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Friday, 28 October 2011

Cauliflower Cheese

The cauliflowers here are enormous, far too much for just one meal. I bought a huge one, which sat in my fridge for two weeks. We had it with some lovely pork chops & mash potato but there was a huge amount left. It rare that we eat meat & veg so I was getting concerned when I remembered the good old cauliflower cheese I used to have at mums or in more recent years at the local Worcester carvery, Mmmmm. So I made two this week. I think I will get another & experiment with sauces while they are huge & cheap. This one cost me 2 leva, less than one English pound & would feed 12 people!!!!!

60g Flour
60g Margarine or butter
50g Parmesan cheese
50g Cheddar or hard cheese can use low fat.
Salt & pepper
450 ml Milk

Break cauliflower into large size heads. Boil cauliflower but don't cook completely as it will continue to cook in the oven.
In a small saucepan melt margarine/butter on low heat & stir in flower with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring till fully incorporated & keep stirring for another minuet. Add the milk a little at a time & using a hand whisk, so you do not get any lumps, incorporate it all into a sauce. You want each addition to thicken then add more etc, keep stirring all the time.  Add the parmesan cheese & stir well till sauce thickens. Add more milk till you get the consistency you want, but not too runny!
Place the drained cauliflower in a oven dish & grind pepper over the top. Pour over the cheese sauce & top with the grated cheddar.

Bake in pre heated oven 220c for 35 mins till nicely browned on top.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chicken Gumbo

For some reason I have stayed away from cooking gumbo for years but there are so many variety of spicy sausages & salami here that it seems like a good idea.
If you are a bit concerned about the spiciness of this dish its really under your control, you can make it as mild as you like but keep the flavour or blow your head off lol. The spiciness of the sausage is the first place to start, then controll the amount of chilli etc. I make it spicy but not too hot, as we like to enjoy the taste.
A great way to cook Chicken & a very quick meal
Frylight or olive oil
2 chicken joints or breasts, skinned
1 x Onion sliced
5 cloves Garlic, if using onion then just 1 clove garlic, crushed & chopped
150g Spicy sausage or salami
Green pepper chopped
2 tps Coriander
2 Bay leaves
1/2 - 1 tsp Turmeric
Chilli flakes or powder
Can chopped tomatoes
1/2 pint strong chicken stock ( I use 2 stock cubes)
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp flour
In a large pan heat oil or frylight & brown chicken. Add the onion, if using, & garlic & fry till soft. Stir in sausage & pepper. Cook for a few mins. Stir in chilli, turmeric, coriander, bay & tomatoes.
Mix the flour with a little water to make a paste & stir into mixture with stock & seasoning.
Cover & cook on low heat for 20 minuets, till chicken is cooked through.
Serve with rice

Monday, 17 October 2011

Irish Soda Bread, Wheaten Bread.

Half my family on my mums side is Irish & my mum used to make the most gorgeous soda bread. I have been trying to re create this. So far I have almost got there with the white one but this is a good :-)
Great for when people pop round for dinner & you can break out a casserole or stew from the freezer. Fresh baked bread for dipping will go down a treat, & this is a healthy option too. Its made in a jiffy & your guests will be impressed with what they will think is a specialty bread (oh dear giving away all my secrets now).
140g Bread flour, white
350g Wholemeal flour
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/4 tsp Bicarb of soda
2 tsp Sugar
60g Butter
450 ml Butter milk (I make mine with milk & lemon juice & sometimes a little vinegar)
4 tbsp Sunflower oil
Pre heat oven to 200c
In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, sugar & soda, stir to mix.
Rub in the butter then make a well in the middle. Pour in the butter milk & oil & mix to a soft constistency.
On a floured surface knead for one min. Place onto a floured sheet & flatten top. Cut a cross into or slash top.
Bake for 30 minuets then reduce oven to 180c, turn tin & bake a further 30 minuets. You may need to cover the top half way through to stop it catching.
Remove from oven & wrap in a clean cloth/tea towel to cool. This bread is not suitable for sandwiches!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ratatouille Sauce for mince

Every year we grow lots of our own produce on our Bulgaria property. Then when its ready, this is one of the dishes I make for over winter, as it's a good use for the aubergines & goes a long way.  I make this sauce to freeze for the winter months, then I add it to mince or pork for a warming winter meal. It makes cooking quick & easy in the dark evenings when we have no energy.
Adjust amounts accordingly to your taste. I batch cook this to freeze mainly & have given two amounts for ingredients.
Onion, to your taste 1 - 3, sliced
2 cloves garlic, up to 1 head. Peeled crushed & chopped
1 Aubergine up tp 4, sliced
2 red/green peppers up to
4 lg Tomatoes up to 7lb's, chopped
3 Zucchini  up to 8, cut into 4 length wise, then sliced, Or can use Marrow, but de seed
Bunch of fresh basil or use dried 1 tsp or to your taste
1/2 tsp Oregano up to 2 tsp
1/4 tsp Thyme up to 1 tsp
1/2 tsp Parsley up to 2 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper
Ground sea salt
Slice the aubergine put in colander & salt leave in bowl for 30 mins or more, when ready to use rinse under cold water.
In a pan fry the garlic & onion in a little oil or frylight.  Frylight (spray oil) is best as it doesn't soak up into the vegetables. Add peppers & fry till softened, then add tomatoes then simmer. Add sweetener or sugar to taste. Add chopped basil, herbs & pepper, stir.
In a separate pan fry zucchini till lightly browned stirring so all the aubergine is cooked. Add to tomato mixture. Add the rinsed aubergine to separate pan Fry till browned. Add to tomato mixture. Stir to combine & check for seasoning & flavour. Add salt if needed.
Cool completely & split into 3 or 4 freezer tubs.
This can be served on its own with pasta fo a veggie meal or added to cooked mince or pork.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Chicken Warmer

There's nothing quite as warming as a good old Chicken stew in the winter. Serve with dumplings & were rocking :-)
This is a very easy stock cupboard stew, using in season veggies. I have listed what is in this one but please use other veggies that are available to you. Carrots are a staple though! Add some peas for colour or corn, you get the idea. Green beans too will give a lovely colour to this.
If you read my blog you will know that I don't add onion, due to an intolerance, but please do add if you can.
1 Garlic head, crushed & chopped
Chicken bones
Cooked chicken meat
Chicken stock, from bones &/or 2 x stock cubes
3 x Carrots peeled & sliced chunky
1/2-1 Marrow, peeled & chopped chunky
1 x Courgette, cut into 4 length wise & sliced chunky
1tbsp Lemon juice
1tsp Oregano
1tsp Parsley
1tsp Thyme
Salt & pepper fresh ground
Potatoes peeled & cut to size

Boil the bones to give a stock.
Crush & chop the garlic & fry in a little oil or frylight till browning. Add onion if using. Discard bones, sieve if necessary. Add stock &/or cubes to garlic & boil (use plenty of water). Boil for about 10 mins covered. Add chicken, carrots, courgette & marrow. Stir in lemon juice & herbs, cover & cook very slowly for two hours minimum, can be  longer especially if using uncooked chicken. Keep watching liquid levels.
Add potatoes 1 hour before use as you want them to keep their form. I don't thicken mine as I keep it as healthy as poss but you can thicken it at the end with a little cornflower in water or make it creamy by adding cooking cream at the end.
If using uncooked chicken, peel away skin & brown in a frying pan using frylight or a little oil. cook as you would in any chicken dish (you don't want blood to be running) then add the chicken to the hot stock.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Carrot, Apple & Walnut Salad

Mmmm this is a really lovely salad, goes well at a BBQ with coleslaw, potato salads etc but also if you live here in Bulgaria its a good winter salad to go with the Rakia.
Make this one day in advance, so that the flavours have a chance to meld.
4 x Carrots
1 Apple
1 tbsp Lemon juice
2 tbsp Honey
Walnuts chopped to your liking
Mayonnaise to your liking
Salt & pepper
Peel & shread the carrots & apple then mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover & refrigerate over night.
I like lots of walnuts & mayonnaise. I leave these quantities to you but add little at a time so you can check your preference

Harlequin Chicken

I love this recipe as it can be made with pre cooked chicken or raw. I had to cook a chicken as the sell by date had only a day left, so I roasted it & used it the following day in this recipe.
I call it Harlequin as it is very colourful.
Feel free to leave the olives out if you are not a fan & add onions if you are tolerant.
4-6 cloves of Garlic
1 pint Chicken stock
Zest & juice of 1 lg lemon
4 Chicken breasts or breasts & legs
4 rashers Bacon
4 ripe Tomatoes or jar of home preserved tomatoes
3 tsp Tarragon
1 Bay leaf
4 Red & green Peppers or jar home preserved peppers
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Spray a deep pan with oil or use a little olive oil. Cook the garlic for 5 mins, add Peppers cook for further 5 mins add stock & boil for further 5 mins then add lemon cover & simmer for 15 mins. Wrap the bacon around the chicken & secure with a cocktail stick.
Add the cooked chicken with bacon to the pan with the tomatoes, tarragon & bay leaf. Cover & simmer 15 - 20 mins, reducing the sauce. Add olives if using & cook a further 5 mins. Serve with pasta, a salad or minted new potatoes.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Individual Victoria Sponge Cakes

A great way to serve a classic cake for dessert, afternoon tea or freeze them for an occassional treat, lovely :-)
Makes 12 individual cakes
6 oz butter or margarine, softened
6 oz Caster sugar
3 Eggs, beaten
6 oz SR flour, sifted
1 tsp jam
Whipped cream
Pre heat oven to 180c & place muffin cases in baking pan.
Beat butter & sugar till creamy. Beat in eggs a little at a time. Add the flour, also a little at a time, fold it in, don't over mix it.
Spoon into the muffin cases & bake for 20 minuets till the top springs back.
I bake these 1 day ahead. Just before serving, remove from the cases & cut in half. Spread with jam & top with cream.

Pickled Garlic

Its that time of year, lots of home grown garlic
This is fabulous. If you love garlic you will love this. Its easy to do & lasts forever. Tastes delicious & is a great accompniant to drinks or pre dinner nibbles along with olives & peppers specialty breads etc. We had them the other night with all the above instead of salad & we all enjoyed them very much.
Whole peeled garlic
Red wine vinegar
Whole chilli
Sliced red pepper
Place the garlic, chilli & pepper slices in the jars, cover with vinegar & add the salt. Secure the lid & gently shake to dissolve the salt. Store in the fridge for a minimum of two weeks to cure. Will keep almost indefinitely if covered & refrigerated.

Pickled Garlic #2
5 Sterilised jars
12 large heads garlic peeled
625 ml White wine vinegar
250 ml Dry white wine
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Dried oregano
5 Dried chilli peppers (1 for each jar)
In a large pan combine vinegar, wine, salt, sugar & oregano. Bring to the boil,  & boil gently for 1 minuet.
Remove from heat, add garlic & stir for 1 minuet
Pack garlic & 1 chilli into a jar leaving 3/4 inch room. Add hot liquid to cover the garlic. Remove the air bubbles & wipe the rim of the jar. Secure the lid.
Line a deep pan with an old cloth & place the jars on top. Add water to cover & bring to the boil. Rapid boil for ten minuets, then remove from the pan & cool for 24 hours
Store in a cool dark place.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pear Frangipane

Pears are in season here now, falling off the tree's in droves & bringing the wasps out, but I won't hold that against them!
Our pears are quite hard so I tend to cook with them. Frangipane is one of my fave desserts, the Apricot one is to die for , so I thought I would try it with pears & found this interesting recipe. I am serving it to guests tonight & will post their response :-)
Sweet pastry
500g Plain flour
250g Butter
125g Caster sugar
1 Large egg
Beat butter & sugar together till light & fluffy. Add the egg & combine. Add the flour a little at a time. Put the dough in the fridge for 30 mins to rest. Take the pastry & leave for 10 mins. Grease the bottom of flan tin Roll out to fit a 20-30c flan tin. It may fall apart so patch it together, when the tin is ready put it in freezer for 15 mins or in fridge for 30.
Blind bake it 200c for 10 mins then set aside to cool. Reduce oven temp to 180c
Almond Cream
150g Butter/margarine
150g Caster sugar
150g Ground almonds
3 Eggs
50g Plain flour
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence
Pears peeled cored & sliced in half or quarters
Beat together sugar & butter/margarine. Add eggs one at a time till combined. Add vanilla essence & stir in. Sift together almonds & flour & slowly add to mixture. mix till creamy.
Spread the cream evenly in pastry case & place pears cut side down. Bake for 30 - 40 mins till risen & golden brown. It will be firm to touch.
Heat  2 tsp jam, I used white plum jam, & brush this over the pears & tart to glaze. Refrigerate. Can be made a day before needed.
Serve warm or at room temp with cream or ice cream.