HagelToast - tales from a tiny kitchen

Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconiles everybody. Samuel Pepys

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pheasant Casserole and Chilli Chocolate

This handsome pair of Cock Phessies were a sacrifice to a friend, however the source of these plump and delicios chapswas my mum's garden. I amvery fortunate,my parents live in North Devon, it's beautiful and slightly wild countryside, though Exmoor is less bleak than Dartmoor. They are at the top ofthe hill andsome days are among the clouds, but on a clear day you can see forever. This has various advantages, oneis I never complain about visiting my folks, because I get free roomand board in lovely lodgings in someofthe most gorgeous countryside England has to offer the other, is that being slap bang in the middle of popular shooting country they get endless Pheasants attempting to destroy the lawn. Mum, as a result has a freezer full of thee birds, already cleaned and jointed, which when i want them, is how i take them, but Warro is hardier than me, so he got theminthe feather.

First of all Pheasant, if you have never had it, does not taste of chicken,it has a distinctive flavour, and being game, some people hang itfor a nice long time to give it a very strong flavour. Not really being game people, Mum only hangs them for about two days, in practical terms this means they are milder flavoured and only slightly wiffy instead of stinking when she prepares them.

I'm rambling, here's the recipe:
Norfolk Casserole of Pheasant
Serves4 (origin unknown to me)

1 large or two small pheasants
1/2 pint of chicken or game stock (chicken has a milder flavour)
1oz flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
4 rashers of bacon
2 medium onions
1tbsp sunflower or olive oil
1/4 pint sweet cider
2 dessert apples
2 tbsp sweet sherry (opt)

Preprepare up to stage 7 the day before if possible, but certainly early.
1) cut birds into approx 8 pieces for 4 people
2) blend flour with seasoning and herbs, coat the joints
3) de rind bacon and cut into small pieces, finely chop onions
4) heat bacon rrinds in oil and add coated birds, cook 10 mins turning several times
5) transfer birds to casserole, put onions and bacon in pan & cook for 5 mins, put on joints in casserole
6) pour stock and cider into pan, stir and season, boil briskley for 5 mins, discard rinds and pour sauce intocasserole to just cover meat
7) cover and cook 1hr in preheated oven at 180deg (moderate oven)

8) core but donot peel apples and cut into rings and add to top of casserole, add sherry
9) continue cooking for 1/2 hour to 1 hour at 180 deg

white or red wine can be used instead of cider, sherry and apples. Personally i use a scrumpy cider and skip the sherry and apples. Yummy.

Now i said something about chocolate
a few days ago, i came acros for the first time, the concept of hot chocoalte infused with chilli. Wow!!! Well, today i was oin Nottingham for my course, and they have some shops we don't in leicester, including this palce http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/cx1/
Ah, thought i, while i am preoccupied with hot chocolat anyway, i will bet they do the good stuff, from solids instead of powder. Quite right,they do, and guess what, they do a chilli one.
I tried it tonite and it was good. My only critisism is that i have in the past used the tiny buttons of solids and they are nicer to handle and melt easier to a better contistancy then the chocolate marbles hotel chocolat use. But if you are a chocoholic go and indulge yourself with a browse of their website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

the working lunch

Lunch on weekdays is a constant source of conflict for me. Occasionally i have a spurt of making lunches, but i bore of sandwiches and am as yet uninspired regarding alternatives. So that leaves buying lunch, for a few pounds i can have an aray or subway sandwiches, burgers, pub grub with chips etc. or the healthy options of a few pathetic leaves in a tub. It's a dilemma. Today a returned to my personal favourite, which i am conscious not to overuse. Potato Jacks. It's a take away potato and baguette place, they make it all up in front of you and it's all delicious. My staple is chilli con carne and cheese. There is nothing special about it, a mild meat chilli, and a blend of i assume cheddar and red leicester cheeses, thrown onto a buttery potato. It's filling, warming and delicious. Just as well since it's freezing cold and indescribably miserable outside today.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

a good days cooking

I had ago at making these yesterday.
Biscuits Chocolat et Fèves de Cacao
They were delicious. Check Clotilde's site forthe recipe and a photo of how they look when they are perfect.

I alsomade my Mum's recipe for Choclate sludge, not very diet friendly, but it had to be done. Melt 110gofbutter and 4 tablespoons of golden syrupin a pan, when melted and mixed add a large bar of dark choclate (bournville is best, but any belgian dark will do)broken up. When all that is melted and mixed crumble in plain digestive biscuits, until the whole thing is quite thick. Then pour it our into a greased baking tin, let it cool and stick it in the fridge for an hour. It's thick, and chewy and delicious. I didn't take aphot coz it isn't pretty.

I also had to rustle up some supper for myself,Mark and his brother Phil. They had been working hardinthe garden so we went with simpleandfilling. I chopped up some chickenbreast and fried it with mixed herbs and minced garlic, cooked somebacon, then threw a tim of tomatoes, some basil and the cooked,diced bacon into the pan with the chicken, served with mash. Th etomato andbaconsauce is a fairly traditional pasta sauce, but it's got a good flavour and is quite versatile.

I think next post i shall give you the norfolk pheasant casserole recipe my mum uses, we get fresh pheasant from her garden and it's delicious.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ultimate comfort

one of the finest comfort foods of all time is Eggy Bread, or FRench Toast to some people. ;)
You beat some eggs, soak some bread in it and fry it in butter, that's important, oil just ruins the flavour, then season to taste and enjoy. It's one of the few times where I prefer a good wholemeal to white bread and i had it for tea last night.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

favourite snacks

What sort of things do you love to snack on? I mean beyond just saying, crisps (potato chips to some) and choclate.
'Boots' do raisens covered in blueberry yogurt. Yumm. This is definately a favourite. It's actually not exactly l;ow fat, but technically contains fruit so it must be good for me on some level right?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Recipe time

ok, so I am finally sitting at home with all the timein the world and my recipe book. Well, enough time anyway.
Starting with the cake in the last post:
Mix 3 eggs, 175g of soft margarine, 175g of caster sugar, 175g of self raising flour, 1and a half tsp of baking powder and half a tsp of vanilla flavouring up in a bowl.
Stick the oven n to heat at moderate, grease your cake tin, i used a loaf tin, but any will do as long as it's not too shallow.
Then warm a small amount of milk or cream over the hob, cream is richer, but i used skimmed milk and it was just fine, along with some decent quality dark chocolate, never use cooking chocolate for these sorts of things, unless its a reeeeeeeeelly good brand like green and blacks. the higher the coco content the better. Melt it in into the milk and when its all mixed up take it off the heat. When it has cooled a little but is still just warm, pour it in and mix it up in the batter. Quantities of chocolate and milk are something you should feel outfor yourself, it should pour, but you don't want to makethe batter too wet.
i threw in some white chocolate chunks because i couldn't help myself, so anything like that is fine, but the basic choccie loaf is the main thing.

Ok, now my favourite smoothie!!!
2 bananas,
punnett of raspberries,
coconut milk (the slightly thick kind)
a couple of squirts of lemon juice
fat free plain natural yogurt
half a cup of ice cubes
chuck it in a blender and keep going till its smooth. yummy. This does about three highball glasses.

Monday, February 06, 2006

at last a picture

ok, admitedly it's not very impressive, but here is the chocolate loaf cake.

Hell it didn't fall apart and it tastes good so who cares if it's pretty.

Monday munchies

I attempted Toad in the Hole this weekend, it was delicious but the batter wasn't quite right. I shall have to have another go at some point.
I also did a rhubarb and apple crumble, which was really yummy, altho' again not quite right, I stewed the fruit too long so it was too mushy, nice tho.
THe chicken casserole worked out well, cubed meat, with peppers, fennel, onions, chicken and herb stock, a bit of pastaand potato, preboiled the potatoes and fried the chicken a bit (tossed it in flour and seasoning first) and threw it all in a big pot on the hob for 40mins. Mmmm. scrummy winter warmer food.
Finally, I baked a chocolate loaf, basic principles, 3 eggs, and a bar of dark chocolate melted with a little milk to give it a richer flavour. It was a good weekend for food, and I lost weight. lol.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Toad in the Hole

courtesy of the BBc and Delia Smith, my recipe is slightly different, but the principle is the same. I shall post mine when isit down to do the beef stew recipe.

Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour

I can't give this high enough accolades - it's a simply wonderful creation from the humble origins of British cooking. If only you could order it in a restaurant, though.
6 good-quality pork sausages - about 14oz/400g
1 tbsp groundnut or other flavourless oil (if necessary)
For the batter: 3oz/75g plain flour
1 large egg 3fl oz/75ml semi-skimmed milk
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the onion gravy:
8oz/225g onions, peeled and sliced 2 tsp groundnut or other flavourless oil
1 level tsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 level tsp mustard powder
15fl oz/425ml vegetable stock made from 1½ level tsp Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder dissolved in 15fl oz/425ml boiling water
2 rounded tsp plain flour salt and freshly milled black pepper Y
ou will also need a solid-based, flameproof roasting tin with a base of 9x6in/23x15cm, 2 in/5cm deep, and a baking tray 14x10in/35x25.5cm.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
Begin by making the batter, and to do this sieve the flour into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Now, with the back of a spoon, make a well in the centre, break the egg into it and add some salt and pepper. Now, measure the milk and 2fl oz/55ml water in a measuring jug, then, using an electric hand whisk on a slow speed, begin to whisk the egg into the flour - as you whisk, the flour around the edges will slowly be incorporated. Then add the liquid gradually, stopping to scrape the flour into the mixture.
Whisk until the batter is smooth. Now the batter is ready for use, and although it's been rumoured that batter left to stand is better, I have never found this, so just make it whenever it's convenient.
Now place the sliced onions in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of the oil and the sugar and toss the onions around to get the lightest coating, then spread them on the baking tray. Next arrange the sausages in the roasting tin, then place the onions on a high shelf in the oven, with the sausages on a lower shelf, and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the sausages from the oven but leave the onions in for a further 4-5 minutes - they need to be nicely blackened round the edges.
When they are ready, remove them and leave to one side.Now place the roasting tin containing the sausages over direct heat turned to medium and, if the sausages haven't released much fat, add the tablespoon of oil.
When the tin is really hot and the oil is beginning to shimmer - it must be searing hot - quickly pour the batter in all around the sausages. Immediately return the roasting tin to the oven, this time on the highest shelf, and cook the whole thing for 30 minutes.
Now for the gravy. First add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder to the stock, then add the onions from the baking tray to a medium-sized pan. Now add the second teaspoon of oil, then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the plain flour. Stir all this together over a medium heat and then switch to a whisk, then gradually add the stock to the pan, whisking all the time, until it's all in. Then bring it up to simmering point and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, then pour into a warmed serving jug.
When the toad is ready, it should be puffed brown and crisp and the centre should look cooked and not too squidgy. Serve it immediately with the gravy, and it's absolutely wonderful with mashed potato.

Yorshire Puddings are basically the batter cooked on its own in a big tin, or in little cake time dimples. :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

cooking for one

I am a little lacklustre today really, but not nearly so much as my dinner was last night. I figured i'd grab something quick and tasty from Marks and Sparks and the chicken dinner in a yorkshire pud had appeal. It was rubbish. Very dissapointed, their stuff is usually pretty good too. pah. Today i shall seek out something delicious for lunch and pick up some fresh veg and maybe some cheese from the market.
In the mean time I am filling myself full of caffiene.