Saturday, April 29, 2006

Western Goulash

Serves 4
3 tbsp olive oil
1 kg chuck or rump steak, roughly diced
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 green peppers, seeded and sliced
'/z tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika (smoked or plain)
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 dried Spanish peppers, seeded
100ml soured cream or Greek yoghurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas
Mark 3. Soak the peppers in warm water for about 20 minutes. until they are soft and malleable.
In a large. heavy-bottomed pot or casserole dish, heat the oil and fry the steak in batches. until it is browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the remaining juices, fry the onions, garlic and green pepper with the salt. Lower the heat, cover and leave for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly soft.
Return the meat to the pot, plus any juice it has produced. Add the paprika and stir in thoroughly. Then stir in the tinned
tomatoes and the dried peppers, torn into strips. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Check the stew at half-hourly intervals. If it seems at all dry. add a little water, ideally from a just-boiled kettle.
Once the meat is tender, stir in the soured cream or yoghurt. season to taste and serve with rice or lots and lots of buttery mash.

Singapore Noodles

Singapore, situated at the tip of the Malay peninsula, has always been a cultural crossroads. The distinctive local cuisine has been shaped mainly by immigrants from southern India and China. This spicy version of fried rice noodles is as good a showcase as any for that mix of influences.
You can make your own spice mix, as I have done here, or use a hot (madras) curry powder. The dish can be eaten hot or cold and you can vary the contents. This version is meat-free, but Singapore noodles often contain a small amount of pork (bacon is good) or chicken.
Serves 4

300g rice vermicelli noodles
3 tbsp vegetable oil 
100ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of '/2 lime
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 or 2 dried red chillie
1 red pepper, finely sliced
2 or 3 curry leaves (optional)
'/z tsp ground coriander seeds
'/z tsp ground cumin seeds 
tsp ground cinnamon
'/2 tsp ground nutmeg
'/z tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp turmeric 
100g peas, cooked if fresh, thawed if frozen
Fresh coriander and lime wedges to serve

Soak the rice noodles in hot, but not boiling, water for about 15 minutes. until they are soft. Drain and cool thoroughly. toss with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and set aside. Combine the stock with the soy sauce, lime juice and sugar and set aside.
In a wok, or wide frying pan, heat the remaining oil until it is very hot. Add the eggs and start to fry them as if you were making an omelette. As it sets, break it up with the end of a spoon so that it looks like dry scrambled egg. Remove and set aside.
Keeping the wok on the heat, fry the onions, garlic. chilli, pepper and curry .
leaves for about a minute. Add the remaining dry spices and stir thoroughly. - Now add the peas and the stock.
followed by the noodles and the cooked egg, and keep everything moving. Stir the noodles until all the stock has disappear( at which point the dish is ready to serve Garnish with fresh coriander and extra wedges and serve.


I use tinned chickpeas to make this soup, and if you look for a decent brand (one without too much added salt), the liquid surrounding the peas is a good stock. Many supermarkets now carry organic tinned pulses that are an excellent option.

Serves 4 to 6

3 or 4 dried Spanish peppers
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 carrot, roughly diced
2 medium-sized, waxy potatoes, peeled and
 roughly diced

Handful (approx 100g) of winter greens —kale or brussels tops — roughly chopped
1 tsp tomato puree 
1 x 400g tin chickpeas (or 200g chickpeas, cooked until tender and kept
 in their liquid)
Pinch of saffron (optional)

Dried chilli to taste

Open the dried peppers by pulling off their stalks. Shake out all the seeds and discard them. Cover the peppers with hot but not boiling water and leave them for at least 15 minutes before chopping.
Heat the oil in a large pan (one with a lid). Add the onions, garlic. celery and carrot, and a pinch or two of salt. Cover the pan and allow the mixture to sweat over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, greens. chickpeas (with all their liquid), peppers, tomato purée and saffron if using. Just cover the ingredients with water and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes can be broken with a spoon. Season to taste. Serve with good. crispy bread, strong extra-virgin olive oil and dried chillies to crumble on top.

Panna Cotta

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups buttermilk
5 tsp unflavored gelatin (two .25 oz envelopes)
6 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix cream and sugar in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for about 1 minute, stir and continue at 20 second intervals until sugar crystals have fully melted.

Meantime, measure 6 TBS water into a small heat proof cup or ramkin and sprinkle gelatin over. Place cup in a cool saucepan filled with about a cup of water. Let stand for 5 minutes so gelatin can absorb some of the water.

Turn on burner and heat up saucepan (with heat proof cup still in it) until water is boiling. Continue on simmer until all of gelatin has melted, about 1 ½-2 minutes.

Remove saucepan from stovetop. Carefully remove hot ramkin from water bath using a hot pad or oven mitt to avoid burns. Stir gelatin mixture into heated cream.

Stir in buttermilk and vanilla extract.

For individual servings, use a liquid measure to pour about ½ to ¾ cup of liquid into small glass or plastic cups. Top with berries just before serving.

For a larger panna cotta, pour all liquid into a 6 cup mold or two 3 cup molds. A bowl can be used as a mold if you wish.

When you are ready to serve, dip the bottom up to sides of mold in a sink of hot water for about 15-20 seconds. Cover with serving dish and turn over. If panna cotta doesn’t come out, dip again in hot water for another 10 or 15 seconds and turn over again. Spoon berries all around the molded Panna Cotta and use a large serving spoon when ready to serve or cut into slices. Spoon berries to the side or overtop.

Makes 12 servings. Recipe can be halved easily.

Rice Pudding

300m1 Whole Milk
300m1 Double Cream
1 Vanilla Pod
150g Pudding Rice
6 free-range Egg Yolks
150g Caster Sugar

1] Place the Milk, Cream and Vanilla pod in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
2] Add the Rice and return to the heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3] Place the Egg Yolks and Sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot water and, with an electric hand-held whisk, whisk until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Stir into the rice pudding and cook for a further
5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then serve immediately.

Banana Bread

by Michael Barry
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 1 to 2 hours

225g/8oz self-raising flour
100g/4oz butter

150g/5oz caster sugar 

450g/1lb bananas (the softer the better), peeled and mashed

½ tsp salt

2 eggs 

175g/6oz mixed dried fruit

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Mix all the ingredients except the dried fruit together. You can do this in a food processor or by hand in a basin.
3. When they're all thoroughly mixed, add the dried fruit. Spoon the mixture into a 1kg/2lb non-stick loaf tin, spread it out evenly and bake it for one and a half hours. The loaf is done when a skewer pushed into its middle comes out clean.
4. Cool on a wire rack, then slice before serving.

Saffron Prawn Risotto

A pinch of Saffron threads
Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
500g Fresh Prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Dry White Wine or Vermouth
1.5 litres Fish or Chicken Stock
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Celery stick, finely chopped
400g Risotto Rice
Frozen or fresh Peas

Grated Parmesan

1] Soak the Saffron threads in a little hot water.
2] Heat a little Olive Oil in a pan.
3] Add the Prawns and Garlic and gently fry for 2/3 minutes until the Prawns are nearly cooked. (The Prawns are completely cooked when they go pink)
4] Pour in the Saffron with the water they soaked in and stir. Then pour in the Wine and simmer for a few minutes.
5] Use a slotted spoon to remove the Prawns and set aside.
6] Reduce the liquid a little, then add in the Stock, keeping on a low simmer.
7] Heat a little Olive Oil in a big heavy based pan and sweat the Onions and Celery, 10 minutes or so, until they start to brown.
8] Add the rice and stir around until the rice starts to go transparent.
9] Turn the heat up and pour in a good glug of Wine/Vermouth.
10] Keep stiring and pour in some Stock.
11] Massage the Rice gently in the pan until the Stock gets absorbed.
12] Keep adding the Stock until the Rice is close to being cooked.
13] Throw in the Peas and Prawns and stir through.
14] Turn the heat off and put a lid on the pan.
15] When the Peas and Prawns are warmed through, serve.

When you put the Peas and the Prawns in, keep the heat on, but low, and stir gently until they have warmed through. Then take the heat off, and stir in some Butter and Parmesan. Replace the lid and let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving. Most would advise against mixing cheese with seafood, but I really like the flavour of the Prawns and the cheese...

PERFECT PAELLA (Gordon Ramsey)

OK, so this one isn't in the slightest bit vegetarian, but there is something so satisfying about cooking dishes where all the ingredients come together in one pan. This recipe came from a Hispanic chef I met in America. Chorizo isn't a traditional ingredient in paella but what fascinated me was the way she sauteed it until it almost disintegrated in the oil. It gave a really nice colour and flavour to the rice early on and lent so much depth to the finished dish. Cook it properly, without it becoming stodgy, and you can eat it cold the next day as a salad. As ever with rice dishes, the point is to remember that it will carry on cooking after it's been taken off the heat. Shellfish is good this month and while mussels and prawns are the more traditional ingredients, there is no reason not to experiment. If you can get hold of fresh crevettes you'll find their flavour is far superior to the prawn.

4 tbsp olive oil
4 free-range chicken thighs, skin on
1 tsp smoked paprika
125g chorizo sausage, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced 400g Spanish rice 125ml dry white wine
11 chicken stock
A few saffron threads
4 large prawns or crevettes
12 large prepared mussels, or 6 green lip mussels
Few sprigs of rosemary
2 lemons cut in wedges

1 Heat the oil in a large paella pan or frying pan, sprinkle the chicken with the paprika and add to the pan skin-side down. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the chorizo, garlic, onion and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to soften the onion and then add the rice. Stir well so that each grain of rice is well coated in oil.
2 Add the wine and allow to evaporate before adding the stock and saffron. Push the prawns and mussels into the mixture
so that they are submerged. Scatter over the rosemary, and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking. But not too often as you will release the starch and make the mixture too stodgy.
3 Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge of the pan and serve immediately.

Note: the prawns or crevettes in this dish may be peeled or unpeeled. I prefer unpeeled as they retain their flavour. Serve the paella with finger bowls of warm water with a slice of lemon in them — although this is a matter of choice.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Skate Wings with Capers

4 small or 2 large skate wings cut in two, retaining the skin. 2 carrots
2 onions
4 sticks of celery
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 pint of white wine
1/2 pint of fish stock
A handful of chopped chives
A handful of chopped tarragon
4 ozs good butter
4 ozs green capers

Chop the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and lay out on a baking dish. Sprinkle half the herbs on to the vegetables. Place the skate wings over the veg and sprinkle over the remaining herbs. Pour the fish stock and the wine into the tray and cover with foil.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at gas mark 8, 230 C. Remove from the baking tray and grill for five minutes. Melt the butter in a pan, add the capers and cook for a couple of minutes.

To serve, place the wings on the plate and pour over the hot butter and spoon the capers over the wings. Onion mash is good with this, especially is you like or have little worry about pigging on butter for one day in your life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Toad in the hole with onion gravy

by Tony Tobin
from Ready Steady Cook

Serves 1

For the toad in the hole
3 sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 eggs, beaten
85g/3oz plain flour
85g/3oz milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

For the onion gravy
2 tsp olive oil
¾ onion, sliced
1 chicken stock cube (or fresh Chicken stock)
3 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Heat a small frying pan and add the sausages to brown, for 4-5 minutes.
3. Place the oil into a small gratin dish, and place in the preheated oven, while you make the batter.
4. To make the toad batter, place the equal quantities of egg, flour and milk into a large mixing bowl. Whisk thoroughly, then add the mustard and whisk to combine.
5. Remove the gratin dish from the oven. Add the browned sausages, and pour in the batter mix.
6. Place back in the oven for 13-16 minutes, or until cooked and golden.
7. For the onion gravy, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, over a moderate heat.
8. Add the sliced onion, cover with a lid and sweat for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
9. Remove the lid and fry for a further minute or two, then crumble in the stock cube, and add the red wine, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Continue cooking the gravy for 3-4 minutes.
10. Spoon out the toad in the hole onto a serving plate, pour the onion gravy over the top, to serve.

I still want to know where the name for this dish originated.