Simple Italian Tarts

I found this recipe in Leiths Simple Cookery… I just couldn’t resist a little italian flavoured tart (who could?). They are delicious and quick to make and easy enough even for me (OK I admit I didn’t understand some of it).

I’m starting to really like this book. I reckon I’ll cook some more from there and post the results here…

The ingredients are:

  • Puff pastry (1 roll of)
  • A blob of Mozzarella
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green Pesto
  • A little olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Ingrediants
Ingrediants

Get your sheet of ready rolled puff pastry, I know it’s cheaper if you roll it yourself. But do I really take the risk?

Get a large mug and cut out some reasonable sized circles from the pastry, then get a smaller mug and push it gently into the middle of your circles (try not to get it all the way through; more of a scoring), this will get the nice raised edged lookย when the pastry’s cooked. The inner circle needs to be about a centimetre in from the edge.

Put a large teaspoon of pesto (try out the MCC pesto) into the inner ring, cover the tray and put in the fridge. Not entirely sure why this is necessary but there you go ย (not the pesto bit; the fridge).

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Get you cups out

While your waiting for the “pesto to dry” you can slice up the Mozzarella and tomatoes.

Fifteen minutes after putting the pesto pastry in the fridge take them out, cover the pesto with the mozzarella, tomato slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stick into an oven preheated to 200c.

In twenty five minutes you’ll have some of the loveliest italian tarts you’ve ever tasted. Add a bit of shredded basil on top of the tomato to finish it off.

Getting read for the oven
Getting ready for the oven (see the inner circles)

Wild Garlic Burgers

Gee went to Brighton for the night for her best friends birthday, so the kids and I thought that we’d cook. Cool. I thought about an amazing lamb dish I saw on the F Word the other night, but thought better of it. It might work, it might not and the kids get nothing to do.

Max Picking GarlicSo we decided on burgers, big fat ones. Whenever I’ve made burgers in the past they’ve always fallen apart, but now, aha, I have found the secret…

So, we went for a walk in the rain, picked some wild garlic, got soaking wet, came home, dried off and got on.

The kids love this stuff, getting mucky, wet, picking some stuff to eat, although they ate all their leaves before we got back…

Anyway ere we go, easy peasy lemon squeazy.

  • Minced beef, not too lean.
  • Handful of wild garlic (finely chopped bulb garlic will do)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • An egg

harvey01.jpgThe trick I’ve found with burgers is – do not mix in a bowl. I’m not sure why, but they seem to stay together better, and it’s more fun.

So get the mince out and put on a larger chopping board and flatten out with your hands, fold it over and flatten again, do this for a few minutes.

Next, break the egg over the flattened mince, wishing that your chopping board had a gutter (you’ll see what I mean), you then fold the egg into the meat. When you have kids; the more mess the better!

The egg should be thoroughly folded in and the meat kind of sticky, add some black pepper, a pinch of salt.

Make some patties, we made big fat ones, Harvey’s got tiny hands but still managed to make the biggest. Just make big meat balls, if you want to add something to flavour, this is the time. I ripped up some of the wild garlic and folded it in with the meat and then reformed as a ball, Max added some Nando’s Piri Piri sauce (he likes it hot). If you must add onions (why?) cook them first and chop really fine. Really you should add afterwards in your bun…

Patties of loveCook under a hot grill for 7-10 minutes each side (depends if you like it rare or not).

Serve with a bap (I love baps) some salad, some fat crispy chips, a sliver of cheese and sauces of your choice.

A top tip for slicing the cheese (I know most of you know this; I’m new you know), use your potato peeler, revelation, after nearly chopping off my fingers.

burger done.These burgers are great, but I have to say the star of this show were the chips, I’ve never made chips before and these far exceeded my expectations, and the kids. lol.

Ris Alamande aka Almond Rice Pudding

Why do they always pick on the chubby one for puddings? I mean, if I don’t already have enough to contend with; what with the weather and various “other things”. Anyway, we all have our cross to bear and mine is clearly a little wobbly around the edges. Onwards, dear reader, for today we shall remember christmas. A Danish one to be precise. The Danes celebrate christmas on the 24th December and call it Jul (Yule) which I believe translates as “wheel”, which is rather apt. They also all eat the same thing. None of the ambiguities of the english version. There will be a Roast duck, Flaeske steg (roast pork), red cabbage and caramelised potatoes. After that, they have Ris Alamande and before, during and after there will be much drinking and merriment.

For some extra girth, you will need

  • 85g pudding rice
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) water
  • 500ml (1 pint) milk
  • 1 teasponn of vanilla essence
  • 2 to 3 punches of sugar
  • 50g almonds (whole and blanched)
  • 300ml (just over 1/2 a pint) whipping cream
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Chocolate Orange Brioche Pudding

Hooray! It’s time for pudding again. But, alas, my lovely wifelet has encouraged me to a diet without pudding. Oh woe is me. So I can fulfill only the pleasure of making the pudding. Redeye, on the other hand, has to bear none of these restrictions and, along with his family of piglets, demolished the above named pud in quick time. A pud, I might add, that was so huge, it would have fed a large portion of Canada. Mind you, through the grunts of satisfaction, I believe the critique was in the positve.

Also, whilst this may look a touch involved, it is infact fairly simple. Take your time, do each bit in the order that it is written and keep the recipe to hand. The hardest bit is the custard but all you need to remember, is to pour slowly and keep stirring.

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here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 Large orange zest
  • 50g sultanas
  • Grand Marnier/Brandy/Whisky (just one…)
  • 200g Brioche
  • 150ml milk
  • 150ml double cream
  • 50g Maya Gold orange spiced chocolate (or just good quality dark chocolate)
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g sugar

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How to prepare the perfect boiled egg

I’ve just found this amazing site, which gives the science of cooking a whole new meaning. It’s inspired me to add a new “science” category for the geeks among us. Here’s the formula for boiling the perfect egg. ๐Ÿ™‚

How to prepare the perfect boiled egg

Yeh, it freaks me out too…

A quote from the article:

“As is evident from the formula, the boiling time depends on the size of the egg. For a larger egg, a longer cooking time is needed. The circumference of the egg is easily measured around the thick end using a piece of string which, after marking of the circumference of the egg, can be measured using a ruler. I have prepared a piece of string which I keep in the kitchen with three knots at 13, 14 and 15 cm respectively to make it even simpler.”

Ok then. ๐Ÿ™‚

Steak and Kidney Pie

First up this year we have a surprise. Anyone who’s been perusing this blog over the last few months will realise that most of us at the MCC are pure novices in the art of cooking, which is why the “steak and Kidney Pie” is special. It’s the first recipe where we the disciples have taken the recipe into our own hands and discovered the correct “moves”.

I decided that all I wanted was a pie. Me and Gee had a game pie from a farmers market and frankly it was rank, but we both couldn’t help but fantasize over pies. So the mission the next day was to research steak and kidney pies on this interweb thingy. I found hundreds of recipes, read about thirty and realised that there were a few quantities and ingredients that are pretty consistent and a few extras here and there that seem worthy of additional investigation.

Steak and Kideny Pie

So I ended up with the following ingredients.

  • 1.5 lbs of Beef cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 lb of kidney, cleaned, cut into small chunks, with all tubing cut out
  • 20-30 Button mushrooms cut in half
  • Puff Pastry, you could make your own, but the packet stuff is pretty good
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • Worcester sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Punch of flour
  • Couple of knobs of butter
  • Beef stock, I bought mine from Sainsbury’s
  • 1 egg

Doesn’t look enough once you write it down… ๐Ÿ™‚

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How to make a Carbonara?

So, I was sitting in my kitchen “again” wondering aimlessly how my beloved wonder woman can do so many things at once and still produce a great meal that tastes great and just seems to appear from nowhere. Then a few weeks later at the MCC, Sensi declared that we’d be doing a quick one as it’d been a busy weekend. So this “quick one” turned out to be Carbonara, a slightly beefed up one for the MCC, but Carbonara nevertheless. And ay up by gum it were smashing. As it goes we went to see Borat afterwards so that should probably be – I liked, it was nice, Shenkui.

Anyway the ingredients for the MCC Carbonara are as follows

  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 24 bits of streaky bacon, cut into strips
  • About 13 medium sized button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bags(1000g) of multi grain tagliatelle
  • 500 ml of Creme Fraiche
  • Parmesan, about the size of four fingers, grated!!!
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Eggs
  • Olive oil

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Masochistic MAYONNAISE – at last

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to post up Sensi’s Mayo. We’ve actually made it twice, and I’ve even attempted it at home a few times to varying degrees of success. It’s one of those things that is so simple yet so hard to master (a bit like chess) that I’ve been putting off writing it up until I had it sussed. That is until now…

Find below the ultimate Mayo recipe as written by the girlfriends dad, he’s mentioned it to me before and I’ve even tasted it a fair few times, but the other day, Nick, finally reckons that he’s mastered it and offered up the recipe, it turns out we make masochistic Mayo, see what you think…

MAYONNAISE

Mayonnaise has nothing to do with Mayonne in France, but comes from a corruption of Mahon capital of Minorca.

As is usual, the food is produced from what the local house-wife has had to hand over the years. It has been internationalised, and corrupted, ever since.

Traditionally whisked by hand, this version uses the modern kitchen convenience of a food processor. Those who have time to spare and are of a masochistic bent may like to follow the ‘correct’ method given after the the ‘cheats’ version .

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Maximus Fruiticous Cous

Cous cous, rocks. This one was a bit of an experiment on Sensi’s part. We made it with the Pokey Pork and veggies a few weeks ago and although we all concluded that it could be improved it was pretty flippin’ good to start with. There’s just summat about adding fruit to cous cous that is so right.

Ingredients

  • About 20ย  grapes, sliced into small chunks
  • a good bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • a punch of toasted pin nuts
  • olive oil
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 “c” cup of cous cous

Add the cous cous, the grapes, half the parsley, the pine nuts and salt to a bowl. Add 2 seconds of olive oil (ensure bottle has a slow pour nozzle). Mix this together and cover with boiled water from a kettle. Then cover the bowl with cling film and leave to stand for 10-15 minutes. If unsure the water will have gone and the cous cous will have absorbed the lot…

Like I said in the beginning, this was an experiment, I think you could make this fruitier (I would though), maybe with apricots or similar.

Pokey Pork

As part of our pseudo North African MCC yesterday, we cooked up a tasty loin of pork. I’m not sure if the majority of our North African readers are ever likely to eat pork, but the rest was quite authentic… ๐Ÿ™‚ We made our own harissa which was amazing and formed the main flavour of this quick recipe.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tea spoons of harissa – we made ours, but Sensi says tinned harissa is pretty good too.

Grab a reasonable sized bowl and throw in 4 good sized pork loin slabs. Pour over 3 seconds of olive oil, add a proper grind of pepper and a punch of salt. Add in the 2 tea spoons of harissa and mix it all up making sure all of the pork is fully covered.

Leave the mix to stand for a bit and then get your grill onto full heat, we’re going to grill it “carefully”, so put the grill pan on the bottom of the grill. When the pork starts to brown turn it over. This took us about 15 minutes altogether.

When done serve up with some cous cous and some tasty veg.