Friday 30 March 2007

Two Ice Creams

Both Ice creams are from Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food (Naughty chapter).

Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream

Mint choc chip is a favourite of mine, one that I have very fond memories of from childhood. In fact anything minty I liked, but back to the ice cream. This is the first recipe I have made for this ice cream. The first time I used the suggested dark chocolate for the choc chips, but it was just a bit too bitter for us so I swapped it out for milk chocolate this time. Also I didn’t colour it green the first time, and it just didn’t taste right not being green! It’s a lovely ice cream, one I’ll cook again.

It’s a basic creamy custard and instead of vanilla pod or extract you use (1 ½ teaspoons) peppermint extract and fold in chocolate chips once churned.

Banana and Muscovado Ice Cream

This one was like banana and light toffee in flavour, a basic ice cream custard base is made with light or dark muscovado sugar instead of caster. I used the light sugar, and the custard tasted really lovely. Three mashed bananas and a little lemon juice were added before churning. Jo suggests adding a couple of tablespoons of banana liqueur as well, but as I like to make ice creams that my little one can eat as well the booze was out. Would be nice for an adult version though.

I remember that about 12 years ago I did buy a bottle of Crème de Banan (well it was called something like that) and added it to a pudding with great success, I just can’t remember what that pudding was now. Maybe something from the original Masterchef with Lloyd Grossman.

Anyhow the flavour of the ice cream is delicious. I’m going to try freezing just the base made with the muscovado sugar as well, I think it would be really good as a different take on vanilla.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Ina’s Easy Paella

Ina’s Easy Paella

I’ve called this Ina’s easy Paella, but it is really Easy Lobster Paella from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. Except I used tiger prawns instead of lobster, because although I’ve eaten lobster once I like prawns so much better. Of course there is the fact that even if I could have found the lobster (which I really would have struggled to do) it would have probably have cost an arm and a leg for 1 ½ lbs of lobster. As it was the prawns alone were £12. I hope this doesn’t make me sounds mean!

Anyhow back to the paella. I’ve never made a real paella before, by which I mean one of Spanish origin. I have one lined up, even have the proper rice, but haven’t made it yet. I have read about many different paellas, and what should go and what should not go in. Apart from anything else snails and rabbit are never going to be appearing in my kitchen. It can all sound a bit daunting.

Ina’s paella was simply fabulous! It was easy, pretty, delicious, full of bits and pieces and just so good. The sun shone when I served it and a little bit of Spain (or America) was ours for a short while.

It makes a lot, you would need 6 really good eaters to not have any left from this amount, but the upside of this is there is now a good lunch in the fridge for tomorrow ready to go! I will definitely make this one again.

The only change in method I made to Ina’s recipe was that she suggests to stir in the sausage, shellfish and peas and allow to steam with the heat turned off. I did this and the additions were still cool (well the sausage was actually cold), so I put it back in the oven for 10 minutes with the lid on and everything was fine.

Easy Lobster Paella

¼ cup good olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into ½ inch strips
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups white basmati rice
5 cups good chicken stock
½ teaspoon saffron threads
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used less)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I used less)
1/3 cup Pernod
1 ½ lbs cooked lobster meat (I used cooked prawns)
1 lb kielbasa, slices ¼ inch thick (I used smoked sausage)
10 oz frozen peas
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 lemons, cut into wedges for serving.
Preheat the oven to 425 o. (I did 180oC in a fan oven).
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell peppers and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes more. Lower the heat and add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the rice, chicken stock, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven. After 15 minutes stir the rice gently with a wooden spoon, and return it to the oven to bake uncovered for a further 10 -–15 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.
Transfer the paella back to the stove top and add the Pernod. Cook the paella over a medium heat for 1 minute, until the Pernod is absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat and add the lobster, sausage and peas and stir gently. Cover the paella and allow it to steam for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot.

Sunday 25 March 2007

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

From Martha Stewart online (link Below). I was given Martha’s ‘Cookies’ DVD for Christmas (thank you – you know who you are !), and I so enjoyed watching it. Here in the UK we don’t get any of her TV shows. From the moment I started watching I felt myself propelled into the kitchen at high speed to bake cookies!

I have never really thought of myself as a cookie maker. Although I like cookies I would have generally in the past wanted to bake cupcakes or muffins to fulfil an individual portion requirement.

Now although the cupcake maker in me is alive and well, I am just so into baking cookies, I love the way the dough makes lots, and how it feels somehow like a production line, especially when they are all lined up cooking or cooling. I’ve recently bought a couple of American ice cream scoops (from where the sellers send to the UK, just so I can have perfectly shaped cookies like Martha or Tish Boyle (The Good Cookie) or whoever. Not that I needed them here, as these are rolled and flattened.

I have often read or heard from friends that they would like to own a tea room or coffee shop, and I have never thought of that as something I would fancy as a job. I wonder though if there is a bit of wanting to feed people on a catering scale present in me deep down, because seeing rows of cookies brings out a joy so tangible in me that I can hardly believe it!

This is a very simple cookie recipe, but they are really yummy. Unlike so many other cookies they taste just like the uncooked dough –and it was good too! The recipe makes 48, the first time I made this I halved the recipe but I won’t make that mistake again - they disappeared very quickly. If you want to make half the recipe, break the egg into a measuring jug and beat lightly, then pour half of the measurement out to leave half an eggs worth in the jug, well at least that’s what I did.

Peanut Cookies
1 ½ cups crunchy peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) 4 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 C (170 F). In a bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder, set aside.
In a kitchen aid etc beat the peanut butter, butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg. Gradually add flour mixture, beating to combine.
Pinch off the dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart in parchment (or magic carpet) baking sheets. Using a fork press balls twice to make a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, rotating half way. Cook on a wire wrack. Makes 48.

Thursday 22 March 2007

Pesto Pasta Special

Pesto Pasta Special

This one comes from Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food (again!) – definitely one of my darlings of the moment. It comes from the Lazy chapter, and is basically pasta with pesto sauce with a few additions.

The recipe is very loose "as much pasta as you fancy", with the following added in at will: balsamic vinegar, pesto, olive oil, 1 ripe tomato, 1 red onion, olives, seasoning and Parmesan cheese. I used orrechetti pasta and (I can’t help myself) I changed the recipe a bit! It is still Jo’s recipe really, but I used the ingredients in a different order. I used the olive oil to fry the red onion (2) for 5 minutes, then added in (3) tomatoes and the olives to warm through in the heat of the pan. Everything else was just added in as per recipe. It’s a really successful blend, much better than just basic pesto sauce, pasta and Parmesan (- well to me anyway!), and little one liked it which is a real consideration now. I made it in about 20 mins, but if you were really pushed it could be done faster, I’ve never managed to achieve the hit the kitchen running Ready Steady Cook type speed.

This is the third pasta I’ve cooked from this book, the others being Creamy caramelized Onion & Parmesan pasta and Creamy pea, bacon and Brie pasta. They were both been lovely, but my little one was not so keen on the onion one, so won’t make it again for a good while, but she loved the Brie. It’s funny I thought it would have been the other way round. Feeding children is a real learning curve!

Monday 19 March 2007

Mothering Sunday Cooking

Cherry, Chocolate & Buttermilk Scones

These hail from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz. I wanted to do something out of the usual for breakfast, and these fitted the bill very nicely! David says that he in turn was given the recipe from Carolyn Weil, and they used to fly out of her ovens when she owned a bakery in Berkley, California

They are a basic scone dough with orange zest, chocolate chips and dried cherries added in before shaping. There was no egg in the dough, just the buttermilk, so if anyone is coming round who is allergic to eggs, these would be a good idea! The method of cutting them is different to any other I have made before, in that you shape the dough into a round, cut it into eight and dip the top of each one into a mixture of sugar and cinnamon before placing on a baking sheet. I re-assembled the slices into a circle, but I don’t suppose it would make much difference if they were just placed on the baking sheet.

Anyhow, they were really bursting with bits and pieces, and they were subtle yet full of flavour at the same time, the chocolate didn’t overwhelm, it just gave a nice back taste. I spread mine with a little butter, and a heavenly breakfast it was.

I received this book this week, and it’s my first book by this author, but I’ve ordered the other two dessert books that he has available and added his soon to be published one on ice creams to my wish list!

Prawn Cocktail Bites

These were a five minutes to make nibble before lunch. I bought the little pastry cases and filled them with prawns mixed with Marie Rose sauce, and a dusting of paprika. I missed the lettuce, and should have placed a very small amount in the base of the cases before the prawns. I like prawn cocktail better, but one of my guests requested prawn cocktail a couple of hours before arriving and this was as near as I could get, with what I had in the house! A full on proper cocktail would have been too much before the chicken and pudding. They were nice but not exceptional, although they all disappeared, so maybe I am just being fussy! They were kind of cute though.

Apricot Chicken

This is my variation on Nick Stellino’s dish from Glorious Italian Cooking. It’s an American cookbook that I bought when on honeymoon a few years ago (in New Zealand), and I like to make it because it brings back memories, and of course it tastes good! It’s really easy to give people for dinner as well because the work is done the day before, bar the actual cooking.

I changed his original recipe by reducing the white wine vinegar from 1 cup to ¼ a cup. The original is good, but a bit too sharp and vinager-y for our taste, but I liked it enough to play around with it a bit.

I really love fruit and meat together, and the apricots take on a really savoury – sweet taste, the olives and capers are lovely and the juices make a thin sauce which tastes good, think vinaigrette, but less oily and with a powerful flavour. I serve it with Parsley Rice (see labels Silver Palate Cookbook), but moulded into a little plastic pot and turned out before serving (this takes about ten seconds to do!). Another thing I like about this dish is the smell it creates in your kitchen when it’s cooking, If I had a house in Italy (and I don’t!) this is how I would like the kitchen to smell.

Apricot Chicken

5 Cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ cup White Wine Vinegar
½ cup Olive Oil
1 cup Dried Apricots, halved
½ cup Green Stuffed Olives
½ cup capers
3 Bay Leaves
1 cup White Wine
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
Scant ¼ cup Dijon Mustard
2 Red Pepper, chopped
4 to 6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts
Extra Parsley for sprinkling, chopped

Mix ingredients from garlic to red pepper in a large baking dish (not tin) when mixed well add chicken and make sure it is immersed. Cover and place in fridge overnight.

Next day take out of fridge in time to loose the chill and bake in a 180 oC (350 oF) preheated oven uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour. Check to make sure chicken is cooked. Take out of oven about 15 mins before serving as sauce tastes better that way. Sprinkle with extra parsley if you like.

Toffee, Apple and Almond Crumble

From Rachel Allen’s Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home.

This is the only part of the cooking today that I had not made before, and it was good. It was peeled and chopped apples cooked in a bit of butter and then some toffee sauce added and cooked a few minutes more before being poured into an oven proof dish and topped with a crumble mixture that had ground almonds and lemon zest added to it. The toffee sauce made a lot, so there was plenty to douse the pudding with before adding a dribble of cream.

I like the idea of toffee sauce with crumble, but I felt the lemon zest in the topping (zest of 2 lemons) was a bit invasive, so I’d leave that bit out next time. Though, apples, toffee, crumble and cream where can you go wrong really!

Friday 16 March 2007

Victoria Birthday Sponge

Victoria Birthday Sponge

It was my Mum’s birthday this week, and I had been thinking about just the right cake to make for her for a few weeks. So I asked if she would like chocolate, caramel, lemon, plain with chocolate icing or a hummingbird cake, which I remembered about after reading about Freya’s cupcakes (in Writing at the Kitchen Table) which I thought my Mum would like because she loves pineapple. However all this cake daydreaming was to no avail and what I should have done was just ask, because she said no no she’d like a plain sponge cake with jam, cream and icing on top.

My basic sponge cake is from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. Her Victoria sponge cake. I don’t change the sponge, but I gild the lily a bit by spreading as much jam as I can and using half a pint of double cream (instead of a quarter) which I whisk thick enough that it won’t all ooze out when the top layer is placed on. The icing is just icing sugar and water with a bit of pink food colouring. I was going to use some sprinkles to decorate, but I coloured the icing a bit too bright, so it clashed with them. Luckily the cupboard was not bare and there were sugar flowers waiting for the right occasion.

A classic cake like a plain sponge is like an old friend. You need to visit them every so often ! It’s easy to forget a basic, but it tastes so good – tender, creamy, jammy, sweet. I used Dalfour strawberry jam, as it doesn’t have any added sugar and offsets the sweet cake really well. Happy Birthday Mum.

Wednesday 14 March 2007

A Couple of Midweek Savoury Delights

Prawn and Coconut Satay Broth

From Jo Pratt’s In The Mood For Food, lazy section.

This was such a quick gorgeous soup. The base is garlic sauteed in a little oil before adding coconut milk, peanut butter and stock. It tastes so much more than that. I could hardly believe the difference a little peanut butter makes to this style of lightly simmered soup, - so good. I cooked this for lunch, but it would be good for supper as well. It’s light, yet substantial due to the noodles, delicate yet full flavoured. One I will cook again for sure.

Jo suggests in her introduction that a vegetarian version is easy by leaving out the prawns and adding in extra vegetables like sliced peppers and bean sprouts. For a meaty version use chicken or pork instead of the prawns.

2 strips medium egg noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
200ml coconut milk
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
200g cooked king prawns
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
pinch dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon soy sauce
a squeeze lime juice
a large handful coriander, roughly chopped

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

While they are cooking heat the oil in a large pan and briefly fry the garlic. Stir in the peanut butter and coconut milk to make a loose paste before adding the stock.

Bring to a simmer and add the prawns, spring onion, chilli flakes and soy sauce, cook for 2-3 minutes until heated through. Add the noodles, return to a simmer and add the lime and coriander. Serve straight away. Serves 2 – 3.

Chorizo, Red Pepper and Manchego Tortilla

From Jo Pratt’s In The Mood For Food, Comfort chapter. It is just a few vegetables ( ½ red onion, 1 garlic clove , 1 cubed red pepper and cubed potatoes) cooked slowly in a tablespoon or two of olive oil for about 15 minutes, then the sliced (half hoop of ) sausage added for another 5 minutes before adding eggs, paprika, parsley and I sprinkled the grated cheese on top, instead of stirring it through. I turned it into a fritatta by baking it instead of doing the inverting the tortilla thing, which I once burned myself doing – so take the easier popped in the oven for 10 minutes route. Though to my mind a frittata is a bit lighter.

I changed Jo’s method a little by cubing the pepper and potatoes, sprinkling the cheese on top and baking it, but the ingredients are still the same. This was a really good supper, and a casual potter round the kitchen. It was a little different to others I have cooked because of the cheese, a hard Spanish one, it was salty and savoury but in a more reserved way than say Parmesan, a bit creamy tasting too, which was good once it had melted.

Sunday 11 March 2007

Mushroom Stroganoff , Parsley Rice & Exotic Chocolate Cups

Mushroom Stroganoff & Parsley Rice

An old favourite from Nigella Lawson’s Feast. This is a fabulous stroganoff. Earthy, gutsy with garlic, nutmeg and paprika, smooth and creamy with sour cream, comforting with a little sherry. We as a family all love mushroom stroganoff. I cook it once or twice a year on a Saturday night usually, because although you need a good quantity of mixed mushrooms (1,125g) and they are fairly expensive, it’s something that won’t tip me over the edge after a busy day and it’s quickly put together. It feels like a treat.

The only two things I part company with Nigella on is that I halve the butter to 50g instead of 100g and I can only get it to feed 4, not the 8 suggested in the book. I either serve it with plain basmati rice and parsley sprinkled over the mushrooms or as tonight with Parsley Rice.

Parsley Rice

The rice is based on a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. This is cooked longer than any other absorption method I do, but it leaves the rice a nicely sticky and the stock makes it taste great. If your stock was not salted add a bit of salt as well, but mine is so I don’t bother. This is a slightly changed version of their recipe. The main changes I have made is to reduce the butter and parsley quantities. 4oz butter to 2oz and 1 1//2 cups parsley to 1 cup, but they can easily be upped again if you’d like to. It makes a very moreish delicious rice.

4 cups chicken stock (I use bullion and don’t add any extra salt)
2 cups white basmati rice
2 oz butter
1 cup parsley

Bring stock up to a boil, add rice, stir. Bring back to a boil stir then clamp on the lid and turn the heat down to low, then cook for 25 minutes.
When the time is up fork in the butter and chopped parsley. Serves 6-8

Exotic Chocolate Cups

From Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food, Romantic section. Before I start I must thank Kathryn (of From Page to Plate and Jamie) for pointing me in the direction of these pretty little cups. Some things you just HAVE to buy!
These were exotic tasting. I doubled it up as well to make 4 portions. They were rich and full of chocolate, orange, spice and rum. I almost expected them to taste a bit Christmassy, but they didn’t at all – a taste of the Caribbean I thought. Just the thing to perk up a March evening. These were delicious - I could probably have made a bit of a pig of myself on these, so it was a good thing they were in little portions! Jo sugggests in her notes that Malibu could be used instead of the rum and I’ll give this a go as well.
They are made by heating cream, sugar and orange then adding chopped chocolate, egg yolks, butter and rum. They are similar in style to Nigella’s chocolate pots from Nigella Bites, but I have room in my reportiore for (at least!) two good chocolate pots.
I had a little fiddle with the recipe, but only a little one. I used half milk and half dark chocolate, golden caster sugar instead of white and mixed spice instead of allspice.

I’m wondering how quickly I can justify making the Malibu version now…

Thursday 8 March 2007

Vanilla Melting Moments

From Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home, by Rachel Allen.

These are such crumbly, sweet, comforting, cute, and of course vanilla and melting biscuits. I used to like them when I was little, either as a single biscuit with pink or blue icing on top or sandwiched as here with a butter cream icing. I used to make them a lot when I was a teenager and then they must have fallen out of the cooking habit, replaced with the pursuit of caramel and chocolate. I have ordered them with coffee when out, but these are not a biscuit that fairs well in tea rooms or coffee shops, well not any I’ve found anyway!

Last year before Christmas I was watching Rachel Allen on her TV series of the same name and she made these. It was like a light bulb lighting up a food memory and I thought ‘I’ve got to make them NOW’. So I did and they disappeared so quickly I had to make more. So last night the urge came again, and here they are. I hope that my little girl will grow up with the same fond memories that I have of these delicious, often forgotten, gorgeous vanilla biscuits.

Vanilla Melting Moments

175g self raising flour
125g cornflour
50g icing sugar
225g butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Butter Cream:
50g butter, softened
125g icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160 C/ (325 F) Gas mark 3. Place the flour, cornflour and icing sugar in a food processor and whizz briefly to mix. Add the butter and vanilla and whizz until it comes together (a minute or two, I do it slowly). Roll into 40 small balls the size of a large marble. Place trays on (no need to grease or line) and flatten down a bit with a fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes until still very pale in colour but, slightly firm. Remove carefully and cool on a wire rack.

Keep the same bowl in the processor and whizz the ingredients for the butter cream until they come together. Sandwich the biscuits with the butter cream. Makes 20.

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Chicken Curry Sauce

This is a Chinese chicken saucy curry from China Modern by Ching-He Huang.

I have a real thing for Chinese and Malaysian curries, they are just so aromatic and delicious! This one is from the Modern Takeaway Favourites section of the book.

The chicken (4 sliced skinless breasts) is mixed with seasoning of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon cornflour and stir fried in 2 tablespoons oil, then kept aside while the sauce is made. It begins by stir frying 1 chopped clove of garlic, a tablespoon grated ginger and a chopped green chilli, then adding 1 sliced onion (I used red for colour), 1 small sliced carrot and a handful of broccoli flowers. After a few minutes 500ml chicken stock is added along with 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ to 1 teaspoon hot curry powder, 2 star anise and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. After a little bit 1 tablespoon of cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons water is added to thicken it a bit. The chicken is then added back in at the end just before you serve it to warm through (although I kept mine warm anyway) and sprinkled with spring onion

It was very light and I served it with plain basmati rice to keep it that way. The star anise gives the curry a wonderful fragrance and flavour. It is in no way gloopy with the cornflour, just thick enough to coat the chicken and vegetables. I’m a chilli wimp and I wouldn’t have wanted it any hotter, but it had a nice warmth and slight tingle. Will make this one again, Keith loved it too. Oh and as an added bonus our house smells lovely!

Monday 5 March 2007

5-a-Day Mixed Vegetables

I have to straight off say how much I LOVE this mixed vegetable stir fry. I bought China Modern by Ching-He Huang 4 weeks ago, and have made this three times as a mid week vegetable accompaniment. On the week I didn’t make it I craved it! It might seem like a bit of work, but after the first time this is something I would easily make when pushed for time. It is 5 minutes of chopping and measuring and about 4-5 minutes stir frying in my wok (my wok isn’t as hot as Hing-He’s I don’t think!). Here is the recipe. 5-a-day was never so easy or good!

2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
5 Chinese dried mushrooms soaked for 20 mins in hot water, and water discarded
1 carrot, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
100g baby corn, chopped into 1.5cm pieces
100g mangetout
100g cashew nuts
50ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
dash sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornflour blended with 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)
1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
1. Heat wok over a high heat and add the oil. Throw in the garlic and ginger and cook for less that 1 minute. Add the vegetables and fry for 1 minute, add cashews and stir fry for 1 minute.
2. Add the stock, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.
3. Stir in the blended cornflour if you prefer a thicker sauce, Add the spring onions and give a final stir. Serve immediately with noodles or steamed rice.
Serves 2.
My Notes: I have used fresh shitake and chestnut mushrooms in mine and only use a scant ½ tablespoon of cornflour to thicken. Also that I always thought I didn’t like oyster sauce, but I like it here.

Saturday 3 March 2007

Roast Chicken for Two in One Pan & Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

It’s funny how food goes in cycles, I haven’t roasted a chicken for so long, and now I’ve done two in two weeks, must be comfort food in the cold weather or something!

From Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food. I wanted to make this one as soon as I saw it, but felt a bit put off by the fact that the potatoes, shallots a and garlic were roasted in with the chicken. I was worried about the fat. Not that I’m a low fat bod by any stretch of the imagination, but I was thinking it might be a bit greasy. After reading in Kathryn’s blog that hers turned out really well I thought - going to have to do it. So I did.

The chicken was rubbed with garlic and lemon, new potatoes par boiled and put in the tin with shallots and garlic, lemon plus a bit of rosemary, seasoning and olive oil. Baked for an hour the chicken was really moist and juicy, and the vegetables were good. Next time I’m going to do them in a separate pan for 40 minutes instead of the 1 hour that the chicken needed because in my furnace 40 mins was just right for the vegetables. I covered the vegetable half of the tin up with foil or else they would have been way too dark by the time the chicken had cooked.
Then at the end there is the gravy - pan juices, sherry, honey, stock, cream and peas. Oh it was so good! There was a bit of gravy left which we spooned up as a kind of after supper pea soup! It would easily make any roast dinner. I think it would also be good with pork too.

So onto something sweet in the form of Brownies.

These are from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. After much trial and error and trying many recipes these are the ones that my family likes best. They are chocolate-y, moist, melting delicious!

They are also not too strong on the chocolate front because they are made with bittersweet chocolate. I use half 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate and half 30% milk chocolate. So this brings it down to an average of 50% cocoa solids which is both dark and sweet enough for me. It actually took me many months a few years ago of trial and error to find the right balance.

Although saying I have found the recipe for my family I’d still like to try Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa ones too!

Thursday 1 March 2007

Panna Cotta with Rose Syrup

From Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food, romantic section. Here one has syrup over it and one only under it, not sure which I prefer.

I didn’t make this for any romantic occasion, so doubled it up to make 4 gorgeous hearts. They are a basic panna cotta mix but made with half single cream and half natural yoghurt, vanilla, icing sugar and leaf gelatine (or lumpy, but I like the leaf better). Jo presents it in the book for after an Indian curry with spicy bits and pieces, and it would be lovely for after that. The natural yoghurt is quite noticeable and would be a real palate cleanser.

Then there is the wonderful pink rose syrup, which is made according to the recipe in the book. She says you can buy it, but home made is better. Well, I’ve never seen it to buy so making it was the only option, and I was so relieved for the recipe for the simple sugar syrup with a little rose water and food colouring. I think the syrup would be good with ice cream too.

In the book the pudding is pictured with a sprinkling of rose petals and some slivered pistachios. The rose petals would be a no-go at this time of year, but I have apparently run out of pistachios! There was a bag on the shelf that I thought were new nuts, but it turned out to be poppy seeds, which wouldn’t have done here at all!

I’m going to give this one a go again next time we have a curry, where it would really shine.