Monthly Archives: September 2013

Nigel Slater’s Corn Fritters

I like corn.
We don’t eat a lot of it for ages, and then we go mental for it. Generally we go caveman on it soaked in butter and salt and pepper, but when I made these fritters I fancied corn in a different way. Different corn. I needed to freshen up my relationship with corn and didn’t want to get kinky with online adverts for threesomes or whatever.

Nigel Slater fondles his food in a slightly uncomfortable way but tends to manage to get a bit of delicious happening with the straightforward recipes. It was a gamble to make these for me as the boyfriend Doesn’t Do Egg unless in baking. I think it was prob too eggy for him but I thought they were delicious.

Also, they’re cooked in butter so that’s always a win.

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Gather:-

2 heads of corn

salt and pepper

1 egg

1 heaped tablespoon of self raising flour

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Using a sharp knife slice the kernels from the cob. I always find doing this particularly satisfying and have yet to figure out why.

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Throw the kernels into a bowl and add seasoning, the egg yolk and the flour. Mix.

Whisk your egg whites till they reach soft peaks.

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Mix the egg whites into the corn mix, gently, with a metal spoon.

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Melt a good knob of butter in a frypan you trust, and glop a bit of the mix. I think this made a total of 6 good-sized fritters.

Let cook for 2-3 mins or so.

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Flip and cook a little more.

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I’ve been practicing how to be a good parent. I think I’m doing really, really well.

Anyway below is the finished product. We ate it with steak and greens. Was good.  Be nice over a salad with some saucy relish.

II must away. According to my diary today I’m up in the Perth hills despite, as I type this, standing barefoot in my London kitchen wearing a filthy apron and wondering where my passport is.

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Ottolenghi’s Blueberry Crumble Muffins

I’m so freaking amazing this blog post will load at the same time as I am boarding a giant illogical A380 which will, I hope, take me to Dubai. From Dubai I’ll board a much less comfortable Boeing for the long trip to Perth. All with NewHuman being angelic, non-pooing, non-crying and generally being brilliant. I’ve never been a believer in the power of mantras and I am remarkably relaxed about doing long-haul with a baby, but nevertheless I am repeating the angelic thing to myself quite often.

I’m writing this as the previously posted biscuits are cooking. I made these muffins a couple of weeks ago. Four are in the freezer to keep the boyfriend going during my absence, the rest were eaten poste haste.  They are BEASTS, massive things, totally delicious.

Obviously as they are Ottolenghi it’s a bit of a faff to make them. He’s a pain in the ass.

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Preheat your oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3.

Line your muffin trays with paper cases.

Then you’ll want a crapload of ingredients:-

540g plain flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 free range eggs

340g caster sugar (I used 300g)

140g unsalted butter, melted

380ml milk

grated zest of 1 lemon (I didn’t use, couldn’t be arsed)

1 granny smith apple, cut into a 1cm dice

200g fresh blueberries, and a few extra 

for the crumble:

150g plain flour

50g caseter sugar

100g cold butter, cut into small cubes

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Make the crumble by putting the ingredients in a bowl and blending with your fingers. We’ve been here before, talking about how to make crumble. Just do it.

In another bowl sift together (and by sift I mean I chucked them all in and whazzed with a whisk) the flour, baking powder and salt.

In ANOTHER BLOODY BOWL (a bigger one) whisk together the eggs, sugar and melted butter – you need to make sure the butter isn’t too hot unless you want scrambled eggs. You don’t really want scrambled eggs in your muffins.  Whisk in the milk and lemon zest, if using, and then fold in the fruit. Gently, Ottolenghi says.

Whatever.

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Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and fold together VERY GENTLY VERY GENTLY making sure you stir enough to combine BUT NO MORE DON’T OVERMIX GODSAKE.

Ottolenghi says it should be lumpy and rough. I have often been lumpy and rough.

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Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases – it’ll fill them up a lot. It’s meant to.

Generously cover with the crumble topping, adding a few extra blueberries. I wasn’t able to let go completely with the blueberry sprinkling, you’ll note.  Bit of an OCD fail, that.

Into the oven for 30-35 minutes.

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I’ve been fairly vocal about being pleased NewHuman arrived in the spring and summer months here but I even I, a hard-hearted and non-maternal type, will admit to being somewhat pleased by the level of cute achieved in wrapping him in various layers of fleece now that the cooler weather is en route.

Right – check your muffins – if a skewer comes out clean they’re done. Take them out of the tin and let cool.

Eat. They’re massive. MASSIVE. They will also make you massive.

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Zeke’s Pesto & Veg Pasta

So I am in the very fortunate position of having five nephews. They are all ace and all handsome and all smart and, most importantly, all funny.  Zeke is the youngest. He was the biggest, roundest, cheekiest baby I can remember knowing. I am a shit aunt because (i) I live thousands of miles away from them, (ii) I never send stuff for their birthdays or xmas on time, and (iii) actually no, that’s enough reasons why. I’m hoping to pay them back for being this shit by providing an ongoing accommodation option here in London for when they inevitably (and hopefully) start to explore the world after high school/uni. I will be Cool Aunt.

Meanwhile, Zeke has provided us with a blog to share with you all. It’s his pesto and veg pasta. Pesto made from scratch, people of the internet. When I was Zeke’s age I think I was pretty adept at making peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and chocolate rough slice, maybe. He’s far ahead of me.

NewHuman and I are off to Australia on Tuesday morning. I’ve been sorting some posts to upload whilst I’m away but that’s all utterly dependent on me getting my shit together and typing them up.  It’s like blog lotto. Wait and see if you get lucky…

Right. Gather:-

Basil –  big bunch
Garlic –  1 clove
Olive oil – few tablespoons
Toasted Pine nuts
Parmesan – couple tablespoons
Salt & pepper to taste
Sundried tomatoes – chopped
Chorizo – sliced
Mushroom – sliced
Pasta mini spirals

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Toast your pine nuts. (Zeke hasn’t provided me with text for this bit but going by the pics he does it in the oven. I’m sure, were he doing the typing, he’d recommend you be very careful not to let them burn and go all bitter).

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Stuff all the basil into a food processor. Go on.

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Add olive oil.

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Blitz the basil toasted pine nuts and Parmesan with the garlic and the olive oil or uses a mortar n pestle!

#armworkout!

Hey presto there’s ya pesto!

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Slice up your chorizo and sundried tomatoes.

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Check on your pesto.

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Put the water on to boil the pasta and slice and cook ya veggies and then throw in the chorizo cook for a few mins

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Some serious water boiling and veg cooking going on here.

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Add the good stuff.

When pasta is ready stir it through the cooked veg and chorizo then dollop the pesto on the top serve with some additional pine nuts and a basil sprig!
Zeke thinks this is pretty tops and he’s right!

Enjoy!

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Frozen Fruit Crumble Slice Thingy

This is from a little book called ‘Cakes and Bakes’. If you google that you’ll get a million results, none of which are the book. Good luck.

I’ve also adapted it somewhat, as the book has this with fresh apple and frozen blackberry. I’ve gone all revolutionary with total frozen fruits and no apple and peach instead and all kinds of berries. Probably illegal.

Autumn has arrived in the UK and I Must Not Complain Because We Had a Good Summer. That’s the British approach. Mine is rather more ‘why should we be grateful for summer being summery?’ alongside a heartfelt gratefulness that we did, in fact, get some serious sunshine.

Myself and NewHuman are off to Aus in a couple of weeks, where I shall farm him around to various rellos and sit back, relaxing with a tea or a booze whilst he can cop a go at being the traditional unrelenting focus of attention. I am quite looking forward to the rest. The boyfriend will, no doubt, spend three weeks mourning our absence by undertaking a serious regime of sleeping in, eating pizza and playing Skyrim whilst wearing only his pants. Have I said that already in another post? It sounds familiar. Either way, it’s true.

Right. Crumble Slice thingy. Is nice.

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Preheat your oven to 180C or so. Get a slice pan, something along the lines of 18cm x 28cm or similar. Grease and line.

Gather:-

200g SR flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

175g butter

150g caster sugar (I think original recipe has more, but this is all I used and it is fine. FINE).

3 eggs (recipe says beaten. I didn’t bother as was using the Kitchen Aid wotsit. Maybe beat your eggs first if you’re doing this all by hand like a proper cook)

Frozen fruit of your choosing. I had peaches and a berry mix.

For the crumble

75g butter

75g muesli (I used the crumbs from the bottom of the muesli container. Oats would do)

75g SR Flour

50g caster sugar

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In a bowl put the crumble makings, and make crumble. Basically smash it all up between your fingertips till it resembles muesli-ish breadcrumbs.

Put to one side.

In your mixer, or by hand if you’re supercook, beat the sugar and butter till light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, alternating with bits of the flour, till all combined. Add the baking powder. There’ll be a light dusting of flour all over your kitchen if you do this with a Kitchen Aid. That’s lovely, seeing as the cleaner won’t be in again for a week … there’s no way I’ll be sweeping anything up before her next visit.

Batter status: done.

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Blob the batter into the lined tin and spread out evenly.

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Layer your fruit on top.

I will, next time (FOR THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME) use about twice as much fruit. I was worried that, being frozen, the fruit would make the cake all soggy. I was wrong. Really wrong. So, more fruit.

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Sprinkle over all the crumble and shove into the oven for something along the lines of 45 mins or until a skewer comes out dry. I turned mine off at 45mins and left it in the oven for a further 5 before taking out.

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Above you’ll see the dog with her dogwalking posse. She looks, as I’ve already said on social media, about 100 times happier there than she ever does with us. Despite this, and despite her costing us yet another £70 after managing to get a stone stuck in a pad, I still love her. A lot. She’s such a pain in the ass.

Take the slice out of the oven when done and let cool, at least most of the way, in the tin.

Remove, slice (I did mine into 12 pieces) and eat with some kind of warm autumnal beverage.

All I notice on the below photo is the rank, disgusting lack of good quality work where the tiles meet the countertop. One day that whole kitchen will die and I will be happy. Possibly even happier than when ShitOven went away. Possibly.

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Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Biscuits with Chocolate Inside

Welcome to your traditional last-minute Sunday-night blog post, released into the interweb ether at a time that is not conducive to baking and, thus, will sink alongside the others to live a lonely and pointless life at the bottom of the cyberspace ocean.

I googled ‘chocolate biscuits’ and found, first up, a recipe for Jamie Oliver’s version that he reckons is fun to make with kids.

These weren’t even fun to make with myself. Boyfriend has described them as ‘a bit dry’ but I think that’s my fault, to be fair, not having had the courage to put in all the chocolate bits I probably should’ve. Ah well. Eat them with coffee.

Here we go. Hold on tight.

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Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5/375F.

Gather:-

140g butter

140g caster sugar

2 free-range egg yolks

255g self raising flour

30g cocoa powder (I didn’t have enough so topped up with the boyfriend’s drinking chocolate)

Good quality choc – I used grown-up 85% – bitter – maybe try milk or white or plain.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale. I didn’t  wait probably long enough. DOESN’T MATTER.  Add the egg yolks (if you’re using a mixer, after this stage swap the whisk for the other one. Not the dough hook, the other one.  No idea what it’s called).  After you’ve changed the mixer thingy add the cocoa and flour.  Mix.

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It’s a dry dough. Tip it out onto a surface…actually I should tell you JO says to fridge it a bit first.  I couldn’t be bothered.

Tip it out onto a floured surface and knead a bit till it comes together. It’ll never come together entirely, lacking the commitment of the truly religious.

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You should be able to get it something along the lines of the above.

Roll about 1/3 out quite thinly and use a 4cm cookie cutter to cut out a heap of circles.  Chuck on a baking sheet, greased and/or lined.  I went with lined.

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Not very regular. I’m not an engineer.

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On the little circles place a square or so of chocolate. Be more generous than I was.

Roll out the rest of the dough and use a 5cm cutter to cut circles, placing them on top of the small chocolatey ones.  I wet a fingertip and ran it round the bottom of the big circles before laying over the small in a likely vain attempt to make things stick.

JO says, and I quote, ‘don’t worry, they are meant to look a bit cracked and rustic’. That’s basically a description of me first thing in the morning. I was unconvinced it was a proper state for a biscuit.

Anyway see above. Dodgy.

Keep going till all the dough is used.  JO says the recipe makes 30. I got 26 and about a palm-full of dough I couldn’t be arsed with and chucked out.

Into the oven for ten minutes.

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NewHuman was rightly suspicious of the appearance of these and preferred to guzzle man-made milk subsitute instead.  Wisdom in one so young.

See below for the finished product. Better looking than you’d expect, considering.  I think they’re quite spare, actually, and rather mature-tasting with the bitter choc inside.  I’m very sophisticated.

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Pizza Bases for the Lazy

We had decided on homemade pizzas prior to the boyfriend heading on the weekly journey to the supermarket. Not homemade to the point of making our own bases, oh no. So pre-made bases were bought.

I was required to take a rather useful afternoon nap (am old, had been out night before, etc and so on) and upon waking and viewing said pre-made pizza bases decided that I just could not, in all good conscience, eat something that resembled a mousepad. So make our own bases we did, in between sorting the baby’s bedtime and the dog’s incessant requests for food.

Bit of research online, obviously, and the usual cobbling together of recipes across allrecipes,com, Jamie Oliver, taste.com.au and so on.  The below was achieved. It was a good result, all told.

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To make enough dough for 4 bases (we froze the dough for two, used two) you must gather:-

500g flour – now ALL the recipes say you must use strong white bread flour, or 00 flour, or whatever. I hadn’t any of that – in fact the boyfriend had to go on a mercy dash to collect more flour (and mozzarella) after my earlier efforts at cooking an Ottolenghi muffin recipe, to be blogged, which called for an insane amount of flour. So, plain bog standard flour was used. Seemed FINE.

1 sachet 7g dry yeast

325ml warm water

Good teaspoon of sea salt. Maldon, obv.

If you fancy, about a dessertspoon of caster sugar, too.

Pre-heat your oven to about 30C (yes, THIRTY) if it’s not that warm inside your house.

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First thing you do is pour the yeast (and sugar, if using) into the warm water, stir it through and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Tip  your flour into a nice mountain on a work surface, one you’ve preferably cleaned a bit beforehand. I had to clear mine of old potatoes, leftover rum and a bottle of disinfectant.

Make a well in the middle, add the salt. So far so tidy.

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It’s at this point you’ll work out whether you made a deep enough well, as you now have to pour the yeasty water into the well and start the whole mixing thing.  Basically, just use a fork to bring the flour into the wet bit, round and round.

Keep going.

Keep going.

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It’ll eventually resemble something like the above.  At this point your fork, ever ambitious, sadly becomes redundant and you must dive in, fingers first.

Just put some flour on your hands and move it about, pushing back and forth, till it becomes all one mass.

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Everyone has their own kneading technique. I don’t know how to describe mine, other than ‘turn, push, pull, turn, push, pull’.  You’re essentially giving the dough a hard time, trying to sort some good behaviour from the gluten and get some spring.

You’ve about ten minutes of kneading ahead of you, so think of something good to mull over.  I went for ‘Contemplation of My Fat Gut Which Magically Won’t Go Away’.  Useful when making something to consume that consists mostly of carbs (base) and fatty goods (topping).

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At five minutes in should get getting smoothish and slightly springy.  You’ll be tempted to stop – it smells yeasty and looks ok.

Don’t stop.

People get all evangelical about yeasty baked goods. I love a good bread, but there is work involved.  Pizza bases are kind of where you can get your Level 1 Yeast Management badge. Go for it.

Keep kneading.

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Ten minutes in it should be nice, smooth, quite springy and happy to sit in a ball shape.

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Into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel (or, as in my case, a mostly clean kind of probably not that clean at all tea towel) and into the oven or a warm place to prove for 30 mins.

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Between dog, NewHuman and Fat Gut I’ve very little lap left. It’s a trial.

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Right, after 30 mins you’ll note your dough has exploded, much like my gut, and springs back to the touch.

It’s quite fun to dig your finger into the thing.  Poor dough.

Turn it out and cut into four equal pieces.  Freeze the bits you’re not going to use immediately.

Stick the oven on to preheat at 250C and chuck in some biscuit trays.

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Roll out your bit of dough as thin as you like.  Actually, pretty much as thin as you’re comfortable going will be optimal – thinner is better here.  STORY OF MY LIFE.

Place onto a piece of foil.

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Layer on your toppings.  Boyfriend made a base sauce of passata, garlic, pepper and bit of sugar, simmered in a pan till reduced and flavourful.  I went for that with mozzarella, speck, capers and basil.  Capers mean I’m sophisticated.

Pop the whole thing, on the foil, into the oven onto the hot hot hot oven tray you’ve had in there.  10-12 mins at most.

Eat.  Is good.

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