Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Leek and Mushroom Risotto.

Get a saucepan of chicken (or veg) stock warm.
In a pan sweat off some chopped leeks in oil. When they are softened and risotto rice (I find half a tea cup is enough for one), and stir around to coat the rice.
Add half a glass of white wine and cook off the alcohol and season.
Adjust the heat and add a small amount of the warm stock. Keep adding small amounts of stock as the rice cooks and absorbs it, stirring regularly.
While the risotto is cooking chop some mushrooms and cook in another pan on a low heat with some garlic until softened.
When the rice is cooked through - around 15-20mins and the last of the stock is just asorbed take off the heat and mix in the mushroom and chopped parsley. Stir in grated parmesan and alow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Spring in January!

Cow Parsley
 Well the first signs of spring are here, yet we are still in mid-winter!!!
I have been noticing cow parsley sprouting everywhere in the last few weeks, which I supose is fairly normal now days when we have a very mild spell in dec/jan as are winter flowering primroses, but yesterday we had our first daffodill come into flower and to top that I have also seen Lords and Ladies (you may know them as Cuckoo Pint) leafs sprouting which I have never seen this early before.

Lords and Ladies

And people still deny global warming!! these kind of things were a rarity twenty or thirty years ago now they are common place almost every winter - spring flowers in january two months too soon and again no "winter" in december!
I also today noticed that the first rhubarb is beginning to sprout - a month too early too.
Daffodills 13.01.13

Big Garden Bird Watch.

On the weekend of the 26/27th January the Royal Society for the Protection of Brids (RSPB) is doing its spring Big Garden Bird Watch.
Anyone can join in and all it entails is an hour of your time logging the birds that appear in your garden and how many. This provides the RSPB with valuable information of population fluctuations etc.
Don't worry if you are not any good at identifying birds as a counting sheet which helps you can be downloaded from their website.
This is one hour of your time which will help wild birds in this country please register and take part using the link below.

Roast Chestnuts

Pierce with a sharp knife (this stops them exploding!).
Place on a chestnut roaster and roast over hot embers turning occasionaly.

Irish Stew.

A classic - very simple and again using a cheap cut slowly cooked with lots of veg.
First chop your lamb neck fillet into bite size pieces  - I use neck fillet as its cheap and fatty, which creates a great broth.
In a stew pot or large saucepan get some veg or lamb stock up to heat.
Brown the meat in a frying pan and add to the stock which should be on a very low heat, allow to cook for a while and remove any scum.
Add chopped carrot and potatoes and season.
I like to vary the size of the potato pieces so the larger ones cook slowly at the same time as the carrot and the smaller ones break up and thicken the stock.
Add thyme, finely chopped and a few bay leaves and slow cook (the longer and slower the better - it also improves if you leave to cool and then reheat).
Add small onions when half cooked - or chopped.
When all cooked through serve.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Fennel and Cheese Tart.

Remove tough out skin of the fennel and trim any tough tops. Slice through the middle so the slices stay together as one piece.
Heat some oil and butter in a frying pan and place the fennel in when it has browned turn it over and place the pan into a pre heated oven at 180 degrees. Leave to cook for 10mins and remove to cool.
Roll out some puff pastry (I nearly always use pre-bought) to about 1/2mm thickness and fold the edges over and crimp. Place the fennel on the pastry and scatter over your cheese of choice - I was going to use Comte but decided to use a cheese i have not heard of before (the name escapes me, but it was very similar to comte!!) after a chat with the guys on the cheese stall in Winchester market. This is probably the best cheese stall I have ever visited and is at Winchester market every thursday, friday and saturday.
for more info on them see the link below.

Salmon Fishcakes with Tartare Sauce.

Lightly oil and season salmon fillets and roast until just cooked in the oven - leave to cool.
Boil potatoes in a pan of salted water drain and allow them to steam dry in the pan. Mash, but do NOT add milk or butter.
When everything has cooled flake the cooked salmon into the potato and add chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Mix together thoroughly and shape into small cakes. Dust with flower, dip into a dish of beaten egg and then a dish of bread crumbs (the flour and egg allows the bread crumbs to stick).
Place in the fridge and chill to firm them up.
To make the tartare  sauce mix finely chopped parsley, gherkin and capers into mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Warm the fishcakes through in a frying pan with a touch of oil until golden on both sides.
I served with minted steamed french beans but equally as good with peas!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Coddled Egg with Smoked Salmon.

Coddle (verb) to cook (an egg) in water just below boiling point.
Origin - late 16th century (in the sense 'boil (fruit) gently')

This was my new years day breakfast. Eggs can also be coddled in ramekins and ban marrie's in the oven.

Coat the inside of the coddler with butter (this alows the egg to come out easily) and crack an egg into it. Top the egg with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of white wine vinegar, season with salt and peeper.
Screw the top onto the coddler and place in a saucepan. Pour in boiling water to about 2/3 the way up the coddler and simmer for 5 minutes.
While the egg is coddling  place strips of smoked salmon on a serving plate and season (add a squeeze of lemon if desired) and toast some bread.
When the egg has finished cooking slide out of the coddler (you may need to loosen the sides with a knife) on to the plate and serve.