What I'm cooking and eating

Monday, 20 November 2017

Squid in black bean sauce

This was a (fairly successful) attempt to re-create a favourite of mine from the Chinese take-away across the road that closed its doors several years ago now, and I still miss!  I bought the squid bodies from Sainsbury's - Tesco's only sell squid rings, which aren't quite such good value for money.  Sadly, I don't quite know where to source whole squid, complete with tentacles - they are quite the nicest.

About 100-150 g squid (I didn't weigh, but it was 4 of Sainsbury's frozen squid bodies), thawed and cut into smallish pieces.  Or a similar weight of raw squid rings.  Or use whole squid if you can get them.
1 chunk frozen ginger (or grated fresh - a piece about the size of your thumb)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli pepper, chopped (seeds removed)
1 onion, peeled and chopped, but not too finely
1 green pepper, cut into chunks about the same size as the pieces of squid.
1 sachet black bean sauce
Oil for frying

Melt the oil in a wok or large frying pan, and add all the vegetables.  Stirring all the time, once they begin to cook, then add the squid pieces, stirring again, and finally the black bean sauce.  Bring back to the boil and serve at once with rice or noodles, or even vegetable noodles, as liked!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Vegetable rice

I nearly called this bottom-of-the-fridge rice, as it can be (I imagine) made with lots of different vegetables, depending on what wants used in your fridge.  I served this with bought chicken kievs (don't judge me - they are nice once in awhile), but I imagine it could be a meal in its own right if you added some cooked beans, or cheese or an egg, depending on whether you wanted it vegan or vegetarian.

2 tbs cooking oil
1.5 tsp asafoetida (only because I cba to chop an onion!  Use an onion instead if you prefer)
1 tsp dried garlic (or 1-2 cloves of fresh; again, I cba to prepare it!)
1 leek
1/2 small swede (rutabaga)
Handful Chantenay carrots
1 chilli pepper
1/2 cup long-grain rice
250 ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine if you don't have any home-made; obviously if you want this to be vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable stock or plain water - if the latter, up the seasoning a bit).

Cook the asafoetida in the oil for a few minutes - don't let it burn if you can help it - and then add the prepared vegetables.  Allow them to cook in their own steam for a bit, then add the rice and stock.  Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to the minimum and leave to cook for 15 minutes.  It comes out quite different from a risotto, much more (in my opinion) of a side dish.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Garlicky aubergines with goats' cheese* and root vegetable noodles

* If you don't eat goats' cheese, substitute either regular cream cheese or, for a vegan alternative, hummus or a simple tahini dressing.

2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 chunk daikon

1 medium aubergine
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tbs cooking oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 tub goat's cream cheese (I used one with chives, which was really nice!) (or ordinary cream cheese, or hummus, or a simple tahini dressing)


Spiralize the root vegetables,
and put into a pan with the oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on a low heat, stirring frequently, while you dice the aubergine
and crush the garlic.  Add these to the pan, cover, and allow to cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in the goats' cheese (or substitute), heat through again, and serve at once.
You could also use sweet potato or butternut squash noodles with this.  Either as well as, or instead of, the carrot and parsnip.  I do like to add a bit of daikon (aka mooli), though, as it lightens things up a bit.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Macaroni cheese revisited

Macaroni cheese is, of course, infinitely variable, but this particular casserole has a couple of new things.  First of all, I discovered that home-made spaetzle should really be kneaded for several minutes, and this certainly does improve their texture and the length of the finished product in my noodle maker.

Secondly, I decided to try Amuse your Bouche's crispy garlic breadcrumbs instead of my normal breadcrumb-and-cheese topping; the first time I tried to make these they were a disaster, but, but I realised that if I made the bread into breadcrumbs first, it would work rather better.   It did!

Thirdly, I used a tin of tomatoes instead of the normal béchamel - I used to do this a lot in the past, but haven't done it with leeks before.

So:

The noodles:

1 cup (roughly 250 ml by volume) plain flour
1 egg
Salt, pepper and mustard to taste
Enough water to make a stiffish dough.

Knead the above - ideally using dough hooks on a stand mixer - for several minutes, until it is really smooth and stretchy.  Press through a noodle-maker into boiling salted water; bring back to the boil, then drain, and rinse the noodles in cold water until they are cold (this helps set them).

The main event:

1 leek, chopped
About 1/4 small pumpkin or butternut squash, diced
c 20g butter
c 1 tbs plain flour
1 tin tomatoes
Seasonings - salt, pepper, mustard, maybe sweet paprika
Several handfuls grated cheese

Cook the leek and pumpkin (or any other vegetable you fancy) in the butter until no longer raw; using a blender, whizz the flour with the tin of tomatoes and pour the result on to the vegetables; bring to the boil and add the noodles and grated cheese.  Smooth the surface, and top with: crispy garlic breadcrumbs (see recipe here).  Bake at Mark 5 for about 45 minutes, until the breadcrumbs really are crispy.

Edited to add: I was not totally convinced by this.  The garlic breadcrumbs were wonderful, a great addition to the repertoire, but I think with a tomato sauce I do prefer onions to leeks, and I'm not sure the home-made noodles showed to best advantage like this.  Maybe commercial pasta would have been better (the dried kind - one can buy fresh spaetzle anywhere on the Continent, but not in this country as yet).  The pumpkin worked well, though.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Well, duh!

There are times when I really think I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me!  I have been cooking for - what - the best part of 60 years, and I always, but always, made a béchamel sauce to go with cauliflower, especially if I was going to make it into a cauliflower cheese bake.

But we have been travelling, and space in our motor home is limited.  So it occurred to me - when I make nachos, I just melt the grated cheese in a little milk - what would happen if I poured the result over the cauliflower?

And, of course, it worked splendidly!  I didn't realise quite how dim I was not to have thought of that that long since....

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Barley Salad

I had been making lemon barley water this morning, so had some cooked barley.  It has been very hot, although it is cooler today, so I decided to use the barley as I would have used rice in a salad.  I think, in hindsight, I should have rinsed the cooked barley, but it's not a bad fault.

c. 100 g barley (I used 1/2 measuring cup - 125 ml by volume)
1 litre water
1 large clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 large or 2 small avocados
1 large or 2 small tomatoes

Rinse the barley, then put it in your pressure cooker with the water and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.  I used my lovely Instant Pot for this, which was marvellous, as I could put the barley on and then go and shower and dress without having to hover over it!  If you don't have a pressure cooker, then use 1.5 litres of water and cook for 40 minutes on the stove.  Drain, and use the resulting liquid for barley water.  This, then is what you do with the barley itself!

Put in a large bowl, and crush the garlic clove over it, ideally while it is still warm.  Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Now add the chopped avocado and the peeled and chopped tomato, and stir thoroughly.  Allow to chill before serving.

I love this with cold chicken, but the original recipe that inspired it was from a vegetarian cookbook, Rose Elliott's "Not just a load of old lentils".


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Bean Casserole

I recently bought an Instant Pot, which is a gadget that combines the functions of a pressure cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, yoghurt maker and rice cooker.  So, of course, I have been using it quite a lot - it is a great deal easier to use than my conventional pressure cooker, which will be retired from active service now.  I tended only to use it for the occasional pot of beans, and for cooking the oranges when making marmalade.  I rather think I shall use this electric one more often!  I have yet to try the yoghurt maker or the rice cooker, and doubt I shall (although I did have a yoghurt maker at one stage; I am not quite sure where it is). 

Anyway, this bean casserole is very versatile; you can use whatever vegetables you have around. Makes masses - enough for at least four people.

½ cup each (dry volume) red kidney beans, cannellini beans and those pink ones (or any other sort you like), soaked overnight in cold water to which you have added a little bicarbonate of soda.
1 tbs cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ chilli pepper, deseeded and chopped (it was going to be a whole one, but I dropped half of it into the bin and couldn't find it again!)
Neck of a butternut squash, cubed
1/2 punnet of mushrooms, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
A little extra water,  if needed (it shouldn't be)
Seasoning as liked.

When you have soaked the beans, drain them and rinse them well, then place into the cooker with about 2 litres of cold water.  Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, and allow the pressure to come down at room temperature, if possible.  Drain, and set aside.

Using the sauté function of the cooker, add the oil, then the various fresh vegetables.  Allow to cook, stirring frequently, just as you would if you were cooking them on a normal stove.  Then add the tomatoes and the beans and stir very well.  Add a scrap more water if you think it needs it, but don't forget the mushrooms and the courgettes will yield quite a lot.  Season as liked, and then, using the slow cooker function, cook on low for about 6 hours.  I put it on the timer so it sat for 2½ hours before it started to cook.  If you aren't going to be out all day, of course, you can cook it using the pressure cooker function, probably for about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese.