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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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Quick Pickles

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

Method

  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a plastic bag and shake to combine.
  2. 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.
  3. Before serving drain off the water that has been drawn from the beans.

This pickle is fresh and sharp and goes perfectly with cheese.

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Christmas and Thanksgiving Timetable

Christmas and Thanksgiving can be a very stressful time if you’re the chief cook and bottlewasher in the house.  Even if you regularly cook roast meals, there is extra pressure on these two occasions to produce a meal fit for the King of Siam and his entourage because Christmas and Thanksgiving almost invariably involve big family get togethers. 

Your exact meal is obviously entirely up to you but I thought it might just be helpful to map out a suggested main-course menu (because this is what we all worry about) plus suggested timing.  Make this schedule the basis of your Christmas menu planning and add or delete items that you want to include or remove.  Remember, the clever cook will always plan ahead so that they don’t totally lose their mind (and cool) on ‘The Big Day’. 

Suggested Main Menu – Serves 8

Cider roast turkey with glazed apples and pears with sticky shallots

‘Pigs in blankets’ (little sausages wrapped in bacon)

Chestnut & cranberry roll

Crisp-topped sprouts

Buttery caraway carrots

Roast potatoes

Bread sauce

Gravy

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PREPARING AHEAD – All dishes to be kept in fridge or freezer until needed

Up to 1 Month Ahead

Parboil and freeze the Roast Potatoes

Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll, if freezing

***Up to 3 Days Ahead***

***If you have bought a frozen turkey, think about how you plan to defrost it. Be aware that in a fridge a frozen bird of the size appropriate to feed 8 people could take anything from a day and a half to two and a half days to properly defrost.  Suggested sizes of bird are here and tips on defrosting here (this second link takes you to the British Food Standards Agency site).  

Up to 2 Days Ahead

Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll if making from fresh

Prepare and roast the Glazed Apples and Pears with Sticky Shallots

Christmas Eve

Roast the Chestnut and Cranberry stuffing roll – keep in the foil

Make the bread sauce and store, covered, in the fridge

Boil or steam the sprouts and prepare the topping for the Crispy-topped Sprouts

Steam the carrots for the Buttery Caraway Carrots

Prepare the Pigs in Blankets

Defrost anything frozen in the fridge.

CHRISTMAS DAY

09.30am:

Stuff the turkey, weigh and calculate cooking time.  Heat oven to 190C  /  375F  /  Gas mark 5  /  (Fan oven: 170C, approx 340F)

10.00am:

Put the turkey in to roast (timings based on a 4.5 kg / 10lb turkey)

11.00am and 12.00pm:

Check the roasting tin – add more cider if needed

12.30pm:

Remove the foil from the turkey to let it brown

1.00 pm:

Leave the turkey to rest.  Put the potatoes in the oven to roast, if frozen.  (If not, put in at 1.10pm).  Make the gravy.

1.30pm:

Turn the oven up to 220C  /  425F  /  Gas 7  /(Fan 200C  / 400F).  Turn the potatoes and add the stuffing roll to oven to reheat.  Put the ‘pigs in blankets’  in oven to cook.

1.45pm:

Reheat the apples, pears and shallots in the oven if room, or in the microwave if not, adding a little extra glaze.  Finish the sprouts and the carrots and heat the bread sauce, adding a little milk if it seems too thick.  Take the foil off the stuffing.

2.00pm:

Serve and enjoy!  If you have a hot pudding planned for dessert, place it in the oven and allow the residual heat to warm it through while you eat.

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Tomato and Lentil Dahl with Toasted Almonds

DahlSomeone asked me for this recipe recently so I thought I’d post it here.

Tried and trusted, it gives the most delicious result, making for a light but nutritious vegetarian meal, rich and full of flavour (although mild, rather than mind-blowingly hot).

Serve it with some warm naan bread and maybe some cool, refreshing natural yoghurt.

Tomato and Lentil Dahl with Toasted Almonds

Serves 4

Ingredients

*As usual, my suggested substitutes for the ingredients have been included and have worked well when the original are unavailable (or you can’t be bothered with peeling and de-seeding tomatoes!).

30ml / 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 carrot, diced

10ml / 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds (*sub: same quantity of grainy mustard)

2.5 cm / 1 inch piece root ginger, grated

10 ml / 2 tsp ground turmeric

5 ml / 1 tsp mild chilli powder

5 ml / 1 tsp garam masala

225g / 8 oz / 1 cup split red lentils

400 ml / 14 fl oz / 1-2/3 cups water

400 ml / 14 fl oz / 1-2/3 coconut milk

5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (*sub: 400g tin chopped tomatoes, drained)

Juice of 2 limes

60 ml / 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g / 1 oz / 1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted, to serve

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Method

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan.  Sauté the onion for 5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, carrot, cumin, mustard seeds and ginger.  Cook for 5 minutes until the seeds begin to pop and the carrot softens slightly.

Stir in the ground turmeric, chilli powder and garam masala, and cook for 1 minute or until the flavours begin to mingle, stirring to prevent the spices burning.

Add the lentils, water, coconut milk and tomatoes and season well.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils sticking.

Stir in the lime juice and 45 ml / 3 tbsp of the fresh coriander, then check the seasoning.  Cook for a further 15 minutes until the lentils soften and become tender.

To serve: Sprinkle with the remaining coriander and the flaked almonds.

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From: ‘Vegetarian’ The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook, publisher LORENZ BOOKS, ISBN 0 7548 0090 3

Nutrition notes:

Spices have long been recognised for their medicinal qualities, from curing flatulence (useful when added to a pulse dish) to warding off colds and flu.

Lentils are a useful source of low-fat protein.  They contain good amounts of B vitamins and provide a rich source of zinc and iron.

You need to eat food rich in vitamin C at the same meal to improve absorption of iron.  Limes are a good source, but you could also serve a fresh fruit dessert containing apples, kiwi fruit and oranges.

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Oh no

Following on from yesterday’s discovery of a recipe for French Fry and Spam Casserole, (yum yum), a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this site which refers to a recipe for Olives in Dr Pepper aspic.  I kid you not.  Are there no culinary depths to which we will not sink? 

Barf making

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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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Melting Chocolate Puddings

ChocolateMy daughter made these for us last night and I have to say, I didn’t think anything could top the Nigella version but I really do prefer these.   They seemed pretty easy to make too and despite the apparent richness of the recipe, with 4 eggs plus 4 egg yolks, they were light and fluffy, filled with that deliciouis velvet chocolate fudge filling.  This is pure chocolate lovers’ nirvana.

 

This recipe makes 8 individual little puddings.

 

Can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge, or freezer, until ready for baking. 

Ingredients

 

7 oz (200g) dark chocolate – at least 75% cocoa solids – broken into pieces

7 oz (200g) butter, diced

2 tablespoons of brandy (this can be omitted if, like us, you’re not so keen on alcohol in puddings)

4 oz (110g) golden caster sugar

4 large eggs, plus 4 large egg yolks

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-1/2 oz (60g) plain flour

 

To serve

 

A little pouring or whipped cream

 

You will also need

 

8 mini pudding basins, each with a capacity of 6 fl. oz. (175 ml), generously brushed with melted butter

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Method

 

Place the broken up chocolate, along with the butter and brandy in a heat proof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Keep the heat at its lowest and allow the chocolate to melt slowly, it should take 6-7 minutes.  Then remove it from the heat and give it a good stir until its smooth and glossy.

 

While the chocolate is melting, place the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl.  Put the bowl on a tea towel to steady it then whisk the ingredients on a high speed with an electric hand whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume – this will take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the power of your whisk.  What you need to end up with is a thick mousse like mixture that when you stop the motor and lift the whisk leaves a trail like a piece of ribbon.

 

Now pour the melted chocolate mixture around the edge of the bowl (it’s easier to fold in from the edges) and then sift the flour over the mixture.  Using a large metal  spoon, carefully but thoroughly fold everything together. Patience is needed here.  Don’t be tempted to hurry as careful folding and cutting movements are needed – this will take 3-4 minutes. 

 

Now divide the mixture between the pudding basins (it should come to just below the top of each one) and line them up on a baking tray.  If you like, the puddings can now be covered with cling film and kept in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

 

When you’re ready to bake the puddings, preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / gas mark 6.  Remove the clingfilm and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 14 minutes if they have chilled first, but only 12 if not.  After that time the puddings should have risen and feel fairly firm to the touch, although the insides will still be melting.  Leave to stand for 1 minute before sliding a palette knife around each pudding and turning out onto individual plates.  If you’re cooking these puddings from frozen, give them about 15 minutes cooking time and allow them to stand for 2 minutes before turning out.

 

Serve absolutely immediately with some chilled cream to pour over.

 

As the puddings cool the melted chocolate inside continues to set so they can, if you like, be served cold instead as a fudgey-centred chocolate cake with whipped cream.

 

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This recipe appears in ‘How to Cook Book Two’, and ‘The Delia Collection: Chocolate’, both by Delia Smith. Delia, in turn, was given this recipe by Chef and hotel owner Galton Blackiston of the Morston Hall Hotel in Norfolk, England. 

 

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