The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

24 05 2012

Hi Chums,

It has been rather a while since I last recommended a book to the World at large ,that would be you lot by the way.

In the main this is because I have been far too busy working on my own cookery book which will be launching rather soon. Hint Hint…

As such it is rather fitting that the book I am all in a lather about is one that dovetails nicely with my own.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings 

The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

Here is what those nice chaps over at Amazon have to say about it:

“An illustrated sourcebook to these all-important cooking ingredients includes information on more than two hundred herbs, spices, essences, edible flowers and leaves, aromatics, vinegars, oils, teas, and coffees”

I on the other hand will stick to simply issuing an instruction –

IF YOU COOK  AND DON’T OWN A COPY GO AND BUY ONE. NOW.

Not quite Wordsworth but hopefully the point comes across. I very rarely encounter anything that I look at and think wow this is something which everyone should own. However on this occasion I really am that impressed.

Not only are they lots of high quality pictures, excellent descriptions of various herbs, spices and flavourings and their uses but there are also over 200 recipes so you can leap straight in and start applying all this new-found knowledge.

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Lancashire Cheese & Onion Tart with Black Pudding and Bacon

7 05 2012

 Back when I was at school it was obligatory to study home economics and if I am really honest it was great fun and I really learnt a lot.

One of the recipes that always sticks out in my mind is Lancashire cheese and onion tart, I can remember vividly the excitement at pulling it out of the oven, tucking into a big savoury slice and then taking the rest home to Mum and Dad.

Well that is nearly 20 years ago now and over time I have refined that original recipe quite a bit, the bacon was an obvious addition and sprang from using up leftover rashers, the black pudding however had a little more thought behind it.

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 160g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 egg yolks to glaze
  • 400g black pudding
  • 10 rashers of smoke bacon
  • 2 large onions
  • 350g Lancashire cheese
  • 300ml double cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Chopped thyme
  • Black pepper

Method:

In a food processor blend the flour, butter and salt until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and egg. Mix until it becomes a dough. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Roll the pastry into a greased tart ring 28cmx 4cm and blind bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C . Take out your baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes for a golden brown base. Brush with egg yolk.

Fry off your bacon until cooked and your onions until softened and lightly brown

 Mix together the cream, milk, eggs, yolk, black pepper,onions, thyme and half of the cheese

Pulse the black pudding in a food processor until you have a paste.

Roll the black pudding paste out between two layers of cling film so that you have a sort of black pudding patty which will cover the base of the tart

Pop your black pudding onto the pastry and cover with a layer of bacon

Spoon over the cream, cheese and onion mixture and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and add a few slice of tomato if you want to.

Bake in a pre heated oven 180°C for around 40 minutes until set. You can then finish it off for 5 minutes or so under a hot grill to crisp up the cheese.





Winter Vegetable and Bacon soup

16 11 2010

With the weather getting colder and the nights drawing in sometimes I just want to eat something warm and filling.

This winter vegetable and bacon soup ticks both of these boxes and like all soups is cheap and easy to make.

If you make more than you need immediately you can portion it into ziplock bags and it will happily keep in the freezer until you need it.

You will need:

1 large potato

250g swede/turnip

1/2 tbsp thyme

bunch of parsley

4 carrots

4 parsnips

2 sticks of celery

2 leeks

2/3 bay leaves

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic

200g pancetta

1/2 litre chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season

olive oil or butter

Chop the onions, garlic and celery and sweat with a little olive oil or butter for approximately 15 minutes until they have softened.

At this point add in the remainder of the vegetables having first peeled, cleaned and chopped them into manageable pieces, continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes

Now add in the chicken or vegetable stock along with the thyme, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the parsley which needs to just be roughly chopped and the bay leaves.

Turn down the heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and pour everything else into a food processor and blend until you have a nice smooth puree.

Pour the puree back into the pan and thin with a little more stock if it seems too thick, add more seasoning to taste and warm through.

Fry your pancetta until crisp and drain of any excess oil, add to the soup and serve immediately in warm bowls.

If you wish to make a vegetarian version omit the bacon and ensure that you use vegetable stock.





Homemade Onion Bhaji

25 10 2010

I was making  Indian food yesterday  and my brother asked me if I wanted him to pick up some onion bhajis from the takeaway in town on his way home from watching the Arsenal vs Man City game.

I said no of course as I don’t see the point in spending €6.50 for 3 super greasy over cooked bhajis when I can make dozens for far less money and with far more taste.

So here is my recipe for making delicious onion bhajis at home:

  • 100 g of gram flour (if yiou haven’t got gram flour then use plain white flour)
  • 2 large onions cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium sized red chili cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of garam masala
  • handfull finely chopped fresh corriander leaves
  •  pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 100 ml of water
  • 200 ml of rape-seed oil to fry

 

mix together the gram flour,onions, chilli,spices and seasonings

add the water to it, mixing it constantly, until you have formed a fairly thick batter

heat oil in a saucepan

using two spoons form the bhajis and place into the hot oil

ensure that there are no more than 2 bhajis in the pan at once or the temperature will drop

fry the bhajis until they are a nice golden brown colour and have a nice crisp texture

pat the fried bhajis with a kitchen towel to soak excess oil, if you aren’t eating the bhajis straight away they will keep perfectly well in a low  oven until you are ready.

These Bhajis are great by themselves but are even better with something to dip them in, personally I would make a nice raita to accompany them.








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