Category Archives: Cooking

Posts relating to the culinary arts.

First Bread-making Attempt

I haven’t posted about cooking in a while. That’s largely because I haven’t been making much of interest, and those few things that I have been making which are interesting haven’t turned out as well as I’d like, so I don’t really want to post about them.

I am rather proud of this though:

Bread

My first homemade loaf. It was surprisingly little work to make it as well. Less then twenty minutes of effort, which is about as quick as going to the shops for a loaf. Bloody tasty as well.

Recipe: Potato, Vegetable & Feta Bake

This is a very simple, very versatile dish. It can be used as a main course or a side dish, and has gone down well every time I’ve made it (and I’ve made it a lot). This recipe serves 4 people or 2 with plenty of leftovers – to scale down, just use a smaller dish and reduce the amounts of ingredients.

Ingredients:
6 large potatoes (peel them as you go along so you don’t end up wasting potatoes you don’t use)
3 Courgettes (Zucchini), 1 Aubergine (Eggplant) or 4 leeks
1 pack of feta cheese or feta-style cheese
400ml Vegetable stock
Mint, Salt, Pepper to season

Method:

1. Find a large casserole dish. I use the same large pyrex dish that I used for my feta, leek and spinach pie. Drip in a little oil and rub it around so the dish is very lightly greased. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

2. Wash your potatoes if you haven’t already. Peel them and then slice them into rough disks. Be careful with your knife – the blade can sometimes slip on the wet potato. Spread the potato discs in a layer one disk thick in the dish.

3. Take which every vegetable you have chosen and wash it. For courgettes, slice them into disks and spread on top of the potatoes. For leeks rough-chop them and scatter them on top of the potatoes. For aubergine, slice it and spread it over the potatoes.

4. Take half the block of feta, crumble it over the potato and vegetable. Sprinkle a bit of mint, salt and pepper over it to season.

5. Repeat step 2. Then repeat step 3 and step 4.

6. Finally, add one last layer of potatoes on the top. Drizzle a little bit of oil on top so it crisps up and sprinkle some more mint. Pour two-thirds of the vegetable stock over the dish.

7. Place the dish in the oven for ±30mins. At this point take it out and add the rest of the stock to this dish. This stops it from drying out.

8. Cook for another ±30mins. The dish is ready when you can push a table knife through all the layers of potato without resistance.

Serve on it’s own, or accompanying roast meat, steak, burgers or anything you can think of really. Remember to refrigerate the leftovers, otherwise they dry out. Recommend a full-bodied red wine or a dark ale to drink.

Let me know if you try this out – it’s one of my favourite dishes and I love letting people know about it.

Recipe: Tofu & Mushroom Stroganoff

Tofu is an under-rated food. It’s low in fat, high in protein and generally pretty healthy (although the high salt content in your Miso soup can undermine this somewhat). It’s also not a foodstuff that I cook with very often, although I do enjoy it when I eat out at Japanese restaurants.

So, when I invited a friend over who doesn’t eat a lot of meat but loves Japanese food and mushrooms, I saw an opportunity for experimentation.

Ingredients
Serves 2, with leftovers

250g Tofu
1 medium Onion (chopped)
2 cloves of Garlic (chopped or crushed)
200g Mushrooms
1 tspn Dill (fresh or dried)
150ml sour cream/Crème fraîche
Soy Sauce
Oil

Optional:
Handful of dried mushrooms

Method

1. Heat a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan.

2. Drain the tofu and cut into bite size peices. Fry the tofu in the oil until it is light brown.

3. Remove the tofu from the frying pan and place on a kitchen paper or similar. Add the onion to the pan and fry until tender.

4. Add the mushrooms, garlic and soy sauce to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
Note: The amount of soy sauce used is dependant on taste. I used quite a lot and it gave the dish a rather dominant smoky taste, which overpowered the mushrooms. If you like that, use a lot, if you don’t just just use a few dashes.
For a stronger mushroom taste follow the instructions on the packet and add them at this stage.

5. Add the sour cream or crème fraîche, dill. If you prefer a creamier sauce, increase the amount of cream added.

6. Return the tofu to the pan and cook until the tofu is heated throughout.

Serve with noodles or flat ribbon pasta such as Linguine or Fettucinne.

Total cooking time is in the region of half an hour, or less. It’s quick, easy and tastes dammed good.

Recipe: Rum Steaks

Lets face it, sometimes you just need to combine alcohol and meat in one wonderful dish, and this is such a dish.

Safety Warning: Cooking with spirits at high temperatures does mean you run the risk of alcohol spontaneously combusting as it boils off from the sauce. This is perfectly safe and will only last a few seconds, but if you don’t feel confident dealing with this, then this dish possibly isn’t for you. If you do want to attempt this, then keep a lid for your frying pan on hand, and read up on your fire safety.

Ingredients:
Suitable number of beef steaks, about 175g (6oz) each (tenderise as preferred)
Ground Black Pepper (from a pepper-mill, not the pre-ground powder)
Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons of oil
50g (2oz) Butter
50ml (2fl oz) Dark Rum
1 Beef Stock-cube (dissolved in 4 tablespoons of hot water)
4 tablespoons double cream (or cream substitute)

Method: Continue reading

Recipe: Chicken Pesto

This is a great dish, and one that I make quite a lot. It’s also very easy, very flexible, quick to make and tasty.
For about £10, you can get three or four meals out of it (or do what I normally do, which is feed myself and a friend with it and have the leftovers for lunch the next day).

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 jar of green pesto
1 green pepper
4-5 spring onions
5-6 medium sized mushrooms
1 onion
(optional: splash of white wine)

Method:

1. Carefully pour the excess oil from the pesto into a frying pan. Chop the onion finely, and fry in the pesto oil over a medium to high heat until soft.

2. Chop the chicken into bite size chunks and add to the pan with the onion. Fry until the chicken is cooked though, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.

3. Add the entire jar of pesto to the chicken and onion. Roughly chop the other vegetables and add them to the pan along with a slash of white wine if you are using it.

4. Simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, then eat.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve immediately with pasta (for best visual effect I recommend Tagliatelle or Fettuccine)
  • Serve immediately with a salad with a bit of balsamic vinegar as dressing.
  • Get a French stick/subway roll, slice it open and fill.
  • Leave to cool, mix some pasta shapes though it and have it as a pasta salad.

Final Thoughts:
This is a ridiculously versatile meal, as well as one of those recipes that is easy to memorise.
I’d encourage experimentation with the recipe – I’ve been meaning to try a red pesto version as well as different vegetables such as courgette and aubergine in an effort to make a vegetarian friendly version.