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Posts tagged ‘recipe’

Part I: The crumpet saga

My top* Trademe purchases to date, ranked according to a weighted assessment  are:-

1/ Panasonic bread machine – $60
2/ Breville Cafe Roma espresso machine – $20
3/Leather motorcycle jacket that I’ve never worn, although I’m sure that will change any day now – $10

* Note: ‘Top’ is calculated according to a combination of: value for money, frequency of subsequent use, and/or unbelievably cool. My waffle iron would have made the #3 slot, except the seller still emails me embarassing photographs of herself. The espresso machine would have made the #1 slot, except the woman who sold it to me refuses to email embarassing photographs of herself.

I use the bread machine pretty much daily since acquiring it just over two months ago. There were several false starts: the honey oatmeal bread with the soggy bottom; the cranberry walnut bread where the yeast didn’t activate so much as die a long, slow, painful death; the country seed bread that redecorated the kitchen.

Then our landlords sent me a recipe for their Acclaimed White Bread For Which They Are Renowned Throughout The Sounds. I can’t write too much about it because I get emotional. But oh! The golden, explosively crusty exterior concealing a light, aromatic, most tender of interiors that you just want to snuggle up to and/or roll around in, the whole emitting such a glorious bready smell. I just- it makes me feel so- so-

Sorry! Sorry! But I did warn you.

Then Meep introduced me to Alison Holst’s range of cookery books, specifically ‘The Bread Book‘. Alison Holst has been around for centuries – or certainly as long as Andrew can remember – and is apparently a Kiwi icon, which I presume means she has a purple perm, a thrilling bosom concealed behind a pinny, and says things like, “First catch your weka”. Certainly, the introduction to ‘The Bread Book’ would appear to support this:

However excited you may be about the wonderful things a new machine will do, you may be daunted by the idea of ‘getting the thing going!’

Since my children were 10-12 years old, I have found that the best way to learn about a new machine is to encourage them to read the instructions and use the machine. I then get them to show me what to do, and operate it under their supervision, preferably several times. After this, I am ‘away laughing’, can now read the instruction book and understand it, and can see just how simple the machine is.

I was initially put off by Alison’s inability to either a) read, or b) grapple with the complexity of pressing three buttons. However, I was encouraged by her eager grasp of ‘the lingo’.

Due respect: Alison’s recipes produce outstanding results. Furthermore, whereas I am generally a fan of Antipodean cooking, it often has an unhealthy fixation on fats and dairy produce; yet Alison’s bread recipes favour oil over butter; keep the salt and sugar to a minimum; and substitute wholemeal flour for plain.

Husband and I look significantly more robust and vigorously healthy. Yeah, I’m not sure how many kilos it translates to; I’m afraid to weigh myself. We have enjoyed multigrain bread, wholemeal bread, yoghurt bread, muesli bread, cinnamon raisin bread, hot cross buns, pizza bread and fruity oatmeal bread with toasted almonds.

But then . . . then there were the crumpets.

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Guide to the Kiwi Male: Lesson 1

The first time we went to New Zealand, Husband (previously Boyfriend) briefed me on bacon and egg pie.

“You mean, like, quiche?” I asked.

No, not like quiche. There are certain things you do not do with a Kiwi man, never never, no seriously not even ever. These include describing rugby as ‘only a game’; coming between him and a lamb chop; mispronouncing Kiwi place names; or slapping your elbows whilst licking your chin, and calling it a Haka.

Or calling bacon and egg pie ‘quiche’.

In fairness, bacon and egg pie is nothing like quiche. It is more approximate to a full fried breakfast wrapped up in crispy pastry, each mouthful a sublime composition of perfect proportions of bacon, egg, onion and tomato.

Once Husband Previously Boyfriend recovered from my innocent yet critical misunderstanding of the essence of bacon and egg pie – a healing process which took several years – he asked me to marry him. A condition of betrothal was that I learn how to make bacon and egg pie.

I conducted extensive internet research and found some promising-looking recipes. Unfortunately, there was no way of knowing whether the author was a dyed-in-the-wool Kiwi. One recipe advised: ‘slaughter the pig before attempting to cut the bacon’, so I figured that was genuine enough.

And so I embarked on a great quest to cook the perfect bacon and egg pie. On my first attempt, the pie exploded. On the second, I forgot to include just one ingredient (without egg, it is really only a ‘bacon pie’). On another, I forgot to include tomato and Husband pronounced it inedible. On a number of occasions, I neglected to pre-cook the bacon, and opened the oven to ponder why the pie was swimming around in a pool of briny fat.

It has taken years – five and counting – of trial and error to produce the perfect bacon and egg pie.

Here it is:

0901-rip

Good Housekeeping

Mum’s cookery book is 40 years old. It was given to her as an engagement present in 1968. ‘Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Book’ is about the size of a telephone directory. If it ever had a sleeve, it was lost long ago. The cover is cardboard, scuffed and stained, bound with duct tape. It smells old and rare. Few of the leaves are still attached to the spine. You can tell which are Mum’s favourite receipes, because those pages are wrinkled with age and water damage, often spotted with grease, egg, bits of bacon, seventies spinach. The cakes and muffins sections occasionally feature smudged batter samples.

This book is AMAZING. It features old-fashioned recipes, such as angels on horseback, vol-au-vents, pickled just-about-anything, bubble & squeak, colonial goose, steak & kidney pudding, rabbit stew, toad in the hole, jugged hare. It has stomach-curling recipes such as boiled ox tongue, brains in black butter sauce, pork trotters, calf’s foot jelly, stuffed sheep’s heart, pickled pig’s head, pigeon casserole. I can’t remember some of these dishes, but the names make my mouth water: bramble jelly, blancmange, jam roly-poly, pavlova, lemon merangue pie, gingerbread men, drop scones, gooseberry fool, rock buns, toffee apples, spotted dick, sherry trifle, crab apple jelly, burnt orange wine, mulled ale, barley water, gingerbeer, cowslip wine, sloe gin.

If ever you’re stuck with a couple of pickled sheep’s eyeballs, half a grouse and some leftover burgundy, I guarantee you’ll find a delicious recipe in this book which cooks to ambrosial perfection every time. For those who haven’t graduated to the pickled eyeball stage, the book even tells you how to boil an egg. Seriously. I suppose if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Here, in case you were stuck, is how to boil an egg:-

Boiled eggs
Eggs should be simmered rather than boiled. Put them into boiling water, using a spoon, lower the heat and cook for 3 minutes for a light set and up to 4½ minutes for a firmer set. Alternatively, put them in cold water and bring slowly to the boil – they will then be lightly set. The water in each case should be just sufficient to cover the eggs. Fresh eggs tend to take a little longer to cook than those which are a few days old.

Hard-boiled eggs
Put the eggs into boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for 10 – 12 minutes. Hard-boiled eggs should be placed at once under running cold water and left until they are cold; this prevents a discoloured rim forming round the outside of the yolk and enables the shell to be easily removed. Crack the shell all round by tapping on a firm surface, then peel it off.

Coddled eggs
Place the eggs in boiling water, cover, remove from the heat and keep in a warm place for 8 – 10 minutes; they will then be lightly set.

Ever since I took up cooking, I have campaigned for Mum to give up The Book, but she flatly refuses. She has foiled two attempts to smuggle The Book out of the house under a sweater. I think she’s being selfish. She hardly needs it any more; she can cook. And she only uses about 5 recipes (soda bread, braic, scones, apple tart, boiled <insert carcass of choice>, steamed <insert vegetable of choice, as long as it’s carrot or broccoli>).

For those of you who are keen chefs, here are a couple of recipes you don’t see around every day . . . which is a tragedy.

Scotch eggs

Ingredients
4 eggs, hard-boiled (see above) & shelled
2 level t seasoned flour
Worcestershire sauce
1 kg sausages-meat or skinless sausages
1 egg, beaten
Dry breadcrumbs
Deep fat
Parsley

Method
Dust the eggs with the seasoned flour. Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce to the sausage-meat and divide it into 4 equal portions. Form each quarter into a flat cake and work it round an egg, making it as even as possible to keep the egg a good shape and making sure ther are no cracks in the sausage-meat. Brush with beaten egg and toss in breadcrumbs. Heat the fat until it will brown a cube of bread in 40-50 seconds. (As the sausage-meat is raw, it is essential that the frying should not be hurried unduly, so the fat must not be too hot.) Fry the eggs for about 7-8 minutes. When they are golden-brown on the outside, remove them from the fat and drain on crumpled kitchen paper.

Cut the eggs in half lengthways, garnish each half with a small piece of parsley and serve either hot with tomato sauce or cold with a green salad

Bread and butter pudding

Ingredients
3-4 thin slices of bread and butter
1-2 oz currants or sultanas
½ oz caster sugar
¾ pints milk
2 eggs
Ground nutmeg

Method
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the bread and butter into strips and arrange, buttered side up, in layers in a greased ovenproof dish, sprinkling the layers with the fruit and sugar. Heat the milk, but do not allow it to boil. Whisk the eggs lightly and pour the milk on to them, stirring all the time. Strain the mixture over the bread, sprinkle some nutmeg on top and let the pudding stand for ¼ hour. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until set and lightly browned

Pears in port wine

Ingredients
4 large ripe pears
¼ pint port
¼ pint water
3 oz sugar
Rind of 1 lemon
2 T red-currant jelly (or to taste)

Method
Peel pears, cut in quarters lengthwise and remove the cores. Make a syrup from the port, water , sugar and lemon rind. Add the pears and simmer gently until tender. Remove the fruit, add the red-currant jelly to the syrup and boil rapidly until it is well reduced. Place 4 pear quarters in each glass and strain the syrup over. Allow to cool and serve with cream

Spotted dick

Ingredients
3 oz self-raising flour
A pinch salt
3 oz fresh breadcrumbs
3 oz shredded suet
2 oz caster sugar
6 oz currants
4-6 T milk (approx)

Method
Put the steamer or large saucepan on to boil. Mix together the flour, salt, breadcrumbs, suet, sugar and currants in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add enough milk to give a fairly soft dough. Form into a roll on a well-floured board, wrap loosely in greased greaseproof paper and then in foil, sealing the ends well. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Unwrap the pudding, put in a hot dish and serve with custard or with a white sauce flavoured with cinnamon or grated lemon rind

Cruelty to apples

I love cooking, but never seem to have enough time for it. Dinner is normally salad and a baked potato, with falafels for me; and for Husband, whatever dead animal happens to be lying around. You may have noticed the blog category ‘Recipes’ at the right. You may have noticed the paucity of posts under the category.

It doesn’t help that Husband is a capricious gourmand. He hates mushrooms and anchovies. Rice makes him sneeze. He eats pasta, but prefers to apply it to holes in the walls or ceiling.

When other people feed him, his innate social awareness is such that he rhapsodises about the food even if he fed most of it to the cat under the table. With me, it’s slightly different – i.e. he pulls faces and/or makes retching noises.

On Friday evening, El Knobbo (that one’s going nowhere) invited us over to his new pad. I was charged with provision of dessert. For some reason, I was in the mood to magic up something comfortingly crusty, old-fashioned yet ever contemporary. Ideally, something that could be crafted from limited ingredients. For example, apples, parmesan cheese, and whatever tins were left in our pantry (I was running out of provisions).

So I made apple cinnamon pie.

Husband awarded it five stars which is unusual, so I thought I’d include the recipe for anyone who’s interested.

Apple Pie
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
100g cold butter, chopped roughly
1 egg, separated
Around 1/4 cup iced water

10 Granny Smiths (1.5kg) peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon caster sugar, extra

Method
Preheat oven to 220°C (fan oven; otherwise hotter). Grease deep 25cm pie dish.

Process flours, caster sugar and butter until crumbly. Add egg yolk and enough iced water to make the food processor jump around. If necessary, knead pastry until smooth. Refrigerate half an hour.

Throw apples and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are soft. Drain before stirring in sugar, rind and cinnamon. Cool.

Divide pastry in half. Roll one half on floured surface until large enough to line dish. Spoon apple mixture into dish. Brush pastry edge with egg white.

Roll remaining pastry and place top on dish. Press edges together. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with extra sugar.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180°C for another 25 minutes.

Slaver, eat, repeat

Niamh’s top secret mulled wine recipe

Given that we’re coming up to Christmas, I have been refining my mulled wine brew. In case you are stuck, following is a recipe that combines just the right amount of taste sensation with head explosion. I hope you enjoy it:-


Niamh’s top secret mulled wine recipe


Ingredients

1 x bottle red wine

500ml port

500ml fruity herbal tea (eg blackcurrant/lemon/raspberry tea) or cranberry juice

1 x lemon, cut into slices or wedges

1 x grapefruit or orange, cut into slices or wedges

3 x 3inch long cinnamon sticks

12-16 whole cloves

Small pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2-1 teaspoon secret ingredient

Add sugar to taste


Method

Put a large saucepan over a low heat and pour in the red wine and port. Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed. Or not, you know, like, whatever. Just get everything in the saucepan, add sugar, stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer indefinitely. Keep a lid on it or the alcohol will evaporate. Drink. Take off clothes. Dance around living room in the nip

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