Monday, 24 June 2013

Pancake Essentials

You only have to watch any of the TV shows that feature amateur cooks to realise that even those that think they know what they're doing often fall short when it comes to having some of the most basic skills.

Pancakes are a perfect example of this. How to make pancakes is something that anyone can learn quickly and easily, and with a little practice you can get perfect results every time.

Basic Pancake Recipe

In the UK we probably think of pancakes mostly in the form that we traditionally have them on 'pancake day', or Shrove Tuesday, the evening before the period of Lent begins in the run up to Easter. These are usually thin and flat pancakes to which we then add a sweet filling of some kind.

In the United States, however, pancakes usually come thicker and slightly more 'fluffy' and are commonly part of a breakfast or lunch meal, often served with bacon and syrup.

In order to make a pancake you need to know how to make a basic batter. For this you'll need:

100g (4oz) flour (white or wholemeal)
A pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml (1/2 pint) milk
15g (1/2oz) butter, melted
Oil for frying

The preparation time is really short as it only takes five minutes to make the batter and a few minutes to fry a pancake, but for best results you need to allow a couple of hours in between to let the pancake mixture rest.

Method

First of all you must sieve the flour into a bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Then you add the salt and make a small dip or 'well' in the centre of the flour.

Next you add the egg and milk, and as you do so you mix in the flour from the edges of the bowl using a whisk. Soon you will have a smooth batter and then you simply need to add the melted butter and mix a bit more.

For the very best results it is advisable to cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow the mixture to rest in a cool place for 2 hours.

Cooking

Heat a non-stick frying pan and add about 1tsp oil, making sure the pan is not so hot that the oil burns.

Using a ladle or big spoon pour in some of the pancake mixture; turning the pan around as you do so until it is covered with a thin layer.

When bubbles form on top of the pancake, flip it over so that the other side is cooked. If you are making several pancakes you can keep them warm in a low oven whilst you finish the batch.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A VEGETARIAN COOKING HOLIDAY

Traditional annual holidays are normally a short-lived relaxation whereas the benefits of holistic holidays last long after the suntan has faded.
 
Life is busy - fast paced, stressful and generally just a lot crazier than it used to be. Stress has negative effects on our bodies and minds and can ruin our health unless we take occasional breaks from it.

The latest trend in holidays is holistic - holidays where the focus is on the whole, body, mind and spirit.

It is the soul that enlivens all parts of our lives. When we “come home” to the inner peace of our soul, we feel inspired and fulfilled in a way that nothing else can touch. We have more energy, enthusiasm and love to share.

The relaxed atmosphere and safe space which is created by the retreat leaders at Kalikalos, is a perfect opportunity to really re-examine your motivations, goals, and beliefs in life. It is a great environment to become re-acquainted with your self.

Broadening your horizons sounds like an old cliché but has proven to be true. An opportunity to learn something new in a foreign place such as different culinary experiences can contribute to your creativity.

During the Vegetarian Cookery week at Kalikalos, between cooking and lingering over long meals, there’s plenty of time for yourself, to explore and just unwind. Non cooking companions will have plenty to do while you cook. From the earthy character of rural Mt.Pelion to the bliss of the Aegean beaches, there is something to suit all tastes. You are not required to be an expert cook, the course is for enthusiasts and the atmosphere is relaxed, educational and fun.

You just lean into your playful side, have a good time and take home many happy memories.

  • Holistic holidays leave you feeling refreshed and in balance!
  • Our philosophy is simple - great cooking in a great place. Enjoy!

 

EXAMPLES OF GREEK VEGETARIAN RECIPES


TZATZIKI

TzatzikiIngredients

1 cucumber
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon medium wine vinegar
300g full-fat strained Greek yoghurt
100ml extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon finally chopped dill leaves

Method

  • Remove the skin of the cucumber and grate it. (Not finely.)
  • Finely grate the garlic.
  • Salt the cucumber and leave it in a colander for half-an-hour and then drain well.
  • Put it in a bowl with the garlic and the rest of the ingredients.
  • Mix them all well with the help of a fork.
  • Put the dip in a bowl, add salt and decorate it with few dill leaves.


STUFFED AUBERGINES

Stuffed AuberginesIngredients

1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
3/4 cup seeded chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup couscous
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
salt
pepper
100g feta cheese

Method

  • Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and remove the pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch thick shell.
  • Cube the pulp and set the shells and pulp aside.
  • In a large non-stick skillet coated with olive oil, sauté the onion and garlic until onion is tender.
  • Add the mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and eggplant pulp and sauté for a further 4 - 6 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, couscous, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for a further 1 minute.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the eggplant shells and sprinkle with the feta cheese.
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake at 180°C for 20 - 25 minutes or until shells are tender.


CHICKPEA SALAD

Chickpea SaladIngredients

Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
Fresh parsley
Pepper
100g halved fresh cherries
1 Cucumber cut in chunks
1 cup of chickpeas soaked overnight, boiled for an hour and peeled
100g feta cheese cut into small chunks

Method

  • Add the vinegar, oil, parsley, salt, pepper and cherries in a large bowl.
  • Mix everything together.
  • Add the cucumber, chickpeas and cheese.
  • Toss to coat everything

LOUKOUMADES

LoukoumadesIngredients

1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (for yeast)
5 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
warm water
1 cup honey
1 cup water
Cinnamon
Oil for frying

Method

  • Dissolve yeast in water and let set for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Sift flour and salt together.
  • Make a hole in flour and pour in yeast mixture.
  • Mix gently while continuously adding warm water until a soft, sticky dough is formed.
  • Cover dough with clean, damp dishcloth.
  • Let dough double in size.
  • Heat oil in deep fryer.
  • Use a tablespoon to drop batter into hot oil.
  • When batter floats and is golden and puffy, remove to drain on paper towel.
  • Pour honey over hot loukoumades and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Natalie Di Giuseppe

Recipes from Natalie Di Giuseppe, Cookery week leader

To find out more about the Vegetarian Cooking Holiday
visit www.hub-uk.com

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Shortchanging - You lose!

I do not usually subscribe to conspiracy theories, but there are times the weight of evidence can certainly make me consider that something is happening. As I wrote recently, when I paid the bill with cash at the Fairmount, Copley, Oak Long Bar + Kitchen I did not get my change. I realized later that adjusting the tip to take care of the loss was a mistake. I should have stiffed the waiter. After all he just robbed me. It does not make sense to tip your robber.

But this sort of behavior has been going on for too many years. I would suggest it started many years ago when there was an increase in the cost of coffee. The packers took care of the problem by decreasing the pound tin of coffee to what I recall as 13 ounces. Recently a quick review in a local supermarket indicated it is now 12 ounces. For many years I have noted that my favorite tuna fish-Genoa Brand in olive oil-had shrunk from 7 ounces as I remember to 5 ½ ounces. Yesterday I noted the can was at 5 ounces. My favorite tin of Steel Cut oatmeal has gone from a 28 ounces to a round paper box at 24 ounces. Then of course there are the canned products such as beans and tomatoes. The pound cans have shrunk from the usual 16 ounces to as low as 15 ounces and I think I saw one at 14.5 ounces. This is not only irritating, but also it can be a real issue for amateur cooks who feel they need two cans to make up the pound rather than live with the reduced amount. I have not mentioned prices because most of my life I had to meet a menu requirement and paid the asking price.

At Christmas I make Pamelas (candied grapefruit rinds) as a gift for friends. This year when I picked up a 5 pound bag of sugar it seemed light. I stopped and checked the weight. The new 5 pound bag is down to 4 pounds. I thought it might be just the brand, but no, it was on all the brands on the shelf. When I told a friend she was most disappointed because she had used it to calibrate her scale and was pleased with her weight loss until she learned the difference.

I started to think of the ways some firms feel free to pick our pockets. When self-serve gasoline stations first came on the scene it was to provide a discount to those willing to fill their own tanks. Shortly that turned around and full serve customers were now paying a premium. The number of people put out of work for this little turnabout has to be in the millions. Other companies caught onto the scheme and so you are asked to check yourself out. It saves you time they say until you get behind someone who does not handle things like this well especially when I am buying a large amount of food. More importantly it takes work from the people who need it most and they do not even give you a discount.

I wish I could suggest a cure for this rampant thievery, but none comes to mind. What do you suggest?

Terence Janericco
www.terencejanericcocookingclasses.com

Chef Terence Janericco started working for a caterer in his youth and has been involved in creating fine food ever since. He has taught not only in his school but in schools across the country, including Newbury College and Boston University. He is Boston-based and for over thirty years has taught people to cook better for themselves and their friends, either through his day or evening classes in the congenial home environment of his cooking school in historic Bay Village, in the heart of Boston, or during the summer months at a seaside cottage in Maine.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Dinner

It is approaching that time of year again when many of us get nervous about cooking the Christmas Dinner. For most Christmas Dinner is still the traditional turkey and because it is often only cooked once a year there is a tendency to be nervous, some would say with good cause. Turkey is bigger than anything we cook during the rest of the year and of course to make it a special meal there are loads of vegetables and extras like bread sauce and stuffing.

I have had my own share of disaster over the years. Perhaps the most memorable was when the oven stopped working with still an hour of cooking time left. Looking into a hot oven for the cause was not an option so the bird was quickly jointed and finished in the microwave. Not at tasty as it might have been but at least Christmas Dinner arrived on the table ready to eat. It was only a few days later when examining the oven before calling out an engineer that the problem became apparent – fat from the turkey had been spilling out on to the gas burner and had extinguished the gas. As the oven cooled the gas started to solidify in the burner stopping it being reignited. A quick blast with a blowtorch and the problem was solved . . . but to late for Christmas Dinner. The moral is, use a roasting pan that is big enough to hold your Turkey and if there is too much liquid building up then pour some off!

But enough of disasters! Hub-UK has previously published a guide on How to cook a Roast Turkey which is well worth reading if you are at all nervous and need help in planning what has to be done. However it is often easier to learn by watching rather than reading and here is a video guide by Chef Phil Vickery, courtesy of www.britishturkey.co.uk, showing how easily a turkey can be cooked but additionally showing how easily it can be carved.

And if that is the turkey sorted what about your ham? Cooking your own gammon joint could not be easier and everything you need to know will be found in the article How to cook a Gammon Joint.

Christmas Presents?

Turn your thoughts to what to buy the cook in your life for a Chritsmas present.

John Saturnall's Feast
by Lawrence Norfolk

This is not a cooking or recipe book and nor is it written by a chef! Something a little bit different. This is a story of Seventeenth century life, love and war, the story of an orphan who becomes the greatest cook of his age.

Based before and during the English Civil War the book paints a picture of English life of the time. It might be described as a historical romance but that would be misleading as there is far more about the rise of a young boy to be a great chef of his time than there is romance. The romance is just an integral part of the story.

As a fan of historical novels, especially by writers such as Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Simon Scarrow, I was rather dubious about even reading John Saturnall's Feast. It certainly was nothing like the stories those authors tell and for the first few chapters, when John Saturnall is young, I struggled. Once having committed myself to a book I always try to finish it, as was the case here, but I was not disappointed by my perseverance as once things got going I kept turning pages wanting to know what happened next.

One of the reviews on Amazon (by K Mayfield) perhaps best describes the book:

Lawrence Norfolk's elegantly written JOHN SATURNALL'S FEAST is utterly captivating. An interest in history or the 17th century is not necessary to become completely swept away by the story - a testament to Norfolk's magic. One needs only a desire to read a beautifully constructed story of a boy who desperately struggles to stay alive in his young life. He is the boy who emerges from a tragedy in ancient woods only to be thrown into the kitchen of Buckland Manor where he must earn the right to use his talent. We cheer him on as he labours to become the greatest chef, to create the most complicated and magnificent dish, to oversee the most important feast. John Saturnall is the boy who becomes a man in the face of another struggle for the love a forbidden woman and their survival amidst his enemies and the backdrop of the Civil War.

So if you have bought cooking books as a present in the past and are looking for something cooking related but a little different then this is the answer.

To order from Amazon: John Saturnall's Feast

Kitchin Suppers
by Tom Kitchin

What grabbed me about this offering from a chef was it purports to be what he cooks at home . . . Tom Kitchin, takes us into his home kitchen and shows us the food he cooks for friends and family when away from his Edinburgh restaurant, The Kitchin.

I am sure he does cook some good meals at home but I doubt he cooks meals like these every night. Having said that, and regardless of whether it is touted as his home cooking just as a marketing ploy, it has some great looking and interesting recipes. Whilst many require quite a number of ingredients and work, the recipes do look worthwhile trying. Sadly I am yet to find a spare moment to try anything being too concerned with my own simpler home cooking.

The book is also another fine example of the fine food photography produced for cooking books in this country. If they were a little bigger you could remove them from the book, frame them and have some great pictures to hang on your kitchen or dining room wall. The photographs were by Laura Edwards.

Certainly a book I though was worthwhile adding to my collection.

"The Scottish chef presents delicious recipes that are affordable as well as achievable. From quick suppers to ideas for casual entertaining and the beloved Sunday roast, he shows how to get great results using clever combinations and seasonal ingredients. Recipes like smoked salmon & pea frittata showcase his simple yet beautiful food." ~ Good Food Magazine, October 2012

To order from Amazon: Kitchin Suppers

Memories of Gascony
by Pierre Koffmann

Unfortunately I have not had time to do anything other than quickly browse the pages of this new book but from what I have seen, and the few snippets I have read, I am looking forward to a thoroughly enjoyable read. This is not the usual book churned out on the celebrity chef conveyor belt making it much more appealing and hopefully I will learn a lot more from it how a great chef came to be a great chef. For now I will have to settle for what Amazon has published on its site.

"Almost every decent chef I can think of learned most of what he knows from Pierre" ~ Giles Coren, The Times.

"Pierre is one of the world's great, instinctive chefs" ~ Heston Blumenthal

Pierre Koffmann's Memories of Gascony is the story of how one of the most influential chefs of our time first learned to love food. With recipes and reminiscences from his grandparents' home in rural Gascony, this is an intimate account of school holidays spent on the farm helping his grandfather to harvest and hunt, and learning to treasure seasonality, simplicity and the best ingredients at his grandmother's side.

The finest of Gascony produce is here, with a focus on simplicity. The recipes stand the test of time and speak to the food tastes and trends of today. While you read the charming stories of everyday life on the farm, you'll devour the cuisine as you go along - dandelion salad with bacon and poached egg, grilled chicken with shallots and vinaigrette, and greengages in armagnac in Spring; chicken liver pate with capers, Bayonne ham tart with garlic, oeufs a la neige in Summer; roast hare with mustard and beetroot, salt cod cassoulet and quince jelly in Autumn; and fried eggs with foie gras, potato and bacon pie and tarte aux pruneaux in Winter.

This is a book to learn, love and live from.

To order from Amazon: Memories of Gascony

Spanish Terracotta Casseroles

Spanish terracotta casseroleThink Spanish terracotta and the humble ‘cazuela’ may spring to mind however there is far more to cooking in clay than the cazuela - meet one of the giants of the Spanish terracotta cookware world, the Spanish Casserole. Terracotta cookware is produced in so many shapes and sizes the range is mind-boggling, the cazuela for example can be made as small as 6cm (ideal for tapas) up to the substantial 46cm example which needs four handles as it becomes somewhat heavy when filled with a bake or a Spanish roast fit for 15 people!

Where a little depth is required the terracotta casserole (sometimes known as an ‘Olla’) is a prime example of where the Spanish producers tailor their cookware to accommodate big family affairs. Big family casserole dishes can be as large or even larger than the domestic kitchen sink!, generally cooking food in such items is done over a wood fire or large gas burner for which the casserole is perfect as well as being suited to the oven. Big terracotta casseroles mean big appetites, family, friends, atmosphere and the whole Mediterranean experience… Never let it be said that the Spanish can’t create a substantial meal!

Big terracotta cookware comes in a range of guises, the ‘Olla’ casserole with lid, the ‘perol’ which can reach a capacity of 9ltrs or more, the ‘Paellera’ which when full can feed six or more persons and of course the giant terracotta cazuela. Depending on the type of meals you intend to make and if your kitchen (or indeed garage) has the space to store one then a terracotta casserole of larger size is certainly a good investment and will stand the test of time as well as creating a great centerpiece.

Plenty of friends and a giant terracotta casserole for Halloween or Bonfire night full of a delicious chowder or beef stew… Delicious!

Spanish Terracotta Cookware >>>

Turkey Chorizo and Bean Casserole

Someone who has a particular talent for presenting videos showing you how to cook a recipe is Phil Vickery. Here he shows how to cook a casserole showcasing Turkey with kidney beans, chorizo and vegetables.

With winter upon us and the nights getting murkier and colder there is nothing better than a warming winter casserole to make everyone feel good . . . and warm them up. With Phil Vickery to show you how you can’t go wrong. Here he shows the versatility of turkey by combining Turkey with beans, chorizo and vegetables in an easy to make dish.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp oil, any will do
500g British turkey thigh, diced
150g chorizo, ¼ cm sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 x 400g can tomatoes
1 x 400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp vinegar
roughly ½ pint strong chicken stock (or use turkey stock if you have it)
2 tbsp cornflour blended with a little water (optional)

How to make:

  • Turkey with beans, chorizo and vegetablesPreheat the oven to 180°C / Gas 6.

  • Heat the oil in a large pan or casserole and add the turkey to brown slightly.

  • Add the chorizo and tomato puree and stir well.

  • Add all the vegetables, bay leaves, kidney beans and sugar.

  • Tip in the canned tomatoes, vinegar, a little salt and pepper and the stock.

  • Stir well.

  • Cover and cook in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes.

  • Once cooked remove from the oven and remove the lid, bring to a gentle simmer and then thicken with a little cornflour and water if required.

  • Serve with mash, rice, pasta or couscous.

Tip:

If you prefer you can use turkey breast instead of thigh in this recipe. This dish can also be cooked on the hob on a gentle simmer for the same length of time.

www.britishturkey.co.uk