Category Archives: Course

My New Toy

For a long time, I waffled between the desire to have a pressure cooker, and the terror of having one explode in my house. If you you think that is silly, recently a friend of mine was badly burnt by opening his pressure cooker while it was still pressurised. He’s made a full recovery, but not before a week of significant pain and some quite heartless jokes from his ever sympathetic friends.

As luck would have it, a Canadian company has devised an enhanced pressure-cooker-slow-cooker.  It’s my new favorite toy (although not by much, my new oven that doubles as a proving drawer and my purple KitchenAid stand mixer are still high in my affections).

Still, we’ve never eaten so many braised, stewed, steamed foods as we have since the Instant Pot arrived.  The best part?  I can now whip up chili using cheap cuts of meat (beef shin comes to mind!) in less than half an hour.  Here’s the recipe if you’re feeling peckish.

 

  • 500 grams of a cheap cut of beef (shin works fine for this!) – diced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • splash of sunflower or similar oil.
  • Chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of beans (I like Heinz Fajita beans but use whatever is to hand!)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped.
  • [Optional] chopped celery
  • Fresh coriander and sour cream to garnish
  1. Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine cumin, cinnamon, and flour.  Toss the meat in mixture to coat.
  3. Tip coated meat into the hot oil to sear and brown. (It’ll tend to stick a bit, don’t worry about it.)
  4. Add the chili, tomatoes, onions, and celery if you are using.
  5. Add a little bit of water.
  6. Change to Meat/Stew setting. Change time to 25 – 35 minutes (depending on how small you’ve cut up the meat). Close lid.
  7. Once the time is up, use the quick release method to release the steam.
  8. Remove lid and add the beans, stir through.
  9. Spoon into a bowl with a generous topping of sour cream and coriander.

Serve with boiled rice or flour tortillas.

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2 minute idiot proof creme brûlée

So the challenge with creme brûlée is that it is best when it isn’t fully set, but how do you know for sure if it will be until it’s too late?

The answer is… Don’t bake it.

You can make your own custard for this, but it’s even simpler if you buy ready made thick custard. Fill the appropriate number of ramekins and sprinkle turbinado / Demerara sugar on top. If you don’t have the iron for this, you will need a small blow torch. Apply a thin coat over the custard. Don’t be tempted to put a very thick layer as you won’t be able to caramelise the entire thickness. Burn the sugar until it has liquified.

Return the ramekins to the fridge and serve cold.

Could it be any easier?

Technology, how I love you…

Friends, I apologise: it has been far too long since my last post. A new laptop and a new iPad mean that I’ve been having a bit too much time configuring and reordering data and very little doing any special cooking.

The good news is that my iPad is now blog enabled so I will likely be posting more often.

To make it up to you all I’ll add two new fast recipes for you today. The first is the delightful soup I made for lunch today: fennel & celeriac. Get one of each, chop into small pieces and put in a pot with 1/2 cup of water with a teaspoon each of butter and veg or chicken bouillon powder. Once the veg is soft, zizz until smooth, adding milk if required. finish off with a generous dollop of crime fraiche or yogurt and a generous grinding of pepper.

Enjoy immediately.

Banana and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding

This is a quick and easy dessert that uses up two kitchen perennials: over ripe bananas and slightly stale bread.  I tend to use a two inch deep pyrex dish for this  as I love the cruchy/caramelised topping and my partner prefers the mushy creamy underside.   If you like the topping better, use a shallower dish to provide more surface area.

Ingredients:

  • 2 overripe bananas (I pop bananas in the freezer as soon as they start turning black.  You can peel and slice them straight from the freezer)
  • A loaf of slightly stale bread (I wouldn’t use rye or anything savoury, of course but this works great with just about any bread: raisin loaf, white, whole wheat, panettone, brioche… whatever!)
  • Vanilla
  • Turbinado / Demerara sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • a handful of chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread up into good sized chunks (about 1 inch) and place in dish.
  2. Add the sliced up bananas and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla.   Add butter and microwave until milk is hot enough to finish melting the butter.  Whisk and pour quickly over the bread (you want the butter to be fairly homogeneously distributed).
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  5. Bake in a hot oven (about 180 but that depends on your oven) until the whole thing puffs up a bit and the edges of the bread pieces on top start to darken.
  6. Serve immediately topped with vanilla icecream.  (left overs can be warmed again, or eaten cold)

Simple Winter Soup

A few days ago, we dined at Cail Bruich.   As a wee starter, they served a lovely little veloute that was just perfect for the weather we’ve been having in Glasgow.   I was eager to attempt a recreation and mine came out slightly different but equally delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 500g of celriac, finely diced.
  • 1/2 can of chestnut puree
  • 1 generous splash of vegetable bouillon stock or a stock cube
  • Splash of double cream or whipping cream
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • 1 tart apple, such as Bramley.

Instructions:

  1. In a pot, melt the butter.
  2. Add the celriac and allow to soften slightly (it’s okay if it becomes slightly golden, but not brown).
  3. Add chestnut puree, seasoning, and stock, then cover with water.
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer until celriac edges become slightly softened.
  5. Zizz until smooth.   Mix in cream.
  6. Peel and chop apple into tiny dice just before serving.   Add a heaped teaspoon of apple (about one quarter of a small apple) to each bowl before serving.   Pour in soup.
  7. Serves four.

 

Hearty Hearthy Earthy Potage

The weather in Glasgow at the moment is horrendous.   Strong winds, cold rain… and grey skies that make it seem dark by two in the afternoon.   Last week we even had hurricane force winds.

Given that weather, all I really want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm, hearty bowl of soup.   When I was a kid, mom always started supper with a soup in the winter (and sometimes in summer).  The game for us kids was to guess the ingredients.

If you are trying to lose weight, or ensure you get your 5 a day, then soup is an excellent way to achieve those goals.  You can easily make a soup using just vegetables and with very little fat or carbs, while increasing fibre intake.

This week, I made a very nice soup that I wanted to share:

  • 1 butternut (or other) squash, halved and seeded.
  • 1 onion, quartered.
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup of tomato juice
  • seasoning to taste – I used cayenne pepper, paprika, celery salt, and nutmeg.
  1. Arrange the vegetables on a baking tray.
  2. Bake vegetables in a medium oven until the edges become dark.
  3. Remove from oven and remove the peel from from the pepper and the squash.
  4. Put all the vegetables and seasonings in a blender with the tomato juice.
  5. Liquidize. (you may need to add a bit more tomato juice to get the desired consistency)
  6. In a pot, heat the soup once more to the desired temperature.
  7. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a piece of rustic bread (if desired).

Roasting the vegetables gives them an earthier flavour and allows you to soften the onion and the squash without adding water for a richer flavour.

 

 

Spanish Chicken Stew-ish

As the weather closes in, there’s nothing more tempting than a bowl of stew.  Sadly, stew is one of the few things I simply cannot eat – love it but my tummy doesn’t.  My way around this is to make stew-ish.   I use a better cut of meat than you usually would with stews and so I don’t have to cook it as long.  That makes all the difference for me.   If you have no problem with stews, replace the chunks of chicken breast with thighs.

I like the reminder of holidays spent in Spain and Portugal so one of my favourite ingredients is a little bit of fresh chorizo sausage.  I remove the casing and divide each sausage into three pieces before adding.   To make this even quicker, I use canned beans.  You can replace these with rice, but I like the added fibre and variety of using beans.  Tonight I used two cans of beans: flagolet and adzuki beans.

Spanish Chicken Stewish:

For each person, you will need:

1 small can of beans

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 1/2 can of stewed tomatos (I also added half a dozen quartered tomatoes because I had them and didn’t want them to go off)
  • 1 onion cut into 8ths
  • 1 can of water
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker.  Mix well.  Cover and set on medium.
  2. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.
  3. Cook for an hour then set to low.   Serve hot.