Monday, 19 September 2011

A Sprout Is Not Just For Christmas.

In case you're not up to date, let me explain:
I moved to Berlin, like, three weeks ago.
Cooking at home has been unadventurous thus far (combo of lack of space to store/make things and lack of money, plus need to meet new people and therefore going for food to socialise...), but cooking at work has been challenging and interesting.
I work at a small high-end fashion label here, and we take turns to cook (though I tend to volunteer most days!) and then we all eat lunch together. Lovely!
But also, on a Tuesday, we get a big box of veg for the week, and we eat veggie meals. We've bought things to go with the veg (rice, pasta, eggs, yoghurt, curry paste, etc) but sometimes we get things we don't know what to do with - we roasted fennel last week (my first fennel experience).
Last week we got brussel sprouts (or Rosenkohl, as they call them here) - what does one do with brussel sprouts, other than eat them with Christmas dinner?!

We finally ate them today, and added them to the (masses of) leftover spinach and feta pasta from Friday.

I've got a lo-ve-ly bunch of brussel sprouts, di-di di-di

Wash 'em and chop 'em up small, and heat up a frying pan with plenty of butter in it.

Add salt and pepper and add more butter if necessary...they should be soft but with a bit of crunch on the outside.

Serve 'em as a side dish or chuck 'em in some pasta or something... (I reckon they'd be great in a stir fry and will endeavour to try this at some point in the near future.)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Stewed Pork, Veggie Salsa & Flatbread.

I don't know if stewed pork is the right word. Or vegetable salsa, for that matter. But that's what I'm calling it.

They made flatbreads on This Morning, errr, this morning, and I was all "OOOO. I shall make that."

Serves 2, but there was a lot, and some leftover salsa...

One pork chop, fat/bones removed
One red onion
One courgette
Two cloves garlic
One tomato
4 medium mushrooms
Half a tin chopped tomatoes

Plain flour
Cayenne Pepper
Chilli Powder
One vegetable stock cube
Olive oil

Lettuce + 1/2 an avocado per person to serve.

That seems like a lot, but a lot was leftovers/things that needed to be eaten!

Remove the bones/fat from the pork. Flatten and tenderise (translation - hit it with a rolling pin for a bit), and chop into cubes. Place in an oven proof dish.

Take half of the onion and half of the courgette and chop finely, adding to the dish. Crush a garlic clove into the dish (I used a garlic crusher as opposed to the garlic card. You want minced garlic, rather than puree, if possible, but finely chopped will do). Add sprinkles of salt, pepper, coriander, tarragon and cayenne pepper, then a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour (I made mine at about 3pm and we ate about half 6...)

For the flatbreads, mix plain flour, salt and water. Roll out to desired size an shape - seriously, they can be any size or shape. I went for a naan-y look, and probably made enough dough for 4 decent sized ones rather than the 3 big ones I made, but you can always make more flatbreads than needed and eat the others cold for lunch the next day or something. Simple and versatile!

To the pork mix add a veggie stock cube and enough water to cover the ingredients (It'll make a watery sauce but we don't need to serve this...), then put in the oven at around 200 degrees - it should take about 25/30 mins for the pork to be tender. I had a sit down for 15 mins before finishing the rest, but then I had pre-prepared by flatbread dough...

Finely chop the other half of the onion, the other half of the courgette, one tomato and the mushrooms (you can use any amount of any of these, really, just we had mushrooms and courgette to use up and not that many tomatoes in the house...). Add the onion and the other minced garlic clove to a pan (I recommend a large saucepan rather than a frying pan) with olive oil. After 2 mins, add the other veg. Fry until soft, then add the chopped tomatoes. Again, this was a leftover, and if you only have full tins use one of those - I had to add a bit of water and some ketchup to get a decent amount of tomato-y sauce!

Add a big squirt of honey and salt, pepper, coriander and chilli powder and simmer, reducing the sauce so that all the veg is covered but it's not runny.

While the salsa is reducing, fry the flatbreads in a little olive oil - preferably in a griddle pan, for that nice patterned burn look, yknow.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Double Cheese Scones

I had an urge to bake and a craving for savoury that wasn't satisfied by anything in the house.
Also, some goat's cheese to use up. Solution? Cheese scones.

I knew I'd made goat's cheese biscuits before, but I wanted scones, dammit, so combined two recipes (this one and this one, in particular) to make these - double cheese scones.

served with slightly garlicky butter
(born from an error when making garlic butter; the whole tub has a faint garlic taste...good job I love garlic)

225g/8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter
25g/1oz mature cheddar cheese, crumbled
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
150ml/5fl oz milk
butter for top

The measurements are as taken from the recipes, but because I am me, I just chucked some sieved flour in a bowl with salt, added butter and the chunks of goat's cheese and cheddar 'til it was breadcrumb-y and mixed in milk bit by bit 'til it was doughy.

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter and goat's cheese. Crumble in the cheddar mix that in too.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk (I used half semi-skimmed and half unsweetened soya milk, why not.). With a fork, mix together the milk and flour until all of the dry flour disappears.

Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little butter - I added a dash of pepper too. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Fish In Bacon.

Does what it says on the tin - as published in some weekend magazine or other; simple, healthy and delcious.

This fed two of us:

2 white fish fillets (we had cod)
4 slices unsmoked bacon (the recipe called for 'thin bacon' or pancetta, but I don't like pancetta and I love bacon, and the cod/bacon combo was delish)

1/2 beef tomato
1 med courgette
1/2 yellow bell pepper

olive oil
black pepper
chilli (the recipe did call for chillies, but we wouldn't use them again and I had chilli powder in the house, so...)


Oven at 200 - ours is a fan oven, and the recipe didn't have an oven temperature on it (!) so this is an educated guess...

Chop up the veg. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with the herbs+spices and drizzle on olive oil.
Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Wrap the fish in bacon and fry for a minute on each side to seal (I assume this part would work better with pancetta as our bacon just flopped about afterwards)
Place in an oven dish and bake for 15 minutes. (Veg and fish should be ready at the same time!)

served with a bit of salad and some crispy fried goats cheese (recipe as this link, but a warning: it is messy!)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

orig recipe from hellyeahrecipes - and for once i didn't change a thing.

notes? if you have already got cup measurers; they're a good investment. i got mine for a couple of quid at morrisons; and if you bake a lot, lots of recipes on U.S. sites will use cups.
a small bar of dark chocolate should be enough (i bought a huge bar of bourneville and only used 2 rows. more for me!); a 200ml tub of cream cheese is the right amount.

everything below is copied and pasted from the orig post; italics are my notes - find the orig post through the above link!

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
i never bother with any of this cos i'm lazy - tin foil across the bottom of the pan will do the trick, right?

In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

To prepare cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in 8 dollops over batter in the pan.

Swirl in with a knife or spatula.
i was concerned at this point that my batters were both pretty runny and the cheesecake mix was just going to sink but it seemed fine - swirling in is very much an aesthetic thing, and i was quite happy with my dollops.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.

Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.

- jenn.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Soup, Bread, Biscotti.

yes we're alive, and yes we're eating.
we're both halfway through final year so meals are quick and easy.

...this is a lie.
i got an espresso machine for my birthday (delonghi, bright red, highly recommended) and bought a pasta machine from ebay (also red, not quite mastered the art of perfect looking pasta yet, but the taste is pretty good) and have taken to making soup on a sunday for the rest of the week (which inevitably lasts 2 days because i like my soup thick and when it boils down to the right thickness there's not much left).

today, i went on a baking spree, which you'll be aware of if you follow me on twitter. behold:

fennel and caraway seed baguette
the fennel and caraway seeds came in my graze box last week - highly recommended, especially if you have a free code from a friend - and because i'm not a huge nut eater i thought i'd put them in some bread.

white bread flour
self raising (opt)
olive oil
fennel and caraway seeds
yeast/yeast granules

i mixed white bread flour with self raising flour (because i didn't have enough white bread flour - about 350g of each, i reckon) and added salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil before stirring in the yeast/water mix. (no fresh yeast, just the granules - just as good!)
when the dough was together but a little sticky i turned it out onto the bench and kneaded it with plenty of flour on the bench and my hands, and tipped the box of seeds onto the bench, working them into the dough.
i then rolled the dough out into a baguette shape and popped it on a baking tray with some foil underneath, putting slashes in the top for decoration, and placing it under a medium oven for about half an hour (maybe a little longer - until brown and/or crispy on the outside.)

you could use almost any seeds for this - i have another tub of sunflower seeds i'm going to make some bread with next week - but the fennel and caraway give this loaf a spicy kick, and it tastes a little curry-y. delish.

potato, bacon and onion soup

serves approx 2, maybe more potatoes to soak up the water next time!

one large potato (baking potato sized...)
one large onion
3 rashers bacon
creme fraiche
vegetable stock

finely chop your onions and bacon, and drop them into a large hot pan with butter. as they brown, peel and finely chop your potatoes and chuck this in the pan too, then add the salt, pepper, thyme and sage. fill about 2/3 with water and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.
turn the heat down and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes a little, then turn the heat up again, adding the stock cube and creme fraiche, then let the water boil away until the soup is thick enough for you. i added a splash of cayenne pepper at the end to give it a kick.

jam and coconut biscotti
i got this recipe from google and it was from an american site - who knows how much a cup is? - so the measurements are completely made up (i worked off the amount of coconut i had, so let's assume 125g is 2 cups). but these are delicious.

125g dessicated coconut
approx. 40g butter
approx. 60g sugar
approx 60g flour
vanilla essence
1 egg
splash of milk (or 2 eggs, if you prefer. i'm like, an egg nazi. no more than one in anything.)
jam & almonds for decoration

these are so easy to make. essentially, you just have to mix well...
mix the sugar into the butter, then add the coconut and mix. add the egg, mix, then the flour, and mix. add vanilla essence and milk if the dough is too dry, until you have a slightly sticky but stiff mix.
put two big dollops on a tray with baking paper (or tin foil which is all we ever have in the house) on it and spread these thinly with a knife.

you can either use bigger dollops and make two thick strips straight away (you can see my two strips in the above pic), or you can spread a thin layer of jam* across the first two strips and then add another two dollops on top of this and spread these out over the jam. pretty sure you could put anything between the strips of mix...
i added almonds to the top and baked for about 20-25 minutes, until crunchy on top. biscotti should be crunchy the whole way through, but this has ended up with a crunchy top and a softer, biscuit-y based. which is perfect, because i couldn't decide between biscotti or coconut biscuits.

*i used raspberry and vodka jam, as bought from tynemouth market ages ago!