Monday, 10 August 2015

Completely inauthentic red beans and rice

You know when you think you’re all organised and you know what you’re going to cook? You have put the time aside for it, and you have all your ingredients, and you’re really looking forward to it? That’s what good cooking is all about, right?

Well it turns out that I almost never, ever cook like that. It’s just not in my nature to be so organised, and even when I *think* I am, I’ve always forgotten some major component of a recipe. My cooking is therefore mostly done on the fly, with a lot of last minute recipe changes or substitutions. As it happens, sometimes you end up nailing it accidentally. That’s what happened when I attempted to make authentic Louisiana red beans and rice the other day.


Firstly, the beans. It turns out that genuine red beans are fairly difficult to get hold of in the UK. No bother though, for I looked up alternatives and found out that the pack of dried black beans that have been in the cupboard for ages should be fine. Except for that I forgot to soak them overnight beforehand. Luckily, there was a dusty tin of kidney beans at the back of the cupboard which saved the day. Secondly, I have no idea at all what Andouille sausage is. I decided, apropos of very little, that chorizo would do instead. Turns out that it’s probably more like a smoked sausage, but never mind. Thirdly, I couldn’t find Creole seasoning anywhere. We searched three supermarkets before giving in and getting a Cajun seasoning instead. Fourthly: the ham hock was hard to find, so I ended up leaving it out.

And yet, despite all of this, I ended up with a really delicious slow cooker creation. It probably bears no resemblance to actual red beans and rice, but it was super tasty nonetheless. So here is my off-the-hoof, completely unauthentic, grab-anything-nearby-then-feel-proud-of-yourself-afterwards recipe for red beans and rice.

Ingredients
1 tin of kidney beans in water
One chorizo sausage, sliced.
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped into chunky pieces.
chilli flakes or one fresh chilli, to taste
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning powder
Fresh basil
Cooked basmati rice.

Method:
Dump the entire contents of the kidney bean tin, water and all, into a slow cooker on high setting
Shallow fry the chorizo until it is browned. Plonk the sausage pieces into the slow cooker and reserve the fat in the pan.
Fry the garlic, onion and green pepper in the chorizo fat. Once softened and just browned, add to the slow cooker.
Add the chilli flakes, basil leaves and Cajun seasoning too.
I added a little water- about 100 mLs, although that made for quite a watery sauce and I don’t think you necessarily need to add that much.
Leave for about 4-5 hours. If it’s too watery
Cook the rice according to instructions. Spoon over the bean and sausage mixture and voila.

Enjoy :) xxx

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Lady Vengeance Pie

So, last night we held a really special meeting of Private Pie at the Star and Shadow Cinema. you can read all about it at the Private Pie blog here.

I decided to make two pies for the event: a sweet and a savoury. Some of you may already know that I am a bit of a fiend for Asian Extreme Horror Films, so I thought it would be cool to do something on that theme. I also went to go and see a load of Korean and Japanese horror films at the Star and Shadow, so it seemed like Lady Vengeance, my favourite of Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance trilogy. Here's an explanation of what I made, and how it links in with the film:


Tofu:
In Korea, a block of white tofu is presented to people on leaving prison. Its a symbol of purity and of starting a new life. This symbol appears twice in the film- at the beginning as she leaves prison, and at the end, when she represents the white tofu in a cake. A few weeks earlier, someone on Twitter recommended this recipe for chocolate tofu pie, so it seemed to me that it would fit nicely.

The chocolate tofu mixture in my pate sucree pastry case,


Strawberry Mousse:
On her release from prison, Geum-Ja finds a job in a bakery. Here's what the bakery owner has to say about her:
 "He tells her that he was astonished at a strawberry mousse made by a prison inmate who, using poor ingredients, made a dessert "fit for a king."
So I thought a lovely strawberry mousse topping would be perfect. I went for this BBC good food recipe

The strawberry mousse layer

Pink/Red:
See her eye-make up? That's quite a feature of the film, as Geum-Ja uses a change in her appearance to symbolise her departure from innocence to one intent on revenge. I had to go for a have a pink/red colour theme, and it had to be pretty- Geum-Ja likes pretty things, as do I, so I used pink sugar pearls which I let dissolved into the topping, and liberal applications of red glitter, with some little bits of red icing here and there. I also used some pink and red sugar roses, to add extra prettiness. I think Geum-Ja would have liked that.

With pink and red decorations

White
I made some meringue hearts with the leftover egg whites from the pate sucree, to pick up the theme of the purity from the tofu. And, of course, we have to bear in mind that everything Geum-Ja does is for the love of her daughter.

Blood
This is a revenge film, featuring plenty of blood. I used red gel food colouring to make blood spatter.

The fully assembled pie, ready for eating at Private Pie.

The resulting pie was rather tasty, although very sloppy as it was pretty hot in the room. If it was kept nice and clilled, I think it would make for a very pretty slice. And don't let the tofu put you off- its just really there for the texture, and you certainly can't taste it. the mousse was delicious, and i had plenty left over to give to friends and to make a pretty little dessert for myself as well.

 
Hxxx

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Stack O' Stotties

The older I get, the more Geordie I appear to be getting. And since getting my mixer, resplendent with its dough hook, i've been trying to make more bread (although bread making is often delayed whilst I end up wandering around my kitchen, making myself giggle by pretending to be a pirate with the dough hook) So it's amazing really that I've never yet gotten round to making my own stottie cakes yet. But, tonight, I made my first attempt.

For those of you of a Southern disposition, you may well have no idea what I'm on about. The stottie is one of the shining lights of Geordie cuisine. Within its fluffy, dense interior is the inimitable feeling of home. 

Stotties bread is only proved once, giving it a dense, beautifully soft texture. It's like the marshmallow of the bread world. It's particularly good at soaking up liquids, so great for a bacon sarnie as the sauce (brown, obviously) and fat soaks into the bread. Traditionally, it was make by housewives on baking day, as they used to take a section of dough after first proving to bake straight away for their man's bait (that means lunch, by the way, not some weird northern mating ritual). Off the man would go, down the pit, with his ham and pease pudding stottie in hand.

So anyway, my first attempt at them went alright. I tried to make them smaller than a usual, plate-sized stottie, and I probably made them too thick. I left some of them in the oven a little too long as well, so they started getting a crust, although this certainly isn't unpleasant, just not very traditional. 

And here, dear friends, are My First Stotties: 

St Catherine's cakes

People who know me will know that I am not in the least bit religious. But I do like cake, a lot. So the other week, I dug out an old recipe book and gave these St Catherine's cakes a try.
 
I assume they're named after St Catherine of Alexandria, in which case naming a pretty little patisserie cake after the wheel-shaped rack she was tortured on seems a bit morbid. They're little pinwheel shaped cakes. The other alternative is St Catherine of Siena though, and this would appear to be even less appropriate as her life appeared to be mainly categorised by fasting, anorexia, and bulimia. Anyway, whichever they are named after, the fact of the matter is that I spent a few minutes researching the various Saint Catherines whilst these were baking. Learning through cake.

Anyway, these are tasty, not overly sweet little crossovers between biscuits and cake. I spread a little bi of glitter over them once they were done to add a little bit of glamour. I didn't really put that much effort into presentation, to be honest, but I think with patience and a little bit more effort these could be really pretty and dainty.



Ingredients:
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
25g ground almonds
225g caster sugar
225g butter/margarine
50g currants or mixed fruit
1 egg, beaten
25g Demerara or granulated sugar.

Instructions: 
Sift flour, bicarb and mixed spice into a bowl and add the almonds ad caster sugar.

Rub in the butter, then stir in the currants.

Add the egg and mix to a dough. Knead and roll out into a rectangular shape about 30cm x 20cm. Trim the edges so they are straight.

Cut into long strips, about 1cm thick. 

Brush each strip with water, then sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Roll each strip up into a coil and space them out on a baking tray, with plenty of room in between each roll.

Bake at 200 oC for about 12-15 minutes or until browned.


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Northumbrian Baking

Last night I cooked myself up a Georgian Feast (as in the country, not the period) using some recipes from my friend Dacia. What resulted was one of the tastiest meals I have had in a long time. I thought it would be nice tonight to make some recipes from closer to home (by which I mean I need to go shopping, so only have a few ingredients in), hence the bacon floddies in the previous post and this Felton spice loaf, a Northumbrian traditional recipe.

Felton Spice Loaf

Recipe:
115g butter
115g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
50g ground almonds
115g self raising flour
Half teaspoon mixed spice
175g mixed fruit
50g peel (optional- I just used a mixed fruit mix with peel in it an used a little bit extra)
Dash of milk

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Beat in the eggs. Try not to let it curdle, but if it does its not the end of the world.
3. Stir in the ground almonds
4. Sieve in the flour and mixed spice and stir
5. Add the mixed fruit and peel and stir again.
6. Add a little milk until the mixture thins to a dropping consistency.
7. Put in a well greased loaf tin
8. Bake at 190 degrees for about 40 mins or until well risen and firm to the touch.

The result is a deliciously light, yeast (and therefore faff) free teabread, which is particularly yummy warm with a bit of butter.

Bacon Floddies

Dear people,

I have sorely, sorely neglected you. I bring you bacon in apology.

Specifically, bacon floddies. These are a traditional Gateshead snack and are basically the Geordie version of onion bhajis, with less spice and much more bacon. Alternatively, I suspect at some point in Gateshead, back in the day, the following conversation happened:

"I see them Scots are eating tattie scones for their bait"
"Aye, they're tasty"
"Maybe, but they're missing something'"
"Aye, there's nee bacon in 'em"

Apparently these are usually eaten with even more bacon and eggs on the side for breakfast and supper. They're really blummin yummy, and well worth the effort of grating potatoes ( I really hate grating things) for.

Recipe:
225g grated peeled potato
2 onions, grated or finely chopped. Sometimes I use one onion and one spring onion, which gives them some little spots of green colour.
175g bacon rashers. I tend to put more in because its bacon and there can never be too much. Finely chopped
50g self raising flour
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil (you're supposed to use bacon dripping)

1. Plonk the potatoes, onions, bacon, flour and seasoning into a bowl and add the eggs.
2. Mix thoroughly
3. Fry. I usually use a tablespoon or so of mixture per floddie, but you can make them as big or little as you like. It helps to squish them down a bit while they're frying. Once they're browned, turn them over and fry them on the other side
4. Drain on paper towels, wait to cool a few minutes, then shovel them in your gob.

I hope this offering makes up somewhat for my lack of attention to my little baking blog. I just never seem to find the time these days, and have been busily writing for my skepticism blog.

Hxxx

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

Hiya lovelies,

Apologies for the silence since June. I have gotten to the point where i have so much stuff to write up on here I'm rather overwhelmed by it all, so have been employing my usual strategy of avoiding the issue, whilst feeling like a total blog-based failure and stressing about it at the same time. But today, I've decided to take a step forward and do a post from last night. I'm going to hope to make up the gap at some point, because i have loads to share with you, but i need to start somewhere, and here it is.

One of my favourite websites to browse on my lunch break is www.foodbeast.com. Although it has loads of stuff that isn't really relevant to us in the UK, it shares my obsessions of bacon and peanut butter and always has some bizarre food stories on that make me laugh.
Little balls of cheesecakey goodness ready for the oven

Today we've had a World's Biggest Coffee Morning at work, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try something new. I've never been consistently good at cookies or biscuits, so I thought I'd make some cookies. Well, when I saw a recipe for Oreo Cheesecake Cookies on foodbeast, I just had to give these bad boys a go. I stuck to the recipe pretty much exactly, and oh my, what a result. Gooey, chewy, and really sweet, these are a real American style treat.
The finished product. Loooooovely.
They were pretty well received at our Macmillan Coffee Morning, and help to contribute to our pretty decent takings for the day- so far we've counted £73.50, which is pretty good considering there were quite a few people who couldn't make it today, and also that we have some people who haven't yet paid up.

Speak soon,

Hayley xxx