Category Archives: Food

Cheese and Onion Crispy Soft Rolls

4th July 2013

cheese and onion crisps Golden Wonder

I used to be completely obsessed with cheese and onion crisps and I suspect I am not alone in this. So you are in for a rambling old post today with a recipe at the end if you keep reading. Golden Wonder were the brand of my childhood, now overtaken by Walkers I believe, who have coloured their cheese and onion packets blue which confuses me utterly, because in my mind cheese and onion will always be green.  The power of the brand is strong in my mental map.

I ate these every day on the 716 Green Line Bus that swooped down into Hammersmith Broadway on its cross-capital journey (from Welwyn Garden City to Chertsey and Hitchin)  and away to Kingston on Thames after a long school day. Continue reading

Pasticcio Macaroni

Pasticicio Macaroni

Lately I have discovered the joys of macaroni, a variety of pasta I have always held in deep suspicion, something to do with my school days and the fact that I am not that fond of cheesy white sauce.

The great thing about this dish is that the cheesy sauce sort of disappears into the pasta, keeping it lovely and soft and full of flavour and you don’t have mouthfuls of wet slop to contend with when you eat it which is probably what put me off at school all those years ago.

Again it is another dish that you probably all know but I have never made it at home before so just in case you need a delicious comfort food that can feed loads of people and that can be easily reheated, I suggest you pop over to Jane @ Tea With Hazel where the recipe for Pasticcio Macaroni lives and have a go at making it. I followed it pretty much word for word, very easy to follow recipe, thank you Jane!

We love the cinnamon and allspice with lamb, which makes a change from the everyday rosemary, mint and lemon that we tend to pair with this meat. The top becomes light and bouncy and a little bit crunchy when you reheat it, so you get a good variety of texture. We were eating it all last week with a variety of steamed vegetables or salads and were perfectly happy. You can cut it into squares and just warm it up whenever it suits you.

I reduced the amount of meat from the original recipe to 400g because I didn’t have the right amount in the freezer, and used a mixture of feta, cheddar, ricotta and parmesan (all bits and pieces lurking in the cheese box in the fridge)  in the topping, but like all these sorts of dishes they adapt easily to what you have available.

Greek oregano in between the peony shoots

Greek oregano in between the peony shoots

We have greek oregano growing in the garden, I bought a little plant years ago and now it seeds itself all over the garden and makes itself at home;  it has a definite affinity with pebbles and stones.

I rarely make baked pasta dishes but this one has just shot to the top of my go-to list.

Do you have a favourite baked pasta dish?

Sourdough Mashed Potato Pancakes

25th March 2013

Sourdough Potato Pancakes

I thought I would contribute this small brunch dish to the ‘what shall I do with my old starter’ conversation.

Not everything in life needs a recipe and these are a prime example.

I had some old starter in the fridge from when I had been away and when I stirred it up it had a bit of life in it still. I dipped a finger in and had a taste, sour but not unacceptable.

It was so cold yesterday that I thought we had better have something warm for lunch.

So I dry fried a couple of slices of Lindsays of Cockermouth’s best dry cure middle cut bacon, no nasty white stuff coming out of this like the supermarket rubbish, and not very salty either, a little black pudding for Brian and a few tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar to give them a bit more taste than they have at this time of year.

I then found a small bowl of mashed potatoes from last night’s supper in the fridge and thought oh why not…

So here is the method. Forgive the quantities.

In a large bowl

  • Pour in your old starter
  • Add a couple of large spoonfuls of cold mashed potato
  • A glass or two of milk (skimmed is fine)
  • A couple of spoonfuls of flour
  • Two large eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  1. Whisk it all up, but don’t worry too much about the little lumps of mashed potato.
  2. Heat a small pan on the hob.
  3. Put the oven on a keep warm setting and pop a plate in.
  4. Chase a fingernail’s worth of butter round the pan once it is hot.
  5. Tip little ladles of mixture into the pan and swirl them round.
  6. Cook on one side, till nice and golden brown,  flip and cook the other side.
  7. Stack on the warm plate in the oven.

Sourdough Mashed Potato Pancakes with Brown Sauce

Serve your sourdough mashed potato pancakes with optional brown sauce and toppings and a large mug of tea.

That’s it. No added sugar, no added fat. I can’t believe that this is particularly bad for you, but the food police might say it is. I don’t care.

Soft and fluffy and just the thing for a hungry gap.

Cecilia’s Amazing Kefir Bread – did I doubt her?

11th March 2013

Kefir Grain Zeb Bakes

In 2012 I was lucky enough to be sent some milk kefir grains by Carl Legge, a generous and enthusiastic baker, grower and published author who lives in North Wales.

Kefir FermentingI fed them for a while and experimented with making rudimentary soft cheese with it, but found that the grains grew bigger and bigger and fermented the  milk faster and faster and I couldn’t keep up. So I followed instructions on Dom’s Kefir! and froze them. I defrosted them about a week ago and have been giving them lots of love and so far they seem to have survived freezing fine. Continue reading

Lean Pork with Creme Fraiche in a Red Pepper Sauce

pork with red pepper sauce

I found myself putting this together the other night and when I had finished I realised that it was very similar to the sort of food my mother cooked, when she cooked, which wasn’t often. Her food usually involved some sort of lean meat, pork was a favourite, paprika, and cream and a slosh of sherry.

For cream I substitute creme fraiche as this doesn’t trigger Brian’s asthma like sweet cream does. I like the tangy taste it contributes to the sauce as well.

home made biber salcasi

It helps if you have a jar of home made biber salcasi to use up and some skinny pork in the freezer which you forgot you had…

Red Peppers

To make biber salcasi the way I like it, which is not too hot, you can do one of two things.

Jar of roast peppers.jpg

  • Use cheap red peppers if they are in season or buy a jar of already roasted and skinned peppers from the supermarket or middle eastern store.
  • If you buy fresh ones. Put the oven on and roast them on a tray until the skins blister and soften.  Then peel the skins off and remove the inside white parts and seeds. Save the liquid that comes out from the middle and add it to a stock or a soup as it is delicious.
  • Puree the roasted peppers with salt to taste, start with a teaspoon for about 6 large peppers, and as much or as little fresh red chilli as you prefer. I use relatively little, but I am a wimp.
  • Spread the pureed mixture on an oven tray and put it back in the oven on a low temperature. This is to evaporate the liquid and thicken the sauce. If you live somewhere hot, you can of course just put it out in the sunshine.
  • Store in a clean jar, covered in olive oil in the fridge. Make little and often and you should use it up fairly quickly.

roastpepper

You can add this simple sauce to all manner of dishes, soups and vegetable dishes in particular when you tire of tomato with everything, but still want the happy red colour that tomatoes bring to a dish but with the delicate bitter-sweet quality that roasted red peppers offer.

Pork with Creme Fraiche and Biber Salcasi

  • 250 grams of lean pork cut into strips
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 – 10 tbsps of biber salcasi
  • 1 chopped up fresh red pepper
  • Water
  • ¼ tub about 4 tbsps of creme fraiche
  • salt
  • pepper to taste

To prepare:-

  1. Sweat the onion in a little oil or butter until it is translucent and just starting to colour
  2. Add the strips of pork and continue to cook gently for a few minutes, it shouldn’t take long
  3. Add the chopped up red pepper
  4. Add the biber salcasi and some water to create a sauce
  5. Put a lid on the whole lot and let it sweat away gently for another few minutes
  6. Just before you are ready to serve, stir the creme fraiche into the pan and make sure it is well mixed and everything is hot. Don’t let it boil.
  7. Sprinkle a little chopped fresh greenery on the top
  8. Serve with plain rice and a green vegetable of your choice. I used the last of the flower sprouts which are just about all we have left growing in our veg bed right now.
  9. Flower sprouts in February

Just right for a wintery day and it doesn’t take that long to make either!

This is how I cook most of the time –  no cook book, just a memory, I tend to cook most of our suppers that way, either from memories of food I have cooked before or been given. My evening meal tactics are pretty basic.

What needs using up? What is lurking in the fridge and the freezer? Are there leftovers that can be turned into a meal? That’s the first stage. The next one is to think what we have had in the last few days and what might be nice to have. If we have been eating too much of one sort of food then we choose something else. Speed plays a huge part in the process. If I have left it too late to think about supper then simple and speedy wins out every time, opening a book would slow me right down, so I rarely bother at that point. So we live on stir frys and steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and risotto, kedgeree. If my neighbour comes for supper I try a little harder, I might make Nigel Slater’s Thai Fish cakes, or a vegetable gratin. Occasionally I might see a lovely dish on a blog and I certainly book mark some amazing food that I see on the internet. But in real life, in real time, I make simple speedy food and try to waste as little as possible.

How about you?

Twitter Tagliatelle Tutorial – almost as good as being in someone else’s kitchen

Tagliatelle making

For the full Tweety Conversation pulled together by Lynne using Storify click here :  Twitter Tagliatelle Tutorial

My abbreviated version with mainly Carla’s tweets and photos  – loads quicker or if you have a slow connection – click here) of the tutorial on Twitter that Carla gave us yesterday on making pasta with the Imperia pasta machine. I was given this wonderful gadget as a birthday present last year by my lovely sister and this was its first outing. I had borrowed one last year from Mitch who lives in Bristol but there was something lacking in our technique the one time we tried and we felt a bit out of our depth, so when Carla, expert chef,  (in Rome) offered to teach me yesterday, I jumped at the chance!

The Imperia

I could write it all out here as a post but that doesn’t give the feeling of the fun of doing this yesterday and this way you get to see all Carla’s wonderfully detailed photos and read her instructions. She is a fantastic tutor and I feel really confident now that I can do this again!

Freshly cut tagliatelle

Lynne, who tweets as @josordoni, another Twitter friend of Gibassier fame, has kindly spent some time to make the Storify story. I had a try at using Storify, but left out my own tweets.  Lynne joined in and made the noodles by hand, an act of great determination!

I served the tagliatelle with chestnut mushrooms, onion, parsley, and a sauce of Charvroux goats cheese and some Serrano ham

I served the tagliatelle with chestnut mushrooms, onion, parsley, and a sauce of Charvroux goats cheese and some Serrano ham

So thank you Carla and thank you Lynne so very much for the company and the joy of sharing.  You are both such kind and generous friends and I wonder daily at this world where one can be friends with people who one has never met in person and have such fun.

Have a lovely weekend!

Zeb Eats Tagliatelle and Dreams of Carla

My pasta was made with

  • 3 eggs weighing about 140g unshelled
  • 150 g of 00 Italian flour
  • 150g of Semonlina Rimacinata flour (the finely milled durum wheat, which has a fine slightly gritty feel)
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • and a lot of love from Carla

 

More Hot Cross Buns..

Here are this year’s hot cross buns!

This year I decided to make the ones from ‘How to Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. This is such a pretty book, with beautiful step by step photos and clear easy to follow recipes, a good model for anyone aspiring to write a bread book.

I didn’t really need another bread book but it was a want and if you visit Ray’s blog you can see some of the lovely breads that Ray is making from it, which is why I was tempted to buy it. The book gives quantities in grams and in cups, which is useful for those who prefer cups* and has a good range and selection of breads to make and I am looking forward to trying a few more of the recipes soon. Got to be more adventurous with my books! Continue reading