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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Smoked Mackerel, No tomatoes and Avoca pastry

Since watching the Great British Bake Off, I've been meaning to have another go at making shortcrust pastry.  It's not that I haven't made it before, but it seems to be a bit hit and miss when I do and recently I've been cheating and using ready made, but still feeling rather dissatisfied with the results.

We had a glut of eggs, as DH gets 6 every week from someone at his work who keeps hens, so I thought that I would make some kind of a 'quiche'.  I had some peppered smoked mackerel in the fridge and some greek yogurt.  I was sure I had a recipe somewhere for Smoked Mackerel Quiche but couldn't find it anywhere, so this is a bit of a hybrid recipe.

I did decide to look at a recipe for shortcut pastry though and the first one I found was in the Avoca Cafe CookBook and this is it:

225g/8oz plain flour
150g/5oz butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
 (for savoury pastry)
or 25g/1oz caster sugar (for sweet pastry)
1-2 egg yolks

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt or caster sugar, then mix to a dough with the egg yokes and a little cold water if necessary.  Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface and use to line a deep 28cm/11 inch loose-bottomed flan tin.

To bake blind, cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (either ceramic ones or any raw dried beans, which you can reuse for baking blind).  Remove the beans and greaseproof paper and return the pastry case to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until very lightly coloured.

After removing the beans and paper you could brush the partly cooked pastry with lightly beaten egg white before returning it to the oven.  This helps to form a seal and keeps the pastry crisp when you add the filling.

And for the filling:

5 free range eggs
1 cup of Greek yogurt or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons of chopped gherkins
3 small peppered mackerel fillets
Flake the fish from the skin and break up in a bowl.  In another bowl beat together 3 whole eggs and two egg yolks then add the yogurt and mix well, add the mackerel and the gherkins to the egg mix and put the mixture into the pastry shell.  

This flan will serve between 5-6 for a main course

Bake for 40 minutes at 170C (160C fan oven).  Let it cool slightly before serving with buttered rye bread and...

No Tomatoes Salad (serves 3)
Yes, well I had some salad leaves but when I went to look, there were no tomatoes or cucumber to make a salad, so I had to improvise.

 half a bag of salad leaves
1 carrot
1 ripe pear (peeled)
1 small apple (unpeeled)
A handful of pecan nuts

place the salad leaves in a bowl or on a plate, add some grated carrot, chopped pear and apple and scatter over some chopped pecan nuts.  I have to say that is was much nicer than it would have been if I had had some tomatoes, which just goes to show that I am getting into a cooking rut, very much evidenced by my lack of blogging .

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Monday, 18 October 2010

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

 It is apple season and I am lucky enough to have a neighbour with an apple tree and a generous nature!  I thought that this week I would make some kind of Apple Muffin.  These don't look particularly inspiring, but they are very tasty, not too sweet and if you heat one for 20 seconds in the microwave it definitely improves the eating.

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins

I was quite surprised when I checked my 500 Best Muffin Recipes book  (Esther Brody) to find that this recipe doesn't use melted butter or oil, but the butter is rubbed in.

2 cups (500ml) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup (125ml) granulated sugar
3tsp (15ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2ml)cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2ml) salt
1/2 cup (125ml) butter or margarine
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup (50ml) finely chopped walnuts
1 egg
1tsp (5ml) cinnamon
1tbsp (15ml) brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 435F/220C
12 cup muffin tin

1. In a bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  With a pastry blender or 2 knives cut in butter.  Measure out 1/4 cup (50ml) mixture; reserve for topping.  Add apple and walnuts to remaining flour mixture.
2. In a bowl beat egg.  Add milk, blend well.  Add to flour mixture, stir just until blended (batter should be lumpy).
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin,filling two-thirds full.  Add cinnamon and brown sugar to reserved topping mixture; sprinkle over batter.  bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until  toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Still plenty of apples left, so I might try another apple muffin recipe next week.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Peppered Lamb with Apple & Mint Glaze

This is a bit of a variation on a recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.  The original recipe the lamb cutlets are grilled or griddled, however I had lamb steaks so decided to cook them a bit longer. 

I rubbed the lamb with olive oil and then pressed the crushed peppercorns onto them.

Then I prepared some potatoes, slicing them thinly and layering them into a casserole dish with seasoning in between.

The lamb was browned and sealed in a frying pan, then half jar of apple and mint jelly added along with about 1/4 pint of chicken stock.  My SIL had made the jelly last year, but if you can't get apple & mint, then mint jelly would do just as well.
 Then I baked it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 170C.

It was very good, the potatoes picked up all the lovely lamb juices along with the fiery pepper and the sweet minty jelly. 

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