Piped Viennese Biscuits

In response to Lauran’s request, here is a recipe I’ve used many many times to make really lovely and easy little biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 115g/4.5oz butter
  • 25g/1oz icing sugar
  • 150g/5oz plain flour
  • 75g/30z plain cooking chocolate (optional)

Method

Let the butter sit at room temperature for a little while, then beat it with a wooden spoon until it has softened. Then, mix in the sieved icing sugar until it is creamy in consistency. Stir in the flour (again, it needs to be sieved) and then put all the mixture in a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle. Pipe out finger lengths onto a pre-lined and greased baking sheet. Or, if you don’t have piping bags, or have no inclination to go to the effort, put small round dollops of the mixture onto the lined and greased baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for spreading. Then, cook at 190°C for about 12 minutes or until they have just started to go golden brown.

If you like, melt the chocolate once the biscuits have cooled, and then dip each end of each biscuit in. Return the biscuits to the baking sheet and pop it in the fridge to chill. Or, you could sandwich two biscuits together with the melted chocolate. Or, if you have just made a chocolate fudge cake and have some chocolate fudge icing to spare, you could use that to sandwich biscuits into a yummy, chocolate fudgy sandwich! Want a recipe for chocolate fudge icing? Coming right up!

Oriental pork with rice

I slow roasted a pork joint at the weekend, and it positively fell apart afterwards – I mean it – I literally carved it with a spoon! Anyway, when I had the pile of shredded pork in front of me, it reminded me so much of  shredded duck at the Chinese restaurant (to look at) that I decided that I should make a Chinese-y meal with it. I wasn’t in the mood for a roast dinner anyway, so this was ideal. (If anyone wants to know how I roasted the pork joint to produce this result, drop me a comment and I’ll post the recipe another day).

Oriental Pork

Ingredients

  • Roast pork, shredded
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Garlic (puree or 1 crushed clove)
  • Chilli powder
  • One chicken stock cube, crumbled
  • Dried herbs (I used mixed dried herbs with an additional sprinkling of sage)
  • Chinese 5 spice (you’d find it in the same supermarket display as the other herbs and spices, probably near the barbeque rubs and meat marinade spices
  • Red or yellow capsicum pepper, finely sliced
  • One 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

Method

  • Fry the pork and onions in a very little amount of oil, or a couple of sprays of spray oil (the pork should be fried as the fat in the meat will have made it a little greasy, and this seals the flavour in well). Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and fry until the pork is sealed (it will look dryer).
  • Mix in the chilli powder, stock cube, herbs and chinese five spice one by one, stirring well to coat the meat and sliced onions.
  • Add the sliced pepper, and then after a good stir add the tinned tomatoes (you might need a tin and a half/two tins depending on how many portions you are making, so that the sauce remains liquidy). Simmer on a very low heat so that the sauce doesn’t dry out whilst you are cooking rice, noodles or mashed potato, season to taste and serve.

Spiced and seasoned roasted potatoes

I made this to accompany my pork medallions in a Mediterranean sauce, and they complimented each other nicely. I think that this would also work well with a curry (tomato based sauce rather than cream or yoghurt) because of the cumin I used. Mind you, cumin always reminds me of naan bread, which is why it makes me think of curry!

Spiced and seasoned roasted potatoes

Ingredients

  • potatoes (as many as you want, really, as long as you can fit them all into your oven tray without crowding!)
  • vegetable/sunflower oil (olive oil can’t achieve the heat required without smoking, so isn’t really suitable for roasting vegetables in the oven
  • cumin seeds
  • black pepper
  • chilli powder
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves (if available – I didn’t have any and it was OK without, although I’ll definitely have some in for next time

Method

  1. Put a large oven tray into your oven with two tablespoons of oil. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6 (adjust for fan ovens)
  2. Wash and peel the potatoes and chop them into bite sized pieces. I don’t know why, but the slightly smaller pieces of potato work better for this sort of thing than the larger, more traditionally sized chunks we usually use for roast potatoes.
  3. Par boil your pieces of potato for roughly ten minutes, drain and then bring your oven tray out of your oven (the oven should have reached the required temperature by now).
  4. Spread the potatoes and the chopped garlic cloves evenly in the oven tray and then liberally sprinkle with the cumin seeds, ground black pepper and a teaspoon or two of the chilli powder (to taste).
  5. Return to the hot oven. After fifteen to twenty minutes, using a fish slice/spatula, turn the potatoes over so that they get a chance to evenly brown. The side which was on the tray should already be brown.
  6. After another fifteen to twenty minutes, when the potatoes are evenly browned they are ready to serve. Enjoy!

Welsh pork medallions in a mediterranean sauce

Due to the recent change of circumstances of a very good friend of mine, I have, at present, a freezer three quarters full of pork. You should see it – it’s all beautifully wrapped, packed and clearly labelled, and I now really need to get on with eating it! I have one drawer full of large joints, one of small joints and another full of pork loin steaks and slices of pork belly. I’m still umming and ahhing about what to do with the belly pieces, but I’ve had lots of ideas for the joints and the steaks. As you will be able to tell from the title, I had an idea the other day which worked out very well indeed, so I’ve decided to share it with you. (I’m generous like that!) So, here it is.

Welsh Pork Medallions in a Mediterranean sauce

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 pork medallions (I cut them out from the pork loin steaks)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • couple of cloves of garlic (chopped) or 2 teaspoons of garlic puree
  • 2 peppers (capsicum) – different colours if possible (sliced)
  • couple of sticks of celery (sliced)
  • large splash of red wine or slightly smaller splash of port!
  • 1 (400g) tin of tomatoes – I used chopped tomatoes as none of us like the whole tomatoes in the finished meal
  • chicken stock cube
  • bouquet garni
  • seasoning

Method

  1. Brown the pork medallions in a large, flat bottomed pan (preferably one that they can all fit in, flat on the pan rather than having to overlap. Remember that the medallions will shrink a little during cooking).
  2. When the medallions are brown, place on a plate and fry the onions off. If you are using chopped garlic cloves, add them now as well. Once the onions have become slightly transparent, add in the sliced peppers and celery and fry until soft.
  3. Put the medallions back into the pan. If you are using garlic puree, add this now and mix everything well to make sure that it is evenly spread out. Pour in the red wine or port and use this liquid to help get the residue from the bottom of the pan – this will add flavour to the sauce and will make the washing up much easier!
  4. Once the wine has reduced slightly, crumble in your chicken stock cube, tip in the tinned tomatoes and add the bouquet garni and seasoning. Mix it all well together, but try not to agitate the pork too much as you will want the medallions to stay intact. Heat everything up until it is simmering (not boiling).
  5. At this point, I put all of the mixture with a splash of boiling water in my crockpot and left it to simmer down for the day. If you don’t have a crockpot, you could leave it in the pan to reduce the sauce (stirring fairly frequently to make sure nothing sticks and burns to the pan) or you could put it in a relatively low oven to achieve a similar result to the crockpot. Either way, keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t dry out, and add hot water as needed.

I served this with sliced runner beans and lightly spiced roasted potatoes but I think that it would be equally nice on a bed of mashed potato or rice, or even with pasta although I think if you went for the latter option you might want to increase the quantity of the sauce at the initial cooking stage by using an extra half to a full tin of tomatoes, another splash of wine and a little more black pepper!

A new page just about food!

While I was writing out the Toad in the Hole recipe earlier today, I was thinking about the other recipes that I’ve posted since I started the blog a few years ago. I realised that I would have posted enough to create a separate page with links to each post. So that is what I’ve done! All the recipes I post are easy to follow, as I don’t generally have the time or the patience to cook things which are fiddly or take all day! So now, if you remember a recipe that I’ve posted before, but can’t remember exactly when that would have been, you can go to the specially designated page and hopefully find it quickly. I’m planning on posting some more recipes very soon for other quick, easy and cheap family meals which we enjoy regularly.

Click here, or click the tab at the top of the blog to visit my recipes page.

Toad in the Hole

One of our favourite meals as a family is toad in the hole (is this something that you have in other countries? Maybe by another name? Or is it only in the UK?). For those of you not in the know, a traditional toad in the hole is sausages baked in a giant yorkshire pudding (batter). My boys are like many other children in that they love sausages, which is why this is always such a favourite. I try to make it a bit different though by adding in roasted vegetables. Often this is only onion, but you could add pepper (capsicum), carrots, etc.

I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s a nice easy recipe for a family evening meal.

Pre-cook the sausages. I grill mine, piercing the skins so that excess fat drains out. Once cooked, let them rest for a little while until it is easy to slice them without them falling apart. I chop the sausages into three or four chunks.

  • Heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Put a large oven dish in the heating oven with a tablespoon of vegetable oil to heat up.
  • Once the oven is heated, put in the vegetables and roast them for fifteen minutes. As soon as the vegetables have gone in the oven, prepare the batter so that it has time to rest before being added to the mix.

Batter:   4oz/125g/4 slightly heaped tablespoons self raising flour, 3 medium eggs, half a pint/approx 200ml milk. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into a separate bowl, whisk lightly so that the yolks and whites are combined and then add to the bowl with flour. Add a little of the milk and mix this together with a fork. Add a little more of the milk until it’s not a sticky goo. When you don’t think it will get clogged up, switch to a whisk. Add milk until you get a batter the consistency of pouring cream. You might not need all the measured milk, or you might need a little more. Trust your instincts! You can season with a little black pepper and possibly a couple of pinches of dried herbs.

  • After the fifteen minutes of vegetable roasting, put the chopped sausages in the dish and pour the batter all over the meat and veggies. Pop it back in the oven for twenty to twenty five minutes. It will be puffed up and golden brown when it’s done.
  • Serve with gravy (essential!) and some green vegetables like peas, runner beans or broccoli. Watch how fast it vanishes!

This feeds the four of us comfortably. It should be pointed out that my children have extremely healthy appetites, so maybe it would be enough for more people if they didn’t eat such huge amounts!

Completed projects, 2009

Taking a leaf out of Mandi‘s book from the beginning of 2009, I thought I’d like to share with you details of most of the projects I completed in 2009. I was busier than I thought I was!

Missing are a couple of presents waiting to be delivered to the recipients, and a couple of gifts which I forgot to photograph before wrapping – oops! I shall track down the people they now belong to and ask if I can photograph them. I find it makes a handy record for next Christmas, so I don’t double up on presents!

So here is my pictoral review of my crafting year;

brown and gold scarfCassia scarfshortbread roundsblanketpink hatCrochet squares 1Cheese sconesChocolate truffle cakeHeart sconespotholder heat paddishclothspotholdersChocolate truffle cake slice with raspberries

So, 42 (plus a few I’ve not posted pictures for yet -call it 50) projects completed in 2009. Can I beat this for 2010? There’s a challenge – an average of a project a week!

You will be hearing more about some of these projects through January as I do my run down of who had what for Christmas. I’ve missed being able to blog about what I’ve been up to, so you’ll be getting the brunt of the catch up next month, I’m afraid!

I’m sure I’ll say it tomorrow as well, but happy new year to all my readers, and may 2010 be happy, healthy and a nice balance of peaceful and exciting for you all!