Tuesday, 31 January 2012

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 30.

This week I decided to get more organised and make a recipe I've had bookmarked for a while.  The reason I had to get more organised is because this recipe assumes you have left over roast chicken and tomato sauce and I rarely have either of these things left over!

What recipe did I make you might be wondering? It was the: Chicken, ham, cheese and tomato stuffed crepes recipe from Sam Stern's: Real Food Real Fast.

To make this you need:

Chicken - I used four mini chicken breasts but you could use chicken thighs or wings.
A tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
A pinch of Sugar
Sprinkle of Basil
Salt & Pepper to season
A few drops of Lemon Juice
175g/ 6 oz plain white Flour
A pinch of Salt
2 Eggs and an extra Egg yolk
425ml/ 3 quarters of a pint Milk
2 teaspoons Butter
2 teaspoons Poppy seeds
Ham - I used pancetta but you can use gammon or any other type of ham.
Cheese - I grated half a bowl full of Cheshire Cheese

I started off this recipe by cooking off my chicken breasts in the oven, once these were cooked I got them out of the oven cooled them on the side and then put them in the fridge to use later.

Next I started to make my tomato sauce by putting some olive oil in the pan and heating it as I chopped up the onions.  Once the oil was heated and the onions chopped I added them to the pan along with the garlic and cooked them until the onion becomes soft.

When the onion was cooked I threw in the tin of tomatoes, sugar, basil, pepper, salt and lemon juice and stirred the ingredients together.  Then I brought them to the boil and before turning the heat down so that the mixture simmered.

After that I stirred the sauce and kept an eye on it and then took it off the heat when the flavours combined and the sauce started to thicken. Once I'd removed it from the heat I poured the sauce into a bowl and put it to one side and washed my pan.

As the pan dried on the draining board I gathered the last of my ingredients together and started to make my crepes.  I measured my flour and put it in my food processor along with the salt, pepper, eggs and milk before mixing it all together.  I then looked at the recipe again and realised that I should have measured the milk instead of just putting a dash of milk in so I added a bit more and the butter. After I double checked the recipe I saw that the recipe in the book said to melt the butter first but it was a bit late for that and no harm seemed to have been done...

I then dried the pan, put it on the hob and turned the oven on to 220c/ gas mark 7.  Next I threw the poppy seeds into the food processor and mixed the batter once more.

After doing that I put a bit of butter in the pan and heated it, when it was heated I ladled some of the crepe batter into my pan, swirled it around and started to cook it.  The crepe was taking a while to cook so whilst I waited I chopped the chicken breasts into pieces and started to grate the cheese.

When I had got both sides of the crepe crisp and golden I put it on a plate and started the next crepe.  I did this a few more times before my boyfriend came down and enquired about how long it would be until tea time so I roped him in as a sous chef and filled started to fill the cooked crepes.

I filled the crepes by smearing some of the tomato sauce on them, then putting the chicken in and some ham before sprinkling in the cheese, rolling them up and putting them in my roasting dish.

When all the crepe batter was cooked, filled and put in the roasting dish I put the last of the tomato sauce on it and then sprinkled the remaining cheese on top, before thinking this looks a bit like enchiladas and putting it in the oven for fifteen minutes.

Once the fifteen minutes were up I took the crepes out of the oven and dished them up.

Shortly afterwards they were devoured by me and my boyfriend... no mercy was shown and there were no left overs. This was a very good meal, definately not a fast one but if I was even more organised I could prepare the crepes in the morning and put them in the fridge then just prepare the fillings and it would be a lot quicker. One for future reference!

Monday, 23 January 2012

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 29.

This week’s recipe is one I made on week 28 but decided to post this week as I have been busy preparing for job interviews this week as well as working on my other blog called: Three Sixty Six Pics where I'm trying to take a picture for every day of the year.

So this week's recipe is another one from the Grandma’s Best Recipes book and is the Corned Beef Hash recipe. I promise I'll do one from another cook book next week! Honest!

To make this recipe you need:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
A tin of Corned Beef (I used a 200g one and the recipe suggested using 675g)
A few potatoes cut into small cubes.
1 Onion diced.
¼ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Garlic
4 tablespoon diced Jalepeno peppers
A sprinkle of Salt and pepper
2 Eggs (The recipe says poached but I just boiled and peeled them as I don’t have a poacher.)

I started off by chopping up the onion, jalepeno peppers and the potatoes first and put them to one side, before chopping up the corned beef into small cubes.

I put a pan of water on to boil for the potatoes and then put the vegetable oil in my wok with the corned beef and onions then cooked them on a medium heat for ten minutes.

When the water in the pan had boiled I added the potatoes and cooked them for about five minutes whilst I stirred the corned beef and onions. 

One the potatoes were cooked I drained them and added them to the wok with the jalepeno  peppers, garlic, paprika, the salt and pepper.

I stirred this together to mix it all in and pressed the mix down to flatten it as directed in the recipe.
I also put another pan of water on the hob to boil and carried on stirring the mixture to ensure it didn’t burn to the bottom of the wok.  Once the water in the pan next to my wok had boiled I lowered two eggs in and set my timer for six minutes.

It was probably around this time that I got distracted and wandered out of the kitchen... I was to pay for this by smelling the unmistakable burning smell shortly after. Distaster! Half the mixture seemed to have burnt but I couldn’t throw it away as it was supposed to be my tea. I got rid of the most burnt parts and added extra paprika,  salt and pepper to try to get rid of the burnt taste. From then on I kept a better eye on the dish trying to ensure that it didn’t burn again.

So I carried on stirring the corned beef hash mix and then took the eggs from the pan when the timer went off. The eggs hadn’t exactly gone to plan either, one of them had cracked itself against the side of the pan whilst cooking and looked somewhat Picasso-esque. I let the eggs cool for a moment as I removed the corned beef hash mix from the hob and dished it on to two plates trying to ensure my boyfriend didn’t get many of the burnt bits.
Hash monster!

I then peeled the boiled eggs and placed them on top of the corned beef hash to try to mimic the poached egg on the picture nest to the recipe.

I must admit it was an ok dish but I couldn’t help thinking that it was completely burnt and charred. My boyfriend told me that he enjoyed his portion, so maybe I had the misfortune of getting the lousy half.We're still in debate as to what a corned beef has acutally is as what he calls a corned beef hash is what I know as hotpot... which also isn't this! I'll have to try this again one day with more concentration and see if it can be added to my repetoire of meals.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

52 Recipe Challenge – Week 28.

Last week I started making a sourdough starter using a Sourdough Bread recipe from my Grandma’s Best Recipes book and blogged about this experimental baking here.  After waiting a few days, I wasn’t sure if the dough was ready as it didn’t seem frothy, like the recipe said it would so I left the mix a little longer. Unfortunately, this ended up with the top of the starter freckling with mould. Dismayed by this I consulted that oracle of knowledge the internet and came across two schools of thought.  The first was to discard the starter and try again the other was to scrape away the mould and use the remnants.

So I ended up scraping the top from my starter and throwing the tea towel in the wash, choosing to cover it with cling film instead.  The next day I decided that the starter looked ready to use and decided to try and make bread using it.

If you want to make this, you will need the following ingredients.
For the starter:
85g/ 3 oz Wholemeal flour
85g/ 3 oz Strong White flour
55g/ 2 oz Caster sugar
250ml/ 9 fl oz Milk

For the rest of the bread:
450g/ 1 lb Wholemeal Flour
4 teaspoons Salt
350ml/12 fl oz lukewarm Water
2 tablespoons Black Treacle
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Plain flour for dusting.

To start making this dish I combined the two flours, sugar and milk of the starter then tried to beat it with a fork. As I mentioned in my last post I spilt a bit because I chose too small a bowl... it’s not at all because I’m clumsy!

Once the spillages were mopped up and the ingredients combined, I got a tea towel and ran it under a tap to make it damp then lay it over the starter and put it out of the way. The next step was to wait, so I waited for five days and then discovered the dreaded mould!

To deal with this I scraped the top layer off with a teaspoon and disposed of it in the bin. After that I covered the starter again with cling film instead of the tea towel.  I left it for another day and as it seemed to be frothing properly and not forming a crust like it was with the tea towel I decided to make the bread dough.

I got out the flour and two teaspoons of salt, measured them then sifted them into the mixing bowl, then added the treacle and the oil.

The I tipped the starter in, as you can probably imagine it stunk!

After putting all of this in the mixing bowl, I got my wooden spoon and mixed it all together.
The recipe said to mix until the dough begins to form but it just seemed really sticky, so I added more flour and then it started to become more dough like.  Once it got to the dough stage I started to knead the dough but it became sticky again so I added a bit more flour to the mix and kneaded it in the bowl for another 10 minutes before covering it with cling film an leaving it to rise.

I came back to the dough about three hours later and it didn’t seem to have risen much but it did seem to have increased in size a bit so I decided that was good enough for me as it was getting late.
My next step was to sprinkle my baking sheet and a baking tray with some flour and set them aside for a moment whilst pre-heating my oven to 220c/ gas mark 7.  After I did that I sprinkled flour on to my kitchen side, kneaded the dough for ten minutes and divided the dough into two lots, one lot of rolls and one loaf.
Half way through doing this I stopped and put the remaining two teaspoons of salt in a bowl with four tablespoons of water and stirred them together. I let the rolls rise for fifteen minutes and brushed them and the loaf with the salty water mix. 

  After fifteen minutes I put the rolls in the oven for another fifteen minutes.

When I took these out of the oven I brushed the loaf with a few more layers of saltwater glaze and then put that in the oven for half an hour.

I tried eating one of the rolls by itself on the night I baked them but it was a bit stodgy.  The next day I had one with some butter and soup, this worked but wasn’t quite as nice as a one of my home baked white bread rolls.

I think this recipe is ok but takes a lot longer than the bread I am used to making, so I will have to time when I make the starter so that I bake this bread at a weekend and have more time.  If I try it again I will ignore the idea of covering the starter with a damp tea towel and use cling film instead; however, I fancy trying other sour dough recipes, which use water in the starter rather than milk.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Experimental baking.

I have been thinking about trying to make sour dough for a while, well about four years... basically since I tried it in New York. For some reason or other I haven't tried to make this despite really enjoying it. Until now that is! Inspired by Stella's impressive loaf on Twitter I decided to do some winter baking of my own.

Tonight I began making the starter for my first batch of sour dough bread for next week's blog post and
I think that I may have used too small a bowl, it made a bit of a mess...
After wiping up my spillages I added a tiny bit more milk and beat the mix again but I think it looks like porridge.

What do you think? My recipe said to cover with a damp teatowl and leave for 4 -5 days so I've covered it.

Now I just have to wait... I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

52 Recipe Challenge – Week 27.

Since Christmas I have been flicking through my new cook books spoilt for choice wondering which recipe to make next. Should I try vegetable cobbler or rubarb custards? Cornbeef hash or naan bread? Before I knew it week 26 flew by, dominated mainly by leftover curries and pies.

In the end I turned to The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook, Gemma and Luke bought me for Christmas and found a dish called Tamatar Baigan or Aubergines in Tomato Sauce so I decided to make it.

To make this dish you need.

1 Large Aubergine
2 Tablespoons of oil
600g Chopped tomatoes (1 ½ aldi tins)
½ Teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 Teaspoon Chilli
½ Teaspoon Coriander
1 Teaspoon Ginger
1 Teaspoon Turmeric.
100ml Water (Possibly 200ml)
Fresh Coriander to Garnish (optional)

To start with I chopped the aubergine in half and then I cut those pieces in half again.

Once the aubergine was quartered I cut it into slices and tried to make them 1cm wide as the recipe directs. 

When they were all chopped up I got out my griddle, put a little oil on it and then started to cook my aubergine slices on it in batches, removing them when they started to go a more golden colour.

The recipe recommended using a slotted spoon to move the aubergines but I don’t have one of those so I improvised and fork...  When this was done I got my wok out and heated up some oil, then when it was hot I put the cumin seeds into the pan. 

 I fried the cumin seeds and when they started to sizzle I took the pan off the heat and added the chilli, ginger, coriander, turmeric, a tin of chopped tomatoes and salt in.

After I put spices and chopped tomatoes in the pan I returned it to the heat before looking at it and thinking that there didn’t look like there was a lot in the pan. So I double checked the recipe and saw my error I didn’t put all the chopped tomatoes in! I added the last of the tomatoes to the pan and stirred the lot until it seemed as if it had cooked.  When the tomato sauce seemed ready I started to place the aubergines on top of the sauce as the recipe suggested. 

 The creative side in me wanted to make a flower or rose type pattern on top with the aubergine slices as petals but there wasn’t really space to do that. Once all the aubergine slices were in place I poured the water in, then set the timer for 25 minutes.
After about 10 minutes passed, my boyfriend came along to investigate by trying to stir the mix! The recipe doesn’t say to stir the aubergines into the sauce. I felt like yelling, instead I pointed to the recipe and explained. We looked at the sauce and it looked quite thick, probably because the recipe says to cover the pan whilst cooking but I don’t have a lid for the wok so can’t cover it. To rectify it my boyfriend added more water and I cooked it for another 20 minutes occasionally turning the aubergines over or moving them slightly. (I’m not sure how much water he added I guess about 100ml.)
As it neared the end of the cooking time I put a few naan breads in the oven to heat up and once it was all done dished up.

The recipe says serves four, then again it also says to serve with tomato rice, paneer with peas and chicken tikka so I don’t think we were greedy eating it all between two of us. It turned out nice despite all my worries and I think it’s a dish we’ll make again!

Leftover lunches.

Last week I didn't delve into my cookbooks and pull out a recipe to try or take pictures of the new things I cooked on Christmas day. There was a spreadsheet, followed by a list and a few advisors on hand but it never occurred to me to stop for a second and take step by step pictures. I was just concerned about all the food. Mainly not dropping or burning it. Looking back that was a missed opportunity... maybe next year?! I'd have to be quite foolhardy to do that again! The food itself was great Turkey, Gammon, Salmon, Yorkshire Puddings... all the trimmings! (Except sprouts.) The only problem was there was so much of it! We had the left over roast potatoes with the remaining salmon and some of the gammon the next day, then we had to work out with the other half of the turkey we still had left.

In the end we used a quarter of it in a turkey curry, this wasn't some fancy recipe from my new Indian food cook book. Alas this was me frying off onions and  peppers, then cooking off some turkey before adding some Saag sauce from a sachet and frozen spinach. Suffice to say this didn't go very far so I added some more water in and it just diluted the flavours further. It was around this point my boyfriend came along and tried to rectify the situation by adding the last of the tomato puree and a tin of mulligatawny soup.  This made an ok curry but it still wasn't amazing.  So we covered up the copious amounts of leftovers, then the next day I stocked up on tins of chopped tomatoes and added a couple to the mix as well as another pepper and a few more spices.

This is what it looked like.  At the time we finished it I couldn't face more turkey curry so froze the lot and I had this lot for my lunch today.

Despite making the curry we still had a lot of turkey left so I ended up chopping this up and cooking it off with some chopped onion, carrots and potatoes.  I then added a gravy sauce and cooked this mixture until the carrots and potatoes were done before rolling out some ready prepared pastry and making them into pies.

These are two of them, which took us three days to eat! There is one last pie sat waiting in the freezer, it's time will come just not this week.

What did you do with all your leftovers? Or do you have any tips for preventing the accumulation of leftovers?