Monday, 24 December 2012

Cauliflower mini Casserole

This recipe is a hearty meal in itself however you can make smaller portions in souffle ramekins and serve them as accompaniments to any fish or meat. Enough quantities to make 4 main courses.

1 medium cauliflower
1 maltese sausage
150g smoked ham 
1 hard boiled eggs
1 tsp salt
2 sheets frozen puff pastry 

15g butter
11/2 tbsp flour
750ml milk
100ml fresh cream
100g grated provolone (cheddar or parmesan)
1 tsp mustard
1/2 nutmeg

1 extra egg 

Cut cauliflower into small florets and put in a pot. Cover with water add 1 tsp salt and bring to boil.  Boil for 15 minutes until cauliflower is just tender.  Drain in a colander and set aside.

Prepare the cheese sauce,  heat a medium casserole, add butter and when it melts completely add the flour.  Using a wooden spoon mix till flour and butter forms into a paste (called roux).  Cook the mixture by stirring around the pan for 2 minutes, like so the sauce will not have the floury taste.  Add milk and instantly change the utensil from wooden spoon to whisk.  Whisk and continue to cook on low heat till mixture thickens to a velvety sauce.  Add cheese, grated nutmeg and continue to whisk till cheese melts completely.  Add cream, cubed ham and crumbled sausage mince and cook for further 2 minutes till all is heated through. Finally add mustard, give a final stir and remove from heat.  Combine cauliflower and cheese sauce in a large bowl and mix well.  Ladle Cauliflower mix into soup bowls insert 1 hardboiled egg in the middle then cover with puff pastry.  Give an egg wash and bake in a 200c oven for 20 minutes till pastry puffs and becomes golden.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Make Your Own - Candied Peel

It is the ideal time to prepare your own candied peel as it can be used in so many Christmas bakes... be it Cake, Pudding, Mince Pies, or Panettone, this sugared peel is added to give the authentic taste.  Citrus Peel is commonly used in Southern Italy, for the Sicilian cannoli or cassata, however us Maltese make a delicious Konfettura from Long Marrows! You would never tell that this humble vegetable makes such a wonderful sugared Gem!. Below you will find both, however I left the citrus peel with its original colour. Making your own candied peel allows you to enhance the flavour with so many aromas such as Vanilla, Ginger, Lemon Grass, or perhaps dare to add few Chillies for that final kick! I like my peel soft and jammy, not dried and crystallised. Candied Peel, like any sugar preserve, can keep well for years if packed in a simple jam jar and stored in a cool dry place.
1 Large Long Marrow 
Approx 1 kg Sugar
3 Lemon Grass
1 heaped table spoon Sea salt
Red food colouring

Cut Marrow in quarters lengthways then scoop out some of the inner core. Cut each quarter in 8 cm lengths and put in a large pot.  Cover with water and add 1tbsp salt. Cover with lid and bring to boil.  Boil for 5 minutes and turn heat off.  Cool in liquid. Lift marrow on to a working top and place it hard skin down, then remove the skin by using a sharp knife and carefully slice along  keeping the knife as close to the outer skin as possible.  Slice again the top part leaving just 5mm of the bottom flesh.  Only these 5mm from the flesh close to the skin is adequate for this recipe, discard the rest.  Chop the flesh into approx 5mm cubes and put in a colander to drain for approx 3 hours or overnight.  
Weigh drained flesh, and add the amount in sugar to a pan together with the flesh. Slice lemon grass in two and add to pan with the other ingredients and heat mixture on low until sugar is dissolved.  Turn heat to high and bubble mixture for 15 minutes.  Add colour stir and turn off heat.  Spoon cold candied peel into sterilised jars, and close securely with lid.  I suggest that you leave the peel for at least one week to develop the flavour before using it in recipes
For citrus peel, Peel Oranges, lemons or tangerines cover with water and add 1 tbsp salt and boil for 45 minutes, then chop into small cubes and  continue with the same weighing and cooking process as above

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Crepes with Cheesy Mushroom and Ham Filling

Crepes are so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Make a double batch as they freeze well after cooked and cooled completely.  Simply wrap in plastic and thaw when needed.  

For the Crepes
1 1/2 cups Plain Flour
2 cups Milk
5 Eggs
pinch salt
2 tbsp Sunflower or Peanut Oil

1 teaspoon oil extra for greasing

For the Filling
500g button Mushrooms
1 Onion finely chopped
300g Smoked Ham or Gammon 
2 medium Zucchini
100g Brie Cheese
200g Mascarpone Cheese
1 tbsp Ghee or clarified butter
1 heaped tsp Corn Flour
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 sprig thyme
Roughly chopped parsely to garnish

Make the Crepe batter by simply put all ingredients in a jug (preferably with a spout) and using a hand blender blend all ingredients to a smooth runny batter.  Leave batter covered with a cloth to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the filling by chop button mushrooms, and ham to small cubes.  Remove the core from zucchini and chop into small cubes as well.  
Heat a heavy based saucepan, add ghee and onion and fry gently till onion is translucent.  Add ham, mushrooms and zucchini and thyme and cook till zucchini are just tender.  Add mascarpone cheese and stir well to combine with other ingredients.  Roughly chop the brie cheese and add to the mixture.  Finally dissolve cornflour into 1 tbsp water and add  to thicken the sauce.  Stir for a scarce  minute, grind some black pepper and turn off heat.  Cover and keep warm till needed.
Heat pancake pan on very low heat,  add oil and wipe it around with a kitchen paper.  Pour approx two tablespoons batter in  the middle and us the back of a spoon to distribute to form a 9inch thin pancake. cook for approx 1 minute then turn leave just for 10 seconds and slide pancake to a warm plate.  Continue with the process stacking cooked pancakes on top of each other ( they do not stick).
Serve pancakes filled with 1heaped tbsp of the cheesy mixture and fold into quarters.  Sprinkle with chopped parsely to garnish and freshen the palate.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Panettone with Creme Anglaise (Custard Sauce)

I know that there are scrumptuous ready made Panettone, but there are also ready made Christmas cakes and puddings and we still enjoy making our own.  Try this for Christmas dessert for a lighter finish to traditional puddings.  Make sure to double the portion for Creme Anglaise as it will disappear! Mixture makes 3 9inch cakes or 36 small muffin size for an individual portion!

1kg Plain Flour
80g Sugar
80g Butter 
2tsp Salt
2 eggs
50g Fresh Yeast or 18g dried
150g Candied Fruit
200g Sultana
2 tbsp Brandy
3 tbspDried Milk Powder
400ml luke warm Water
1 tsp Grated Orange Rind
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1 extra egg for egg wash

1 tbsp Marmalade
1tbsp Brandy
1tbsp Maple Syrup

Creme Anglaise
500ml Milk
1 vanilla pod 
3 Egg Yolks
2 tbsp Sugar

Crumble yeast in a small bowl, add 1/4 of water and whisk to melt.  Cover with cling film and set aside. Heat a small casserole add, brandy, sultana, candied fruit, grated orange rind, cinnamon and ground cloves.  Stir well till all fruit is heated throgh and mixture boils. Turn off immediately then add butter.  Stir and cover.
In a food mixer fitted with hook attachment, add sifted flour, Salt, Sugar and eggs.  Add milk powder to remaining water and add to flour mixture.  Add yeast mixture and turn speed to minimum and mix for 10 minutes. Lift hook and scrape dough from hook.  Add fruit mixture to dough and lower hook again and knead for further 5 minutes till all fruit has been evenly incorporated into the dough.  Turn machine off lift hook, cover with clean cloth and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour till mixture doubles in size.  Lower back the hook and knead for another 5 minutes.  Divide mixture into three equal portions of approx 500g each and put in 9inch Paper cases or lined baking pans. ( I make small ones with 1 tbsp mixture into muffin cases).  Put cakes in the oven with light on (no heat) and let them rise for 1.5hours.  Brush with beaten egg.  Turn oven on to 200c and bake panettone for approx 30 minutes till top is rich golden and sounds hollow when tapped from the bottom.  Heat Marmalade, brandy and maple syrup and brush cakes when still hot to get a shiny top. Cakes can be frozen when cold and thawed when needed.
Creme Anglaise
Split vanilla pod in two and scrape seeds.  Add seeds and pod to milk and heat till it nearly boils, meanwhile beat egg yolks and sugar in a glass bowl till pale and fluffy. Slowly add boiled milk to yolk mixture and stir well.  Turn mixture to pan and stir on low heat till mixture thickens to cover the back of a spoon.  Do not boil mixture as it curdles.  Mixture should resemble gravy sauce texture not thick paint!

Spicy Rib-eye with stewed Lentils and Chocolate Sauce

Scented with Christams aromas of cinnamon and Chocolate this Rib eye on the bone makes an ideal centre piece for any Festive dinner. Serves 4

1 kg Rib Eye on the bone
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 spring onion and half pomegranate to garnish.

300g Brown Lentils
1 onion Finely chopped
200g mushrooms cut into small cubes
2 tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp curry powder
50g chorizo sausage cut into small cubes
3 Bay Leaves
1 litre water

Chocolate Gravy
Drippings from  Rib eye
200ml chicken stock
30g dark chocolate grated
2 tbsp port
Salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl mix smoked  paprika, cinnamon powder and 1 tbsp olive oil and rub the Rib eye form both sides.  Set on a plate to marinade in the spice mix.a
Heat a heavy based saucepan add ghee and when it melts  add onion, chorizo and crushed garlic and fry gently for two minutes till onion is translucent.  Add curry powder and stir well to cook for another 1 minute.
Add Lentils, mushrooms, tomatoes and water and stir well.  Add bay leaves then bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour till lentils are soft and all liquid has been evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Heat a large oven proof frying pan on the stove, add rib eye and cook two minutes to seal on each side.  Season with Salt and Pepper and continue to cook for further 15 minutes in a pre heated oven for 15-20minutes.  Remove pan from oven, transfer meat to a warm plate and cover with foil to rest.  transfer the pan and residue from meat to the heat, add port and stock.  Stir well then reduce by half, add grated chocolate and season to taste.  Pass sauce through a fine sieve and serve.

Plate by first spooning lentils then sliced rib eye.  Ladle sauce on top and garnish with spring onions and few pomegranate seeds.