Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Cranberries for Christmas

Years ago in the midst of time I won a Gold Award for my Cranberry Sauce. That was back in the day (God how I hate that expression) when a Gold Award at The Great Taste Awards meant something.

Well, when a few days ago I ended up with a shed load of Cranberries left over from a function I got the old pan out and created.

Now if you want to make an award winning Cranberry Sauce just follow the recipe below.

Orange Juice

You need half the quantity of sugar to Cranberries. (Eg 1kg cranberries - 500g sugar).

Place pan on a medium to hot hob.
First pour enough orange juice in the pan to generously cover the base.

Add the sugar, start to melt the sugar in the orange juice. If there appears to be insufficient orange juice for the volume of sugar, then add some more juice.

Once all the sugar has melted and you have an orange syrup add the Cranberries.

Stir the pan occasionally to coat all the Cranberries with the orange syrup. After a few minutes the Cranberries will start to pop. Once the majority have popped remove the pan from heat.

And that is all there is to it! Either bottle in sterile jars or keep in the fridge, will last for up to 3 months in a cold fridge.

Happy Christmas cooking!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Pasta with Sausages & Red & Yellow Pepper Sauce

You know when you get stuck for things to cook you often revert to a list that you rotate. This dish is a family favourite easy and quick to cook.

This recipe comes originally from Marcella Hazan's book "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" The sausages the recipe suggests are Italian sweet sausages. I use a very herby sausage, made by my local butcher in Shoreham as my alternative. I also make no appologies for using tinned tomatoes - life is too short to skin and seed tomatoes!

The ingredients are:
3 peppers (2 red 1 yellow or vice-versa)
Olive oil enough to cover the bottom of your pan 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch
I medium onion chopped
4 sausages
Small tin chopped tomatoes
Parmesan (some for cooking & some for the table)
Penne roughly 500 grams

First bake the sausages in the oven for about 20 minutes on 180c. While this is happening put the peppers which you have already seeded and cut into halves under a hot grill for a few minutes. Remove any charred skin from the peppers, then cut into pieces roughly 1 inch square (can''t work out what that is in cms).

Remove sausages from oven and slice into 1/2 inch pieces (roughly1cm ish)

Put your pan on a medium heat, add the oil to the pan, then sauté the onion until it becomes pale brown, cook the sliced sausage for a couple of minutes before adding the peppers which need gentle frying for seven or eight minutes. Then add the tomatoes and season well. Let the pan simmer for 20 minutes. Whilst the sauce is simmering cook the pasta. When the pasta is cooked sprinkle with Parmesan and some butter or olive oil and toss thoroughly.

Then add the sauce to the pasta. The sauce can be cooked ahead of time and reheated - I would not reccomend freezing.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding

Feeling in a pudding sort of mood and knowing that the only way I can keep three women in my life quiet I resorted to chocolate.

Gordon Ramsay's book "cooking for friends" has many simple recipes that are economic to produce and use mostly standard store cupboard ingredients. This sticky toffee & chocolate pudding has all those attributes. Apart from the medjool dates which cost around a fiver each. (Small exaggeration).

Prior to assembling the ingredients you have to rush down the corridor stripping off and getting dressed in whites (optional step, does nothing to improve taste of food). Prepare 8 small pudding basins or ramekins by buttering them, lining them with buttered baking parchment.

The ingredients are:

First ingredients:
200g dates pitted
175g dark muscovado sugar
250ml water
100g butter (lightly or unsalted)
1tsp vanilla extract
I tbsp strong coffee
3 large eggs

Second Ingredients
150g flour
50g cocoa powder
1tsp bicarb
1tsp baking powder

Sauce Ingredients
100g dark muscavado sugar
75g butter (lightly or unsalted)
250g double cream

Put the sugar,pitted & chopped dates in the water - simmer till soft. Add the remaining first ingredients and process till smooth. (Make sure you remove all the date stones otherwise you get a tsunami). Once processed put the ingredients in a bowl.

Combine all the second ingredients and then sieve into bowl containing the first ingredients folding and stirring gently. Once mixed divide evenly among the 8 basins or ramekins. Place in oven for 25 mins at190c or until the sponge is ready.

While waiting for the sponges to rise combine all the sauce ingredients in a pan and heat gently until all the ingredients are melted and combined.

Remove pots or ramekins from oven and remove sponges once they are cool enough to handle. Pour sauce on top. Serve with cream.
Mrs Woody ate one but daughter no. 2 managed two. I thought they were light and sweet and chocolaty - but I'm not keen on puds.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding

I am not the biggest pudding eater or maker in the world, though luckily with three women in the house I am blessed with a great audience for anything sweet.

Having loads of bread left over I decided to make a Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding, I found a James Martin recipe on the BBC food web site.

The recipe is :

150ml/¼pt double cream

150ml/¼pt milk
55g/2oz dark chocolate
Splash Whiskey
2 free-range eggs
1 free-range egg yolk
55g/2oz caster sugar
4 slices white bread, cut in half.

I varied the recipe slightly by just using all single cream rather than double cream & milk. I also ommited the whiskey as I prefer my Scotch unadulterated and in any event would not be appreciated by the intended consumers.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Place the cream, milk & chocolate in a pan and heat until the chocolate has melted. Stir gently to combine.
3. Place the eggs, egg yolk and sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy.
4. Pouring gradually while whisking, add the hot chocolate milk mixture to the whisked eggs.
5. Transfer the chocolate milk and eggs mixture back to the pan. Heat gently, whisking constantly, until the custard has thickened.
6. Arrange the bread slices in an ovenproof dish and pour the chocolate custard evenly over. Allow to sit for at least fifteen minutes to absorb, then place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until set.
7. Remove from the oven and serve with lashings of single cream.

The entire recipe took less than 15 minutes to make. The pudding was delightfully sticky and eaten greedily - particularly by Mrs Woody who had thirds!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Carbonnade of Beef for a Winters Day

I don't what it is about today but it feels like the first day of winter, perhaps it's because I'm feeling a bit coldy and slightly jaded. So I decided to make some real comfort food for supper.

Like with all stews and casseroles the quality of the meat is the most important thing.

I get my beef from John Howe from Chanctonbury who trades at our local Farmer's Market. John is a true eccentric (borderline nutter) he wears a boater 12 months of the year, wears tweed and drives a Landrover of indeterminate age. His stall is always decorated with signs against the EU and things foreign ("for the convenience of customers we do not accept euros"). He still insists in selling everything in pounds and ounces. However his beef, which comes from a fifty year old herd, is of top quality.

I always use a cut for stews called "Jews Fillet". (The Jews' fillet is part of the silverside and got its derogatory name because it was often disguised and sold as real fillet for a much higher price). Its a lean cut and the same price usually as any stewing or braising cut.

The other vital ingredient is the beer. Most recipes will say you should use a lager, as most of these beers are tasteless I use a bitter, but if you want a really strong flavour you can even use a stout.

The recipe for Carbonnade of beef is as follows:

1 kg stewing beef
4 Onions
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 Bay Leaf
500ml beef or veg stock
350 ml Beer
2tbsp Dijon Mustard
3tbsp flour
1tbsp brown sugar
White wine vinegar


Fry the onions and garlic gently until golden, remove from pan and put in casserole.

Whilst onions are cooking cut meat into chunks and coat with seasoned flour.

Brown meat in pan in batches then remove to casserole. Put remaining flour in casserole coating onions and meat.

Add sugar to frying pan and de-glaze with stock, add beer to stock in frying pan, bring to boil. Pour over meat & onions in casserole. Add bay leaf, thyme, Dijon mustard.

Cook in medium oven for 3 hours at 160c.

Check for flavour if over sweet add a little wine vinegar. Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veg. (Did I tell you to remove the bay leaf)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Making Chocolate Truffles

Never having made any sort of chocolate and being far from adept at making desserts (or should it be deserts, sometimes spell checker are no use) I started off the process with some trepidation.

After consulting several cookery books, checking recipes on line and taking advice from fellow bloggers I opted for a Nigel Slater recipe.

It is a simple recipe with few ingredients they are: 450gm fine chocolate, 275 ml whipping or double cream and cocoa powder for dusting.

Melt the chocolate gently making sure it is lump free. Whilst the chocolate is melting bring the cream almost to the boil. Add the cream to the chocolate. Chill for at least two hours.

Once the mixture has set have a stiff drink (RIP Keith Floyd). I tried to use two teaspoons to make the balls, but in the end I settled for a melon baller and 1 teaspoon. I did get into a bit of a mess making the first few. To tell the truth it looked like I had been attending a nursery art class. Chocolate everywhere.

Then I remembered reading the advice that you should dust your hands with cocoa powder, this does stop you getting into a total mess.

The result has been tasted by one wife, two children and one random friend of child 2. Wife and child 1 liked the result but found it a bit bitter, child 2 & friend thought they were really good. (3 each and feeling sick).

Excuse the quality of the pictures - I think I got chocolate ganache on the lens, this works far less well than Vaseline in all circumstances.