Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Lemon Meringue Pie

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Ready made pre-cooked pastry case. - You should be able to get this and it will save all the hassle of making pastry. I don't know what sizes are available but the following is enough filling for one 18-20cm diameter. If you get a smaller one the right size for say 2 -3 portions, just halve the quantities. You might want to make a full sized one and make it last several days - or invite someone to dinner!

  • 2 large lemons
  • 275mls cold water
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 3 level tablespoons cornflour (they might call it maize flour but it's white not yellow)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 110g castor sugar

You'll need a grater with a fine grating surface, - looks like a lot of barnacles! Hold the grater onto a plate or chopping board with your left hand and take a lemon in your right. Rub the lemon on the grating surface in a circular motion, turning the lemon as you go, so you scrape off all the yellow zest but none of the white pith underneath. Repeat this with the other lemon. Scrape or brush all the zest off of the grater and the plate/board into a saucepan. Add the water and the granulated sugar and bring it to the boil, stirring from time to time to dissolve all the sugar.

Put the cornflour into a jug. Squeeze all the juice out of the lemons removing the pips and add it to the cornflour. Mix it to a paste (called slaking - don't ask me why!) and stir it into the hot lemony water. Keep stirring until it's thickened or it will go lumpy! Remove from the heat and add the butter stirring `til it's melted. Separate the eggs as I described in the chocolate mousse recipe. Stir the yolks in to the lemony sauce. Pour it into the pastry case.

Put the whites into a clean dry bowl and whisk with your electric whisk until stiff. Turn the whisk to a slower speed and whisk in the castor sugar. You should get a glossy meringue mix you can spread over the lemon filling and fork up into little peaks.

Cook it in the oven at 150°C. Delia Smith says it takes 45 minutes but I don't think it'll take that long - I never time it! I'd guess maybe 20 - 30 minutes. Just watch it `til it looks done.

You can't freeze leftovers so you'll just have to eat it all. What a hardship!

Blackberry cobbler

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

For the weekend's recipes we will turn to desserts (or, as we call them where I'm from, puddings). I haven't made up any pudding recipes so both this one and tomorrow's are from Mum.

This one works best if you pick the blackberries yourself. I've only made it a couple of times myself - the first was in Cambridge and it turned out absolutely perfect. The second was in Redmond and it was inedible (I'm not sure if the blackberries I used were the wrong species or too old, but some of them left streaks of black instead of red in the bowl and tasted awful.)

  • 1lb blackberries
  • 2oz sugar
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 0.5oz butter

For the topping:

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 2tsps baking powder
  • 0.5tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2oz castor sugar
  • 4 tbsps milk
  • 2oz melted butter

Put the blackberries in an oven proof dish, sprinkle them with the sugar and lemon juice and dot it with the butter cut into little bits.

If you have a food processor, put all of it except the butter into the machine and whizz it up then pour the melted butter in through the spout. Otherwise:-

Break the egg into a bowl, add the sugar and beat it well to mix. Stir in the milk and melted butter. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into an separate bowl and them add it gradually into the egg etc beating it to get a smooth batter. Pour it over the blackberries and cook it in the oven 180°C or gas 4 for 30 - 35 mins.

Toad in the Hole

Friday, July 11th, 2008

This recipe is based on the one from this book which my parents bought for me when I went off to university, but I have tweaked it a bit and made it more specific. This is the only thing I've made the book regularly - it now falls open at this page.

(To serve 2)

Put 7 breakfast sausages in a metal baking pan with a bit of cooking oil and put them in a 425°F oven for 7 minutes.

While the sausages are cooking, put 4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour into a bowl, add a couple of pinches of salt and a couple of eggs. Beat the egg into the flour (this is much easier with an electric whisk) until it's homogeneous. Gradually add 1 cup of milk while continuing to mix. If you add too much milk too quickly it'll go all lumpy.

Pour the batter over the hot sausages and oil (this bit makes a nice sizzling sound) and bake for about 24 minutes. Try not to open the oven door for the first 10 to 15 minutes, so that the pudding will rise well. The Yorkshire pudding should be golden brown.

About 10 minutes before it's done, wash a couple of medium-sized potatoes, stab them all over with a fork and put them on a plate in the microwave for 10 minutes. Peel and slice up some raw carrots to serve with it as well.

Plate it up and eat it with a nice tall glass of cold milk (you may be sensing a theme here with the beverage choices - I do like a nice glass of cold milk with a hot meal).

Pasta dish I made up

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

This is another one I made up myself in my bachelor days.

Cut up some vegetables into small pieces. I found the best combination to be:

  • Celery (1 stick per person)
  • Red bell pepper (1/4 per person)
  • Carrot (1 per person)
  • Onion (1/2 per person)

Add some chopped garlic if you like.

Slice up some bacon as in yesterday's recipe and cook it with the vegetables. The vegetables will fry nicely in the fat from the bacon.

Cook some pasta (I like the twisty ones), drain it and add some sort of pre-made tomato-y sauce. I found one in the supermarket that just said "made with Meat" (no specific animals species were mentioned) so I used that for amusement's sake and it worked pretty well.

Mix the pasta and the sauce together and then dump that into the saucepan with the vegetables and bacon. Turn the heat right up and keep stirring it until the runniness disappears and it acquires a more gloopy consistency (technical term).

Plate it up and eat it with a nice tall glass of cold milk.

Spaghetti carbonara

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Soon after I moved to the US I fancied eating this but didn't have a recipe. So, I looked up one on the internet and adapted it to what I happened to have in the apartment. This isn't exactly what most people would consider carbonara (it's more like scrambled eggs and bacon with spaghetti) but it's filling, yummy comfort food.

Cut up some bacon (2 or 3 slices per person) into pieces about 1cm wide. I sometimes cut off most of the fatty bits to make it a bit healthier but this could quite rightly be considered an abomination.

Put some water on to boil and when it gets there put the spaghetti in and turn it down to medium. That's about the right time to put the bacon on. Put it in a nice big saucepan on a medium-high heat (not too hot or the fat that oozes out from the bacon will burn off before the bacon gets a chance to sizzle in it). No extra oil should be necessary.

While the bacon is frying, put some eggs (2 per person), a bit of salt and pepper and some grated cheese (the more kinds of cheese the better - I have had good results with cheddar, shredded mozzarella, parmesan and chevre). Mix it all up together.

If the bacon is done before the spaghetti, turn the heat down to low to stop it getting too crunchy. When the spaghetti is done (which should take 10 minutes or so - you want it just a little al dente but not so much that you get bits of it stuck in your teeth) strain the water off and dump it into the bowl with the eggs and cheese. Turn the heat back up on the bacon now if you turned it down before. Stir that about a bit so that the spaghetti gets coated in the egg. Once it's nicely homogeneous, plop it into the saucepan with the spaghetti and bacon juice. Stir it around a bit until bacon is all mixed in and the egg is just beginning to solidify. I find it's better if the egg isn't completely cooked through but be warned - undercooked eggs might give you food poisoning. I've not killed anyone with this dish so far though.

Plate it up and eat it with a nice tall glass of cold milk.


Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Another of Mum's recipes.

An easy one pot meal good for using up odd leftovers. As long as you have oil, onion, rice and water everything else is flexible.

Per person:

  • 1 very small onion chopped (or half a bigger one)
  • chopped or crushed garlic (optional!)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional but recommended)
  • Chopped herbs (optional but recommended - you could use dried)
  • 75g long grain rice ( "easy cook" rice is good as it won't go sticky)
  • 190 mls hot water ( = 2.5 times volume of rice)
  • half a stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt & pepper ( stock cube may be quite salty so you might not need much salt you can always add more when it's on the plate)

any or all of the following, quantity depends on how hungry you are:-

  • cooked meat, - bacon, chicken, sausage
  • celery - chopped small
  • carrot - chopped small
  • peas
  • sweetcorn
  • peppers - chopped small
  • chopped tomato
  • sliced mushrooms
  • anything else you've got that you think will taste good

Dissolve stock cube in hot water.

Heat oil in saucepan and cook onion and any raw vegetables until onion is softened. Add garlic, bay leaf and rice a cook for a minute or so. Pour in stock and bring back to boil. Add everything else and simmer gently until rice is cooked and all the liquid is absorbed. Watch it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan near the end of cooking time. Take out the bay leaf and sprinkle with grated cheese to serve.

Easy or what!

Chicken and rice

Monday, July 7th, 2008

It's recipe week this week at Reenigne blog. Not my usual fare, but not completely without precedent either. Some of these recipes (including this one) are from my mother, others I've made up or adapted myself.

  • 1 onion peeled & chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled & chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery washed & chopped
  • about 2 tbsps oil
  • about 2 tbsps flour
  • 1lb chicken
  • 1 chicken (or vegetable if vegetarians are joining in!) stock cube stock cube dissolved in 10 - 15 fl oz boiling water
  • handful frozen peas &/or sweetcorn
  • a few mushrooms sliced
  • about 2fl oz cream

If the chicken is raw cut it into bit size bits and fry it in oil 'til it's browned. It doesn't have to be cooked through at this stage. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain the oil off. Now fry the onion, carrot & celery in the oil 'til they just start to brown but you don't want them too dark. Add the flour and stir it in until it coats the vegetables and cooks a bit. Add the liquid gradually, - stirring all the time and bring to the boil still stirring. It should thicken.

Add the peas, sweetcorn and mushrooms. If you're feeding vegetarians, separate out their bit and add the chicken to the rest. You could add other vegetables or extra mushrooms to the vege bit. Season with salt & pepper and simmer the whole lot until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables
are tender. If it's not thick enough you can add some cornflour mixed with water to make it thicker. Add the cream at the end. If you've got any herbs bung them in too and it'll be even yummier.

Cook the rice in a separate pan while the whole thing is cooking.

You can adapt it as you see fit - put in leftover sausages for example or add a bit of chopped up bacon with the onion etc if you're all meat eaters, or serve it with pasta instead of rice.

Crisp protocol

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

When I was working for Microsoft, I used to take cheese sandwiches to work for lunch every day. I like to have salt and vinegar flavored crisps in my cheese sandwiches. None of the vending machines at Microsoft sell such things so I have to take my own. This being the USA, salt and vinegar crisps are generally only sold in big bags which last me a week or more. I generally remember to buy more crisps at the supermarket when I am getting close to running out, but remembering to actually take them to work was, for some reason, more problematic.

I therefore needed a crisp refill protocol. I used to email myself at home when I needed more, so I would remember to put crisps in my bag when doing my morning email. But after a while I found myself forgetting even in the short time between answering my email and making my lunch. I realized I needed to be reminded right when I am making my lunch, and worked out an even simpler protocol - I just put a twist tie in my empty lunch box and then I see it when I'm refilling it. This is even simpler and worked much better (though I still managed to fail to bring in crisps once while using this protocol). This protocol does mean that all the twist ties end up at home though.

Now that I work at home, this is all so much simpler.

Cheese slicing algorithm

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

While I was making my daily cheese sandwich the other morning, I got to thinking about the optimal algorithm for slicing cheese.

I use a Swedish cheese slicer for my cheese slicing needs. This works great until you get to the end of a block of cheese - if you are careless and always slice the same side, you are likely to get a large thin block of cheese which is almost impossible to slice any further on the wide side but which is still too thick for sandwich purposes. You then need to slice it on one of the long thin sides, which leads both to long thin slices of cheese, and to a block of cheese that is still long in one dimension but short in the other two.

So it seems that the ideal algorithm is to always slice the cheese on the smallest side, so that the shape of the block always approximates a cube (of gradually shrinking size). But that means that you're always rotating the block - you really want to get a few slices out of a side before you rotate, and there must be some optimal rate of rotation to minimize both fiddliness and rotation. You also get a number of very small slices of cheese at the end of a block, but in practice this does not seem to be a big problem.

Yes, I know I put too much thought into this.

Roast Potatoes

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Apparently somebody wanted to know how I make my roast potatoes. The trick is in the parboiling.

Use starchy (as opposed to waxy) potatoes, and make sure they aren't too old.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces an inch or two in diameter (bear in mind that they will shrink a bit in the cooking process, so make more than you think you'll need).

Put them into a saucepan for which you have the lid, sprinkle on some salt and put water in the pan until the potatoes are just covered. Heat until the water is boiling and let it continue to boil for a couple of minutes, until the tip of a sharp knife easily penetrates the potato to a depth of a few millimeters.

Now here's where the lid becomes important. Pour out the hot water and put the lid on. While wearing oven gloves, hold the pan (and the lid, so it doesn't come off) and shake vigorously for 20 seconds or so, to rough up the surfaces of the potatoes.

Heat some sort of oil or fat in a shallow metal tray in the oven for a few minutes. Goose fat is the best if you have it. Put the potatoes in the hot oil and turn them so that they are completely covered in oil. Sprinkle with a bit more salt, and then roast in an oven for about an hour at 375F (give or take - you can cook them hotter or colder if you have the oven at a different temperature for cooking something else at the same time, just adjust the time appropriately). About half way through take the potatoes out, turn each of them upside down (don't try to cheat and turn the whole tray upside down at once - they'll fall out). Then put them back in to finish cooking.

Serve hot, and with meat (to people who eat meat).