Tuesday, 27 September 2011

How I open a bottle of wine.

Yes I know, unscrew the cap!  However I frequently have bottles with real corks in them ,or worse still, the dreaded plastic cork.  I use a simple 2 armed corkscrew, put the screw just into the cork while standing up( greater purchase on the cork ),then I sit down and put the bottle on the seat of the chair and resting between my knees.,so that I can grip  it firmly. Then unscrew the cork, placing my fairly weak right hand on the wings of the opener, and pull down. Usually the cork comes up quite easily, but sometimes the plastic one proves harder to remove. Then I am left with the cork in the corkscrew, so I grip the cork between my teeth, and rotate the corkscrew anticlockwise, and  Lo and behold ,it comes free, enabling me to open another bottle..... and another.....

Sunday, 25 September 2011

My three successful items today, lemon curd first nearest the camera, then the lemon pear and cardamom jam and lasty the spicy pear chutney. hurah! I've done it at last.

Just lost everything I have written! But I've been very busy cooking.

Three things this morning, as I seem to have a glut of pears, from my organic box, from friends and I had some here anyway.
So, Spicy Pear chutney
1.5.kg peeled and chopped pears,( conference are good)
1  large onion peeled and chopped and  1 tablespoon of salt.
350 grm sugar
300 ml of water
2 teaspoons of curry powder
2 teaspoons of mustard powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of grainy mustard
1 heaped tablespoon of flour

Sprinlke the onion with salt,and leave ina bowl overnight
Drain.Add to the pears with half the vinegarand the sugar.Boil for 20 minutes
Blend the dry ingerdients together with the remining vinegar and add.
Cook for about another 15 minutes, or until the pears have softened and are very transparent.
Pot ,cover and leave for at least a month.
 before eating.
I like to add further spices so have used grated ginger,and chilli flakes. no doubt it will blow my head off.

Pear, lemon and cardamom jam

400 gms lemons
500 gms hard pears, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of cardamom pods crushed.
600 gms sugar
3/4 litre of water
 Slice half the lemons as finely as you can, and squeeze the juice from the rest.Put the pips into a muslin bag and add the to the water and lemons. Boil with a lid on for an hour. Remove the bag of pips from the juice,squeeze out the excessmadd the cardamom seeds and sugar and heat gently till it is disolved ,ten biol rapidy until stetting point is reached, then leave for halfan hour, and then pot into sterilised jars.Cover .
I don't know how this will taste, but it seemed an interesting recipe

Lemon curd

4 large lemons with the greated zest of 2 of them
200 grms sugar
175 gms butter
3 large eggs, beaten.
Put the first three ingredients into a heatproof bowl ,and set it over a pan of simmering water
Let it all melt together ,and then add the beaten eggs ,stirring all the time, until it becomes thick and will coat the back of a spoon.
 Pot into small pots ,and put into the fridge, as  is not advisable to keep it in a cupboard. It won't last longanyway, it's too delicious.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

I have been flat out this week.

On Monday, I had a friend to stay, and this is what I gave her for supper.

Crab au gratin.
I large crab (not large enough in my opinion)
the same weight of breadcrumbs as the crabmeat
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
1 hard boiled egg
3 pickled onions,and 3 small pickled gherkins chopped small
for the topping,breadcrumbs ,grated cheese and  a litle butter to dot on the surface.
First soak the breadcrumbs in a little milk,,,,,,,,,I would say only use half the weight of crumbs rather than the same weight as the crabmeat, then squeeze the milk from the breadcrumbs
Chop the egg, mix together the egg, ketchup,  onions and gherkins and Mayonnise and breadcrumbs and then fold in the crab.Season with salt and pepper.Put in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over ,then the cheese, and dot with the butter. Cook in a moderate oven for half an hour.
The result was quite pleasant, but could definitely have done with more crab!

Then the next day, 4 for supper.
First course was simple ,as I had made Raymond Blanc's Chicken Liver Parfait some time before ,and there was some in the freezer. We had that with sourdough bread toasted, and onion chutney,also made some time ago, and thus nothing more  to do, bar plate up and make the toast!
Next I had some really good fish bisque (frozen again)  to which I added some tomato and red pepper that I had pureed. Chopped and fried an onion, cut up a   a few potatoes FROM THE GARDEN  added a can of chopped tomatoes, some Pernod,and saffron threads.Fresh salmon, tuna and large prawns were waiting to flash fry and be amalgamated at the last minute. Flaked the fish, added a little chopped parsley, and as Gordon Ramsay would say.... job done.
 It was delicious.and there was enough for me to have the following day, but then disaster struck! I put the lefover fish into a bowl, but it was slippery and fell to the floor with a crash, I was covered, the floor ,walls too. had to clear it all up ,and no food for the next day! I really should not try and do things when it's late and I'm tired..

We had good cheeses and then caramelised oranges.
Drank Sauternes with the Pate, a Chardonnay with the fish , and some Beaujolais wit the cheeses.
Yesterday, 4 for lunch ,so I  made a ricotta tart,as oneof the 4 is Vegetarian

Ricotta  at forno.
500grms of Ricotta. 3 eggs ,3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan,about 6 chopped and stoned black olives and the same of green ones. some basil, chopped finely. salt and pepper.
Breadcrumbs enough to cover the loose bottomed  greased tin in which you are cooking the tart.
Mix together all the rest of ingredients, add a slug of olive oil,season,andpour into the tin.
Put in the  oven  at 180 degrees for about an hour, take out when the top is nicely browned and leave to cool before unmoulding it
This is good served either warm or cold. If served warm, just a drizzle of best Olive Oil, if cold some Balsamic vinegar
We had it with a salad of beans, peas and broad beans,dresed with some basil oil , a green salad and some Piedmontese Peppers, cut in half and filled with garlic, basil leaves ,small  tomatoes cut in half ,plus  a  chopped anchovy fillet, drizzled with oil, and then baked in the oven at the same time as the Ricotta tart.

I also managed a tea loaf, as I found some dried fruit that definitely needed to be used up.
Soaked the fruit in a cup of builder's tea overnight, Then added 125 grms of brown sugar, 250 grms of plain flour and an egg beaten in. Forgot to say, a teaspoon both of baking powder and Bicarbonate of soda should be added  with the flour, otherwise it would be very heavy and not rise at all. 
That was in the oven for the same time, Good use of heat!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Pride comes before a fall.

Just to let you know that not everything I cook is a complete success.
Yesterday I thought I would make a  brioche.  First problem was my scales had broken, so I had to guess the ammount of flour needed. Then I tipped in too much dried yeast,which was imopossible to recover,as it had amalgamated with the flour! Luckilly it still rose well.

The recipe is brilliant, but there were several disasters still to come.
 I used too deep a tin in which to bake the brioche, asI like to be able to slice it (it's one of the few things I can actually cut quite reasonably)
Then I took it out of the oven too early,the top cracked into pieces and it was still very undercooked in the middle, so it had to be  returned  to the oven for a further 10 minutes! AND  it wouldn't come out of the tin...
Recipe below.....I've had this recipe for ages, and it's always worked a treat, but there you go!

1 teaspoon of dried yeast
1 teaspoon of honey
3 1/2   fl oz of warm water
500 gms of strong plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
4 eggs beaten
275 gms of softened  butter

1. Mix the yeast and honey in the warm water
2. Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl ,make a well in the middle
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring them together, it will be messy, so don't answer the phone!!
4. Knead the mass for approximately 5 minutes and then return it to the bowl, cover it and leave in a warm place to rise for around 40 minutes
5. Knock the dough back and knead some more ,and then put in your preferred tin (well greased and floured ) Brush the top with either some egg yolk or milk whichever you prefer.
6. Cook in the  preheated oven at 200o for  40 minutes.
Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

I have taken 2 photos, but don't know whether I dare put them up for you all to see!
Still, there's much more cooking to be done this coming week, as I have a  friend staying, and then others coming for supper and even more for lunch at the end of the week,soI shall be busy.

Monday, 12 September 2011

I have been so lazy.

Going to Tresco was marvellous, white sands and turquoise sea, and above the island....sunshine! If I can manage it,I will try for a photo just to show what it was like.
Now I'm home again, and not doing much cooking, ,but yesterday I  picked all the miserable red and yellow tomatoes remaining  in the garden (those that hadn't gone black due to te rain) ,and stewed tham with lots of garlic,plus half a red pepper which was looking sorry for itself in the bottom of the fridge. Then pureed tham ,pushed the mix through a sieve, and now I have a nice container of really tasty sauce in the freezer.
I am thinking hard about what I will take for the presentation to the Stroke Group in early November, they tell me there could be over 100 people there, so maybe SOMEONE  might be interested!
Quite a bit of entertaining next week, so watch this space.