Friday, 26 October 2012

Leek and Mushroom Pie

Last night’s dinner was a special request by Mr Simply Veg; a few days ago he asked for a pie with a puff pastry top. When I enquired what sort of pie, he said “Leek and something…?” He’s helpful like that…

Now, I have made tarts, flans, quiches, pasties and turnovers; I’ve made mince pies, homity pies and even shepherd’s pies but I don’t think I have ever made a ‘proper’ pie. I am clearly not an experienced pie-maker because I don’t even possess a pie plate/tin/dish/whatever, so off I went to Lakeland and bought an enamel pie tin - the sort of thing that used to be around when Adam was a lad and looked like it meant business!

I looked on the net for some tips, grabbed a trusty roll of puff pastry from the freezer and set to. This was the outcome and, for a first attempt, I thought it wasn’t too bad; just goes to prove even an old dog like me can still pull a few new kitchen tricks. Mr Simply Veg was a very happy chap indeed.

200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 medium leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
350ml milk
25g butter
30g plain flour
1 tsp Marigold Bouillon stock powder
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
a little milk

Sauté the mushrooms and leeks in the olive oil until cooked and barely golden; set aside.

Put the milk, butter, flour and stock powder in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly; simmer for 5 minutes then take off the heat and stir in the grated cheese followed by the crème fraiche, mustard and parsley. Mix in the cooked mushrooms and leeks then turn the whole lot into a medium pie tin or dish with a rim and allow to cool.

Turn the oven on to 200C. Cut a piece of pastry about 2cms bigger all round than the top of the pie tin; dampen the rim of the tin with water then lay the pastry over the tin and tuck the excess pastry under to form a double thickness rim; cut a couple of slashes in the top of the pastry and brush all over with milk.

Put on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Serve with veg of choice (we had broccoli and carrots).

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sausage and Lentil Hotpot

I used to really like winter but I’m starting to change my mind; I’m not looking forward at all to the grey days and the long dark evenings to come, although I do like a nice cold frosty morning with the sun shining through the trees. The weather’s been very autumnal lately – grey and overcast with intermittent rain; you know the type of thing…there’s a break in the clouds so you decide to go for a walk but, by the time you’ve grabbed a coat and a pair of shoes, it’s raining again…grr!

My cold is still dragging on (maybe this year I’ll just have one very, very long cold which will last the entire winter!) so I’m still in comfort food mode.

I was going to do sausage and mash last night but Mr Simply Veg had a fancy for garlic bread, which rather negated the need for mash. Quite clearly something with a sauce was needed, to allow bread’s mopping up tendencies to have full rein, and this tomatoey, lentilly affair fitted the bill very nicely, I thought. I also steamed some broccoli to have on the side because I have this rather childish notion that anything green ‘will do me good’ if I’m unwell. Yes, I know it’s an old wives’ tale but, there again, I am an old wife so what can you expect?

100g green lentils
Marigold stock
6 Cauldron Cumberland sausages
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
50mls white wine
50mls water
½ tsp chilli flakes

Simmer the lentils for 15 minutes in just enough stock to cover, then drain and set aside.

In a large lidded frying pan fry the sausages and onions together in the olive oil until golden; add the garlic and fry for another minute or two then add the tomatoes, white wine and water, oregano and chilli flakes. Stir well and add the lentils; pop the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serves 2 generously

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cinnamon Buns

I woke up yesterday with an unmistakeable dryness in my throat and the awful aching all over that could only mean one thing…yep, my first cold of the winter; and it’s only October. Rats!

Comfort food was called for and it had to be something that didn’t involve too much effort on my part. On the cover of this month’s Waitrose mag there’s an enticing picture of cinnamon buns, but the recipe includes an icing that I didn’t like the sound of and it also makes 16 buns…just a tad over the top for the two of us! So, feeling inspired, I unearthed a recipe for an enriched bread dough (which I originally used for hot cross buns) and cheated by doing the kneading and first proving in the bread machine but, if you’re feeling less fragile than me, you could do it by hand. All I had to do was pop the filling in, give them a second proving, whack ‘em in the oven and Bob’s your uncle!

I’m not experienced at yeast cookery, and I’ve never made these before, but I was quite chuffed at how well they turned out – true, they don’t look quite like the ones on the magazine cover, but what you see is what you get; the food in my pictures is actually edible and it hasn’t been prettied up by a food 'stylist'!

½ a sachet of fast-action yeast
250g strong white flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
25g butter
110ml milk
1 egg

25g melted butter
50g soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
50g dried mixed fruit

a little sugar for sprinkling

If you have a bread machine put the dough ingredients into the bread tin in the order given and set the machine going on the ‘Basic: dough’ setting. When the machine stops follow the steps ** below.

If you’re making by hand, put the dry ingredients and the egg into a large bowl, heat the butter and milk together until barely warm then add to the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and silky; put the dough back in the bowl and cover loosely with clingfilm; leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size then follow ** below.

** Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Roll the dough into a rough rectangle about 30cm x 20cm, brush generously with melted butter then scatter over the cinnamon sugar and dried fruit. Roll up tightly, like a swiss roll, from a long side then cut into 9 equal slices.

Put the slices, cut side up, in a 22cm square greased cake tin; cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to prove again until doubled in size.
Bake at 200C for 12-15 minutes until golden then sprinkle with a little sugar and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Thai Green Curry

It seems ages since I last posted; I wouldn’t like you to think we've been fading away and not eating at all for the last three weeks or so, it's just that I haven't been cooking anything new and have just stuck to easy-peasy stuff that I can do with my eyes closed and which doesn’t require much thought.

I did manage to make some more chutney, though, using all the remaining fruit from the garden, I’ve also made loads of plum compote and I have six jars of Christmas mincemeat maturing quietly in the pantry, so I haven’t been entirely idle.

Before my recent cooking slump I had finally tracked down some Thai green curry paste. I’d been after some for ages, but trying to find one that's veggie was a bit like searching for the holy grail. Waitrose, god bless ‘em, came up trumps so a few weeks ago I added tofu, assorted veg, coconut milk and palm sugar to some of the paste and made what can only be described as a very mediocre meal…I was so disappointed; best thing I can say is, it was OK...ish.

Undaunted, I ventured into the kitchen on Friday to have another go; instead of tofu I used paneer (I seem to be off tofu at the moment for some reason) I also upped the ration of curry paste to give it a bit more zing, I changed the mix of veg and added loads of chopped coriander and a good squeeze of lime juice. This time it wasn’t mediocre, it was bloody brilliant! You will see at the end of the recipe that I’ve said it serves four…well, it would have done if the two of us hadn’t eaten it all!

1 pack of paneer
1 tbsp vegetable oil
125g sugar-snap peas, halved
125g baby corn, halved
150g small broccoli florets
1 red pepper, chopped into largish pieces
3 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 tsp palm sugar
1 400g tin of coconut milk
handful of coriander, chopped
juice of half a lime

Chop the paneer into little batons (about half the size of your little finger) and fry in the vegetable oil in a large pan until golden on all sides; drain well and set aside on kitchen paper whilst you cook the curry.

In the same pan, in the residual oil, cook the baby corn, red pepper and broccoli for a few minutes, add the lime leaves, curry paste, palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer then immediately add the sugar snap peas and the cooked paneer; simmer for a few minutes (you want the veg to still have some ‘bite’). Stir in the coriander and lime juice and serve with rice.
Serves 4 (or two very greedy people!)