Tag Archives: cooking

Hungarian Goulash

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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.

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*If using a traditional oven, cover the casserole and cook for the required time (2 hours or until the meat is tender).

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Creamy Parsnip and Squash Bake

SERVES  8    PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes + cooling    COOKING TIME: 1 hr 10 mins

Easy to prepare

INGREDIENTS

425 mls / 15 fl oz  (approx 2 US cups)  double (heavy) cream

1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped

2 thyme sprigs, one stripped of leaves

butter, for greasing

500g / 1 lb 2 oz parsnips (about 4 large)

500g / 1 lb 2 oz butternut squash (about 1/2 a large one)

25g / 1 oz Gruyere cheese, grated

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Method

Place the cream, onion or shallot and the thyme sprig in a small pan.  Slowly heat to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Strain, discarding the onion and thyme.

Heat oven to 160C  / 325F  / Gas 4  /  (Fan oven 140C  /275F).  Rub the bottom and sides of a gratin dish measuring about 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 in) with butter.  Peel the parsnips and trim the ends.  Peel and scoop the seeds out of the squash.  Thinly slice the vegetables.

Layer the parsnip and squash in the dish, pour over the infused cream, then scatter with the thyme leaves and Gruyere cheese.  Bake for 1 hour until golden and a fork slides easily into the veg.

………………………………………………………….

Get Ahead:  Leave the bake to cool, then cover and place in the fridge for up to 2 days.  To reheat, place in a 220C  / 425F  / gas 7  (fan 200C / 400F) oven for 15 minutes.  If the top starts to brown more than you’d like, cover with foil.

This recipe first appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine

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Pilaf Rice

A simple and foolproof method for cooking rice that produces a moist and tasty result.

Ingredients

25g (1 oz) butter

1 small onion (about 125g / 4 1/2 oz), peeled and chopped

300g (11 oz) basmati rice

750 ml (1-1/4 pints) chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F), gas mark 3.

Melt the butter in a casserole or saucepan that is large enough to accommodate all the rice (bearing in mind that it will swell).  Add the onion and season.  Cover and cook over a low heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it crackles, then add the stock and some salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil then transfer to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the rice is just cooked so that it is slightly al dente and all the liquid absorbed.

Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

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Cooking with the seasons – Summer*

Summer BerriesSummer is, of course, the best and easiest season in which to source fresh, locally grown produce.  However while supermarket shelves are heaving under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables at this time of year, you need to be aware that many are still sourced from way beyond your direct area.  It’s quite possible that there are smaller, local producers selling many of the same products fresh from the fields and this is why I’m a fan of farm shops.  Seek them out and you will often be rewarded with the best fruit and veg money can buy and the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting traders in your own community.  

It may be that supermarket shopping is easier for you and that buying locally produced goods is less of a priority.  Whatever the case, Summertime gives us an enormous variety of fruit, veg, fish and meat which is at its best at this time of year.

SUMMER

Seasonal Vegetables

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn-on-the-cob, Courgettes (Zucchini), Fennel, Green beans, Green peas, Herbs (Basil, Chives, Dill, Fenugreek, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme), Jersey New Potatoes, Kiwi Fruit, Marrow (Squash), New Potatoes, Peppers, Rhadishes, Rocket, Runner beans, Salad ingredients, Sorrel, Spring Onions, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress

Seasonal Fruits

Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries,   Cherries, Gooseberries, Elderflowers, Loganberries, Melons, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrents, Red water melon, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries,

Seasonal Meat & Game

Lamb, Wood Pigeon

Seasonal Fish

Cod, Clams, Crab, Dover Sole, Grey mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Pike, Pilchards (Sardines), Plaice, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scottish Squid, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Trout

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*(Seasons and availability of produce obviously varies from country to country depending on geographical location.   This list is primarily based around location in the UK & western Europe).

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You're kidding…right?

sad-boyThis recipe was advertised on my Googlemail page and just the title made me click on it.  I had no idea that people still ate Spam let alone a ‘French Fry and Spam Casserole’ (with a few crushed cornflakes in there for good measure)! 

Actually this inspires me to start collecting the worst sounding recipes I can find.  At some point I may (may, I say) actually try them to see if they really do taste as bad as they sound.  Anyone want to contribute?  Genuine recipes only (together with a note of the source if you can).

Here is the recipe for Spam and French Fry Casserole, as listed at recipesource.com.  Try it – I dare you.

Title: FRENCH FRY SPAM CASSEROLE
  Categories: Main dish
       Yield: 8 servings
 
       1 pk Frozen french fry potatoes,
            -thawed (20 oz)
       2 c  Shredded Cheddar cheese
       2 c  Sour cream
       1 cn Condensed cream of chicken
            -soup (10 3/4 oz)
       1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
            -(12 oz)
     1/2 c  Chopped red bell pepper
     1/2 c  Chopped green onion
     1/2 c  Finely crushed corn flakes
 
   Heat oven to 350’F. In large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, sour
   cream, and soup. Stir in SPAM, bell pepper, and green onion. Spoon
   into 13×9″ baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed flakes. Bake 30-40
   minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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Chocolate Tart

choc-eggsThis tart is perfect to celebrate Easter but when it comes to chocolate I think most of us agree that anytime is the right time to eat this! 

This recipe (only very slightly adaped) is from Rachel Allen’s excellent book ‘Bake’.

INGREDIENTS

For the sweet pastry:

200g (7oz) plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

100g (3-1/2 oz) chilled butter, cubed

1/2 – 1 medium egg, beaten

For the tart:

1 x quantity of sweet pastry (using the above)

175 ml (6 fl oz) double cream

125 ml (4 fl oz) milk

125g (4 -1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped

175g (6 oz) good quality dark chocolate, chopped

2 eggs, well beaten

Optional decoration (for Easter) …

250g (9 oz) sugar-coated chocolate eggs, to decorate

Otherwise … a handful of toasted almonds or chopped pecan or pistachio nuts.  

..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..

You will also need a 23cm (9 in) diameter tart tin

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Method:

First, make the pastry …  Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly.  Add half the beaten egg and continue to whiz.  You can add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.  (If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together).

Then, with your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm (3/4 in) thick.  Wrap it in cling film or place in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (‘Resting’ the pastry like this is important because it stops it becoming too sticky and reduces shrinking during cooking).

Once the pastry is rested, preheat the oven to 180C  / 350F / Gas mark 4.  Roll out the pastry to no more than 1/4 inch thick (Rachel recommends placing the pastry between two sheets of cling film to do this) making it big enough to line the tart tin.  Bake the tart blind at the above temperature for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry.

To make the filling …

1.  Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan to boiling point then immediately take off the heat and stir in the chocolate to melt.  Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then stir in the beaten eggs.

2.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked pastry case and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until just softly set.

3.  Allow the tart to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin.

If serving at Easter time, you can decorate with sugar-coated chocolate eggs.  Alternatively at other times of the year add a handful of toasted hazlenuts to the chocolate mixture and bake as step 2.

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Super-quick chocolate cake

I was sent this recipe by email, source unknown, so unfortunately I can’t attribute it.  It was labelled ‘The most dangerous cake recipe in the world’.  Why? Because it’s so quick and easy that you are only ever 5 minutes away from chocolate cake.  I haven’t tried this yet but I plan to – soon!

2 tablespoons cocoa

4 tablespoons of flour

4 tablespoons of sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

A small splash of vanilla extract and your favourite tipple

1 large coffee mug

……………………………………………………………………………

choccake1 Add the dry ingredients to your largest mug and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.  Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips if using, vanilla extract and a drop or two of your favourite tipple, then mix again.

 

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).  The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!

choccake3Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT!  (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).  If you’re feeling very, very naughty, cover liberally in Bailey’s Irish Cream.

 

Without any of the whipping and creaming associated with sponge cakes I’m intrigued to know what this is actually like.  If you try it, please let me know how it turned out – it certainly looks delicious!

choccake4

 

 

 

 

 

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