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Tuesday
Feb192019

Sweetcorn Chowder Perfect Food for Chilly Day

INTRODUCTION

The tortillas we use here are those crisp, crunchy, corn-gritty triangles that somehow always feel like a guilty pleasure. Although having said that, I know only that "guilty pleasures" exist, but I have never understood the point of feeling guilty about pleasure. Rather, I see plenty of reasons for feeling guilty about failing to take pleasure in things.

When I plan to make this, I tend to take a big pack of frozen corn out of the deep freeze at breakfast time, in readiness for a super-quick, fantastically soothing, mellow-yellow and very pleasing supper that night.

Use whatever cheese you like; mostly I go for Cheddar since I always have some in the fridge, but I am happy about using up other bits and pieces. If children are eating, it's wise to omit the chillis - unless they're being very annoying.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 6

  • 6 cups frozen sweetcorn kernels (defrosted)
  • 3 scallions (debearded and halved)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled)
  • ¼ cup semolina
  • 6 cups hot vegetable broth (made from concentrate or cube)
  • 14 ounces lightly salted tortilla chips
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 long red chiles (deseeded and finely chopped (optional))

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Drain the sweetcorn and put into a food processor with the scallions, garlic and semolina. Blitz to a speckled primrose mush; unless you have a big processor you may have to do this in two batches.
  3. Tip this mixture into a large saucepan, add the hot vegetable broth and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let the chowder simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread the tortilla chips out on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the cheese over. Warm in the hot oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese melts over the chips.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and put a small mound of cheese-molten chips into the middle of each bowl. Sprinkle some of the red chilli on top, if you feel like it, and serve immediately to very grateful people.
Monday
Jan212019

Cold Cure Soup

  • YIELD: 4 servings (about 6 cups)
  • TIME: 2.25 hours 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 3-inch knob of ginger, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon Maldon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • ¼ cup fresh citrus juice (2 parts orange juice to 1 part lime juice), plus zest in strips
  •  Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 small red chili pepper, seeded and cut into fine rings, for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. In a large stockpot, combine chicken, carrot, onion, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add 3 quarts water, orange zest and juice.
  2. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid has reduced to about half and chicken flavor is strong, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, and discard solids. Allow broth to cool, then refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove layer of solidified fat from surface, and wipe surface of congealed soup with a paper towel to remove traces of grease. Soup may be covered and refrigerated for up to three days.
  4. To serve, warm soup, ladle into mugs or bowls, and garnish.

 

Recipe from Nigella Lawson's: 

At My Table; A Rip Of Orange In Deepest Winter. 

 

Sunday
Dec232018

Coca-Cola Ham Is As Good as it Gets

INTRODUCTION

Only those who have never tried this raise an eyebrow at the idea. Don't hesitate, don't be anxious: this really works. No one who cooks it, cooks it just once: it always earns a place in every repertoire.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 8

FOR THE HAM

  • 4½ pounds cured but uncooked ham
  • 1 onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 3½ pints coca-cola

FOR THE GLAZE

  • 1 handful of clove
  • 1 heaped tablespoon black molasses
  • 2 teaspoons english mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

METHOD

  1. I find now that mild-cure gammon doesn't need soaking, but if you know that you're dealing with a salty piece, then put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil, then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the gammon in a pan, skin-side down if it fits like that, add the onion, then pour over the Coke.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2½ hours. If your joint is larger or smaller, work out timing by reckoning on an hour per kilo, remembering that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the gammon's been in the fridge right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give it a good 15 minutes or so extra so that the interior is properly cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  4. When the ham's had its time (and ham it is, now it's cooked, though it's true Americans call it ham from its uncooked state) take it out of the pan and let cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed, you can let it cool completely then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want.) Then remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each diamond with a clove. Then carefully spread the treacle over the bark-budded skin, taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook in a foil-lined roasting tin for approximately 10 minutes or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly.
  5. Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 350ºF, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.
Tuesday
Dec112018

Nigella Lawson's Christmas Cookies

I love these dark, fat patties of chocolate shortbread exuberantly topped with festive sprinkles. There’s something so cheering about the sight of them, but they have more in their favour than looks: they are a doddle to make, and meltingly gorgeous to eat.

INGREDIENTS

Makes: approx. 24

FOR THE BISCUITS

  • 2¼ sticks soft butter
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE FESTIVE TOPPING

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup boiling water (from a kettle)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • christmas sprinkles

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with Bake-O-Glide or baking parchment.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl and, when you have a light, soft, whipped mixture, beat in the one-third cup unsweetened cocoa (sieving if it is lumpy) and, when that’s mixed in, beat in the flour with the bicarb and baking powder. Or just put everything in the processor and blitz, if you prefer.
  3. This mixture is very soft and sticky and I find it easiest to form the biscuits wearing my CSI (disposable vinyl) gloves, so pinch off pieces about the size of a large walnut, roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs as you place them, well spaced, on your baking sheet; you should get about 12 on at a time.
  4. Bake each batch for 15 minutes; even though the biscuits won’t feel as if they’ve had enough time, they will continue to cook as they cool. They will look slightly cracked on top, and it’s this cosy, homespun look I love.
  5. Remove the baking sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).
  6. To make the topping, put the unsweetened cocoa, confectioners' sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything’s smoothly combined. Take off the heat for 10 minutes.
  7. When the biscuits are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze – to glue the sprinkles on in a minute – using the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbly look is part of their charm.
  8. After you’ve iced 6 biscuits, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles, and continue thus until all the biscuits are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa “glue” has dried and the sprinkles won’t stick on.

Recipe featured in

Sunday
Nov182018

Brine Your Turkey for Best Thanksgiving Ever

Also, always start cooking the bird, breast-side down! (see below)

Editor's Note: I tried this a couple of years ago and it resulted in the most amazing turkey ever. Even the leftovers had far more flavor. It's a little time consuming, but not very difficult. Cooking the turkey breast-side down for most of the time is important, so do not overlook this instruction.

Ingredients 

For the turkey:

  • 10 pints 11 fluid ounces (6 liters) water
  • 4 1/4-ounces (125 grams) table salt
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) caster sugar
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, cut into 6 slices
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey
  • Handful fresh parsley leaves, optional (only if you've got some parsley hanging around)
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 (9 to 11 1/4-pound) (4 to 5-kg) turkey

For the basting glaze:

  • 2 3/4 ounces (75 grams) butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

For the turkey:

Directions

Place the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the turkey ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck in the pieces.)

Untie and remove any string or trussing attached to the turkey, shake it free and add it to the liquid. Add more water if the turkey is not completely submerged. Keep the mixture in a cold place, at or below 40 degrees, even outside overnight or for up 1 or 2 days before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid (and wiping it dry with kitchen-towel) a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys - indeed this is the case for all meat - should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you're at all concerned - the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird - then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires.

For the basting glaze:

Place the butter and syrup into a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until the ingredients have melted and combined. 

Brush the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout the roasting time.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the turkey, breast-side down, in the pan.

Cook the turkey for 30 minutes at this relatively high temperature, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and continue cooking, turning the turkey breast-side up and the oven back up to 425 degrees F for the final 15 minutes or so if you want to give a browning boost to the skin. For a 9 to 11-pound turkey, allow 2 1/2 to 3-hours in total. But remember that ovens vary enormously, so just check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey is cooked.

Just as it's crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it's important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it.