Straw and Hay with Black Mushrooms

straw and hayDried boletus mushrooms are popular in Italian cooking for their rich flavour. They are expensive, but fortunately only a small quantity are needed. These mushrooms are available in continental delicatessens; alternatively, use Chinese dried mushrooms. Straw and hay is very fine pasta that cooks in a couple of minutes. Serve with a mixed salad and a loaf of crusty Italian-style bread.

25 g/1 oz dried mushrooms
150 ml/11/4 pint water
100 g/4 oz flat mushrooms, chopped
1 quantity of Tomato Sauce with wine
4 x 15 ml spoonsI4 tbsp Parmesan cheese
300 g/10 oz straw and hay
1 x 15 ml spoon/1 tbsp oil

Methods:

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the water for 30 minutes, drain reserving the juice. Chop the dried mushrooms and set aside. Strain the soaking water through sieve lined with a sheet of absorbent paper. Follow the instructions of Tagliatelle with Mushrooms, adding both the reserved water and the chopped dried mushrooms to the sauce with the canned tomatoes.
  2. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Meanwhile, cook the straw and hay in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water with the oil added to it until just tender. Drain and serve with the sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (omit for vegans).

Mushroom Plait with Port and Chestnut Sauce

HADDOCK AND SPINACH PANCAKE BAKE3 x 15 ml spoonsI3 tbsp olive oil 25 gl 1 oz butter
4 spring onions, sliced
900 g/2 lb flat mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
I eating apple, peeled and finely chopped
2 X 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp ground almonds
2 X 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 X 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp thyme
75 g/3 oz fresh wholemeal
breadcrumbs, approx
salt and freshly ground black pepper
11/2 quantities rich shortcrust pasty’
egg to glaze
Sauce
40 g/11/2 oz butter
1 X 15 ml spoon/1 tbsp very finely chopped onion
1 x 15 ml spoon/1 tbsp very finely chopped carrot
12 gl1/2 oz plain flour
100 ml/4 fl oz port
1 bouquet garni
1 bay leaf
225 g/8 oz unsweetened chestnut purée
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Methods:

Methods:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6.
  2. Heat the oil and butter, then add the spring onion, mushrooms, garlic and apple. Cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid. Stir in the almonds, soy sauce, parsley and thyme and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add sufficient breadcrumbs to absorb the cooking liquids without making the mixture dry; season to taste and cool
  3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangle 30 x 35 cm/ 12 x 14 inches, moisten the edges with water then make diagonal slits, 7.5 cm/3 inches long and 3 cm/11/4 inches apart, all the way down the two long sides of the pastry. Spread the filling down the centre of the pastry. Fold the cut strips of pastry over the filling to give a plaited effect and seal the edges together carefully down the centre. Fold in the ends and seal well. Chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  4. Brush the pastry with egg to glaze, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until brown. If cooking in advance, under-cook by 5-10 minutes.
  5. For the sauce, melt the butter in a small pan and gently cook the onion and carrot until soft. Sprinkle on the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add the port, then add the bouquet garni and bay leaf and cook gently until reduced by about one-third.
  6. Stir in the chestnut purée and heat through, season to taste and serve hot.

The plait is also good with cranberry and orange sauce. The mushroom stuffing is excellent in pancakes.

Ratatouille

ratatouille450 g/1 lb aubergines
450 g/1 lb courgettes
salt
2 X 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
200 g/7 oz can chopped tomatoes and juice
freshly ground black pepper
400 g/14 oz can kidney beans, drained (optional)

Methods:

  1. Cut the aubergines and courgettes into small chunks. Place on a chopping board that has been covered with absorbent paper and generously sprinkle with salt. Top with a second board and leave for 1 hour. This will draw out the bitter taste in the aubergine and reduce the water content of both vegetables. Rinse and pat dry with absorbent paper or a clean tea-towel.
  2. Heat the oil and gently fry the onion until soft and lightly golden. Add the aubergine, courgette, garlic, and peppers, cover and cook gently for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for a further 30 minutes. Season to taste and add the kidney beans, if using. Cook for another 10 minutes, then serve hot; or allow to go cold and serve as a salad.

Variation
Ratatouille crumble

Pre-heat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Rub together 100 g/4 oz wholemeal plain flour and 50 g/2 oz sunflower margarine, then add 1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp mixed herbs. Place ratatouille in an ovenproof dish and top with crumble. Cook for 20 minutes.

    Vegetable Pie

    vegetable pie 4The cheese pastry gives this pie added flavor as well as extra protein.

    750 g/ 1 1/2 lb mixed cooked vegetables: potato, carrot, French beans, peas, swede, leek, cabbage
    200 g/7 oz can tomatoes, drained
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp yeast extract
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp mixed herbs
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
    milk, to glaze
    1 quantity Cheese Pastry

    Methods:

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6.
    2. Turn the cooked vegetables into a 25 cm/10 inch deep pie dish. Chop the tomatoes and mix into the vegetables. Dissolve the yeast extract in 2 x 15 ml spoons/ 2 tbsp boiling water and pour over the vegetables, sprinkle over the herbs and season to taste.
    3. Roll out the pastry and cut off thin strips long enough to go around the inner rim of the dish. Moisten one side of the strips with a little water and attach to the inside and rim of the dish, then moisten the top side of the pastry strips. Use the remaining pastry to cover the pie dish, pressing it firmly against the pastry strips to seal, and flute the edges.
    4. Use the pastry trimmings to make leaves to decorate the top of the pie; moisten one side of the leaves and press that side onto the pastry top. Cut a couple of vents in the top of the pie, brush with a little milk, and bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp.

    TOMATO, FENNEL, AND POTATO PIE

    1212970517_6d6b3ebc15It is the fennel in this dish that gives a pleasant aroma and delicious aniseed flavor.

    8 medium potatoes, washed
    1 large bulb of fennel, sliced
    6 large tomatoes, sliced
    1 small onion, cut into thin rings
    75 g/3 oz Cheddar or Gruyere cheese, grated
    100 ml/4 fl oz olive or sunflower oil

    Methods:

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6 and bake the potatoes in their jackets for about 1 hour, until tender. Cool and slice, removing the skins if desired. Blanch the fennel in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain.
    2. Place a layer of potatoes in the base of an ovenproof dish followed by a layer of fennel, tomato and onion, sprinkle with a little cheese. Repeat the layering process, ending with a tomato layer. Pour the oil over the top of the dish and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is browned.

    Pastichio

    Pastichio013 x 15 ml spoons/3 tbsp olive oil 25 g/ 1 oz butter
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1 small green pepper, deseeded and chopped
    1 large courgette, diced
    100 g/4 oz mushrooms, sliced 225 g/8 oz red lentils, washed and picked over
    400 g/14 oz can tomatoes
    2 x 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp tomato puree
    2.5 ml/1/2 tsp oregano
    2.5 ml/11/2 tsp ground cinnamon 450 ml/13/4 pint vegetable stock
    50 ml/2 fl oz red wine (optional) salt and freshly ground black
    pepper
    200 g/7 oz macaroni (plain or wholemeal)
    1 quantity Béchamel sauce
    2 eggs, well beaten

    Methods:

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6.
    2. In a large pan, heat together the oil and butter, and gently cook the onion until soft and clear. Add the garlic, green pepper, courgette and mushrooms and cook together for another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, cinnamon, stock, wine and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
    3. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni for 10-12 minutes until tender and drain. Place half of the macaroni in a greased ovenproof baking dish and spread over the lentil mixture, then top with the remaining macaroni. Beat the eggs into the Bechamel sauce and pour over the macaroni. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden- brown.
    4. Serves 6.

    Variation
    Aubergine pastichio Omit green pepper, mushrooms and courgette, and replace with 1 large chopped aubergine with juices drained.

    For a quicker topping, mix together 1 beaten egg and 150 ml/1/4 pint natural yoghurt, and top with 25 g/1 oz Cheddar cheese.

    Chilli Non Carne

    recipe703 x 15 ml spoons/3 tbsp oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 carrots, sliced
    1 large green pepper, chopped 1 clove of garlic, crushed
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp cumin seeds
    1/2-2 X5 ml spoons/1/2-2 tsp chilli powder
    2 sticks of celery, sliced
    4 medium courgettes, sliced 400 g114 oz can tomatoes
    1 x 15 ml spoon/1 tbsp tomato
    puree
    1 vegetarian stock cube, dissolved in 150 m111/4 pint water
    1 tsp oregano
    400 g/14 oz can red kidney beans
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Methods:

    1. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion for 3 minutes, then add the carrots, green pepper and garlic, and continue to cook until the onion is soft and clear. Stir in the cumin seeds and chilli to taste (under-season with chilli as you can add more later). Add the remaining ingredients except for the beans, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the beans and adjust the seasoning to taste, cook for a further 15 minutes.
    2. If you wish to add meat you will need about 100 g/4 oz minced beef per person. Brown the meat in hot fat and drain. Take off required amount of chilli non carni once all the ingredients have been added, and mix in the mince. Do not forget to add beans to both pans of chilli.
    3. A side dish of sour cream goes well with chilli non carni.
    4. To microwave, cook the onion, carrots and garlic in the oil in a covered dish for 2 minutes on HIGH, add the remaining ingredients except for the beans, and cook for 12-15 minutes on HIGH, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are all soft. Add the beans and heat on HIGH for 3 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

    Mixed Vegetable Curry

    mixed-vegetable_curryDon’t be put off by the spices, this is not a very hot curry, but the blend of spices gives it an authentic flavor. Serve alone with nan bread.

    2 X 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp oil 1 onion, chopped
    1 clove of garlic, crushed
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp grated root ginger
    1 X 5 ml spoon/1 tsp chilli powder
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp ground coriander
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp ground cumin
    1 small cinnamon stick
    1 large potato, diced
    2 carrots, peeled and diced
    300 ml/1/2 pint vegetable stock 100 g/4 oz French beans
    50 g/2 oz okra left whole 100 g/4 oz frozen peas
    200 g/7 oz can tomatoes and juice
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Methods:

    1. Heat the oil and fry the onions until soft and clear. Add the garlic and spices and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the potato and carrots and fry them in the spices for 1 minute. Add the stock, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, cover and cook until all the vegetables are just tender. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened.
    2. Cook the oil and onions on HIGH for 2 minutes, add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients using ony 150 ml/1/4 pint stock, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes on HIGH or until tender.

    Budget Vegetable Hot Pot

    merit-soupA hearty stew to keep away the winter chills.

    2 x 15 ml spoons/2 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
    1 potato, diced
    1 small turnip, peeled and diced
    1/2 small swede, peeled and diced
    1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
    2 sticks celery, sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    2.5 cm/1 inch piece root ginger, grated
    75 g/3 oz pot barley, soaked for 30 minutes
    600 ml/1 pint vegetable stock
    1 x 15 ml spoon/ I tbsp tomato puree
    1 bay leaf
    1 x 5 ml spoon/1 tsp mixed herbs
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Methods:

    1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and carrot, and cook gently until the onion is soft and clear. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
    2. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are all tender and the barley cooked. Boil rapidly for a few minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce slightly.

    Pancakes with Spinach and Ricotta

    Frittata_2111 quantity pancakes
    900 g/2 lb spinach, washed and trimmed
    225 g/8 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
    salt and freshly ground black
    Pepper
    1 quantity Béchamel sauce
    flavoured with nutmeg
    Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4.

    Methods:
    To prepare the filling, cook the spinach with just the water clinging to the leaves for about 5 minutes, until soft but still bright green. Cool slightly, press out all the water and chop. Mix together with the cheese, and seasoning to taste. Divide the filling between the pancakes and roll up. Place in an ovenproof dish and top with Béchamel sauce. Bake for 20 minutes, until the sauce is beginning to brown.

    Variation

    Pancake stack

    Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°4as 5. Make the quantity of pancakes, half of the quantity of spinach and ricotta filling, and 1 quantity of tomato sauce. Lay a pancake on a heatproof plate and top with the spinach filling. Cover with another pancake, and spread that with tomato sauce. Continue layering in this way, ending with a pancake. Grate 50 g/2 oz Cheddar cheese over the top and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Cut like a cake to serve.

    Cook the completed croustade for 20 minutes on MEDIUM; brown under a hot grill, if desired.