Wednesday, February 17, 2010

S'more's Pie Fest: Round 1

I have two recipes for this scrum-diddly-umptous-sounding pie, so this is the one I'm trying first, and it came from Disney's Family Fun website. Unfortunately, I only had 1 ready-made Graham Cracker crust in the cupboard, so Round 2 will have to wait until I can find some more Graham Crackers or pie crusts on my next visit to London.

Crust: (Or substitute one ready-made graham cracker crust)
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups miniature marshmallows


1. If using a ready-made graham cracker crust, skip to step #2. Heat the oven to 375ºF/180C. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, rubbing it in with a pinching motion until evenly distributed. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool.

2. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set them aside. Combine the remaining cup of sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Repeat with 1 cup of the chocolate mixture, then return the chocolate and egg mixture to the saucepan. Boil over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the vanilla extract. Pour the filling into the pie shell and allow it to cool at least 15 minutes, or chill it in the refrigerator overnight.

5. Just before serving, heat the oven to broil. Cover the pie with the mini marshmallows and broil it on the uppermost rack for about 30 seconds or until the marshmallows are lightly browned. (Watch carefully, or the marshmallows will burn.) Serve warm or chilled. Serves 8.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Easy Rosemary Pork Chops + Pea & Mushroom Risotto

These two recipes both came from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cuisine of California, although I substituted pork chops for veal chops because those are harder to find here in England.

Grilled Chops with Rosemary (serves 4)
4 veal loin chops (or pork chops), 6-8oz. (200-250g) each
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 (2-inch) sprigs of fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Brush chops liberally on each side with olive oil.

2. Strip leaves off rosemary sprigs and press leaves into both sides of each veal/pork chop. Sprinkle lemon juice on each side and refrigerate 1 hour.

3. Prepare barbecue for medium heat grilling or preheat oven grill/broiler, if necessary. Grill chops 3 inches from heat for 5-7 minutes on each side. The veal should be pink inside. Take veal/pork off grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with risotto.

Risotto with Fresh Mushrooms and Peas (Serves 4 to 6)
4 T/55g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups shelled fresh peas (we used thawed frozen peas)
1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock, heated to hot
1/4 lb (125g) mushrooms, sliced (we used mini portabello)
1/4 c. (60ml) fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 2 T of butter in a heavy saucepan. Add shallots and cook over low heat until soft but not browned. Stir in rice and saute lightly without letting it brown.

2. Add peas, 1/4 tsp. of salt, 1/8 tsp of pepper, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of stock. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, cooking until it is absorbed. Stir frequently. Stop adding stock when rice is tender. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a skillet. Add mushrooms, the remaining salt and pepper and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned.

4. When rice is done, gently stir in mushrooms, the remaining butter, and the Parmesan cheese (using a 2 prong fork if you have one). Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Festive Strudel from Jamie Oliver

I saw Jamie make this recipe on one of his TV shows over the holidays, so I saved a carton of Christmas Pudding to make it after the holidays were over, but never got around to posting the results. My effort did not turn out as pretty as Jaime's, but it was still totally tasty, and every little scrap was eaten. If you don't have any Christmas pudding left from the holidays, you can either make your own batch from a recipe I found here, or hold onto this recipe until next year....

Ingredients (Serves 8-10)

12 sheets of filo pastry (approx. 250g/8oz.)
125g butter (4 T.), melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g demerara sugar (brown cane sugar)
4 ginger biscuits (Ginger Snap cookies), crumbled
400g (12 oz.) leftover Christmas pudding
3 apples or pears or 2 quince, or a mixture of the three
50g (about 1 bar) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), for dusting
Ready-made vanilla custard, to serve

Method: How to make festive strudel

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lay out 6 sheets of pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel. They should cover it completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends. Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50g of the sugar then crumble over your ginger biscuits to add a nice bit of crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

2. Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit. You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 T. of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Xmas pud, down the short side nearest the overhang.

3. Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large non-stick pan. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp, golden and gorgeous looking. It might split a bit and look slightly rustic, but Jaime likes it that way. You could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking if you want it to look a bit neater. Once cooked, leave to cool then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5cm slices. Dust these with icing sugar and serve with ready-made custard from the fridge. Yum!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sydney Sunrise Smoothie

This yummy little breakfast treat came to me from a great cookbook I picked up while living in Australia in 2000, called Sydney Food, by Bill Granger, who runs Bills Restaurant in Sydney. It's so simple, and now that I have a great mango-slicing gadget, chopping up mangoes is a cinch!

(handy mango slicer)
All you need is:
1 cup/8 fl oz./250ml orange juice
1/2 of a mango, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 ripe banana, sliced
2 tablespoons yogurt, any variety (30ml)
- we used strawberry probiotic yogurt
Place all ingredients in a blender (or glass if using an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Serves 1-2.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ultimate Sloppy Joes Sandwiches

This is another recipe from a chef who appeared on Oprah's show featuring "Easy Family Recipes". I've never made Sloppy Joes' (an American dinner classic for all you non-Yanks) from scratch before, but they were so easy and delicious that I'm a total convert. The recipe calls for ground/mince turkey, but if you don't have turkey on hand, it's just as tasty with beef.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds (750g) lean ground turkey or beef
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (500ml) ketchup
1/4 cup (60ml) yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. 2. Add ground turkey or beef, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon—about 7 to 10 minutes. 3. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a splash of apple cider vinegar and season it once more before serving on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns.