Monday, June 25, 2007

FISH AND CHIPS


Fish and chips are a popular takeaway food, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. I know a lot of people go to their local 'chippy' (fish and chip shop) and take them home wrapped up in paper.

The problem with doing this, is that by the time you get them home, the steam trapped inside the paper has done a splendid job of making the fish batter and chips soggy. Then to top it all they are lukewarm!

Do you put the fish and chip paper onto a plate and eat them with your fingers, or do you tip them out of the paper onto a plate and eat them with a knife and fork? Either way, I'll pass on that one thank you.

There's a time and place to eat fish and chips from the 'chippy', and that time for me, is either walking along the seafront, taking in the sea air, or sitting on the wall looking out to sea. The chips at the bottom of the paper are going slightly soggy from the wonderful, golden, crispy fish lying on top of the chips (mine have got salt and vinegar on!). This is my idea of fish and chip heaven.

Occasionally I make battered fish, chips and mushy peas (the recipe for the mushy peas belongs to Nigella Lawson and I have posted this below). Oh! and don't forget to serve them with good pickled onions and white bread and butter.


BATTER

This batter is wonderfully crisp and golden.

Makes enough batter mixture to coat four average size pieces of fish.

6 oz self-raising flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
(For a very crispy batter you can add 3 teaspoons of malt vinegar to the batter).

1. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and pour in enough water to make a thick gloopy batter. Leave for 1 hour to rest.
2. Dry the fish well. Coat with seasoned flour. Dip into the gloopy batter.
3. Heat a deep fat fryer to 180°c and cook the fish on both sides until golden brown.

I always acknowledge the source of my recipes, but in this instance, I don't have a reference. The recipe came from a television programme, more years ago than I care to remember!

UPMARKET MUSHY PEAS

Nigella's original recipe for the peas (which includes a head of garlic and creme fraiche) is to go with roast cod for a more formal fish dinner.

I have adapted this recipe to go with the fish and chip dinner above.

HOW TO EAT - NIGELLA LAWSON

ISBN 0701165766 - PAGE 194

800g frozen petits pois, 100g butter.

1. Cook the peas for longer than you would do if you were eating them normally.
2. Drain, then tip into the bowl of a food processor, add the butter and process.
3. Place the peas back into the saucepan and reheat.

These mushy peas are a doddle to make and so why not give them a go?

Monday, June 18, 2007

ORANGE POUND CAKE

Well - I don't think it's ever going to stop raining and this cake is just the thing to make for 'rainy day baking'.
The cake in the photograph looks very orange, but I promise you, it isn't food
colouring, I used only fresh orange juice.
Making this cake is a doddle, all the ingredients are mixed together for a couple of minutes in a bowl (easy!).
The butter cream is different from your usual creaming together of icing sugar and unsalted butter - there isn't any icing sugar in sight for this one. If you don't like butter cream, maybe you will enjoy this filling.

JAMES MARTIN COOKBOOK - THE GREAT BRITISH VILLAGE SHOW

ISBN 9781405320801 - PAGE 160

Serves 6-8

125g soft butter, 125g vanilla caster sugar, 125g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, grated zest of 1 large orange, juice of ½ large orange, 125g eggs (about 2 medium eggs), 1 rounded tbsp ground almonds (optional).

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan(170°C/Gas 3). Line the bottom and long sides of a 23cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Put all the ingredients for the cake into a bowl and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch.
3. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then take hold of the edges of the baking parchment and lift the cake onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

BUTTER CREAM
125g granulated sugar, 3 tbsp orange juice, 2 egg yolks, beaten, 125g soft, unsalted butter.

1. Dissolve the sugar with the juice, then put a sugar thermometer in the pan and boil to 115°C or a fraction higher. Put the egg yolks in a bowl. Tip in the boiling syrup and beat vigorously with an electric mixer. Before the mixture is cold, add the soft butter and beat again until light, creamy and thickened. Chill in the fridge to firm up (this takes a while).
2. Cut the cake horizontally in half. Fill with the butter cream, keeping back a little to smooth on top (I found I didn't use all of the butter cream).

TO FINISH
A handful of flaked almonds, sifted icing sugar.
Scatter over the almonds and dust with icing sugar before serving.

This cake is definitely in my repertoire now, it not only looked fabulous, but tasted fabulous too.

SIMPLE SCONES


These scones are wonderfully soft and light textured. The unusual thing about this recipe is that you melt the butter, rather than rub the butter into the flour.
I love watching them through the oven door as they miraculously puff up and become golden!
Afternoon Tea has become popular again in hotels, and scones are one of the stars on the cake stand.
I was fortunate, on a recent trip to London, to have Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley, a real girlie treat. They were very accommodating too, with Nanna, Mummy, baby and pushchair in tow, and made us all very welcome (in fact, I think baby made their day!).

BILLS FOOD - BILL GRANGER

ISBN 174045085 - PAGE 94

Makes 8

310g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1½ tablespoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 250ml milk, 30g butter, melted.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C(425°F/Gas 7). Sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the melted butter and milk (you may not need all of the milk) and stir to combine. Knead quickly and lightly until smooth and then press out onto a floured surface.
2. Cut into rounds 5cm in diameter and 3cm deep and place them close together on a greased baking tray. Gather the scraps together, lightly knead again, then cut out more rounds.
3. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden.
4. Serve with jam and lightly whipped cream.

Yummy!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

GOATS' CHEESE, PINENUT AND CHERRY TOMATO TARTS



Meeta over at 'What's for lunch, Honey?' is hosting 'Big Birthday Bang'. When I took a peek at her site to see what everyone else was taking, I thought maybe something on the light side would be a good idea.

The wonderful thing about this particular dish, is that it is light and tasty, and what's more you will have plenty of room left to sample something that everyone else has made. Crafty me!

This is my type of recipe where you can go to the fridge, freezer and store cupboard and have all the ingredients to hand, and then pop outside the kitchen door and pick some herbs.

My favourite ingredients make up this tart, goat's cheese, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and thyme. I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do.

FAB FAST FOOD


ISBN 0600604683 - PAGE 36

SERVES: - 4 people (or mostly 2 I'm afraid to say!)

4 filo pastry sheets, each about 25cm square, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 20 cherry tomatoes, halved, 200g firm goat's cheese, cut into 1cm cubes, 20g pine nuts, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, rocket or spinach, to serve.

1. Lightly grease 4 individual tartlet tins, each about 10 cm in diameter. Brush a sheet of filo pastry with a little olive oil. Cut in half, then across into 4 equal-sized squares and use these to line one of the tins. Repeat with the remaining pastry. Brush any remaining oil over the pastry in the tins.
2. Place 5 tomato halves in the bottom of each tartlet. Top with the cheese, then add the remaining tomato halves and pine nuts. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and season well.
3. Bake the tartlets in a preheated oven, 200°C(400°F) Gas Mark 6, for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot with a leafy green salad.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

ASPARAGUS TARTS





I have seen lots of food blogs showcasing asparagus and thought if I wasn't careful I would miss the moment, and for lovers of asparagus there is even an Asparagus Festival in the Vale of Evesham from Sunday, 27th May to Sunday, 3rd June, 2007.

Nigel Slater in The Kitchen Diaries shares with us the way he likes to eat his spears, with butter not melted, but soft enough to sink a finger in. He eats his spears at home the way he was taught by an asparagus farmer in Evesham. You boil them in deep, salted water till they will bend and are a dull, muted green - 'that way, they have more of a flavour to 'em'. You eat them with nothing but a china plate of brown bread cut as thin as you dare, buttered as if you were plastering a wall.

With the asparagus spears that were left after making the pie, I ate the rest of them the Nigel Slater way!!

My preference is to roast asparagus, none of the flavour is lost into the water that way. Nigel Slater in his book Appetite gives an easy way to roast asparagus - just wrap them in foil with a spoonful of water and a slice of butter tucked inside.

The following recipe is by Antony Worrall Thompson and the tarts were eaten greedily and with much appreciation. The asparagus in the photograph was grown in the Heart of England.

BBC GOODFOOD MAGAZINE -

ANTONY'S WEEKEND COOKBOOK

ISBN 0563493801 - PAGE 126
SERVES: 4

500g ready-made puff pastry, thawed if frozen. A little plain flour, for dusting. Unsalted butter, for greasing. 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. 1 large onion, thinly sliced. 16 asparagus spears, trimmed. 1 egg, beaten. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tomato salad, to serve.

1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to 0.5 cm thickness. Cut the pastry into four even-sized rectangles, each about 20 x 10 cm and trim down the edges. Arrange on a large greased baking sheet, prick all over with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for 3-4 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. Blanch the asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and refresh quickly under cold running water. Set aside to cool completely.
4. Spread the softened onion over the pastry bases, leaving a 1 cm border around the edges. Arrange the asparagus spears on top to cover the onion completely and brush lightly with the remaining olive oil.
5. Brush the pastry borders with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese over the whole tart. Season to taste and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Remove the tarts from the oven, transfer to warmed plates and serve hot or warm with the tomato salad, if you like.

ROAST TOMATO SALAD



This was one of those occasions when I was pleased to use balsamic vinegar. It's very difficult to get a tomato that actually tastes or smells like a tomato unless you grow them yourself in the summer. Using the balsamic vinegar helped to bring out the flavour. The salad can be served either warm or cold.

I have adapted the recipe slightly from the original, sometimes I just can't help myself!

MARIE CLAIRE - FOOD FAST - DONNA HAY

ISBN 0864119100 - PAGE 134

SERVES: 2

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
2. Halve the tomatoes and place, flesh-side up, in a baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and pepper. Bake until soft.
4. Transfer tomatoes to a serving dish, top with spinach. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and more pepper.
5. Shave Parmesan cheese over the top before serving.
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