Category Archives: Cookery
This is a really satisfying and flavour-packed meal which I cooked last night in my recently acquired pressure cooker, a piece of kitchen equipment that I’m rapidly falling in love with. (NB: You can get perfectly good and very much cheaper PCs than mine – I just opted for what looked like a ‘foolproof version’ because I was nervous about the whole idea of pressure cooking)! In this recipe, cooking time is reduced to 25 minutes in the PC.
If you want to try this recipe using another method of cooking, it takes about 2 hours in the oven at 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4, OR 5-6 hours in a slow cooker.
(My version) Hungarian Goulash
- A small quantity of sour cream (about 75ml or 4 to 5 tablespoons)
- 200g (about 6 oz) peas or sliced green beans (optional)
- 2 carrots, (75g / 3 to 4 oz), sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1 stick of celery, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional) or 1/4 tsp.ground mixed spice or cinnamon (optional)
- 1 x 400g (14 oz.) can chopped tomatoes in juice (+ 1 tin of water)
- 350 ml (12 fl. oz.) liquid beef stock
- 100 ml (3 to 4fl. oz.) red wine
- 400g (14 oz.) potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 200g (7 oz) bacon or spicy sausage, diced
- 600g (21 oz) stewing beef, diced
- 2 oz (about 50g) flour
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Oven on (if using a traditional oven).
Toss the beef in the flour to coat. I do this by putting the meat and flour in a zip lock bag an tossing it around.
Heat the oil in the open pan and brown off the beef in small batches, setting it aside when done.
Add the onions, bacon / spicy sausage and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions have softened (3-4 minutes).
Add back the beef + potatoes, tomatoes in juice, carrots, stock, wine, paprika, bay leaf and caraway seeds if using.
*Put the lid on the pressure cooker and lock it in place. Set the pressure to high (‘meat’ setting on my PC), bring to pressure and cook for 25 minutes.
When done, release the pressure slowly (take the pan off the heat and let it stand for 10-15 mins – this allows the flavour-infused steam to meld back into the cooked dish).
If using, add the peas or beans to the opened pan and cook through for 4 to 5 minutes.
To serve: top with a little sour cream. Can be had with crusty bread or rice, although we found this to be a satisfying ‘one-bowl’ meal on its own.
*If using a traditional oven, cover the casserole and cook for the required time (2 hours or until the meat is tender).
I realised today that my hand-scrawled recipe notes for these family favourites were fading so badly that they were becoming hard to read. Time to commit to a more permanent form of storage….
There are two variations noted here – the second born out of necessity when I realised, too late, that I’d run out of tomato puree. Version 1 uses oregano and tomato puree, version 2 – red pesto (no oregano). I’d go with version 1 first but hey, give it a go and see what you think. My baking in this is not an exact science so don’t get in a sweat if you don’t have 12 or 18 bics and use your eyes, nose and touch to confirm cooking times in your own oven, especially as, in my experience, all ovens seem to have their own foibles.
(Children love these biscuits so it would be a good opportunity to get them into baking by helping out with the whole making process).
Here we go:
Ingredients (to make approximately 12 to 18, using either a 2-1/2″ or 3″ pastry cutter)
150g (6 oz) flour
100g (4 oz) well-flavoured strong cheese, finely grated (I often use Edam). Don’t be lazy – buy and grate your own for best flavour.
100g (4 oz) margarine (or butter)
1-1/2 tablespoons of tomato puree (version 1) OR Version 2: 2 well-rounded (generous!) teaspoons of red pesto (I used Sacla ready-made) and if using, you can leave out the oregano
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard (i.e. English mustard powder)
1 egg, beaten, to bind and to glaze
Salt and pepper to season
To bake on the middle / top shelves of the oven. Oven on at 200C / Fan oven 180-190C / 392F / Gas Mark 6.
Sieve flour, salt, pepper and mustard together. Add oregano (if using – version 1). Rub fat into the dry /flour mix. Add the grated cheese and the tomato puree (or pesto). Add sufficient beaten egg to form a pliable dough (you may not need any if using pesto).
Roll out pastry to about 3mm or 1/8 inch thick and using a 2-1/2 to 3 inch cutter, shape biscuits.
Arrange on a baking tray, prick well, glaze with beaten egg and bake.
2-1/2 inch biscuits will take approx. 18 – 20 minutes. 3 inch bics take about 20 – 22 mins.
These are delicious ‘as is’ but you could always treat them like tiny pizza biscuit canapes and top with a little cream cheese / ham / pineapple / tomato, or sprinkle with paprika pepper. Let your pizza brain get creative!
This recipe for Runner Bean Pickles appeared in the recent series of River Cottage which focused on vegetarian dishes. I’m more or less repeating it here verbatim (original at the Channel 4 website) but it’s also worth saying that this quick pickling method appears to be worth trying with other veg. The secret is to shoosh the veg around in a plastic bag with some seasonings (salt being important for drawing out the vegetables’ natural juices), then press out as much air from the bag as you can and weigh down the contents with maybe something like a plate with a can on top. Wait a couple of hours and bobs-yer-uncle, quick pickle. I’m certainly going to give it a try.
Runner Bean Pickles
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp golden caster sugar
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
Pinch of chilli flakes
150g runner beans, destringed and cut into 1cm pieces on an angle
- Put all the dry ingredients into a plastic bag and shake to combine.
- Add the beans and give the bag a really good shake to ensure the beans are thoroughly coated in the spice mix. Roll the bag up to remove excess air, weight it down (as mentioned above) then set aside for about 2 hours.
- Before serving drain off the water that has been drawn from the beans.
This pickle is fresh and sharp and goes perfectly with cheese.
It’s been a long time since I contributed to my own site here and after much um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not to continue Gentle Voice or amalgamate this with my blog, here I am again, posting here. I am nothing if not indecisive. I think.
So without any more wiffle, here’s a little treat for the tastebuds: Chicken Waldorf Salad. This is an incredibly simple but oh so tasty recipe. Don’t be afraid to alter amounts of the separate ingredients because it’s a very forgiving combo of flavours and creativity is the key to good cooking I say!
Ingredients (For two people):
2 cooked chicken breasts (or equivalent meat from elsewhere on the bird), cut into bite size pieces
1 stick of celery, chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped
2 oz (50g) walnut halves, roughly chopped
6 oz (175g) seedless grapes, washed and halved
3 rounded tablespoons of mayonnaise
Salt and crushed black pepper to season
Lettuce leaves (something crunchy like Cos / Romaine lettuce is good).
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and gently toss through to combine and coat everything. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves. Simple as …
I never promised that it would be all fine cuisine around here (quite the opposite, I think) so since we all seem to be freezing our buns off at the moment I thought I’d refer to one of my favourite cold weather comfort foods – something that I happily snaffled for my lunch today and poo to the diet guilt in this cold snap. I love cheese but God has decreed that hot cheese shall be totally irrestible, both in smell and taste, to all but the steeliest-willed skinniest of skinnies.
I have quick combos that I love on a cold day: toast one side of a slice of bread under the grill then spread the other with tomato puree (paste), good grated strong Cheddar (the real thing, not that plastic muck that tries to pass itself off as Cheddar) and sprinkle on some dried oregano. Pop back under the grill and cook until the cheese is melting and just starting to brown. Voila! – Pizza Bread! 🙂 I’ve successfully substituted a scraping of Sacla red pesto and then cheese when I don’t have tomato puree (making a kind of Basil-ly pizza bread. Mmmmmm…). And for true connoisseurs of the Toast and Cheese Tasters Guild nothing can compare to a scraping of Marmite and then the grated cheese (although if you haven’t tried Marmite before you may want to take it easy with that one – Marmite truly is a product that you either love or hate. It has been known to make grown men cry).
Purists, however, will undoubtedly prefer to go through the extra kerfuffle of making proper Welsh Rarebit (also called Welsh Rabbit, although of course no rabbits are actually harmed in the making of it). Lovely, but I’m normally too much of a gannet to muck around and do things ‘properly’. Here, however is the authentic recipe for this English (well…Welsh) classic:
Welsh rarebit (Serves 4)
(By the way, the phrase Welsh rabbit was coined in the 18th century to describe this cheese on toast. Some believe it was invented when the Welsh wives spied their menfolk returning empty-handed from the hunt and had to melt cheese as a substitute for game).
This Welsh rarebit with egg is from the Edwardian chef C Herman Senn:
- 9 oz/255g freshly grated Llangloffan, Caerphilly, Cheshire or Cheddar cheese
- 1 oz/30g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp Colman’s English mustard powder, mixed with 1 tsp water
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce (optional) – a few drops of each may be added to the mixture
- 4 slices of good bread, white or brown, lightly toasted and buttered
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the finely grated cheese with the butter, breadcrumbs, mustard and egg. Beat well, season with salt and pepper to taste and spread thickly on buttered toast. Cook in the oven until golden brown (5-10 minutes).
That’s it. Enjoy… And stay warm! 🙂
For the marinade
- 50g natural yoghurt
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cm piece ginger, finely grated
- 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 green chillies, seeds removed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 500g skinless fillets of chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces
For the masala
- 4 tsp raw cashew nuts
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 tsp butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp tandoori masala powder, (optional)
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3-4 tbsp milk
- 100ml single cream
- 1 chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
For a lower fat alternative, try using reduced fat evaporated milk instead of cream in the masala
1. For the marinade: Mix the yogurt, flour, oil, aromatics and spices together, then place the chicken in a shallow dish and coat it with the mixture. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if you can.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the marinated chicken over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
3. For the masala: Soak the cashew nuts in hot water for 10-15 minutes, drain and grind to fine paste in blender, adding a little milk if needed.
4. Heat the butter in a large sauce pan, add the bay leaf, ginger and garlic and cook gently for 1 minute until lightly golden. Mix in the masala powders and fry for a further minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and sizzle until the mixture reduces and the tomatoes have lost most of their moisture. Mix in the cashew paste and add enough milk to get a thick, saucy consistency.
5. Add the chicken and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes to warm through. Reserve a teaspoon of the cream and stir the rest in with the chilli, then season to taste. Spoon into a warmed dish, garnish with the reserved cream and serve with chapatis.