Thursday, 29 November 2012

Surprise Ingredient Swap.

You may notice that I missed the "seasonal" bit off the title.  That is because I completely forgot about it when I was choosing my secret ingredient to send to Dom and he admitted on Twitter that he had forgotten too.  No matter - the Lincolnshire relish he sent me was perfect for making a lovely warming comfort food dish perfect for this time of year so I think we managed to stick to the loose theme Ruth had set.

I sent Dom some cocoa nibs as I had never used them and was intrigued to know what one would do with them.  Dom, of course, didn't disappoint and he made some gorgeous rose tea and cocoa nibs cupcakes.  Perfect for afternoon tea - very sophisticated!

Dom sent me some Lincolnshire relish.  I believe this has recently been developed in Lincolnshire (doh!) and is thought to go particularly well with the region's sausages.  The ingredients are vinegar, grapefruit, molasses, onion, orange, dates, honey and spices and, as you would imagine, it does taste very fruity but with a lovely piquancy.  Not too dissimilar to HP sauce actually but a bit fruitier. I usually think of a relish as something quite thick and chunky more like a chutney but this is actually very thin and liquidy. 

Inspired by Christmas dinner pinwheels made by @psychtwin (Tom) at our latest Pinnies And Petticoats baking club meet (yet to be blogged - I'm a bit behind), I decided immediately I would make some kind of savoury pinwheel.  I really felt that the fruity sauce would go best with lamb and I decided I wanted to include mashed tatties, neeps (swede) and carrots to the pinwheels to make them into a complete meal in the same vein as Tom's Christmas creations.

However, I quickly came to realise that I wanted my lamb mince to be fairly juicy and saucy and realised I would never manage to make a pinwheel so I opted instead just to do a big rolled pie, bake it and then slice it.  I'm going to try to do the Christmas dinner pinwheels for a party in December so I'll let you know how that goes.

This meal was great.  The fruity sauce did indeed give an amazing flavour to the lamb mince and the sweetness was echoed by the carrots and neep.  I cheated and used pre-rolled puff pastry but I make no apologies for this.  I'd like to try the relish again to make an onion gravy to go with sausages - mmmmm.  Thanks very much Dom for a very good ingredient.  

Here's the recipe - Serves 4.

Ingredients - 

1 pack of pre-rolled puff pastry

1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g lamb mince
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 bottle of Lincolnshire relish (150g) or you could use stock instead with or without your choice of flavouring - English mustard or mint sauce would work well.
100mls water
2tsp cornflour or Bisto original gravy powder

A quarter of a neep (swede), peeled and cut into large dice
2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and sliced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
4 tbsp butter

salt and pepper 
beaten egg or milk to glaze pastry

Method - 

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil over a gentle heat. Add the onion and cook gently for a few minutes.
2. Add the mince to the onion and cook until browned.
3. Add the Lincolnshire relish and the water and allow to simmer gently for 20 mins.
4. Meanwhile, put potatoes into a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water and simmer for 10 mins until soft to the point of a knife.
5. Put the carrots and neep into another medium saucepan of boiling, salted water and simmer for 10 mins until soft to the point of a knife.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/GM6.
7. Drain the potatoes and mash with 2 tbsp of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Leave aside.
8. Drain and mash the carrots and neep together with the remaining butter. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. (Neep loves lots of pepper). Leave to cool.
9. Add the cornflour or gravy powder to the mince and keep stirring until the liquid has thickened then let cook for another few minutes then turn off the heat and leave to cool.
10. Lightly grease an oven tray and remove the pastry from the packaging and unroll.
11. Spread the mashed potato over the pastry leaving 1cm clear on one of the shorter edges.
12. Spread the mashed neep/carrots over the top of the potato.
13. Spread the layer of mince on top of the neep/carrot layer.
14. Brush a little of the milk or beaten egg on the uncovered edge of pastry and roll up from the opposite end.  Seal the parcel.  Place on the baking tray.
15. Brush the pastry with milk or egg to glaze then put in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes untilt the pastry is golden brown.
16. Slice and serve.

Thank you very much to Ruth from Makey Cakey for another fun ingredient swap.  There really is nothing better than getting parcels with foodie gifts inside! And thanks to Dom for a brilliant and challenging ingredient. It was lovely to make something savoury this time.  

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Very Quick, Easy, Family Meal - Pea Pasta.

This is my 22nd random recipe challenge. (Dom from Belleau Kitchen challenges us each month to choose a recipe at random from our cookbooks to try.)  I was lucky to get a lovely quick and easy recipe that went down well with the family.  

If the kids ask what's for tea and I reply "pasta", I get lots of "yay"s.  Their favourite meal is actually one of our quick, shoved together concoctions from the storecupboard - chickpea pasta.  To make this, we cook some wholemeal pasta in boiling water, and while that's cooking, slice some garlic and heat it gently in a good slug of olive oil then add a drained tin of chickpeas to heat through too.  Mix the pasta into the other ingredients and sprinkle on a heap of grated parmesan.  Simple, eh?  That's what we do often on the nights I am working, we just don't have time to cook properly, or we haven't been shopping for any fresh ingredients.  Lazy meal but perfectly nutritious.

This recipe is really very similar.  I chose it randomly from Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater.  I recommend getting a copy of this book if you need to do quick, easy meals from time to time.  It is just full of ideas and suggestions for things to plonk together but with loads of variations and a whole heap of inspiration.  If you feel a little intimidated by the rather high class "leftovers" Nigel seems to have in his cupboards and fridge in the last couple of TV series, don't worry - as this recipe shows, so much of what is in this book is just really normal, accessible ingredients.

The front of the book states that there are 350 recipes all of which take less than 30 mins to make.  I have had this book for years and have made loads from it and been inspired by it so many times.  Perfect for busy families.  And it was published in 1992 - long before Jamie Oliver's fast food versions. My copy is a rather battered and grease spattered paperback and there are no photos in the book.  It's a book for using, not for sitting prettily on the coffee table.

So, onto the recipe.  Basically, cook your pasta.  Pour some olive oil into a pan, add some frozen peas, finely sliced onion and some mint.  Heat gently for 10 mins then mix into the pasta.

Gives us an alternative to our chickpea version and the kids loved it nearly as much.  It's their second favourite pasta dish.  

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Shoo-Fly Cake - Cake Slice Bakers 18.

This is the new book for The Cake Slice Bakers.  We will be baking from this book for the next twelve months.  Doesn't it look pretty?  I have high hopes...

Our first bake from the book was the Shoo-Fly Cake.  This is a treacle cake with a crumb topping apparently named after Shoo-Fly pie which had a sticky topping which would attract the flies as it cooled.  

I was rather underwhelmed with this cake, unfortunately.  Firstly, I made it for Dad's birthday and it just looked plain ugly so that was disappointing.  Secondly, the flavour was okay but nothing very exciting and it doesn't have the lovely stickiness I would expect from a dense treacle cake.

I won't be making it again.
Onwards and upwards - I'm hoping the next bake from the book will be an improvement. 

If you want to see some other opinions of this cake - have a look at The Cake Slice Blogroll.