Friday, January 26, 2007

GREEK LAMB STEW


I have made this once before, but wasn't too happy with the result. This time it was perfect. I cooked it in the slow cooker, popped it in the fridge overnight and then the next day I brought it to the boil on the hob and then cooked the stew again for a few hours in the slow cooker.


HOW TO EAT BY NIGELLA LAWSON

ISBN 0701165766 - Page 108

Serves: 10 people but the recipe can easily be scaled down.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: The meat was meltingly tender and the sauce was luscious.

It is important to lightly brown the meat and not to make the meat too crusty. The onions really do need some long slow cooking on the hob before adding them to the stew pot - use Nigella's tip and sprinkle the onions whilst they are cooking with salt and this stops them browning, remember this isn't a brown stew and so caramelized onions are not what you are after here, but soft and translucent.
For the wine I used a chardonnay and this seemed to be perfect for the sauce, perhaps my choice of wine was wrong last time and hence I wasn't too happy with the end result.
Nigella suggests using ditalini pasta but I couldn't get hold of this and so used festoni pasta from Waitrose. The pasta should be stirred into the stew at the end, but I chose to serve the pasta separately.
The feta cheese mixed with parsley, was crumbled over the top, and melted into the stew beautifully. Don't be tempted to leave out the cheese and parsley, otherwise you will be disappointed with the end result. I served the stew with some sundried tomato bread.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Slow Cooker.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Belu Water


Have you heard of the above natural mineral water? The name is pronounced Belloo or Blue. All profits go to clean water projects and every bottle bought gives someone clean water for a month. The water comes from two natural springs - one in Shropshire and one in the Black Mountains. Another interesting fact - they have brought out the UK's first compostable bio-bottle made from corn! Next time you buy a bottle of water, how about giving this beautiful water pride of place on the dinner table? For more information visit their wonderful website www.belu.org.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

CAPPUCCINO CUPCAKES


I am a cappuccino lover and also love a good cupcake! A combination made in heaven for me, and so there was nothing for it but to have a go at making these.

HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS BY NIGELLA LAWSON


ISBN 0701168889 - PAGE 199

MAKES 12

SKILL LEVEL: Easy

TASTE TEST: Very light coffee sponge, with minor adjustments made to the topping this proved to be light, sticky and not too sweet.



The sponge used instant espresso powder instead of the usual coffee granules or coffee essence. The coffee taste was far superior and gave a much more sophisticated taste. I am now a convert to instant espresso powder.
The mixture for the cupcakes was just whizzed in the food processor and so that part was extremely easy.
I read somewhere that the topping was toothachingly sweet and so I proceeded with caution, making some minor adjustments to the recipe.
My adjustments are as follows: I used 45g white chocolate, 85g unsalted butter, 142ml sour cream and 130g icing sugar. By looking at the original recipe you will see I have cut down considerably on the icing sugar and to counteract the sweetness I used quite a lot more sour cream.
The topping was softly set and sticky, but perfect on taste for me.
These cakes were gratefully received by the lucky people who got to eat them!

KITCHEN EQUIPMENT USED: Magimix Food Processor

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CHICKEN WITH LEEKS AND CREAM PIE


I love a well made chicken pie, and this recipe is especially good. The lid is made with puff pastry, always a winner in my house.


SOPHIE CONRAN'S PIES


ISBN 0-00-723573-9
- Page 91

Serves: 6 people.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Full of flavour and very comforting.

I didn't follow the recipe to the letter but made a few adjustments. Chicken thighs were used in the original recipe - but I am afraid that I am not a lover of these and so I cooked up some chicken breasts instead. Also Sophie uses dried rosemary in her recipe but I think fresh is a much better option. Leeks play a big part in this recipe and so tasty organic are best, after all you only get out of a pie what you put in. A pie raiser was placed in the middle of the dish before topping with the puff pastry otherwise the pastry is in danger of slipping from the sides of the dish.
Sophie suggests serving this with roast potatoes - how right she is.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Falcon oblong enamel pie dish.

Monday, January 01, 2007

LITTLE LEMON CAKES


These are a small cake for the summer really, but after all the Christmas wining and dining I thought a hit of lemon would be just the thing to kickstart the new year. The photograph was taken just after the lemon syrup was poured onto the cakes and before the syrup had soaked into the little cakes.

FALLING CLOUDBERRIES BY TESSA KIROS

ISBN 9781740453646 - PAGE 261

Serves: 6 people.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Light, fluffy and a good hit of lemon.

I had a lemon left over from Christmas, hence this recipe was made.

You will need six 185ml well buttered and floured ramekins or a 20cm tin. I find Cake Release from www.lakelandlimited.co.uk a brilliant product and cakes come out of tins very easily if you use this.

100g slightly softened butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon baking powder
60ml milk
juice of half a lemon

Icing:
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
50g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180° C/350° F/Gas 4.
2. Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, then add the egg yolk and vanilla and whisk in well. Add the sifted flour, lemon rind and baking powder and fold in with a large metal spoon to incorporate it all. Pour in the milk and lemon juice and stir well. With clean beaters, whisk the egg white in a small bowl until it is very white and fluffy, then fold it into the cake mixture with a metal spoon.
3. Drop 2 heaped tablespoons of the mixture into each ramekin, ensuring that the base is covered and the mixture is even. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cakes are deep golden and a bit crusty on the top, but still soft to touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Put the ramekins on a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the cakes by putting a knife down the side of each ramekin and lifting them out.
4. To make the icing, whisk the lemon juice and icing sugar together until smooth and fairly thick, adding a little more of either if it seems necessary. Put the cooled cakes on a flat plate, make a few holes with a skewer in the top of each one and dribble the icing over the top.
5. I served these with Greek yogurt.

Even if you don't cook anything from the book, buy it just to look at the wonderful photographs and read the text.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Kenwood Hand Mixer
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