Hello September! It appears I’ve been a total blog slacker through August… I blame it entirely on my palette having an Autumnal if not downright Winter bent, and my cooking preferences with it. Which means it’s just about time for me to start cooking up a storm here again 🙂 So for the first time in ages, I spent a whole day in the kitchen happily testing new recipes, much to Hubby (aka The Chief Taster!)’s delight!
To get the blog ball rolling again I’m going to start with the good old sausage roll, but with a twist.
I’m lucky to have the most awesome butcher, Crombies, at the end of my street whose sausages are seriously in a different league to supermarket-bought. And not just the quality of the sausages but the wonderful variety of different flavours, they really do have one to suit every mood 🙂 So when I saw this recipe with its oriental flavouring I knew that no ordinary sausage would do and got myself down to Crombies on Friday morning (before work no less!). Sure enough, they had a batch with ginger and mango that sounded perfect.
Sausage rolls are my buffet downfall, posh or ‘narsty’ they always seem to hit the spot. And Christmas isn’t Christmas without at least one batch of them to snack on while watching Love Actually (don’t judge me!). But Christmas is a little while away still… so when I found this recipe on the Good Food channel’s website the Thai twist gave me a perfect excuse to indulge myself out of ‘season’.
I was not disappointed!
These have a deliciously spicy hit which marries really nicely with the fresh coriander, and the crushed peanuts add a lovely crunchy texture to the otherwise flakey buttery pastry. I can totally see me rustling up a batch of these to serve with drinks the next time I have friends round for an Oriental supper. Or for hubby ‘just because’ if he asks me nicely, which he always does 😉
1-2 tbsp Thai red curry paste, depending on how much spice you like (we found 1.5 tbsp perfect)
1 large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
375g ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
butter or oil for greasing
chilli dipping sauce, to serve
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
Other stuff you’ll need…
waxy baking parchment
food processor, or a ziploc bag and a rolling pin
CSI style vinyl gloves!
Stuff to do first…
Put the oven on to 190C/Gas Mark 5 and grease a baking sheet with a little oil. Put the peanuts in the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped OR pop in a ziploc bag, zip up, and bash to bits with the rolling pin for a bit of stress relief 😉
Lay the pastry out flat on a lightly floured surface, or waxy baking parchment, and cut horizontally right down the middle so that you have two long strips. Mix together the egg yolk and milk to make an egg wash, then brush the far border of the pastry with a little of the egg wash.
Put about a third of the smashed peanuts in the mixing bowl. Add the Thai red curry paste and coriander to the bowl and then snap on the CSI gloves! Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut a slit up the length of the sausage skin and then poke all the sausagemeat out into the bowl too. Get your hands stuck in and mix it all up until everything is combined.
Divide the sausage meat mixture in half and shape each piece into a long, thin sausage, the length of the pastry. Put one in the middle of each pastry strip, then roll the pastry away from you and up and over to seal in the sausage meat. Roll the whole thing over so the sealed edge is underneath.
(If you’re making these ahead of time they can now be kept in the fridge for 24 hours, lightly covered with cling film, or they can even be frozen for up to 3 months and defrosted before cooking.)
Use a sharp knife to cut into bite-sized sausage rolls, discarding the pastry ends, and score a couple of slits in the top of each one. Lift them carefully onto the greased baking sheet and brush with the remaining egg wash before scattering over the remaining crushed up peanuts.
Pop in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 20–30 minutes until cooked through and golden.
Serve warm with lime wedges and lashings of chilli dipping sauce, and bask in the adulation of your loved ones!
Marmalade on toast is one of my favourite things for breakfast, which is odd since I’m really not a fan of oranges and rarely, if ever, eat them. Marmalade, however, I will scoff down quite merrily and any way I can – it makes a cracking sticky sweet glaze for cocktail sausages, an awesome steamed sponge pudding (it is the signature dish at The Three Chimneys on Skye and is deservedly legendary!) and thanks to this recommendation from my friend Ali B, marmalade also makes for an incredibly moreish ice cream flavour!
Legend has it that its name comes to us via Mary Queen of Scots, whose seasickness during her crossing from France to Scotland prompted her maids to cry “Ma’am est malade” and have the chef whip her up some of his sugary quincy seasickness cure. I do believe this has been soundly debunked though… 😉
But I digress. Back to marmalade ice cream, another perfectly Summery recipe! I’ve adapted this from Claire Kelsey’s recipe as printed in The Metro a couple of weeks ago. Her version uses wholemeal bread and dark brown sugar to be the ‘toast’ to the marmalade, but the friend who tipped me off to this recipe used jamaica ginger cake instead, and I have to say the ginger marmalade combo is simply phenomenal, so that’s the way I’m blogging it.
If you’re looking to try making your own ice cream then this is a great recipe to start with as it doesn’t require an ice cream maker or any churning, just fold it and freeze it 🙂 The toughest thing you’ll have to do is decide if you’re going to go with shreds or without. The correct answer is, obviously, with! And one last thing, because it’s a no-churn ice cream the longer it’s in the freezer the more ice crystals will grow on it, so eat it quickly before it loses its creamy texture – trust me, this will not be difficult…
Makes 1 litre
Marmalade Ice Cream
Citrusy ice cream with zingy ginger cake bits that just needs folding and freezing (no ice cream maker necessary).
Preheat the oven to 170C. While it’s heating up, crumble the cake into coarse breadcrumbs that resemble rubble. Spread the crumbs on to a baking tray pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until they are crisp but not hard – you’re aiming for them to provide a lovely crunchy contrast to the smooth ice cream. Set them aside until they’re cool.
Then… make a meringue by whisking the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl. When they start to form soft peaks, add the icing sugar and continue to whisk for another minute until they turn glossy. Stop before the meringue becomes stiff.
In your largest mixing bowl, mix the marmalade into the double cream, then whisk into soft peaks. Again, stop before it becomes too firm, otherwise you won’t be able to fold your mixtures together.
Use a spatula or a very big spoon to add a little of the meringue to the marmalade and cream, and fold in, turning the bowl are you go. Then add the rest of the meringue into the bowl still using a folding motion. The idea is to retain as much air as possible in the mix.
Lastly, scatter the cooled ginger cake crumbs over the top and repeat the folding and turning, mixing the crumbs through the cream.
Put the mixture in a tub, cover and freeze overnight. This is scoopable almost straight from the freezer.
If you want to try it with ‘toast’, use 100g wholemeal bread instead of the Jamaica Ginger Cake, crumble into breadcrumbs and mix with 70g dark brown sugar before baking as above.
Adapted from Claire Kelsey, Marmalade on Toast Ice Cream
Adapted from Claire Kelsey, Marmalade on Toast Ice Cream
My newly discovered love of cod continues! So far I’ve only been brave enough to eat it after I’ve popped it in a sauce, but cod has this amazing buttery flavour even when buried under a tomato sauce or a curry sauce that I just knew could stand up all on its own without too much fussing. I was right 🙂 As far as simple suppers go, and Summer suppers too, it really does not get much simpler than this, or tasty, helped by a generous squeeze of caramelised lemon. I’m sure that cooking this in butter isn’t the healthiest option but the butter is just for the pan, and helps the cod get those lovely brown bits from frying.
This is another one of those starter recipes that has a wealth of flexible possibility. You can pimp it up with some crushed garlic, or herbs, and it goes great with mash or couscous or a side of spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, olive oil and chilli).
My problem with fish was never knowing when it was cooked. It’s not like chicken or meat that changes colour, white fish is white when it’s raw and still white when it’s cooked. Not very helpful for a fish novice… I’ve found that about 10 minutes total does the job, and when the cod flakes easily with a fork then you’re definitely good to scoff.
The other thing that put me off cooking fish for so long is the smell, and being convinced that how it smells will be how it tastes. My mum taught me her trick, which is to pat as much of the moisture off the fish with kitchen paper, and it works like a charm. Alternatively (or if you’re really cautious like me then in addition!) lightly salt the fish and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and that should draw the excess moisture out. Doing either or both of these, and eating it on the day you bought it, will stop the cod from tasting bad fishy, I promise.
I personally prefer cod to other white fish, it’s so wonderfully inoffensive if you’re not a fishy fish fan, and loins to fillets, they’re fatter and tend to be more uniform throughout so easier to get an even cook. Don’t cut your pieces too small, bite sized is bad, or else they’ll flake apart in the pan. And if your loin has a pretty side and a not so pretty side, cook the pretty side first so that when you dish up it’s the side that faces up. Food is as much about the looking good as the tasting good 🙂
Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons
Fresh flaky buttery cod that needs nothing more than a squeeze of caramelised lemon.
500g cod loin, cut into pieces about a hand’s length
3 tbsp cooking oil
1-2 tbsp salted butter
chicken powder – optional
1 lemon, halved
Lightly salt the side you’re going to cook first. If you have chicken powder then lightly sprinkle that over the fish loins too.
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until it starts to bubble – using an oil/butter combo stops the butter from burning if the heat gets too high – and then place the fish pieces down, salted side first. Then add the lemon halves to the pan, cut side down.
After five minutes, gently lift a piece of fish to check if it’s got some lovely brown bits going on before flipping it over (invest in a fish slice, honestly!) and leaving for another five minutes, or until the cod flakes easily with a fork.
Dish up with a caramelised lemon half on the side for squeezing all over, and enjoy 🙂
I may have mentioned this before (!) but I suck at summer food, and I suck at lunchtime inspirations. They are my nemesis… or should that be nemisi? Regardless, I have finally, found something that ticks both the summer food and the lunch food boxes, and is so easy to make that it isn’t technically ‘cooking’, more like ‘mixing’ 🙂 Couscous! Did I mention that it’s ridiculously easy, like so-easy-its-a-crime-to-buy-it-ready-made, and takes next to no time to throw together? Both big plusses in my book, especially in this very un-Scottish heatwave when who in their right mind would want to spend any more time in a hot kitchen than they need to?
As well as being a great lunchtime option (it’s an awesome side to quiche) I’ve found that couscous makes a nice alternative to rice in the Summer when you’re having something that isn’t heavy on the sauce, like a bit of pan fried cod with lemon and garlic butter or some leftover roast chicken all torn up and tossed in a wee bit of tzatziki. Or wrap it up with hummus and some greenery for some portable noms!
So this is my base recipe, once these ingredients are in place anything goes really, like chargrilled veggies (courgettes and aubergines especially lend themselves well to this), or sunblush tomatoes instead of fresh, or coriander as your herb of choice, or plump raisins soaked in pomegranate molasses, toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, go fruity and use orange zest and juice instead of lemon, pretty much whatever takes your fancy. No two versions need ever be quite the same, which isn’t a bad thing 🙂
A back to basics couscous that is packed full of lovely summer flavours.
3 inch long piece of cucumber, skinned and finely diced
fresh mint or parsley, chopped
olive or rapeseed oil
In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the couscous and stock, cover with clingfilm and leave for about 15 minutes. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil and fluff with a fork – the olive oil will keep the couscous from clumping together. Add everything else and mix well. Chuck it back in the fridge, covered, to let all the flavours infuse and blend, and that is it!
It doesn’t hurt to refresh it with a wee bit more olive/rapeseed oil before you’re going to tuck in, but otherwise keep it covered in the fridge and it should last you 2-3 days. And on the off chance that there’s still some left and in danger of going to waste, mix it with some flour and egg and fry yourself up some couscous cakes 🙂
I’m always complaining that I lack inspiration for lunches. Weekdays are worse because it has to be packable for Hubby, but even for weekends I struggle to come up with something that requires a wee bit more effort that doesn’t end up feeling like a dinner meal. Which is why I generally try to conspire to be in charge of suppers at the weekend 😉 and leave the lunches to Hubby, who always has better ideas for it than me anyway. Like this! It’s such a perfect summer lunch – the puff pastry base makes it much much lighter than a pizza, the abundance of tomatoes makes it really fresh, and there’s no slaving over a flame in this heat (yes, even in Scotland!) as you just pop the whole thing in the oven.
We’ve tried this with big fat vine tomatoes and with little sweet cherry tomatoes, and it’s good either way or using a mix of both. And as we’re right in the middle of the British tomato season you can literally have your pick of them 🙂
We’re really lucky in that we have access to some fabulous tommies either from our local, Real Foods on Broughton Street, or if we pop up to the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market on a Saturday the amazing selection from the peeps at Clyde Valley Tomatoes.
As well as struggling for lunchtime ideas I also suck at ‘Summer’ food, which is why the blog has been a wee bit quiet recently… But I’ve been trying a few new things out though so will hopefully be back to posting a little more regularly!
Easy Summery Tomatoey Tart
A Summery alternative to pizza, loaded with sweet seasonal tomatoes.
chilli infused rapeseed oil (we used Supernature’s) (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Line your baking tray with baking parchment before drizzling some olive oil over it and smearing it over the parchment with your fingers (or some kitchen roll) until the oil is fairly evenly spread. Unfurl the puff pastry sheet and centre it on the parchment. Score a 1 inch/2.5cm border around the edge of the pastry without cutting all the way through. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes, or per the instructions on the box, which give you more than enough time to slice up the tomatoes and…
…make up the sauce, by combining the tomato puree, ketchup, garlic, balsamic, sugar, salt and pepper, and Magi (if using) and mix well – you’re wanting the sauce to have a paste-like consistency. Spread the sauce all over the pastry, taking care to keep it all within the border (otherwise the border won’t rise up).
Drain the mozzarella, tear it into small chunks and then scatter evenly over the sauce. Scatter the diced red onions over the cheese. Tear the parma ham (we found thirds worked well) and dot these all over the sauce. Finally, lay a generous spread of tomato slices on top and then season the lot with salt and pepper.
Brush the border of the pastry with milk to glaze and then pop into the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the pastry border has risen up and is a lovely golden brown. Before serving, scatter some torn up basil over the tart. Hubby says to get the best flavour from fresh basil, tear them from the stems and lightly clap the leaves between your hands a few times to release the oils, and then tear into smaller pieces. Alternatively, frozen pre-chopped basil works really well too – I don’t know about you but there’s always way too much basil in a packet for me to actually ever finish so being able to grab a handful out of the freezer makes me not twitch about food waste!
Finally, drizzle all over with a bit of olive or rapeseed oil before slicing and serving. We are big fans of Supernature’s lovely chilli infused rapeseed oil which compliments all those lovely tomatoes while adding a subtle kick to the whole thing.