Buckfast with Grapefruit Juice – the Perfect Serve

Another attempt to find a way to drink the Buckfast. This was pleasant. I got it from the Buckfast website. I added more grapefruit juice than they suggested. The picture on the website looks a lovely juicy orange, whereas the real thing is a dark brown.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50ml Buckfast
  • 50ml pink grapefruit juice
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
  • Soda water

METHOD:

  • Put a lot of ice in a highball glass, pour over the ingredients in the order listed, stir and serve.

Aubergine and Chickpea Stew

This is the first recipe I have tried from the ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book. The book is a collection of recipes from Syria, and so much more. It tells about the culture of food and sharing in Syria, builds links with people using the #CookForSyria @CookForSyria tags, and raising money for Unicef to help children affected by fighting in their beautiful country.

I served it to a visitor, and we shared a lot of stories about the ethics and politics of food. I had to make a few adaptions to fit my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp za’atar (I used the mystery mixed Italian herbs, but za’atar is available from Seasoned Pioneers. )
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Chopped coriander to serve
  • Coconut vegan yoghurt, or grated creamed coconut

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Chop the aubergine into chunks. I split them length-ways into quarters and then slice thickly.
  • Put the aubergines into a roasting tin with the spices and 4 cloves of garlic, coat with olive oil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes
  • Finely chop the red onion and cook it slowly in olive oil, for around 10 minutes
  • Add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, along with the tomatoes, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add the aubergine, chickpeas, salt, apple cider vinegar and cook until the chickpeas are hot.
  • Serve with a garnish of coriander leaves and coconut yoghurt.

I served this with rice, and we were very full afterwards

Ratatouille

I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 4 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.

Chard Fritata

This is another classic from my old recipe book. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 500g chard
  • 6 eggs
  • ground black pepper
  • 75g parmesan or similar hard cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Wash the chard and chop roughly
  • Beat the eggs and season, and beat in the cheese
  • Heat the oil and add the chard, cook until it has wilted
  • Add the eggs, reduce the heat and cook. When the bottom of the fritata is done, put the whole pan under a grill until the top is done.

An annotation in the book: ‘This is supposed to serve two or three people, but I can finish it in one go if I am very hungry.’

Lemon Curd

I was looking through my old recipe book, which I have had since around 1990, for keeping notes. This is my recipe for lemon curd. It is a very basic recipe. You can add the juice of other citrous fruit but actually, lemon is still the best.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar

METHOD:

  • Beat the eggs
  • Put all the ingredients in a double pan (one pan sits on top of the other, boiling water in the bottom pan)
  • Heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture is fully blended and becoming thick.
  • Pour into clean jam-jars.

Pea and Ham Soup

This is a classic soup – so classic that I couldn’t find it in any recipe book. Apparently we are to learn how to make it as a hereditary skill. This recipe makes a huge vat of soup, but I don’t see how you could make much less.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large ham bone, ham hock, left-over cooked ham
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped into small chunks
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 potatoes, diced (optional)
  • 500g bag of yellow or green split peas – rinse the peas.
  • 1.5l stock (ham stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 level tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • In a large soup pan, fry the chopped onions and celery gently in the olive oil, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer
  • Add the carrots, peas, stock, ham, paprika and bay leaves to the pan, and bring to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water if it is becoming too thick.
  • If you are going to add potatoes, do so at this point, and simmer for another thirty minutes.
  • Remove the ham bone from the pan and set it aside to cool. Pull any meat off the bone, shred it and return it to the pan.
  • Season with salt and pepper if required, and heat to a simmer before serving.

If you want to freeze this soup, don’t add any potato. If you’d like a smoother soup, you can blend it with a soup wand before adding the shredded ham.

Tagliatelle with ham and cheese

This is a quick recipe from Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. This is a classic recipe book, lots of recipes, along with descriptions of context and history of individual dishes. It was first published in Britain in 1954.

I had some ham that I purchased from the reduced section in the co-op, and it was a work night tonight, so something quick and easy was required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g tagliatelle per person
  • 50g cooked ham per person, cut into strips
  • 25g freshly grated parmesan per person
  • Butter
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 8 minutes, or until done.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter and cook the ham for around 3 minutes, until warm through.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and add all of the butter and ham and half of the parmesan, stir together and serve with the rest of the parmesan and black pepper for seasoning.

Ham and leeks in a cheese sauce

This is a good quick supper, easy and tasty. I scored some cheap ham at the co-op this afternoon. Top tip – if you want to eat cheaply and feel good about stopping food waste, Sunday afternoons at the co-op is peak bargain time.

After we ate this, we reflected that we could have snuck in a layer or two of lasagne as well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 leeks
  • approx 4 slices of cooked ham, chopped
  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml of cooking liquid from the leeks
  • 300ml milk
  • nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
  • 100g grated cheese
  • breadcrumbs

METHOD

  • Prepare the leeks, cut them into 1 cm slices and cook in boiling water for around 7 minutes.
  • Drain the leeks and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Put the leeks into the bottom of a gratin dish, and cover with a layer of ham.
  • Fry the flour in the butter, for around a minute, and then add the liquid to make a smooth sauce, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Add half the cheese, along with the mustard and a grating of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the cheese is all melted into the sauce
  • Pour the sauce over the ham and leeks, then top with the rest of the cheese and then the breadcrumbs
  • Cook for 10 minutes under a moderately hot grill, until the topping is nicely browned.

Buckfast Negroni

In the interests of investigation and fearless gastronomy, once upon a time we purchased a small bottle of Buckfast at the co-op in Broadford. It has been languishing in our kitchen ever since. Neither of us has developed a taste for it at all, but every now and again we try it out as an ingredient. It works as part of a cocktail.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25ml London dry gin
  • 25ml Buckfast
  • 25ml Campari
  • 3 dashes of orange bitters

METHOD:

  • Put about six cubes of ice in a mixing glass, and pour the ingredients over the ice.
  • Stir for around 2 minutes, to chill the ingredients and dilute them with melted ice.
  • Serve in a small glass over ice.

Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta

Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta is another recipe book that has stood the test of time on my bookshelf; I bought it in 1997. I have already got some of Rose Elliot’s other recipe books, but this one lifted vegetarian cookery to another plane, into something fresh and colourful. Several of my other recipe books at the time were a bit worthy. The book is illustrated with wonderful photographs, as well as plenty of practical and tasty recipes.

The recipes are divided into types of pasta recipe, starting with soup, moving onto salads, simple dishes, and then the classic sauces and baked pasta dishes. Most of the ingredients are readily available locally, and the methods of cooking are easy to follow.

One difficulty that I have is that the index could be better. If I have, for example, leeks and carrots, I would like to be able to find recipes that use these ingredients. The index only lists dishes by recipe title or type of pasta. But that is a minor grumble.

I recommend this book to you all.