Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Pasta Bake

We're nearing the end of the second month of this year
seems like it was just yesterday we celebrated the coming of the new year
how time flies
what it does mean is we're getting closer to spring
now that's something I am eagerly looking forward to
let the countdown begin...

In the meantime, I'm still in my comfort food mode
it's still pretty cold outside
anything with pasta is always good!

Pasta Bake

Beef ragu:
400g minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper 

Heat a little oil in a pan and add the onion, celery and carrot. 
Fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until softened and starting to colour.

Stir in the mince and cook until browned.
Add garlic, bay leaves, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, and cook for 1-2 minutes more. 
Add in the water and reduce the heat and add seasonings. 
Cover the pan and leave to simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender 
and the sauce has thickened.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 minutes before removing from heat. 
Note: You can make the ragu ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for many months.

250g penne pasta
20g butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cup chicken stock
1 clove garlic, finely minced
100g chestnut mushroom, sliced
salt and black pepper

150g grated cheese

Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pan.
As soon as the butter melts, add the flour and, over a medium heat 
and using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to make a smooth paste.
Whisk in a little of the stock at a time, stirring continuously 
until you have a smooth, slightly thick sauce.
Add garlic and mushroom and cook for about 1 minute.
Remove from the heat; season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce.
Spoon the creamy mushroom pasta into a buttered heatproof dish.

Cover the pasta with a thick layer of beef ragu

Finally, sprinkle over the grated cheese (I'm using a combination of Stilton and Cheddar) 
 Bake in 180C oven for about  25 minutes or until golden brown on top

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

500g minced beef
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
salt, to taste
2 cups unsalted beef stock
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp corn starch
1/4 cup water

 Combine minced beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic powder, ginger powder, black pepper  
and salt in a bowl until evenly mixed. 
Shape into 4 patties.

Fry patties in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. 
Add beef stock, onion, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and oyster sauce  and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until patties are no longer pink in the center, 
about 10 minutes more. 
Transfer patties to a platter and keep warm.
Bring onion mixture to a boil. 
Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into onion mixture. 
Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Cook and stir until onion gravy is thickened. 
Pour over patties to serve.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Crusted Pumpkin Wedges

I promise...
This will be my last pumpkin/squash base recipe
... for this season anyway

Crusted Pumpkin Wedges

1/2 pumpkin (approx. 300g with skin on)
  1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
a small handful of chopped walnuts
  olive oil
a little sea salt flake and ground black pepper
2 tsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC.  
Cut the pumpkin into slices.
 Lay them, cut side down, 
on a baking sheet that has been lined with greaseproof paper.
Brush the pumpkin generously with olive oil.

To make the crust:
In a small bowl mix together Parmesan, breadcrumbs, 
chilli flakes, thyme and lemon zest.

Coat the wedges with the crust mix, making sure the slices are thickly covered. 
 Season with a sprinkling of sea salt, 
black pepper and a drizzling of maple syrup and a little olive oil.

Roast for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.  
If the topping starts to darken too much, cover loosely with foil.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Pumpkin Rolls

Pumpkin Rolls

1 1/2 cups full-fat milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup pumpkin puree (approx. 220g)
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped pecans

To make the dough: 
In a large saucepan, combine the milk, vegetable oil and granulated sugar. 
Heat until lukewarm.
 Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. 
Stir in the pumpkin puree until combined.

In a large bowl, mix 4 cups of the flour with the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. 
Add the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. 
Mix well.
Cover loosely with tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, the mixture should be very puffy and at least doubled in size. 
Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining 1/2 cup flour until totally combined.

Preheat the oven to 180C. 
Grease the bottom and sides of a large baking dish.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll it into a rectangular shape. 
If it is overly sticky, sprinkle generously with flour until easier to handle. 

For the filling: 
Drizzle the melted butter over the dough and smear it all over the surface with your fingers. 
Mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Sprinkle this mixture all over the surface of the dough, covering all the melted butter. 
Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Roll the dough tightly towards you.
 When it's all rolled, pinch the seam closed and turn the roll over so that the seam is facing down.
Slice into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices and place the slices in the buttered dish. 
Allow to rise for 20 minutes.

Bake until the rolls are nice and golden brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.

To make pumpkin puree:
Cut the pumpkin into quarters, then peel and cut into chunks.
Place them on a roasting tin
and bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven.
Allow to cool. 
Then mash the flesh with a potato masher.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Garden Updates

It's been a while since my last garden updates

I'm happy to report, there have been activities -
Daffodil leaves have been spotted spearing outward from the ground,
birds are making a lot more cheerful noises
and the branches are lined with knobbly buds...

But on a sad note, we lost two of our lady ducks
They were taken, presumably by foxes last Thursday evening
It was unfortunate indeed.

They would constantly follow me around the pond 
- much to the annoyance of Lolita -
breaking the silence of the countryside with their incessant quacking.
They will be missed.

This year's winter has been pretty mild so far.
The winter flowering plants in the garden 
have been flowering earlier than normal.
They give interest to the otherwise dull days

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Cinnamon Parsnip Cupcakes

Cinnamon Parsnip Cupcakes

1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely grated parsnip
Preheat oven to 180C.
 Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. 
In a large bowl, mix together flour, cardamom, cinnamon and salt.  
In another bowl, whisk together brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla and parsnip. 
Stir in flour mixture until combined. 
Divide mixture evenly among lined cups.  
Bake for about 20 minutes. 
Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

100g butter, softened
100g icing sugar
zest from 1/2 orange
200g full fat cream cheese
In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients until smooth and thoroughly blended.
Do not over mix as it might go runny.
 If the consistency's too soft, you might want to put the mixture in the fridge
for about 10 minutes or until it firm-up.