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More with Haggis 26 January 2012

Posted by cath in leftovers, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Just got too much haggis leftover from last night’s Burns supper? How about gravy (yes I like gravy with haggis, neeps and tatties), got any noodles? If so, try my noodles in gravy with haggis. A Chinese style leftovers dish.

Cook some large, flat noodles, drain and set aside.
Heat up some gravy in a shallow frying pan, crumble in some leftover cooked haggis, heat through. Pour over noodles and serve.

Any gravy will do, but here’s a quick recipe to get you started:

Water from boiling potato and neeps, red wine, lamb stock, tomato puree, garlic or better roasted garlic, bay leaf, herbs, mustard.

Boil up the liquid ingredients, add herbs, garlic, tomato and mustard, boil again. Leave until needed then reheat and strain before serving. Thicken if you prefer, with cornflour and cold water mixed to a paste, or butter and flour mixed together. Add the thickener and boil up again.

More ideas?
Haggis can be used much like mince so I’ve heard of and tried a few haggis alternatives. Haggis samosas, pakoras, wontons are quite common in Scotland. A few years ago some friends also brought haggis burritos to Edinburgh, so if you’ve got no leftovers at home and are in the area… try them at Los Cardos, Leith Walk. They sell their haggis all the time, not just Burns night, and their other options are also great.

Another fine combo found in a pub in the highlands was baked potato, Haggis, topped with melted cheese and whisky… 

Mmmm. Enjoy your burns night leftovers.

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Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes 26 January 2012

Posted by cath in comfort food, freeze-friendly, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Leftover Haggis and the works from Burns night? Make sure to make the most of your leftovers. Here’s an idea for eating up leftover Burns supper ingredients.
Just like fish and potato cakes, similar Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes are great.
If you have plenty of leftover mash, here’s what to do:

Haggis cakes

Add crumbled haggis to leftover mash, I think it helps the binding to keep the mixture at least 50% potato, but any leftover neeps or other root mash can also be added. You shouldn’t need seasoning as the leftovers will have been made with salt and pepper already. Mix everything well.
Shape the mixture into small, flat cakes. Pat each side with white plain flour. Leave, shaped and floured, in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up making them easier to fry.

I’m making these tonight so the finished dish photo will come later, here are the haggis cakes ready to go in the fridge.

image

To cook, shallow fry in a little oil (haggis and mash are already fatty so you don’t need a lot) until browned on both sides. Flip just once if you can, by giving the first side a good 5 minute sizzle. Flip over carefully as they can break up… this is where a rest in patty form can help.

Serve up with some fresh rocket leaves for a fancy supper or just some ketchup or brown sauce for real comfort food!

Here, the finished dish

image

Cakes and Treats > The Best Chocolate Brownies 14 March 2008

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, desserts, easy, Recipes, specials.
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This is the ultimate in easy, comfort food. A treat with a cup of tea, or a delicious dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or cream. My brownie recipe has been a long search. I’ve done much researching of many different ideas and recipes. A lot of trials, tests and tweaks later, its a very good thing for my belly (and that of my chief tasters) that the quest is over, and perfection has been reached!

 

Chocolate and Walnut Brownie

Chocolate Brownie

Now, here are the three things that I’ve discovered are the key to making the perfect brownie:

1. Undercooking!

Don’t be tempted to cook the brownie mix as you would a normal cake. Test it with a knife and the middle should still be quite wet. The trick is to also gently press the top of the cake to check that it has firmed up slightly, but still has some give. This should give the crisp top and gooey centre typical of the perfect brownie.

Be careful – it may take a few goes to get the timing perfect with an individual cooker – once you’ve got it right, remember to write it down so you know for the next time!

2. Icing Sugar (or confectioners sugar)

This definitely makes the best consistency of brownie. I have tried several combinations of sugars, from caster to muscovado. But it is fine icing sugar which definitely gives the best texture, its thanks to a recipe by Marcus Wareing (author of How to Cook the Perfect...) that I tried it.

Remember, a brownie mix is dense and fudgy, unlike cake mix that is typically beaten and aerated. Also, you don’t cook brownies for very long. So there isn’t much mixing or cooking time for the grains of other sugars to dissolve and blend properly. Go for the confectioners sugar! This recipe also adds some golden syrup helps the gooeyness along.

3. Nuts

Although they are not in all the recipes, I’m sorry, but for me a brownie is not a brownie without some walnuts (or you could use pecans). After trying a recipe by Pierre Hermé, I am also a convert to toasted walnuts. This is a very quick and simple first step and really makes a difference to the flavour, please try it! Also, as I tend to avoid scoffing all my brownies in one go, adding nuts improves the keeping time of cakes and biscuits, so I also add a few spoons of ground almonds with the flour as well to aid moistness.

OK, those are my top tips, now here is the recipe…

This makes enough to fill one round cake tin (18-20 cm wide). Which gives you at least 10-12 brownie slices, depending on greediness. I know brownies are traditionally square, but I use my favourite loose-bottom cake tin and treat it more like an un-iced cake. Also, this way every slice has some crispy outside and gooey centre – it’s the taste and texture that make these brownies the best!

(Of course, if you want square brownies, just use a square or rectangular tin. Remember to double the quantity I’ve used if you have a large rectangular tin (30×20 cm) – and you’ll also need to cook it for 5-8 minutes more.)

 

Ingredients

100g walnut quarters or pieces

150g good quality dark chocolate (I recommend Valrhona manjari, but any good quality, high cocoa content chocolate will do) – chopped/broken into similar sized pieces (aids even melting)

90g unsalted butter – diced (to help even melting)

2 tbsp golden syrup

150g icing sugar

75g plain white flour

15g ground almonds

20g cocoa powder (I recommend Divine)

2 large organic/free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, try Ndali or make sure you use an extract, not a synthetic vanilla flavour)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 130 degC (fan)
  2. Spread the walnuts on a flat baking sheet and place in the low oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted. Put the timer on, you must not burn them! (When they are ready – they will be lightly browned and mellowed in flavour, just take them out of the oven, pour onto a clean tea cloth, wrap up and bash them against the worktop to slightly crush into smaller pieces, then open up the cloth to let them cool).
  3. Whilst the walnuts are cooking, weigh out the rest of the ingredients. Place the chocolate pieces, diced butter and golden syrup together in a medium-large glass bowl. This will be the bowl you mix everything together in, so make sure it’s big enough.
  4. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (Make sure the bowl does not touch the water, you just need a small amount in the bottom of the pan to provide some steam). Stir occasionally with a large metal spoon to melt and combine. (See my post on chocolate crispy cakes for chocolate melting tips).
  5. Whilst the chocolate mixture is melting, sieve together the icing sugar, flour, ground almonds and cocoa powder into another bowl.
  6. When the chocolate mixture is nearly smooth and melted, remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth. Then leave to cool whilst you prepare the cake tin.
  7. Grease the cake tine and then line the base and sides with baking parchment (if you are using a loose-bottomed tin then just line the bottom). Then grease the lined base and sides carefully with some extra butter.
  8. The walnuts should be done by now, once they are out of the oven, turn it up to 180 degC (fan).
  9. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with the vanilla extract (if using). Just do this by hand as well, you don’t need to worry about making the mixture airy and light – you want a stodgy mix!
  10. When the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature (takes at least 5-10 minutes, test it if you are unsure, it can’t be hot as it will scramble the eggs – but don’t wait too long or it will be too stiff to combine with other ingredients) add the beaten eggs and stir vigorously to combine. The mixture will begin to thicken up quite quickly.
  11. Then add half of the dry ingredients and mix together vigorously until smooth, continue adding the other half, then the walnuts, beating each time until smooth. The final mixture will be thick, dark and gooey.
  12. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. If you like, you can smooth the top a little using a knife – place a metal knife in a cup of hot water until warm, remove and wipe off the water, and use to smooth the top of the mixture.
  13. Once the oven is heated up, place the brownies in for 13-15 minutes.
  14. To check they are done, the top will be dry looking and slightly cracked – carefully and gently press on the top, which should be beginning to firm but not solid. A knife inserted into the centre should come out moist. Be careful not to overcook the mixture.
  15. Leave them to cool in the tin – don’t be tempted to remove them yet! Once cool, carefully remove them from the tin – peeling off the parchment paper. Sieve the top with a little icing sugar.

Serve with cream or ice cream for a delicious dessert, or just with a cup of tea or coffee for a decadent snack.

Yum!

Brownie

The Finished Brownie Cake

 

Seasonal Specials > Broad Beans 18 July 2007

Posted by cath in easy, specials, summer, variations, vegetables.
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Broad beans and garlic

Broad beans are in season at the moment and taste fantastic fresh from the pod. The pods are larger than peas, but basically the same idea – unless they are very young (baby broad beans), you don’t eat the pod (but it does make a lovely stock for vegetarian food).

Broad beans go fantastically well with pancetta (plus this might help you get broad beans on the menu for those more fussy about their veg!).

Broad beans steam really well, taking about 5-6 minutes, but less if they are very small and young. Just remove them from the pods, rinse and steam. Serve with a knob of butter.

Here are two methods of cooking broad beans:

If you’ve got a few large handfuls of broad bean pods you can make a very quick and easy, vegetarian broad bean pod stock. Just cover the beans in water in a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the pods and reduce the remaining stock. You can reduce it right down to a syrupy liquid and freeze in cubes (or small batches), or just reduce to taste. Stock with a good flavour and consistency will give you a base for making soup or risotto.

Veg stock - broad bean and pea pod

Broad bean pod stock (front) and 

Pea pod stock (back) – reduced and frozen

 

You can mix pea and broad bean pods together, or do pea-pod stock in the same way. Don’t simmer for longer than 20 minutes – vegetables like these pods release their flavours quickly and can get bitter if overcooked.

Basic Recipes > Sourdough Bread 11 January 2007

Posted by cath in bread, freeze-friendly, Info and Cooks Notes, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Here’s a new bread recipe for the new year.

 Sourdough - Toasted

Sourdough Toast

 

Sourdough Experiment 1 – Prooving slowly in the fridge for 3 days.

This is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while – sourdough.

I’ve read that this is best made by using a small piece of dough kept wrapped in the fridge from the last batch of dough and kneading it into the next. Now, I haven’t got that far yet, although a small ball is currently fermenting in the fridge for the next sourdough experiment!

Meanwhile I tried a long, slow proove of half of my weekly dough batch to see if I could get a slightly sourdough effect. I was very pleased with the results.

Here’s what to do:

Day 1: Make a large batch of your favorite dough. I made two loaves with this amount of dough – 1 for immediate use, 1 for sourdough, so each loaf was 300g baked in a small bread tin (otherwise I would freeze the extra dough for use another time).

Try this mixture for 2 small loaves (cook one and keep one to try sourdough):

300g strong wholemeal and 300g strong white flour, 1.25 tsp dried yeast, 1.5 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp milk powder, 1.5 tsp salt, 420 ml water and 3 tbsp walnut/olive oil mix (instead of butter) with 4 tbsp pumpkin, 2 tbsp sunflower and 1 tbsp linseeds). See my bread recipe for other options and more details. For full instructions in making dough see this post.

Now for the new stuff… Prooving dough overnight in the fridge makes the loaf a slightly different texture, so I wanted to experiment with that effect.

Dough does rise in the fridge (albeit slowly), so put the dough in a medium bowl (at least twice the size of the dough ball), covered with oiled clingfilm (oil-side down) and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Day 2: In the morning, the dough should had risen, so push it back down into the bowl – effectively knocking it back and removing the air. Then place back into the fridge. Repeated that in the evening and again in the morning of Day 3.

Day 3: Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (use bread flour again) and knead it for a minute by hand to remove the air bubbles. Then push the dough ball into a flat, roughly rectangular shape the length of your bread tin. Roll it up like a Swiss roll and place in the oiled tin.  This should gives a perfect size and shape to fit the bread tin.

Replace the oiled clingfilm loosely and put it back in the fridge for 4 or 5 hours (minimum) where it will slowly take shape. Remove the bread from the fridge to warm up to room temperature and finish prooving before banking, this will take an hour or two –  don’t let it puff up too far. Once it has shaped, put it in a pre-heated oven (at least 210 deg C) for about 20 minutes (longer for larger loaves) until it is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

The bread should be dense and heavier than a typical loaf. It should also keep a little better.  It will also freeze well (try cutting slices to freeze so you can toast straight from the freezer). It makes lovely, crispy toast too. Hope you enjoy – and lookout for experiment 2 with my fermenting ball of dough…

Baking Tip:

For a crispier crust on the base and sides, try removing the bread from the tin for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time – excellent if you’re checking the bread for hollowness and it’s not quite done.

Prooving Help!

Accidentally left your dough to rise and puff up too much in the tin? Don’t panic! Just push it back in, removing all the pesky air bubbles and then wait for it to reshape again…just try to check on it more regularly to avoid it going too far. Your aim is always to double the size of the shaped dough that you put in the tin. The great thing about dough is that it doesn’t mind the odd hiccup, it will just need time to rise again.

Basic Recipes > Gravy 10 December 2006

Posted by cath in comfort food, general info, Recipes, specials.
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 Onion Gravy

Onion Gravy

Home made gravy is the best. Much trial and error has gone into my gravy creations over the years, but even my least successful gravy beats those Bisto granules hands down. There are several things to consider when thinking of making your own gravy…

Gravy for a Roast

If you’re making a roast, then making some gravy is quite easy and is definitely worth a try, it’s a good place to start building up your gravy-making skills:

  • A swift de-glaze of the roasting dish (with half a glass of wine, port, a dash of brandy, stock or water)
  • Add a little flour (1-2 tsp) if the juices left in the dish are very fatty (and it will give a thicker gravy)
  • Then add the meat juices from the rested joint and heat well, stirring or whisking to combine
  • Add some fresh or dried herbs such as thyme or rosemary
  • Add more water and continue to boil together rapidly until the consistency is as desired (preferably use water reserved from cooking the vegetables as this will have more flavour)
  • Taste and season with pepper, adding sweetness with a pinch of sugar if necessary.

Your gravy will probably be thinner than the instant stuff, but as long as you keep tasting it and have a good flavour, don’t worry about the thickness too much.
Keep practicing – you’ll soon become the gravy expert.

Advanced Gravy

But what if you want some gravy for sausage and mash, or haggis, neeps and tatties – you have no roasting tray and no meat juices…the answer is that you have to start with a base (i.e. onions), and some freezer store items come in very handy.

Here’s how you do it:

You will need…

  • 1 sliced onion (white or red)
  • A dash of white or red wine, or port, or brandy (or water)
  • 1 ice-cube home made beef stock (all my making stock tips are from Rose Prince and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – so check out their books) dissolved in a few tablespoons water (or a splash of concentrated store-bought stock, more if it’s diluted)
  • 1 teaspoon roast tomato puree (I have 1 tsp portions of homemade tomato puree frozen in ice cube trays for this, you could use shop-bought rather than homemade)
  • Vegetable (cooking) water – if you’re boiling potatoes, reserve some of the starchy water – this is perfect for gravy, but any other vegetable cooking water will also work
  • Pepper, dried herb (thyme or rosemary is best – you can use fresh if you have some)

Method:

  1. Fry the onion on a low-medium heat in a small frying pan with very little oil (1 tablespoon is plenty for a big onion) until soft and browned (at least 10-15 minutes to make sure it is well cooked).
  2. A few minutes before you need the gravy, turn the heat up in the pan and add the alcohol (or water) to de-glaze the pan, and reduce to a thick glaze.
  3. Add the stock and a bit of water and again reduce well on a high heat.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree and allow to bubble.
  5. Sprinkle in some freshly ground pepper and 1 tsp dried herbs.
  6. De-glaze any other frying pans with a splash of water and add this to the gravy (e.g. if you’ve been cooking sausages in a dry frying pan, it’s a good idea to get the caramelised juices from this pan into the gravy).
  7. Taste the gravy. Don’t be tempted to add salt! But test it for flavour and consistency.  As the gravy reduces on the heat, you may need to add more water – use the potato (or vegetable) cooking liquor at this stage if you can – add a few splashes at a time, checking the consistency until it is runny but not watery.
  8. Adding sugar, balsamic vinegar, pepper, more herbs, lemon juice or a very tiny splash of soy sauce can help with flavour if needed – but the more caramelised juices you can add, the less likely this will be necessary.
  9. Pour the finished onion gravy into a jug and serve.

Sausage, mash, veg and onion gravy

Pure winter comfort food:

Sausage, mash, cabbage, carrots and onion gravy!

Other options:

Have you tried cooking sausages in the oven? You can sometimes buy huge Cumberland sausage rings which work best cooked in the oven – and better on a trivet of unpeeled, halved onions. You can also try this with normal sausages – the larger the better.

Adding onions and their skins to the roasting pan gives you another flavour for enriching the gravy and enhancing the colour. Once everything is cooked, remove the sausage and onions from the roasting pan, de-glaze (as above) and then squish and work in some of the roasted onion as you make up the gravy. Roasted garlic similarly imparts a great flavour into gravy.

For roasting joints of meat, onions, garlic and carrot make a good trivet and a fantastic tasting gravy.

Cookalicious Spicy Thai-style Beef Salad 11 October 2006

Posted by cath in specials, Thai food, thai salad, very spicy.
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A Thai-inspired, spicy, fresh and meaty salad dish. Great for special occasions – use only the best quality meat, and cook it rare to be at it’s best. This dish works with hot, freshly cooked beef, sliced and dressed or equally well cold so you can also make it with any left-over roast beef. I must admit that this particular salad was made from topside, roasted specially for this salad and also to have some yummy roast beef sandwiches…

As for the chillies, I’ve used a handful of my own homegrown chillies this time and got a good, spicy result. You can remove the seeds to get a more mellow heat, but I would recommend making this dish spicy – it’s both authentic and the sweetness of the mint plus freshness of the lime makes a great contrast of flavours with the chili.

spicybeefsalad

The finished dish: Spicy Thai-style Beef Salad

Ingredients:

(Serves 2 as a light dinner or lunch, more as a dish in a larger Thai meal)

Cooked beef (hot or cold) – 2 thick steaks (sirloin or rib-eye is best) cooked until rare or some rare roasted Topside/Silverside

Mint leaves – a large handful, roughly chopped

Coriander – a small bunch, roughly chopped

Chillies – add as many as you like (the hotter the better!) chop finely

Spring onions – 3 or 4 sliced quite finely on the diagonal

Garlic – 2 or 3 cloves, peeled and sliced very finely

Dressing – Juice of 1 lime, 1-2 tbsp fish sauce, freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of sugar (to taste)

 

Method

  1. Cut the cooked beef into thin strips or chunks (as you prefer)
  2. Mix together lime juice and fish sauce with some pepper and sugar
  3. Combine all the herbs, garlic, spring onions, chillies and beef in a bowl and mix well
  4. Pour over the dressing and mix again
  5. Serve with sticky rice and fresh vegetables: cucumber, green beans and cabbage or Chinese leaf

Simple but very tasty!

closeup

Spicy Thai-style Beef Salad

 

 

 

My Specials > Posh Edinburgh Baked Beans 15 September 2006

Posted by cath in comfort food, Recipes, specials.
3 comments

I’ve been checking out some recipes for Boston Baked Beans, and they always look very tempting but so far I’ve never been organised enough to get some haricot beans on to soak the night before…so here’s a recipe I’ve made up with canned haricot beans and a few alterations which hopefully later on will make a special sausage and beans for Colin who is getting married tomorrow…

MySpecialBakedBeans

Baked Beans in the Pot

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 Onion – finely chopped
  • 1 stick Celery – finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot – finely chopped
  • Pancetta or Unsmoked Streaky Bacon – thinly sliced
  • 7-8 tomatoes – roughly chopped
  • twist of pepper
  • 2 bay leaves – stalk removed
  • 3-6 small onions – peeled but left whole
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 ice-cubes homemade vegetable stock (I’m using pea and bean made with peapods…)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 cans haricot beans – drained

Method:

  1. Fry the onions, carrot and celery in the butter and olive oil in a casserole dish over a low heat until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and pancetta and fry until the pancetta is browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stir and add the pepper and bay leaves and stir well.
  4. Place one clove into three of the whole small onions and add them all to the dish with the vegetable stock.
  5. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours on very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Gently stir in the beans, be careful not to crush them. Adjust the amount of sauce by adding a bit of cold water if necessary.
  7. The immediately switch off the heat. Leave everything to mingle for as long as you can (ideally, a couple of hours as the dish cools will allow the canned beans to soak up some of the sauce and flavours – but if you’re pushed for time you can just skip this bit).
  8. Heat through for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve my posh baked beans with Piperfield Pork sausages and crusty bread.

BakedBeansCloseup

Close up of the finished Baked Beans

 

Enjoy my Edinburgh baked beans! They should last a week or two if sealed and placed in the fridge – but I expect we’ll be eating them all tonight! (Update: Yes, sadly not a drop left – it was a resounding success!)

I’m going to try Boston Baked Beans from scratch with dried Haricot beans one of these days…but my cheating version worked better than I could have hoped. The sauce was tasty and the canned beans worked well, the short cooking time suiting them as they didn’t disintegrate – be careful how vigorously you stir them though!

Cooks Notes:

Using lots of veg as a base to this is more like a bean stew than traditional baked beans, and all those extra vegetables are good for you!

But, if you’re not keen on the idea, leave out the carrot, or cut it up much finer than I have done here so that it disappears more into the sauce. The onion and celery make a great base for the sauce so I wouldn’t leave them out.

I had reasonably sized onions for the ‘small onions’ so only used three, but I think smaller ones (and more of them) would have been good too.

My Peapod stock: I just put the pods from a bag of shelled peas, some bean and carrot trimmings in a big pan of water and simmered it for 1 hour. Then I strained the stock and reduced it down, putting the final stock reduction into an ice-cube tray in the freezer. You can use it 1-2 cubes at a time to add some flavour to all kinds of dishes.

Final note – this recipe is an example of how you can adapt other recipes to suit your time and ingredients. I was inspired to try this by checking out a couple of different Boston baked bean recipes, and some Italian bean stews…a bit of juggling and careful consideration of cooking times and voila, a new recipe is born!