Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slater's Classic Bangers and Mash


We're celebrating Classic British fare over at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week so I cooked up a batch of Bangers and Mash.  The term "bangers" derives from a time when sausages were made with more water and had a tendency to explode if not cooked carefully.  Nigel has a few cook's tricks I've shared below to keep your sausages from splitting or exploding. 

My family loves a classic sausage and potato dish and this dish was well loved by all.  The flavor of the onion gravy marries perfectly with the sausages and mashed potatoes.  I'm also a fan of adding a little mustard to the sausages for a little more flavor.  A delicious and quick meal that the whole family enjoyed!




Classic Bangers and Mash
Recipe adapted via The Guardian
by Nigel Slater
Serves 4


Lightly brown a couple of decent butcher's sausages per person in a little fat or oil in a heavy pan (I prefer cast iron). Push them to one side and cook a peeled and quartered onion for each person, broken into layers, on the other side of the pan. Keep the pieces of onion quite large. Once they are deep gold and caramelized, sprinkle over a generous dusting of flour and allow to brown very lightly. Pour in about 125ml of rich stock per person, bring to the boil, season, then simmer for 20 minutes. To make the mash, boil the potatoes (I used medium potato per person) in lightly salted water or steam them till tender enough to mash. Use a thick slice of butter per person (I also added a couple tablespoons of mascarpone cheese), and beat till light and fluffy. Serve with the sausages and onion gravy.

Cook's Trick: Cooking sausages slowly will stop them splitting and allow a good, sticky coat to develop on their skins. Once the sausages are nicely browned you can let them finish cooking in the gravy. After crushing the potatoes with a potato masher, beat them again with a wooden spoon to incorporate some air and make them light and fluffy. Keep the onions in large pieces and let them cook slowly, allowing their edges to caramelise before adding the flour.

For a little Twist: Stir a little grain or smooth Dijon mustard into the sauce. Use Madeira or dry Marsala in place of some of the stock. Add a couple of sage leaves to the sauce. Mushrooms, quartered and fried off in a little butter and stirred into the gravy, would be something to consider, as would a little grated horseradish root.



Theme: Fit For A Brit!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nigel Slater's Smoothie in a Bowl

We've started cooking with someone new over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  We will be cooking the recipes of British cook, Nigel Slater, for the next six months.  I'm still waiting to receive my copy of Tender in the mail, but I found this recipe for his Smoothie in a Bowl online and I couldn't resist it.

I'm all for sipping a smoothie on the go, but I'm definitely a fan of this Smoothie in a Bowl because I'm all about those toppings and garnishes. So many possibilities!  In fact, I'd say this would be a very good dish to keep in mind when entertaining.  Blend up the fruit.  Pour the mixture into a pitcher. Then set out lots of different toppings and garnishes: yogurt, berries, sliced bananas, granola, nuts/seeds, etc.  I think everyone would really enjoy customizing their own bowl!



Smoothie in a Bowl
by Nigel Slater
recipe via theguardian.com
Makes 2

1-1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup raspberries or strawberries
1 banana
To serve: extra banana, berries, toasted oats, nuts, yogurt

Blend berries with one banana until desired consistency.  Pour mixture into two bowls.  Garnish with slices of banana, berries, oats, nuts, and a dollop of yogurt.  Enjoy!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mini Corned Beef Pot Pies and a Donna Hay Roundup!

I love corned beef and always buy one in March so I can enjoy one or two Ruebens.  Afterwards I always use the leftovers to make some corned beef hash, which makes for an awesome Sunday breakfast.  This time around I wanted to try my hand at these Mini Corned Beef Pot Pies and wow I'm I glad I did!  These little babies are excellent! 

The recipe begins with a simple white sauce, or roux, to which you can add onion, carrot, cubes of potato, and/or peas.  I added what I had on hand, which was half an onion and about a cup of frozen peas, but I think adding potato would make these even better!  We loved these pot pies and everyone made me promise to make them again next year!


Mini Corned Beef Pot Pies
Adapted from Donna Hay website
Makes 4 individual pies

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cups chicken stock
1-1/4 cup milk
1 cup cooked corned beef, shredded or cubed
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

 Notes: This recipe was created using Donna Hay's recipe for corned beef which includes a little carrot and onion.  If you'd like carrot and onion added to your pot pie then you may wish to saute one onion and one carrot in a little butter until somewhat tender and then add this to the pot pie filling.  

Preheat oven to 400F.  Melt the butter over low heat and add the flour, cook, stirring for 5-7 minutes until golden and sandy in texture.  Gradually whisk in the stock and milk, increase the heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add the corned beef, and onion/carrot mixture*, peas, and parsley and stir to combine.  Place your ovenproof dishes (should be 4 dishes with 1 cup capacity) down on the puff pastry and cut out 4 rounds that are slightly bigger than your ovenproof dishes.  Remove the ovenproof dishes and place them onto a foil-lined baking tray. Spoon the pot pie filling into the dishes.  Place the cut puff pastry rounds over the filling.  Brush the pastry with the egg.  Decorate tops with various herbs and/or additional onions (if using).  Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.



Our time with Donna Hay is coming to a close at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  We've cooked with many cooks/chefs over the years, but I must say that cooking with Donna has been extremely pleasant and somewhat effortless. Donna's recipes are simple, straightforward, and completely stress-free. I found myself looking forward to making her recipes and never once felt overwhelmed by the task.  I will definitely look to her recipes in the future when I am pressed for time and in the mood for fuss-free recipes.

Below are my Donna Hay favorites from the past six months in no particular order.  If you click on the recipe name you will be directed to the original post.


















Sunday, March 23, 2014

Breakfast Tart and Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Syrup

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day.  I'm completely smitten by all the options at breakfast, everything from savory to sweet. Unfortunately breakfast is the time where I have the least amount of time to prepare meals.  I never seem to work my way through all the breakfast recipes I have bookmarked. Every once in awhile, when I really want to try a recipe, I will force myself to wake up early enough to get in the kitchen.  Let me just say, this Breakfast Tart and the accompanying fruit salad were well worth rising early.

This Breakfast Tart is so savory, flavorful, and creamy.  It's addictive really.  The filling is mixture of pancetta (you could use bacon), creamy Mascarpone cheese, sharp Gruyere cheese, and lots of green onion.  It's simply divine.  We inhaled it.

On the side, and to give the meal some balance, is a very pretty and colorful Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Syrup.  I didn't exactly follow the directions for the honey-lime syrup. I basically assumed the syrup was to be mixed and poured over the fruit.  Instead the directions were to cook the syrup on the stove much like a making a simple syrup.  My dressing was a little thin, though still quite delicious.  I felt quite certain that following the directions would've made for an even more delicious, and much thicker, syrup.  Either way you simply can't go wrong with a juicy and colorful fruit salad.  The honey adds a bit of sweetness that is perfect for fruit this time of year as it is not quite at it's prime.  The lime adds a perky brightness to the salad.  I will be making both recipes again soon.



Breakfast Tart with Pancetta and Green Onions
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada
By Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6-8

butter, for the pan
flour, for the pan
1 (9-inch) unroll-and-bake refrigerated pie crust
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
3 scallions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

 Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Unroll the pie crust and gently press into the bottom and sides of the pan.  Trim any excess from the top.

With the tines of a fork, prick the bottom of the pastry.  Using a pastry brush, brush the crust with the beaten egg white.  Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until the egg white has set.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, until browned and crispy.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the mascarpone, Gruyere, scallions, salt, pepper, and pancetta.  Pour into the cooled crust and bake for about 18 minutes, until the mixture has set and the top is golden. 

Cool the tart for 10-15 minutes and then remove from the pan.  Cut the tart into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.


Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Syrup
Recipe adapted from Giada's Feel Good Food
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

Syrup
Grated zest of 3 large limes
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3-1/2 tablespoons honey

Fruit
1/2 (2 pound) cantaloupe, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
12 medium strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup green or red seedless grapes, halved
2 kiwi, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup blueberries
fresh mint leaves, for serving

For the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the lime zest, lime juice, honey, and 3 tablespoons water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.

For the Fruit: In a serving bowl, combine the melon, strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and blueberries.  Pour the syrup over the fruit and toss to coat.  Let the fruit salad sit for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 day, refrigerated, before serving, garnish with mint leaves.

Theme: March Potluck

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spinach Macaroni Cheese

Whenever I serve macaroni and cheese I always serve it up with a big helping of green veggies.  I guess there are two reasons for this.  Mostly it's because I'm trying to balance out all that cheese with some green veggies, but also because I think green veggies pair well with anything cheesy.  Truth be told, I also enjoy mixing the green veggies into my mac and cheese.  So when I saw this easy peasy recipe for mac and cheese with spinach it had to happen.

This is a super quick version of mac and cheese.  The sauce isn't cooked at all.  The ingredients for the sauce are simply stirred into the al dente pasta and then baked for a quick 10-15 minutes.  The result is delicious and creamy, but a little different from most mac and cheese recipes out there.  This is certainly not the cheesiest mac and cheese, but it is really delicious and I love that it incorporates spinach.  Makes for a really quick all-in-one meal!

I think this dish would be really great with any type of green, especially kale and chard. I've been seeing some beautiful rainbow chard in the markets lately and I'm thinking a rainbow chard version is in my near future.


Spinach Macaroni Cheese
Adapted from DonnaHay.com
Serves 6-8

1 pound box macaroni*
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
150g baby spinach
1 cup grated cheddar, for topping

Notes: Any short pasta will work for this recipe.  I used a mix of sharp cheddar and mixed cheddar because it's what I had on hand.


Theme: Eating of the Green!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Goat Cheese, Lemon, and Pea Pasta Salad


It's the first day of spring and this is definitely cause for a celebration! I'm hoping I can say farewell to freezing temps and snow days.  I've had enough bad weather to last the rest of the year.  To usher in spring I found this pretty pasta salad bursting with bright green color. This salad just about screams spring to me.  Pasta, peas, spinach, little chunks of goat cheese, and the refreshing burst of lemon give this salad tons of bright cheerful flavor.  This is great for eating as is or packing in lunches throughout the week.    


 Cheese, Lemon & Pea Pasta Salad
Adapted from Donna Hay
recipe via Sidewalk Shoes
Serves 4-6

14 oz penne or other short pasta
2 cups frozen peas 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
8 oz goat cheese, crumbled 
1.7 oz arugula 
 salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Notes: You may find you need a little more dressing.  I added a touch more olive oil and lemon juice because the salad was a little dry.  Also, 8 ounces of goat cheese is a lot.  I'd consider using about 4-5 ounces next time.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water per directions, adding the peas at the last minute.  Drain and return to the pan.  Add the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat.  Add the goat’s cheese, arugula, salt and pepper, and mix until just combined. 



Theme: Noodles, Noodles Everywhere!










 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quick Raspberry and Banana Ice Cream


Freezing rain, sleet, and snow are crashing in on us as Winter Storm 2014 rapidly approaches. Quick! What do you do to prepare for such a serious storm? You make ice cream!! Making ice cream makes perfect sense to us parents who have been housebound with our children for 17 snow days and counting.  Here in Kentucky a snow day is a sure thing for tomorrow.  I'm not even going to watch the news, or check the school listings, or bother setting any alarms.  I'm sleeping in.  Then I might just wake up and eat ice cream.  Yep, it's kind like that at this point in time.  I'm ready for some sunshine.

This ice cream is really cheater ice cream. All you do is mix store-bought vanilla ice cream with frozen raspberries and frozen bananas in a food processor.  That's it! The end result is a gorgeous pink-hued ice cream that is so cheery and bright it's sure to brighten any wintery day.  Plus, adding all that fruit really kinda stretches the ice cream out. Not to mention, adding all that fruit really kinda makes this ice cream healthy so you can actually justify eating it.  Gotta get your five a day in somehow.

 
 Quick Raspberry and Banana Ice Cream
Serves 4

2 cups frozen raspberries
2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1 cup (250ml) premium thick store-bought vanilla custard
fresh raspberries, to serve
store-bought biscuits, such as shortbread or amaretti, to serve