Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hola, St David.

These burgers were the product of me seeing a recipe for 'chorizo burgers' in a magazine and thinking, pfff, I can do better.  So I had a go!  The result is an outre but tasty meld of Spanish and Welsh!

Regular readers will know of my love affair with smoked paprika, so it should come as no surprise that chorizo sausages, redolent of that rusty dusty manna, are also a firm favourite in our house.  I wanted to use leeks because I love them, and also in honour of St Davids Day tomorrow, where Welsh people everywhere celebrate our superiority at rugby and general existence.

Don't argue. You know it's true.

Leek and chorizo burgers - makes 6 large burgers.

500g leeks, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
250g chorizo sausage, chopped.
400g lean Welsh beef mince
1 egg
pinch black pepper
Olive or groundnut oil
Ciabatta rolls, to serve.

Preheat the oven to 200oC.  If you're cooking wedges or chips with these, it will probably be on anyway, so all the better.

Heat 1tbsp or so of the oil in a pan and add the sliced leeks.  Cook for 5 minnutes or so until softened but not obliterated.

Pop them in a food processor with the chopped chorizo and process until blended.  Add in the beef mince and pinch of pepper and process again until combined.  Drop in the egg and process until it's all combined, then scrape into a bowl.

Shape into burgers - the mix will be quite wet and a bit friable at this stage, but work with me.  Pat your burgers into even rounds.   Heat some more oil - an even covering of the bottom of your frying pan - and pop them in when it's sizzling, 2 at a time.  Cook for 2 minutes then gently flip and cook for 2 minutes more.  You're just browing the outside at this stage, so they aren't going to cook all the way through.  When both sides are brown, put the semi-cooked burgers onto a baking tray, or better still, a perforated chip/pizza baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the burgers, then pop them into your hot oven for 10-12 minutes until cooked all the way through.

Serve on your ciabatta buns with your choice of accompaniment - we had rustic baked wedges.  I also made a garlic and smoked paprika mayo with 4tbsp mayo, 1 heaped tsp of smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp garlic granules, and I don't mind telling you that it was VERY NICE.

If, like me, you are choc full of whimsy and have small people to feed, you can make mini burgers and cut your rolls into quarters to serve them.  It keeps the snarflings happy, but I draw the line at making happy faces out of their food, so Annabel Karmel - back in yer box.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Pterodactyl for dinner.

My family discovered the wonder that is teriyaki sauce on a self catering holiday in Florida, back when I was in my early teens.  We were all instantly hooked, and very quickly nicknamed it, as tight knit little clans do.  Or maybe they don't, and we're all just a bit weird.  It's nice that we have each other, in that case.  Anyway, Pterodactyl Sauce was born, and Pterodactyl Sauce it will always be, and every summer we will barbecue up some Pterodactyl goodness.  Maybe you have to know us.

From the legend of Pterodactyl, and now cooking for my own family, these tasty skewers were created.  I make my own teriyaki sauce, because it's better than bottled.  This is sweeter than regular teriyaki, to get the requisite stickyness and thick glossy gorgeousness.  Super versatile, they make a delicious midweek family tea, but also barbecue beautifully, and made in large quantities are perfect for gatherings.  The rice dish that I serve alongside can be served hot, or as a cold salad at a barbecue or party.

Sweet Teriyaki Pork Skewers - makes 6-8 skewers

You will need about 8 skewers - I prefer flat metal ones, but you can use wooden, just be sure to soak them thoroughly, especially if you're barbecuing.

1 large mugful of pineapple juice
750g pork, ready cut stir fry strips or tenderloin cut into thin strips
1/2 cupful mirin (sweet rice wine - from Asian section of a large supermarket)
1/2 cupful dark soy sauce (you can use reduced salt version if cooking for little snarflings)
1/2 cupful loosely packed soft brown sugar
1 tbsp oil - groundnut or vegetable, NOT olive.

Cut up your pork, if you need to, or tip your packs of ready cut pork into a bowl.  Pour over the pineapple juice, cover with cling film, and pop in the fridge to marinate for at least 6 hours.

When ready to cook, put the mirin and soy sauce in a pan over a medium heat. When it's warm, tip in the sugar and oil.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat right down and let it simmer, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes.  Turn the oven on to preheat, approximately 190oC/170o fan.

Meanwhile, take your skewers and thread your pork strips onto them.  Curl the strips into C or S shapes depending on length, doubling the strip over on itself to make a neat kebab.  You'll see what I mean from the pictures below.  Lay them onto a baking tray, if you have any scrappy bits that won't thread, just spread them on the tray.  Take your teriyaki sauce, which by now should be thicker and beautifully shiny, and brush/dab liberally all over the pork skewers, both sides.  Dab some on your scrappy bits too.  Those are your chef''s treat.  Keep a little sauce back.

Pop into your preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until they look cooked and are sizzly.  Take them out, baste with the reserved sauce, and return to the oven for 2 minutes.  Or, of course, cook on a barbecue, basting regularly until cooked through.

Prawn fried rice

1.5 cups dry rice of your choosing - I like Basmati or you could try a sticky rice like Thai Jasmine
1 courgette
1 sweet red pointed pepper or regular red bell pepper
1 medium free range egg, well beaten
150g small ready cooked prawns, drained if in brine or defrosted if frozen
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil

Pop your rice on to boil and cook it as per the pack instructions.

Meanwhile, cut your pepper and courgette into very small dice.  Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a wok or large frying pan, and add the pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the courgette.  Cook together for a few minutes more until al dente.  Take your beaten egg and slowly pour into the pan in a thin ribbon, stirring with the other hand all the while, then give a really good stir before throwing in your prawns.  Cook together for 1minute then push the mixture out to the sides and pour the remaining tbsp of oil into the resulting well.  Drain your cooked rice, add your rice to the pan and stir well.  Mix your mirin with the sugar and tip over the rice, stirring well to coat, then turn off the heat and serve immediately.

A note about rice - it's really not a great idea to leave warm rice sitting around growing gakky bacteria at a rapid rate.  SO, either make sure you time your rice to be ready to drain and add immediately to the dish OR cool it immediately by running under cold water and putting in the fridge until ready to use, then giving it a few extra minutes in the pan to reheat until PIPING HOT.  If you go with the second option, any leftover rice CANNOT be reheated, but you may chill it quickly and serve it cold.  If your plan is to serve it cold, I'd suggest cooking and immediately chilling the rice, storing in the fridge, then cooling and refrigerating the vegetable, egg and prawn mix then combining the two and adding the mirin dressing once fully cold.


The raw coated skewers, showing how they're threaded.

And the finished yummers.

Monday, 20 February 2012

My Big Fat Greek Pie.

Something yummy and veggie today, my take on spanakopita, a greek spinach and feta cheese filo pastry pie.  It's delicious warm, especially with minted baby new potatoes, but equally good cold.  It makes fantastic picnic fare and universally pleasing party food.  If you're cooking for actual vegetarians, do check that the feta cheese you choose is suitable for vegetarians. 

This makes two pies if made in quiche dishes - it freezes well unbaked, just cook from frozen adding 8-10 minutes to the cooking time.

Spinach, feta and red pepper pie

500g fresh spinach, washed
400 feta cheese, cubed
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
1 large pot Greek yoghurt
4 eggs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil
6 sheets filo pastry, chilled or frozen variety

Defrost your pastry if using frozen.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chunked red peppers. Cook for a few minutes then add the garlic and dried herbs.  Continue cooking for another few minutes until softened but still holding shape and a little crunch.

Meanwhile, pop the spinach in a bowl and microwave for 4 minutes until wilted.  Add the cooked peppers and cubed feta to the bowl.

In another bowl, mix the yoghurt, three of the eggs and the nutmeg, and beat until smooth.  Mix with the vegetables and cheese.

Take 2 ceramic quiche/pie dishes and line each with greasproof paper,tucking the excess over the sides.  The line each dish with three sheets of filo pastry.  With each sheet, cover the inside of the dish and leave a long 'tail' hanging over the edge, spacing your 'tails' evenly around the dish.  Pile filling into each dish then flip the 'tails' of pastry over the top to encase the filling.  Ruffle them up a bit, to get a gorgeous crunch!

Beat the fourth egg, and brush over the pastry.  Bake in a hot oven - 220, 200 fan - for 20 minutes until golden and crispy on top.

You could also make individual pastries by folding spoonfuls of filling into squares of layered filo and folding into triangles - seal with a little egg before brushing on more to glaze.  They will need less time in the oven than a big pie - 12-15mins.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Can I boi you a poi?

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the lack of photos to accompany this recipe.  I made it to feed a very hungry husband who had been out climbing Pen Y Fan in the snow and he ate it too fast for photo ops.

Pies are fabby warming winter food, and readymade pastry makes them quick and easy.  I don't have the patience to stand and fold and roll my own puff pastry whilst a hungry, wailing toddler attempts to scale my trouser leg, so I make no apologise for my addiction to Jus Rol.  Jus don't buy the new low fat puff one.  It's not 30% less fat, it's 90% less nice. 

The post title is inspired by a friend of mine who shall remain nameless, but knows who she is.  In our young, free, single, drunken days she was once famously chatted up in a 2am chip shop queue by an Australian backpacker who led with the classy "Noice tits luv.  Can I boi you a poi?".  It makes me chuckle every time I make a pie and I am happy to share the mirth.

So, a yummy, creamy, warming chicken pie then?  Of course.

Chicken, mushroom and bacon pie

400g chicken, breast or thigh fillet, chopped
1 small punnet mushrooms, chopped
6 thick rashers smoked bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
approx 2 dessertspoons softened butter or spread
approx 2 dessertspoons plain flour
1 pint chicken stock
1/4 pint milk
tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp chopped garlic (approx 4 cloves)
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
Olive oil

In a large pan, heat a splash of oil and fry off the onions and chopped bacon.  Set aside in a dish.  Repeat and brown the chicken and mushrooms together, cookig for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pop in the dish with the onions.

Return the pan to the heat, melt your butter and add your flour, cooking for a minute or two until the paste starts to turn golden and smells nutty.  Start adding the liquid a bit at a time - milk first, until it's all gone, then start with the stock.  Stir briskly between each addition as the sauce thickens and cooks - keep stirring and lumps will disappear, I promise.  When all the liquid is added, throw in the garlic, pepper and mustard seeds and simmer for about five minutes until thick.  Add in the contents of your bowl of chicken and whatnot, stir together then tip into an ovenproof dish and top with the pastry, cut to size.  Brush with a little milk or beaten egg to glaze and bake for 15-18 minutes in a hot (200, 180 fan) oven until gold and puffed and delicious.  Serve with vegetables of your pleasing.

You'll be pleased to know that the chat up line didn't work, incidentally.  I mean, would you?