Thursday, 20 October 2011

Great British Bake Off Revisited

I've just finished watching The Great British Bake Off Revisited - highlights of last year's competition.  It seems hard to believe that it was so long ago.  So lovely to see what everyone is doing since the programme finished. 

It's hard to watch this programme without needing to have something to eat - cake for preference - fortunately my younger daughter had made a Victoria Sandwich at school this week, which I forgot to photograph before we cut into it, but it was completely delicious.

She Did It ............

Well, despite all my doubts, elder daughter did eventually cook dinner on Monday evening.  She made Borek the recipe for which she found on the website Binnur's Turkish Cookbook.  It was rather an ambitious first meal and she did require help, it did take two hours, but having said that, the outcome was good.  The girls are now going to take turns to cook - next week is younger daughter's turn - my little foodie is already looking at books and thinking about what she is going to make.

So, for anyone who is interested, here's what we had for dinner on Monday evening:

Main Ingredients:

2 x 7 sheets Filo Pastry (we used two packets of frozen)
4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of milk
4 eggs
good pinch of salt

2 x 2L casserole dishes

Filling 1:

300g frozen chopped spinach, squeeze out excess water
1 cup crumbled Feta
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Black Pepper

Filling 2:

250g minced beef
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 small pepper (we omitted the pepper on the grounds that the cook doesn't like them!)
1 tsp dried mint
Black Pepper

Filling 1:

Put the salt, pepper, oil and onion in a saucepan, cook on medium heat for about 2 - 3 minutes, add the spinach and continue cooking for a few minutes more - take off the heat and add the feta cheese - stir to combine.  Leave to one side.

Filling 2:

Put the salt, pepper, beef and onion in a saucepan, cook on medium heat until the beef is browned (approximately 10 minutes).  Add the tomatoes and pepper (if using) and a teaspoon of dry mint, stir well and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes.  When cooked, take off the heat and leave to one side.

Next we mixed together in a bowl the eggs, olive oil and milk - this mixture is to be poured between the layers of pastry.

Then we used two casserole dishes - greased - and placed two sheets of the pastry in the bottom, with an overhang - as per the picture above - and spread 2 - 3 tablespoons of the liquid egg mixture over the bottom, two more sheets of pastry were laid on top (folded in half) and then spread the meat or spinach mixture over the top - again as per the picture above for the spinach pie - more pastry was placed on top and more liquid egg mix, and then the edges were folded in to secure it all and then a final flourish of the egg mixture. 

The above was repeated using the meat filling.

The recipe said to leave the casserole dishes in the fridge for 2-3 hours before cooking to ensure a more crispy pie.  We didn't have the time for this so we simply baked it in a pre-heated oven  175C/350F for approximately thirty minutes - although the recipe doesn't give a time, it merely says to bake until golden brown!

So, how did they taste?  Both tasted very good and were well cooked but if I had to make a choice I preferred the meat version, although my husband preferred the spinach version!  Just a matter of taste.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sunday Dinner

My eldest daughter (17) suggested the other day that she should make dinner one night each week (a very good idea I think, especially as she is not as interested in cooking as my younger daughter (12)) I said that I had suggested this before but she had never taken up the suggestion.  Her reply was that I should force her to do it!  Oh, well, enough said - I will definitely be forcing her.  She decided on Thursday evening as her night for cooking and I was happy to oblige.  So on Wednesday evening I asked her what she was going to make so that I could ensure we had all the ingredients - "haven't decided yet"  was the reply.  I think I asked her twice more, then again on Thursday morning on the way to school, then texted her again at school and finally received a reply that she would cook Friday night instead.  Okay.  I'm not going to let this drop.  I am going to "force" her.  Friday came and she was undecided still.  Finally, during the morning I received her text "I know what I am going to make" - too late though - I had forgotten that we (my husband and I) were going out for dinner Friday night, so we opted for Saturday dinner instead.  But that was no good either, my daughter was going out on Saturday night with her friends and would be eating out!  Hmm.  This is going on and on.  Okay, I said, make it on Sunday instead.  Not a good idea either, she was staying at her friend's house Saturday night and would be home in the afternoon, then she had an essay to write.  So, finally, she is making dinner tonight.

However, this meant I had to think of something else for Sunday dinner, too late to take a joint out of the freezer and I had planned to help my younger daughter with her homework on Sunday so I didn't want to spend all day in the kitchen cooking dinner.  So a quick look through the Books for Cooks Favourite Recipes Books 1,2 & 3 turned up "Penne with Spicy Sausage Sauce".  So easy and so tasty.  This recipe was taken from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers' "The River Cafe Cookbook" and serves 4.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
4 best fresh Italian pork sausages, skinned and crumbled (I used six as there were 6 in the packet)
2 garlic cloves - crushed
4 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 fresh (or 1 dry) bay leaves (I used dry because my fresh ones are very small)
1 tsp fennel seeds (I ground these with the pestle and mortar)
1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes
400g (14 oz) tin of Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
salt, black pepper, grated nutmeg
500g (1lb) penne rigate
150ml (5 fl oz / 2/3 cup) double cream
125g (4 oz) Parmesan, grated

I heated the oil in a large saucepan and cooked the onion until it was soft (about 5 minutes) then stirred in the crumbled sausage, garlic, rosemary, bay, fennel and chilli.  This I then fried quite quickly and stirred it continuously to break up the sausage meat.

I turned down the heat and left it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirred in the tomatoes, salt, pepper and a good sprinkling of nutmeg.  Again, left it to simmer while I boiled the water for the penne which I then cooked as per the packet instructions.  I then stirred the cream into the sausage mixture together with half of the parmesan. 

I drained the pasta and and added the sausage mixture - stirring to coat all the pasta in the sausage sauce.  Served immediately with the rest of the parmesan.  So good.

So, I'm looking forward to my dinner this evening, elder daughter is cooking (no excuses), I have all the ingredients ready for her to make Turkish Borek  with two different fillings - one with spinach and feta and the other with minced beef.  I hope to bring the recipe, with photographs,  to this blog - tomorrow.  Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Grapes of Wrath ............

We harvested the grapes this afternoon and chopped down the vines.  The garden looks quite bare now but I am so pleased to get rid of the vines finally, they were becoming so bedraggled and forlorn as autumn sapped the colour from the leaves.  We harvested quite a lot of grapes (and baby snails and ladybirds too) and I was not too sure what to do with them all ....... jam, jelly, juice or a cake?  Well, to be honest there were so many and they are so tiny with pips in them that the thought of taking the pips out of all of them to make jam or jelly filled me with dread. 

So, tonight, we washed them, liberated the living creatures, set aside one pound of them and juiced the rest.

What a palaver.  We painstakingly took each of the grapes off of the stalks, weighed out those I want for a cake and set about juicing the rest of them.  I washed and sterilised four bottles, wondering if I would have enough bottles for all the juice I was expecting ................. I needn't have worried.

This was all the juice we managed to extract - it'll all be gone tomorrow.

And here's the lovely mess I had to clear up.

We also chopped down all the tomato plants.  And these are the last of them.

And I had to throw in this picture of a pretty box of eggs I found in Sainsburys last week - I've never seen them before.  They're not organic, but the box is pretty!   My daughter who bakes loved them and was aproned up and baking more fairy cakes last night for a table party at school lunchtime today - the girls hold table parties for their birthday.  Then there she was again tonight, baking some for us because she had missed out on a cake at lunchtime today - there were thirteen girls at the party and only twelve fairy cakes.