Monthly Archives: August 2010

Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff

This dish was first taught to me in food tech back at secondary school.  We were all off to uni and our teacher decided to teach us this dish as something easy and nutritious.  It is, indeed, very simple to make, however I always felt it was perhaps just above the usual student fare… you would have to buy more than two ingredients! 

However, it is utterly delicious!  Over the years I’ve become pickier about how I make mine.  I insist on cutting my chicken into strips, not chunks.  (You can also use beef instead of chicken if you fancy it and I’ve used turkey before too.)  I don’t add onion (although if cooking to feed a crowd or on a budget add chopped onion to bulk it out and make it go that bit further), at my cousin Claire’s wedding I was converted to the idea of quartering the mushrooms instead of slicing them (saffron rice was also a good addition there).  I also jazz it up a bit with fresh thyme, which also adds a colour element as it can look a little blah.  So it has now developed away from that simple, basic, student dish to a more refined, grown up dish.  But it is still just as simple to make.

Serves 2

1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
~8 mushrooms, quartered (I like a lot of mushroom in anything!)
300ml double cream
(sauce thickener, if impatient!)
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
basmati rice to serve

– Heat a little oil or butter in a large frying pan. 
– Add the sliced chicken and cook until just starting to brown. 
– Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. 
– Add the cream and thyme and stir untill everything is well coated.  Season to taste.   
– Bring to a simmer and cook until the cream is thickened. 
(Or, if you are rather impatient, as I sometimes am, add some sauce thickener and stir like crazy!  I use a French one called Sauceline, which doesn’t leave any unpleasant taste or texture at all.)
– Serve over basmati rice.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Apricot and Almond Tart

The thing that stayed with me the most about this tart  was the honey.  It just added such a lovely, gentle yet striking flavour to this tart it really lifted it out of the ordinary.  Apricots and almonds are, of course, a classic combination.  I love apricots so I’m always keen to find new recipes so I can enjoy them in copious quantities at their best.  Then it’s all over until next year!  This recipe’s inspiration and filling came from the delightful Tartelette, go oggle the beautiful food photography and delicious recipes!

I used my favourite pastry as a base.  This pastry was used in my entry for Britain’s Best Dish, soon to be seen on national television, I’m terrified!  It’s a fantastic pastry and works wonders in any sweet dish.  Better yet, it’s really really simple and quite forgiving.  (Only once have I had a problem with it and, naturally, that was in the Regional Finals when it let me down a bit, panic, me? Uh, yeah!) 

I did, unfortunately, burn this one a bit.  I forgot to turn my oven down so we had the classic combination of starting to burn on the outside, uncooked in the middle.  However, I am confident that the temperatures/timings below should work for you.  I’m also still getting to grips with my oven, converting to electric from a lifetime of gas is proving simpler than I thought but there are still teething troubles, and I still think in gas temperatures anyway!

Serves 8-12

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
50g golden caster sugar
pinch of salt
100g butter
1 large egg yolk

For the filling:
115g butter
1/3 cup honey *
100g ground almonds
2 eggs
4 tbsp double cream
8-10 apricots, halved

– Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and give a quick pulse to blend. 
– Add the butter and blend until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
– Add the egg yolk and blend until it comes together into a ball of dough, this will take a minute but it will get there!
– Remove from the food processor and shape into a flat disc. 
– Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
– Grease a rectangular flan tin (or a round one, aesthetics vary!) and heat the oven to gas mark 6 and preheat a large baking tray. 
– Remove the pastry from the fridge and press into the tin with your fingers, smoothing it out so it is even. 
– Place in the fridge for 10 minutes. 
– Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans. 
– Blind bake for 20-25 minutes on the preheated tray. 
– In the meantime make your filling.  Place the butter, honey, ground almonds and eggs in a large bowl and beat until smooth and well combined.  Gently stir in the cream. 
– Remove the beans and foil from your pastry.  (If you try to remove the foil and it won’t come easily, put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes). 
– Spoon in a thin layer of the filling into the case. 
– Arrange the halved apricots in the case. 
– Spoon the remaining filling over the top of the apricots.  Smooth it out to the edges a bit but don’t worry, it will sink down on its own. 
– Turn the oven down to gas mark 4. 
– Return the filled tart to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the centre is set and the top is a golden brown. 

* I use a cup measurement here because it is easy to measure by eye what volume you are after.  With things like honey and golden syrup I tend to just pour and judge by eye.  However, if you wish to weigh it into the bowl you want about 115g.

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Filed under Desserts, Easy, Teatime Treats

Quick Beef Stirfry

Now, I know that many people will look at that and say that a stirfry is quick.  However, I use this title to distinguish it from what I would call a proper stirfry… basically, I use a packet of ready made sauce. 

Frequently life is just too short to get out all the bottles and jars, grab the herbs and spices and start from scratch.  For a single gal like myself, cooking for one, it is just plain easier to grab a packet of sauce and use that as a base to work with and get an instant mix of flavours.  That being said, I have yet to find a packet of sauce I would eat just as it is, I always add something.

You could use any meat or even tofu if you wanted but I have discovered that Tesco only seem to sell steaks in larger packs, which are more than enough for one meal of just steak.  I had one large one left and it was a little dry from being in the fridge for a few days so a good, saucy, stirfry seemed like a great idea. 

Makes 3 small servings, a generous dinner and lunch the next day! (Yes, I am that person!) or a light dinner for two.

1 largeish beef frying steak
1 small onion, finely chopped
a handful of white cabbage, chopped 
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large tin mixed chinese vegetables, drained *
1 packet Blue Dragon Chow Mein Sauce
4 tbsp oyster sauce

– Finely slice your steak into thin strips. 
– Heat a good splash of oil in a wok or large frying pan. 
– Add the onion and cabbage with a pinch of salt and stir fry for a few minutes on a moderate to high heat until just starting to brown. 
– Add the steak and the garlic and stir fry until the meat is just browned. 
– Add the vegetables and cook until piping hot. 
– Add the packet of sauce and the oyster sauce and stir well to evenly spread throughout the dish. 
– Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes. 
– Serve over rice garnished with a little chopped spring onion. 

* Blue Dragon do a decent one with bamboo shoots, beansprouts, baby corn and some other stuff, it’s a good way of getting a nice mix of vegetables without having to buy three tonnes of the things.  I know I couldn’t eat an entire bag of beansprouts, we rarely managed it even as a family of four!

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Filed under Easy, Mains

I’M SORRY!!! And Raspberry Jam

Oh my god!  It’s been over a month since I updated!  I am so very, very sorry!!! 

I have now moved house.  I am officially living in the charming town of Easingwold… I haven’t actually spent any time in Easingwold but it looks very charming as I drive out in the morning and back in the evenings!  Weekends have been spent worshiping in the hallowed halls of Ikea or lugging boxes down the A19 from “home” to “my house”.  I am hopeful that this weekend I will be able to get to know my local delis a bit as I have reached the point where the stuff still in boxes is optional and unpacking is no longer a priority.   

Naturally, my kitchen was the first thing I got sorted out to my liking.  I am even adapting well to using an electric hob and oven for the first time.  (Haven’t tried the grill yet.)  I have all my things and a pantry!!!  Once gain I have to apologise for the lack of updates.  I have been mostly sticking to tried and true recipes so haven’t really had anything to post and this is one of the first nights I’ve even had the time to post.  Hopefully this will change now that I’m mostly unpacked. 

However, one thing I did manage to make time for was Raspberry Jam

Raspberry is my favourite jam.  I will pick it over strawberry any day of the week.  So I took the time a few weekends ago to go out the the pick you own and picked myself 6 1/2 lbs of raspberries.  Then I bought myself a jam pan and some jam jars (I had to buy jam jars!  Normally I’d just go to the cupboard but I have yet to build up a stash!)  I consulted with my mum’s copy of Beryl*… and then winged it! 

I didn’t have enough sugar on hand and raspberries just don’t keep well.  In order to postpone my jam making I put the raspberries and what sugar I did have in the jam pan and kept it in the fridge overnight.  Then, once I had enough sugar I simply added this to the pan and set it on the heat.  Not the way that Beryl says to do it but it worked! 

Yeild Varies.  (I had 6 1/2 lbs of both raspberries and sugar and ended up with 13 jars of various sizes.  Judge by eye whet you have and mentally translate that volume into jars!)

Equal weights of freshly picked raspberries and granulated sugar. 
a knob of butter

– Place the raspberries and the sugar in a very large pan and bring to a fast boil. 
– Place a small dish or plate in the fridge or freezer. 
– Wash your jam jars and place them in the oven, I went with 90*C, on a low heat to dry them completely. 
– Keep stirring the pan so that everything is nicely mixed up. 
– The sugar will melt and the berries will fall apart. 
– Keep boiling it at a fast boil for about 30 minutes. 
– This jam throws a lot of skum.  Skim off the worst of it then add a good knob of butter to take care of the rest.  (It may not work immediately but if you are nearing the setting point and there’s still a lot of skum add another knob.) 
– Check the drips off the spoon for “flaking”.  The drips will slow and look flatter as you approach the setting point. 
– If you have a jam thermometer use this to see if the setting point has been reached. 
– If you don’t have a jam thermometer (or don’t trust it in my case) then take a small spoonful of jam and place it on your cold plate.  Wait about 30 seconds then push it with your finger.  If it wrinkles ahead of your finger it is ready. 
– Remove from the heat and decant into your hot, prepared jars.  Put the lids on straight away and set aside to cool. 

*Beryl is the much beloved copy of Beryl Wood’s Let’s Preserve It.  And I have great, great news people…

… they’re REPRINTING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

You can preorder it off Amazon now but they’re not publishing until 5th May 2011.  I’ll be keeping you posted but my copy is already ordered!

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Filed under Jams and Preserves, Moderately easy