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Friday
Mar312017

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese a Winner

Recipe: Nigella Lawson

I’m just going to say it: this is the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever eaten – better than the macaroni cheese I ate as a child; better than the macaroni cheese I brought my own children up on when they were little (they don’t agree); better than any fancy restaurant macaroni cheese with white truffle or lobster; better than any macaroni cheese I have loved in my life thus far, and there have been many.

I don’t feel it’s boastful to say as much, as the greatness lies not in any brilliance on my part, but in the simple tastes of the ingredients as they fuse in the heat. That’s home cooking for you.

Serves 4
sweet potatoes 1 Pound
pennette 12 ounces, or other small short pasta
soft unsalted butter 4 x tablespoons
plain flour 3 x 15ml tablespoons
full-fat milk 2 1/8 cups
English mustard 1 tsp
paprika ¼ tsp , plus ¼ tsp to sprinkle on top
feta/other cheese 3/4 cup
mature cheddar 1 cup, grated, plus 1/4 to sprinkle on top
fresh sage leaves 4
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F/gas mark 6. Put on a large-ish pan of water to boil, with the lid on to make it come to the boil faster.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them roughly into one-inch pieces. When the water’s boiling, add salt to taste, and then the sweet potato pieces, and cook them for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Scoop them out of the water into a bowl – using a “spider” or slotted spoon – and lightly mash with a fork, without turning them into a purée. Don’t get rid of this water, as you will need it to cook your pasta in later.

In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to form a roux, then take the pan off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and, when it’s all combined and smooth, put back on the heat. Exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, and continue to stir until your gently bubbling sauce has lost any floury taste and has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Season to taste, but do remember that you will be adding cheddar and salty feta later, so underdo it for now.

Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions dictate, as you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its bite entirely. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pennette to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine; the heat of the pasta will make the mash easier to mix in.

Add the feta cheese to the sweet potato and pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly, then fold in the white sauce, adding the grated cheddar as you go. Add some of the pasta cooking water, should you feel it needs loosening up at all.

Check for seasoning again, then, when you’re happy, spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes  (or 1 large rectangular dish measuring approx 9x12). Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over each one, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons over the top, too.

Put the pots on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30-35 minutes), by which time they will be piping hot and bubbling, and begging you to eat them.

Recipe from "Simply Nigella Cookbook," Available at Amazon 

Tuesday
Mar212017

Mini Meatloaf a Mighty Tasty Treat

These mini meatloves are best eaten cold, either dunked in mayo, ketchup, brown sauce or mustard, or sliced up and made into sandwiches with the whole fandango of sauces. I sometimes add lingonberry sauce to the mix too. Throw in a gherkin and some pickles and this is lunch nirvana. Don't forget the napkins though.

INGREDIENTS

Makes: 12

  • 1 pound sausagemeat
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • ⅓ cup steak sauce (such as A1 sauce)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon table salt)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing really well with your hands or a fork.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 balls, and then shape them into mini loaves.
  4. Sit the mini meatloaves on a lined baking sheet with space between each and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. You could eat them hot, but best let them cool and keep in the fridge to slice and eat in sandwiches, or to dip in mayo.
Tuesday
Nov222016

The Perfect Brine Means the Best Turkey Ever (and starting the bird breast-side down is a big deal)

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.

Tuesday
Sep132016

Crunchy Chicken in a Hot, Sweet and Sour Sauce

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 3

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 chicken breasts (sliced)
  • 1 knob of ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 broccoli (chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 red chile (chopped)
  • 1 bunch scallion (chopped)
  • 2 limes (juiced)

 

 

 

 

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying. Mix the salt and pepper with the cornstarch and toss the chicken strips in the cornstarch until completely coated. When the oil is hot, tip the chicken in and fry until golden brown and crispy. You may need to do this in two batches. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan and place in a bowl lined with kitchen roll to soak up excess fat.

  2. There should still be left some oil in the pan at this point. You need about 1 tbsp, so carefully discard some if you have more than that. Take the pan off the heat and add in the ginger and garlic (the garlic will burn if you have it on the heat), give it a stir for 30 seconds and then add the broccoli and chopped chilli to the pan.

  3. Straight away, mix the lime juice, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl, then pour onto the broccoli in the pan. Turn up the heat and let it bubble for a couple of minutes until the sauce starts to reduce a little and the broccoli cooks through. Add the chicken back in, give it a stir and heat through for 1 minute, then add half the scallions. Give it a quick stir and then serve with boiled rice. Garnish with the rest of the scallions and more chopped chillies.

Thursday
Sep012016

The Perfect End of Summer Pound Cake

Italian Lemon Pound Cake

 

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose  flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup of sour cream

4 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons ( about 2 tbsps.)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

 

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest.

2. Mix half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix in the buttermilk and then add in the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears. Pour the cake batter into a bundt panthat has been generously sprayed with baking spray.

3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the cake over on a cake platter. Spread half of the lemon glaze over the warm cake so that the glaze can soak into the cake. Let the cake cool completely and drizzle the remaining glaze over the cake.

Lemon Glaze

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature

1. Cream the butter and slowly add powdered sugar and lemon juice. Beat well until the glaze is a creamy smooth

consistency.