Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Chaplain's Bake

When a rather ugly but delicious tasting celeriac has been staring back at you for over a week, it's time to get the thinking hat on. A savoury bake was the answer. This combines layers of roasted aubergine and a creamy central layer of celeriac, potato and gruyere. It's delicious served hot with roasted potato skins and for me a favourite at this time of year, sprouting broccoli. Cook the broccoli as you like but I have to say I am increasingly fond of charring brassicas, in this case I cooked the broccoli in a shallow lidded pan with only a tablespoon of water, a little salt and a knob of butter, cook on a medium heat until the broccoli boils dry then be brave and allow the remaining butter to fry the contents until the bottom parts of the broccoli have taken on some colour, delicious!

For this recipe you will need; (feeds six)

2 large aubergine, weighing in total 700g
200g of celeriac
200g of potatoes
200g of double cream
180g of gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of tomato oil (optional) click here for the recipe
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
100ml of water
2 teaspoons of salt

Begin by slicing the aubergine and placing in a bowl, put in the salt and give them a good toss to ensure the salt touches each slice. This will draw out some of the liquid, not as is commonly believed to draw out bitterness but to make dressing in a little oil, easier when it comes to cooking. Set to one side.
Peel the celeriac and cut up as though you were preparing potatoes for chips, do the same with the potatoes, I don't bother peeling potatoes but do peel them if you feel compelled to do so. Cook the celeriac and potatoes in only 100ml of water, bouillon powder and pepper until tender, on a low heat in a lidded pan. Keep an eye on them, there should be no water left when the vegetables are cooked, if there is a little, simply continue cooking with the lid off. When tender, take off the heat and stir in the cream and finally, the cheese, keeping 50g back to sprinkle on top prior to cooking. Set to one side.
Rinse off any liquid and salt from the aubergine slices and toss in the olive oil. On a medium heat, cook the slices in a dry pan, the oily coating should be sufficient to prevent sticking. Continue until each slice is nicely browned.
Assembling the dish.
In an ovenproof dish, a lasagna dish is perfect, begin with a layer of aubergine (half), brush with the tomato oil. Pile on all of the celeriac and potato mix and top with the remaining aubergine slices, brush with the tomato oil and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top. Bake in a moderate 180C oven for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbling and toasted.

This dish will work very well if you substitute parsnips for celeriac, in that case use only parsnips and double the weight to 400g.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

January Cake

Happy New Year to all my readers, including someone new in Cape Verde!
Christmas is now well and truly over and after all that rich food our thoughts turn to. . . . .
Cake! well I know mine do. I have been staring at comports still half full of seasonal goodies like dates, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, marron glacé, for over a week. The festivities this year didn't see them all eaten up. So when I thought of creating a new cake for January, using up a couple of these ingredients made sense. A food processor makes making this cake really easy, the result is a deliciously moist cake, gently scented with ginger, an ideal cake to enjoy with a pot of Russian caravan or indeed to serve a one of Bruce's Brunches in Balliol.

Cape Verde bring the count up to 144! Welcome!
Monaco makes it 145! Welcome!
Bolivia, welcome! No 146

For this cake you will need;
180g Self Raising flour
170g of light muscovado sugar
170g of unsalted butter
3 eggs
100g of crystallised ginger
100g of medjool dates
50ml of DiSaronno liqueur
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm by 8cm round cake tin.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt dates and ginger in a food processor and process until you have a fine crumb. Processing anything moist such as dates with the flour allows them to be finely ground whereas without the flour they would form a sticky lump. Add remaining ingredients and blend on a pulse setting until you have a smooth cake batter. Place the cake mix in the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before taking out of the tin.

Grinding up dried apricots or pears works in exactly the same way. This cake keeps well in an airtight container, just as well if like me you're trying to lose the odd kilo you put on over Christmas.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Balliol Veggie Bake

Now this recipe takes me back, my daughter was very young and it was one of her favourite things to eat. When grandma joined us for dinner she would often help herself to more of the molten cheese topping than might be considered fair and my daughter would watch her like a hawk as her grandmother dug down rather sideways more than vertically, scooping out more of the toasty cheese. I usually made up for it by transferring some of the topping from my portion to hers, smiles all around.
This recipe is ideal when you need to feed a number of people, easily 6-8 hungry souls in this case, on a tight budget. If you establish a good relationship with your local market greengrocer you'll find he or she will be happy to help out with vegetables at the end of the trading day that can be sold more cheaply, disfigured or uneven size for instance. Where better than the excellent covered market in Oxford.
Tinned plum tomatoes which are a store cupboard essential and almost always cheaper than pre-chopped, boost the savoury flavour. Personally I would never use fresh tomatoes unless you grow them and have a glut. The list of vegetables below is what I had available, but this can be made using a far greater variety, I had some cauliflower left over from the other day and I found edemame beans on offer in the supermarket yesterday. Use whatever you have available, but do begin with garlic and either onion or leek. Roughly 750g of mixed vegetables.

For this recipe you will need;
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
100g of onions
150g of potatoes
200g of carrots
100g of red pepper
100g of cauliflower
100g of edemame beans
1 tin of plum tomatoes
100g of red lentils
200g of bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon of bouillon powder or other vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
200g of cheddar or other hard cheese.

 In a large oven proof casserole, begin by gently frying the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the onions and after a minute or two add the remaining vegetables having cut them up into chunks. Add the tomatoes having squished them with your hands (a very satisfying job). Fill the empty tin with water three times and add. Add the stock powder, pepper and red lentils, simmer for ten minutes before adding the bulgur wheat, stirring to evenly distribute. Place the casserole with its lid, in a medium oven 160C and bake for an hour. Take the casserole out, remove the lid and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return the casserole to the oven without its lid, having turned the heat up to 200, 15 minutes should see the cheese thoroughly melted, bubbling and brown. Serve with a crisp salad, filling, delicious and above all inexpensive.

This basic recipe for what is in essence a soup thickened with lentils and bulgur to form a bake, can be varied considerably by the use of different vegetables but also spices and herbs of your choice. The stock can be varied, a great opportunity to rinse out the last of a jar of pesto or similar sauce and added to the 3 tins of water.
This dish is light on protein but you can always increase the amount of cheese if you wish                                                              

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Balliol Apple Cake

There are many apple cake recipes in Britain of course but I do recommend mine, not least because it is a recipe I had to make 5 times, tweaking with each version, before I came up with the final one. This cake is tender, light, moist and full of apple flavour. If you make the extra effort and make the candied apple click here for the recipe, you will be rewarded, however you can make the easier version, using fresh diced apple.

For this cake you will need

200g of self raising flour
130g of ground almonds
230g of light muscovado sugar
160g of melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
300g of candied apple + 100g of grated fresh apple
OR 400g of diced fresh apple
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

Begin by lining a 20cm by 8cm round cake tin, with baking parchment. Make the candied apple if using by following the recipe on the above link, you will need to use 400g of diced apples, 120g of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid but follow the instructions. The proportions are different when you make larger amounts.
Begin mixing the cake by melting the butter and allowing to cool completely, at least 15 minutes. Heat up the oven to 160C.
In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, muscovado sugar, salt and eggs until smooth. Add the ground almonds and mix in thoroughly. Finally fold in the flour followed by the candied apple and grated apple if using or diced fresh apples, Place in the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar on the top. Bake in the center of the oven for and hour and ten minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

It's really important to allow the melted butter to cool completely before mixing in with the other ingredients, if you don't, the heat will activate the baking powder and you will end up with a cake that rises too soon then sinks.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Pecan & Cinnamon Brioche

I'm very fond of pecan & cinnamon Danish pastries, it occurred to me that they could also be made using my brioche recipe rather than a croissant dough. They can, here is photographic evidence and very very good they are too!

For this recipe you will need
1 portion of brioche dough click here for the recipe
2 tablespoons of date syrup
150g of pccan nuts
1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder

2 teaspoons of date syrup
50g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of water

Toast the pecan nuts in a moderate oven 180C for 10 minutes. Once cooled, process in a food processor along with the sugar and cinnamon on a pulse setting 4 or 5 times to just break up the nuts and thoroughly mix the sugar and spice.

At the point where the brioche dough is ready to be taken out of the fridge and shaped, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle roughly 30cm by 40cm. Spread with the date syrup and sprinkle with the nut mixture. Roll up to form a long roll and slice into 12 to 16 pieces. Place in muffin pans lined with muffin cases. Leave at room temperature until doubled in size. I usually shape these last thing before going to bed and leaving them for 8 hours before baking them for breakfast, but of course my house is on the chilly side. Place in a hot oven 200C, turn down the heat to 180 and bake for 17 to 20 minutes. Mix the glaze ingredients and drizzle on the top, return to the oven having switched off the heat. Leave for 3 minutes.

Serve warm!