Category Archives: How-To

No Recipe Applesauce

Organic is not always pretty.

Organic is not always pretty. Late summer and organic equals freckled, spotted, worm-holed, wasp-stung, mouldy fruit and veg. That’s when it’s time to cut out the mucky bits of apples and make applesauce. I don’t use fruit that’s rotten or mouldy; we have enough from windfall and those still clinging to branches, so it’s unnecessary. I leave heavily damaged fruit to the wildlife and insects, most of whom seem drunk from the fermentation at this time of year.

foodMill_8sept14

Applesauce freezes well, so we have a good supply during the winter, a happy reminder of what summer tastes like. And best of all, applesauce requires NO recipe. If the apples are too starchy, I add water (small amounts at a time, ie., a spoonful) or old dry cider (which I freeze in ice cube trays). I have a foodmill, so I don’t bother peeling the apples. The peel adds a lovely warm colour to the applesauce. I cut out the mucky bits, core them, and then cube the apples into equal-size chunks. Toss the whole thing into a large stock pot (I make it in huge quantities at this time of the year), keep the heat at a low temperature, and stir when I remember to do so. Just don’t let the apples at the bottom of the pot stick and scorch. When the apples are cooked down and mushy, I spin the mass through the food mill, and chuck away the peel and remaining bits.

applesauce_8sept14

I sweeten after the apples are ‘milled’, adding as little as possible. I am cooking for a diabetic, so minimal added sugar. I use ‘half-sugar’ substitutes, if needed.

If you feel the need for a recipe, the No-Recipe recipe at Food52 is a good one to follow.

 

The Ultimate Scone Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

This is not my recipe, so I’ll not take any credit for it. It is however one of the best that I’ve stumbled over, so I thought you’d like to know about it. It’s called Ultimate Scones, and it’s at the BBC Good Food website. And here’s the way they look when you’ve baked them!

How-to Use Up Leftover Rice

spicyRicePrawns

Spicy Fried Rice with Prawns

I love the challenge of clearing out the fridge of leftovers. Veg that’s seen better days, tomatoes that are ready to go squishy,  saffron rice from last night, a handful of frozen prawns, and red chillies. This tossed-together-quicky lunch turned out surprisingly delicious … according to Peder. I can’t disagree.

I oiled up my old steel wok, sautéed the onion, garlic and asparagus, fried off the rice, added some red Thai curry paste, and just before everything was nearly finished, I poured a beaten egg along the inside edge of the wok so it set fast as a blink against the seering heat of the pan. And then folded the egg into the rice. Serve before the egg sets hard if you like it a bit moist, or if you like it a bit more crunchy and crisp let it fry for a few minutes more.

Now if I can only remember how I did this when the fridge is bulging with leftovers again.

How about you: any favourites that you stir-up with leftovers?

How To Make Mustard Butter

mustardButters

This is without doubt the best flavoured butter I’ve *ever* made.

When it comes to steak, I like a knob of garlic butter to melt and spread like high-tide across the charred surface. But sometimes I don’t want garlic. Like last night. So I found a recipe that David Lebovitz claims as his own. In truth, I recall tasting something very similar on a steak in Paris last year, so I don’t think it’s his invention.

There’s not much to it, really. Soften a couple tablespoons of salted or unsalted butter at room temperature for a while, smoosh it a bit with a fork, and then add 2 teaspoons (or so) of dry mustard powder (like Colman’s English mustard powder) with one teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Mix it up well with your fork, and then scrap the yellow jewel on to cling film/plastic wrap. Gently, roll into a log … and then toss it into the fridge to return to a solid, sliceable consistency.

It’s delicious!

Really!

So, for anyone who didn’t want to read the above opinionated blather:

Mustard-Butter

2T butter, softened at room temperature
2 teas mustard powder
1 teas Dijon mustard.

Mix with a fork. Roll into a log. Refrigerate until solid. Slice.

Ref: http://www.davidlebovitz.com

How To Remove Tea Stains From China Cups

Royal Copenhagen Cup

How To Remove Coffee and Tea Stains From China Cups

My lovely Royal Copenhagen mugs are a magnet for tea stains. I refuse to use harsh chemicals (bleach, denture tablets, hydrogen peroxide, etc.) on their delicate surface, so what to do? How to remove coffee and tea stains from the inside of your precious cups?

Salt.

Yes, indeed. Just plain old table salt.

Rinse out the cup with cool water, and then sprinkle a thin layer of table salt all around the inside of the cup. The moist surface keeps the salt adhered to the cup. Let it sit for a minute. Now put your index finger to work. Well, not work really — just a gentle circular massage of the cup’s surface where the stain is. Within seconds you’ll see the stain absorbed into the salt. The salt turns a mucky colour. Keep massaging the surface until the stain is completely removed. It’s quick. It’s fast. It’s easy and cheap and, trust me, it works.

When I discovered this method of removing stains from fine bone china cups, I shouted at Mr Misk: “ WOW! Come look at this! Come quick!”

He ran. All excited. Thought I’d won the lottery. Obviously, he wasn’t nearly as excited as I was because he thought he’d just become rich rather than just stain-free. But that’s men for you. I get excited about stain removal; he doesn’t.

How do you remove coffee or tea stains from your cups?

roastedPotatoes2

Heston’s Perfect Roasted Potatoes

How-To-Make Perfect Roasted Potatoes

My mum loved to burn potatoes. Well, that’s what I assumed. Turns out that she just burned potatoes. No love involved.

It’s like this, you see. My dad loved crispy fried potatoes, and true to form, my mum never quite knew when to stop. That makes sense when you have a few facts, like she didn’t learn to drive until she was 45, and until then she only stopped when she wanted to. Now she had to stop for red lights, stop signs, pedestrians crossing the street, squirrels, cats, dogs … stopping for potatoes was a brake too far.

Mum was cooking potatoes without benefit of Heston’s secret. I now know how to make roast potatoes that my dad would’ve loved. Fluffy inside, crispy, golden and crunchy outside. Heston uses 50:50 beef drippings and olive oil. The beef dripping’s not necessary; I used all olive oil with perfect result. But that’s not the secret.

Heston’s secret is two-fold: 1. Use fluffy roasting or baking potatoes. Red skin ones are best, and a large size so you cut them into to equal size chunks. Small ones won’t work well because you need three flat sides. If they’re too small, you’ll only have one flat side because you’ve cut each one in half rather than lots of chunks. You’ll understand why later when you try it yourself. And now for number 2. Cook them in gently simmering water until VERY VERY soft and they’re starting to fall apart. Not parboiled like Delia taught us. They should be at the stage where you think “Oh, no! I’ve overlooked them!” If that’s what you’re thinking after 20-25 minutes, then you’ve boiled them perfectly. Hurrah for you.

Slowly, carefully, as if fighting the effects of gravity, drain the cooked potatoes into a sieve or colander, and allow to cool completely. They’ll dry as the steam rolls off them. The edges should be separated, flakey, ready to fall off into mush. If you’re too heavy-handed when draining them into the sieve, the potatoes will collapse into mush, so easy does it. Now, fire up the oven to 200c, and place a roasting pan with about 1/2-inch of (olive) oil in it so it gets very hot. When the oil is shimmeringly hot, add the potatoes using a spoon (gently!), roll them in the oil so they’re covered with a thin slick, and put the potatoes in the oven to brown. Turn over each chunk at 20 minute intervals, and watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Mine were ready in 45-minutes.

roastedPotatoes1

Heston’s Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 kilo large red-skin potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme wrapped in cheese cloth
(if you don’t wrap the rosemary in a cloth, the needles come off and make a mess on the potatoes. I had to pick them off by hand.)
6 small garlic cloves bashed with the side of a knife
olive oil, enough for a layer 1/2-inch deep in a roasting pan

Method:

Peel and cut the potatoes into equal size chunks. Put them in a pot of cold water with the whole/bashed garlic cloves and the cheese cloth bag of herbs. Bring up to a boil, uncovered, and then reduce the heat so the potatoes cook at a low simmer until very soft and starting to fall apart along the edges. About 20-25 minutes. Carefully drain into a colander or sieve, slowly slowly slowly, so they don’t collapse into a mushy mess. Discard the cloth with herbs, but set aside the garlic cloves, and allow the potatoes to cool. The cooler the better, actually. Cool, cooked  potatoes absorb less oil than hot ones.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F when the potatoes are cool.

Pour 1/2-inch of olive oil or vegetable oil into a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chunks in one layer. Put the pan in the oven so the oil can reach a shimmery high heat.

Now, carefully spoon each chunk of potato into the pan of hot oil. Turn gently so each chunk is coated with a thin slick of oil, toss in the boiled garlic and pop the pan back into the oven before the oil can cool too much.

Roast for 45-60 minutes, turning the potatoes about every 20-minutes so they can brown on all sides.

Don’t throw away any of the little crispy bits that have fallen off the potatoes. They’re delicious. Drain on a layer of paper towelling, and serve hot with a sprinkle of flaked salt.

Note: This recipe is based on Heston Blumenthal’s. I’ve omitted the beef drippings, reduced the time in the oven roasting, and a bit of other faffing about that he’s famous for.

mollyBix3

How To Make Homemade Dog Biscuits

How To Make Homemade Dog Biscuits

My Molly loves treats but some of them are not particularly healthy. Some have a large amount of sugar, and in my opinion a dog should not be introduced to sugar. I want to know what Molly is eating. Fat? That’s what the ingredient list said on a popular brand of dog treats. I want to know where that fat comes from, what animal or vegetable. Molly is precious to me, and I want the best for her.

mollyBix1

She likes these dog biscuits a lot. There’s very little animal fat in them, as I used vegetable fat (Trex) with just a hint of bacon drippings to tempt her nose.

mollyBix2

These are easy to make. Peder helped! Mix by hand, bake for 20-30 minutes, turn the squares over, turn-off the oven and continue baking and drying-out while the oven cools-off. Bon appetit, puppy.

Lots of natural ingredients
Lots of natural ingredients

Homemade Dog Biscuits

200g strong wholemeal flour
50g wheat germ
½ cup bacon drippings or vegetable fat like Trex
1 large egg, beaten
118ml/ ½ cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Mix all of the ingredients together my hand. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water. If too wet, add a pinch of flour and knead into dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surfaced to about ½-inch thick. Cut into squares or shapes as small or large as you think your dog might like. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and place the dough squares on it. Use a wooden skewer to poke 4-5 holes in each biscuit.

Poke lots of little holes in each biscuit to assist drying and baking.
Poke lots of little holes in each biscuit to assist drying and baking.

Bake for 20-30-minutes until lightly browned and firmed, turn biscuits over, and return the baking sheet to the oven. Turn the oven OFF, and allow the biscuits to cool and finish drying in the warmth of the cooling oven. Leave in the oven until it’s completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Two dozen biccies for Molly!
Two dozen biccies for Molly!

This recipe is inspired by one at Kitchn.