Thursday, 20 October 2011

Honey Roasted Pear and Parsnip Salad

Now that I only have to be in University two days a week and Ben is home more in the daytime I have decided to try and make more lunchtime recipes. Rather then reheating leftovers or settling on the lazy option of pasta and cheese, I shall be trying more lunch options, and I’ve started as I mean to go on with a Honey Roasted Parsnip and Pear Salad from one of my faves Cook, Eat, Smile, written by the man behind the brilliant Bills Produce Store.

Root Veg. Pear. Honey Roasted. Blue Cheese. Quite possibly the best flavour combination ever and sexing up humble salad leaves everywhere. I’ll admit to you now, I am NOT a salad person, particularly in October. But the caramelisation of the sweet slithers of pears and parsnips, the creaminess of the cheese, and the zing of the dressing make even the most boring of leaves sensational. This recipe makes salads appetizing for colder weather too, no bad thing if you’re trying to watch your waistline.

Adapted from Cook, Eat, Smile
Serves 2
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into strips
1 pear, peeled, cored and quartered
1 tbsp honey
50g stilton, or any other blue cheese
2 large handfuls of salad leaves (I used spinach, Bill uses the head of radicchio)
-For the Dressing-
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss the parsnips in half the honey, put on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes. Add the pears and the rest of the honey and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the tray and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Place the salad leaves into a big bowl, scatter over the roasted parsnips and pears and crumble the cheese over too.
  4. Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together and spoon over the salad. Mix it all together and serve.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Strawberry Jam Tarts

Introducing my exceedingly rustic Strawberry Jam Tarts. Now before you say anything, this was my first attempt at making pastry and to make it more of a challenge I had no biscuit cutters or rolling pin. I don’t make it easy for myself do I? All things considered I think they turned out pretty nicely, they were quick and easy to put together and they taste good too. If your a pastry making King or Queen perhaps stop reading now, but if you too are new to pastry why not give this uber simple recipe a go to get you started.

Adapted from Queen of Crafts
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp icing sugar
110g butter
strawberry jam
cupcake tin
biscuit cutters
  1. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, salt and icing sugar. Add the butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, to bring the mixture into a dough. It is ready when it just about clings together. It shouldn’t be sticky and should come cleanly off the bowl as you gather it together.
  2. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, take the dough out and leave to warm to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. Roll out the dough on a surface dusted with flour to about 0.5cm thick. Cut rounds with a fluted biscuit cutter that is slightly larger then the holes of the cupcake tin. Be sure to leave a little pastry to make hearts and strips as decorations.
  5. Grease the tin and line each hole with a round of pastry. Put a spoonful of jam in the centre of each round, being sure not to over fill.
  6. Place the decorations on top of the jam and glaze with a little jam.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is a light golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Paneer Kebabs

Remember the Muttar Paneer curry I made the other day? You should do, it tasted pretty great if I do say so myself. Well, I had a bit of left over cheese to use up and as Ben had gone to London I decided to make my self a romantic dinner for one.

After a quick scan of Google I saw that the majority of recipes where curry based, so I opted for a kebab option. After marinating the cheese, onions and peppers, I threaded the lot on to skewers and grilled for 10 minutes. The flavour was great, the paneer a blank canvas allowing the spices to really shine through, but the whole thing would have been a little bit dry if I had not made my Coriander Chutney to go along side it. Good with curries as well as making a great dip for poppodoms, the chutney takes under 5 minutes to make, and elevated this dish from good to great.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Muttar Paneer

There is nothing better then a curry, whether it be homemade or takeaway, each has a time and a place. Their simplicity and throw-it-all-in-and-see-what-happens style makes them the perfect choice for the experimental cook. In regards to the curry recipes I’ve seen in cookery books, my top choice is Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic, as one reader commented, not the most trust worthy of names, but she sure does have some lovely and more unusual recipes. You may remember her Afghan Yoghurt Curry I made a few months back, well it was delicious, and I had high hopes for the Muttar Paneer Curry that I tried next.

Now my knowledge of vegetarian curries stretches little further then the obligatory butternut squash variety, which is great and all that, but gets a bit boring after a while. This curry uses paneer as the star ingredient, an Indian cheese with a squeaky likeness to halloumi. The cheese is fried until golden brown and then added to a delicious homemade curry paste (so simple to make and useable as a base for any curry) as well as peas. The mild sauce allows the sweetness of the peas to burst out with every mouthful and the cheese adds texture, making it a great alternative to tofu. Gizzi also suggests serving the dish with a naan rather then rice, a welcome change in my opinion.

Slightly adapted from Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic
Serves 2
1 tbsp vegetable oil
125g Paneer cheese
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
150ml vegetable stock
150g frozen peas
naan bread
-For the Curry Paste-
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion, peeled and chopped
1.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
pinch of garam masala
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  1. Put all the ingredients for the curry paste into a blender and mix to a paste.
  2. Add the oil to a pan over a medium heat, then fry the paneer until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper.
  3. Add the paste to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, until it starts to brown a little. Add the stock and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Add the paneer and the peas and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Season, and serve with naan bread.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Avocado Stuffed Tomato Tortillas

!!Frugal Student Tip Alert!! Rent cookbooks out from your local library for free!!

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I discovered Brighton Library had cookbooks to rent. Now although they don’t have all the newest releases or the more unusual of titles, they do have a large selection of the more popular names (think Ramsay, Lawson, Oliver and Slater) as well as some really useful reference books. And all for FREE!!

On this occasion I went for Jamie’s America, not something I would really be interested in buying myself (I’m not all that keen on the whole Jamie Oliver brand), but I am interested in learning about American cuisine. This book has opened me up to a really delicious and colourful range of recipes which go far further then the obligatory burger and fries. Crammed into this photo heavy, and perhaps a little self indulgent book (think Jamie Brokeback style around the campfire) is a huge variety of recipes with Mexican, Jewish and Navaho influences amongst others.

I found 14 recipes that I really wanted to try in my first flick, but went for the Stuffed Tomato Tortillas first. After making the tomato sauce and avocado mixture, you just need to wrap it up, pour it over, and in the words of Jamie Oliver, bang it in the oven for 15 minutes. Pukka. 

Adapted from Jamie’s America
Serves 2
-For the Sauce-
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
½ lime
1 spring onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
-For the Tortillas-
2 ripe avocados
1 lime
4 tortillas
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced finely
small handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
75g grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp soured cream, plus more to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Gently fry the garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes and lime juice and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down low, season and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
  2. Meanwhile, halve, peel and stone the avocados, then mash with the lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Pour a small amount of the tomato sauce into an appropriately sized baking dish, just to cover the bottom. Divide the avocado between 4 tortillas and sprinkle over the spring onion and chilli and some of the cheese and coriander.
  4. Place in the baking dish and pour the rest of the tomato sauce over, then dollop on the sour cream and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and gone golden and crispy on top. Serve with a green salad.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Banana Fudge Layer Cake

I write this while sitting in the kitchen of my wonderful friend and fellow food lover Rose, at the second of our newly founded lunch dates (last week I cooked Naan Pizzas, this week I am being treated to Leek and Potato Soup). She’s very kindly allowing me to abuse her internet as much as I like, I have no internet until the 26th, and she’s giving me yummy food to boot. This has provided me with the perfect excuse to check up on my favourite food blogs and update you with my most recent culinary conquest.

Now although I did little cooking in the last month I did invest in two new fantastic cook books (its becoming an addiction), one being Mad Hungry, my first proper American cookbook complete with cup measurements, and the other being The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake, a baking book made to accompany the brilliant BBC2 series (with 50% off at Waterstones now I couldn’t resist!). This week Ben started working at the Tic Toc Café in Brighton, where he now prepares food and makes coffee, and asked me to bake a cake for the first evening opening of the café. I was more then happy to oblige, partly to make a good first impression but mostly because I couldn’t wait to get stuck into my baking book. After a quick flick of the Cake section I went for the Banana Fudge Layer Cake, having all but a couple of the ingredients in the kitchen. Now I speak from experience here, use an electric mixer. Creaming butter with a wooden spoon for a sustained length of time gave me blisters, not cool. Luckily, the injuries where worth it. The cake tasted great, the sponge light and the fudge and banana slices making each mouthful deliciously sweet. Making the fudge was surprisingly easy too, and I plan on using the same recipe to make blocks of fudge wrapped in cellophane as presents. Yum.

Makes one 20.5cm cake
- For the Sponge -
175g unsalted butter, softened
25g light brown muscovado sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tbsp milk
150g caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract
- For the Filling and Topping -
175g light brown muscovado sugar
75g double cream
1 ripe banana
150g unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease two 20.5cm sandwich tins (lining the bases with baking paper). Beat the softened butter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until creamy. Add the two sugars and beat well until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add the egg, beating after each addition. Add a tablespoon of the flour with the last portion of egg to stop the mixture from curdling.
  3. Sift in the remaining flour and fold into the mixture with a metal spoon.
  4. Mix the vanilla extract and milk before folding into the mixture.
  5. Divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes until the cakes are a light golden colour and just firm enough to the touch. Turn out the sponges on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make the fudge by heating the butter, cream and sugar in a medium pan over a low heat. Stir frequently until the butter has melted. Increase the heat a little and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from catching.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir vigorously for 30 seconds. Leave to cool, stirring gently occasionally. It will gradually thicken and is ready to use once it has become spreadable (You may need to put it in the fridge for a few minutes).
  8. Spread the fudge evenly on to each cake, swirling the fudge on the top cake with the back of a spoon or round bladed knife. Arrange the thinly sliced banana slices on top of the fudge on the bottom cake before sandwiching the two cakes together.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to four days.

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