Sunday, 29 July 2012

Stuffed Romano Peppers - a Visual Jewel

These are very easy to make, and for once the description of 'jewel' applies to something other than (and much nicer than) pomegranates! Not that I'm biased or anything. I just think these look and taste lovely.

The recipe is versatile - apart from the peppers themselves and the egg, onion and cheese, any of the other ingredients can be substituted. Perhaps chopped walnuts instead of olives, or quartered artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms. I use Sainsbury's basic Italian hard cheese for the topping, as it looks, cooks and tastes like Parmesan (which isn't vegetarian, bleat bleat). Still, Cheddar or Emmental, even blue cheese could be used instead. 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped, would be good, too. 
Meet & Greet

Depending how rapidly you wield a knife, prep should take about 20 minutes, then another 25 mins or so to bake. Best served straight from the oven, but they're also good at room temperature. 

The quantity given would serve 4 as a starter (i.e. one half pepper each) or 2 as a main course. Accompaniments could be baked or tiny new potatoes, fried rice, tenderstem, or CHIPS.

2 Romano peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1 free-range egg
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, basil) or 1 tbsp dried
1 medium onion (about 60g), peeled and finely chopped
8 pitted black olives, quartered
40g mushrooms (about 3 medium), trimmed and roughly chopped
35g vegetarian hard cheese, grated
black pepper 

A shallow baking dish or tin is needed, large to hold the pepper halves in a single layer. It's a good idea to line the dish/tin with parchment. The oven should be heated to 175C.

1   Keep the halved peppers on a plate or chopping board initially, so they're easy to fill.
2   Crack the egg into a medium bowl, and beat lightly.
3   Add the herbs, onion, olives, mushrooms, and half of the cheese.
4   Season the mixture well with pepper and stir until fully mixed.
5   Place the peppers into the baking dish, and divide the filling between them, pressing 
          down to flatten. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over.
Been Stuffed
6   Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the cheese
          is golden and the peppers are soft.

And here's what should come out ....
Ready When You Are!

I hope you love these as much as I do. They can of course be prepped in advance and kept in the fridge for a while before baking. The 25 mins cooking time is enough for a nice glass of something white and chilled - and I'm thinking Gavi rather than milk. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

FUDGE - food of the angels

On a recent short break in Edinburgh, I accidentally found myself in The Fudge House on the Royal Mile. They sell their stuff in small bars, and I very nobly restricted myself to four different flavours. Best was white chocolate pistachio, then chocolate pecan, followed by lemon meringue and caramel.
          So how to amuse myself back at home? Having tweeted about fudge, had to put my money (and fudge) where my mouth is and make some, photograph it and blog about it before tucking in. Very sadly, the OM is not a fan of fudge, so .....
          The recipe here is one I have been using for many years, sometimes with various additions. The process takes only about 25 minutes, not including a little setting time. The fudge pictured had 40g of melted plain chocolate swirled through just before pouring into the tin, but there are plenty of other ways of making it different. And it makes a very fine gift.
          These quantities make around 450g, and would cut into maybe 30 pieces. At The Fudge House they charge (if I recall) about £2.65 per 100g, so this quantity would cost nearly £12. Making it costs only a fraction of this.

Vanilla Fudge

A fairly heavy medium-sized saucepan is needed, a wooden spoon, and a tin lined with parchment (you could just grease it but parchment is more certain). I use a 17cm square shallow baking tin. A sugar thermometer is the surest way to get the boiling time right.

55g butter
2 tbsp water
1 rounded tbsp golden syrup
280g sugar (preferably caster as it dissolves more quickly than granulated)
125ml condensed milk (e.g. from a squeezy tube)
1 tsp vanilla extract (otherwise use essence)

1  Put the butter, water, syrup and sugar in the pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally,
          until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2  Stir in the condensed milk and bring to the boil.
3  Boil, watching carefully and stirring occasionally, until 116C (or 240F) is reached. This
          takes about 6-8 minutes.
4  Immediately remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 4 minutes.
5  Add the essence and beat vigorously with the wooden spoon until the mixture becomes
6  Pour quickly into the lined tin and smooth over.
7  After another minute or two, mark into squares and leave to cool completely.

As well as the chocolate swirl mentioned above, other additions might included wiped quartered glace cherries, chopped pecans or pistachios, halved fresh raspberries, or 2 teaspoons of coffee essence (Camp coffee is still around and works well) perhaps with a few chopped walnuts.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Ten Facts about the Luscious Strawberry

So we're in the middle of the happy strawberry season. Not that you'd know it from the skies. Still, there are plenty of strawbs in the shops, many thankfully local, so here are some facts about this, my favourite fruit. (Although I'm very fond of Sharon fruit, raspberries and lychees too.)
by sigusr0
 1  They are a member of the rose family. (Much nicer though. Discuss.)
 2  Apart from humans, keen munchers of this fruit include aphids, thrips, weevils, beetles, 
          birds and moths as well our beloved national slimeball, the sl*g.
 3  They're rich in vitamin C.
 4  100g of this fruit contains only about 30 calories.
 5  The 17th century English writer Dr William Butler wrote about the strawberry:  
          "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless He never did."
 6 This is the only fruit to bear its seeds on the outside - on average about 200 of them.
 7  Belgium has a museum dedicated solely to the strawberry. It's in Wepion, on the banks
          of the river Meuse, and is apparently rather small.
 8 The flowers are considered hermaphrodite; the fruit is commercially propagated from
 9 Medieval stonemasons carved strawberries around the tops of pillars and on altars in
          churches and cathedrals, since they were said to symbolise perfection and
10 For a similar reason, in Shakespeare's Othello, Desdemona's handkerchief is
          decorated with strawberries.
by Sancho McCann via
Finally, has anyone yet tried the new variety which is white with red seeds? Said to be just as lovely, but I can't believe the 'experience' would be the same. 

Some of these facts are courtesy of The University of Illinois.