Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Frying-Pan Raspberry, Raisin and Oat Cookies.

Last year the oven in my flat broke. I've been away on placements for university and then otherwise so busy that I've just coped without it. All my cooking has been on the hob, and that's been pretty much OK. I've missed roasts and pies... so I just demand them when I go home.

The main downside is that I haven't been able to bake anything sweet. I find it so calming to bake a big batch of cupcakes or cookies when I'm feeling stressed out, and then I can distribute the yummies to all my equally as stressed out friends. It really is spreading the food love.

Now that Finals are over and I'm waiting for results I got around to ordering a new oven. It was being delivered today. In anticipation (and to kill the time while I waited), I made a massive bowl of cookie dough ready to bake as soon as the oven was installed.

It wasn't to be.

The nice man arrived with my new ELECTRIC oven. The old one was gas. Even though the lady on the phone said he'd be able to uninstall the gas oven he wasn't.

Depression almost set in. I couldn't imagine waiting 2 days to cook my cookies, not while the batch of cookie dough was staring at me.

I had 3 options;
1. Keep the dough in the fridge and wait. Er. No.
2. Eat it all raw... but even I'm not that piggy.
3. Find another way to cook the cookies.

So I put my mind to work and decided to try and cook the cookies in a frying pan. It was time consuming, but a big success...

Ingredients (makes 25+ small cookies)
2 eggs
250g unsalted butter
155g dark soft brown sugar
155g caster sugar
375g plain flour
pinch of salt
Tsp baking powder
120g porridge oats
200g raisins
2 handfuls of fresh raspberries
Butter to grease the pan.

How to...
1. Mix together butter and sugars. This is easiest with clean fingers.

2. Add eggs and give it all a good whisk.

3. Add flour, oats, salt, baking powder and raisins, then get your fingers back in there and give it another good mix. Break up the raspberries with your fingers so bits of raspberry are all the way through the mixture.
4. At this point if you want to you can just cover the mixture and pop it in the fridge until you want to cook the cookies. If you want to cook them in an oven put them on a greased baking tray at 170 for about 12-15 minutes... if you'd rather cook them in a pan read on..
5. Grease a pan with a little bit of butter. Put the pan on the lowest heat you can.
6. Splodge some of the cookie dough in the pan and try to get it a bit flat and cookie shaped. I find it easiest to cook maximum of 4 cookies at a time.
7. Cover the pan with something like a baking tray and leave for 4-5 minutes.
8. Flip cookie over and cook for another 4 or so minutes on the other side.
9. Put cookies to cool and try to resist eating them all at once. If you're generous you can wrap them up in little cellophane parcels and give them to people. If you're not just enjoy them with a cup of tea.
Whilst cooking I was listening to... Moon Chavs by Jay Foreman

Creamy Smoked Salmon and Mushroom Pasta

It's easy to think of smoked salmon as a luxury food stuff. In my last couple of weeks of being a student I had a double dilemma. I craved a treat to get me through exams, but my student loan was running low. This is where supermarket value smoked salmon trimmings come into their own. They're perfect for stirring into pasta or putting in a fish pie.

The trimmings don't look as attractive as nice slices, but when you're just cooking for yourself does it really matter? To be honest I quite often mix the trimmings with cream cheese and use them in sandwiches and on bagels with freshly cracked black pepper. I must get through a packet a week... but at less than £1 a packet, which is enough for 2 meals, that's pretty bargaintastic.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 servings of pasta
1 packet of smoked salmon trimmings
2 big dollops of cream cheese
Clove of garlic
Half an onion
Little drop of olive oil
8-10 mushrooms
Chopped parsley

How to...
1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions
2. Slice onion and fry in a pan with a drop of olive oil until the onion is soft.

3. Finely chop garlic and cut mushrooms into segments.

4. Add garlic and mushrooms to pan, cook for 5-10 or so minutes until the mushrooms begin to get soft and the garlic is fragrant.

5. Stir in 2 generous dollops of cream cheese and the packet of smoked salmon trimmings. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Finish with a handful of freshly chopped parsley. (To keep herbs you can freeze them into ice cubes and use them in cooking later.)
7. Stir in the pasta and split into two bowls. Enjoy!

Whilst cooking I was listening to... A-team by Ed Sheeran

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Chocolate Chilli Con Carne

There's something comforting about anything with beans or with mince, so when the two come together along with some chilli it really makes my tummy happy. This is usually something I'd cook in winter, but I needed some hearty revision food and this really filled a hole.

The good thing about chilli is that you can get a lot of mince (good quality lean mince though, as fatty cheap mince is just tasteless and greasy), and make a big batch to freeze. This means a freezer full of scrummy home-made ready meals. Adding beans to anything with meat not only gets in more fibre and healthy stuff, but also cuts down the cost as pulses really bulk things up. Sometimes I like to add a handful of red lentils as well as the kidney beans, or even a tin of baked beans... useful tips if extra unexpected people turn up for dinner and you have to stretch things that bit further.

I can't decide my favourite way to eat chilli. Whether it is heaped on top of nachos and covered with cheese, dolloped on a baked potato, served next to a steaming pile of rice or simply in a bowl with a crusty baguette to mop up all the juices.

I think the dark chocolate in the recipe really makes it taste special, but even without the chocolate the chilli is good. Please don't waste your money buying expensive chilli-con-carne spice mix packets though, as the flavour is so easy to achieve with some basic spices you should have at home anyway.

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
500g lean beef mince
1/2 an onion
Tin of red kidney beans (in water or spicy sauce, your choice)
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Clove of garlic
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
Ground cumin
Ground corriander
Fresh or dried chillis
Dark chocolate (4-6 big squares)
Vegetable oil
Salt (or a blob of bovril)

How to...
1. Finely chop onions and garlic, soften in a pan for 5 mins with the vegetable oil.
2. Chop peppers into little cubes and add to frying pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or so.

3. Add mince to pan along with as much chilli as you want, a teaspoon or 2 of cumin and a teaspoon or 2 of ground coriander. Remember you can have this as spiced as you want, I tend to put in about a tablespoon of cumin and half as much coriander.
4. Add tin of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans once the mince is browned. Season with salt or a spoon of bovril if you fancy adding a bit of extra beefyness. Cook for 15ish minutes.
5. Add chocolate and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
6. Serve with rice, a jacket potato, crusty bread or on nachos... with or without a dollop of sour cream on top.

Whilst cooking I was listening to... The Bird and The Worm by Owl City