Thursday, January 26, 2006

Coq au Vin

I love how food changes depending on the length of time it cooks. Especially with something stewlike, like this. What seems unpromising half way through can transform with slow cooking.

I took Delia's advice and cooked to after the first simmer*, then left if to marinate overnight. The next day I finished it off, and then left it in a cool oven for about half an hour before we ate it. That last half hour seemed to make everything gel together and it was deeply rich and dark. And just so delicious.


One chicken jointed, or 8 pieces
1¼ pints (725 ml) red wine (just less than a bottle)
1 oz (25g) butter
8 oz (225t) unsmoked streaky bacon cut into bits (best if it’s one pieces cut into chunks, or pancetta bits from the supermarket
16 button onions
2 crushed cloves of garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 oz (225g) small mushrooms
1 rounded tblspn softened butter and 1 level tblspn plain flour, mushed together to make a paste
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan, and fry the chicken joints, skin side down, until they are golden; then turn them and colour the other side. You may have to do this in three or four batches – don't overcrowd the pan. Remove the joints from the pan with a draining spoon, and place them in the cooking pot. This should be large enough for the joints to be arranged in one layer yet deep enough so that they can be completely covered with liquid later.

Now de-rind and cut the bacon into fairly small cubes, brown them also in the frying pan and add them to the chicken, then finally brown the onions a little and add them too.

Next place the crushed cloves of garlic and the sprigs of thyme among the chicken pieces, season with freshly milled pepper and just a little salt, and pop in a couple of bay leaves.

Pour in the wine, put a lid on the pot and simmer gently for 45-60 minutes * or until the chicken is tender. During the last 15 minutes of the cooking, add the mushrooms and stir them into the liquid.

Remove the chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms and place them on a warmed serving dish and keep warm. (Discard the bay leaves and thyme at this stage.) Now bring the liquid to a fast boil and reduce it by about one third. Next, add the butter and flour paste to the liquid. Bring it to the boil, whisking all the time until the sauce has thickened, then serve the chicken with the sauce poured over. If you like, sprinkle some chopped parsley over the chicken and make it look pretty.

Delia recommends starting this the day before you want to eat it. Just cook for the first half an hour and then leave the chicken to marinade in it's juices overnight then carry on.

This recipe is taken from Saint Delia ’s Complete Cookery Course,

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chocolate Puddle Pudding

Another recipe from k via a friend of her's. I haven't tested it out yet but I trust k's taste so I'm putting it straight on here. A I expect you to make this - maybe tonight.

8oz plain choc broken into pieces
½ pt milk
2 tablespoons brandy (optional) (yeah- right!)
2oz unsalted butter softened
5oz caster sugar
2 eggs separated
1oz self raising flour
1oz cocoa powder
Cocoa powder for dusting

Put the chocolate in a small saucepan with the milk and heat gently until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the brandy.
Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the egg yolks, flour, cocoa and melted chocolate mixture.
Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they hold their shape. Using a large metal spoon, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold into the rest of the egg whites.
Turn into a 2 ½ pt pie dish and place the dish in a roasting tin. Pour a 1” depth of boiling water into the tin Bake in a preheated oven 180 C for about 35 mins until a crust has formed.
Dust generously with cocoa powder and serve hot with whipped cream.

This Recipe came from Julia. My notes:

I made this in 9 small ramekins and reduced the cooking time to about 20 minutes. Whatever container you use do not over-fill as the mixture rises a little during cooking and you would not want to waste any of this pudding!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sweet Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

Sweet Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

I thought it might be nice to use this as a bit of a diary when the food and our mood combines well. Last night was a bit like that. I needed to use up some vegetables that were languishing in the fridge. So we ended up having warm spinach salad, piedmontese roast peppers, and sweet potato chips with an avocado dip. Somehow everything worked together well and it was delicious.

It might, of course, have been because we were quite hungry because we didn’t eat till about 10. A and C were out till then and I was helping L revise for her exam on the theories and practice in Crisis Intervention. What a fantastic mother I am!

For the Sweet Potato Chips

2 lbs Sweet Potatoes wash and cut into wedges (leave unpeeled)
Olive oil

Pre heat the oven to a high heat.

Put the sweet potato wedges in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain and toss them in olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Then put the sweet potato wedges in a large baking dish in a single row and pop them in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

And serve with

Avocado Dip
This is a sort of pretend gaucomole.

2 or 3 very ripe avocados (depending on size)
2 spring onions finely chopped
Half a tub of garlic Boursin (or if you can’t get that - any cream cheese like Philidephia and add a clove of crushed garlic will do fine)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Just mush it all together with a fork or stick it in a blender.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mumo’s Potato Salad

This differs from the potato salads we normally have that have mayonnaise in them and also this one is served warm. It’s lovely and makes a nice change.

1 kg (2 lbs) potatoes (get waxy potatoes not floury ones – cyprus potatoes are good )
1/3 litre hot chicken stock (made from a stock cube)
½ tablespoon finely chopped onion
3 to 4 tablespoon vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of chopped chives (or the green bits from spring onions)
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
salt, pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes until they are soft then when they’ve cooled a bit, peel the skins off and cut them into slices about the thickness of a pound coin .

Put the potatoes into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Season with the salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Linzertorte - Jam and Hazelnut Tart/cake

This was one of our favourite cakes when we were growing up. It's not quite a cake and it's not quite a tart. It comes from Linz in Austria.

Mine doesn't come out looking anything as neat as the one on the right

300 g plain flour (10 oz)
300 g castor sugar
300 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
300 g grated hazelnut or almond (or a mixture of both)
1 egg
2 tablespoons kirsch *
5 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 egg yolk

Kirsch is an Eau de Vie (water of life) made from cherries and is 45% proof.

The kirsch is optional, if you’re not using it add a tablespoon or two of water


Rub the flour and butter together (in the same way as making pastry) until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Then tip in the rest of the ingredients - apart from the jam and egg yolk - into a large bowl.

Bring the ingredients together, first by stirring gently with a metal spoon and then when it’s starting to come together lightly use your hands to form it into a large ball.

Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for an hour

The dough is quite crumbly because of the hazelnuts, even when it's come out of the fridge. Your supposed to roll it out but it's much easier to handle it into shape. Get a large baking tray and shape the dough into a circle with your hands . Create a rim round the edges to create a large hollow in the centre of the tart.

Mum always used to shape it on a baking tray in a rectangle. And having made it this afternoon I think that may be the best way. It's certainly easier to cut after it's cooked.

Roll out the remaining dough and cut into long strips, arranging it in lattice pattern on top of the jam, brush with the remaining egg yolk

Put in a pre heated oven – 160c. In mum’s old cook book it just says a middle heat.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is a lovely brown glaze on it.

When the cake has cooled wrap in tin foil and leave for 3 days before eating (if you can wait that long, it can be eaten as soon as it's cool but it develops a deliciously moist chewiness if you wait)

Friday, January 06, 2006

A different way to poach an egg

I read about this way to poach eggs in the Sunday Times a few years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. It makes a great poached egg. You end up with some interesting shapes and I just enjoy the ritual of it this way.


Put a small pan of water on the heat to boil.

Get a mug and lay enough cling film over it to allow for a hollow in the centre and a good overhang on all sides. Gently increase the size of the dip with your fingers – that’s where the egg is going to go.

Rub oil over the cling film with your fingers including a bit of the overhang, then break the egg into the hollow.

Carefully lift up the sides of the cling film and make a little parcel by twisting the cling film over the top of the egg. Then drop it into the boiling water.

Cook for three minutes and lift out of the water with a spoon.

Then all you have to do is unwrap your egg parcel and eat it on a nice slice of toast.

Apart from the middle boiling-water section, I think this would be nice thing to do with kids

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Spinach Salad

This tastes very good and at the same time makes you feel like you’re eating something very healthy

Large pack baby spinach leaves
6 rashers of bacon (cut up into small pieces) or the equivalent amount of pancetta cubes
200 grms mushrooms sliced
1 clove garlic crushed
olive oil
couple of squeezes of lemon juice
salt and freshly milled pepper

fry the bacon in a little oil until crispy – put to one side
clean the pan out and put some olive oil in and heat gently. Add the garlic, stir then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are just starting to release their juices – put to one side

Put the spinach leaves in a large bowl and add the bacon and the mushroom and mix well. Then dress the leaves with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Serve with some boiled new potatoes and the piedmont roasted peppers and you can’t go wrong

Roast Chicken Italian style

This was the first thing you ever cooked L. And I can remember how pleased you (and us) were with the results.

Again it's a simple recipe and again one of those recipes which leaves you with deeply savoury bits in the pan which are made for dipping crusty bread into.

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary or sage leaves or marjoram. Or a combination of all three
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large chicken about 3lbs jointed
salt and freshly milled pepper
water or chicken stock for basting

Put the olive oil in a roasting tin then add the herbs and garlic. Add the chicken and mix thoroughly with the oil, turning the joints over to coat them.

Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then place in the oven to roast for about 40 minutes until cooked through, crisp and golden brown, turning the joints over and basting occasionally with a little water or chicken stock.

I think this goes best with roast potatoes or potatoes cooked Greek style and a nice green salad.

Panetone Pudding

This is the most indulgent, yummy pudding. It's so wonderful that you have to accept that once in a while it's worth furring up your arteries for. The only thing I'd say is that it needs to follow a light meal. Or at least one that doesn't haven't any cream or butter in it.

175g unsalted butter
6 tbsp golden syrup
175g soft dark sugar
4 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
150ml double cream
150ml Milk
1 panettone, sliced
double cream or ice cream, to serve

Put the butter,
golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the butter and sugar have melted and the mix has become a sort of bubbling toffeeish mix.

Add the bananas and cook for another 10 minutes.

Then put the cream and milk in a small saucepan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, until warm.

Put a layer of panettone slices in the base of a large ovenproof dish. Pour over half of the cream mixture, then half of the toffee and banana mixture. Then repeat until you end up with the toffee mixture on top.

Bake in the preheated (gas 5 / 190c) oven for 20 minutes.

And just for good measure serve with lightly whipped double cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Go-With-Anything Cake

This is a seriously delicious cake from my friend Ms Gin

3 medium eggs
160g ground almonds
150g golden caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1/2 an unwaxed/orqanic lemon
(or the zest of 1/2 small unwaxed/organic orange, plus 1 1/2 tbsp juice)
'/4-'/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Separate the eggs: whites in one big mixing bowl, yolks in another.

With a wooden spoon, beat the yolks, gradually adding 130g of the sugar, until pale and creamy. Fold in the ground almonds, zest, juice and cinnamon to make a stiff paste. Using an electric whisk, whisk the whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually beat in the remaining sugar. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and the peaks are stiff when you remove the whisk.

Stir one-third of the whisked whites into the almond mixture to loosen it slightly, then, using a metal spoon, carefully fold in the remaining mixture, in two batches. Be gentle, or you'll lose all the air you've whisked in and that would be a pity.

Butter a 17.5cm round pie tin; then cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit the bottom and put that in. Transfer the mixture to the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Provided you switched on the oven to the right temperature and gave it time to heat up beforehand, the cake should be done; a bit of squidge one way or the other doesn't really matter. It should be lightly risen, with a chewy crust, but still quite soft inside. It will be a darker brown around the edge than in the middle — but ovens vary, so if you're worried it might burn, you could always cover it with foil for the last five minutes.

Leave it to cool a little (it might sink or crack slightly, but don't worry — just call it rustic charm), then turn it out, remove the greaseproof circle and flip it onto a plate so that the brown side faces upwards. Sieve some icing sugar over the top and serve while still slightly warm.

Piedmontese Roast Peppers

This is so simple and so delicious. It’s dead easy and makes a great lunch with a bit of cheese, salad and good bread. Or I might serve it as a vegetable with a plain meat.
It’s a standard Italian recipe but I originally found it via Delia Smith

4 large red peppers (green are not suitable, you could use yellow)
4 medium tomatoes (skinned) I sometimes use baby tomatoes, in which case you need approx 2 for each pepper half – and I don’t skin them.
8 tinned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic 8 dessertspoons
Italian extra virgin olive oil
To serve:
small bunch fresh basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). The idea is that the edges of the peppers get a bit burnt (it gives a lovely nutty flavour).

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (don't eat them but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape).

Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place two quarters in each pepper half.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes.

Peel the garlic cloves, crush them and add to the olive oil. Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of the olive oil mixture into each pepper half, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a few scattered basil leaves. These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are delicious – focaccia would be perfect

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Real Jewish Chicken Soup aka Jewish Penicillin

A University of Nebraska Medical Centre team concluded from their research that a traditionally prepared chicken soup inhibits the clumping of a certain type of white blood cells (called neutrophils) that cause congestion and inflammation in people suffering from the common cold.

What do they know?

Every Jewish mother knows it’s much more than a cure for colds and flu, it is also an antidote for depression, falling school marks, upset stomachs, cramps, political unrest and in-growing toenails.

How to make Jewish chicken soup is one of those things that is handed down through generations, and everyone thinks that their mother made the best chicken soup.

Probably the most important thing is the quality of the chicken you buy. Really and truly it should be a boiling chicken and I have only found these at Kosher butchers. But if you can’t get Kosher try and get an organic bird that’s had a good life.


1 1/2 kilo chicken parts: bones, wings, thighs, feet, hearts, skin in any ratio. Use all the innards expect the liver (or a whole chicken)
2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, broken into coarse pieces
1 large onion, washed and unpeeled
2 celery stalks, cut into quarters
1 medium parsnip, washed, unpeeled, cut into three pieces
6-8 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, whole
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
Chicken stock
matzo balls (recipe below)

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and add water to cover.

Bring water to boil over medium heat but watch the pot so water never comes to a rolling boil. When the water is just about to boil, turn heat to lowest setting so only a few bubbles break the surface. At this point you may need to skim off some sediment that is on the surface of the soup.
Cover pot and let simmer for 4 hours. (Longer simmering will not hurt soup.)

Remove pot from heat and strain out most of the chicken parts and vegetables. Most of the chicken will be dried out and virtually all the flavour has passed into the liquid so feed the dogs with it. I sometimes add a fresh breast of chicken for a slow simmer in the soup before serving if you like the meat with the soup. I get rid of everything else except the carrots.

Adjust salt to your taste. (or if the chicken isn't quite tasty enough you can always resort to a bit of M&S chicken stock)

Leave the soup overnight in a cold place and take the fat off the top. Leave a bit of fat because it adds to the flavour and there’s something about seeing those shiny, golden globules of chicken fat that make everything worthwhile.

To serve the soup take about 1/4 cup dry vermicelli and cook in salted water. For garnish, coarsely chop fresh parsley. Add these with matzo balls into individual soup bowls.

Usually I buy the packets of ready prepared matzos balls. But, you never know, the Telma company might go out of business and you have to make them from scratch.

2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 t ground black pepper
3/4 cup matzo meal
2 Tbsp soft butter, oil or chicken fat

Beat eggs, blend in salt, parsley, pepper. Slowly mix matzo meal and butter (or oil or fat) into egg mixture until it forms a dough. This will be a stiff dough, to lighten it add water slowly until it is workable (about 1/4 water).

Shape dough into neat, round 14 to 18 walnut-sized balls, lower them into simmering stock (using chicken bouillon), cover pot and gently for 10 minutes. Drain and add them to the soup.

It should be added that to benefit from Jewish Penicillin, one need not be Jewish.

Monday, January 02, 2006

more things to do with basic tomato sauce

Baked Pasta Dish

400 grms of a small pasta shape (something like penne or orechette)
basic tomato sauce (a two tin job)
handful of basil
3 x 150g mozzarella - sliced
cup of grated parmesan

Cook the pasta till al dente (which means it little bit of bite to it, not too hard or too soft) then mix with the sauce and a handful of parmesan. Get a dish and rub it with olive oil and put in a thin layer of the pasta followed by a sprinkle of basil and some sliced mozzarella. Then keep layering until you've used up the pasta. End up with a good sprinkle of parmesan and bake in medium oven for about 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Let it cool a bit before eating.

Parmigiana di melanzane

Luigi Rotundo from Sicily taught me how to make this when he lived with us back in 1989. I think it tastes best when it's not too hot. And it's lovely with a nice green salad and some crusty bread to mop up the juices.

3 firm aubergines (egg plant)
2 or 3 small packs Mozzarella (buffalo is expensive but best)
cup full of grated parmesan
(half a quantity of tomato sauce recipe)

Cut the stalk end of the aubergine off and cut aubergine into half inch thick slices.
Some people say to sprinkle them with salt, place a weight on top, and let stand for about one hour, that will guarantee they're not bitter, but I'm not sure it's so necessary nowadays.

Cut the Mozzarella into very thin slices and let them dry on a cloth. Chop the basil and mix it with the grated parmesan.

Wash the salt off the aubergine slices and dry them. Then brush them on both sides with olive oil and lay in a large baking tray (you'll probably need two)

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.

Coat a deep baking dish with olive oil and put in a layer of aubergine. Sprinkle with Parmisan, pour on a layer of tomato sauce, and cover with slices of Mozzarella. Repeat this layering until all the ingredients have been used, and then cover with tomato sauce, sprinkle with more grated Parmigiano and bake for about 30 mins.

You can substitute the aubergine for courgette (Zucchine) and it's equally delicious.

Basic Tomato Sauce

A very good sauce that is an excellent basis for a number of dishes. This is a double quantity so that you can make a couple of things from it.

[If you use fresh tomatoes, make sure that they are very tasty and ripe (good plum tomatoes). Before you use them you'll need to blanch them, by making a little slit in their skin and pour over enough boiling water to cover them. Count to 30, then cool them by running under cold water and slip off the skins.]

2 tins chopped tomatoes
quarter tin of water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves (finely sliced or chopped)
you can add a bit of chilli or a cinnamon stick depending on what you're going to do with the sauce (the cinnamon is particularly good for a middle eastern type dish)

In a medium sized saucepan heat the olive oil. When it's hot, but not smoking, add the onion. Cook slowly until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the garlic. Stir for a short time and add the tins of tomatoes plus the quarter of a tin of water. Add a pinch of sugar and salt.

Cook over a medium heat for at least 30 minutes or until the sauce is lovely and gloopy and doesn't have that thin, acidic taste that can happen if the tomatoes aren't cooked enough.

And if you're in a hurry or the sauce doesn't seem tasty enough throw in a dolmio sauce (or similar, but only enough for a bit of taste not to overpower)