30 June 2020

Bacon & Mushroom Risotto


Ingredients :

1 tbsp rapeseed oil
300g smoked back bacon, fat chopped finely, remainder diced
1 medium onion, chopped finely
quarter tsp of ground black pepper
20g unsalted butter
250g mixed white and chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1.5 tsp dried tarragon
0.5 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
300g Arborio rice
175ml (miniature bottle) of Sauvignon Blanc white wine
1.5 litres of simmering mixed chicken & vegetable stock
finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese for garnish
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley for garnish.

Method :

Heat the rapeseed oil in a deep saucepan or wok over a high heat and add the bacon pieces.  Cook until the moisture has all burned off and the bacon is just beginning to turn golden.

Reduce the heat and add the onion and black pepper.  Stir and fry until the onion is softened and transparent, but don't let it brown.

Add the unsalted butter and mushroom slices.  Stir regularly until the butter has melted and the mushrooms have softened.  Add the tarragon, thyme and Worcestershire sauce and stir through.

Increase the heat and while the pan contents are heating up, add the rice and stir to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan but becomes coated in the flavoured oil.

Once the rice is well coated and the temperature is up, add the white wine.  This should sizzle as it hits the pan and the rice gives what is known as a "sigh" as it begins to absorb the liquid.  From this moment on, you should be - pretty much - stirring non-stop (20 mins approx) to gently encourage the rice to release its starch.

Once the wine is all absorbed, add a ladleful of the stock and stir until it is absorbed by the rice.  Continue on this way - a ladleful of stock, stir, stir until it is absorbed - until the rice is tender but retains a tiny bit of al dente bite.

Finish by continuing to cook and stir until the consistency is unctuous and saucy, but not running with liquid.  Check for seasoning - you won't need salt because of the bacon and the salty cheese you're about to garnish it with.

Serve into warmed bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of grated cheese and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Tuck in!

17 June 2020

Plum & Orange Upside Down Cake

What to do, when you have a punnet of beautifully coloured but fairly tasteless plums and a couple of elderly oranges, in the fridge? Why, make an upside down cake, of course.

This basic recipe would work for lots of different fruit combinations, for instance rhubarb & orange, apple and spice, peach and vanilla .. your choices are only limited by what fruit you've got!

I have used both the unsalted butter that is in the recipe and Stork baking margarine for this cake and both have worked as well as one another, so it is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe. Everyone needs at least one sponge cake recipe that is pretty much guaranteed to deliver good results - and this is definitely one of those. 

PLUM & ORANGE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE (makes 12 pieces)

Ingredients :

175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
175g caster sugar
175g softened unsalted butter
12 small plums, stoned and halved
2 medium oranges, zested and juiced
1 tsp icing sugar

Method :

Pre-heat your oven to 180degC/350degF/Gas 4.

Line your baking tin with greaseproof or parchment paper, making sure enough overlaps so that you can lift the cake out, once baked.

Place the plum halves, cut side down and in an even layer, onto the paper.

Measure out the flour and baking powder and using a sieve, sift into a large bowl.

Now simply add all the other ingredients (apart from the orange juice & icing sugar, which is for the drizzle once the cake is baked) to the bowl and whisk everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined mixture of dropping consistency. Provided the butter is good and soft, this shouldn't take longer than a couple of minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the baking tin - taking care not to disturb the plum halves - and level the top. Place the tin gently into the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes to cook - but don't open the oven door to check it until at least 25 minutes have elapsed.

You will know when the cake is done by touching the centre of the cake lightly. If your finger leaves no impression - and the cake springs back - it has finished baking.

Stir the icing sugar into the orange juice.

Place the tin onto a cooling rack and, with a silicone brush, brush the orange juice onto the surface of the cake. It will be absorbed easily as the cake is still hot.

Leave the cake in the tin until the orange juice has been absorbed and the surface has dried sufficiently to be just tacky.

Place a plate over the top of the tin and with a quick flip, turn everything upside down. Lift the tin off and carefully remove the paper. If any plums stick to the paper, gently scrape them off with a palette knife and replace them back into the hole they came from.

Leave the cake to finally cool and try not to eat it all at once!

Printable version

24 March 2020

Pan Muffins - a super-simple bread alternative!

We're currently experiencing the lack of certain products in the stores, thanks to selfish people panic buying.  My hubby saw this recipe today and thought it sounded such a good idea as a bread alternative, that he immediately sallied forth into the kitchen to give it a go - and do you know, it only worked!

Now I know that there are some people who have never bought flour (and some who are unlikely to ever be able to buy flour, if the panic buying continues), but most people I know will have a fairly decent stock of both plain (all-purpose) and self-raising (self-rising) flour, not to mention a pot of either Greek or natural yoghurt in the fridge.  If you're new to flour and are able to get some, then these little muffins are super-easy for everyone to have a go at.  They don't even need an oven!

They make up into a muffin that you can cut in half, butter and enjoy with cheese or jam, dip into soup or just plain old eat as they are.  The outside is a little bit hard, but no worse than a crusty loaf and the inside is surprisingly fluffy.  The acidity in the yoghurt reacts with the bicarbonate of soda in the self raising flour, which causes the muffins to rise and gives them the fluffy consistency.  Hence, plain flour most definitely wouldn't work, not unless you add a little bicarb!

We had them for lunch today and I can confirm they're extremely yummy with some cheddar and chutney.

PAN MUFFINS (makes 6)

Ingredients :

1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
2 cups self raising flour
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil.

Method :

Add the yoghurt to a large bowl and sift in the self raising flour.

Add a pinch of salt and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Shape into a sausage and divide into 6 equal portions.

Form each portion into a ball and then flatten into a disk roughly the size of a muffin (an English muffin, if you're from America or Canada!).

Leave to rest in a warm place for 15 mins.

Using a large frying pan with a lid, add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan and place over a low heat.

Once the oil is heated (hot, but not smoking) add the muffins (as many as will fit without overcrowding).

Cover the pans and cook the muffins for around ten minutes on each side.

At the end of cooking remove the lids and cook for 1 minute extra on each side, then remove onto a wire rack to cool.

Super tasty served warm with butter.

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