Monday, 30 August 2010

Chicken of the Woods, Indian Style

As you may already know Chicken of the Woods is in fact a bracket mushroom. It is best eaten fresh and I use only the very tender parts on the edge of the fan shaped fungus.

This photo shows a piece of chicken of the woods with some plums. The fungus was growing on the plum tree.

As the name implies it has a similar texture and taste to chicken fillets, so many recipes for chicken can be adapted for use with this fungus. Obviously it depends how often and how much you manage to find, if you only have small amount just once a year then cook it simply to enjoy the delicate flavour of the mushroom, do cook thoroughly though. I find that it is best thinly slices, and they fried in butter or oil - it takes on a brighter yellow colour. You can eat it just fried but I think the texture and flavour improves with the addition of some liquid at this stage and allowed to simmer gently until it is nice and tender.

Yesterday I decided to use the chicken of the woods in an Indian style dish. I first sauteed the thinly sliced mushroom in a very small amount of oil until it had taken on some colour. I then set this to one side.

I took a small amount of fresh ginger (2cm), four cloves of garlic and two small dried chillies and pureed them in the blender with a small amount of water.

I then added a teaspoon of cumin seeds to the remaining hot oil, when they started to burst I added the ginger and garlic mixture and allowed this to cook gently for a few minutes before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes. I seasoned this mixture with some ground coriander, salt and turmeric. When the sauce had begun to thicken - just a couple of minutes I added the chicken of the woods to the sauce, covered the pan and let it simmer for about 20 mins.

I served the chicken of the woods with spiced potatoes. I used freshly dug Pink Fir Apple potatoes which I boiled in their skins until just cooked. When cool enough to handle I skinned them and cut them into chunks about 3cm square.

I then put a teaspoon of mustard seeds in a frying pan with a teaspoon of hot oil, when they started to burst I quickly added the potatoes with half a thinly sliced onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves. When these had taken on some colour I seasoned them with sea salt, ground cumin and a small amount of turmeric.
I then added about 100gms of freshly picked spinach which I had cut into 3cm ribbons, stirred and allowed to just wilt before serving.

As an accompaniment I cubed a cucumber, salted it and allowed it to drain before seasoning it with some ground coriander.

It was really delicious and of course you can use a piece of chicken fillet if you can't find your own chicken of the woods. Enjoy!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cherry Ice Cream

450g Cherries, stoned (weigh before stoning)

120ml water

120g sugar

Cream - I used about 100ml of very thick unpasteurized cream (you can also use single or double cream)

Stone the cherries,

Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan and add the cherries, cook very gently until the cherries are just soft,

Allow to cool and then puree, leave it rough with pieces of cherry visible.

Mix in the cream - add more cream for richer ice cream, I prefer a lighter, fruiter ice cream so use less cream,

Put into fridge to chill,

When very cold pour into ice cream maker and churn.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Venison Casserole

This tasty casserole can be made using beef or venison or a mixture of the two. I prefer venison and I buy 'casserole' venison which is already cut into large cubes so is very easy to use. There is almost no fat on the venison so no trimming is needed and therefore no waste.

1 orange
150g each no soak pitted prunes and apricots
125g raisins
200ml orange juice
150 ml dry sherry
900g venison
1 level tsp salt
1 level tsp black peppercorns
2 level tsp coriander seeds
450g onions
2 tbs oil
1/2 level tsp each of ground mace and ground cinnamon
pinch allspice
1 level tbs cornflour
450ml beef stock
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Couscous to accompany

Finely grate the orange rind and squeeze the juice
Combine the orange juice and sherry add the dried fruit, cover and leave overnight to soak.
Cut the venison into large (4cm) cubes if necessary.
Season with the salt,
Crush the peppercorns and coriander seeds,
Slice the onions finely,
Heat the oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole and brown the meat in small batches until it has a a rich colour,
Add a little more oil if necessary and fry the onions gently until golden brown,
Put the meat back into the pan with the spices, orange rind and flour, cook whilst stirring for a few minutes,
Add the stock and combine and bring to the boil,
Add the vinegar,
Cover and cook in the oven at 150C for 1 hour,
Remove the casserole from the oven,
Drain the fruit from the liquid and put to one side,
Add the soaking liquid to the casserole, cover and return to the oven for another 1 hour or until the meat is very tender,
Add the reserved fruit, stir and return to the oven for 5 mins to heat the fruit.
This dish is best served with couscous but could be served with mashed potatoes.

This dish can be made in advance - just under cook it and reheat before serving, ideal for entertaining and a wonderful Christmas dish.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Potato Salad with Sundried Tomato and Basil dressing

1 kg new potatoes
6 pieces of sundried tomatoes in oil
large handful of fresh basil
1 clove garlic
150 ml bought mayonnaise
black pepper

Boil the potatoes in the skins in salted water until tender.
Drain, and put to one side until cool enough to handle.
Skin the potatoes - the skins will lift off easily of the potatoes are still warm.
Cut into large bite sized pieces and put into mixing bowl.
Slice the sundried tomatoes thinly and add to the potatoes.
To make to dressing use a food processor or hand held blender and blend until smooth, the mayonaisse, the basil, the garlic, 4tbs of the oil from the jar of tomatoes, black pepper and some salt. Blend until smooth.
Mix together with the potatoes and sundried tomatoes, put into a serving dish and put in the fridge for several hours to allow the flavours to develop. Bring to room temperature before serving, as the flavour will be better, but don't leave in a warm place for too long.

These proportions are a rough guide, generally allow 150g - 200g potatoes per person and use a full jar of sundried tomatoes for anything up to 2kg of potatoes. Use as much basil as you have available.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Potato Ravioli, with Mushrooms, Garlic and anchovies

Here is my version for potato ravioli, based on a recipe of Paul Rankins, It sounds very plain and dull, but it is completely the opposite - try it.

50gm butter
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
450g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
175ml milk
20g dried mushrooms
3 tbs chopped chives
Salt and black pepper
Fresh pasta( made with 285g pasta flour or strong plain flour, 1/2tsp salt, 2 large beaten eggs, 1tbs olive oil, flour for dusting)
1 egg
6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped

Heat 25g butter in a large frying pan,
Add the chopped onion and 1/3 of the garlic.
Sauté gently for about 3 mins.
Add the potatoes, half of the dried mushrooms and the milk and cover, cook over a very low heat until tender.
Mash the potato mixture with another knob of butter, add 2 tbs of chopped chives and season.
Put remaining chopped dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover with boiling water - leave to soak until later.
Make the pasta in a food processor. Then using a pasta machine roll out into thin sheets the width of the pasta machine.

Place one sheet of pasta on a flat surface, lightly floured, On one long side of the pasta place small spoonfulls of the potato mixture about 7.5 cm appart.
Brush the edges of the pasta and between the potato mixture with beaten egg, fold over the other half over the filling and press to seal around the potato mounds. Cut the ravioli into square and make sure the seals are closed by using the prongs of a fork to seal the edges of each pasta parcel.
Put to one side on a lightly floured tray.
Repeat with the remaining pasta.

To serve, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until the ravioli rises to the surface, this only takes 2 - 3 minutes.
In the meantime prepare the dressing.
In a small pan heat the remaining butter, add the remaining soaked dried mushrooms, cook for a few minutes and boil off the liquid until a small amount is remaining. Add the anchovies, the oil from the tin/jar, remaining chopped chives and the garlic and a little course ground black pepper and just heat through.

Drain the pasta and serve on warm plates, drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tagliattelle with mussels

We enjoyed a supper of mussels, steamed simply with white wine, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. There were a few mussles left when we had eaten sufficient, so I took the remaining mussels out of their shells and saved them and the liquid which was left. The next day we enjoyed a lovely dish of homemade pasta and a simple mussel sauce.

We enjoyed a supper of mussels, steamed simply with white wine, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. There were a few mussels left when we had eaten sufficient, so I took the remaining mussels out of their shells and saved them and the liquid which was left. The next day we enjoyed a lovely dish of home-made pasta and a simple mussel sauce.

200g Pasta - tagliattelle either bought or home made
100g streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
small knob of butter
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g spinach leaves or the green part of swiss chard cut into 1 cm strips
liquid from mussels
4 tbs creme fraiche / sour cream
mussels (just a cupful is sufficient)

Sauté the bacon gently in the butter
When the fat starts brown add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft but not brown
Add the spinach to the pan and allow to wilt.
Add the remaining juices and reduce rapidly
Stir in the cream
Add the mussels and allow to warm through gently.

Add the cooked pasta and toss together serve immediately.
Sufficient for two people

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Welsh Amber Tart

4 eggs
75g sugar
grated rind 1/2 lemon, optional
2 heaped tablespoons marmalade
100g unsalted butter, melted
shortcrust pastry to line a 15cm/7inch flan dish, homemade or bought

Bake the pastry case at 200C for 10 - 15 mins, until set.
If using a foil pastry case put it onto a baking tray first so that it is easier to move in and out of the oven, and avoids the pastry from cracking.

Beat the eggs, sugar lemon rind and marmalade together.
Whisk in the melted butter.
Pour this mixture into the warm pastry case and return to the oven and bake at 190C for another 20 mins.
Serve warm or cold