Monday, November 15, 2010

Glass Onion (part E)

Before anything else. Majesty. They're potatoes and they're purple. Not just skins, but all the way through. Totally purple spuds. Sainsbury's sell them and they're produced by Bartletts, the same people who produce Roosters - the red spuds that are allegedly good for most things. We had a couple of Majesty with dinner last night and they taste like potatoes, have a slightly floury texture and are apparently very good mashed. How weird would that be - bright purple mashed potatoes!

Anyhow...

Leek and (not purple) Potato soup

Although, one wonders what this would be like if you used purple spuds...

2 big leeks - sliced and chopped up into quarters - so small bits of leek
6 medium potatoes - now the one I'm doing today has 6 Anya and 2 Red Duke of York - the Anya are small to medium and essentially a salad spud, the RDofY are a floury spud that will slowly dissolve the longer its cooked for; but you could use Maris Pipers, King Edwards, Kestrel, basically whatever left over spuds you might have apart from the likes of Cara or Osprey which are both really crappy.
1 onion - chopped finely
4 bay leaves
One 2" round of butternut squash, chopped into small cubes
1 ltr vegetable stock
Freshly ground pepper
1tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp fresh cream (optional)

Sweat the leeks and onion down, add the spuds, add the coriander powder, bay leaves and squash, add the stock and pepper, leave to simmer for about an hour. The longer you let it cook for the richer it gets. When finished, get a potato masher and mash the soup. I used to blend it, but this way you keep some lumpy bits in it, making it more of a country styled soup. Add the cream if you want it rich and creamy.

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Quorn Spag Bol

Obviously this isn't a spag bol at all, it's really a sort of bastardised version of savoury mince and some kind of half-arsed spaghetti dish. It's also one of those things that I throw together rather than 'measure'; so all the ingredients are mainly guess work and depends on what you have in the freezer.

Some quorn mince
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
some diced mixed peppers
some mushrooms
1 tin of tomatoes - blitzed
a stick of celery - diced
1 small carrot - diced
some fresh or dried basil
splash of red wine
a tsp vegetable stock powder
some diced quorn bacon bits

This is really lazy, but once I've fried the onions, celery, carrot and quorn mince for a while, I just chuck the rest in the pan and stick the lid on for about 45 minutes until about half an hour before I serve it, then I throw the quorn bacon bits in and check the seasoning. If its light on taste I might put a dollop of Marmite in it, which occasionally gives it some depth. Like my chilli, it's essentially a throw everything in and forget about it dish.

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Vegetable hotpot

This is something I created because it was something that I missed from when I was a meat eater and like many soups it'll never quite compare but it's still a fave in this house.

I do two versions of this. One is more like the old standard hotpot I used to have, which I prefer and the other is more like a casserole, which the wife prefers. You need an oven proof Pyrex styled dish, small to large sized, depending on how many you're doing it for. You also need something that I no longer see for sale anywhere and that's dried chestnuts. We picked loads of them this year - English ones - and dried them out in the bottom of the oven for about 6 hours, but they work and they add a real depth to this dish - without them it's a bit meh. vacuum packed ones are okay, but the problem is this is something that needs to be in the oven for a minimum of 2½ hours and by the end of cooking the vacuum chestnuts get obliterated and you want them to remain there, not just for flavour but for texture too.

The recipe for 1 is as follows - just increase it accordingly if you're cooking it for more.
½ an onion
½ stick of celery
1 small carrot
½ dozen dried chestnuts
8 or 9 chunks of quorn chicken or beef styled chunks, that has been marinated in
½ pint of vegetable stock with extra white pepper (you can also put the dried chestnuts in this or use more chestnuts and leave the quorn out)
2 bay leaves
3 mushrooms diced - and a few dried ones, if you have them. this is all about flavour and I have loads of dried varieties this year.
½ diced ripe tomato (optional)
½ tsp mixed herbs or a bouquet garni
some floury spuds, peeled and then cut into half at the thinnest point.

Chuck all the ingredients into your dish and leave for a while to stew; when you're ready to stick them in the oven, put your cut spuds on the top, arranging them so that the majority of the contents is covered. because this is going in the oven for a long time, I advise against having sliced spuds; they'll dry out too quick and go crunchy and what you want is spuds that have soaked up all the excess liquid and have a nice hard, crunchy top. Bung this in the pre-heated oven at about 150 for about 2 hours, checking to make sure the liquid hasn't disappeared; if it gets low top it up, normally just some warm water will do. For the last 45 minutes, turn the temp up to 200 so it gets a nice crunchy spud outer topping.

For the casserole version, use the tomato and add a heaped tbsp of tomato puree to the liquid mixture, cook it at a slightly higher temperature, say 160 and then give it an hour at 200, so that the liquid turns into a thick gloopy sauce.

***

Mushrooms and Gruyère on Ciabatta

This is something I put together for a dinner party and ended up as a really nice lunch time snack. It's great with wild mushrooms, but as most of you wouldn't know an edible wild mushroom from a hole in the ground, you might have to make do with whatever you can get from the supermarket. A mix of ordinary buttons, chestnut, oyster types work nicely - I'd avoid shiitake and Enoki mushrooms - too tough or inconsequential.

A load of mushrooms
some butter & oil
a couple of cloves of crushed garlic
some chives
seasoning - maybe a splash of white wine or some brandy

Chuck all of this into a pan and fry quickly - you don't want to stew them, so make sure the butter/oil is as hot as you can get it without burning the butter.

While that is flash frying, slice your ciabatta in half and grate your cheese. When the mushrooms are cooked, pile them on your bread, carefully spooning the liquid onto the top so that it soaks into the ciabatta. Put a handful of cheese (doesn't have to be Gruyère, but it's tasty and stringy) and then shove it either in a very hot oven (my preference) or under a hot grill.
Eat with your hands!

***

I will get around to meat at some point. I've been asked for my Chicken/Turkey soup recipe - which, even if I say so myself has become legendary (I haven't had it for over 15 years, so it might not be as I remember it). I've also got this really interesting variation of Toad in the Hole which my mum invented and I rather miss because there really isn't a veggie alternative and there's an interesting thing with Turkey livers that beats other liver dishes hands down (which, to be fair I have recreated as a veggie dish, but like hotpot sometimes meat dopes make things taste so much better!)

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