though it’s very different to the American carrot cake. It’s made without using fat, like a Genoese spoge to make it light and has the added bonus of having hazelnuts in it. Couldn’t resist not sandwiching it with American-style cream cheese filling.
FYI: Carrots have been used for desserts quite a lot in England. Mrs. Beeton had a sweet, chewy carrot tart in her book; it was revived as mock apricot tart during rationing in the Second World War, if I remember rightly (not that I was in WWII, you understand).
Separate four eggs and add to the yolks to the bowl of a food mixer along with 4 ounces of caster sugar. Whisk them together until pale and frothy. This takes a while so meanwhile finely grate 4 ounces of carrots and blitz 2 ounces of toasted hazelnuts in a food processor (or, heaven-forbid, chop them by hand!). Fold these into the eggy mixture along with 4 ounces of sifted, plain flour. Next, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Slaken the mixture by stirring in a third of the whites and then fold in the rest. Spoon the mixture into two greased and papered 9 inch cake tins and bake at 190ºC for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes. They’re ready when the sponge springs back pressed lightly. Cool on wire racks.
To make the filling, beat together 8 ounces of full-fat soft cheese with 5 ounces of softened unsalted butter, once incorporated, beat in 4 tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Use this to sandwich the cakes together. Dust the whole thing with icing sugar, if you please.
#79 Carrot and Hazelnut Cake - 8/10. A success. Every seemed to like it. Much less dense than a typical carrot cake. I could only have a tiny wee sliver since I’m meant to be on a carb-free week this week, but I had to taste it for the blog, didn’t I!?
Monday, September 22, 2008
One year (and a bit) young...
That said, I'm very pleased that I've managed to keep it up this long. I'm still very eager to keep ploughing through them and very happy that so many people seem to be looking at the blog - whod've thunk it!? I'm glad I was talked into it. So cheers to everyone who's taken part, cheers for reading and cheers to everyone who has commented thus far. Year 2 will be better, I feel!
All I need to do is get off my lilly-white ass and get cooking somthing; maybe I'll do something tonight..?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
#78 Doris Grant's Loaf
Add 1 ½ level tablespoons of dried yeast to 1 ½ rounded teaspoons of dark Barbados sugar (you can use honey, but I like burnt liquorice taste you get off molasses) and whisk in 1 ½ tablespoons of blood-heat water in a small bowl. Leave yeast to active and foam, which takes 20-30 minutes. I found that placing the bowl in a larger one filled with warm water sped the whole process up. While that’s happening weight out 1 ½ pounds of stone-ground wholemeal flour into a large bowl and mix in a teaspoon of salt. If (like me) you don’t have somewhere warm like an airing-cupboard, but the flour in an over at the lowest temperature possible and let it warm through. When the yeast is ready, make a well in the flour and pour in the frothy mixture and slowly pour in one pint of blood-heat water, mixing thoroughly with your hands (no need for mixers, here!). The dough should be quite sticky, though you may find you don’t need all the water. Split the mixture between a large and a small loaf tin that have been greased and allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes (I put it back in the still-warm oven). Bake for 40 minutes at 200°C.
FYI: Doris Grant was a very popular post-war cook and suggested this recipe as an alternative to the ‘national loaf’, which I can imagine flaccid and tasteless (though probably no way near as bad as our standard supermarket loaves these days).
#78 Doris Grant’s Loaf – 8/10. On my first slice, I thought I’d messed it up as it is not a light fluffy loaf, but quite heavy and mealy like soda bread. After another slice, I was hooked, and managed to eat most it to myself! Griggers suggests slicing it thinly with smoked salmon, but I’m not really a fan, so I had butter, farmhouse Cheddar and chilli jam. Go out and make this!!
A New Venture?
Anyway, in order to do some of the more interesting and challenging dishes in the book, I have decided on a new venture: The Grigson Kitchen. The idea being I make a nice two or three course meal for a few friends at least once a month and we all go Dutch on the bill. What do we think readers? A good idea? I’m going to start with Lee, Evelyn and her chap Ed. Evelyn is, however, extremely picky about her food, but had kindly picked out several recipes she likes the sound of. I think I am going to start off by doing some salt beef from scratch – I managed to find a seller of saltpetre on ebay which is probably cut with rat poison or something, but we’ll see. It does, however, take a month to pickle/brine/cure/whatever the right adjective is, so I need to do something else in the mean time.
One of the meals, I think, should be offal-based. So if you are in Manchester and fancy a meal that is slightly bizarre drop me a message; I’m hardly going to roast marrow bones for myself now am I?
Thursday, September 4, 2008
#77 Baked Semolina Pudding
Start by measuring out 1 ½ pints of milk, and use a little of it to mix into 2 ounces of semolina so that a paste is formed. Bring the rest of the milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a split vanilla pod slowly to the boil. When boiling, tip in the milk and whisk vigorously to avoid any lumps and return to the pan to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Take it off the heat and stir in two egg yolks and then fold in two stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour the whole lot into a buttered ovenproof dish (leave the vanilla pod in) and bake at 190°C for 15-20 minutes until the pudding has set and it had gone brown on top.
FYI: Semolina means ‘part-milled’ in Italian as it is produced from the partly ground Durum wheat the Italians use to make pasta.
#77 Baked Semolina Pudding - 5.5/10. I liked the dessert; an odd mix of traditional semolina pud and, as I said, a soufflé. The only problem I had with it, is that it wasn’t sweet enough – 2 tablespoons ain’t enough, Sister. I think I would add an extra tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle some on top too for good measure.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
#76 Teisen Nionod (Welsh Onion Cake)
Start off by slicing 2 pounds of peeled potatoes with a food processor or mandolin. Put the slices in a bowl of cold water to rinse the starchiness away and dry them on a clean tea-towel. Next, slice a pound of onions into thin rings, do this by hand though as they cook quicker than potatoes and don’t need to be super-thin. Grease and line a baking dish with foil (if you want to turn out the ‘cake’ at the end), and start layering the potato followed by the onions. Season and add small pats of butter between each layer, repeat as many times as possible, but make sure you finish with a layer of potato; all-in-all aim to use 3 to 4 ounces of butter. Then, melt a final ounce of butter and pour it over. This is the basic dish, but I added a small (150ml) pot of cream and six tablespoons of water to it so that it was a sort of potato Dauphiniose. Cover with another layer of foil and bake for 1 ½ hours at 180°C, removing the foil in the last half hour, so the potatoes crisp up. Turn out onto a large serving dish if you like, and serve with bread.
You could add a quarter of a pint of beef stock instead of cream. Pickles go very well with it if you are not using cream in the dish. You could even place a small joint of lamb on top of the vegetables – though add only a little stock and use only the melted butter. Skim off any excess fat before serving it up.
#76 Teisen Nionod (Welsh Onion Cake) – 8/10. This is definitely one the best dishes so far. It’s easy and cheap and delicious. There are many variation of this dish it seems – Tyneside, Wales and Yorkshire all have their variation on essentially the same recipe – and each time I cook them I’m always surprise how tasty they are. Go and cook it – plus, with the credit crunch and all, you'll be doing your bank balance a favour!
Monday, September 1, 2008
#75 Lockets Savoury
This recipe is for one person, so just multiply up depending on how many you need:
Start by toasting two slices of white bread and cutting off the crusts. Place the toast in a baking dish. Rinse some water cress and place it over the toast in a good layer. Peel, core and thinly sliced a pear (I used Comice) and place the slices on top of the watercress – no need to be neat! Finally thinly slice 2 ounces of Stilton cheese and place it evenly over the slices. Bake for 10 minutes at 175°C, and grate plenty of black pepper on top before serving.
#75 Lockets Savoury – 6.5/10. A delicious and quick dinner or tea. Warming the pars makes them even more aromatic and sweet than usual, which contrasts beautifully with the Stilton, plus the toast and watercress remain intact and don’t go soggy. However, I wonder how much better it is than just some pears, Stilton, salad and some good biscuits. There’s not much in it I reckon.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
A Trip to Anglesey
I did get a chance however to redo the Cornish pasties. This time they turned out much better; it seems I was correct in my review, you need to incorporate the lard very slowly into the flour. In fact, I made it in two half-sized batches just to be on the safe side. The pastry was delicious and was very different to a normal butter or half-butter-half-lard pastry. I’m not quite sure why – it just had a more appropriate flavour. It’s difficult to describe, I suppose it’s like comparing chips cooked dripping to those cooked in vegetable oil: you can’t taste beef dripping, but they taste so much better.
Because of these revelations, the pasties are being promoted from a score of 2/10 to 7/10.
FYI: there is much debate as to how the word pasty should be pronounced. Should it be with a long ‘a’ or a short? Griggers reckons a long ‘a’ since Cornish pasties come from ‘Down South’, but I think it should be short as it makes them sound more homely. Rick Stein agrees, apparently.
#74 Vanilla Ice Cream with Plum Sauce and Lace Biscuits
You can make any of the three elements in any order.
The vanilla ice-cream
Boil half a pint of milk or single cream (however, see review bit, below) along with a split vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out. Pour gradually onto 2 egg yolks, a whole egg and 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar, whisking all the way. Then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and heat gently until it thickens slightly. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat too high as you’ll get scrambled eggs. Pour the whole lot through a sieve and back into the bowl. You don’t have to sieve it, but it will remove any scrambled egg bits, should there be any. Fish out the vanilla pod; you can wash and dry it and use it again later (I keep mine in a jar of sugar, in case a recipe asks for vanilla sugar). Cover with cling-film and allow to cool.
When cold, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and when about half frozen, add half a pint of whipped double cram. Keep churning in the mixer until stiff enough to scoop into a tub and freeze. Make sure that you bring the ice cream out of the freezer at least half an hour before you want to serve it.
The lace biscuits
These are quite tricky customers. You can make them big or small, but the bigger they are, the more difficult they are to handle. I did big ones which looked great, but were a total nightmare. There was a small amount of swearing involved, so I recommend not to make them with children present.
Before you start making them, grease two baking sheets and a rolling pin, and set your oven to 180°C. Next, gently melt 2 ½ ounces of butter and take it off the heat. Mix in2 ½ ounces of rolled porridge oats, 4 ounces of caster sugar and a teaspoon each of flour and baking powder, then beat in the egg. Using a dessert spoon, drop blobs of the mixture at least 2 inches apart from each other as they do spread out rather a lot. The more generous you are with your spoons the bigger the biscuits will be. Bake one sheet at a time for 8-12 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown.
This is the tricky bit: Using a palette knife, remove the still-soft biscuits from the baking tray and drape over the rolling pin. Wait about 30 seconds for it to solidify a little and transfer to a wire rack to cool properly. Hey presto, a posh curly biscuit! Repeat with all the biscuits. If they start getting to hard again, just put them back in the oven to soften up.
The plum sauce
De-stone and slice 1 ½ pounds of ripe plums and gently heat with a few tablespoons of water in a saucepan. Make sure the fruit doesn’t stick. Meanwhile make a caramel. I’d never done this before, but it was a piece of piss, so don’t be scared. Stir 8 ounces of sugar in 5 tablespoons of water very gently over a low heat. When dissolved, stop stirring and bring it to the boil. Keep doing this for about 10 minutes until it’s a lovely dark caramel colour. Whilst it’s boiling, liquidise and sieve the stewed plums. When the caramel is ready, take off the heat and very gradually add 6 tablespoons of cold water by stirring. Be very careful here – if you add too much, it will spit on you. I cannot be responsible for any injuries! When fully incorporated, return to the heat to dissolve any lumps and stir in the plums. When cool, add a slosh of port; I’ll leave the amounts to you, as it depends on taste, though I put in around 4 tablespoons.
To present: Place one or two scoops of ice cream onto a biscuit and pour over the sauce.
#74 Vanilla Ice with Plum Sauce and Lace Biscuits – 9/10. A brilliant dessert! Everything works together perfectly. One of the best things about this dish is the real restaurant-quality feel you get about it. All the other desserts, even the ones that are a bit posh, are no way near as impressive as this. I made the ice cream with milk instead of cream, and it didn’t have the silky texture it had when I made the ginger ice cream (it’s exactly the same recipe, except for the flavourings). If I’d one it with cream, I think it would’ve been a 10!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
#73 Lady Shaftesbury's Toasted Cheese
I do have to warn you, you DO get nightmares: I had totally trippy repetitive dreams all night and hardly got a wink of sleep, and Greg said he had nightmares and anxiety dreams, yet I heard him laughing in his sleep! Weird. I think I’ll conduct a scientific experiment in the future – there’s about six more of this kind of recipe; I’ll get people round, we’ll eat them all, score them, and then keep a dream diary. Thus proving the old wives’ tale as rock-solid fact!
Anyway, here’s the recipe. Divide it between however many people you want. Monitor your dream s though! And don’t eat if prone to sleepwalking.
In a saucepan, gently melt 2 ounces of butter, then, keeping the heat quite low, mix in 7 ounces of good grated Farmhouse Cheddar cheese, 6 tablespoons of cream, 2 large egg yolks, plus salt and pepper. Whilst stirring, get the grill nice and hot and toast a slice of brown bread, which should be buttered afterwards and cut into soldiers. When all the cheese has melted into a thick gloop, pour into ramekins and grill until the tops are browned. Serve immediately with the toast.
#73 Lady Shaftesbury’s Toasted Cheese: 8/10. Really delicious and simple to do. Although, by Jane’s standard, we have iron stomachs, a third is still only a little bit, but and is definitely enough to fill you up. I daren’t work out the amount of calories and saturated fat in this. Oh well, I’ll double my efforts at the gym.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
#72 Madeira Cake
Cream 6 ounces of butter and the same of sugar until light and fluffy. Sift 9 ounces of flour and half a teaspoon of baking powder into a separate bowl. Next, stir in 4 large eggs one at time, adding a small amount of flour between each egg to avoid them splitting the mixture. Once incorporated, stir in the rest of the flour and the grated rind of half a lemon. Pour the mixture into a lined or greased 8 inch cake tin. Bake at 180°C for anywhere between 50 minutes and 1 ½ hours, depending on your oven’s idiosyncrasies (I’m still getting used to mine). Half-way through the cooking time, place two strips of lemon zest on the centre of the cake. To test if it’s cooked, stab it with a skewer. When it’s ready let it cool for about 10 minutes before tuning out onto a wire rack.
#72 Madeira Cake – 7/10. I really liked this cake. I usually prefer something with a bit of cream or icing, but in combination with the sweet Madeira wine, it is really lovely. How refined!
#71 Rolls Filled with Cheese and Tomato Paste
Greg sneaking in sarnie before dinner
For six: Slice 6 small baguettes in half longways and scoop out as much of the bread from inside as possible without creating any holes in the bread; breadcrumb the scooped-out bread in a food processor. Next, chop a small onion very finely, and soften gently in 2 ounces of butter. Chop up three skinned tomatoes and add to the mixture – you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato puree and some sugar at this point, unless you grow your own tomatoes, or live in Spain. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes, until all is quite thick. Whisk in the egg and keep stirring until the sauce thickens even more – don’t let it boil or the eggs will scramble. Take off the heat and stir in 2 ounces of grated Cheddar cheese, and the breadcrumbs – don’t add them all at once, you may not need them all. Season with salt and pepper and stir in a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Fill the rolls with the paste along with a layer of something green – lettuce, watercress, or whatever.
#71 Rolls Filled with Cheese and Tomato Paste – 6.5/10. They are certainly bizarre but very good, at first I wasn’t sure if I liked them, but as I scoffed away as I walked about, I decided that I did. Though I’m not sure if a ‘normal’ cheese and tomato sarnie is better. They went oddly well with lagers that Jono brought along.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
#70 Cornish Pasties
Start off by making the pastry. Cornish pasty pastry should be made with lard as the only fat, apparently. Grigson doesn't give much instruction on how to make pastry other than, fat and flour are to be used in a ratio of 1:2. To make two large pasties I used a pound of flour and 8 ounces of chilled, cubed lard. It sounds a lot, but these are big pasties! Start off by rubbing the flour into the fat, along with a pinch of salt. Use the tips of your fingers, or the appropriate attachment on your food mixer. I usually go for the mixer as it doesn't make the fat warm up like fingertips do. Don't be tempted to put the mixer on a high speed; use the lowest setting possible (see review, below). Let the pastry rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Meanwhile, chop up a pound of beef - use skirt, chuck, or as I did, top rib. Make sure all the fat and gristle is cut off. Chop a four-ounce onion, and thinly slice 3 ounces of turnip and 8 ounces of potato. Mix the vegetables and meat in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper - do not skimp - plus a pinch of fresh or dried thyme.
Divide the pastry into two and roll one half to the size of a large dinner plate, pile in half the mixture in a line down the centre of the pastry circle, pull up the sides and crimp them together using water as glue. Place it on a baking tray and brush with egg. Repeat with the other half. Bake for 20 minutes at 200ºC, then turn down the oven to 180ºC for a further 40 minutes.
#70 Cornish Pasty - 2/10. The first disaster of the project! I've given the recipe because I know what I did wrong - because I was making such a large amount of pastry, I tried to hurry it along by turning the speed of my mixer too high. The result of this is the fat doesn't form 'breadcrumbs', it softens too early and doesn't get incorporated properly. If you are making it, heed my advice! It would perhaps make two lots of pastry, using half the required amounts of fat and flour. The filling was delicious , but the pastry turned into dust, I couldn't even get them of the baking tray without them collapsing. Instead I ate the filling with a spoon, and threw the rest in the bin. I am going to try them again next week.