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Nigel Slater’s Classic Porridge

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

(Source: Observer)

I was brought up on sweet, milky porridge made with rolled oats, but that all changed when I was shown how to make it by champion porridge maker Ian Bishop from Carrbridge in Scotland. My method is now his.

The recipe

Pour three cups of water into a small saucepan and place over a moderate heat. Tip in one cup of medium oatmeal and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. As soon as the porridge starts to blip, add half a teaspoon of salt. Continue stirring until the porridge has been cooking for a total time of 5 minutes. Tip into warm bowls. Have a bowl of cold milk or cream ready. Lift a spoonful of hot porridge and dip it into the cold milk or cream and eat.

The trick

Only stir your porridge clockwise or you risk summoning the devil. A wooden spurtle will get right into the corners and prevent your porridge from sticking. Eat immediately it is ready. The porridge will thicken as it cools. Use medium oatmeal rather than rolled oats. Add salt to all porridge, even if you are going to sweeten it afterwards.

The twist

Each to his own, but porridge is correctly made with water rather than milk. The usual embellishments are red-berry jams, golden syrup or honey, but other ideas include a compote of stewed dried figs, maple syrup or a mixture of fresh berries, sugar and ground cinnamon. You could also leave it to set into cakes and fry it in butter. Oatmeal ice cream, made with toasted oatmeal and cream, while not quite porridge, is certainly worth a visit, too.

Potato and cauliflower curry

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Serve this simple and quick curry alongside a little chutney and some steamed basmati rice.

a tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced
2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
1 bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves reserved for garnish
a tsp coriander seeds
a tsp fennel seeds
a tsp mustard seeds
6 cardamom pods, roasted and ground
2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into generous-sized chunks
1 thumb of ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a tbsp fish sauce (you can use a light soya sauce if you prefer)
a tbsp tamarind paste
a tbsp palm sugar
1kg ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tin coconut milk
1 head of cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets

Place a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat on top of the stove and add the oil.

Once the oil is warm, add the onion, chilli, coriander and crushed spices. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar.

Stir once or twice, allowing the palm sugar to dissolve as you do so. Then add the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and cook for 20 minutes, by which time the potatoes should be tender but not falling apart.

Add the cauliflower and cook for a final 5-10 minutes – I like the cauliflower when it still has a little crunch.

Figs in red wine

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

These soft, boozy figs are excellent served with cheese. They work best alongside semi-hard cheeses such as pecorino or wedges of aged and crystallised Parmesan. Or serve them alongside a soft and creamy Gorgonzola dolce.

750ml pints full-bodied red wine
500g dried figs
3 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp caster sugar
the peel of one orange

Pour the wine into a medium-sized, heavy-based pan. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Add the figs, bay, sugar and orange peel and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat. And allow to cool. Spoon into sterilised jars and place in the fridge.

Before using, remove from the fridge and allow to return to room temperature.

These figs will last for up to a month in the fridge.

Chicken and lobster pie

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Shellfish like lobster and prawns really do go well with the delicate flavour of chicken. For slow-cooked chicken dishes it’s better to use thighs rather than breast meat as they stay more moist and succulent.

2 cooked lobsters, about 500g each
500g boned and skinned free-range chicken thighs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
350-400g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
plain flour for dusting
1 free-range egg, beaten

For the lobster sauce:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
reserved lobster shells
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
60g butter
60g plain flour
a good pinch of saffron strands
a few sprigs of tarragon
1 tbsp tomato purée
60ml white wine
500ml hot fish stock
500ml hot chicken stock
400ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp cornflour (if needed)

Remove the meat from the lobster tails and claws and cut roughly into 1cm pieces. Reserve one lobster head (if making a large pie). Break the rest of the shells up a bit, using a heavy knife. Cut the chicken thighs in half, or into thirds if large. Cover and refrigerate the lobster and chicken meat.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the lobster shells, garlic and shallots over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they begin to colour lightly. Add the butter and, once melted, stir in the flour. Add the saffron, tarragon and tomato purée, then gradually stir in the white wine and the hot fish and chicken stocks.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half, then add the cream. Season lightly with salt and pepper, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half again. (A simmer plate or heat-diffuser mat is useful here.)

Strain the sauce through a colander into a clean pan, moving the shells with a spoon to ensure all the sauce goes through.

Tip about one-tenth of the shells into a blender and add about a cupful of the strained sauce. Blend until smooth, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into the sauce in the pan.

Bring the sauce back to the boil, add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce should be a thick coating consistency by now; if not, simmer a little longer (or dilute a little cornflour in water and stir into the sauce). Leave to cool.

Stir the lobster and chopped parsley and tarragon into the cooled sauce. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Fill a large pie dish or 4 individual ones with the mixture.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness. Trim to about 2cm larger all round than the pie dish (or cut discs large enough to cover individual dishes). Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Lay the pastry over the filling, pressing the egg-washed sides on to the rim of the dish(es).

If making a large pie, cut a cross in the centre and insert the lobster head, so it sits proud. Cut a small slit in the top of individual pies to allow steam to escape. Leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush the pastry lid with beaten egg and bake the pie for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown (allow 10-15 minutes less for individual pies). Let the pie stand for a few minutes before serving.

Baked breakfast tomatoes with duck eggs

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

I had this dish near Tarragona in Spain years ago as a starter for a monumental dinner that went on from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., but I thought it would make a great breakfast dish. You can use fresh, over-ripe tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes for this.

2 tbsp olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 x 400g cans of good-quality chopped tomatoes, or 1kg skinned ripe tomatoes
a couple of sprigs of thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 English muffins, halved
4 duck eggs

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and thyme, season and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly toast the muffins on both sides and lay in an oven-proof dish. Pour over the tomatoes, then crack an egg on to each muffin. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are just cooked.

Serve immediately, drizzled with some olive oil.

Grilled cherry tomato and roast ham penne

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

400g wholewheat penne
360g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper
110g honey-cured roast ham, torn into strips
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Boil the pasta in a large pan of water for around 10-12 minutes until al dente.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Put the tomatoes cut side up into a shallow roasting tin. Drizzle with oil and season. Grill for 7-10 minutes until they start to shrivel.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Fold in the tomatoes and ham. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve.

Toad in the hole with apple and rosemary

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 red skinned apples, washed and cored
8 pork and leek sausages
a few springs of fresh rosemary
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
150ml half-fat milk
150ml water

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the oil in a large roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.

Cut each apple into about 8 wedges.

Remove the hot roasting tin from the oven and add the sausages, apple wedges and rosemary and roast for 10 mins or until beginning to brown.
Whilst the sausages cook, place the flour in a bowl with the salt. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Gradually whisk in the milk and water until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven and shake well, pour over the batter then return to the oven and bake for 30-35 mins or until golden and risen. Serve with vegetables and gravy.

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