Archive for June, 2009

June ‘Meanderings’ …

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’ www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pictured (top to bottom)
Strawberry & Almond Cream
Smoked Salmon, Fennel & Onion Quiche
Special Pilaf Kedgeree
Pork Sausages Indian Style

I am writing this on 1 July, the hottest day of the year in London this year, so far.  Wimbledon is on the television and nobody feels like eating very much. Just as well I have chosen to look at recipes for salads and ice creams/sorbets in the coming weeks.  More about that later on…  Tonight we ate Eggs Flamenco, labelled in the book (Salads & Snacks by Carol Bowen) as a light lunch, accompanied by new potatoes and a simple green salad – it was just right!

100_4122 Strawberry & Almond CreamStrawberries and Salmon have both appeared on our family menu regularly during June.  I am fortunate in having an excellent local street market just around the corner and the strawberries have been plenteous and relatively inexpensive.  It always seems sad to puree or cook this fruit which is so lovely eaten fresh, with or without sugar.  Our favourite way to eat strawberries is one of the simplest: served with (low fat) Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey and both Strawberry & Almond Cream and Shrikhand with Strawberries are simple unfussy recipes. We have also eaten Strawberry & Banana Fool: good for fruit slightly past its best.  

100_3447 Smoked salmon quiche

I was fortunate to find the excellent book Cooking with Salmon: the King of Fish by Jane Bamforth in our local library. It is packed full of information on cooking salmon with a wealth of recipes for different occasions and recipes for smoked, fresh and canned salmon.  In many cases the recipes call for flaked fish, so salmon off cuts can be used rather than the more expensive cuts.  Salmon is very good nutritionally, being high in protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, known as the “good fats”, with a 4oz serving  providing a the daily requirement of vitamin D as 100_4038 Special Pilaf Kedgereewell as other vitamins and minerals. Read more Salmon nutritional and health information …   Recipes in the book  which caught my eye were: Salmon Chowder, Salmon Goujons with a lime & caper dip (which would make a great starter), Salmon Quiche with Potato Pastry and Salmon Risotto with Cucumber & Fennel as well as several recipes for baked salmon.  I added to the list of pizza toppings from last month with Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza and tried Lime & Basil Baked Salmon Parcels, both based on recipes in Jane Bamforth’s book.  Salmon recipes from elsewhere posted this month were Smoked Salmon, Fennel & Onion Quiche based on an idea from Delia Smith and Special Pilaf Kedgeree, a delicious rice based mixture dating back to the British Raj, my version being a combination of several recipes.  

100_4313 Pork Chipolatas Indian StyleContinuing on an Indian theme, this month’s rediscovery was Pork Sausages Indian Style from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery, her first and most well known book.  I watched a couple of episodes of the Hairy Bikers Ride Again, where the boys were in Southern India in the beautiful setting of Kerala and the Cardamom Hills. 

One fascinating programme on television this week has examined the relative benefits of five world diets: Indian, Italian, Japanese, Southern Californian and post-war British.  Some interesting facts and figures, but sadly no recipes which would have been good.  Which diet was most successful?  Read more here… Episode 1Episode 2The Result.  A friend sent me an email link to the supposed 29 Healthiest Foods on the Planet, which makes interesting reading. I am not sure if the foods are listed in order, but I regularly have almost all in my cupboard or fridge so I must be doing something right.

Finally, this month, on a weekend away in Yorkshire, we ate fish and chips under the chandeliers in the elegant surroundings of Harry Ramsden’s famous Restaurant in Guiseley, a place I have wanted to go to for a long time.  The fish was in a delicious light and crispy beer batter, one of the best I have ever eaten.

For a full list of postings since the May Meanderings… see below.  (Recipes already posted have been highlighted and the others will appear in coming weeks.)

June Recipes …

Chicken with Orange & Mint
Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza
Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Courgettes
Shrikhand with Strawberries
Pork Sausages Indian Style
Special Pilaf Kedgeree
Strawberry & Almond Cream
Smoked Salmon, Fennel & Onion Quiche
Sausage & Courgette Pasta
Apricot Hazelnut Meringue Gateau

Back to basics…
Basic Recipe: Pastry (just Shortcrust at present)

Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months


‘For what we are about to receive…’ July 2009 and beyond

Food for the mind…

Non Fiction Food book
Our thoughts are now turning towards our summer holiday and this year  we are off Brittany in Western France.  I enjoy reading books on travel & place which include food information and recipes.  A couple of years ago I enjoyed Hot Sun, Cool Shadow and would welcome any ideas and suggestions, not just for books of this type on Brittany but for anywhere in the world.

… and for the July table – Salads & Ice Cream/Sorbet

Salads are perfect for this hot weather and I will be looking out some favourite combinations, both as complete main meal salads and side salad accompaniments.  I am also looking forward to making Sorbets and Ice Creams again, though I am having trouble choosing the flavours to make.  There are so many lovely ones – which to choose?!  I have a compact little ice-cream machine, a Phillips Delitzia, which has been in store for a couple of years.  It is one of the type that you have to freeze in advance, but although my freezer is usually packed to the hilt I never find too much problem fitting it in as a bag of frozen peas fits perfectly inside it! 

Recipe books I’ll be looking through…
Step by step Cooking: Salads & Vegetables – Pub: Marshall Cavendish
Salads & Snacks by Carol Bowen
Ice Creams by Heather Lambert
Making Ice Cream & Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow & Sara Lewis

Happy Eating!

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I usually do not like the combination of meat and fruit together, but I broke my own rule for this as it didn’t seem as if it would be too sweet. I was proved right.  The recipe was very simple to cook and absolutely delicious.  The chicken was beautifully tender in a buttery orangey sauce with the hint of mint giving an unusual twist. It would be a perfect summer entertaining dish, provided you did not want to make it ahead of time.  If you are not over generous on the butter for the sauce it will not be too high in calories, although you do need to use a reasonable amount as the flavour would not be the same without it. The original recipe specified ‘two large knobs’ of butter, so I guess it is up to the cook to decide just how much that is!  Do remember to zest the orange (you may need two) before squeezing.  If you warm the fruit slightly before squeezing it will yield more juice – I always use a microwave oven to do this.  If you do not have fresh mint then wait until you can get some.  The recipe just would not be the same with dried mint.  The addition of the olive oil helps to stop the butter from burning – this and the orange zest are additions I have made to the original recipe.

This recipe was first published by food writer Keith Floyd in his book Floyd on Spain, which accompanied the television series of the same name.

100_4262  Chicken with orange and mint

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Chicken with Orange & Mint
(Pollo con Naranja y Mento)
(Serves 4)

4 skinned boneless chicken breasts (4-6ozs/125-175g each)
Salt & black pepper
2 knobs butter (I used about 1oz/125g in all)
1tbsp olive oil
zest of 1 orange
150ml/5fl ozs freshly squeezed orange juice
2tbsp chopped fresh mint
Sprigs of mint & orange slices or some reserved zest for garnish

1.  Rub the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper to season them.

2.  Melt about half of the butter in a frying pan with the olive oil and gently saute the chicken pieces for 4-5minutes, turning once, until they are light gold.

3.  Pour in the orange zest and juice and when it is simmering cover and cook for about 8-10minutes.  When almost cooked stir in the chopped mint.  At the same time add the remaining butter which will enrich and help thicken the sauce.  Be careful that the chicken does not overcook.  It can quickly change from soft and moist to being dried out.

4.  Serve with saute potatoes, or simple boiled minted new potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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This pizza topping uses both smoked and fresh salmon, which combines beautifully with the creaminess of the avocado augmented by a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche.  It is very simple to put together, especially if you have some ready made tomato topping in the freezer and, if you are short of time, use the quick to make scone base.  As previously, I substituted a chopped cornichon gherkin for capers, the very small quantity of tart vinegary taste successfully cut through the richness of the other ingredients: I must remember to buy some capers!  If you do not have chives, you can use the green leaves from a spring onion, finely cut.  I left out the wine suggested in the original recipe as I did not have any to hand and do not think it was missed.

This recipe, originally titled Salmon & Avocado Pizza , was adapted from a book I found in the library, Cooking with Salmon, the King of Fish by Jane Bamforth.  (I felt it was helpful to note the use of both fresh & smoked salmon, hence the title change.) There are more very tasty looking ideas in this book and I hope to be able to try others before I return it.  I have posted the recipes for the Pizza base and tomato sauce already. 

100_4347 Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza

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Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza (on Scone Base)
(Serves 3-4)

1 quantity of pizza base using basic recipe – I used Scone (biscuit) base
⅓ quantity of Tomato Sauce using basic recipe

150g/50z salmon fillet or pieces
120ml/4fl ozs dry white wine or water
115g/4ozs grated mozzarella cheese
1 small avocado, halved, stoned (pitted), peeled and cubed
10ml/2tsp lemon juice
30ml/2tbsp low fat crème fraîche or sour cream
75g/3ozs smoked salmon, cut into pieces (use offcuts – from supermarket ’Value’ range)
15ml/1tbsp drained bottled capers or 1 small cornichon gherkin, finely chopped
30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh chives
1tbsp olive oil

1.  Roll or press out the dough making a 25cm/10inch circle directly onto your greased pizza pan.  Push up the edge a little with your fingers to make a rim.

2.  Pre-heat oven to 200oC (190oc Fan oven)/400oF/Gas 4

3. Place the salmon in apan and cover with water (or use wine as in the original recipe).   Bring to the boil, take  off the heat, cover and leave to cool.  The fish will continue to cook while cooling.  (Reserve the liquid as stock.  Can be frozen for future use.)  Flake the fish carefully removing the bones. 

4.  Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the pizza base going almost to the edge but keeping within the rim you have made. Sprinkle over half of the mozzarella and bake in the oven for 10minutes.

5.  Chop the avocado and toss in the lemon juice to prevent it from going black.

6.  Spoon the crème fraîche over the pizza followed by the two types of salmon, avocado, capers/chopped cornichon and the remaining mozzarella. Season with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

7.  Bake for a further 10 minutes until the pizza is crisp and golden brown.

8.  Sprinkle over the chives and serve immediately with a simple green salad.

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Ever since I removed this recipe from a magazine it has proved to be one of our most popular family pasta dishes. I have lost count of the number of times I have made it, or variations of it, including on holiday last year in France. It is truly quick and easy – as the family know, my motto for holiday cooking is, in theory: ‘If I cannot get food on the table within 30minutes (less if possible) I am not interested’!

The original recipe from chef Jamie Oliver was published on a 2008 Sainsbury’s ‘Feed your family for a fiver’ (ie. £5) free instore recipe card and in various magazines alongside shop advertising. The basic recipe was pasta, bacon, garlic, crème fraîche, courgettes and cheddar cheese, which tastes good, but I have varied it a little in the ensuing months. In the version below I have included items I add regularly, especially as we like a few more vegetables – and somehow it just cries out for the grated Parmesan cheese topping.  Some supermarkets sell packs of mixed bacon pieces which are fine to use for this dish and economical too.

Rather than spoil a whole meal as I once did, be warned that occasionally courgettes are bitter and it is best to try a small piece of each one before adding to a recipe. 

Variation – see below:  
Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Butternut Squash

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Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Courgettes
(Serves 4)

400g Penne or similar sized pasta shapes
250g  Ham/Gammon or streaky bacon (preferably smoked)
2 medium sized courgettes
200ml low fat crème fraîche
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, fine chopped or crushed
40g mature cheddar cheese (or Mozarella)
1 medium white onion (as well as or in place of garlic – optional)
1tbsp olive oil (if using onion)
100g button mushrooms, quartered (optional)
1 medium red pepper, in small chunks (optional)
20g finely grated Parmesan cheese, I use Grana Padano (optional)

1.  Cook the onion, garlic, bacon and mushroom (if using) gently in the olive oil for about 10 minutes, until the onion is transparent and the bacon/ham cooked through.  If you are not using the onion then omit the olive oil.

2.  Meanwhile, put cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water, stirring occasionally and adding a small dash of oil to stop it from sticking together. 

3.  Slice each courgette lengthways into four pieces and the chop into ½”/1cm lengths.  De-seed and dice the pepper (if using).

4.  Stir into the bacon mixture and cook for no more than 10 minutes until the courgette is soft.

5.  Drain the pasta and stir through the bacon & courgette mixture.

6.  Gently stir in the crème fraîche and heat through very gently making sure it does not boil as it will split.

7.  Grate the Cheddar cheese and stir through the mixture just before serving but do not cook over the heat or it will spoil.  Alternatively sprinkle the Cheddar over the top if not using Parmesan.

8.  Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of Parmesan (or the Cheddar)

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Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Butternut Squash 
Exchange the courgette for butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced.  I also added quartered button mushrooms and a red pepper cut into strips.  Otherwise the method is the same as above. 
My family have started to request this in preference to the original!

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I was delighted to hear about Shrikhand, a delicious and very simple Indian dessert, in a recent repeated episode of the Hairy Bikers Ride Again, a television cookery series I missed first time around. Shrikand is one of the main desserts of Gujerati cuisine. I always find these programmes worth watching, being part travelogue and part food, all delivered with the bikers distinctive and quirky brand of humour.  In this particular programme The Hairy Bikers, Dave Myers and Simon King, were exploring South-East India: the Cardamom Hills and the state of Kerala. 

The version demonstrated on the programme used Pineapple and Pomegranite seeds but when I searched for the Hairy Bikers recipe online the BBC food website provided a strawberry version instead.  I have read about the complementary flavours of strawberry and Balsamic vinegar, which might at first seem rather strange, but this is my first time of trying it and I was pleasantly surprised at the non-vinegary taste.  The Balsamic just ‘sits’ there in the background, but doesn’t dominate.  I have increased some of the quantities in the recipe as the original was only just enough for three people, whilst halving the sugar and Balsamic vinegar in which the strawberries are marinaded. Cardamom is one of my favourite spices and with the saffron, when mixed with the yoghurt, makes a delicate and fragrant topping: simplicity itself.  It can be mixed in seconds, the longest task being the removing and crushing of the cardamom seeds.  I occasionally cook Indian style food for dinner guests and it is often difficult to know what to serve for dessert.  Apart from Kulfi Ice Cream and similar desserts, or a Lassi to drink, a fresh fruit salad is my usual choice. I can certainly see this Shrikhand, or a variation, making a welcome appearance at one of those meals.  I have renamed the dish Shrikhand with Strawberries as the creamy mixture is used as a topping for the fruit and could be transferred to any other fruit of your choice.  I have done some research and have found some versions where the fruit is chopped finer before being added to the Shrikhand, which would also colour it more.  I have also seen mention online of Shrikhand mixed with nuts, in the case of  Food with a Pinch of Love a combination of walnuts, cashews and pistachios, which sounds interesting – some recipes use almonds. There are often recommendations that the yoghurt should be strained, which I did not do, but would produce a thicker version. Here are some alternative recipes: Anjam Anand, BBC Food and The Times Online, plus information from Wikipedia.

100_4296 Strawberry Shrikhand

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Shrikhand with Strawberries
(Serves 4)

For the Strawberries
350g/12ozs Strawberries
1tbsp caster sugar (2tbsp if you have a very sweet tooth!)
1tbsp Balsamic vinegar

For the Shrikhand
350ml/12ozs Greek-style yoghurt (low fat if you can get it)
4-6 cardamom pods (crack open, remove and crush seeds)
pinch of saffron, soaked in 1tbsp boiling water
3 tbsp fine caster sugar
25g/1oz flaked almonds, toasted

1.  An hour before serving: Quarter the strawberries and place in a glass bowl.  Mix in the sugar and Balsamic vinegar, cover and leave to marinade, stirring occasionally.  Reserve a piece of strawberry for each portion as a garnish, if you wish.

2. Toast the almonds under the grill, watching carefully as they burn quickly.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Make the Shrikhand topping by thoroughly mixing the yoghurt, sugar, crushed cardamom seeds and saffron with its soaking water together in a bowl.

4.  Place the fruit and sugar/Balsamic syrup in glasses or dishes, spoon over the Shrikhand topping. Decorate with a piece of strawberry and some toasted flaked almonds.

Pineapple & Pomegranite seeds (as in the original programme)
Apricot & Nectarine
Raspberry & Nectarine

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This recipe has made a welcome re-appearance in our house having not been made for several years.  It is relatively simple to make, with the very little extra work of cooking with fresh/frozen ginger, garlic and ground spices being well worth it: it beats a ready made sauce from a jar any day!  You know exactly what you are putting into your dinner so you can control and exclude any additives.   I stopped making this recipe when my children were smaller as I had to try to make two panfuls, one for those who liked it spicy and one with little or no spices and it all became too complicated.  I am so glad we can eat it again!

The recipe comes from my original copy of the excellent Madhur Jaffrey‘s Indian Cookery, which accompanied the BBC series in the early 1980’s. The title in the book is Pork Chiplotas cooked in an Indian Style: rather a  mouthful (albeit a delicious one) so I decided to shorten it!  (This book is still available, I believe, having been updated several times.) I have cooked entire Indian themed meals for friends from this and other books of Indian recipes, not always as much extra effort as it seemed.  This recipe is more ‘homely’ than ‘dinner party’, though it would be good to serve to a friend as a simple meal. I have just made a couple of changes and have used more onion than the original.  I tend to use best quality thick pork sausages as I usually have them in the freezer rather than the chipolatas originally suggested. The original recipe calls for 8ozs chipolatas, but I allow more per person.  The original recipe calls for courgettes, but I often substitute okra as in the picture – either are equally good. As it cooks okra exudes a thick liquid and as it does it becomes soft. It is extra important that you do not cook the okra for longer than suggested and that it still retains some of its crispness rather than becoming too soft and sticky. I always serve the meal with either Basmati rice (better than ordinary long grain if you can get it) and/or Naan bread. If you wish, the ginger & garlic mixture can be made in a larger quantity, frozen in ice cube trays and used as required. 

Alternatives: Vegetarian Variation or Side Dish
Grill the sausages instead of frying them so that no meat juices are cooked into the spicy onion/tomato mixture and cook non-meat sausages for the vegetarian diner. Separate a portion of the spicy mixture. Mix the hot chopped non-meat sausages into this, stirring the chopped pork sausages into the remainder.  Alternatively you could use cubed paneer/panir/ponir (a non melting Indian cheese) in place of the vegetarian sausage.  This cheese mixture would also make a alternative or side dish as part of a larger meal.

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Pork Sausages Indian Style
(Serves 4)

2.5cm/1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled & coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4tbsp water
225g/8ozs small courgettes or okra, topped, tailed & in 1inch lengths
1tsp sunflower oil
6/8 thick pork sausages depending on size (10/12 chipolatas)
1 large onion peeled & chopped
1tsp ground cumin seeds
¼tsp cayenne pepper
225g/½lb tomatoes, peeled & finely chopped or 225g/½lb can plum tomatoes
½tsp salt

1. Put the ginger, garlic and 4tbsp water into the container of a food processor or blender and blend until you have a paste. (If you do not have a blender then chop them together as finely as possible and add the water separately.)

2. Courgettes: Wash, quarter lengthwise and cut strips into 4cm/1½inch lengths.
Okra: Wash, remove the stalk end and cut into aproximately 4cm/1½inch lengths.

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the sausages, turning as necessary until they are brown. Remove and put on a plate.

4. Put the onions in the same oil. Stir and fry gently until they turn translucent and begin to brown. Add the ginger/garlic paste. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the cumin and cayenne. Stir a few times, then add the tomatoes and stir for a further minute.

5. Add the courgettes or okra and salt. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover, then turn heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. (See note above about cooking time for okra.)

6. Cut the sausages into 3 or 4 pieces each, depending on size and add them to the pan. Cover and cook until reheated. This may take up to a further 5 minutes, but we like our courgettes and okra to remain a little crisp.

7. Serve with Basmati rice and/or Naan bread

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Kedgeree comes from Anglo-Indian origins, being conceived by the colonials of the British Raj in the 19th Century using the spices which were freely available in India. The recipe was then brought home to be enjoyed by Victorian families. It was, and still is, usually eaten at breakfast, more commonly now on restaurant menus, but it can also be a light main course or served in a small portion as a starter.   At its simplest  it is just a mixture of long grain rice, fish (usually smoked haddock) and hard boiled eggs.  

It is easy to just blindly follow a recipe without variation, but sometimes it is good to combine the best bits of several recipes which is how this dish came about.  I rarely add fruit to main courses as I dislike the combination of sweetness with meat or fish, but as these are commonly added to Anglo-Indian dishes I thought I would try adding some raisins and was pleasantly surprised.   Just a few, mind, more for me would have made it too sweet.  One recipe was a very basic version, but buttery and using Madras Curry powder, the quantity of which gave a surprisingly mild flavour. The second recipe suggested using salmon in place of the usual smoked haddock, so I used a combination of both fish.  It also used cayenne pepper rather than curry powder, which is more traditional.  The third recipe was for a special version using raisins and canned pineapple, which was a step too far for me!  The addition of frozen peas and toasted split almonds are my own version.  I was very pleased with the results.  We would definitely eat this again.  The only complaint was that there could have been more, so I have altered the proportions of some of the ingredients.

The three books I consulted are: Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course (Buttery Kedgeree – the ingredient quantities were mainly based on this recipe); Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition – Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave (Kedgeree – with its suggestion of using salmon); Sainsbury’s 50 Suggestions for Rice – Susie Ward (Noble Kedgeree – which suggested the sultanas).  The recipe title is my own.  I looked up the difference between Pilaf and Risotto and decided that it was a Pilaf. (Pilaf has the liquid added all together, whereas true Risotto can be complicated as the liquid is added gradually and stirred.)  As I had used two types of fish, with added nuts and raisins as well, I felt that made it special!

100_4038 Special Pilaf Kedgeree

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Special Pilaf Kedgeree
(Serves 4 or 8 as a starter)

450g/1 lb Smoked Haddock & Fresh Unsmoked Salmon
25g/1oz Butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Long grain white rice, measured to the 12fl oz mark in a measuring jug
Boiling water from cooking of fish, 2 x 12fl ozs in the same jug
¾-1tsp Madras curry powder
4 Hard Boiled eggs
1tbsp lemon juice
100g/4ozs frozen peas
3 tbsp sultanas
½oz split almonds, lightly toasted
4 tbsp cream (optional)
Chopped parsley
Salt & pepper

(This dish can also be cooked in a low oven, especially if cooking a larger quantity, but stir occasionally – 130oC/250oF/Gas Mk 1.)

1. Measure out the rice in a measuring jug and transfer to another container.

2. Hard boil the eggs.

3. Place the fish in a pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 8 minutes. Remove the fish and cover to keep warm. Drain the fishy water into the measuring jug to use later and continue to use the same pan. Top up with boiling water if you do not have enough fishy water.

4. Melt ½oz of the butter with the oil in the pan and gently fry the onion. Stir in the curry powder and the rice and then add the measured liquid and finally the peas. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and then turn down to a low simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

5. Skin, bone and flake the fish. Shell and chop the egg. Stir the fish pieces, chopped egg, sultanas, lemon juice, remaining ½oz of butter, cream (if using) and seasoning as required into the rice mixture and replace the lid. Continue to cook until heated through and the rice grains are tender.

6. Toast the split almonds under the grill watching carefully as they burn quickly.

7. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and toasted almonds to garnish.

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This recipe is so simple that I am almost embarrassed at posting it, however it is such a delicious twist on serving strawberries and cream that I really did not want to omit it.  Sometimes recipes do not have to be difficult or time consuming, so this could be the ideal understated dessert with a more complicated main course and would certainly not be out of place at the end of a special meal.  Brandy or rum flavoured cream is, of course, often served with Christmas pudding and I started thinking that there must be more versions of flavoured creams, with or without alcohol, that would be good accompaniments to desserts.  (When I have found some more I will try to remember to create a basic recipe post.)  The almond liqueur I used is Carina brand Cremandorla: Crema aux Amandes, a Sicilian almond flavoured aperitif made with Marsala wine, which we buy when on holiday in France.  It can be found in many French supermarkets: Leclerc, Super-U, Carrefour, Intermarche… 

The original version of this recipe is from my well used paperback Claire MacDonald’s Quick & Easy Desserts & Puddings originally borrowed from the library on a long loan and then found in a charity shop.

100_4122 Strawberry & Almond Cream

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Strawberry & Almond Cream
(Serves 4)

450g/1lb strawberries, hulled (green stalk & leaves removed) and halved with 4 good unhulled strawberries reserved for decoration
50g/2ozs flaked almonds
300ml/10fl ozs double cream (I used Elmlea – 55% less fat version)
1 tbsp almond liqueur (Carina Cremandorla: Crema aux Amandes -see above) or few drops of almond essence
(Extra almond liqueur, if you wish, to pour over the prepared strawberries)
Caster or Icing sugar to taste

1. Prepare the strawberries. If you want an extra almondy flavour then pour over about 1tbsp of almond liqueur and leave to marinade. You can also add a small amount of sugar at this point if you like sweetened strawberries, but beware making this too sweet.)

2. Carefully cut the reserved strawberries into 3 to 5 slices depending on size, keeping them joined at the stalk end, easing into a fan shape and put them aside.

3. Toast the flaked almonds under the grill until golden, watching them carefully as they burn quickly, and put aside on a plate to cool.

4. When you are about to serve divide the strawberries between serving glasses/dishes.

5. Lightly whip the cream with the almond liqueur or essence and sugar to taste.

6. Spoon on top of the strawberries. Serve decorated with strawberry fans and toasted almonds.

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This recipe was scribbled down from the television while I was watching Delia Smith‘s new How to Cheat at Cooking series when it first aired last year.  I have the original 1971 How to Cheat at Cooking paperback but there is nothing as posh as smoked salmon in it, as far as I can remember!
Update July 2011: I took a very large version of this to a shared buffet where I had been asked to provide an item for the main course.  It was a hit and disappeared very quickly, being particularly appreciated by a friend who eats fish but not meat.  I own two huge loose bottom flan tins (around 50cm in diameter). Useful and inexpensive, these came from a French supermarket, possibly Super-U (or Hyper-U) – I will check this Summer as I am hoping to bring back some for a friend!   I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone who entertains groups of people.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Delia’s demonstrated recipe was for Quick Cheese & Onion Tart with Smoked Salmon just one of the suggestions from she made as an alternative to the basic flan of onions and egg mixture topped with cheese.  The new television series has an accompanying book using ingredients which are readily available in supermarkets, however I am not especially interested in using ready made pastry cases or pre-cooked onions. I have done the opposite to Delia’s intention, making my own pastry and cooking everything from scratch.  A good mixture is to use part fennel and part onion for the filling, decorating the quiche with some of the wispy fennel tops, if available, instead of parsley.  When fennel is not available I have  used more onion and flavoured the flan with ground fennel seeds to give the hint of aniseed flavour which goes so well with salmon.

100_3447 Smoked salmon quiche

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Smoked Salmon, Fennel & Onion Quiche
(Serves 3-4)

1 quantity of shortcrust pastry to line a 8″ flan tin/dish

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small (or half) a head of fennel, finely chopped – reserve fronds for decoration or ½tsp ground fennel seeds
1 x 100g pack Smoked Salmon offcuts (available in supermarkets – often in the ‘Value’ range)
150ml single cream (I used Elmlea half-fat)
2 eggs
2ozs/50g strong cheddar cheese
1oz/25g grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper

1.  Make the pastry and rest in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 200oC.

2.  Line a flan dish with the pastry, prick the base, fill with beans to prevent rising and blind bake for 10-12 minutes.  (Pastry should be set but barely coloured.)

3.  Break the eggs into a bowl and beat.  Lightly brush the inside of the hot flan case with a little of the beaten egg which will help to seal the inside. Mix the cream into the remaining egg.

4.  Heat the olive oil and fry the onion gently until translucent (along with chopped fennel or ground fennel seed if using), leaving as little liquid in the pan as possible.

5.  Grate both cheeses and mix well together.

6.  Put a layer of cooked onion (with fennel if used) in the base of the flan dish.  Evenly cover with pieces of smoked salmon.  Pour over the egg and cream mixture.  Top with mixed cheeses.

7.  Turn heat down to 180oC immediately before putting the flan into the oven.  This will help to keep the underneath of the crust crisp. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

8.  Let the flan settle for 10 minutes before serving with salad or a green vegetable and buttered new potatoes.

Variations including vegetarian:
Quick Cheese and Onion Tart (the original version) – filling: 2 onions fried in olive oil, covered with egg/cream mixture and topped with cheeses and sage leaves to decorate
Other suggestions were: Roquefort & Leeks

Also the (non-vegetarian) classic Quiche Lorraine (smoked bacon in place of salmon).

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There are many different types of pastry and most are suitable for use with both savoury and sweet dishes.  I plan to add the different types I come across in books and on the internet.  Not all will be tried (I will say so if I have used them) but I hope that other people will find this list helpful.  All recipes from elsewhere will of course be credited.  If you have a special pastry recipe (shortcrust or sweet Pâte Brisée) that is not listed here that you would like to share please leave the recipe information or a link to your site in the comments  box below.

To those to who I have linked I hope that you are happy to be credited here – thank you in advance!

Types of pastry in order of listing below:
Orange Shortcrust (Nigella Lawson)
Crème Fraîche Shortcrust (Zeb Bakes)
Cheese Pastry (Delia Smith)
Pâte Brisée (Joanne Harris’/Fran Warde)
Lemon Pastry (
Nigel Slater)
Almond Pastry (
The KitchenMaid)

Other ideas:
Chilli Cheese Pastry (Cherrapeno)



Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust is the pastry that I use the most and therefore has to be the first posted. I use my mother’s method for shortcrust pastry, which is always crisp and beautifully light.  It is difficult to get a light result as shortcrust pastry is often over handled and the finished result can be tough.  My mother’s use of self-raising rather than plain flour, plus a less fine ‘rubbing in’ of the flour and fat (to give the appearance of larger rather than fine breadcrumbs) gives a ‘shorter’ version, slightly more crumbly.  I know it is not the traditional way to make shortcrust but it works for us and I therefore never use plain flour.  If you want to make Shortcrust Pastry with plain rather than self-raising flour I suggest you follow the chilling and mixing instructions for Orange Shortcrust pastry (below), omitting the orange.  If I have time I use Nigella Lawson’s pre-freeze method (see orange shortcrust pastry) as it makes the starting mixture extra chilled – ideal for pastry.

Shortcrust Pastry is made using the proportion of ½ fats to flour (ie: 1oz fats to 2ozs flour).  I usually make a larger amount of pastry than needed, cutting the finished ball in half or thirds and without rolling out, freezing it for later use well wrapped in plastic. Frozen pastry is almost, but not quite as good as, freshly made and I would always make fresh pastry if I was entertaining!

(Makes enough to line a 2 or 3 flan dishes, depending on size)

12ozs/300g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
3ozs/75g margerine (hard block type – not soft tub type)
3ozs/75g cookeen or trex white vegetable shortening (or lard if you prefer)
Cold water to mix together

1.  Better results are achieved if the ingredients are cold.  Wash your hands in cold water before handling the pastry.

2.  Sift flour and salt together into a bowl.  Cut the fat into small pieces and rub into the flour with the fingertips of one hand until you have a mixture that looks like medium sized breadcrumbs.

3.  Again using just one hand, add just enough cold water to make the dough bind together into a soft but not sticky ball.  Too much water can make the pastry hard. It is important to avoid overhandling the pastry from this point.

4.  Put the pastry ball into a plastic bag and if possible allow it to relax in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before using for a better result.

5.  When rolling out the pastry it should be placed on a floured surface and gently rolled in one direction only, rotating the pastry rather than the rolling pin, until it is about 3cm/⅛” thick.  Try to avoid stretching the pastry as you lift it and line your dish.  If possible, let the pastry rest for at least 10minutes once rolled before baking to allow it to relax.


Orange Shortcrust Pastry (Nigella Lawson)
I followed the instructions for this to the letter and the pastry was wonderful: short and light, with just a hint of orange taste.  I will definitely be making this for mince pies from now on, but it may also make an appearance for other sweet pastry case desserts.  I think the excessive chilling of the pastry is probably the key to its success, so this must not be skipped. 

The original recipe can be found in Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson as part of her recipe for Star Topped Mince Pies.

(makes 12-14 mince pies, without lids but with a small pastry decoration on top)

240g plain flour
6og vegetable shortening
60g unsalted butter
juice of 1 orange
pinch of salt

1.  Sift the flour into a basin add the fats cut into small pieces and put in the freezer for 20minutes.

2.  Squeeze the orange into a jug – heating the orange slightly will help it yield more juice.  Add the salt to the juice.  Place the jug in the fridge along with a separate jug containing some water in case extra liquid is needed.

3.  Put the flour and fat mixture into a food processor and mix until the contents look like porridge oats. 

4.  Incorporate the orange juice and process until the mixture starts to stick together.  You may find that you do not need to use all the juice, or need a little extra chilled water.  Remove from the processor and form into a ball with your hands.

5.  Divide the mixture in half, put each half in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least 20minutes before using.  Nigella made trays of small cocktail sized pies and suggested the mixture was divided into 3 rather than 2, unless you had enough trays to make all the pies at once.

6.  The pastry is very easy to work and can be re-rolled successfully several times. 

7.  When I had rolled and filled a tray of pies, I put them back in the fridge for at least 10minutes before cooking as the pastry had come to (warm) room temperature whilst being cut.


Crème Fraîche Shortcrust (found at Zeb Bakes)
This recipe is currently untried by me but it sounds unusual: richer than conventional shortcrust but not as rich as Pâte Brisée (below)

100 grams plain flour
a pinch of salt
50 grams cold butter
1 tbsp crème fraîche 

1.  Sift the flour and salt together.

2. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub in.

3.  Add crème fraîche to bring the pastry together.

4.  As with other pastries, handle as little as possible and chill before using.


Cheese Pastry (Delia Smith)
This is a lovely pastry to use for savoury flans, such as Turkey Flan with Leeks & Cheese, from the book Delia Smith’s Christmas.  Any leftover pieces could be used to make small cheesy nibble biscuits or cut into lengths and baked as cheese straws.  If I have time I use Nigella Lawson’s pre-freeze method (see orange shortcrust pastry) as it makes the starting mixture extra chilled – ideal for pastry.

2oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated
6oz (175g) self-raising flour
3oz (75g) butter/margerine (hard block type – not soft tub type)
½level tsp mustard powder
salt & freshly milled black pepper

1.  Cut the fat into small pieces and put with the flour in the freezer for 20minutes to pre-chill, then rub the flour into the fat till crumbly.

2.  Add the cheese, mustard and seasoning along with just enough cold water to make a dough that leaves the bowl clean.

3.  Place the dough in a polythene bag and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so before rolling out.  If the dough is difficult to work it could help if it was rolled out between two sheets of cling film, re-chilling the dough if necessary.


Pâte Brisée Pastry (Joanne Harris/Fran Warde)
This is an untried (as yet) recipe for this pastry, which is used in particular for French style dessert tarts.  I made Pâte Brisée many years ago while at school from a long forgotten recipe and remember it as successful, but the pastry difficult to handle.  The recommendation that everything is kept very cool is important.  Run your hands under cold water before making and take ingredients straight from the fridge. If you can make it in a cooler environment than a kitchen with hot oven it would be very helpful.  I have recently made some cheese biscuits with a similarly soft dough and the instructions suggested that it was rolled out between two sheets of clingfilm, which was extremely successful.  I think this might help here, plus of course putting the pastry in the fridge to re-chill as necessary.  If I have time I would use Nigella Lawson’s pre-freeze method (see orange shortcrust pastry) as it makes the starting mixture extra chilled – ideal for pastry.

The original recipe comes from from The French Kitchen by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  It was recommended for Tarte Citron.

(enough to line a 25cm tin)

250g plain flour
175g butter, cut into small pieces
20g unrefined caster sugar
1 egg
2 tsp water

1.  Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until it is like breadcrumbs.  (Keep fingers and kitchen environment as cool as possible.)  Mix in the sugar.

2.  Add the egg and water and mix together with the end of a knife using a cutting action until a dough ball forms.

3.  Put onto a cool floured work surface and knead lightly for a minute with your palm to ensure a smooth pastry.

4.  Wrap and place in the fridge for 40minutes.

5.  Lightly butter a 25cm loose bottom flan tin.

6.  Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tin.  Trim the edges with a knife and place in the fridge for 20minutes to chill and relax.

7.  Fill and bake as in recipe.  There is no need to bake the case blind (part bake unfilled) before use.

Lemon Pastry (Nigel Slater)
This Pâte Brisée type pastry comes from a Nigel Slater recipe in his weekly Observer newspaper column on Sunday 25 July 2010.  The only change I have made is to substitute ordinary caster sugar for the golden caster originally specified.  My one concern is the instruction that the pastry should be kneaded, albeit lightly: I had thought that the best pastry was handled as little as possible, but I reserve judgement.  I have not yet had a chance to make this, but I have no reason to think that Lemon Pastry would be just as delicious as the Orange Pastry which I make regularly.  This pastry was used in a pie filled with fresh peaches, flavoured with orange zest and served with cream.

(enough to line a 24cm tin, serving 6)

150g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
the grated zest of a small lemon
250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little milk and sugar to finish

1.  Lightly butter the pie plate and set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and continue creaming and add the grated lemon zest.

3.  Sift the flour and the baking powder together and gently fold into the creamed mixture.

4.  Make the dough into a ball, place on a floured work surface and knead very lightly for a minute or so.  Cut in half.

5.  Line the pie plate with one half of the dough and place both it and the remaining piece of dough in the fridge.

6.  Once the pie is filled, roll out the reserved pastry to make a generous covers for the dish. Brush the edge of the pastry already in the pie plate with milk and cover with the second piece of pastry.

7.  Press or pinch the edges gently together, brush the pie lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Make a small hole or slit in the middle of the pie crust so the steam can escape.

8.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden. Allow to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Almond Pastry (The KitchenMaid)
This recipe was found at The Kitchen Maid (based in Australia) who used it for mince pies.  I have yet to try this but it sounds delicious and a good way to add an almond flavour to a flan.  The recipe can be made in a mixer or by hand.  It would be good adapted by adding other ground nuts: pistachios would be delicious and would add an interesting green tinge to the pastry.  The quantity below is enough for aprox 24 standard size mince pies with lids.

250g plain flour
50g ground almonds (or experiment with other ground nuts)
100g icing sugar
190g fridge cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1tbsp ice cold water

1.  Put the flour, almonds, sugar and butter into a mixer, processor or a bowl and mix until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Mix the egg yolk and water in a cup and mix in small bursts of speed by machine or by hand until the mixture clumps together.

3.  Make a flat disc with the mixture using your hands, cover with cling film or put in a plastic bag.  Leave in a cool place for at least 20 minutes.

4.  Roll the pastry disc out between two large pieces of greaseproof paper or cling film, which makes it much easier to roll and cuts down on mess.

5.  Use as required to line a large or individual tins.  Filled tarts should be baked in a hot oven.  Bake the filled tarts in a hot oven ( 200-210oC/400-420oF/Gas 6-6.5 for about 12 minutes.

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