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Archive for June, 2010

June ’Meanderings’ …

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

Pictured (top to bottom)
Chicken & Cashew Nuts
Eton Mess
Pork with Lime & Chilli
Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade 

100_2903 Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry

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

This month I have been posting food with a taste of the Far East – sweet, sour, salty and/or spicy flavours, sometimes all in the same dish.  In particular, I have included my basic Chinese style stir fry method along with a Vietnamese style dish, which can be made with either duck or chicken.  There are also two recipes with a definite Far Eastern influence, although the wording of the original recipe did not connect them to a particular country.  All these recipes include one or more of the special flavours and ingredients commonly used in the region: among these are soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, star anise, creamed coconut and sesame oil.  

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

Also posted this month are a selection of cold desserts for warm summer evenings.  I am planning to continue these into July with ice cream and sorbet recipes.  Three of these summer dessert recipes are fairly simple ones which are easily made so could be eaten at midweek meals.  The other dessert I have posted, however, is a truly sumptuous concoction which includes cherries, coconut and chewy pavlova style meringue filled with a rosewater flavoured cream.  A little more time consuming to prepare but delicious and ideal for a special occasion. 

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

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed watching recorded episodes of Food Safari, an Australian SBS TV programme presented by Maeve O’Meara, shown on the UK Good Food channel.  Each programme starts with a clear overview of the foods of a particular country, although it is just a taster as each episode is only 30 minutes long.  I particularly liked the initial section of each episode on the essential foods and flavours of each country.  Recipes are available on the website for many of the dishes demonstrated.  The downside, just a small one, was that alternative suggestions for unavailable ingredients were (obviously) for Australian consumers and therefore usually unheard of (and also unavailable) in the UK.  The episode on English food made me smile: a bit of an eye opener on how others see us, I suppose.  I am not sure it particularly represented what I serve and eat at home, but there were certainly a good selection of well known traditional dishes! 

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

My short holiday to Kent, in the far south-east of England, has come and gone.  The weather was scorching hot, so in the end all we wanted was simple food: salads, ice cream, a cream tea and fish and chips eaten outdoors, of course – the best way!   Recommended places to visit along the coast: Deal, Sandwich, Broadstairs and Whitstable.  Recommended places where we ate: The Piece Of Cake Tea Rooms, Strand St, Sandwich, where I enjoyed the shady yard and a delicious ham salad and The Kingfisher Fish & Chip Cafe, Margate Sea Front, for Cod with a lovely crisp batter, chips and mushy peas while watching the evening sun sink towards the sea.  

Monthly ‘Meanderings through the Blogosphere’  This is an idea I have developed from the weekly ‘Friday Favourites’  posted by Italian Mama Chef (who gave me a recommend – thank you, Michelle!), initiated by Life Without Pink.   I have, sort of, borrowed their idea, but made it my own!   I plan to share sites in this monthly review that I have discovered through comments, links on other sites, idle surfing, etc…  Some links will be recent discoveries: others I will have been watching for some time.  I plan to hightlight one food site from the UK, one from outside the UK plus something completely different, which may or may not have a food connection.  (I do have a life outside the kitchen after all!)   This month my three are:
UK foodie site … Gourmet Gorman  A fellow member of the UK Food Bloggers Association, Mike Gorman is a professional musician.  He is often on the road touring, yet he and his fellow musicians cleverly manage to avoid the obvious ‘greasy spoon’ type food options (Adventures…).   His cooking ideas when not on tour are good too: most recently spicy food (Prawn Dhansak – film) and stir fries (Sesame & chilli beef stir fry with … ).   (I play guitar – where can I sign up?!)
Non-UK foodie site … Global Table.  This is such a wonderful idea!  Sasha (from Oklahoma, USA) is cooking her way (and her family eating their way) through 195 countries one week at a time.  I really admire her commitment to this idea as well as the amount of research that she must have to do to cook and post each week. Each new country is introduced on a Tuesday, with a final round-up after the weekend feasting on the following Monday.  I have a personal interest in the food and cooking of other cultures and I am learning a great deal from this site.  I do hope we make it all the way to Zimbabwe (in about 3½ years).  At the time of writing it is Week 22 Botswana with, among other ideas, a recipe on how to prepare and eat loofah!
…and something else – St Luke’s in the High St.  Yes, its a church, but church with a difference.   An example of what happens when a church manages without a building, known as a ‘Fresh Expression of Church’.  Having been part of this venture I can, from experience, say it is an exciting way to serve our community albeit from a market stall/tent rather than from a conventional building.  If you live near London, E17, take a trip to Walthamstow Farmers’ Market (10am-2pm each Sunday) and see it for yourself!  (St Luke’s is one of the four churches of our parish – read more about the Parish of Walthamstow.) 

June Recipes

Chinese Style Stir Fries – Chicken & Cashew Nuts
Duck or Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce
Pork with Lime & Chilli
South Pacific Fish Stew 

Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade
Eton Mess
Fruit Compotes
Marmalade & Ginger Baked Bananas 

Previous Meanderings Revisited …
Cucumber ‘Bread & Butter’ Pickle (using coriander seed)
Eggs Flamenco
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary & Red Onion
Sweetcorn Pancake Fritters 

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months   

‘For what we are about to receive…’ July 2010 and beyond

July Food Focus – Vegetarian Dishes & more summer desserts, in particular Ice Creams/Sorbet 

Recipe Book(s): 
…from my shelf – Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook; The Time to Eat Cookbook, by Sîan Davies; Ice Creams (published by Hamlyn); Making Ice Cream & Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow & Sara Lewis
…from the library – Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson 

July is a busy month, trying to tie up the odds and ends of life before enjoying our long Summer holiday – more about that in the next review…   

Happy Cooking & Eating!

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A fruit compote is a mixture of lightly baked or stewed fruit or fruits, usually combined with a sweetener and served either hot or cold as an accompaniment to ice cream, yoghurt, crème fraîche, soured cream, cold or hot rice pudding or similar.  It is also delicious served with a slice of egg custart tart or alongside a fairly plain dessert cake, with a little single cream poured over.  When on holiday cold fruit compote is usually available at breakast in French motels: cherry/raspberry or apple are both very popular and there is always yoghurt available to eat.  However Compote is a traditional English dessert dating from the 17th century, being whole or pieces of fruit in sugar syrup.  The syrup may also be flavoured: vanilla, lemon/orange peel, cinnamon, clove, ground almonds, grated coconut, candied fruit, or raisins are common additions.  Honey can be used as an alternative sweetener.  I have read and heard in several places recently the benefits of sweetening fruit with fructose (natural fruit sugar).  Apparently, using just a third of the quantity of normal sugar (sucrose) really enhances the flavour of fruit.  I have not tried this myself but it is certainly something to bear in mind and I have just bought a small packet.  I would be interested to hear of any readers experiences on using fructose in place of sucrose – I am not talking about aspartame, a sugar substitute which is banned in some countries. 

This idea was found at two sources, but is my own variation: a mixture of an idea from a recipe by Claire Macdonald on the UKTV site, Lemon Cream with Rhubarb & Orange Compote and a recent free recipe card, Super Sticky Rhubarb, found in Sainsbury’s supermarket.  Compote can be kept in a sealed box in the fridge for up to four days, so it is worth making a double quantity.  I have already added posts on this site for similar fruit mixtures: Marmalade & Ginger Baked Bananas and Lemony Baked Pears & Peaches.  Other variations will be added below.   These compote recipes can be used to make variations on the simple, creamy & delicious summer dessert Eton Mess.  Slightly strain the compote so that it is not too liquid and alternate spoonfuls of the compote with the cream mixture and meringue pieces, stirring very gently if needed and decorating with a few small pieces of whole fruits and meringue (see Eton Mess recipe for further details).  Any compote liquid not used can be combined with yoghurt to make a smoothie, slightly diluted to taste with water (or milk if the fruits used will not cause it to curdle) for a delicious quick drink or simply used to add sweetness to a fruit salad.  Rhubarb and Raspberry (see below) is very popular in our house and recently we have enjoyed this when mixed with rosewater or drizzled with a little rose syrup as well.  Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey and Ginger (for those who like it) may possibly be reminiscent of cough mixture to some and is definitely a warming winter mixture, but we enjoy it at any time of year.  For an extra treat, pour a small amount of a complementary alcoholic fruit liqueur over these compotes just before serving! 

Additional recipes below:
Rhubarb and Raspberry/Rosy Rhubarb & Raspberry
Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey and Ginger

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

Rhubarb & Orange Compote
(Serves 4)

450g/1lb rhubarb, cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
100g/3½ozs demerara or light brown sugar
1 large orange, juice and zest

Oven method: 
1.  Preheat oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3

2.  Combine the ingredients in an ovenproof dish.

3.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

4.  Serve warm or cold.

Microwave method:
1.   Combine the ingredients in an microwave proof dish.

2.  Cook on a low heat, for 10-15minutes or until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

3.  Serve warm or cold.

Stove Top/Hob method:
1.  Combine the ingredients in an saucepan.

2.  Bring to the boil and immediately turn down the heat.  Simmer very gently for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

3. Serve warm or cold.

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

Rhubarb & Raspberry/
Rosy Rhubarb & Raspberry Compote

450g/1lb rhubarb, cut into
    5cm/2inch chunks
180g/6½ozs demerara or light brown
    sugar
225g/8ozs fresh Raspberries – more if you
    wish
Rosewater/Rose syrup to taste (optional)

Gently stew the chunks of rhubarb in the sugar until soft but still holding its shape.  If using frozen raspberries add while still warm.  Fresh rasperries can be added when cold.  Chill in fridge until needed. Overstirring raspberries can make them break up.  

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

Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey & (optional) Ginger

1-2 Conference Pears per person
1 lemon
1-2 tbsp runny honey
Small piece of root ginger (optional), grated
Peel pears and cut lengthwise into 8-12 long pieces depending on size of pear (or smaller chunks).  Place in a small saucepan.  Cut lemon into quarters.  Immediately squeeze juice over pears pieces before they go brown.  Add empty lemon shells to pan and stew with pear to add flavour.  Drizzle honey over fruit. Sprinkle over ginger if using.  Poach over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until pears are soft.

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Shortly after I was married I bought a wok: Ken Hom had been on television and stir frying seemed so easy. My mother in law regularly fed us stir fried dishes when we visited and I figured that if she could do it then so could I!  Since that time I have acquired several books of chinese recipes and treated myself to a pretty blue and white fishy chinese dinner set (pictured) of bowls, plates, spoons and chopstick rests, to which I have added some matching larger bowls that I was fortunate to find in the same design.  I have cooked some multi-dish Chinese style meals for guests, but mostly I cook stir fries as family dinners.  Once the preparation of ingredients has been done, this meal can be cooked and served very quickly.

One of our favourites is chicken and cashew nuts, traditionally one of the most popular choices at the Chinese takeaway.  I also stir fry with prawns and also with lean pieces of belly pork (or pork fillet) flavoured with lots of garlic and ginger, sometimes including chinese plum sauce.  This recipe has no original source, or at least none that I can really acknowledge.  It is just what I find works for us.  The ingredient information is scant as I tend to use what is available, but always start with onion, garlic and ginger, add light soy and five spice and finish with sesame oil.  I follow the advice I heard somewhere not to cook with sesame oil as it burns easily.  I stir fry with sunflower (not olive) oil and stir in the sesame oil at the end for added flavour.  I have been known to add toasted sesame seeds at the table as well.  I still have the same, now well used, wok that I bought when I was first married: it is a Ken Hom one with a slightly flattened base as I cook on an electric ceramic hob.

A word about soy sauce:  much has been written about avoiding the additive MSG (Monosodium glutamate) because of possible health implications.  It used to be difficult to find soy sauce without this ingredient, but it is now becoming increasingly easy to find dark and light soy sauce and its Japanese cousin, Shoyu, that are MSG free.  They are worth hunting down.

100_2903 Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry

Chinese Style Stir Fries

Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry
(Serves 4)

2tbsp sunflower oil
2-3ozs cashew nuts
1 large white onion, medium sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1inch (2.5cm) piece of ginger, finely chopped
8ozs/225g lean chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1tbsp light soy sauce
40zs/125g button mushrooms, quartered
1tsp chinese 5-spice seasoning
1tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
A selection of vegetables in a variety of colours – choose 2 or 3 from:
     Sliced red/yellow/orange/green pepper
Pak choi/Bok choi, chopped or Broccoli, in small florets
Carrot, cut into fine rings or julienne strips – good with chicken & cashew nut
Courgette, cut into fine rings or ribbons
French beans, 1inch/2.5cm pieces or handful frozen peas, cooked & drained
Chinese vegetables: beansprouts, beanshoots, water chestnuts

The term ‘stir fry’, when used below, means to continuously turn the ingredients in the hot oil in the wok. (I have a special flattened wok spatula.)  This helps them to cook evenly, stopping them from adhering to the pan and burning.

1.  Collect together and prepare all the ingredients.  It is important that they are available for immediate use.  Ingredients should be unmixed so they can be added separately.

2.  If using Broccoli it should be blanched: divide into small florets and pour boiling water over, leave for one minute and then immerse in cold water to stop cooking.  Set aside until needed.

3.  Place the wok on the stove top, using maximum heat, to allow it to pre-heat.  After 2 minutes or so, add the sunflower oil and allow this to heat through.  (IMPORTANT: Do not leave the pan unattended.)

4.  Omit this stage if not using cashews: Drop a cashew nut in the oil.  If it sizzles immediately add the remaining nut pieces, if not then wait a short while before trying another piece of nut.  The cashew nuts will brown very quickly, almost immediately.  Be careful to remove them before they blacken and spoil.  Spoon onto a piece of kitchen paper to soak up excess leaving the remaining oil in the wok.

5.  Add a small piece of onion to the oil and if it sizzles then it is hot enough to add the remainder of the onion.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger into the hot sunflower oil and stir fry as it cooks through.  It should be transparent and not brown.  Add the mushroom pieces, and stir fry for a minute or two.  Add the pieces of chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes to allow it to start to cook evenly.

6.  Add chosen remaining vegetables, apart from greens/broccoli.  Stir fry as they are included.  When cooked they should still be slightly crisp rather than soft, so it is important to add those that cook more slowly earlier than those that will cook quickly. (I always add carrot first if I am using it.  Save pak choi/bok choi or pre-blanched broccoli to put in towards the end after adding the soy sauce.

7.  Add the chinese 5-spice powder and light soy sauce and stir through.

8.  Add pak choi/bok choi or broccoli, stir in well, turn down the heat a little and if possible cover the wok.  Allow to cook until the vegetables are still crisp and before they soften: 2-3minutes at most.

9.   Finally, return the cooked cashew nuts to the wok along with the sesame oil.  Briefly stir through the mixture and serve immediately.

10.  Serve, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds (optional) and on a bed of plain boiled rice or boiled noodles (or *egg fried rice, if you wish).  A small portion of prawn crackers can be served on the side, they are easy to fry if you can find uncooked ones, but can also be bought ready cooked in large supermarkets.  Soy sauce lovers may like to drizzle over a little additional dark or light soy sauce.

*For egg fried rice, stir fry pre-cooked rice in a little sunflower oil in a wok.  Beat an egg and quickly stir through the rice mixture, turning (stir frying) constantly so that the egg cooks through and does not stick to the wok and burn.  Season and serve quickly.

More stir fried dishes:
Chinese Style Belly Pork & Greens/Broccoli/Bok Choy
Special Fried Rice

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This dessert is relatively uncomplicated and can be usefully cooked alongside an oven baked main course, especially as it does not take too long to make or cook.   It is ideal when you have a glut of bananas, especially as it needs ones that are slightly over rather than under ripe. 

The recipe is my own and it resulted from an experiment.  We love baked banana, Marmalade (the type made from bitter Seville oranges rather than orange jam) and ginger so I felt as if they might be a dessert match made in heaven: and I was right!   I have found, by experience, that bananas should not be cooked for too long so that they keep their shape and stay reasonably pale coloured.   The dessert can be eaten hot, warm or cold, although it should not be left to stand for too long as the bananas can start to darken and look very unattractive.  Yoghurt, soured cream or crème fraîche provide a good contrast to the sweetness of the fruit mixture, although it would be equally delicious served with cream or ice cream.  A sprinkling of dessicated coconut adds an additional tropical touch adding to the flavours of the Caribbean.

100_4257 Marmalade & Ginger Baked Bananas with Gk yog & dess coconut

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

Marmalade & Ginger Baked Bananas
(Serves 4)

4-8 ripe bananas, sliced (1cm/½inch pieces) – 1-2 per person, depending on size
1-2 tbsp citrus juice, lemon or orange, squeezed from fresh fruit
4tbsp Seville Orange Marmalade, preferably with chunky shreds
2 pieces chopped stem ginger
2 tsp stem ginger syrup
   or
5-6tbsp ginger marmalade (omit stem ginger and syrup if using this)
4tsp dessicated coconut, to serve (optional)

If using a microwave oven, this dish can be cooked in individual bowls.  Divide ingredients between bowls (apart from yoghurt, soured cream, crème fraîche, cream and dessicated coconut) and cook for around 5 minutes on a medium heat (consult your microwave manual for details). 

1.  Preheat oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3.

2.  Thin down the marmalade a little using 1-2 tbsp citrus juice, so it can be poured.  Chop the pieces of stem ginger and stir into the marmalade sauce, along with the ginger syrup.  (If using ginger marmalade  this last step should be omitted and the amount of ginger marmalade increased by 1-2 tbsp.)

3.  Slice the bananas and place into a shallow serving dish.

4.  Pour the sauce over the bananas.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  The bananas should be slightly soft, but still retain their shape and colour and the sauce should still be liquid.

6.  Serve either hot, warm or cold with yoghurt, soured cream, crème fraîche, cream or ice cream, topped with dessicated coconut.

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This is a lovely mild and fragrantly spiced oriental style dish, perfect for summer, with the creamed coconut and acidic lime juice complementing each other beautifully.  They are flavours of the east, but the book does not connect this recipe with a particular country.

The original recipe for Pork with Lime & Chilli comes from Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner. I used my wok to cook the recipe, but it could equally well be made in an ordinary saucepan or frying pan.  Just remember to start at least an hour beforehand (preferably longer) to allow enough marinading time for the pork.  The only changes I made to the recipe was to use less oil: the meat was originally deep fried, which I felt was really not necessary and to reduce the amount of chilli from 1 green and 1 red to just ½-1 green chilli.  Chilli lovers may like to increase the amount according to taste.

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

Pork with Lime & Chilli
(Serves 4)

Marinade
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tsp brown sugar
1tsp oil
1tsp lime juice (about ½lime)
1tsp cornflower

450g/1lb lean pork, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
1tbsp oil for frying
½-1 small green chilli, deseeded & chopped
8 spring onions, trimmed and diagonally sliced
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground nutmeg
Small pinch ground cloves
4tbsp light soy sauce
1 lime, juice & zest
50g grated creamed coconut
140ml/¼pint boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste

1.  Combine the marinade ingredients with the pork cubes in a large bowl.  Stir well so the meat is well coated.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 1hour, preferably more.

2.  Have all the ingredients ready to use before starting to cook: 
a.  Measure the ground spices into a small bowl. 
b.  After zesting the lime cut it in half and before squeezing out the juice, remove two thin slices and cut each in half.  Reserve these as garnish for serving.  (Only if the lime is small and does not produce much juice a little extra juice can be squeezed from the lime used for marinading the meat.) 
c.  Dissolve the grated creamed coconut in the boiling water and combine with the soy sauce, lime & zest.

3.  Heat the remaining oil in a wok and add the marinaded pork cubes.  Stir fry, turning the meat in the oil for about 10minutes until the cubes are golden brown.  Remove the meat from the wok, place on a sheet of absorbent paper and set to one side.

4.  Remove any excess oil from the pan, leaving a very small amount.

5.  Reheat the wok and stir fry the chilli and spring onions.  Stir fry for 2minutes.

6.  Add the ground spices and fry for no more than 30seconds. 

7.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.

8.  Return the cubes of pork to the sauce, heat through and adjust the seasoning.

9.  Serve on a bed of rice: plain boiled or Thai Jasmine with a small half slice of lime as decoration, accompanied by a side dish of simply stir fried vegetables or a side salad.

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Not a very inspiring name for something so delicious, Eton Mess is said to have originated at Eton College, the famous public school near Windsor in Berkshire.  Traditionally, it is a combination of strawberries (also banana in the original version), cream, sugar and meringue and served each year at the picnic held on the Eton College playing fields following the annual 4 June prizegiving ceremony.  The derivation of the name is unclear: it could refer to the appearance of the dessert, but ‘mess’ is a word often connected with food, most notably army catering.  This comes from the word ‘mensa’: Latin for table.  Twice recently, while out for a pub lunch, I have had Eton Mess for dessert.  The first version was excellent but the second less good, the difference being the small size of the meringue pieces, which must be kept recognisable otherwise the dish can become a sickly mush. 

I decided it was high time I had a go at making Eton Mess myself.  I particularly liked the idea of adding another flavour when mascerating the fruit: various suggestions included Kirsch, a berry flavour liqueur or Cointreau (Jill Dupleix, Times online), Port (Antony Worrall Thompson, BBC) or Pomegranite juice (Nigella Lawson, Daily Mail – also book: Nigella Express).  As I had just bought a small bottle of Pomegranite Sauce/Syrup that I was itching to try out (ÖNCÜ brand Pomegranite Sauce, found in ASDA), this seemed the ideal opportunity.  I used this to mascerate the strawberries and raspberries (aproximately 450g strawberries and 150g raspberries), adding some sugar as well as the Pomegranite Sauce is quite tart in flavour.  It may be possible to use the sweeter French style Grenadine syrup, which is usually diluted with water as a fruit drink and available from continental supermarkets, but the sugar may need to be adjusted according to taste.  Some recipes use a mixture of yoghurt and cream, which helps to cut through the sweetness of the dessert.  We are very fond of crème fraîche, which is similarly although less sour than yoghurt, so I used a mixture of this and cream.  I was careful to leave the meringue in largish pieces as they break up a little more as the mixture is stirred together.  This dish can mostly be made in advance, although I would suggest that the components are combined shortly before serving.  A word about mixing Eton Mess: just because it is called ‘Mess’ it doesnt have to be too messy!  Aim for alternating spoonfuls, gently combined so the colours just start to mingle … it’s probably one of those cases where ‘less is more’!

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

Eton Mess
Serves 4

600g strawberries & raspberries, mixed – reserve a strawberry/berries to garnish
3-4 teaspoons sugar or vanilla sugar, if available
2 tbsp Pomegranate Sauce/Syrup
145ml/5fl ozs whipping cream
145ml/5fl ozs crème fraîche
6-8 meringues, depending on size or 4 small meringue nests

1.  Hull the strawberries and halve (quarter or slice if they are large). Place them in a bowl with the raspberries, rinse gently, drain well and dry on kitchen paper.  Add the sugar and pomegranate syrup.  Leave to macerate for at least 30minutes.  Reserve a large strawberry or one good sized strawberry per portion to decorate. 

2.  Whip the cream in a large bowl until it is thick but still soft.  Gently fold in the crème fraîche. 

3.  Crumble the meringues or meringue nests aiming for largeish pieces, although there will be a mixture of large and small, all of which can be included.  Gently fold most of the meringue pieces into the cream reserving a few pieces to decorate.

4.  For one serving dish: Using a large bowl, alternate spoonfuls of cream/meringue mixture and fruit.  The mixture needs very little mixing together so the cream and fruit do not combine too much. 

5.  For individual portions: Divide the cream/meringue mixture between dishes or plates, placing a spoonful of fruit mixture on top of each and if necessary fold gently together once or twice with a spoon.

6.    Depending on size, carefully cut the reserved strawberry/berries into 4-6 slices without cutting through to the green stalk, gently fan out and place on top of the bowl or individual dishes.  Scatter over the reserved meringue pieces.  To serve, drizzle over a little additional Pomegranite Syrup (optional).

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We love duck (if it is on the menu then my daughter will always order it) but I rarely cook it at home, however it is now becoming much more easily available and also a little less expensive.  When we saw Rick Stein cook this recipe on television we all commented on how delicious it sounded.  I tried very hard, but could not find the recipe anywhere online.  I am not sure how I managed to find it, but was delighted to discover that the Yorkshire Foodie had made a version using chicken rather than duck.  Having tried and enjoyed this chicken version I decided the original duck recipe would be perfect for the special meal I was planning for my mother’s birthday (to be followed by Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade). 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com ..... Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce

 

The original recipe comes from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey.  For the chicken version I used meaty chicken thighs.  I also squeezed fresh orange juice: one orange per person but it would be easier and probably just as good to use concentrated orange juice.   I used less chilli than in the original recipe to give just a little heat.  The meat should be, in Rick Stein’s words: ‘meltingly tender’.  His total cooking time given for the duck pieces is 2hrs, which seems rather long: I was happy with the results I got from about 1½hrs in total.  Obviously the chicken thighs cook much more quickly. The sauce should thicken naturally as it reduces, however it can be thickened using cornflour if necessary although this should not be a very thick sauce.  Mix 1tsp-1tbsp cornflour with a little cold water, gradually add spoonfuls of the sauce into the cornflour/water mixture and then return this mixture to the remainder of the sauce inthe pan, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens very slightly.  A little more cornflour can be added, in the same way, if it does not thicken: add more water if the sauce is too thick.  Certainly rice is perfect as a side dish (I cooked Thai Jasmine, which is widely available).  The chicken version was served with steamed broccoli but for the duck I wanted to serve a vegetable dish from the region.  My research drew a blank so eventually I opted for a simple Chinese Style Stir Fry using a selection of vegetables: onion, peppers, courgette, garlic and ginger.  (I also cooked a few chips on the side to keep a diner who was not keen on rice happy!)  I like it when recipes are unusual, simple and delicious and this is all of these, plus it gets favourable compliments: what more does a cook want!  Perhaps I will be cooking duck a little more often now. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com ..... Duck Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce

 

Duck or Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce
(Serves 4) 

Sunflower oil for frying (a very small amount, especially if cooking duck)
4 Duck legs
   or
8 Chicken Thighs or 4 chicken legs/breasts (meat can be skinned to reduce fat)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped/grated
1″ piece of ginger, peeled & grated
4 Oranges, squeezed or 250ml Orange Juice from a carton
2 tbsps Thai Fish Sauce/Nam Pla
2 tsp sugar
2-3 Star Anise
½-1 small Red Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat & a larger chilli for more)
Black pepper
1-2 sticks lemon grass, remove core and chop finely
2-3 Large Spring Onions, thickly sliced, for garnish

1.  Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and gently fry the pieces of meat in as little oil as possible for 3-5 minutes per side (depending on size of piece). Remove and put to one side. 

2.  Remove as much oil as possible from the pan: duck in particular is a fatty meat which would make the finished dish to greasy.  Fat can be saved for another dish: duck fat, in particular, is popular for oven roasted potatoes. 

3.  Lower the heat and fry the ginger and garlic lightly for about one minute or until lightly golden, being careful they do not burn. 

4.  Add the orange juice, sugar, fish sauce, star anise, chilli and lemon grass.  Season with black pepper.  Stir well and gently bring the sauce to the boil. 

5.  Return the pieces of duck or chicken to the pan.  Cover pan and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes (for chicken thighs) 1¼-1½hrs (for duck or thicker chicken pieces) or until the meat is tender, removing the lid to allow the sauce to reduce a little about 10 minutes before serving.  Turn the pieces of meat from time to time. 

6.  Cut the spring onion along the length of the white parts to give long strands (or alternatively they can be diagonally sliced).  Add to the pan no more than 5-10 minutes before serving.  The green parts of the onions should be cut in the same way and kept to one side for garnishing the finished dish. 

7.  To serve the meat should be placed on a warm serving plate and kept warm. Skim any excess fat from the sauce before finishing.  If necessary, the sauce should be reduced by boiling to concentrate the flavour before it is poured over the top of the meat.  If there is a large quantity of sauce then it can be lightly thickened with a little cornflour and water. 

8.  Scatter the reserved green spring onion pieces over the dish just before serving.

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Pavlova is believed to have been created in the 1920s to honour the Russian ballerina Ánna Pávlova when she toured Australia and New Zealand, with its original creation contested by both countries.  This recipe caught my eye on a Saturday morning television programme last Summer: for some reason, until then, Irish cook Rachel Allen had passed me by.  I think it was the combination of chewy Pavlova style meringue combined with coconut, as well as the cherry and creamy filling, laced with rose water, that attracted my attention.  I made a mental note that it was the sort of recipe that my mother would like and a few months later produced it for her birthday meal, where it was extremely well received. The meringue was crunchy on the outside and satisfyingly gooey on the inside, a heavenly flavour combination with a delicate perfume – delicious!  This is a wonderful recipe for a special occasion as the meringue and the filling can be made separately in advance, with the dessert being assembled an hour or two before serving.  I have since watched several Rachel Allen programmes and copies of her books are on my ‘wish list’.  I have my eye on some of her other recipes, which may well appear on these pages in the future. 

I think the programme was called Rachel’s Favourite Food for Living and certainly there is a book with that name.  The recipe is available on the Good Food Channel website, called Pavlova Meringue Roulade with Cherries and Rosewater Mascarpone (a bit of a mouthful, I know)I like to use low fat dairy products in an attempt to be a bit more healthy, difficult I know with a rich and luxurious dessert like this one.  I had great difficulty tracking down low fat Mascarpone (30% fat), which I had never used before.  I eventually found some and used it, but decided that the recipe would be just as good, in fact better, using low fat crème fraîche (or fromage frais).  I substituted a bottle of cherries in syrup (Harvin brand from Lidl supermarket), which was drained and the cherries then spread out on kitchen paper to soak up dampness before being checked over for stones (pits).  (Reserve the cherry juice and use it in place of some or all of the water when setting a jelly.)  The bottled cherries was a good substitute for the fresh cherries used in the original, which were anyway well out of season.  The jar yielded slightly more cherries than the quantity below so I was able to serve a few extra on the side.  Rachel Allen has a second similar recipe on the Good Food Channel site for a Meringue Pavlova with a Raspberry Filling, also including coconut in the meringue and flavoured with rosewater, but with a lemon cream filling.  The basic pavlova roulade would be delicious with any number of fillings in combination with either plain or flavoured cream and I shall certainly be making versions of this recipe again. 

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

Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade
(Serves 5-6)

4 egg whites
225g/8ozs caster sugar
50g/2ozs desiccated coconut
1tsp white wine vinegar
1tsp cornflour

For the filling
250g/9ozs low fat crème fraîche, fromage frais (or mascarpone, as in original recipe) 
1tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp rose water
1  x 350g jar bottled cherries
   or
300g/10½ozs cherries, halved and stoned

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 

2.  Use tin foil to line a Swiss roll tin, leaving a border of 4cm (11/2in) high all round.  Fold the sides of the foil up to make a frame, squeezing the corners together to help the sides stand upright.  

3.  Brush the foil lightly all over with sunflower or vegetable oil. 

4.  Separate the eggs and whisk the whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks.

5.  Carefully fold in the rosewater, the wine vinegar and sifted cornflour.  (The egg yolks can be individually frozen for use in other dishes.)

6.  Add the sugar to the egg white mixture.  Whisk at full speed for around 4–5 minutes until it forms stiff peaks that hold their shape.  

7.  Using a large metal spoon, firmly and quickly fold the coconut into the mixture. 

8.  Spoon the meringue into the prepared tin and smooth carefully into an even layer with a palette knife. 

9.  Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, watching so it does not overcook.  It should be light brown in colour and firm to the touch. 

10.  The meringue should be allowed to cool for a few minutes, before it is turned out by being inverting onto another sheet of foil.  The foil on the underside of the meringue should be very carefully removed.  Set aside in a dry place and allow to cool completely. 

For the filling 

11.  If using bottled cherries these should be drained of their juice, checked carefully for stones (pits) as not all are removed during manufacture, and allowed to dry on plates covered with kitchen paper.
   or
Fresh cherries should be carefully checked over, washed, halved, their stones removed and set aside in a cool place.

12.  Gently beat the crème fraîche with the caster sugar and rosewater.  (Use immediately or set aside in a cool place until the roulade is assembled.)

13.  Within an hour or two of eating at most, place the meringue layer on a work surface with the longest edge layer nearest you.  Spread the mascarpone evenly over the meringue leaving a 4cm/(just less than) 2 inch band along the nearest edge free of cream.

14.  Before rolling, scattering over the halved and stoned fresh cherries. 

15. Holding the edge of the foil closest to you, carefully roll up the roulade away from you until all the cream and cherries are folded inside. The exterior will crack as it is rolled.  Leave the roulade rolled in the foil until serving (it will hold together well in the fridge for a couple of hours maximum). 

16.  Just before serving, unwrap and gently position on a serving dish guided by a palette knife or cake slice.  Dust generously with icing sugar and serve a few more cherries by the side, if you wish and if available.  (A large jar of cherries is more than needed for the roulade so there will definitely be some extra.)

17.  A little pouring cream adds extra luxury.

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This Far Eastern inspired, slightly spiced fish stew gives a nod to the Pacific islands with its coconut-creaminess.  It is easy to make and full of colour and flavour.  Although it originally appeared in a Winter, January, issued magazine it would be just as good served in the summer months. 

The original recipe called South Pacific Fish came from the ASDA supermarket free instore magazine, January 2009 issue.  I made a few adaptations for my version.  The original lists a tin of chopped tomatoes with chilli and peppers: I used a plain tinned tomatoes and added a red and green pepper, chopped and a small chilli (a larger chilli can be added for hotter dish).  In place of the can of coconut milk I used 50g of creamed coconut (grated from a block) with a little water: the first time I made it I used ½pint of water but this made the sauce too watery.  The next time I used just ¼pt, reasoning that I could always add a little more water if it was too dry.  It is important to avoid having to reduce the liquid as the fish can easily be overcooked.  I added a few prawns in place of some of the white fish to add variety.  I also added a few diced okra and their sticky juices helped to thicken the stew a little, but they are not really necessary and certainly should not be cooked for too long if used.   The original recipe had 75g chopped macadamia nuts scattered over as it was served, but I did not feel this was really necessary – and anyway there were none in my cupboard.  This dish would be delicious with chicken substituted in place of the fish.

Vegetarian variation: in place of the fish, add a tin of chick peas or red kidney beans and chunks of green banana 5-10 minutes before serving.

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

South Pacific Fish Stew
(Serves 4)

2tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 de-seeded green chilli, finely chopped
2.5cm/1inch piece of root ginger, peeled & grated
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
450g/1lb sweet potato
50g grated creamed coconut
¼pint boiling water
400g/14oz can of plum tomatoes, liquidised or chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced (optional – omit if adding okra or another vegetable)
225g/8ozs okra, cut into small rings
450g/1lb white fish, skinned & cut into large chunks
110g/4ozs small prawns (optional – reduce white fish amount slightly if using)
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – to serve
Finely chopped, de-seeded red chilli – to serve (optional – for heat lovers)

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan and gently cook the onion until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger and chopped chilli.  Continue to cook for another minute.  Stir in the ground coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, over a low heat for a further minute.

2.  Peel the sweet potato just as it is about to be used (so it does not blacken).  Cut them into 2.5cm/1inch chunks.  Add to the onion mixture and stir so they are well coated. 

3.  Dissolve the grated creamed coconut in the boiling water (alternatively use a 400ml can of coconut milk as in the original recipe). 

4.   Stir in the coconut milk, well chopped or liquidised tomatoes and peppers and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the potato pieces are nearly cooked.

5.  Add the chunks of fish, plus the prawns and okra, if using, and simmer the mixture gently for 5 minutes more.  To avoid breaking up the fish pieces, from this point onwards the pan should be shaken rather than stirred but watch carefully that the heat is not too high causing the bottom of the stew to burn.  If the mixture seems dry then a little more boiling water can be added, but be careful not to add too much.

6.  When it is ready to serve, the sauce in the stew should be slightly thick, with any okra used helping to thicken the sauce.

6.  Serve on a bed of rice.  Garnish with a generous scattering of chopped coriander leaves.  Finely chopped red chilli can also be added for those who would like the extra heat.

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