Friday 28 September 2012

Lincolnshire Poacher Pie - A Random Tea Time Alphabake

Shall we just clear this up now, once and for all?

It's Breakfast, Dinner, Tea and Supper. Lunch doesn't exist even though I use the word myself, I blame a southern influence at Uni. Brunch even less so. If you don't get up before midday you miss breakfast and move on to dinner. Right, that's that sorted now on to the point of that little rant.

Gatecrashing the Random Recipe monthly (potential) horror show is the delightful Tea Time Treats, or is it the other way round? Either way, Dom of Belleau Kitchen and Karen/Kate of Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked have teamed up for a joint challenge.

This months theme is a random recipe suitable for tea time.

Tea Time, an interesting phrase that is open to many translations. Afternoon Tea perhaps with scones and tiny patisserie. A tea party; with Victoria sponges, Swiss rolls and other classic bakes?

Tea time by my definition is the godfather of the days meals. A meal requiring hearty sustenance providing a good refuelling after a hard day's work, school, college, university....well maybe not the last one but you get my drift.

I had one thought when this challenge was announced and that thought was....PIE!!!

Where to get the recipe though with my distinct lack of pie books? a random browse through good food? an Internet search? however whilst scouring my shelves there was only one option courtesy of Mr Oliver and his excellent Great Britain book.

The recipe I landed on couldn't have been more appropriate, a recipe for a hearty pie consisting of minted courgettes and some excellent local produce in the form of Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, a superb hard cheese with a slightly nutty flavour.

As well as submitting it for the random tea time treat challenge I am also submitting it to the excellent Alphabakes hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes and Ros at the more than occasional baker  for their 'P' themed challenge this month. 3 challenges in one, it's how I roll.

Lincolnshire Poacher Pie
500g plain flour
250g Butter
100ml water
1 tsp of salt
1 egg for glazing

2 tbsp olive oil
bunch of fresh thyme
zest of half a lemon
half a grated nutmeg
1-1.2 kg courgettes, thinly sliced
300g Lincolnshire poacher cheese, thinly sliced
small bunch of mint

Mix the flour with the salt and rub in the butter between your fingertips to create a breadcrumb texture. make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
Stir with a knife until it begins to come together then squish together to make a rough dough, try not to need knead a lot or it won't be crumbly and short.
Leave in the fridge in a bowl until the filling is made.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the thyme leaves, lemon zest and nutmeg.
Add the courgettes and cook for 25 minutes stirring occasionally, the courgettes soften and become easy to handle.
Cook for a further 20 mins on a low heat. then leave to cool for 5 mins.
Crumble in the cheese and mint and set aside to cool.

Cut the pastry into two and roll out one half to about half a cm thick and place gently into a pie dish of around 23cm diameter.
Press the pastry into the sides gently.
Add the cooled filling.
Roll out the other ball of pastry and place this one over the pie creating a lid.
Trim off the excess edges and crimp with a knife or a fork the edges to seal the pie.
Brush with beaten egg and stab a small hole in the top to allow steam to be released
Bake for about an hour until golden at 180C

Interesting one this. It provides different flavours depending on the temperature. Straight out of the oven the inside is a gooey cheesy messy loveliness with the mint providing a nice punch of flavour. When cold however the cheese and the mint seem muted but the courgettes stand out more.
The mint itself is a little weird, half a mind says it shouldn't be there, the other half says well that's actually bloody good.
Overall an excellent pie and because I've got my hands on some more courgettes I may make another. yum.

Wednesday 26 September 2012


Well it seems like the Olympic Food Challenge burned me out, blogging wise. I've had little inspiration (or money, blooming 5 week month) to make and blog stuff. So in order to get back into the swing of things I thought I would share this recipe for Ratatouille that I'm currently teaching to Year 8 in order for them to get more skillful prepping veg and give some exposure to a variety of different vegetables.

There are many versions of this classic french veggie stew, a quick shufty on Wikipedia states methods from Julia Child: Saute each veg individually and make a sauce out of the tomatoes peppers and herbs and then bake as a casserole, to Joël Robuchon: a similar method but involves simmering over a hob for a bit at the end.

Personally, all I do is saute each veg adding one after the other until all are combined with a tin of tomatoes and a mountain of  basil. Simple, healthy and tasty.

1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 red pepper, sliced in small strips
1 courgette, diced into small pieces
1 aubergine, diced into Small pieces
1 tin of tomatoes
1 stock cube/pot
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
100ml of water
lots of fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Fry the onion and garlic gently until turning golden brown.
Add the red pepper and fry until soft.
Add the courgette and fry until golden and soft
Add the aubergine and fry until golden and soft
Pour in the tomatoes, vinegar, water and season to taste
Leave to simmer for about 15 minutes or longer, depending on how mushy you like your veg.
Roughly chop the basil and sprinkle over.

Serve with plenty of crusty bread

Sunday 9 September 2012

Pirags, Latvia. Olympic Food Challenge

They think it's all over.....IT IS NOW!!! *crowd goes wild with thunderous applause*

Excuse me for just one second while I alternate between Bolt's lightening pose and Farah's 'Mobot' while doing a lap of honour round my garden.

Here is the absolute final recipe from me for the Olympic Food Challenge and we are back in Europe in the country of Latvia. Latvia picked up two medals in London, one of them gold.

Browsing through recipes for Latvia, this one kept cropping up and I kept ignoring it which was just silly really because I'm essentially turning down a bacon sandwich.

Pirags are basically meat, usually bacon, mixed with chopped onion and wrapped in a bread case. They are easy to make and very tasty especially with a good dash of HP.

460g plain flour
1 packet of fast action yeast
190ml milk
60g butter
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

6 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped

Mix the flour with yeast in a bowl and set aside
Melt the butter in a pan with the milk, salt and sugar.
Pour into the flour and mix together to form a soft dough, knead for 5 minutes.
Cover and leave to rise for an hour or so.
Fry the onion with the bacon until crispy and brown, set aside.
Knock the dough back and split into two dough balls
Roll out to a 1/4inch thick and using a large cutter, cut out circles of the dough.
Roll the little circles a bit more with a rolling pin
Add a tsp of bacon and onion to the centre of the circle and fold over, seal the edges with a fork.
Place on a baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg
Bake for 15mins until golden at 170C
Serve with lots of HP sauce.

Trinidad Stewed Chicken, Trinidad & Tobago, Olympic Food Challenge

In the penultimate dish of the Olympic food challenge, we are off to the Caribbean, more specifically Trinidad and Tobago.

Known for it's carnival, steel pans and it's vibrant culture.

T&T had their most successful Olympics in London picking up their very first Gold medal, unfortunately they didnt pick up any in the Paralympics.

The dish I chose for T&T is Trinidad Stewed Chicken, after cooking this dish I had a quick google and there are many versions of this dish, wish I had done this earlier because the recipe I had was a bit useless, lacking measurements for the ingredients, so I made it up.

4 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
handful of chives
1 onion
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
zest and juice of one lime
1tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp chopped coriander
25ml dark rum

2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp dark soy sauce


Cut the chicken into bitesized pieces and add every other ingredient up to and including the rum tot he chicken in a large bowl.
Marinade for at least a few hours or overnight.
Fry the sugar gently for minute in the oil and add the contents of the bowl to the pan, fry until nicely brown.
add the ketchup, soy sauce and enough water to cover and simmer gently for about an hour.
Sprinkle over some coriander and serve

Oh this is good, rich and flavourful. jammed full of herbs and soft tender chicken. Next time I would add a bit of a kick to it perhaps a chilli or two or maybe some cayenne pepper which was all it lacked.

Plantain Gingerbread, Liberia. Olympic Food Challenge

Back to Africa for one final time for this installment of the Olympic Food Challenge.

Africa has been a mixed bag ranging from the sublime Kedjenou of the Ivory Coast to the not so good Matoke of Uganda and unfortunatly Plantain Gingerbread from Liberia.

I wanted to do something a little different so I opted for a baking task and found this recipe here for Plantain Gingerbread.

Gingerbread is one of my childhood favourites so I was hoping this would work out well. Unfortunately the result wasn't that good.

I think the recipe is off and slightly flawed. On the ingredient list 160ml of boiling water is stated but no instructions in using it are given, I added it at the end, alternating between the flour because the mixture was far too dry. The baking times are off by a mile as well the cake was done is 25 minutes instead of the stated 50.

The resulting cake was slightly chewy and not really that well flavoured, the plantains didn't offer much to the cake either just extra chewiness.

Gravad Max, Finland. Olympic Food Challenge

So from the Middle East to Africa and now back to Europe, I do like this challenge.

This stop on the world tour of Olympic Nations brings us to Finland in north Europe. they only won a few medals at the London games, none of them gold. they did a bit better in the Paralympics picking up 4 gold medals.

Looking for a recipe for this country was easy, finding ingredients for this country was not. Fresh blood cannot be taken out of abattoirs so blood pancakes were out and reindeer meat is a rare thing in this country so eating Rudolph was out as well.

What I eventually settled on was a dish that I had been planning to make for some time, Gravlax or if you are Finnish: graavilohi. This is basically salmon cured with copious amounts of dill, salt and sugar.

For such a basic recipe they are many versions of this around the Internet, so instead I went for a more trustworthy source in my River Cottage Fish book then I spotted the alternative recipe next to it for Gravad Max. This uses Mackerel fillets instead of Salmon and being more of a fan of the former I went for that instead.

Recipe is available here or buy the book, it is one of my favourites and is a highly detailed guide to all types of things swimming about in our seas and rivers.

The recipe is simplicity in itself, mix the cure, cover the fish, weigh it down, forget about it for a day or two and then eat.

I personally would recommend you get it going on Thursday/Friday night when you get home from work and come Saturday/Sunday morning you've got yourself a delicious, lazy but healthy breakfast.

I am also entering this for Herbs on Saturday, an excellent challenge hosted by Karen over at her excellent blog: Lavender and Lovage which promotes the use of fresh herbs.

Friday 7 September 2012

Lamb with Couscous, Mauritiania. Olympic Food Challenge

The second of the new set of countries given to me on the reboot of the challenge was Mauritania, a large country on the west side of Africa.

Oh great, another lesser known African country, cue some form of stewed meat and vegetables.

Well knock me down with a feather...

Recipes for this country are very scarce and choice was not something i had much of for this country so i opted for a dish of lamb and couscous.

Recipe here: Lamb Couscous

A fairly simple recipe this one involving stewing all the meat and vegetables for about 2 hours until they are all soft and tender. The recipe unnerved me slightly with its apparently lack of any flavourings or seasonings so not fancying a bland dish I dropped a veg stock pot and plenty of salt and pepper in there as well.

Surprisingly this tasted rather good. the stew was delicious and morish and when served with the couscous it  gave it little bursts of sweet fruit which complimented it very well. Definitely one to make again during the winter months.

Kibbeh. Israel. Olympic Food Challenge

 You didn't think that was it did you?

The challenge continues until all 204 Olympic nations are researched, eaten and blogged, the proverbial flame has been taken up by a few hardcore bloggers and hopefully we will get all the remaining countries up for your enjoyment.

Apart from my remaining 4, I was given another 2 to blog, one of these being Israel.

Result!! This is one of my favourite cuisines that I really need to eat more of. Israeli food is getting more and more popular in this country thanks to Mr Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my favourite chefs. I visited his Islington Deli/Restaurant last year and the food was amazing so he was my natural go to point for a quality Israeli recipe.

The recipe I opted for was his version of Kibbeh.

Traditionally this dish is made from Bulgar wheat, minced onions and minced red meat. Usually they are torpedo-shaped fried croquettes stuffed with minced beef or lamb. This is an open version and is more like a pie.

Recipe available here: Kibbeh

The result from the recipe is a very tasty layered pie like dish. It consisted of a wide variety of textures, soft Bulgar wheat, crispy pine nuts and smooth tahini paste. The flavours all compliment each other but they lack that smack round the head, so I would recommend you do as the serving suggestions say and serve it with something sharp. I simply made a lemon dressing over a green salad which worked very well.

Israel didn't pick up any medals in the Olympics but they have picked up a couple of silvers and bronzes in the Paralympics.